Rev. Dr. Kraus on “What are You Doing Here”
“You will be given what you need to be restored! There is food in the wilderness, wisdom in the silence of God, a mission – your unique mission – before you, and companions along the way to share the burden, the work, and the joy”, said Rev. Dr. Laurie Kraus, Coordinator of the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance at the Presbyterian Church (USA), to the graduating class of 2015.
Dr. Kraus was the guest speaker at the Baccalaureate Service of Haigazian University, which took place on Sunday, the 28th of June 2015, in the First Armenian Evangelical Church, next to University campus.
A large number of the graduates, along with their families and friends, participated in this solemn ceremony of dedication and thanksgiving.
The service started with a prelude by students Lori Bilalian on the flute and Nanor Madjarian on the piano, followed by a processional hymn marking the entrance of the graduates, as they made their way through the church.
Many graduating students, Haigazian faculty, staff and alumni brought their participation; faculty member Vera Karageuzian, University Librarian Sonia Sislian, Maya Zeidan from the Center for Continuing Education, alumnus Issa Saddi, and graduate Grace Khoury offered the litany of thanksgiving for the 60 years of Haigazian in service of the Lebanese community, education, peace and prosperity. Graduates Karen Parseghian, Gacia Danaoghlanian, and Patricia Prud’homme read passages from the Old and New Testament. Lars Liechti reflected on his University years, sharing the values Haigazian University has taught him, which are, “integrity, brotherhood, leading by example, truth, freedom and service”. The spiritual choir and band had also their performances, singing Hymns “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” and “For the Healing of the Nations”.
Students Amal el Aridi and Robert Dermesrobian read the pledge of the graduates: “We, the class of 2015 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.”
“This is a time to reflect. By reflect, I do not only mean to think and meditate. Reflecting also means giving back something that has been received, giving back with our words, with our plans, with our voices, feelings and generous attitudes… Our hope is that it was new breath, new light, that you had received and it is fresh breath and light that you will send back to the world”. With these words, Rev. Dr. Paul Haidostian, President of Haigazian University, addressed the graduating class of 2015. Haidostian also underlined the meaning and importance of “gratitude”, saying, “it means that God’s grace has given me gifts and opportunities to grow, to learn, and to share even when I have not been that successful, that attentive or that faithful”.
In her keynote address entitled “What Are You Doing Here?”, Rev. Dr. Laurie Kraus emphasized the concepts of “Respite, Response and Resilience”. Kraus talked about the “angels” embodied in the teachers, friends and families, who are there to support during moments of despair. She encouraged students, in the midst of chaos, “to move from a place of reactivity to an attitude of response”, giving the example of Elijah who “stopped listening to the voices of chaos clamoring for his attention, and in the silence found empowerment through the free search for truth”. Finally, Kraus reminded graduates to find their way “from renunciation and fear into a life of resilience and hope”. She concluded her message by saying, “it is the task of every human being to find a way to do that very thing: to keep on shining as light in the darkness, and not burn out along the way”.
Several pastors of the community brought their share in this thanksgiving service. Rev. Meguerdich Melkonian, Head Pastor of the Evangelical Church of Armenia, offered the call to worship. The prayer of dedication was delivered by Campus Minister Rev. Wilbert Van Saane, and the service was concluded by the benediction pronounced by the President of the Union of the Armenian Evangelical Churches in the Near East, Rev. Megrdich Karagoezian.
Finally, the graduating class of 2015 marched out of the sanctuary, with the recessional, each carrying the light of truth, freedom and service to the world.