Hawassa, Beneath Tabor Mountain
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TEC 50 years Jubilee Celebration

Written by Ruth Eva Osmundsen

On October 26th - 27th, 2018 Tabor Evangelical College celebrated the 50th year anniversary of the school. 

The celebration to place in the new hall and teachers, students, staff and graduates were all gathered to praise God for His faithfulness through the years. 

Rev. Yonas Yigezu the EECMY President together with Rev. Dr. Lalissa Daniel (EECMY-DMT Director) and TEC Board chairman Rev. Dawit Yohannes lead the celebration together with Principal Mr. Galgalo Karre. 

Mr. Paulos Shune, previous synod president, shared the history of TEC and told about how the compound, that had been confiscated by the Dergue Regime, again was return to the church in 2001.

The celebration was filled with joy and praise, as the community at TEC jointly gave thanks and praise to God. 


Dreams come true

Written by Ruth Eva Osmundsen


50 year Jubilee Celebration at Tabor Evangelical College

A dream has come true – this is how NLM missionary and school director Torjus Vatnedalen begins his report from Tabor Seminary in 1968. As a result of sacrifice, commitment, and courage, the Tabor Seminary compound and facilities were ready to receive the first students in the beginning of October that year.[1]

Years have passed and what was once a dream or a vision became a reality and has existed and served God’s kingdom and His people through many ups and downs the last fifty years. The work has demanded sacrifice, commitment, courage not only back in 1968 when the seminary established, but the history testifies to repeated sacrifices and new demands for commitment and courage. Every part of Tabor’s history has brought it own challenges and the many people who have served at the school - both missionaries and local staff have had their difficulties to overcome.

The Establishment of Tabor Seminary and the Ethiopian Revolution from 1968 to 1983

The facilities at the bible school in Dilla were not big enough and with the provincial capital being moved to Hawassa, it was decided that a new seminary for the South Ethiopian Synod would be established there. The aim was to have a seminary for evangelist and congregational leaders that could meet the need for leadership and biblical education among the growing number of Christian in the southern part of Ethiopia. God had brought revival to both the Sidama and the Gamo Gofa areas. The revival was spreading throughout the southern part of the country, but there were no trained Christian that could lead and teach the new church members. I 1968 there were 320 congregations, 240 preaching places and 14 mission stations in the area where NLM was working. The number of church members in the area was 28 743 people. In additional to the missionaries there were only 18 local congregational leaders and 223 local evangelist to follow up on the work.[2]   

Tabor Seminary was a long awaited dream come true, and the vision was to have a centre for theological education that would equip local Christians for congregational work and ministry. The facilities at Tabor were such that the students would come to campus with their families, and there would be bible classes for the women, kindergarten for the small children and public school for the bigger children, while the men were studying theology. The evangelist course was a two year program, and the congregational leader course was four years program with a practise year between 2nd and 3rd year of study.

In an interview on the 22nd of May 2018 a previous students Mr. Agaro Alito shared that the years at Tabor were a good time for spiritual life and growth. Mr Agaro was studying at Tabor Seminary back in 1973-1978 in the congregational leaders program. And he continued by saying: ‘The theological training we received at Tabor was really good and a foundation for our future lives. I can honestly say that the training at Tabor Seminary made me the man I am today’[3]. After finishing his education, Mr Agaro first went to Tula and was later transferred to Abela, where he served faithfully in the church for 38 years.

Being a student and a young man during the time of the Revolution from 1974-1978 was not easy, and Mr Agaro shared with us this small event: “When I was studying at the Tabor it was during the time of the Dergue[4], and there was a lot of political activities among the young people. At that time it was also fashion to have Afro hair and we at the seminary would comb our hair like the others. One day there had been some political unrest, and the government people were looking for youngsters in and around Hawassa. It was on a marked day, and I and my friend Alemu had gone to the market place. Suddenly we heard that government police had surrounded the market area and were looking for young people with empty hands and afro hair. We panicked not knowing what to do. Alemu suggested that we bought sugar cane and pretended to sell it. But then I saw a wife of one of the students from Tabor and she was holding a basket in her hand with all her gods. As her husband was nowhere to see, I ran over and pretended to be her husband grabbing hold of her basket. That basket would be my ticket out of the market place, and I held on to it desperately. The lady who owned the basket later saw her husband being beaten and taken by the police. She let go of the basket and ran to help her husband. Both of them were imprisoned that day, but Alemu and I were saved by the basket and got back to the seminary safely. When the other student and his wife later returned to Tabor we had a good laugh over all the drama and the basket that made it home safely”. [5]

Tabor Compound Confiscated from 1983 to 2001

In 1983 the Tabor Seminary compound was confiscated by the government authorities in Hawassa and with a two weeks’ notice all people living on the compound and all the school materials and equipment had to be moved out. There had been rumours about the authorities showing interest for the compound, but it still came as a shock for everybody that day in July 1983 when everyone was told to evacuate immediately. Most of the table and chairs and documents were taken to the synod compound, but some things were also moved to Hagre Mariam and to Hagre Selam. The students were on vacation at the time, but teachers and other staffs suddenly had to look for new homes and places to work, and it was with much grief that they were forced to leave the compound. This was a dark time in the history of Tabor Seminary.

