Cyprus: Congratulatory Visit to Mr. Vartkes Mahdessian

June 19, 2011, Nicosia: A delegation from the Armenian Evangelical Church in Cyprus visited Mr. Vartkes Mahdessian, the newly-elected Armenian member of the Cyprus parliament. Mr. Mahdessian was first elected in 2006, representing the Armenian community. The Armenians are considered a minority in the Republic of Cyprus and are officially recognized and registered as a Religious Community (gronagan hamaynk) with rights and privileges. The parliamentary elections took place on May 22, 2011, where Mr. Vartkes Mahdessian was re-elected with a majority vote for a new 5-year-term. The visit took place on Saturday, June 18, 2011, to congratulate Mr. Mahdessian.

The delegation representing the Armenian Evangelical Church included Mrs. Nevart Kassouni- Panayiotides, Mr. Hagop Chopourian, Mr. and Mrs. Noris and Seta Gulesserian, Mr. and Dr. Hrayr and Arda Jebejian and Mr. and Mrs. Mihran Jizmejian (Executive Director, AMAA, Canada).

Mr. Hrayr Jebejian thanked Mr. Mahdessian for his dedicated service to the Armenian community and emphasized the importance of working together as various organizations and groups within the Armenian community in Cyprus. He also assured Mr. Mahdessian of the readiness of the Armenian Evangelical Church to continue its contribution to the welfare of the community.

Mr. Mahdessian thanked the delegation for their visit and re-assured them of his willingness to work closely with the different units in the Armenian community. The visit was also a good opportunity to share ideas and concerns about the various issues related to the community life in Cyprus. Mr. Hrayr Jebejian, and on behalf of the Armenian Evangelical Church, presented Mr. Mahdessian a plaque - The Lord’s Prayer - (Hayr Mer) as an appreciation and acknowledgement of his past and future services as the Representative of the Armenian community in the Cyprus parliament.

The Legacy Goes On

“The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve” (Mathew 20:28)

This is how Dr. Arda Jebejian described Mrs. Nevart Kassouni-Panayiotides’ educational and ecclesiastical service in Cyprus. In fact, her service was the continuation of her father’s legacy, the late Mr. Manuel Kassouni whose educational and ecclesiastical ministry in Cyprus among the Armenian and Cypriot communities has left its tremendous impact over the years and across many generations.

Manuel Kassouni’s newly-published book, Historical Studies, Reminiscences and Memoires, edited by Dr. Yervant Kassouni and published in Beirut in 2010, was launched on Monday, April 11, 2011, at 8:00 pm, at the Utujian Hall, Nicosia, Cyprus. On the same night, Mrs. Nevart Kassouni-Panayiotides was acknowledged for her long years of service in Cyprus. The event was organized by the Armenian Evangelical Church in Cyprus and was held under the patronage of H.E. Archbishop Varoujan Hergelian and the Armenian Representative in the Cyprus Parliament Mr. Vartkes Mahdessian.The program included a presentation of Manuel Kassouni‘s book by Mr. Hrayr Jebejian. The book is a collection of Manuel Kassouni’s historical researches on the formation of the Armenian nation, memoires,
sermons and various reflections from his childhood years in Aintab, his deportation during the Genocide, and his settling in Cyprus. Mr. Manuel Kassouni taught in the American Academy in Larnaca for 40 years and was a prominent intellectual, historian, publisher and lay preacher.
The Rev. Dr. Vartkes Kassouni, Manuel Kassouni’s son, who had flown from the US for this particular event, shared his thoughts about his father’s life and work. Mr. Philip Panayiotides, Nevart’s son, who came from Switzerland for the event, shared his appreciation of his mother’s life. H.E. Archbishop Varoujan Hergelian, accompanied by Rev. Dr. Vartkes Kassouni and Fathers Momig Habeshian and Mashdots Ashkarian, dedicated the book through the traditional Kinetson ceremony.
Mr. Vartkes Mahdessian acknowledged Mrs. Nevart’s long years of service with the presentation of a plaque. Alik and Vahe Jebejian presented two musical pieces by Handel and Mendelssohn on the flute and the piano respectively. The event was concluded by the Bahbanitch offered by the Archbishop and the Orhnouyian Aghotk by Rev. Kassouni.

The Utujian Hall was packed by members of the Ar-menian community in Cyprus as well as guests from the American Academy. The event was quite an emotional one for all, remembering the old days and the hard labor of the Kassouni teachers for several generations. The event was also an occasion to reconfirm the community’s legacy and to highlight the imperative to move forward with the determination to do more.

