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Service of Thanksgiving & Dedication

 

by The Rev. Thomas L. Weitzel
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

 

This dedication liturgy, originally written for Messiah Lutheran Church in Brownsburg, IN, has the unique aspect of beginning in the old church for a time of thanksgiving, followed by a procession to the new church for its dedication.  The service can be used however without the Thanksgiving portion at the beginning, in which case the service would begin at the doors of the new church. 

 

The order below includes the full text for the Dedication of a Church Building from the Occasional Services 1982.  The Proclamation by the Bishop to "Let the doors be opened" and the marking of a cross at the threshold with the crozier are from the Book of Common Prayer 1979, as are the Prayers for the Consecration of a Church.  I have expanded the Rededication of Chancel Furnishings and the procession and dedication of other spaces in the church to include a hymn for movement and versicles from the BCP prior to each prayer from the Occasional Services.

 

 

GATHERING

 

B = Bishop     P = Presiding Minister    A = Assisting Minister    C = Congregation

 

The people gather in the old worship space for Remembrance and Thanksgiving before the Dedication.

The color of the day is red.

 

Pre-service Music

Hymn     "I Love Your Kingdom, Lord"

Print out hymn here

 

Dialog of Praise:

A. Praise the Lord! Praise the name of the Lord!

C. Praise the Lord! Give thanks to him!

 

A. God has blessed us and brought us to this time.

C. God has blessed us and brought us to this place.

 

A. God has caused his name to dwell in our midst.

C. God has stirred our hearts and made us glad.

 

A. For _____ years, God has nurtured and fed us in this place.

C. For _____ years, God has shown us his grace in this place.

 

A. For _____ years, God has given himself in Word and Sacrament in this place.

C. For _____ years, God has empowered us with his Holy Spirit in this place.

 

A. Praise the Lord for _____ years! Give thanks to him!

C. Praise the Lord for evermore! Oh, praise the name of the Lord!

 

Doxology:     sing

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

Praise Him, all creatures here below.

Praise Him above, ye heav'nly host.

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

 

Lesson:   Psalm 24

     The earth is the Lord's and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it; for he has founded it on the seas, and established it on the rivers. Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place? Those who have clean hands and pure hearts, who do not lift up their souls to what is false, and do not swear deceitfully. They will receive blessing from the LORD, and vindication from the God of their salvation. Such is the company of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O ancient doors! that the King of glory may come in. Who is the King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty, the LORD, mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O ancient doors! that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory.

    The word of the Lord.

C. Thanks be to God.

 

History of this Congregation

 

After the history, the Pastor of the church leads the people in the following litany.

 

Litany of Thanksgiving:

P. Brothers and sisters in Christ, the Lord God has blessed us with this house of prayer for ______ years. At its dedication, God promised his holy presence for our worship, his attentive ear for our prayers, and his watchful eye for our lives. Here we have heard his holy word for our lives. Here we have communed with our Risen Lord. Here we have all been blessed.

    Before we go to dedicate our new house of prayer, let us give thanks to Almighty God for all that this place has been for us. Pause for reflection

Almighty God, yours is the glory and the power. You are the great builder of the worlds and the great architect of our lives and our salvation. For calling us to be the Church of Jesus Christ in this place,

C. We give you thanks, O Lord.

 

P. For giving us this house of prayer and worship for these _____ years,

C. We give you thanks, O Lord.

 

P. For providing a holy place in which to bring our prayers, confess our sins, and find your presence,

C. We give you thanks, O Lord.

 

P. For providing a sacred place to worship your name, to baptize our infants, to marry our children, and to bury our loved ones,

C. We give you thanks, O Lord.

 

P. For providing an empowering place to hear your word, grow in faith, and be challenged in mission,

C. We give you thanks, O Lord.

 

P. As we go forth to dedicate our new house of prayer, we ask your presence with us now.

C. Be present with us, O God.

 

P. Make us thankful people always for the grace and favor you show us.

C. Be present with us, O God.

 

P. Form us into a holy people, a royal priesthood of believers, ever mindful of your presence and your steadfast love for us.

C. Be present with us, O God.

 

P. Holy God, mighty Lord, are hearts are full of gratitude to you for bringing us to this blessed day. For all that you have been to us here in this place, we thank you. For all that you have promised to be in our lives, we thank you. Bless us now as we go forth from this place to a future built upon the foundation of your Son. You have called us to this day. Guide us now with your Holy Spirit; through your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

C. Amen

 

P. Let us go forth in peace.

C. In the name of our Lord. Amen

 

Processional Hymn "The Church's One Foundation"   (Use more hymns as necessary)

 

Print out Hymn(s) here

 

The crucifer leads the ministers and people to the place outside the main doors of the new church. Small furnishings for the new chancel, the pulpit Bible, the altar cross, etc. may be carried by congregational representatives in the procession.

