ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — After decades of dreaming, planning and fundraising, the Meserete Kristos Church in Ethiopia held a grand opening ceremony in February for its new head office.
The MKC is the world’s largest Anabaptist conference, with 255,462 members in 2015, according to Mennonite World Conference.
In 1996 Million Belete presented a thorough plan to construct a large, multistory building to serve the MKC as its head office, with plenty of extra space that would be rented out to earn income necessary to pay for the building. His plan was rejected at the time by leadership for being untimely.
A decade passed, new leadership took up the challenge, and foundations were laid. But costs greatly escalated, and Belete’s plans for financing the project were overlooked.
Another decade passed while the structure’s skeleton took shape slowly as funds became available.
MKC leaders worked out of shipping containers converted into offices. Construction stalled at the seventh level.
Then, six years ago, members of MK College Link in the U.S. and Link Canada joined to raise funds to complete the job. After five years of fundraising and construction, offices began moving in last summer.
The facility is located on the same compound occupied by the former Mennonite Guest House in the 1970s.
As guests gathered outside the entrance on Feb. 10, the Addis Ababa MKC Choir led them in song as Belete moved forward to cut the ribbon and to lead guests up six flights of stairs to a large assembly room on the top floor.
There, MKC chair Ato Birru Robele welcomed guests, the choir sang more songs and Abiyot Lemma preached.
Other speeches were given by MKC President Tewodros Beyene, Mamo Dula of Lancaster, Pa., and Darrell Jantzi, who brought greetings from Mennonite Church Canada.