We are Easter People

Nicosia, April 2010: “We Armenians are Easter people”. This is how Rev. Dr. Vartkes Kassouni
challenged the Armenian community during the Armenian Evangelical Church Easter service held in
Nicosia on April 3, 2010.
Rev. Kassouni’s sermon was based on Acts 2: 22-24: “But God raised him up, having freed him from death, because it was impossible for him to be held in its power”. He said, “Today, we are among you for exactly the same reason. The Risen Lord has made us alive with him, and we have lived a life of witness and celebration of that fact, beginning in Cyprus and literally taking us around the world with this glorious message”.
Rev. Kassouni’s message was a challenge to be “energized by the Easter Faith because we are Easter people”. He then concluded, “We commemorate today the 95th year of the Armenian Genocide,. Something much more powerful than human strength has carried us through the hell of genocide to the new life in 2010, to which we are all witnesses today. It is the living Christ who first descended into hell and then he rose the third day”.
Mr. Hrayr Jebejian led the service. Mrs. Lynda Kassouni-Walker (Rev. Kassouni’s daughter) and her husband, Mr. Steve Walker (on guitar), together with Rev. Kassouni sang a beautiful hymn. Vahe Jebejian led the hymn singing on the piano, and Alik Jebejian offered a musical piece on the flute from Haydn. Memorial testimonies were also held during the services for two family members who went to be with the Lord, Mrs. Khatoun Barsoumian and Mr. Varouj Chirkinian.

During his stay, Rev. Dr. Vartkes Kassouni had the opportunity to meet with the leadership of the Armenian community in Cyprus. He was a guest in the home of the Armenian Representative in the Cyprus Parliament, Mr. Vartkes Mahdessian. He visited the Armenian Prelacy and met the Prelate, His Eminence Archbishop Varoujan Hergelian. He also visited Nareg School in Nicosia and
met with the headmaster, Mrs. Vera Tahmazian. Rev. Kassouni also met with painter and educator, Mr. Vartan Tashjian. Mrs. Sossy Der Torossian interviewed Rev. Kassouni and broadcast it from the Armenian program of the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation on Saturday, April 10.
This was Rev. Kassouni’s first “come back” to his own community in Cyprus since he left for the US 60 years ago. Rev. Kassouni was born in Larnaca, studied in the American Academy and immigrated to the US to pursue his theological training. He has served in a number of Armenian Evangelical churches and para-church organizations in the US as well as within local constituencies.

Hrayr Jebejian

The Armenian Bible: Identity, Religion and Challenges in a Post Modern Society

Nicosia, October 2009: The Christianization of Armenia in 301AD has been a turning point in its national history. A new culture was started which was further rooted and implemented with the invention of the Armenian alphabet and the translation of the Bible into Armenian. Since then, the Bible has been the essence of the Christian faith for the Armenian nation and the preservation of its national identity and culture.

Dr. Ari Topouzkhanian’s visit to Cyprus from October 28 to November 2, 2009, was very significant in this respect. A prominent scientist and Bible scholar-translator, Dr. Topouzkhanian stimulated the Armenian audience with his two very inspiring lectures: “Hay Asdvadsashounchi Shaheganoutioune: Badmagan Agnarg yev nerga orerou hramayagane”. (The essence of the Armenian Bible: Historical reflections and the present day challenges); “Havadk yev kidoutioun: Hay Kristonia Yeridasartin penderdouke” (Faith and Science: The Christian Armenian youths’ search for identity). Dr. Topouzkhanian was also the speaker at the Armenian Evangelical Church’s service, celebrating Tarkmanchatz.

Dr. Ari Topouzkhanian’s visit and lectures in Cyprus were organized by the Armenian Evangelical Church. Dr. Topouzkhanian had the opportunity to meet with the leadership of the Armenian community in Cyprus and visit its institutions. He visited the Armenian Prelacy of Cyprus, met with the Armenian representative in the Cyprus Parliament, Mr. Vartkes Mahdessian, and visited Kalaydjian Home. He had an audience with the students of Nareg School in Nicosia, challenging them with issues related to Christian faith and science. Dr. Topouzkhanian gave an interview to the Armenian program of the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation.

The Armenian Bible is the fundamental source for the preservation of the national identity and the Christian faith of the Armenian nation, the two identities that the Armenian nation has maintained throughout the ages. The challenge today is to pass them on to the next generation.