When all are assembled before the main doors of the new church, the Bishop says:

 

B. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

C. And also with you.

 

B. Brothers and sisters: We have come together to dedicate this church for the worship of almighty God and for the building up of the body of Christ. From this day forward, let it be a place for the gathering of the people of God, a place for proclaiming the Gospel through Word and Sacrament, a place for bringing life and hope to us and to this community.

    Let us pray.   Direct us, O Lord, in all our doings with your most gracious favor and further us with your continual help, that in all our works, begun, continued, and ended in you, we may glorify your holy name and finally, by your mercy, obtain everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

C. Amen

 

B. Let the doors be opened!

The Bishop receives the keys to the building from the builder. The bishop hands the keys to a representative of the congregation who unlocks and opens the door. Standing in the threshold of the opened doors, the Bishop with his pastoral staff marks the threshold floor with the sign of the cross, saying:

B. Peace be to this house, and to all who enter here, in the name of the Father, + and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

C. Amen

A hymn or anthem may be sung as the procession moves into the church . The ministers and a representative of the congregation move to the center of the chancel and face the people. If small furnishings have been carried from the old worship space, they are put into place at this time. The congregation remains standing.

If a hymn is sung, print it out here.

 

Prayer for the Consecration of a Church:

B. All your works praise you, O Lord,

C. And your faithful servants bless you.

 

B. Let us pray.  Ever living Father, watchful and caring, our source and our end: All that we are and all that we have is yours. Accept us now, as we dedicate this place to which we come to praise your Name, to ask your forgiveness, to know your healing power, to hear your Word, and to be nourished by the Body and Blood of your Son. Be present always to guide and to judge, to illumine and to bless your people.

A representative of the congregation continues:

A. Lord Jesus Christ, make this a temple of your presence and a house of prayer. Be always near us when we seek you in this place. Draw us to you, when we come alone and when we come with others, to find comfort and wisdom, to be supported and strengthened, to rejoice and give thanks. May it be here, Lord Christ, that we are made one with you and with one another, so that our lives are sustained and sanctified for your service.

The Pastor of the church continues:

P. Holy Spirit, open our eyes, our ears, and our hearts, that we may grow closer to you through joy and through suffering. Be with us in the fullness of your power as new members are added to your household, as we grow in grace through the years, when we are joined in marriage, when we turn to you in sickness or special need, and, at the last, when we are committed into the Father's hands.

The Bishop concludes:

B. All these things we ask in the name of Jesus Christ who is the foundation and chief cornerstone of our faith; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

C. Amen

 

The Rededication of Chancel Furnishings:

The crucifer leads the ministers to the Baptismal Font, as the people sing:

Hymn: Tune: Dundee (#464)

          Renewing Spirit, hear our praise

          For your baptismal pow'r

          That washes us through all our days.

          Lord, cleanse again this hour.

 

P. There is one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism,

C. One God and Father of all.

The Bishop lays a hand upon the font and prays:

B. Blessed are you, O Lord our God, king of the universe. In the beginning your Spirit moved over the waters, and you created heaven and earth. You have made water for us a sign of rebirth, and by it we share in the death and resurrection of your Son, Jesus Christ. In joyful obedience to his command, we make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

    Pour out your Holy Spirit, so that new life may be given to all those who are baptized in this font which we rededicate today. To you, O God, be given praise and honor and worship through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, now and forever. (#513)

C. Amen

The crucifer leads the ministers to the pulpit as the people sing:

Hymn:

          Father of mercies, in your Word

          What endless glory shines!

          Forever be your name adored

          For these celestial lines.

 

P. Your word is a lantern to our feet,

C. And a light to our path.

The Bishop lays a hand on the pulpit and prays:

B. Blessed are you, O Lord our God, king of the universe. You have revealed your love for your creation in your Word, our Lord Jesus Christ. Inspired by him, we seek to hold fast to the truth and to know your purposes. Purify the lips of those who speak here, and grant us grace to hear your love in all that is proclaimed from this pulpit which we rededicate today; through our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever. (#514)

C. Amen

The crucifer leads the ministers to the altar as the people sing:

Hymn:

          Lord, sup with us in love divine,

          Your Body and your Blood,

          That living bread, that heav'nly wine,

          Be our immortal food.

