Book of Common Prayer (ECUSA)/Episcopal Services/The Dedication and Consecration of a Church

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Concerning the Service

 

This service provides for the dedication and consecration of a church and its furnishings. Portions of the service may be used, or adapted when necessary, for dedicating parts of a building, or furnishings, that have been added, altered, or renovated. Likewise, suitable parts of this rite may be used for dedicating a chapel or an oratory within another building. Provisions for adapting the rite to special circumstances are given on page 576.

This service may be used to dedicate and consecrate a church at any time after the building is ready for regular use as a place of worship.

The service does not preclude the use of the building for educational or social purposes, or for other suitable activities.

The bishop presides. The rector or minister in charge takes part as indicated. Neighboring ministers should be invited to participate, and may be assigned appropriate parts in the service.

It is desirable that all members of the congregation, young and old, have some individual or collective part in the celebration, as well as the architect, builders, musicians, artists, benefactors, and friends.

For a church or chapel long in use, a special order is provided on page 577.

Additional Directions are on page 575.

The Dedication and
Consecration of a Church

 

On the day appointed, the clergy and people gather with the bishop in a place apart from the church or chapel.

When all are ready, the Bishop says the following or similar words

Through the ages, Almighty God has moved his people to build houses of prayer and praise, and to set apart places for the ministry of his holy Word and Sacraments.  With gratitude for the building (rebuilding, or adornment) of (name of church), we are now gathered to dedicate and consecrate it in God’s Name.

Let us pray.

Almighty God, we thank you for making us in your image, to share in the ordering of your world.  Receive the work of our hands in this place, now to be set apart for your worship, the building up of the living, and the remembrance of the dead, to the praise and glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Necessary announcements may now be made.

As the procession approaches the door of the church, singing and instrumental music are appropriate.

Standing at the door of the church, the Bishop says

Let the door(s) be opened.

The door is opened. With the pastoral staff the Bishop marks the threshold with the sign of the cross saying

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. Amen.

As the procession moves into the church, Psalm 122 or some other appropriate psalm is sung. Hymns and anthems may also be sung.

The congregation standing, the Bishop begins the Prayer for the Consecration of the Church

Our help is in the Name of the Lord;
People The maker of heaven and earth.
Bishop Let us pray.

Everliving 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 Warden or other representative of the congregation continues

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 Rector or Minister in charge continues

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

Now, O Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, sanctify this place;
People For everything in heaven and on earth is yours.
Bishop Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom;
People And you are exalted as head over all.  Amen.
 

The Bishop moves to the Font, lays a hand upon it, and says

Father, we thank you that through the waters of Baptism we die to sin and are made new in Christ. Grant through your Spirit that those baptized here may enjoy the liberty and splendor of the children of God.

V. There is one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism;
R. One God and Father of all.

We dedicate this Font in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

If there are persons to be baptized, water is now poured into the Font, and the service continues as directed on page 575.

If no Baptism is to take place [water may be poured into the Font, and] the Bishop says

The Lord be with you.
People And also with you.
Bishop Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
People It is right to give him thanks and praise.

Facing the Font, the Bishop says

We thank you, Almighty God, for the gift of water. Over it the Holy Spirit moved in the beginning of creation. Through it you led the children of Israel out of their bondage in Egypt into the land of promise. In it your Son Jesus received the baptism of John and was anointed by the Holy Spirit as the Messiah, the Christ, to lead us, through his death and resurrection, from the bondage of sin into everlasting life.

We thank you, Father, for the water of Baptism. In it we are buried with Christ in his death. By it we share in his resurrection. Through it we are reborn by the Holy Spirit.  Therefore in joyful  obedience to your Son, we bring into his fellowship those who come to him in faith, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Grant, by the power of your Holy Spirit, that those who here are cleansed from sin and born again may continue for ever in the risen life of Jesus Christ our Savior.

To him, to you, and to the Holy Spirit, be all honor and glory, now and for ever.  Amen.

 

The Bishop proceeds to the Lectern, lays a hand upon it, and says

Father, your eternal Word speaks to us through the words of Holy Scripture. Here we read about your mighty acts and purposes in history, and about those whom you chose as the agents of your will. Inspired by the revelation of your Son, we seek your present purposes.  Give us ears to hear and hearts to obey.

V.  May the words of our mouth, and the meditation of our heart,
R.  Be acceptable to you, O Lord our God.

We dedicate this Lectern in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

 

The Bishop goes to the Pulpit, lays a hand upon it, and says

Father, in every age you have spoken through the voices of prophets, pastors, and teachers.  Purify the lives and the lips of those who speak here, that your word only may be proclaimed, and your word only may be heard.

