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Inter-Religious Council of Ethiopia’s Secretary General Visits Temple Square

The east African religious leader met with the First Presidency and visited Welfare Square, the Humanitarian Center and the Bishops’ Central Storehouse

The head of the Inter-Religious Council of Ethiopia recently visited The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah, to learn more about the global faith and build bridges of friendship with some of its many interfaith partners.

Downloadable B-roll & SOTs (Transcript with English translation)

“I’m very happy from several things I have seen. This will teach Ethiopia and the world,” said Secretary General Tiguhan Kesis Tagay Tadele, shortly after taking a tour of the Bishops’ Central Storehouse.

The Utah Bishops’ Central Storehouse in Salt Lake City is where food and supplies are stored for shipping to central storehouses in five other regions of the United States and Canada, where the supplies are distributed to people in need.

In addition to learning about the Bishops’ Central Storehouse, the Ethiopian religious leader learned how Latter-day Saints participate in volunteer service and provide monetary donations to help fund humanitarian projects around the world, including in Africa.

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Secretary General Tiguhan Tagay Tadele (Kesis) points to boxed food donations while touring The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Bishops’ Central Storehouse, where food and supplies are stored, shipped, and distributed to people in need throughout the United States. Tuesday, May 4, 2021, in Salt Lake City, Utah. 2021 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
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“I have seen the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints helping around the world. When asked for bread, they fed the hungry. We have learned many things from the Church. I would like to encourage them to continue helping those in need,” he said.

When Tadele visited Welfare Square, Church hosts explained how, on a monthly basis, members of the faith voluntarily refrain from eating two meals and in turn, give their bishop a monetary donation equaling the cost of the meals they would have eaten during that time.

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Tadele’s tour hosts then shared a video illustrating how, in 1985, former Church President Spencer W. Kimball invited Church members to dedicate their fast to victims of Ethiopia’s widespread famine. In two days, Church members raised more than $11 million US dollars.

In partnership with other nonprofit organizations, the donations helped deliver immediate humanitarian relief to Ethiopians in need, by providing food, tents and medical supplies, while also making a long-term impact on the country’s agricultural and water improvements.

The fast marked the beginning of what would eventually become Latter-day Saint Charities.

“Doing good for others is a gift from God. Without taking into one's ethnicity, religion, color, Christian or Muslim,” said Tadele.

The Orthodox Church in Ethiopia, to which Secretary General Tadele belongs, represents less than half of Ethiopia’s inhabitants. In his current role, Tadele leads the Inter-Religious Council of Ethiopia, an entity where seven leaders of major faiths, including Christians and Muslims, sit on its board and represent approximately 97% of Ethiopia’s religious population.

Previously, the secretary general has served as the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission’s Peace Ambassador, The Apostle of Peace of Ethiopia’s Prime Minister office and as the Board Chairman of The Interreligious Council of Addis Ababa.

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Secretary General Tiguhan Tagay Tadele (Kesis) walks past pallets of clothing that will be donated to countries in need as part of Latter-day Saint Charities’ humanitarian relief efforts, on Tuesday, May 4, 2021, in Salt Lake City, Utah. 2021 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
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During the two-day tour, Secretary General Tadele learned about the Church’s self-reliance, literacy and BYU Pathway programs that are currently underway in multiple African countries.

“By doing this work with different organizations, [the Church] is doing the right work and I want to continue helping with that work,” said Tadele. “We have a common ground.”

On Wednesday, Tadele was introduced to the First Presidency. Later in the day, he participated in a brief luncheon with local religious leaders, including Msgr. Joseph M. Mayo of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake; Right Rev. Scott B. Hayashi, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Utah; the Rev. Father Elias Koucos, of St. Anna Greek Orthodox Church; and Avais Ahmed of the Islamic Society of Greater Salt Lake and Utah Muslim Civic League.

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President Russell M. Nelson (left) and Secretary General Tiguhan Tagay Tadele (Kesis) bump elbows at the beginning of the Ethiopian leader’s meeting with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ First Presidency on Wednesday, May 5, 2021, in Salt Lake City, Utah. 2021 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Elder Kent F. Richards, director of Church Hosting and an emeritus General Authority, said that visits from special guests like Secretary General Tadele are essential to break down barriers and dispel myths between groups, including members of different faiths.

“We felt like it was very important for him to see the Church in action,” said Elder Richards. “There’s a very active interfaith group here and we’ve had wonderful relationships with church leaders of various faiths, and so we just invited them so they can come and share their story and how we get along well together.”

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“Whether it's help that our community needs or service that we want to give, it's really important that we do it with other groups that are also believers in a faith,” said Avais Ahmed, Chairman of the Utah Muslim Civic League, who attended the luncheon with other local religious leaders. “Even though we have different faiths, our morals do align.”

“I have seen the work that has been done here. I will educate the people in my country about self-reliance and humanitarian service so that those people can help each other and can also bring peace to others," said Tadele.

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