Setting out to forge a career in the nine to five world, Ebassa Berhanu, was on schedule to finish his undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin, Superior. Though he didn’t know it at the time, his life would soon be taken down a different path where he would interact with people in a more spiritual setting.
“I pursued my undergrad in business administration with a focus on international business and management for four years until God redirected my path,” remembered Berhanu. It was the influence of an invitation from his brother to come with him to the church he was attending.
“My older brother Samuel was attending an Ethiopian church,” he said. “I started going and eventually began volunteering with the youth ministry at the church.” Shortly after, in 2002 and 2003, Berhanu began pursuing a different passion.
Traveling down the same road as his father Berhanu Wedajo, a church pastor by trade, Ebassa enrolled himself into a seminary program at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. “I got out of seminary in 2009,” he said. While his wife, Hana, worked on finishing her masters in education, he started to look for work outside the ’Twin Cities,’ after her graduation in 2011.
“I began applying for several different positions, including one at Faith Lutheran Church in Castle Rock,” he added. After a lengthy interview over the phone, the church decided to have him flown out to meet him in person. “I was hired by the church and came in as an Assistant Pastor with a focus on youth and family.
Pastor Ebassa and Hana were on course to make a new home in Colorado. “We moved here September of 2011 and have been here raising our a family in Castle Rock,” said Berhanu. “We love this place because our kids (ages 7, 6, 3 and 9 months) can go out and play and we don’t have to have too much anxiety about them being safe.”
The past few years have also allowed him to settle in a more senior role at Faith Lutheran Church. “The previous pastor stepped down and took another call out of state,” he continued, “And after much prayer and thought, leaders offered the position to me in 2013.” Accepting the call, he became the new Senior Pastor for his congregation.
Taking on new responsibilities has not only brought blessings to his family but has also given a renewed energy to the church. In his new role, he has made it his goal to find ways to break the barrier between traditional and contemporary.
“We love that Castle Rock is a young town,” he remarked. “In order to reach more of the community, we are trying out a contemporary service on Saturday nights—with music—something we hope can eventually translate into Sunday mornings.”
His goal is for the change to reach out to a different audience; those not fed by a more traditional aspect of the church. “We want them to be able to connect with God in different ways without compromising the Word or watering down the bible in any way.”
Along with working to strengthen their youth and children’s ministry, he and his staff are also hosting workshops on real-world issues.
“We are offering a list of evening classes on care after a divorce, a support group for the bereaved, and another that walks people through the Dave Ramsey, Financial Peace University program to help people with their finances,” he continued, “We also will be holding another for married couples that want to take their marriage to the next level and a couple of times a year, we offer a parent’s night out.”
Because Pastor Bernahu believes he has been called to use his influence to help people with real issues that may be affecting their lives. He wants people to view his church as a community resource.
He sees the Faith Lutheran Preschool as a big part of that philosophy. “The preschool is part of our church,” he said. “One of the things I’d like to do with the preschool is to see how we can minimize the differentiation; we operate under the same bible and in the same building.”
As Berhanu and his church continue to serve the people of Castle Rock, he is optimistic that the new year holds opportunities to touch more lives. “All of these things are just another way for us to reach into the community and bring them closer to God.”