V.  Your word is a lantern to our feet,
R.  And a light upon our path.

We dedicate this Pulpit in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

At the Liturgy of the Word

Three Lessons are read. Lay persons read the Old Testament Lesson and the Epistle. The Deacon (or a Priest) reads the Gospel. Selections are ordinarily made from the following list; but on a Major Feast, Sunday, or Patronal Feast, selections may be made from the Proper of the Day.

Old Testament1 Kings 8:22‑23, 27b‑30,or 2 Samuel 6:12‑15,17‑19
Psalm84,or 48
EpistleRevelation 21:2‑7,or 1 Corinthians 3:1‑11,16‑17,or 1 Peter 2:1‑9

When an instrument of music is to be dedicated, after the Epistle the Bishop proceeds to an appropriate place, and says

Father, your people worship you with many voices and sounds, in times of joy and sorrow. Move us to express the wonder, the power, and the glory of your creation in the music we make and in the songs we sing.

V.  Praise him with the sound of the trumpet;
R.  Praise him with strings and pipe.

We dedicate this (name of instrument) in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Instrumental music is now played, or a hymn or anthem sung.

All then stand for the Gospel, which may be the following

Matthew 7:13‑14,24‑25,or Matthew 21:10‑14

 

Sermon or Address

 

Other Pastoral Offices may follow.

If the Apostles’ Creed has not already been said, the Nicene Creed is now said or sung.

The Deacon or a member of the congregation leads the Prayers of the People.

After a period of silence, the Bishop concludes with the following prayers

Almighty God, all times are your seasons, and all occasions invite your tender mercies: Accept our prayers and intercessions offered in this place today and in the days to come; through Jesus Christ, our Mediator and Advocate. Amen.  

We give you thanks, O God, for the gifts of your people, and for the work of many hands, which have beautified this place and furnished it for the celebration of your holy mysteries. Accept and bless all we have done, and grant that in these earthly things we may behold the order and beauty of things heavenly; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

The Bishop then says

Let us now pray for the setting apart of the Altar.

The Bishop goes to the Table and, with arms extended, says

We praise you, Almighty and eternal God, that for us and for our salvation, you sent your Son Jesus Christ to be born among us, that through him we might become your sons and daughters.
Blessed be your Name, Lord God.

We praise you for his life on earth, and for his death upon the cross, through which he offered himself as a perfect sacrifice.
Blessed be your Name, Lord God.

We praise you for raising him from the dead, and for exalting him to be our great High Priest.
Blessed be your Name, Lord God.

We praise you for sending your Holy Spirit to make us holy, and to unite us in your holy Church.
Blessed be your Name, Lord God.

The Bishop lays a hand upon the Table, and continues

Lord God, hear us. Sanctify this Table dedicated to you. Let it be to us a sign of the heavenly Altar where your saints and angels praise you for ever. Accept here the continual recalling of the sacrifice of your Son. Grant that all who eat and drink at this holy Table may be fed and refreshed by his flesh and blood, be forgiven for their sins, united with one another, and strengthened for your service. Blessed be your Name, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; now and for endless ages.  Amen.

Bells may now be rung and music played. Members of the congregation vest the Altar, place the vessels on it, and light the candles.

 

The Peace

The Bishop says to the people

The peace of the Lord be always with you.
People And also with you.

Then the bishop and other clergy and the people greet one another.

 

At the Eucharist

The service continues with the Offertory.

The bishop, or a priest appointed, is the chief celebrant.

The Preface of the Dedication of a Church may be used.

After the postcommunion prayer, the Bishop blesses the people; and a Deacon or Priest dismisses them.

 

Additional Directions

 

The complete form of the service for the Dedication and Consecration of a Church is to be used at the opening of a church or chapel. This service does not require that the premises be debt‑free or owned.

When the clergy and people assemble before the service, they may gather out of doors, in the parish house, in a former or neighboring place of worship, or in some other building. When convenient, the procession may go around the building(s) to be dedicated and then go to the principal door. Hymns or psalms may be used in procession. The use of portable musical instruments is suitable. If there is an organ, it is appropriate that it remain silent until dedicated. When the weather is inclement, or other circumstances make it necessary, the congregation may assemble inside the church; but the bishop, other clergy, and attendants will enter in procession through the principal door.

When a new church is being consecrated, it is desirable that sacred vessels, ornaments, and decorations be carried into the building in the procession. Such things as the deed for the property and the blueprint of the building(s), the keys, and tools used in its construction may also be carried by appropriate persons.

The cross signed on the threshold by the bishop may be marked in lasting form (incised, painted, inlaid).  In place of a pastoral staff, the foot of a processional cross may be used for the signing.

