News Release

An Historic General Conference Weekend in Ethiopia

For the First Time, General Conference Was Broadcast in Ethiopia, Blessing Saints, and Blessing the Country

As the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has taken root and grown in developing countries around the world, General Conference was viewed by the Saints at meetinghouses.  The Covid 19 Pandemic confined billions around the world, and it deprived church members in developing countries of viewing General Conference.  To make General Conference available to people where internet technology in homes did not exist, the First Presidency of the Church authorized Bonneville Distribution to identify and contract with television companies throughout the world to broadcast General Conference.  In the Africa Central Area of the Church General Conference was broadcast in every country except Ethiopia.  Ethiopia is Africa’s second most populous country with a population of over 126,000,000.  Efforts were made, but, no contract could be obtained for any General Conference before April 2024.

In late January of 2024, Terry Hritz, Managing Director of Bonneville Distribution traveled to Ethiopia to obtain a contract.  Prior to his arrival, the Africa Central Area and Ethiopia Church Communications  Department teams had identified and visited many potential broadcasters and scheduled appointments for the Communications team and Terry.  For two full days, back to back to back to back visits were made to television and radio broadcasters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  At each stop General Conference was described and the Church’s desire to broadcast both the Saturday and Sunday morning sessions was shared.  Remarkably, multiple broadcast companies provided proposals to broadcast General Conference.  Through the efforts of the Communications team and Terry, the broadcast options went from none to several. 

A contract was made and on April 6 and 7, 2024, for the first time ever, both morning sessions of General Conference were broadcast live in Ethiopia.  Church members in Ethiopia were thrilled.  The audience for General Conference included church members and non members.  On Saturday night in Ethiopia, as the Saturday morning session was broadcast live, phone calls and texts began to come into Belageru TV.  The texts and calls were positive, many calling it an amazing program, including one Ethiopian Orthodox minister who commented about the order and the beauty of the Conference.  And Church members basked in the opportunity to view General Conference on publicly available television in their homes.

Recent converts Gemechu Feyissa and his son Betselot Gemechu, who have both joined the Church in the last year, were excited to learn about Jesus and to have fellow Ethiopians watching General Conference.  “People in Ethiopia like to have their TV’s on,” Gemechu said.  “Belageru is a popular channel.  Many people will see General Conference.”  Gemechu sent invitations to watch General Conference to all 250 of his WhatsApp contacts.

Atsede Demissie Arega had dreams 20 years ago that brought her to the Church.  Before joining the Church, she used to regularly ask herself, “where is God?”  She found God in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Commenting that before April 2024, she used to only be able to see General Conference sessions weeks later at her Branch church building, now she can watch General Conference live in her home.  “I am so grateful,” she said, “I feel that God is looking after Ethiopia.”  She invited the full time missionaries in her branch to come to her home to watch General Conference.  She also invited all of her neighbors to come and watch with them or to watch it in their own homes. 

Finding a Restoration pamphlet on the ground on a street in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia led Zerge Weld Mariam to find and join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 15 years ago.  The brochure was printed in Amharic, the native language of Ethiopia, and had a phone # written on it.  After reading the pamphlet and feeling a “good spirit,” she called the number.  To the full time missionary who answered, Zerge said, “I need to join this church.”  Her family followed her into church membership.  Recently, her 4th son returned home after having taught for 3 years the Amharic language in the Ghana Missionary Training Center.  Ten years ago, Zerge was having a hard time in her life.  General Authority Seventy Elder Edward Dube came to her home and gave her a blessing.  After that, her life was blessed, she had food to eat and her trials were lightened. She loved being able to raise her right hand and sustain Elder Dube, and other church leaders, as she watched General Conference, live, in her home, for the first time, on Saturday, 6 April 2024.  “General Conference is good for us, even to changing human beings,”

On Saturday afternoon, 6 April 2024, before the public broadcast of General Conference in Ethiopia, Zacharias Wodago Negeo was baptized and the next day was confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Megenagna Branch of the Church.  Being able to go to his home Saturday evening after his baptism and watch General Conference live, made him very happy. 

Sister Yeweinshet Bezu Biru is a remarkable woman.  She and her daughter Heleina are devoted members of the church and devoted to loving and serving their neighbors.  Sister Biru is vision impaired.  She houses and cares for 16 blind teenage girls.  The Utah based Stirling Foundation provides the financial support necessary to house and care for the 16 girls.  Sister Biru and Heleina, along with their 16 young charges, enjoyed together the Saturday morning session of General Conference.  Sister Biru and Heleina were thrilled to be able to raise their right hands to sustain President Russell M. Nelson along with members of the church around the world.  Sister Biru shared that one member of her branch did not have a TV, so he went to a non member neighbor’s home and watched with them.  He repeated that for the Sunday morning live broadcast. 

President Kefeni Tesfaye Anbesse, 2nd Counselor in the Addis Ababa District Presidency of the Church, his wife Helina Tsega Tesema and their 3 active children, were grateful to be able to watch two General Conference sessions live in their apartment.  They invited friends to also tune to Belageru TV to hear the words of prophets, seers, and revelators over two days in April. 

“I feel that God is looking after Ethiopia,” remarked Atsede Demissie Arega, when talking about the historic broadcast of General Conference in Ethiopia. 

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