News Release

Ethopian Delegation Visits Mosque and Potential Orthodox Church Site

On Wednesday 5 October 2022 a delegation from the Ministry of Peace and the University of Addis Ababa in Ethiopia visited Salt Lake City following their participation in the 29th International law and Religion Symposium held in Provo, Utah.

As part of the hosting, the guests consisting of Asma Redi Baleker, Director General in the Ministry of Peace, Dr. Awoke Atinafu Adam, Chief, Ministry of Peace in Ethiopia, and Mohammed Assen from the University of Addis Ababa visited the Khadeeja Mosque in the West Valley area of Salt Lake City, and a site on Constitutional Boulevard, West Valley, where the Church is making available a building to be used as a place of worship for the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

Avais Ahmed of the Utah Muslim Civic League and Imam Habib welocme the Church delagation to the mosque, SLC, October 20222022 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
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The visit to the Mosque was part of an ongoing interfaith initiative between the Church and the Utah Muslim Civic League. Imam Habib, the spiritual leader of the elegant mosque, and Avais Ahmed, founder of the league, warmly welcomed the Ethiopian visitors and members of the Africa Central Area Presidency, Elder Mathew L. Carpenter, and Elder Ian S. Ardern to a tour of the Mosque and a discussion celebrating interfaith relations between the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Muslim community in SLC.

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are very welcoming to every people,” Imam Habib said, “when we built the mosque, the Church was the first to donate to us, they showed us they really care, we felt like family,” he continued. “We can coexist, we don’t have to have these differences.”

“There has been a lot of collaboration and support from the Church over the years. We have so much ongoing help from them,” explained the Imam.

Later in the day, Church facilities manager, Jason Kilian, and architect Curtis Miner welcomed the delegation of Church leaders from both the Latter-day Saints and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church to the proposed site. Abba Fisseha, father of the local Ethiopian Orthodox Church was joined by Luel Mengistu, board member and Sleshi Tadesse, board chairman of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Salt Lake City, for the visit.

Nicole Stirling and Ed Rowe of the Stirling foundation helped arrange the visit and are contributors to the project. “It is important for people of all faiths to have a place to worship,” commented Ed Rowe. He explained to the representatives of the Ethiopian Church that in 2021 Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles welcomed Kesis Tegay, the Secretary General of the IRCE (Interreligious Council of Ethiopia), to Church headquarters. During the visit and discussions, it became clear to Elder Rasband that the local Ethiopian Orthodox Church needed a place to worship. Elder Rasband felt strongly that the Church should help. He began the process of working out arrangements to find a suitable building in collaboration with the Utah Area President and the Utah Area Director of Temporal Affairs.

“Look at this building with an eye to the future, it will be renovated for you”, explained Elder Mathew L. Carpenter as he showed the architects drawings and rendering to the group, “we are so thankful to partner with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. We are delighted that we can be doing this together”, said Elder Carpenter.

Elder Mathew L. Carpenter greets Abba Fisseha while Dr. Mohammed Assen looks on, SLC, October 20222022 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
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The Orthodox Church has had limited facilities in SLC and often, at services, members must stand outside their current location due to lack of space.

This new proposed site will be modified to become a sacred space for the Orthodox Church. Its size will accommodate the growing members of the faith. The growth is mainly due to incoming refugees.

Countless words of gratitude and excitement were expressed by the local Ethiopian Church representatives and expressions of awe uttered by those visiting from Ethiopia as they commented on the respect and love shown by one faith to another in both settings.

Asma Redi from the Ministry of Peace summarized well in closing, “I always felt that the Latter-day Saint community was small, but what I have seen here and what they are doing is as big as the world, in fact I would say that their heart is a big as the world!” she said, “what I see here is a model for heaven.”

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