 

P. I will go to the altar of God,

C. To the God of my joy and gladness.

The Bishop traces the five crosses customarily inscribed on the altar top (four corners and center, representing the five wounds of Christ), then lays a hand upon the altar and prays:

B. Blessed are you, O Lord our God, king of the universe. You nourish your people with the heavenly bread in Jesus Christ. Bless and sanctify all who receive his body and blood at this altar which we rededicate today. Give them grace to live in faith and love throughout their lives, until at last we all behold you face to face at the heavenly altar where your saints and angels praise your forever; through our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit one God forever. (#515)

C. Amen

The crucifer leads the ministers to a table where symbols of Christian Education are assembled, as the people sing:

Hymn:

          Divine instructor, gracious Lord,

          May you be always near;

          Teach me to love your sacred Word

          And find my Savior here.

 

Dedication of the Education Unit:

P. Our hearts burned within us:

C. When Jesus opened to us the scriptures.

The Bishop lays a hand upon the symbols of Christian Education and prays:

B. Blessed are you, O Lord our God, king of the universe. Your gifts are many, and in wisdom you have made all things to give you glory. Be with us now and bless us as we dedicate our new center for Christian Education to your praise and honor. May your holy Word echo from its walls, that young and old alike may know the mighty wonders you have done, the joy of Christian fellowship, and growth in faith and trust in the salvation which you give us through Jesus Christ our Lord. (#519, altered)

C. Amen

The crucifer leads the ministers to the center of the chancel as the people sing:

Hymn:

          To God all glory, praise, and love

          Be now and ever giv'n

          By saints below and saints above,

          The Church in earth and heav'n.

 

B. Now, O Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, sanctify this place.

C. For everything in heaven and on earth is yours.

 

B. Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom,

C. And you are exalted as head over all. Amen! Alleluia!

The people are seated.

 

 

WORD

Greetings and Announcements

(Anthem or Special Music)

Lesson

Anthem or Special Music

Gospel

Sermon

Hymn of the Day  "Built on a Rock"

 

Litany of Thanksgiving and Dedication to God's Mission:

A. With praise and thanksgiving, let us pray to God, through whom all things are accomplished:

Eternal God and Creator of all things, we give you high praise for the good work you do among us:

C. Praise and thanks and honor and glory be to you, O Lord.

 

A. For our baptism in faith, for your forgiveness of our sins, for the founding of our church and for its sustaining by your gracious hand:

C. We offer our heartfelt thanks, O Lord.

 

A. For the unity of the Holy Spirit, for the saving work of your Son, Jesus our Lord, in whose name you give us our mission.

C. We offer our heartfelt thanks, O Lord.

 

A. For bringing our present work to completion in a new house of prayer and study, which we dedicate to your glory.

C. We offer our heartfelt thanks, O Lord.

 

A. For those who you inspired with this vision and those who helped to bring it about:

C. We offer our heartfelt thanks, O Lord.

 

A. For those who contributed their knowledge and gifts and those who contributed their sweat and labor:

C. We offer our heartfelt thanks, O Lord.

 

A. For those who prayed for this great gift, but who have been taken into your heavenly care before seeing it accomplished:

C. We offer our heartfelt thanks, O Lord.

 

A. Inspire us by the vision for mission in this place that helped to found this church.

C. We dedicate our lives to your service.

 

A. Inspire us by your continued presence in our lives and in this house of prayer.

C. We dedicate our lives to your service.

 

A. Root us in the foundation of Jesus Christ.

C. We dedicate our lives to your service.

 

A. Empower us to reach out to the poor and needy, the sick and the dying, who so need the Good News of your love.

C. We dedicate our lives to your service.

 

A. Use us as living stones of the Church in the world, bringing forth good fruits, that we might offer them here at your holy altar.

C. We dedicate our lives to your service.

 

A. Use us to proclaim your holy name and to touch people's lives through our example and faith with the life-giving Gospel of Jesus Christ.

C. We dedicate our lives to your service.

 

P. Holy God, Creator Lord, you bless us in so many ways with your gifts, and in particular you bless us with the gift of this new house of prayer and study. As we come and go from this place, may we know your presence always, find consolation for our weary hearts, and be empowered by your Holy Word and Sacraments to go forth to serve you in the world, that your name might be glorified and your kingdom increased; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

C. Amen

 

B. The peace of the Lord be with you always.

C. And also with you

All may share a sign of the Lord's peace.

