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Ethiopian Congregation Mourns Loss Of Beloved Singer

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The congregation of a Minneapolis church is dealing with the loss of a popular member who helped lead the worship services with his singing talents.

Fikiru Jaleta was a worship leader at Ebenezer Oromo Church in Minneapolis, where many of its members are Ethiopian immigrants.

Jaleta is remembered for his optimism, and his faith inspired those around him.

"He has a very beautiful voice and he knows so many songs," said church pastor Challa Baro. "He always touched the heart of people, and he's always able to lead people to worship God."

Baro says Jaleta was a man of character who played a vital role in Sunday morning worship services, where he got people to their feet, eager to join him in song.

Jaleta died unexpectedly in early November after suffering a heart attack. He was 43 years old.

"He is most beloved person and it breaks your heart," Baro said.

Fikiru Jaleta
Fikiru Jaleta (credit: CBS)

Jaleta's mother traveled to Minnesota from Ethiopia to say goodbye to her son.

She says he was always eager to share his love of God.

"He joined the choir when he was 7," said Jaleta's mother, via Baro's interpretation.

He leaves behind a wife of three years and two young sons.

Eyerusalem Solomon met her husband in the church choir, where he sang while she played the keyboards.

"I feel like I'm still a bride. Right after we got married, I got pregnant," Solomon said. "That's how we started life."

She says Jaleta taught her how to remain calm, even when bad things happen.

"He tells you, 'Just leave it alone, shake it off, just live life and love people and think positive,'" she said.

She also learned from him how to turn to faith when you feel hopeless.

"I see God's spirit helping me in everything that I'm going through right now," Solomon said.

Church members have set up a GoFundMe account to help Jaleta's wife and sons.

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