  A New Era and a new name 2001 – 2018

With the fall of the Dergue and a new government in Ethiopia, a new dream was born. Several church compounds had been confiscated by the communist regime and one by one these were returned to the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY). Again with much sacrifice, commitment and courage people started to push for the return of the Tabor Seminary compound. Especially Mr. Paulos Shune (Synod President) and Odd Rannestad (NLM missionary) worked hard to see the compound again being under church ownership, and again God made possible what seemed impossible.

In 2001 when the compound was returned, the seminary in Addis Ababa was struggling with few applicants and few students. It was therefore decided that instead of a theological education, a quality Christian High School and Preparatory should be established on the compound together with other college courses at diploma level. The name of this new institution became Tabor Evangelical College (TEC). Renovating the buildings and preparing the compound for students and staff was hard and tiresome work. It took almost two years, but in 2003 Tabor Evangelical College welcomed 130 new High School students.

With the High School up and running the old vision for a theological training centre for the southern part of Ethiopia surfaced again. This time it was Melese Sidamo (bible school teacher), Zinabu Mekonnen (evangelist), Odd Åge Ågedal (NLM missionary) and Søren S. Sørensen (DLM missionary) who with courage, commitment and sacrifice worked hard to establish theological education at TEC. After much struggle the bible school was opened in 2005 and later the diploma program in 2008. Then in 2011 the school upgraded to Bachelor of Theology in Missiology and thereby TEC Degree program was established. 

Today at Tabor Evangelical College, we have 750 students attending High School (9th – 10 grade) and Preparatory (11th – 12th grade), and 105 students at the theological programs. These programs are 2nd year bible school, three-year diploma in Theology and four-year degree in Theology. We can now look back upon 50 years of history that clearly shows that dreams come true and we praise God for making the impossible possible. God is the one who gave the vision and by his grace and through the sacrifice, commitment and courage of faithful workers in God’s kingdom TEC is now a well-functioning and well recognized institution under EECMY. And as the TEC leadership looks towards the future new dreams are born and we believe that with the help of God – dreams come true.

[1] NLM årsraport 1968, ”Med murskei og sværd” side 150 “Melding frå Tabor Seminary” ved Torjus Vatnedalen

[2] NLM årsraport 1968, ”Med murskei og sværd” side 180 Statestik

[3] Interview with Agaro Alito on the 22nd of May 2018

[4] From 1974-1991 – the Dergue was the name for the communist regime that was governing Ethiopia at that time.

[5] Interview with Agaro Alito on the 22nd of May 2018


TEC Promotion Trip

Arba Minch Parish Bible School
Written by Ruth Eva Osmundsen

From the 5th until the 10th of March the TEC Principal Mr. Galgalo Karre, the Mission Department Dean, Mr. Getachew Gelebo and Advisor, Ms Ruth Osmundsen travelled to 6 of the 8 synods in the southern part of Ethiopia to promote Tabor Evangelical College.

The trip took us to Dara Synod where we met with synod leaders. The synod is almost a year old, but though it is a young synod there have been Mekane Yesus congregation in the area for the past 60-70 years. The synod does not have a bible school, but we discussed different options for theological training to be given for parish and congregational leaders, and also encouraged the synod to send more students to TEC.  

From Dara we continued to Dilla town where they have the synod office for the South Synod. Here we met with the synod leaders and were given a guide tour on their compound seeing the bible school. When the buildings at TEC were ready to be used in 1968, it was the teachers and students from the Dilla Bible School that were moved to the TEC compound in Hawassa. The South Synod opened later a new bible school in the old building and the work is continuing until today.

Continuing further south we spend the night in Bule Hora before visiting the South Ethiopian Synod and the bible school the next morning. We first were shown the bible school. The synod is building a new bible school building and the two class rooms are ready, but still working on the library. The bible school has been given its own big plot of land within the synod compound and there is a lot of potential for new facilities. Most of the work with the new bible school building has been done by support given locally.

After a long five hours drive on a bumpy road, we arrived in Adola and came to the synod compound. Here we had a meeting with the synod and bible school leaders. In Adola they are planning to upgrade their bible school and also give theological education at diploma level. For us at TEC it is very encouraging to see the synods developing and upgrading, and we also discussed together how we can secure high quality at these educational institutions.

