Our Redeemer Oromo Evangelical Lutheran Church (ELCA)
4000 28th Avenue South
Minneapolis MN 55406
Oromos are an ethnic group from the horn of Africa, many of them from Ethiopia, and Minnesota is home to the largest Oromo population in the diaspora. Established in 1987 as a Bible study at Augsburg College, the church has grown dramatically over the past two decades. With over 650 members, Our Redeemer Oromo Lutheran Church is both the nation’s largest Oromo Lutheran church as well as the fastest-growing congregation in the ELCA’s Minneapolis Area Synod.
While the majority of parishioners come from Lutheran (Mekane Yesus
) backgrounds, contrasting worship styles are observed during services. The younger members tend toward a charismatic worship style while older members are more accustomed to the style taught to them by European missionaries. Older members are familiar with songs that have origins in Norway, Sweden, and Germany while the music preferred by the Oromo youth involves strong influences from Ethiopian popular music.
As immigrant congregations (re)create their worship music in the US, the recourse to the past may be nationalistic or ethnic, but it is always selective. Members of Our Redeemer Oromo Evangelical Lutheran Church choose to worship in Oromiffa
, a language that most could not safely use in Ethiopia for fear of persecution. Hence, most spent their entire lives worshipping in Amharic, the language of the group in power until the early 1990s. Yet, in the US, where they are free to practice their religion in their language without fear of persecution, they choose to translate the religious traditions they have been practicing (in Amharic) for decades into Oromiffa
, a language many of them no longer speak well. Oromo Lutherans at Our Redeemer insist on singing in Oromiffa
, even changing personal names they used in their Amharic worship in Ethiopia to Oromo names.
Listen to Our Redeemer Oromo Lutheran Church
Ebeenezer, Our Redeemer Oromo Evangelical Lutheran Church, “Sin irraanfadhu” from their album Yoomii, si’achanoo Labsaa
. Bilise, Diribe, Lensa and Dame Wedajo. mp3 download
Our Redeemer Oromo Evangelical Lutheran Church
The Oromo Sing a Joyful Song (MPR)