LAS VEGAS—The weekend of May 21 was a memorable one for the Las Vegas parish as Western Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian joined the community to inaugurate the new St. Garabed Church Cultural Center.
The festivities began on Saturday evening with a sold-out performance by the Hamazkayin “Ani” Dance Company, attended by the Prelate, Consul General of Armenia the Grigor Hovhannisyan, Very Rev. Barthev Gulumian, former Executive Council Chair Dr. Garo Agopian, Ministers of the local Armenian Evangelical Church Rev. Nerses Kopalian and Rev. Sam Aguilian, priests from the Greek and Maronite Churches, and 550 guests. The evening also featured a guest performance by the Greek youth dance group who presented traditional Greek dances.
Welcoming remarks were delivered by St. Garabed Church Parish Council Chair Adroushan Armenian. In his message the Prelate lauded , “Ani” Dance Company for their part in promoting our rich culture and heritage. “Through each and every performance, “Ani” Dance Company is not just presenting our traditional dances to our community, but also celebrating our national identity and ensuring that the customs and traditions passed on through the centuries are upheld by each subsequent generation. May God bless the founders of “Ani” Dance Company Yeghia Hasholian and Suzy Barseghian-Tarpinian, leading them to even greater successes in the coming years. May God bless also the board members, volunteers, and event organizers for granting the Las Vegas community the opportunity to enjoy this memorable performance,” concluded the Prelate.
On Sunday morning, the community gathered at the new complex for the inauguration of the Cultural Center, and specifically the opening of the hall, which was conducted by the Prelate. Among those in attendance were Consul General Grigor Hovhannisyan, Very Rev. Fr. Barthev Gulumian, Mr. Agopian, Mr. Armenian, members of sister organizations, members of the Prelacy Youth Groups, and parishioners, who were greeted by scouts from the Homenetmen “Artsakh” Chapter upon their arrival.
“With spiritual joy I greet the Las Vegas Parish Council and faithful on this momentous day as we inaugurate the St. Garabed Church Cultural Center and conduct the official opening of the hall which will serve as the sanctuary until the construction of St. Garabed Church. This complex belongs to all of you; it will become a second home and serve as the spiritual and cultural center of all the members of our Las Vegas community. Let us, therefore, build this church and center together, with the collaboration and support of each and every one of you, so that when the day comes we can proudly announce that this dream became a reality through the united efforts of all”, said the Prelate on this occasion. A representative from the office of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid presented the community with a certificate of commendation on this occasion.
The inauguration was followed by Divine Liturgy celebrated in the hall by the Prelate, who also consecrated the marble stone (vemkar) placed on the temporary altar. Very Rev. Fr. Barthev Gulumian assisted at the altar, and members of the Prelacy “Lousavorich” youth choir joined the parish choir for the singing of the Liturgy, which was led by Deacon Zohrab Yaralian.
Prior to his sermon the Prelate first gave thanks to Almighty God for the blessed and momentous day, then took a moment to commend all those involved in the church project including benefactor Mr. Larry Barnes for his generosity, parish council Chair Adroushan Armenian and members for their diligence, and all the supporters and friends who came together and pooled their resources for the realization of the endeavor.
Reflecting on the Feast of Pentecost, which was celebrated on that day, His Eminence first gave a brief account of the events which occurred on that day two thousand years ago, when ten days after the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ, one hundred and twenty people had gathered to pray in a room in Jerusalem, when suddenly there was the fierce sound of violent wind and a fire that separated into one hundred and twenty individual tongues or flames which came to rest on each of their heads. Those who had gathered there received power; they were filled with the source of the greatest power in the universe; they were filled with God Himself. Addressing the faithful he said, “The gift of the Holy Spirit was not just for those gathered in the room or the crowds who assembled outside. The gift of the Holy Spirit is for all of us who love our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. On this joyous and spiritually uplifting day, let us be filled with the Holy Spirit, praying for its might and power to embolden, empower, and invigorate us. May the Holy Spirit reinforce us in our faith and service, and arm us with the spiritual and physical strength to reach our crowning point, the construction of St. Garabed Church”, concluded the Prelate.
The unveiling of the sign at the main entrance followed the service, during which the Prelate once again applauded benefactor Mr. Barnes for his generous donation made in memory of his wife Seda Der Garabedian-Barnes.
The ceremony concluded with the singing of the Armenian, Cilician, and Pontifical anthems.
The Parish Council had organized a reception in honor of the Prelate and Consul General, which took place in the afternoon at the Las Vegas National Golf Club.
Remarks were delivered by Armenian, the Consul General, and Agopian, followed by the cutting of the cake and a performance by the “Lousavorich” youth choir.
The Prelate then once again commended Barnes for his generous donation of $400,000 in memory of his wife Seda Der Garabedian-Barnes, and reflected on the lives of the Der Garabedian family. The daughter of Genocide survivors from the city of Van, Seda Der Garabedian-Barnes lost two brothers in the Genocide before the family was able to flee. Throughout their lives they remained faithful parishioners and servants of the Armenian Apostolic Church, thus the Executive Council and Parish Council saw fit that the new church and center be named St. Garabed Church and Cultural Center in tribute to their memory.
He then announced that in recognition of Barnes’ benevolence, His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia was awarding him with the “Knight of Cilicia” medal, and invited him up to present him with the honor. Mr. Barnes expressed his thanks for the great honor and for the love and respect he has received from the community.
Donations were made throughout the reception to assist in the building of the church, and by the end of the evening over $100,000 was raised for the project.
St. Garabed Church and Cultural Center of Las Vegas are located at 2054 E. Desert Inn, Las Vegas, NV 89169. For further information on the church and future activities, please contact Parish Council Chair Adroushan Armenian at 702-580-0807 or by emailing St.GarabedChurch@cox.net