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Liturgy for the Anniversary of a Church

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

 

 

P = Presiding Minister  A = Assisting Minister  C = Congregation

 

Church anniversaries ought to include not only a look back with thanksgiving, but a look forward with commitment.   I originally wrote the following Dialog of Praise and Exhortation and Prayer of Dedication for Trinity Lutheran Church in Valparaiso, Indiana for their 50th anniversary when I was serving there in 1984.  In 2009, Trinity celebrated its 75th anniversary and again made use of portions of this liturgy.  I was pleased to be an invited guest on that occasion.

 

For the look back, I offer this Dialog of Praise, replacing the Kyrie for the day:

 

A. Praise the Lord! Praise the name of the Lord!

C. Praise the Lord! Give thanks to him!

 

A. God has blessed us and brought us to this time.

C. God has blessed us and brought us to this place.

 

A. God has caused his name to dwell in our midst.

C. God has stirred our hearts and made us glad.

 

A. God has shown us his glory in his mighty word.

C. God has shown us the way of truth and life.

 

A. Praise the Lord! Praise the name of the Lord!

C. Praise the Lord! Give thanks to him!

 

A. For _____ years, God has nurtured and fed us.

C. For _____ years, God has shown us his grace.

 

A. For _____ years, God has given himself in Word and Sacrament.

C. For _____ years, God has empowered us with his Holy Spirit.

 

A. For _____ years, God has made us his witnesses in the world.

C. For _____ years, God has placed us in loving fellowship with one another.

 

A. Praise the Lord for _____ years! Praise him for _____ more!

C. Praise the Lord for evermore! Oh, praise the name of the Lord!

 

 

For the Hymn of Praise, use a familiar hymn from the praise section of the the hymnal. The Prayer of the Day would be the second prayer for an Anniversary in the "Occasions" sections of the propers.

 

For the look forward, I suggest the following Exhortation and Prayer of Dedication following the Hymn of the Day and opt. Creed (replacing the Prayer of the Church):

 

P. The Lord God is his goodness has blessed us with ____ years of mission and ministry as _________ Church. We are a remembering people, and it is good that we remember that God has chosen us, baptized us, and brought us together as the Church of Christ in this place. As remembering people, we look back at all the saving acts of God: the Creation, the Flood, the Covenant, the Exodus, the Incarnation, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, the Church.

    We are a remembering people, but we are also a people of this day, brought together by God to be a holy fellowship of believers: the Body of Christ, sharing, caring, working in the world, and living in the hope of the world to come.

    Our eyes look back with thanksgiving. Our eyes look forward in hope. Therefore, with thanksgiving for the past and hope for the future, let us dedicate ourselves and our lives to the mission which God gives us as the Church of Jesus Christ in this place.

 

C. Almighty God, we give you thanks for the work you have done in this place. We give you thanks for your love and faithfulness. When we called on your name, you made your presence known to us. When we prayed, you heard us. When we preached your Word and administered your Sacraments, you were in our midst. You have accepted our humble sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving. You have listened to our confessions and forgiven our sins. And you have sent your Holy Spirit to heal and comfort our hurts, our sorrows, our infirmities, and our losses.

 

A. Continue to empower us with your Spirit, O Lord, that we might proclaim your Gospel to all people.

C. We dedicate our lives to your service.

 

A. Help us to witness to the Good News of Jesus Christ in all that we do and say.

C. We dedicate our lives to your service.

 

A. Show us how we might give care and support to the needy, love and mercy to the broken and forlorn.

C. We dedicate our lives to your service.

 

A. Show us new ways of loving one another and those around us.

C. We dedicate our lives to your service.

 

A. Break down those prejudices and barriers which divide us, and make us all one in your Son, Jesus Christ.

C. Hear our prayer, O Lord.

 

A. Renew us by the Spirit, given at our baptisms, so that we might be challenged to move beyond our ruts, our apathy, and our anxieties of inadequacy.

C. Hear our prayer, O Lord.

 

A. Grant that we may continually grow in the Spirit and in the ministry that you give us as members of your royal priesthood, the priesthood of all believers, so that we may carry out our mission of service and love.

C. Hear our prayer, O Lord.

 

A. Continue to comfort, heal, and lift up the broken and afflicted among us. By the promise of your presence, bring us your healing love.

C. Hear our prayer, O Lord.

 

A. Bring us at last to the joy of your eternal kingdom, where, with the faithful of this church who have gone before us and with all your saints, we may evermore praise your name.

C. Hear our prayer, O Lord.

 

P. Blessed Lord, draw our hearts to you, guide our minds, fill our imaginations, control our wills and make us wholly yours. Use us as you will, to the glory of your holy name and the welfare of your people; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

C. Amen

 

 

The liturgy would continue with the the Peace and the communion liturgy as usual.

 

For the communion section of the service, consider making use of the Offertory Prayer and Eucharistic Prayer of the Master Builder in my Church Dedication liturgy.