Haigazian University Baccalaureate Service: A Thanksgiving Ceremony for the Class of 2008
"The relationship between man and God is a joint venture, where God provides the transportation and the transformation along the way, that is, He takes us where we need to go and He transforms and strengthens us as we allow Him," said Dr. Paul Sanders, Director of Institutional Development, of the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary and Executive Director of the Middle East Association for Theological Education, facetiously to the graduating class of 2008 during the Baccalaureate Service, on Sunday, the 29th of June 2008, held in the First Armenian Evangelical Church in Beirut.
A large number of graduates and their families participated in this ceremony, a service of dedication and thanksgiving, which began by the graduating class walking through the church sanctuary during the processional hymn.
The service began with a responsive call to worship, by student Razmig Kaprielian, followed by a hymn of praise, "Our God, Our Help in Ages Past", and the prayer of invocation, delivered by Rev. Robert Sarkissian, Vice-Chair of the Haigazian University Board of Trustees.
In his word of welcome, the President of Haigazian University, Rev. Dr. Paul Haidostian, invited the graduating class to pause and say thanks to God.
"This generation wants to think of itself as a freer generation than the ones past, free to think, decide, speak and act. If so, then I call upon you dear ones, to free yourselves and thank God from the heart. To free yourselves and thank others. To free yourselves and acknowledge that God is God and humans and humans. To free yourselves and give God His place in your lives," Haidostian noted.
Several graduates took part in the service: Talar Yacoubian played the prelude on the piano, Mireille Jakmakjian read biblical selections, Anita Moutchoyan shared her reflections as a student with the audience, while Joyce Saddi performed a vocal solo "Just a Prayer Away."
"The Vision of the Invisible" was the theme of the message of the day, delivered by Dr. Paul Sanders, who considered faith, "a spiritual eyesight allowing us to see the invisible." Sanders also considered faith an ongoing personal adventure with the invisible God, a real relationship with an invisible but living God.
Dr. Sanders concluded his speech by motivating students to be "dreamers, practitioners and dream practitioners through their personal faith in God."
A prayer of commitment by President Haidostian followed, after which students Elias Bahnan and Carla Yedalian read the pledges of the graduates to carry the light of truth, freedom & service to the world: "We, the class of 2008 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."
While the graduates shared the flame among fellow-classmates, student Arek Dakessian played Bach?s Suite 1 on the cello.
At the end, the President of the Union of the Armenian Evangelical Churches in the Near East, Rev, Megrdich Karagoezian pronounced the benediction, whereupon the class of 2008 marched out the sanctuary with the recessional, each carrying a light out into the world.
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