Next morning we got up early to drive all the way from Adola to Amaro past Aleta Wondo and Dilla. In Amaro, like in most of the synods we had visited, we were received by former TEC students. It has been such a great joy for us to meet TEC graduates who are now serving as synod leaders and bible school teachers. Seeing that they are putting into practice what they learned at TEC and also to witness their commitment to expanding the Kingdom of God each in their place of ministry.

From Amaro we continued to the South West Synod and visited the parish leaders in Konso and the bible school in Gidole on our way to the synod centre in Arba Minch. In Arba Minch we were taken first to the Arba Minch Parish Bibel School and later taken to the Mekane Yesus Technical Training Centre where we saw the seminary that now offers a Diploma in Theology. After seeing these we also visited the Geresse Bible School. There are a total of five parish bible schools in the South West Synod and we visited all except the ones in Gofa and Jinka. What impressed us the most in the South West Synod was their number of female students, bible school teachers, and also a female bible school director. We hope that more women in the future will be given the opportunity to study theology and also come to TEC for the B.TH.

It was very encouraging to visit the synods and the bible schools here in the southern part of Ethiopia, and we will together work to secure good educational quality and better opportunities for theological education in the years to come. 

Empror Haile Selassie visits TEC 50 years ago

Written by Ruth Eva Osmundsen

At Tabor Evangelical College we have started to plan the 50 years jubilee celebration of the school, which was established in 1968 as Tabor Seminary. The buildings were finished by the end of September and in the first weeks of October the students arrived. But while the buildings were still under constructions, it was announced that Emperor Haile Selassie would come to visit.

On the 12th of March 1968 in the afternoon Emperor Haile Selassie arrived at the compound and was welcomed by workers and employees of the seminary together with NLM missionaries. The principal of the seminary Johannes Sandved welcomed the Emperor, introduced the staff of the seminary and then gave the Emperor a guided tour of the compound.     

According to the article in Utsyn April 21st, 1968, the Emperor had asked about the courses to be given at the seminary and also the students. Johannes Sandved explained that the courses were theological and that the aim was to train pastors and evangelist for the ministry of the Mekane Yesus Church. The students would come from all over the southern part of Ethiopia and also bring their families to come and stay at the compound.

Johannes Sandved apologized that the building project was not finalised for the Emperor to see, but the Emperor expressed that for him it was a joy and encouragement to see an educational institution like this.    

The article in Utsyn no 13, 1968 page 3-4 is written by Kristine Skjeslien. 

Summer Mission Trip

Written by Ruth Eva Osmundsen

Here at the Mission Department of Tabor Evangelical College (TEC), we value that the students get a practical understanding of mission in addition to the theoretical part. Therefore, each summer we send students who have finished 2nd year Degree Program and 2nd year Diploma Program, on a mission trip. The students will be sent two-and-two to different congregations in areas with few Christians or where the Christians are a minority group.   

The mission trip lasts for 3 weeks but before leaving, the students as well as representatives from the congregations are attending Mission Course given at TEC. During their three weeks stay in the field the students will participate actively in the life and activities of the congregation they are visiting as well as engage in evangelism, when possible.

Upon their return and continuation of their studies, the students will give report during devotion time as well as hand in written reports and papers based on data collection carried out during the trip. While in the filed the students are requested to study the local culture and challenges that the Christians face and based on their theological and anthropological skills, they are to describe these challenges and come up with suggestions as to how these issues can be addressed.

When reading though some of these reports and papers, you discover that there are so really difficult challenges for the Christians in the above mentioned areas, and also really issues, that need to be addressed by the church locally. A few examples of this are the issue of ‘mingi’ children in South Omo. These children are seen a coursed by the society due to being born as twins, or getting teeth in upper part of the mouth first, and due to this and other things, they are regarded as impure and considered a threat to the rest of the community. As Christians and as the church, what is the message that we bring to these people, and how can we best preach the gospel into their cultural context?

In the Borana area drought has been sever the past few years and among the Borana people ritual sacrifices of animals has been a way of appealing to their traditional god for rain. As Christians and as the church, what is our message to a people group in crisis, struggling to survive due to drought?     

In other areas we find the Christians as a small minority group in a Muslim dominated society, and even the smallest attempt to evangelism outside of the church compound may lead to imprisonment. The call that we have been given and the Great Commandment, what do we do with these if we are prohibited from doing evangelism?

These and many more issues the students have been struggling with during their Summer Mission Trip, and for the two years it is the aim of the TEC to teach and help the students grow in Christian maturity to become the ministers needed in the church, qualified also to address issues like these.