Letters to the Editor

West Orange Will Be Home to The First Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in NJ

West Orange will be the home to The First Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in NJ

First I would like to thank you very much on behalf of Debre Genet Amanuel Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (DGAEOTC) Board  and Fund raising committee members for allowing us to submit the report of our First Kick Off Fund Raising of June 7, 2011 at Mesob Ethiopian restaurant in Montclair.

NJ DGAEOTC was started in West Orange New Jersey  on November, 2006. Before that a few of us used to go to Church in New York. I went to Church in New York for about 18 years. During this 18 years the Ethiopian and Eritrean community in New Jersey grew tremendously to the extent that it will support its own local church. For this reason I called the first meeting and about 13 families attended. During this meeting we discussed if we can support a church in New Jersey and all of us agreed. During this meeting we decided  to invite all Ethiopians and Eritreans in New Jersey  to a meeting at a Presbyterian Church Hall 20 Old Indian Road west Orange, NJ. This meeting was attended by about 50 people. During this meeting we discussed the idea of starting an Ethiopian  Orthodox Tewahedo Church in New Jersey. It was well received by all those who attended and we raise $18,000.00 at this meeting. During this meeting we elected 11 Board members to oversee the administration of the Church. This Board decided to write a letter to the Sinodos of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church asking for support and  permission to open a church in New Jersey. This permission was granted to us in writing with a pledge to help and support in theological matters. The Presbyterian Church at 20 Old Indian Road west Orange, NJ agreed to rent us the second floor hall in December 2006. We used the $18,000.00 raised  to convert this hall to a church. On Saturday February 3, 2007 DGAEOTC started its first service. This grand opening ceremony was attended by four Bishops, Abune Zena Markos, Abune Melkesadik, Abune Elias, and Abune Baslios. In addition to the Bishops there were several Priests, Merigeta and Deacons in attendance. Since then we have grown tremendously in number and have reached this stage of purchasing our own church.

Yes. This is the first Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in the state of New Jersey. We are making history. We hope to open several other Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Churches in New Jersey in the future.

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The Board of DGAEOTC understood the difficulty and challenge of raising $300,000.00  to  remodel the building within the next 12 months.  During its Board meeting it decided to create Fund Raising Committee composed of  dynamic and creative people to spear head this fund raising effort and nominated  Weizero Abeba, Dr. Adam, Ato Asnake, Ato Eyob, Ato Gobena, Ato Nebiyu, and weizerit Tezeta. This Fund Raising Committee  met weekly every Tuesday evening for several hours and discussed the details and logistics of this successful Fund raising. This fund raising was planned only 5 weeks before it happened. In such a short time they worked hard and did a great job. The Objective of this First Kick Off Fund Raising was to raise $30,000.00 and exchange information with the people in our community that DGAEOTC is buying a church. It was very successful and both missions were accomplished. This fundraiser was attended by Ethiopians, Eritreans, and Americans of different religious groups.

The new Church will be located at 15-19 Meeker Street West Orange, NJ 07052. It is only about 8 houses from where we are now worshiping. The new Church will have 3 different buildings. In the front there is a building that has two three bedroom apartments on the second floor and an office with a warehouse on the first floor. This building is fully rented. In the back there is this huge two floor building that stores 14 to 17 antique cars in the first floor and the second floor is rented for now, however it will be converted to a church and an assembly hall with a full kitchen and male and female bathrooms. On the side there are 5 bays and one small office that are rented to different contractors. There is space to park about 45 to 50 cars.

We have completed negotiations to purchase the building with the sellers. However, we are awaiting approval from the West Orange Township Zoning Department for  Zoning Variance approval. We have hired Zoning expert Lawyers, Architects, Traffic experts, and Structural Engineers to help us process this application.  It will take about 3 months from now for the whole process to be completed. Our experts do not expect  any complications  during the approval process. It is just a formality that is required to legally change the use of the building from a warehouse to an assembly hall (Church).

The remaining part of the  building will generate an income of $7,000.00 per month excluding the 2nd floor we are going to use as a church and assembly hall. We are buying these 3 buildings for $725,000.00 and we are borrowing $500,000.00. We do have a written Mortgage Commitment and our monthly mortgage payment including Insurance and Property Taxes will be less than $7,000.00. This means once we conclude the purchase of these buildings they will generate enough income to support the monthly mortgage payment while we are using the Church and Assembly Hall for free.

We do not need any money to complete the purchase transaction. Our Church members with the support of our community have raised $245,000.00 in the last four years. We used all $245,000.00 to purchase these buildings. We are proud of ourselves and our supportive community for having raised this money in about four years. What we need is an additional $300,000.00 to convert the warehouse to a church and an Assembly Hall, with a kitchen and male and female bathrooms. In addition, the State of New Jersey requires us to put in a commercial elevator that will cost about $100,000.00. To this date we have executed two different fund raising plans to raise $100,000.00 and are in the process of collecting the donations. We have a web site that donors could go to donate money using their credit cards. Every donation will help us get closer to achieving our goals and objectives. Donors will receive a receipt and an email within seconds thanking them for their donations.

People do not have to be residents of New Jersey to contribute. We have received generous donations from family and friends in California, Colorado, Ohio, Nevada, DC, Texas, New York, Pennsylvania and North Carolina.

I came to USA in 1973 and I have been in New Jersey since 1981. I am Married and proud  father  of  five children, three girls and two boys and also I am a grandfather to a one year old granddaughter.  I am a certified Public Accountant and a Licensed Real Estate Broker. I have been working for myself since 1985. 

The force and wisdom behind my giving and supporting our Church and community are my Wife and partner Ayalnesh (Hanna) who is very understanding, loving and patient, my great friends and work associates Tedros and Amanuel who keep on taking care of my share of responsibilities without any complaint and additional compensation. In the last three years I have been investing my time in supporting Our Church, Edir, the West Orange Planning Board, the West Orange Rotary Club and The West Orange Chamber of Commerce. 

I am the Vice Chairman of our Church, the Chairman of our Edir, a Member of the West Orange Planning Board, the President Elect of The West Orange Rotary Club, and the Vice President of The West Orange Chamber Of Commerce.

God gives me the energy to do all this and it is a blessing to give back to the communities that gave me everything I have.  It is not easy and it takes great dedication and planning to do all this in the right way. All the things I do I take them very seriously and I see them as part of my life and daily duty. I do not like to postpone things and most people who dealt with me know that I do not like to procrastinate.  I take immediate action and do not stop until I finish what I have started. When I think or plan to do something, I will not rest well until it is finished. Generally I sleep about 6 hours, however recently since we started the process of buying this church I have been sleeping about 3 to 4 hours. It is not easy -- however, it is gratifying and rewarding. Most of my email correspondences and office work is done at night and majority of my day is invested in serving my community.   I am blessed and happy to do this. I would not change this for anything. Even my children have learned to give back to their community and country, Dr. Sophia went to Ethiopia and volunteered at an orphanage for 5 weeks, Ellen after finishing her Masters went to Ethiopia and volunteered for  7 months at Children’s Home Academy, Asmeret went to South Africa and volunteered for 6 weeks in an orphanage, Mehari went to Kenya for 5 weeks and Mexico for 2 weeks and worked with orphan children.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer. Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor.

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