Debebe Lemma Bogale was born in Addis Ababa in 1949 to parents who follow Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Debebe became a Pentecostal follower after receiving Jesus Christ as his personal saviour at a prayer program organized by Christian students in 1967. That prayer group was vital for the official establishment of the Ethiopian Full Gospel Believers’ Church (EFGBC; Amh.: Mulu Wongel) in 1968. As a delegate, Debebe was involved in the process of finding a name for the new denomination. He worshipped in Mulu Wongel’s main congregation in Lideta sub-city, Qetena Hulet, until 1971.
Debebe was a founding member of Tsion Choir in his native sub-city, Addis Ketema. He let the choir from its founding in 1971 until its reunification with the Mulu Wongel “A” Choir in 1978. In 1974, Debebe got a special call to serve as a musician. Subsequently, he quit his job as a technical draftsman and focussed on playing musical instruments and training musicians and singers. Debebe masterfully plays accordion, synthesizer and guitar. Next to his service in Tsion Choir and then in Mulu Wongel “A” Choir, he accompanied solo singers such as Dereje Kebebe and Tesfaye Gabbiso with his accordion.
Debebe managed to train and organize 49 groups of young singers and musicians later established a choir of various branches of Mulu Wongel Church.
- In 1990, he trained 115 young people and organized them as Mulu Wongel “C” Choir
- In 1994, he trained 240 young people and organized them into 8 groups as “D” Choir
- In 1997, he trained again 240 young people and organized them into 8 groups as “E” Choir
- In 2003, he trained 260 young people and organized them into 9 groups as the church’s “Eyosafet” Choir
Debebe Lemma’s training ministry reached far beyond Addis Ababa. He ran workshops in areas and cities such as Mekele, Gonder, Wollega, Jimma, Omo Shalako (1976), Hossana, Shone (1975), Hawassa and Nazaret aka Adama.
Debebe was ordained as a pastor of Mulu Wongel Church in 2002. In recent years, he published a book about worship music in Ethiopia and was featured on Christian TV channels. Pastor Debebe continues to serve as a pastor and musician.
(1) Debebe Lemma accompanied Dereje Kebede with his accordion on the singer’s first cassette in 19xx.
(2) – (6) Debebe Lemma accompanied Tesfaye Gabbiso with his accordion on the singer’s cassettes no. 1-5 (1977, 1978, 1979, 1989).
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Debebe Lemma. አምልኮ መዝሙርና መዛሙራን (Amilko, mezmurina, mezamuran; “Worship, Music, and Musicians”). Addis Ababa: Solar Printing House, 2019/2020 (2012 AM).
— Debebe Lemma (Pastor) / Yohannes Lala