On a very cold Saturday morning in New York City, churchgoers gathered to take part in the annual celebration at Saint Mary of Zion. Clergy men and choirs from states as close as East Orange, NJ and Washington D.C. to as far as Ohio, and California also took part in the occasion. This warm annual celebration turned out to be a very successful fundraising event and brought hope to Saint Mary of establishing its own church in the very near future.
Saint Mary of Zion has been serving the Ethiopian Orthodox community for over seventeen years. For the past fifteen years, Aba GebreSelassie has served as the pastor and understands the need for the community to have its own church. He explains that owning a church means being able to serve the community at a greater capacity then it currently does. When renting a church he states, “There is a time limit on everything we do from the time allocated to teaching, to the time we have to conclude. Owning a church will give us the freedom to practice our faith like we are supposed to.” Aba GebreSelassie also talks about various social services that the church could also provide the community if independently owned. “Having our own church means we will have our own facility to serve our people in areas of social services.” Bible study, Marriage Education and other forms of counseling are services that Aba GebreSelassie stated the church will be able to offer.
Girma Moges is a board member at Saint Mary of Zion where he serves as Secretary. Ato Girma has held the post of Secretary for the past two years and became involved as a member of the church because he liked the accountability he saw. He stated, “The books of the church are audited every year by professional auditors to assure accountability, and board members are elected every three years.” A former board member of ECMAA and active member of the community, Ato Girma states owing a church is something he wants to see happen because of the need for its services in the community. “There are new Ethiopians coming to this country and they require special services.” There are other advantages that Ato Girma sees in having a church. “If we have our own church our people don’t have to look to other venues to hold special events such as weddings, we will be able to provide that.”
Saint Mary of Zion came closer toward owning a church during its annual celebration-over sixty thousand dollars closer. Churchgoers and clergymen contributed on that day stating they don’t want to celebrate the next annual program in the place they currently rent. They have a goal of owning a church and it seems like they are well on their way.