Bethel Ethiopian

Pictured: Pastor John Jacobi (Pastor of Crosstown), Thomas Likasa (Lay Leader at Bethel), Pastor Samuel Weto (Pastor of Bethel)

Journey of Friendship with an Ethiopian Church

by Pastor John Jacobi

In August of ’21, I was introduced to Bethel Ethiopian Church and asked if I would help them find a new location in south Minneapolis. Bethel is a congregation that currently meets in Minneapolis NE.  They are a body of 25 adults + 8 children.  Even though the people of Bethel are fluent in English, the adults worship in their “heart language” of Amharic.  After initially deferring their request for help, I sensed that the Holy Spirit was calling me to learn about these friends in Jesus.  My hope was that I would serve as a pathway for Bethel to network with congregations in our neighborhood.  During the course of this meeting, my heart was captured by the vision of Pastor Samuel and the congregation.  Their desire is to find a congregation where their children can learn about Jesus in English while the adults have a place to worship in the Amharic language.

In September of ’21, I asked Crosstown’s Elder Team to engage in a season of discernment.  Could we—Crosstown—invite Bethel Ethiopian to our building on Sundays?  Could we find space for them to worship in the Amharic language while their children participate in Crosstown’s “Kids Equip” (Sunday School)?  Might the Holy Spirit be calling us to a fresh adventure?
As the Elder Team discerned these questions, our hearts began to focus on the following:

#1, Crosstown is a “Great Commission” Congregation—
Over the life of our congregation, Crosstown has invested heavily in Jesus’ mission to the world.  Our Savior’s words from Matthew 28—“Go and make disciples of all nations”—have resulted in significant financial giving to missionaries.  Today, while our giving to global mission is in decline, the Holy Spirit has brought a fresh opportunity to advance Jesus’ Kingdom.  Welcoming Bethel Ethiopian is a pathway to engage in the Great Commission.

#2, Stewardship of Building—
We want to be clear that Crosstown’s building “belongs” to Jesus.  Over the last 4 years, we have invested over $500,000 in upgrades to our physical plant (parking lot, flat roof, boiler, Sanctuary).  While we are blessed by these improvements, they exist for both ourselves and others.  Welcoming Bethel Ethiopian is a pathway to extend hospitality in Jesus’ name to a 2nd immigrant congregation.

#3, Blessing of God—
Over the last five months, I’ve had opportunity to form a friendship with Pastor Samuel Weto along with one of Bethel’s leaders—Thomas.  I’ve been so blessed and encouraged by their heart to love Jesus and their Ethiopian community.  Welcoming Bethel Ethiopian is a pathway for us to form new friendships in the Body of Christ.
At a meeting on Thursday, January 20, Crosstown’s Elder Team unanimously affirmed a “YES!” to Bethel Ethiopian.  We are inviting them to join us on Sundays beginning February 20 (more logistic details are also coming in following newsletters).  For the 1st three months, this will be on a trial basis.  I would like to introduce you to these new friends.  On Sunday, January 30 we are welcoming Pastor Samuel Weto of Bethel Ethiopian Church to Crosstown.  He will be sharing a “Faith Story” with us about the congregation he serves.

As we wonder about questions and specifics , Crosstown’s Elder Team will be available for conversation immediately following worship on both February 6 and 13.  In the meantime, I invite you to send any questions to me (pastorjohn@crosstowncovenant.org).  Let’s pray that this fresh initiative of the Holy Spirit will stir us up to love God and one another in fresh ways!!!
Dates to Note
  • Jan 30: Pastor Weto shares a Faith Story during Sunday worship.
  • Feb 3: Article in newsletter about logistics. Practically, what is this arrangement going to look like?
  • Feb 6: Elders are available following worship for Q&A.
  • Feb 10: Article in newsletter from Polly about blended Kids Equip Hour. What can kids expect to be the same or different? 
  • Feb 13: Elders are available following worship for Q&A.
  • Feb 20: First Sunday Crosstown and Bethel will have worship simultaneously in the building together.
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