Build up the body of Christ. Support the Pentecost Offering.

Catastrophic flooding in Addis Ababa kills eight at seminary

A global partner, the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus, asks for prayers

by Kathy Melvin | Presbyterian News Service

Seminarians scrambled to rooftops to escape the rising waters last week in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (Photo by Owar Ojha Ojulu)

LOUISVILLE — Urgent prayers are requested for Mekane Yesus Seminary (MSY) in Ethiopia’s capital city, Addis Ababa. The seminary is operated by the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY), a long-time Presbyterian Mission Agency global partner.

On August 17, the institution suffered a sudden and catastrophic flash flood that left death and destruction in its wake.

“The Seminary is on the banks of a river that grew six feet in three minutes,” said Sharon Kandel, World Mission’s regional liaison for the Horn of Africa. “There was no warning, so students and faculty did not have time to get out. Many people survived by getting on the roofs of the buildings.”

A letter from the seminary seeking support said the flooding killed three children and five adults and displaced more than 98 people. The recovery effort is ongoing. The seminary is closed to its 100 students while the damage is being assessed.

Church officials reported that a large part of the institution was badly damaged, including staff residences for both international and national missionaries. Those impacted lost all their personal belongings, including their travel documents.

Initial estimates by EECMY are that more than $2.5 million will be needed to rebuild, relocate impacted families and install flood protection systems. About 21 buildings and roads leading to the seminary were badly damaged.

“This is a catastrophic, heartbreaking and unprecedented disaster that has resulted in the loss of lives, destruction and displacement of our people,” said Rev. Dr. Bruk Ayele Asale, president of the Mekane Yesus Seminary. “We are in an emergency.”

The World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Lutheran World Federation expressed sadness at the loss of lives and the damage to buildings at the seminary. On behalf of Rev. Dr. Ioan Sauca, WCC’s acting general secretary, Marianne Ejdersten, WCC director of communication, expressed the WCC’s sense of prayerful solidarity.

“We stand in solidarity with you, and we pray for the victims and their families, the rescue team, the students and the faculty,” she said, “and we seek God’s mercy, love and grace that we may be empowered with strength to continue on our joint pilgrimage.”

Seminary buildings were quickly under water as a result of last week’s flooding. (Photo by Owar Ojha Ojulu)

MSY was founded in 1960 to provide training for pastors in Ethiopia. Its aim is “educating people in theological and biblical studies and producing skilled leaders, ministers, and missionaries whose knowledge, life, and ministry could impact and transform the way people live in the world and bring it to what God intends it to be.”

“To be at this Seminary and meet students from other countries is so special and then to think of the impact the students then have on each other gives me such hope for the future,” said Kandel.


Dayna Oliver, mission associate for Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA), said PDA has reached out.

“Sadly, the flooding in Ethiopia is one example of multiple reports of devastation across the region that has left many families displaced and in need,” she said. “We are in contact with our partners in impacted communities and have designated funds to support an initial response. Our continued prayers are with the seminarians and others who have suffered great loss.”

Creative_Commons-BYNCNDYou may freely reuse and distribute this article in its entirety for non-commercial purposes in any medium. Please include author attribution, photography credits, and a link to the original article. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDeratives 4.0 International License.

  • Subscribe to the PC(USA) News

  • Interested in receiving either of the PC(USA) newsletters in your inbox?

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.