“Take time to listen to the inner, gentle voice within yourself … and perhaps then you will hear that voice telling you ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’.” These words sum up the message offered by Rev. Robert Sarkissian, vice-chair of the Haigazian University Board of Trustees, to the graduating class of 2011 at the Baccalaureate Service held on Sunday, June 26th 2011, in the First Armenian Evangelical Church in Beirut.
The service, which many graduates attended with their families, commenced with a prelude by students Talar Mandoyan and Sarine Kradjian, on the flute and the piano respectively. A processional hymn marked the entrance of the graduating class of 2011 as they made their way through the church.
Christophe Demirdjian, a graduating student of Haigazian University, gave the call to worship.
This was followed by “Amazing Grace,” a classic hymn of praise beautifully sung by student Ruba Habiby and accompanied by Michael Kattan on the guitar. Another student, Vartoug Balekjian, offered the prayer of invocation.
“Today is the preparation of the heart for what the hands will receive next Friday,” announced Rev. Dr. Paul Haidostian, president of Haigazian University, in his welcoming address.
He emphasized the importance of gratitude and thanksgiving to God and to other people. “If this degree you value will not function in terms of giving to others, it will lose its meaning,” Haidostian said. He then added that “God blesses the ones who have grateful hearts.”
Haidostian concluded with his wishes and prayers for the peace of God to be in the hearts of all those present there today.
Following the president’s word, graduating student Dima Matta beautifully led the reading of Psalm 40, which included responses read by the audience. The next two graduates to contribute to this service were Nabil Habiby and Denise Rizk, who each shared their reflections as students of Haigazian University and in particular their appreciation for Spiritual Life at the university.
Michael Kattan and Ruba Habiby then sang the song of exhortation, a poignant hymn entitled “God Will Make a Way.” Graduates Hovig Tchilinguirian and Chukri Charbetji then each read a passage from the Bible.
In his address to the graduating students, Rev. Robert Sarkissian urged them to “listen” in all the aspects of their lives, whether it be in their career or in their life as responsible members of society. “From everywhere resounds the call to listen,” said Rev. Sarkissian, adding that his message was specifically applicable to these graduates as the leaders of tomorrow. He urged them to listen to the needs of the poor and the cries of cleared forests and polluted seas, and finally to listen to the voice of God within, with a heart “overflowing with thankfulness.”
Rev. Sarkissian concluded his message with words that reverberated throughout the church and the hearts of everyone there: “Hallelujah, hallelujah and forever hallelujah.”
This was followed by a prayer of dedication offered by Rev. W. Gregory Lee-Parker, campus minister of Haigazian University, after which students Wissam Baassiri and Sbidag Sarhadian read the pledge of the graduates: “We, the class of 2011 of Haigazian University, in receiving this light, pledge to hold high the light of truth, to defend the light of freedom, and to spread the light of service to our communities, our country and our world. With truth, freedom and service illuminating our hearts, we will challenge each other, and our world, to uphold the worth of each human being, and we will strive for the betterment of society, knowing that this is pleasing to God.”
To conclude the service, the President of the Union of the Armenian Evangelical Churches in the Near East, Rev. Megrdich Karagoezian, pronounced the benediction, whereupon the class of 2011 marched out of the church with the recessional, each carrying the light of truth, freedom & service to the world. The service was followed by an informal reception in the Mugar Garden.