Prelate Celebrates First Divine Liturgy at the Newly Constructed St. Garabed Church of Las Vegas

The first weekend of December 2012 was a time of great joy and celebration for the St. Garabed Church parish community of Las Vegas, as they are in the final stages of their construction project.

On Saturday, December 1st, H.E. Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate, arrived in Las Vegas to join the parish community in celebrating their achievements of the past year. Executive Council member Mr. Vahan Bezdikian accompanied the Prelate.

As previously reported, the parish acquired the current property in December of 2009 with a generous donation by benefactor Mr. Larry Barnes in memory of his late wife Seda Der Garabedian-Barnes. The complex features a cultural center which was renovated soon after the purchase of the property and where services are taking place until the completion of the Church. In August of this year, the parish community broke ground on construction of the Church, which is expected to be completed in the spring of 2013.

On Saturday, December 1st, the Prelate presided over the year-end banquet celebration, during which he announced that benefactor Mr. Larry Barnes was donating an additional $250,000 on this joyous occasion.

Though the Church is still undergoing construction, on Sunday, December 2nd, Divine Liturgy was celebrated inside the Church for the first time by the Prelate using a movable altar on a “vemkar”. Among the faithful in attendance were Homenetmen scouts, who received Holy Communion from the Prelate.

The theme of the Prelate’s sermon was the hymn, “Heavenly King, preserve Your Church unshaken and keep in peace those who worship Your name”. The Prelate began his sermon by thanking God for the blessed day to celebrate Divine Liturgy inside the Church for the very first time, and emphasized that any task carried out with faith, love, harmony and collaboration, and that has the Lord’s blessing, will be successful.

For his message, the Prelate cited Matthew 16:18 where Jesus says to Peter, “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it,” stating that as the parish is in the process of building this Church, it is only fitting to reflect on this passage and to reflect on building our Churches, our lives, and our nations on a sure foundation. The Prelate noted that just as a building needs a solid foundation to remain strong, so does our Church; not the physical Church, but the Church as the Body of Christ. Jesus Christ is to the Church what the cornerstone or foundation is to a building, said the Prelate. He is the support, the essential component; Jesus is the Rock. The only sure foundation is found in the faith that Jesus is the Son of God and accepting Him as the Lord of our life, submitting to His authority and living according to His law. Jesus is the only foundation that will stand against every test, every storm and every trial. There can be no other foundation upon which to build our lives than belief and trust in the unshakeable foundation of the Jesus Christ. When you set your life upon the Rock, Jesus Christ, you will be cemented into place by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Continuing his sermon, the Prelate stated that we are built on a foundation of the apostles and prophets, and that this is especially true of the Armenian Apostolic Church as our Church was founded and established by the very apostles of Christ, the “First Enlighteners of Armenia” Saints Thaddeus and Bartholomew, whose Feast day was commemorated the day before. “The teaching of Christianity and the planting of faith in Armenia began in the first century with the Apostles Thaddeus and Bartholomew, who spread the Light and the Word of God throughout our nation. It was in Armenia where they preached the Gospel, converted lives to Christ, prepared new disciples to continue their work after their death, and as propagators of the new faith sacrificed their lives in the name of the True Word. They shared the Word of God with the Armenian people, and that message spread from generation to generation. And so our Church was built on the Rock that is Jesus Christ, and has been preserved for centuries because it was built on a solid foundation. In conclusion, the Prelate stressed that as children of God and members of the Armenian Apostolic Church family, we are commissioned to continue the work of our first enlighteners, and wished that the legacy of Saints Thaddeus and Bartholomew inspire and impel us all to fulfill our Christian responsibilities with unwavering faith and love.

At the conclusion of the service, requiem prayers were offered for the soul of Seta Der Garabedian-Barnes.

The year-end banquet celebration was held on Saturday evening, sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Haig and Nora Atamian. Master of Ceremonies Mrs. Anahid Kabadian welcomed the guests and invited Parish Council Chair Mr. Adroushan Armenian to deliver his remarks. Mr. Adroushan gave an overview of the construction project and thanked the Prelate and Executive Council for their supervision, support, and encouragement. Executive Council member Mr. Vahan Bezdikian congratulated and commended the members of the parish community for their dedicated service, owing to which the community will have its own Church in a few months time, and noted that in a city known for its lights, the Church will be the center of the community from where spiritual light will radiate.

Certificates of commendation were then presented to community members Mr. Hagop Ooligian, Mrs. Siran Nersessian, Mrs. Seza Havonian, Mrs. Anahid Kabadian, and Mrs. Diane Sousani for their dedicated service to the parish community.

The Prelate was then invited to deliver his message.

“It is truly a great joy to be here with you today at this year end celebration banquet to celebrate the gifts of the Lord. Last week we celebrated Thanksgiving and gave thanks to God for all His blessings. Today is also a celebration of Thanksgiving for our Las Vegas community as we are witnessing the realization of our dreams, the completion of this Church. We are giving thanks to God for granting us this opportunity to build His House here in Las Vegas. We are giving thanks to God for our benefactor Larry Barnes, and praying for the soul of his late wife Seda. We are giving thanks to God for the Dream Fund. And we are giving thanks to God for the leadership of the Pastor and Parish Council and all the devoted members of this community. And what a celebration it is. We are ending this year with grateful hearts and thanksgiving. This is truly a year-end celebration for us all,” began the Prelate.

“In just a few short months we will witness the completion of St. Garabed Church, which will be the first Armenian Church not only in Las Vegas but in the state of Nevada. This truly is a great accomplishment, not only for this parish community but for the Western Prelacy family as a whole, because we are members of one and the same family and the joy and pride of one member of that family brings equal joy and pride to the whole family. The key to success in anything in life is hard work, perseverance, and most of all working collectively in the spirit of love and harmony. We need look no further than this parish community to see just how true that is. This parish community was re-established six years ago. In the relatively short period of time from your re-establishment until the present day, the progress you have achieved is remarkable. And that progress is owing to the love, unity, and commitment of the members of this community. You are a testament that nothing is impossible with God and nothing is impossible when individuals join their hearts and hands and work together in love for a greater good.” Here the Prelate once again expressed his gratitude to Mr. Larry Barnes, the Dream Fund, and all the sponsors who have lent their financial support to this noble endeavor. His Eminence especially highlighted the generosity of the benefactor, stating that “Mr. Barnes has donated not just the earnings of his hard work, he has put his heart and soul into this project”, and joyfully announced that Mr. Barnes was making an additional donation of $250,000 on this occasion. In conclusion, the Prelate expressed how proud the Prelacy family is of this parish community and the example they have set for all, and prayed for God to bless them and lead them with His divine wisdom to the successful realization of this endeavor.

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