PCA Historical Center

Archives & Manuscript Repository for the Continuing Presbyterian Church

Celebrating Your Church's Anniversary: A working paper in progress

CELEBRATING YOUR CHURCH'S ANNIVERSARY:
- SOME QUICK IDEAS


FIRST STEPS - The basic, common sense matters:
1. Appoint an oversight committee to handle all arrangements. Should include one or two elders and the pastor, as well as representative members of the congregation.
2. Figure out exactly what you want to accomplish.
3. Figure out the dates and times of events..
4. Plan the anniversary program particulars.

VARIOUS IDEAS FOR ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATIONS:
1. Write and publish a church history. This becomes more important the older the church is, but even younger churches need to give attention to this, so that in later years, historians will have materials to work with. For a younger church, this might be a very short account. A church of ten to twenty-five years might publish a small booklet. A church of fifty years may be able to publish a small book. Churches over 100 years old should definitely think about publishing a solid account of what the Lord has done in their midst over the years. Realize that this is a wonderful opportunity for testifying of God's grace, mercy and provision.

a. This is a good time to make sure you have a commemorative list of all the pastors, elders and deacons who have ever served the church.

b. Start or continue a church scrapbook. Gather newsclippings, photos, letters from former members, and other memoralbilia.

2. This is an excellent time to gather good portrait photos of current and former pastors and elders. A group photo of the Session in the anniversary year would be a good idea. Take care to identify everyone in the photo. Good photos of the church building and features of the church, such as the pulpit or stained glass windows are also important. Gather photos of former church buildings if still available. One church wrote an account of the various stained glass windows in their building.

a. Good portrait quality photos of current and former pastors are a feature in the hallway or foyer of many churches. Black and white photos are preferable, since all color photos eventually fade. Send copies of these to the Historical Center.

3. Gather biographical sketches of current and former pastors and elders and/or have these men write up their Christian testimony.
4. Members of the church can each write on uniformly sized paper an account of what the church has meant in their lives, and these pages can then be gathered together into a book that can be on display in the foyer. Each week turn the page to display a different member's story.
5. Host a banquet or more formal meal for the congregation in the fellowship hall, with perhaps the teenagers serving the tables. Send a special letter of invitation not only to church members, but to former members and others connected with the church, as well as local community leaders, etc. You may also want to invite some of the media for coverage of this event or some of the other anniversary events. Be sure to have your own means of video-taping the occasion(s) connected with the anniversary.

a. At this occasion, request members to bring to a table photos that they may have to share from previous church events through the years. Do this in advance of the supper, and perhaps have some of the photos arranged in a display. You can create a section where people are asked to help identify older photos and the people in them. This can even become a contest, perhaps with a prize.

b. You can have a booth where older members are interviewed and taped (audio and/or video), asking them to reminisce about the church and its ministries. The PCA Historical Center has a brochure on how to conduct an oral history interview if you need it.

c. Be sure to invite all former pastors and members.

d. On a more humorous level, gather baby photos of church members (especially elders, etc.) and have people try to figure out who's who.

6. An anniversary can be a great time for outreach. In addition to the church banquet, you could also host an anniversary celebration meal in which you invite the community, or you might use a similar time to reach out to some special group that the church has a heart to minister to.
7. An anniversary can be a good time to establish a special gift, endowment or other work in support of a missionary, a ministry or other work.
8. The anniversary year can be a time to reach out in support of other PCA churches. If you have a small or failing church within reasonable driving distance, enlist one family or member per week to attend services there instead of your church. Announce the effort as one way in which the church seeks to share God's love. An effort like this will greatly strengthen ties of love and concern between our churches.
9. Establish a church archive. Gather contributions from members of significant artifacts. At the very least, the anniversary year is a good time to make sure that the church has a complete collection of all past Sunday bulletins, annual reports, directories, Session minutes and similar materials on file and safely stored away. The PCA Historical Center will be glad to assist with information on how to properly store these materials. Be sure to keep copies of all special literature produced for the anniversary celebration and also send copies of same to the Historical Center.
10. The anniversary year can be a time for the Session to attempt to reach out to members who may have left the church over the years or who may have left due to discipline. In short, if handled well, the anniversary year can be a time for healing and restoration.
11. Commission the choir director or some other qualified person to write an anniversary hymn or other musical work.
12. Plan a special project of abiding service to the church.
13. Plan a special speaker series or conference.
14. As part of the anniversary celebration, have a service in which other PCA churches or at least representative members of these churches are invited to participate.
15. Use the anniversary time to minister in some special way to members who are shut-ins or who may live in retirement homes. Caroling, taking a church service to such a facility, hosting a meal for the retirement community, having the pastor preach there, etc.
16. Add some significant new feature or memorial to the church, such as a Celtic cross, banners, etc.
17. Host the meeting of presbytery. If possible, you might have some of the pastors stay through to Sunday and have them preach. Having former pastors back to preach is another idea. a. One old Puritan practice was what was called a "prophesying" in which a number of pastors would each preach from the same text. Select a text which is important to the church or which speaks of the church's concern in ministry.
18. On a Friday or Saturday evening, put on a play or pageant about the founding of the church.
19. Throughout the year, publish on the back of the bulletin a brief account of the history of the church.
20. Interview older members of the local community about the church and their memories of it. Remember that this can be an opportunity for evangelism.
21. Form a permanent historical committee and/or appoint a church historian.
22. Ask members to write down what they think the church will be like in the future - 25, 50, 100 years from now.
23. Have a display which focuses on a different member or leader each week. This can be a "This is your life" sort of photo montage, or it can focus on the person's role in the church, informing others of all that this person does.
24. Establish some special award to recognize service in the church.
25. Make the entire year's Sunday bulletins somehow unique, printing them on special paper, etc.

Of course there is much more that could be suggested, but these ideas should cover the basics and generate additional ideas as well. May the Lord bless you all in this wonderful time in the life of the church,