Home Worship Planning Planning Resources Celebrating Church Anniversaries in Worship

Celebrating Church Anniversaries in Worship

Church Anniversary Article

Church anniversary celebrations present your congregation with a unique opportunity to tell the story of your church’s place in the community and dream of how you will carry that story into the future. When planning a church anniversary worship service, take care not only to remember the past origins and life of the church in the neighborhood but also to name the church’s life in the community now and the hope for the church in the years to come. Whether you celebrate your church’s anniversary every year or on particular milestone years, see the following compilation of resources to assist you in planning a meaningful, contextual worship service that rejoices in the work God has done and looks ahead to the work God will do in your midst.


1. To Remember and Celebrate: Worship Resources for Heritage Event

This publication from the General Commission on History and Archives contains a number of worship resources helpful in developing historical celebrations. Click here to download the PDF of this resource.

2. Celebrating Our United Methodist Heritage: Planning Guide

This online planning resource from the General Commission on History and Archives will serve as a guide for developing your event. Be sure to scroll to the contents section. You can also visit the General Commission on History and Archives homepage at gcah.org.

3. The United Methodist Book of Worship (The United Methodist Publishing House, 1992)

  • 288, Covenant Renewal Service (might be part of a week or weekend when a church anniversary is being observed)
  • 584, Resources for Use in a Homecoming Service (the litany is suitable for a church anniversary celebration, and the list of hymns is also helpful)

4. The United Methodist Hymnal (The United Methodist Publishing House, 1989)

  • 57, O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing
  • 59, Mil Voces
  • 60, I’ll Praise My Maker While I’ve Breath
  • 68, When in Our Music God Is Glorified
  • 87, What Gift Can We Bring
  • 110, A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
  • 117, O God, Our Help in Ages Past
  • 293, Behold the Savior of Mankind
  • 356, Pues Si Vivimos (When We Are Living)
  • 414, Thou Hidden Love of God
  • 540, I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord
  • 543, O Breath of Life, Come
  • 545, The Church’s One Foundation
  • 546, The Church’s One Foundation
  • 553, And Are We Yet Alive
  • 557, Blest Be the Tie That Binds
  • 555, Forward Through the Ages
  • 559, Christ Is Made the Sure Foundation
  • 563, Father, We Thank You
  • 565, Father, We Thank You
  • 574, For Renewal of the Church
  • 577, God of Grace and God of Glory
  • 589, The Church of Christ, in Every Age
  • 590, Christ Loves the Church
  • 606, Come, Let Us Use the Grace Divine
  • 607, A Covenant Prayer in the Wesleyan Tradition
  • 619, Now the Silence
  • 652, Canticle of Remembrance
  • 653, Christ the Victorious
  • 654, How Blest Are They
  • 660, God Is Here
  • 698, God of the Ages
  • 708, Rejoice in God’s Saints
  • 709, Come, Let Us Join Our Friends Above
  • 710, Faith of Our Fathers
  • 711, For All the Saints
  • 712, I Sing a Song of the Saints of God
  • 713, All Saints
  • 714, I Know Whom I Have Believed

5. The Faith We Sing (Abingdon, 2000)

  • 2001, We Sing to You
  • 2027, Now Praise the Hidden God of Love
  • 2046, Womb of Life, and Source of Being
  • 2220, We Are God's People
  • 2221, In Unity We Lift Our Song
  • 2224, Make Us One Lord
  • 2246, Deep In the Shadows of the Past

6. Worship and Song (Abingdon, 2011)

  • 3001, O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing
  • 3009, Praise God for This Holy Ground
  • 3018, Creation Sings! And We Are in the Music
  • 3029, In the Desert, on God's Mountain
  • 3113, We Are a Wilderness Wandering People
  • 3117, Do All the Good You Can
  • 3118, Take this Moment, Sign, and Space
  • 3120, Amazing Abundance
  • 3122, Christ Has Broken Down the Wall
  • 3132, This Is the House of God
  • 3141, I Have Tried You in Fires of Affliction
  • 3147, Built on a Rock the Church Shall Stand
  • 3148, There's a Spirit of Love in This Place
  • 3149, For Everyone Born, a Place at the Table
  • 3150, Father, We Have Heard You Calling
  • 3152, Let's Walk Together for a While
  • 3157, Come, Let Us Dream God's Dream Again
  • 3189, There Is a Higher Throne

6. Storytelling Using Local Resources and Media

Consider how you will tell the story of your church's witness and service at the anniversary celebration. Will the story be told in a way that anticipates God's future and your openness to new chapters of mission and ministry in Christ's name? How could you use drama and projection of images and photos? Is there video footage that members or local news stations have that could be useful to you? Maybe a church member has good graphic capabilities and could create a graphic metaphor for your celebration — one for the theme, another, a background slide onto which you could put words to songs, hymns, and prayers. Think visually and experientially in your planning.

7. Highlighting Past Traditions

Look through your church’s archives and/or ask longtime members whether there are worship traditions from the past that could become part of your church anniversary celebration. For instance, if your church once collected offerings in a metal bucket, consider taking a special offering for ministries in the neighborhood where everyone brings their coins and drops them in a bucket. Or, if your church sang a particular hymn at their first worship service, plan on using that hymn in your church anniversary celebration, perhaps with a reflection on how the hymn speaks to the life of the congregation over the years.

Original article written by Daniel Benedict, retired from the staff of Discipleship Ministries.

Updates by Dr. Diana Sanchez-Bushong, Executive Director of Worship Resources and Director of Music Ministries; Dr. Derek Weber, Director of Preaching Ministries; and Dr. Lisa Hancock, Director of Worship Arts at Discipleship Ministries.

Contact Us for Help

View staff by program area to ask for additional assistance.



* indicates required

Please confirm that you want to receive email from us.

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. For information about our privacy practices, please read our Privacy Policy page.

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices here.