“Be clean by choice, by attitude and desire, and therefore obey the law, not because of the fear of punishment, retribution or penalty, but rather because of conviction and faith, yes … faith in God.” These words sum up the message offered by Rev. Dr. Habib Badr, Senior Pastor of the National Evangelical Church of Beirut, to the graduating class of 2010 at the Baccalaureate Service held on Sunday, June 27th 2010, in the First Armenian Evangelical Church in Beirut.
The service, which many graduates attended with their families, commenced with a prelude by student Araz Aitian and a processional hymn during which the graduating students walked through the church.
Rev. W. Gregory Lee-Parker, Campus Minister of Haigazian University, gave the call to worship. This was followed by a singing of the “Hymn of Praise” accompanied beautifully by students Kohar Kissoyan on the piano and Arek Dakessian on the cello. Rev. Robert Sarkissian, Vice-chair of the Haigazian University Board of Trustees, offered the prayer of invocation.
In his word of welcome, the President of Haigazian University, Rev. Dr. Paul Haidostian, addressed the graduating class with hope for their future. He emphasized the care and loving family atmosphere at Haigazian and the spirit of thanksgiving and gratitude to God.
“Your university is known in Lebanon not simply for academic seriousness but more importantly for its family atmosphere, a real gift of God we have enjoyed for many years. Each one of you is a dear person. You are created as dear persons and you are dear to your Haigazian community as well,” Haidostian said with pride. He then added that “Haigazian is the place where gratitude to God and to others is the core of our religious response and should create the momentum to work, dedication, creativity community life and service.”
Graduating students also contributed to this thanksgiving service. Maral Pamoukian and Vera Abou Shakra each read out a passage from the Bible, while Jean Baghboudarian shared his reflections as a student. Graduate Diana Assaf sang the beautiful hymn “Who Am I?” as the song of exhortation.
“A Civic God” was the theme of Rev. Dr. Habib Badr’s message to the students. Rev. Badr used two personal anecdotes about a bus driver and a street cleaner who each littered on the street to illustrate their misguided view of cleanliness. What was needed to change this attitude was education, and Rev. Badr clarified what kind of education he meant: “by education here I mean developing sensitivity to, and awareness of the needs of civic existence and good citizenship.”
Rev. Badr added that this was the education he hoped the graduating students had received at Haigazian University. He then concluded with the message that cleanliness and civic duty is part of living a life of faith in God.
This was followed by a prayer of dedication offered by Rev. W. Gregory Lee-Parker, after which student Sarine Topalian read the pledge of the graduates: “We, the class of 2010 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.”
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 2010 marched out of the church with the recessional, each carrying the light of truth, freedom & service to the world.