Posted on 10 October 2013
Archbishop Malkhaz Songulashvili, head of the Georgian Evangelical Baptist Church and a friend of Ferndale has been awarded the freedom of the the city in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi.

A Press report states:

Archbishop Malkhaz - the First Clergyman to Receive the Honorary Citizen’s Title

Every year the Mayor of Tbilisi nominates and grants title “Honorary Citizen of Tbilisi” to distinguished scientists, artists, musicians, statesmen, businessmen and others. Since 1979 up to present already 169 people were nominated and granted the title of honorary citizens.

This year on October 6 the awarding ceremony of “Honorary Citizens of Tbilisi” was held at Tbilisi History Museum “Karvasla”. Among other recipients of the title was Archbishop Malkhaz Songulashvili of the Evangelical Baptist Church of Georgia – the first clergyman to have received this title.

Recipients of the title were symbolically handed the keys of Tbilisi by the Mayor of Tbilisi Gigi Ugulava.  After the ceremony the recipients of the title and their spouses were invited to the Mayor’s dinner given in a recently restored historic restaurant on the mount Mtatsminda overlooking the capital city of Georgia.  The dinner was attended by Micheil Saakashvili, President of Georgia.

Among those family members and friends who came to support the Archbishop at the ceremony there were the Revd Charles Jones of the American Baptist Churches in the USA, and Ms Hilde Sayers and the Revd Elimar Brandt of the German Baptist Union. The Archbishop was warmly congratulated with the receipt of the title by European Union Ambassador Philip Dimitrov and Japanese Ambassador Toshio Kaitani.

“I got the news about the nomination and the award in the Vilnius airport when I was waiting for a driver. Of course I am humbled by the recognition of my work and ministry. I love this city where I spent the best and worst years of my life,” said Archbishop Malkhaz at the ceremony.

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