 

MEAL

Offering

Anthem or Special Music

Offertory or Hymn

 

Offertory Prayer:

A. Let us pray. Gracious Lord,

C. We offer to you ourselves and our church: brick and mortar, wood and nail, bread and wine, hands to do your will, hearts that are ready to serve. Accept them for the sake of him who gave himself for us, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

 

Eucharistic Prayer of the Master Builder:

B. The Lord be with you.

C. And also with you.

 

B. Lift up your hearts.

C. We lift them to the Lord.

 

B. Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

C. It is right to give our thanks and praise.

 

B. We give you thanks, Almighty God, for in the beginning, you set the earth upon its foundations and created all that exists. As master builder and architect of the universe, you fashioned the orders of the world and humankind in your own image. You built for yourself the kingdom of heaven and marked out the limits of the earth.

 

P. And when your master work was complete, you called to yourself a people to be your own. You blessed them with gifts and made them a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. And when they turned from you in their sin, you sent forth your own Son, a humble carpenter from Nazareth, to show us your love, to forgive us our sins, and to bring us into the eternal kingdom that you had built. It is he who has built us into a Church as living stones in your house of love.

 

B. For all this, we praise you and join the hosts of heaven in their unending hymn:

C. (sing) Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of pow'r and might: Heav'n and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.

 

B. And so, Father, as living stones built upon the foundation of Jesus Christ, we who have been redeemed by him come humbly into your presence and gather at the table to which he has called us, that we might receive your grace and find strength to do your will and to continue to build for your kingdom.

    In the night in which he was betrayed, our Lord Jesus took bread, and gave thanks; broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying: Take and eat; this is my body, given for you. Do this for the remembrance of me.

    Again, after supper, he took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it for all to drink, saying: This cup is the new covenant in my blood, shed for you and for all people for the forgiveness of sin. Do this for the remembrance of me.

    With joy and with thanksgiving, almighty God, we proclaim the mystery of faith:

C. Christ has died! Christ is risen! Christ will come again!

 

P. Therefore, O Father, with this bread and cup, we remember all that the Savior taught and all that he promised. We remember his example of faith and his witness to your love. We remember his establishment of the church, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets. And we remember his life-giving sacrifice and death, his glorious resurrection, and his ascension to your right hand. We look to the day when he shall come again and announce to all the saved, "Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."

C. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

 

B. We lift this bread and cup before you, O Lord, as an offering of sacrifice and praise. Send down your Holy Spirit upon these gifts, that they may be the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Send down your Holy Spirit upon us also, that, in the sharing of this bread and cup, we may be sanctified in grace and built into a holy fellowship of unity and peace.

C. Amen. Come, Holy Spirit.

 

B. Great Architect of our Salvation, accept our prayers and praises for the sake of him who is our High Priest, Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom with you and the Holy Spirit, your Church gives honor and glory forever and ever.

C. Amen

 

B. Let us pray with confidence in the words our Savior gave us:

C. Our Father...

 

Communion

Hymns, Anthem(s) or Special Music

 

After Communion:

A. Let us pray.  Let us pray. Lord Jesus, in a wonderful sacrament you strengthen us with the saving power of your suffering, death, and resurrection. May this Sacrament of your body and blood so work in us that the way we live that the fruits of your redemption will show forth in the way we live, for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  (ELW 387)

C. Amen

 

Solemn Blessings for the Dedication:

B. May the Lord our God bless you with his presence as you minister in this new place.

C. Amen

 

B. May your ears be open and your hearts found willing to accept his call for your purpose in this place.

C. Amen

 

B. May your mission and your individual lives be guided by our gracious Lord, until he gathers us into his heavenly kingdom.

C. Amen

 

B. And may almighty God, Father, + Son, and Holy Spirit, bless you now and forever.

C. Amen

 

A. Go in peace. Serve the Lord.

C. Thanks be to God!

 

Recessional Hymn

__________

 

Acknowledgments:

This Service of Thanksgiving and Dedication has been prepared by the Rev. Thomas L. Weitzel, Indiana-Kentucky Synod, ELCA. Portions of this service have been taken from the the Occasional Services (1982 Augsburg Fortress Pub.), and the Book of Common Prayer (1980 Church Hymnal Corp.).

 

The hymn stanzas used at the Rededication of Chancel Furnishings are from: Thomas E. Herbranson's "This Is the Spirit's Entry Now," Anne Steele's "Father of Mercies," Charles Wesley's "Oh, For a Thousand Tongues to Sin," all in the Lutheran Book of Worship, Augsburg Fortress 1978, and James Montgomery's "Shepherd of Souls, Refresh and Bless" in The Hymnal 1982, Church Pension Fund 1985.