THE dedication of a church is always a most inspirational and joyous hour. Understandably, the pastor is eager to develop a dignified, meaningful service worthy of the occasion. He wants it to be exactly right. Since it is often the first time he has arranged such a program, the pastor naturally is in quest of ideas from books or persons. One may find many helpful suggestions in books, but often they are not suitable. Programs in them were devised for another church group culture.
The Act of Dedication particularly, it would seem, ought to express Adventist purposes and ideals. This solemn service, at which many non-Adventists are usually present, affords an opportunity for the pastor and congregation, who have labored together in the common effort of building a house for the Lord, to articulate their dedication of purpose in such a way as to express Seventh-day Adventist ideals and aspirations.
The following Act of Dedication attempts to do this. In it the pastor presents a meaningful statement of Adventist purpose, with the authority of Scripture to sustain it, and the congregation responds. This seems more worshipful than a borrowed formula in which the congregation's only part is to repeat in unison the phrase, "We dedicate this house" again and again.
Perhaps others may also find this idea worth adapting or modifying.
Act of Dedication
The Chairman of the Building Committee:
--------- On behalf of the Building and Finance Committee, it is my privilege and high honor to speak to the church and to the president of the Seventh-day Adventist churches in --------- Conference. Forasmuch as devoted members of this congregation in cooperation with administrative and institutional agencies have set their hand to the erection of a church for the worship of God, and being graciously prospered by Him, to finish the work, our task as a committee is now completed. We offer this church to you, asking that you proceed with the dedication.
The President of the Conference:
Elder ---------, as presiding officer of the--------- Conference and on behalf of the legal corporation of the churches in this conference, I gratefully accept this place of worship, that all who come within these walls may be blessed of God. The people of this congregation, who through --------- intensive years have envisioned this house and who through faith, labor, and sacrifice have brought it to completion, are deserving of commendation. I turn now to the pastor of the church and request that he lead us in its dedication.
Minister: As a monument of gratitude for the boundless love of God as manifest in the gift of Jesus Christ, for His atoning sacrifice, for His ministration for our sins, and for the con-verting power of the Holy Spirit we lovingly dedicate this house of worship.
People: "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen" (2 Cor. 13:14).
Minister: As a witness to the eternal nature of the law of God and to the preservation of the holy Sabbath we dedicate this house.
People: "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God" (Ex. 20:8-10).
Minister: For a beacon of hope in a distraught world we dedicate this house in the security of the Master's own promise of His second advent.
People: "I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also" (John 14:2, 3).
Minister: For a depository of truth where the visible body of Christ may at the study hour and in divine worship be nurtured with the Living Bread, we dedicate this building.
People: ". . . the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth" (1 Tim. 3:15).
Minister: To set apart a place sacred to God, where men and women might in praising Him also receive enabling grace in this judgment hour, we dedicate this house of worship.
People: "Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters" (Rev. 14:7).
Minister: To provide for implementation of the gospel command to carry the "everlasting gospel" "to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people" ni a worldwide mission program, which includes stewardship of our talents, the holy tithe, and offerings, we humbly dedicate this building.
People: "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come" (Matt. 24:14).
Minister: We dedicate this house for the observance of the holy ordinances of preparation, of Communion, and of baptism.
Minister and People in Unison: For the salvation of the lost, for the guidance of youth, for the nurturing of children, for the care of the poor, for the protection of widows and orphans, for meeting man's social needs, for the solemnization of marriage, in memory of former ministers and members, and in honor of the pioneers of the Advent Movement we solemnly dedicate this house and rededicate ourselves to the worship of God, fellowship with His Son, and communion of the Holy Ghost "till he come." "Even so, come, Lord Jesus" (Rev. 22:20).
The Prayer of Dedication ______ Elder---------
The Declaration of Dedication .... Elder---------
(conference president) Inasmuch as the congregation of this church has in solemn covenant and prayer set apart this building for sacred usage, I now, therefore, declare it to be a fully dedicated house of worship, consecrated to the worship of God, the communion of the Holy Spirit, and the fellowship of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.