Our family has been uprooted often, and we consider ourselves nearly nomadic. We have lived in some lovely homes both in the U.S. and abroad. We’ve also lived in a neighbor’s unfinished basement, in apartments too small for us, and in fixer-uppers tainted by buyer’s remorse. Actually, most of our living quarters have been rented. But that’s OK. ALL earthly dwellings are temporary.
Our leaders have counseled us to treat our temporary dwellings as if they are permanent — by settling in, by making them houses of order, by creating beauty and harmony, and by improving our living spaces.
One thing we have done wherever we have settled is to dedicate our home. We never feel fully moved in until we do.
Here are some guidelines you can follow to dedicate your own living space. Some have changed over the years, as our leaders have received spiritual guidance for our circumstances.
1. No abode is too humble or too temporary that it can’t be dedicated.
I personally would dedicate a tent in a refugee camp, a cabin in a summer camp, an RV launching out on years of exploring in retirement, a college dorm room. I want the Lord’s spirit with me wherever I live.
For example, missionaries in new companionships often dedicate their apartments. That means one apartment could be dedicated a number of times. Their dedications invoke God’s protection and the promptings of the Spirit for harmony and inspiration in their companionship and in their missionary work.
2. Your abode does not have to be paid for in order to dedicate it.
It seems that in the “old days” this was not the case. Many people did get their homes paid for, and they tended to stay in one home for a very long time. That is not the situation now. You can dedicate your house even before the first payment is due; you can dedicate a rental home or apartment, even if you intend to live there only a short time. Dedicate your summer cabin, too.
3. Dedicating your home is a Melchizedek Priesthood ordinance, but you don’t need a priesthood holder.
This is a priesthood ordinance, and a home is usually dedicated by the power of priesthood authority, by the Melchizedek Priesthood holder who lives in the home. But what if there is none in the home, or what if a priesthood holder is not available?
If no Melchizedek Priesthood holder lives in the home, then the family can invite a home teacher, a relative, a Mormon missionary (Elder), or any other Elder to do it. When no Melchizedek Priesthood holder is available, the family can gather together and offer a prayer that includes the principles in #4. Other ideas can be added if prompted by the Spirit.
4. Homes are not consecrated to the Lord.
Temples are dedicated and consecrated to God’s service as holy places, but the homes we live in can also be sacred edifices, though not consecrated. A sacred edifice (our home) can be a place where the “Holy Spirit can reside, and where family members can worship, find safety from the world, grow spiritually, and prepare for eternal family relationships” (Handbook 2).
We like to dedicate our home to temple-worthy behavior. Once we had a large group of high school athletes (from a private school in Syria; we were living in Cyprus) stay with us for several days. None was Mormon, and none knew anything about our faith, but after a little interaction with our children, they cleaned up their language. One of our kids heard an athlete say, “You can’t use those bad words here. This house is dedicated.”
5. No permission is needed to dedicate your home.
You do not need to go to your bishopric or branch presidency before you gather together to dedicate your home. Follow your instincts and the Spirit. When you feel settled in, then you are ready to dedicate your dwelling. (For us, that’s when all the boxes have been unpacked!)
Here are the Steps for a House Dedication:
- Discuss dedicating your home with family members, missionary companions, or roommates. In families, this can be done in a Family Home Evening.
- Decide in your discussion what a dedicated home is like. How do people behave in a dedicated home? What will be your own personal standards in your dedicated home? What kinds of behavior will you allow from guests in your home? From TV, videos, or other media?
- Include the priesthood holder in this discussion, so your spiritual desires will be included in his dedicatory prayer.
- Decide when you will dedicate your home. We usually dedicate our home during a Family Home Evening.
- Invite close relatives or friends to participate, but this should not be a social occasion; it should be an intimate one.
- Perform the dedication, either performed by a Melchizedek Priesthood holder or by the people who share the home, as a prayer of faith.
*Learn about other ordinances (ordinances necessary for exaltation, and ordinances for guidance and comfort) here.