This year has stunned us all. From a deadly pandemic to racial strife and riots, to natural calamities—it’s as if we’re living in a disaster movie. Now, more than ever, we need to make our home sanctuaries.

For decades our leaders have reminded us of the importance of home and family. We are told to make our homes into centers of worship and study. Keep them free from harmful media. Do not allow fighting, but teach our children to serve one another. Display pictures of Christ, and of temples. There are dozens of ways to make home a haven.

But one that many overlook is the powerful, unifying act of dedicating a home. My husband, Bob, and I were recently invited to a friend’s new apartment for this very reason. I’ve known her for years as we both attended Institute classes. Then she moved into our ward and where the Primary kids promptly fell in love with here, and vice versa. She’s one of those remarkable women who reaches out to bless everyone she can.

A work opportunity pulled her to a nearby city, where she asked Bob to dedicate her apartment. Despite local dangers, she felt blessed and never had a single worry.

And now she has moved back. We are thrilled. And the first thing she thought of was having us come over again, to dedicate her new place. What an honor!  We sang “I Stand All Amazed” and shared the Sacrament as well.

Dedicating your home is a wonderful time to gather with family as we realize we all have the same objective: A peaceful abode dedicated to God.

Wherever you live you can have this prayer, and you don’t need to call church leaders or get special permission. The Church Handbook states that “a home is dedicated by a Melchizedek Priesthood holder. If there is not a Melchizedek Priesthood holder in the home a family may invite a close friend, relative, or ministering brother who holds the Melchizedek Priesthood to dedicate the home.” Or, it also says, “A family might gather and offer a prayer as guided by the Spirit.” (18.15.1)

In addition, the Handbook states that the home should be dedicated as a “sacred place where the Holy Spirit can reside,” and suggests we bless our homes to “be a place where family members can worship, find safety from the world, grow spiritually, and prepare for eternal family relationships.” Homes need not be free of debt to be dedicated. Unlike Church buildings, homes are not consecrated to the Lord.

Have a family discussion about what a dedicated home looks like. People help each other. Scriptures are studied. Prayers are earnest. Gratitude is expressed. Forgiveness is given. We listen. We love. We welcome others into our home. Chores help the whole family. Cheerful chores are even better.

An important phrase from the Handbook should be considered often: “…where the Holy Spirit can reside…”  This is a good measuring stick about what movies and TV shows we will watch, what websites we will visit, the language we will use, even the attitudes we will have. If anything would drive the Spirit away, it does not belong in our home.

Another idea to consider when dedicating one’s home, is to invite a friend who might appreciate the sacredness of this occasion. This can be a moment when a neighbor or acquaintance feels the Spirit, and may even request a dedication of their own home.

Many members have commented that visitors notice something different, something peaceful yet energizing, about their homes once they’re dedicated. Guests notice a welcoming mood, an atmosphere of acceptance. Love seems to permeate the air.

Yes, the world is in turmoil. But by utilizing this amazing opportunity, we can turn our home into an oasis of love, spiritual growth, and closeness with our Savior.

Hilton’s books, humor blog, and Youtube Mom videos can be found on her website. She currently serves as an Inter-Faith Specialist for Church Communications.