A dedication ceremony conducted by the local church provides a special way to install a new pastor or recognize the contributions and commitment of the current pastor. The vows taken should be a joint commitment between the pastor and the congregation because the work undertaken must be a joint venture. Most ordination services include a dedication to the office of minister, but a dedication service undertaken on the local level creates a special bond between the pastor and the congregants she serves.
Choose those who will be a part of the service. This may include the church board, the supervising denomination elder and the pastor and his family. When possible, the supervising elder leads the ceremony, but the head of the church board may undertake the task if an elder is not available.
Open the ceremony with a prayer for the pastor and family, the congregation and the church leadership. Explain the purpose of the ceremony as a way of building a covenant between the pastor and the church. Each commits to pray for and serve the other in appropriate ways and work as a team to build the church.
Introduce the pastor and give information about why this person is the best individual for the job. State your purpose of binding together to shine a light that reaches the community for God. State any reasons the pastor has given for choosing this church as the ideal place to work.
Ask the pastor to commit to the church. Potential wording includes, “Do you promise to serve this church with your prayers, your presence, your gifts and your service?”, “Do you pledge before God and this family to live before them as an example of God’s love, mercy and compassion?” and “Will you open your heart to these people and love them with the love of a shepherd for his flock?”
Ask the church leadership to commit to the pastor. Their pledge could take a form like this statement. “We pledge to support Pastor (name) with our prayers, our presence, our gifts and our service. We will work hand-in-hand to lead this church by example and by action. We commit to seek what is best and true for everyone in our church.”
Lead the church members and church leadership in a pledge of support. “We, the members of (church name), accept the pledges made before us by the pastor and church leaders. We pledge to support this church and this pastor with our prayers, our presence, our gifts and our service. We covenant to love one another as Christ loves us, to work cooperatively in love, to disagree without being disagreeable and to share one another’s burdens with loving prayer and fellowship. We pledge to work together to be the best church we can be.”
Close the ceremony with a hymn and a prayer.
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