At the dedication of the font, children or other lay persons are to be assigned the task of pouring the water. If Holy Baptism is not to be administered, in addition to saying the prayer over the font as given, the bishop may consecrate oil of Chrism, as in the service of Holy Baptism, for subsequent use in this church.

If Baptism is to be administered, the following order is used: the Gospel from “At Baptism,” page 928; then the service of Holy Baptism, beginning with the Presentation of the Candidates, and concluding with the reception of the newly baptized.

As the furnishings in the church are dedicated, they may be decorated by members of the congregation with flowers, candles, hangings, or other ornaments.

Selected verses of psalms and hymns, or instrumental music may be used as the ministers move from one part of the church to another.

If one reading stand is to serve as both lectern and pulpit, only one of the prayers, and one of the versicles and responses, are used, followed by the words of dedication.

At the dedication of the lectern, the Bible is brought forward and put into place by a donor, or a lay reader, or another suitable person.

If there is an address instead of a sermon, it is suitable that a warden or other lay person outline the plans of the congregation for witness to the Gospel. The bishop may respond, indicating the place of this congregation within the life of the Diocese.

The sermon or address may be followed by an appropriate Pastoral Office, such as Thanksgiving for the Birth or Adoption of a Child, Commitment to Christian Service, or Blessing of Oil for the Sick.

Any of the usual forms of the Prayers of the People may be used; or some other form may be composed for the occasion, having due regard for the distinctive nature of the community, and with commemoration of benefactors, donors, artists, artisans, and others.

For the covering and decoration of the Altar, it is suitable that the donors of these furnishings, or other lay persons, bring them forward and put them in place.  If incense is to be used, it is appropriate at this time.

Instead of the Proper Preface suggested, that of the season may be used, or one appropriate to the name of the church.

 

For the Dedication of Churches and Chapels in Special Cases

If the place of public worship is also to serve as a school or parish hall, or for some other suitable purpose, the service may be adapted to the circumstances.

If the church is also to be used for regular worship by other Christian bodies, it is appropriate that their representatives take part in the service, and that the service be adapted.

Suitable portions of this service may be used by the bishop, or by a priest with the bishop’s permission, for dedicating a private chapel or oratory.

 

For the Dedication of Furnishings, or Parts of a Church or Chapel

Relevant portions of the service for the Dedication and Consecration of a Church may be used by the bishop or a priest for blessing alterations, additions, or new furnishings in a church or chapel. In each such case, the appropriate prayer may be said, or adapted to the circumstances; and prayers and Bible readings related to the particular occasion may be selected. When possible, the areas or furnishings should be put into use at this time.

The blessing of a new font or baptistry should always be done by a bishop, and should be followed, if possible, by the administration of Holy Baptism.

The blessing of an Altar is also reserved for a bishop, and is always to be followed by the celebration of the Holy Eucharist.

 

For a Church or Chapel Long in Use

When buildings have been used for public worship for an extended period of time without having been consecrated, the following order may provide an opportunity for the congregation to reaffirm its commitment to its mission and ministry, and it will be particularly appropriate when a congregation attains recognition as a parish.

1.  Procession
2.  Signing of threshold
3.  Litany of Thanksgiving for a Church, page 578
4.  Te Deum
5.  Liturgy of the Word, with sermon or address
6.  Renewal of Baptismal Vows
7.  Intercessions, including commemoration of benefactors
8.  The Peace
9.  The Eucharist, beginning with the Offertory

 

A Litany of Thanksgiving for a Church

Let us thank God whom we worship here in the beauty of holiness.

Eternal God, the heaven of heavens cannot contain you, much less the walls of temples made with hands. Graciously receive our thanks for this place, and accept the work of our hands, offered to your honor and glory.

For the Church universal, of which these visible buildings are the symbol,
We thank you, Lord.

For your presence whenever two or three have gathered together in your Name,
We thank you, Lord.

For this place where we may be still and know that you are God,
We thank you, Lord.

For making us your children by adoption and grace, and refreshing us day by day with the bread of life.
We thank you, Lord.

For the knowledge of your will and the grace to perform it,
We thank you, Lord.

For the fulfilling of our desires and petitions as you see best for us,
We thank you, Lord.

For the pardon of our sins, which restores us to the company of your faithful people,
We thank you, Lord.

For the blessing of our vows and the crowning of our years with your goodness,
We thank you, Lord.

For the faith of those who have gone before us and for our encouragement by their perseverance,
We thank you, Lord.

For the fellowship of [N., our patron, and of] all your Saints,
We thank you, Lord.

After a brief silence, the Celebrant concludes with the following Doxology

Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty;
People For everything in heaven and on earth is yours.
Celebrant Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom;
People And you are exalted as head over all. Amen.

This Litany may also be used on the anniversary of the dedication or consecration of a church, or on other suitable occasions.