"Before any church building, parsonage, or other church unit is formally dedicated, all indebtedness against the same shall be discharged" (The Book of Discipline 2012, ¶ 2545). The following service, commonly called a mortgage–burning service, may be used for the dedication of a church sanctuary, or an education or activities building, when the building has become free of debt.
This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
I was glad when they said to me, "Let us go to the house of the Lord!"
This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.
Blessed be the Lord; may God's glory fill the whole earth.
HYMN OF PRAISE*
If the hymn is a processional, it may precede the Greeting. See the hymns suggested and Dedication of a Building (UMH).
Eternal God, let this building, which we dedicate to your name,
be a house of salvation and grace where Christians gathered together
may worship you in spirit and truth,
may learn of you, and may grow together in love.
Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
ANTHEM, HYMN, OR OTHER ACT OF PRAISE
SCRIPTURE Suggested lessons:
1 Kings 8:22 –30 Solomon's prayer dedicating the Temple
Isaiah 55:6 –13 God's Word shall not return empty.
Jeremiah 31:31 –34 The new covenant
Psalm 24 (UMH 755, 212, 213)
SCRIPTURE Suggested lessons:
1 Corinthians 3:9 –13, 16–17 Jesus Christ is the foundation.
Ephesians 2:13 –22 Christ Jesus is the cornerstone.
Revelation 21 The holy city
HYMN OR SONG* See the hymns suggested.
GOSPEL * Suggested lessons:
Matthew 7:24 –27 A house built on rock
Matthew 16:13 –18 On this rock I will build my Church.
Matthew 21:12 –17 My house shall be a house of prayer.
BURNING OF THE MORTGAGE
A copy of the mortgage ought to be burned, not the original mortgage itself, which should be preserved.
In some communities fire codes may require that the service or part of it be held outdoors. The service might begin in the church building and move outdoors in a procession for the mortgage burning. Such a procession is appropriate in any event, either at the beginning of the service or immediately before the burning ceremony, and may include the bringing forward of the document to be burned, a vessel such as a large bowl in which the burning will take place, and all the persons who will be involved in the service.
In the burning ceremony itself the copy of the mortgage may be presented to the pastor or district superintendent by one of the trustees. The burning may be accompanied by an anthem of praise or a brief witness to the congregation by several representatives of the different ministries of the church—such as worship, education, evangelism, mission—concerning the meaning of this event and hopes for the future.
ACT OF DEDICATION
Any sections below that do not apply to the functions of the building being dedicated may be omitted.
Dear friends, now that we have completed building,
and paid all indebtedness on it,
let us dedicate this building and rejoice in its holy use.
To the glory of God, who has called us by grace;
to the honor of Jesus Christ, who loved us and gave himself for us;
to the praise of the Holy Spirit, who illumines and sanctifies us;
R we dedicate this house.
For the worship of God in prayer and praise;
for the preaching of the everlasting gospel;
for the celebration of the Holy Sacraments; R
For the comfort of all who mourn;
for strength to those who are tempted;
for light to those who seek the way; R
For the hallowing of family life;
for teaching and guiding the young;
for the perfecting of the saints; R
For the conversion of sinners;
for the promotion of righteousness;
for the extension of God's reign; R
In the unity of the faith;
in the bond of brotherhood and sisterhood;
in love and goodwill to all; R
In gratitude for the labors of all who love and serve this church;
in loving remembrance of those who have finished their course;
in the hope of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord; R
CLOSING PRAYER *
We now, the people of this congregation,
surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses,
grateful for our heritage,
aware of the sacrifices of our mothers and fathers in the faith,
and confessing that apart from us their work cannot be made perfect,
dedicate ourselves anew to the worship and service of almighty God;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
HYMN * See the hymns suggested and Dedication of a Building (UMH).
DISMISSAL WITH BLESSING *
GOING FORTH *
Copyright: 642–47 A Service for the Dedication of a Church Building Free of Debt and A Service for the Consecration of an Educational Building © 1964, 1965 by Board of Publication of the Methodist Church, Inc.; renewal © 1971, 1972 by Abingdon Press; © 1984 by Abingdon Press; © 1992 UMPH; renewal © 1992 UMPH.