Liturgy by TLW



Groundbreaking Ceremony

by The Rev. Thomas L. Weitzel
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


The following order makes use of elements from the groundbreaking services of both Lutheran Occasional Services 1982 and the Episcopal Book of Occasional Services 1979 within the context of a full eucharistic celebration.




Welcome to this special service as we break ground for a new church/fellowship hall. Our special guest for the occasion is the Reverend Bishop __________ of the ________ Synod, ELCA. Be sure to welcome him/her following the service.





Entrance Hymn  "O Zion Haste"


Apostolic Greeting:

Bishop: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

C: And also with you.


Prayer of the Day (For Anniversary of a Church):

P: Let us pray. O God, you have promised through your Son to be with your Church forever. We give you thanks for those who founded this community of believers and for the signs of your presence in our congregation. Increase in us the spirit of faith and love, and make us worthy of our heritage. Knit us together in the communion of saints, and make our fellowship an example to all believers and to all nations. We pray through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  (#149)

C: Amen



First Lesson: Hebrews 11:8-10

Verse: "Alleluia"

Gospel Lesson: St. Luke 6:47-49

Sermon        Bishop Kempski

Hymn of the Day   "Christ Is Made the Sure Foundation"


Litany for the Church:

P: God the Father, Creator of heaven and earth,

C: Have mercy on us.


P: God the Son, Redeemer of the world,

C: Have mercy on us.


P: God the Holy Spirit, Sanctifier of the faithful,

C: Have mercy on us.


P: Holy, blessed, and glorious Trinity, one God,

C: Have mercy on us.


P: O Christ the Rock, on which your people, as living stones joined together, grow into a spiritual house;

C: Defend your Church, we pray.


P: O Christ the Vine, of which your people are the branches;

C: Defend your Church, we pray.


P: O Christ the Head of the Body, of which your people are the members;

C: Defend your Church, we pray.


P: O Christ our Prophet, you teach the way of God in truth;

C: Defend your Church, we pray.


P: O Christ our High Priest, you offered yourself upon the Cross, and now make intercession for us to the Father;

C: Defend your Church, we pray.


P: O Christ our King, you reign over all the earth, and make us citizens of your heavenly kingdom;

C: Defend your Church, we pray.


P: O Christ, you sent the Holy Spirit upon the Church, clothing it with power from on high;

C: Defend your Church, we pray.


P: We pray to you, Lord Christ, that we may be devoted to the Apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers,

C: Lord, hear our prayer.


P: That we may make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,

C: Lord, hear our prayer.


P: That you will fulfill your promise to be with us always, even to the end of the ages,

C: Lord, hear our prayer.


P: That you will sustain all members of your holy Church, that in our vocation and ministry we may truly and devoutly serve you,

C: Lord, hear our prayer.


P: That you will bless the clergy of your Church, that they may diligently preach the Gospel and faithfully celebrate the holy Sacraments,

C: Lord, hear our prayer.


P: That you will heal the divisions in your Church, that all may be one, even as you and the Father are one,

C: Lord, hear our prayer.


P: Arise, O God, maintain your cause;

C: Do not forget the lives of the poor.


P: Look down from heaven, behold and tend this vine, our church;

C: Preserve what your right hand has planted.


P: Let your ministers be clothed with righteousness;

C: Let your faithful people sing with joy.


Bishop: Almighty God, let your continual mercy cleanse and defend your Church; and, because it cannot continue in safety without your help, protect and govern it always by your goodness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

C: Amen



Bp: The peace of the Lord be with you always.

C: And also with you.




Offertory Hymn: "What Shall I Render"

Offertory Prayer

Great Thanksgiving    (spoken)

Our Father



      Hymn  "I Love Your Kingdom, Lord"


Post-Communion Prayer




Order for Groundbreaking:

P: Let us go forth in peace,

C: In the name of our Lord.


Processional Hymn:

During the hymn, the ministers and congregation process behind the cross to the north lot where the groundbreaking will take place.


The Church's one foundation

Is Jesus Christ, her Lord;

She is his new creation

By water and the Word.

From Heav'n he came and sought her

To be his holy bride;

With his own blood he bought her,

And for her life he died.


Elect from ev'ry nation,

Yet one o'er all the earth;

Her charter of salvation:

One Lord, one faith, one birth.

One holy name she blesses,

Partakes one holy food,

And to one hope she presses

With ev'ry grace endued.


Yet she on earth has union

With God, the Three in One,

And mystic sweet communion

With those whose rest is won.

O Blessed heav'nly chorus!

Lord, save us by your grace,

That we, like saints before us,

May see you face to face.


P: Brothers and sisters in Christ: We have come together to seek God's blessing as we set apart this ground for the building of a church fellowship hall.


During the following lesson, cords are stretched across the building space forming the Greek letter X (chi), the symbol of the cross and of the name of Christ.


A: A reading from the book of Exodus: Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. Then Moses said, "I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up." When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, "Moses, Moses!" And he said, "Here I am." Then he said, "Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground." Ex.3:1-7


The Blessing of Ground and Congregation:

Bp: The Lord be with you.

C: And also with you.


Bp: Let us pray. Blessed are you, O Lord our God, king of the universe. You fill the entire world with your presence; your name is to be hallowed through all the earth.

Bless all those who have worked or contributed to provide the site which today we set apart + for the building of a church fellowship hall. May this be a place where all may come to know the presence of Christ, experience the joy of his friendship, and grow in his love.


P: May your gracious blessing, O Lord, descend like the dew from heaven upon this place and upon all who shall gather here. You have given us joy in a work begun in your name; may we soon celebrate your presence in this place, and in the time to come, praise you forever in our eternal home; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (Occ. Serv. #510, altered)

C: Amen


Breaking of the Ground:

A: Praise the Lord, all you nations!

C: Extol him, all you peoples!


A: For great is his steadfast love toward us,

C: And the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.


The Bishop turns three spadesful of earth, saying:


Bp: With faith in Jesus Christ, this work is begun and this ground is broken in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

C: Amen


Other ministers, officers, members of the Capital Improvements Task Force and members of the congregation

may each turn a spadeful of earth. After all have broken ground, the prayers are said.


The Prayers:

P: Lord, remember us in your kingdom, and teach us to pray.

C: Our Father ...


Bp: O Lord our God, in you every good work has its beginning. Grant that what we have undertaken this day to the glory of your name may be successfully completed to the good of all your people; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

C: Amen



A: Go in peace. Serve the Lord.

C: Thanks be to God.


A dinner and reception follows the service.

The Liturgy for Groundbreaking does not end with a benediction. It is the first of three liturgies connected with the dedication of a church building,

followed by the Rite for Cornerstone Laying and then the Rite of Dedication, which ends with a benediction.




Acknowledgments:  The Litany for the Church is from the order for Ground Breaking in The Book of Occasional Services 1979 (The Church Hymnal Corporation).  The order for Groundbreaking proper is from the Occasional Services 1982 (Augsburg Fortress).