After several decades of being away from its home, the lost chalice of the Baptists of the country of Georgia was returned.
Archbishop Malkhaz Songulashvili was on hand to perform a special celebration of the Eucharist with the Mercer population. Several Mercer dignitaries were in attendance.
Mercer University President Bill Underwood had several words to say about the extraordinary set of circumstances that led to this recovery of the lost chalice.
“It is a great day for Mercer University as we foster a greater bond between the country of Georgia and the state of Georgia,” he said.
Almost two centuries ago, this lost chalice was purchased by a recently baptized convert to Christianity. It is one of the most sacred and celebrated objects in the Baptist church of Georgia.
However, it was lost for decades before eventually being given to a Baptist pastor from America in the early 20th century. The chalice wound up in his personal collection, where it was on display in Newton chapel for several decades. It was only found due to the watchful eye of Mercer University officials.
Archbishop Songulashvili was working on his Ph.D. in England when he came upon news clippings that stated a Baptist pastor from America might have been the one to have received this chalice from his countrymen some decades prior.
Since he had recently met officials for Mercer University, he utilized his contacts to track down this holy object.
As for the service that celebrated this miracle, the series of parables concerning lost objects were read with new meaning.
Also, the famous hymn “Amazing Grace” was reverently sung. Mercer Singers were able to capture the beauty of the moment with their own harmonious melodies.
University Minister and Dean of Chapel Craig McMahan offered some great words of inspiration. Archbishop Songulashvili gave traditional parts of the service in the way in which you would in his own nation.
When asked what it meant for the believers of his small country to have this chalice come back, Songulashvili merely said, “It is a great honor to be the one who gets to accompany this priceless object back to Georgia. I am very thankful and proud to be a part of this celebration.”
Songulashvili and McMahan were the ones in charge of the Eucharist, which was performed via induction. Induction is when you are given a piece of bread and are asked to celebrate the Lord’s supper by dipping it in the cup of wine.
The lost chalice’s story of recovery comes at an opportune time, for the recent Mercer service scholar trip to Georgia had already begun to foster the bonds of friendship and scholarship. The great bridge forming between Baptists both here and abroad will only be furthered.
If one is wishing to see the lost chalice, there is a large portrait hanging in Newton chapel. It will remain there as a symbol of both the incredible past and a bright future. For more information about the story of the lost chalice, go speak to university librarian Beth Hammond.
Chalice returns to country of Georgia