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Life and Ministry
Key points from the
DACB article by Dirshaye Menberu
(see below “For further reading”)
Meseret was born in Axum in 1926. His father, memhir
(“teacher; “professor”) Sebhat Leab Gebre Meskel, worked at the famous Saint Mariam Church.
Meseret studied church music under merigeta (Teacher; choir leader in EOTC) Sebuh in the early 1940s
Continued to study liturgy in Axum (around 1944-45)
Very skilled in digua (Ethiopian music book)
Served as merigeta at Wegera monastery (Gondar) for some months.
Joined Bethel Mekane Yesus Church after meeting Rev. Gidada Solon in 1954 (some years before he had met David Stokes). Taught Amharic at the Church’s school.
Taught Amharic and Ge’ez at Mekane Yesus Seminary from 1968 [NB: 1960] until 1976 and from 1978 until his retirement in 1983 [NB: Seems to have taught until the late 1990s].
Meseret Sebhat Leab passed away in 1996. [NB: probl. 1998]
Excerpts from Magaarsaa Guutaa‘s (2011)
History of Mekane Yesus Seminary
NB: 1968 is not the year Meseret Sebhat Leab started to teach at MYS; the correct date is October 1960 [Magaarsaa Guutaa 2011, p. 52 n. 92]. He was one of the three instructors who were employed at the beginning of Mekane Yesus Seminary:
“The first national teaching staff member to be employed by the IC [Interim Committee of the Lutheran Missions Committee] was Ato Meseret Sebhat Leab. He was employed on full-time basis […] to teach Geez and Amharic. Thus, the first faculty members were three: two expatriates and a national. Their call depended on the initiatives taken by the pioneer personalities, such as Rev. Dr. Herbert George Schaefer who had reported earlier to the first EECMY Executive Committee about teachers that would make the launching of the Seminary a reality.” [Magaarsaa Guutaa (2011), p. 40]
Ato Meseret Sebhat Leab was not with the MYS in August 1971. He left the Seminary for a while but returned later. (p. 82, n. 54)
54 Ge’ez parchments on display in MYS Library as “Meseret Sebhat-Leab Collection” (p. 110, n. 226)
Ethiopian Orthodox Church History, Ethiopian Orthodox liturgy [“Ethiopian Orthodox Church Practices” according to Curriculum on p. 271] and Ge’ez have been part of the curriculum since the early 1960s. These subjects were being offered to MYS students till the late 1990s (MG, p. 126).
Ibid, n. 33: “The renowned person to teach these courses was Ato Meseret Sebhat Leab who passed away in 1998.”
Meseret Sebhat Leab (and later Rev. Gudina Tumsa) played a mediating role between the Charismatic group at Mekane Yesus Seminary and the “traditional” students who had complained about their style of worship etc. in 1973. (p. 156)
Marianne Nilsson made some (casual) recordings of songs from Mazmura Berhan with Meseret Sebhat Leab (while he was a teacher at MYS)
Dirshaye Menberu (2006). “Meseret Sebhat Leab”, in Dictionary of African Christian Biography.
» Read online
Magaarsaa Guutaa (2011). From a Humble Beginning to Advanced Standing: A History of the Mekane Yesus Seminary [1960-2010]. Addis Ababa: Mekane Yesus Seminary,
Melaku Terefe, Steve Delamarter and Jeremy R. Brown (2011). Catalogue of the Ethiopic Manuscript Imaging Project, vol. 7: Codices 601–654. The Meseret Sebhat Le-Ab Collection of Mekane Yesus Seminary, Addis Ababa (Ethiopic Manuscripts, Texts, and Studies Series, 13). Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications.
[p. xxxi – lv: Loren Bliese, Mehret-Ab Bereke and Walda Estifanos, “Aläqa Mäsärät Sǝbḥat LäꜤab: A Biography” (including an introduction to his major writings)]
» Read online
Sources of Dr. Dirshaye’s article:
Alemayehu Haile Mariam (2004). Biography of Aleqa Meseret Sebhat Leab. BTh thesis, Evangelical Theological College, Addis Ababa.
Dawit Chibsa (1990). Meseret Sebhat Leab: an Orthodox Evangelical Conversion. BTh thesis, Mekane Yesus Seminary, Addis Ababa.