Liturgy by TLW



Service of Thanksgiving for
the Anniversary of a Church Building

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


The anniversary of a Church Building can often be as significant as the anniversary of the founding of the congregation itself. Many congregations have known several different buildings in their long history, while others come close to the anniversary of the congregation itself.


Either way, it is yet another occasion on which to celebrate the church as church, established by God, redeemed by the Savior's blood, and built up by the Holy Spirit. It is an opportunity to talk about the fact that flesh and blood make up the church more so than brick and mortar. And it is an opportunity for a rededication of church members to the mission of the church.


Unfortunately there is no such service in the ELCA's Occasional Services book. So I offer below suggestions for a Service of Thanksgiving on the Anniversary of a Church Building. Some of the material I have borrowed from my own service of dedication of a new structure, but find quite appropriate here as well, including the Eucharistic Prayer of the Master Builder.


The color of the day would be the color of the season, or during green seasons it may be the color of the Church which is red.







Entrance Hymn  "The Church's One Foundation"


Dialog of Praise:

A. The Lord's are the earth and its fullness,

C. The world and those who dwell in it.


A. He set the earth on its foundations,

C. So that it shall never be shaken.


A. What can we do without the Lord's help?

C. With God, all things are possible.


A. Every house is built by someone,

C. But the builder of all things is God.


A. So praise the Lord who made heaven and earth.

C. Praise the Lord who blesses us abundantly.


A. He has built a house for his holy work.

C. In our midst, he has done marvelous things.


A. Praise the Lord, who builds his kingdom with his people.

C. Praise the Lord, whose foundation is Christ, the chief cornerstone.


Hymn of Praise:   "Doxology" or "This is the Feast"

Apostolic Greeting

Prayer of the Day for Anniversary (second prayer in "Occasions" section of propers)



Greetings and Announcements,

First Lesson: 1 Kgs 8:22-30

Ps. 84 (optional, or choir version)

Second Lesson: 1 Ptr. 2:1-9

Hymn  "God's Word Is Our Great Heritage"

Gospel: Jn. 10:22-30


Hymn of Day  "Built on a Rock"


Litany of Thanksgiving and Dedication to God's Mission:

P. Brothers and sisters in Christ, the Lord God has blessed us with this house of prayer for ______ years. At its dedication, God promised his holy presence for our worship, his attentive ear for our prayers, and his watchful eye for our lives. Here we have heard his holy word for our lives. Here we have communed with our Risen Lord. Here we have all been blessed.

    Let us therefore give thanks to Almighty God for all that this place has been for us, and rededicate our lives to the mission that has formed us as ___________ Lutheran Church and brought forth this beautiful edifice.


A. Let us pray. Almighty God, yours is the glory and the power. You are the great builder of the worlds and the great architect of our lives and our salvation. For calling us to be the Church of Jesus Christ in this place,

C. We give you thanks, O Lord..


A. For giving us a beautiful house of prayer and worship for these _____ years,

C. We give you thanks, O Lord.


A. For providing a holy place in which to bring our prayers, confess our sins, and find your presence,

C. We give you thanks, O Lord.


A. For providing a sacred place to worship your name, to baptize our infants, to marry our children, and to bury our loved ones,

C. We give you thanks, O Lord.


A. For providing an empowering place to hear your word, grow in faith, and be challenged in mission,

C. We give you thanks, O Lord.


A. For inspiring those who came before us with the vision to build and the means to accomplish it,

C. We give you thanks, O Lord.


A. For blessing those whose knowledge and gifts, whose sweat and labor, made this place all that it is,

C. We give you thanks, O Lord.


A. Inspire us by their vision for mission in this place.

C. We dedicate our lives to your service.


A. Inspire us by your continued presence in our lives and in this house of prayer.

C. We dedicate our lives to your service.


A. Root us in the foundation of Jesus Christ.

C. We dedicate our lives to your service.


A. Empower us to reach out to the poor and needy, the sick and the dying, who so need the Good News of your love.

C. We dedicate our lives to your service.


A. Use us as living stones of the Church in the world, bringing forth good fruits, that we might offer them here at your holy altar.

C. We dedicate our lives to your service.


A. Use us to proclaim your holy name and to touch people's lives through our example and faith with the life-giving Gospel of Jesus Christ.

C. We dedicate our lives to your service.


P. Holy God, Creator Lord, you bless us in so many ways with your gifts, and in particular you bless us with the gift of this house of prayer. As we come and go from this place, may we know your presence always, find consolation for our weary hearts, and be empowered by your Holy Word and Sacraments to go forth to serve you in the world, that your name might be glorified and your kingdom increased; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, ever one God, now and forever.

C. Amen








Offertory Prayer:

A. Let us pray. Gracious Lord,

C. we offer to you ourselves and our church: brick and mortar, wood and nail, bread and wine, hands to do your will, hearts that are ready to serve. Accept them for the sake of him who gave himself for us, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen


Eucharistic Prayer of the Master Builder:

P. The Lord be with you.

C. And also with you.


P. Lift up your hearts.

C. We lift them to the Lord.


P. Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

C. It is right to give our thanks and praise.


P. We give you thanks, Almighty God, for in the beginning, you set the earth upon its foundations and created all that exists. As master builder and architect of the universe, you fashioned the orders of the world and humankind in your own image. You built for yourself the kingdom of heaven and marked out the limits of the earth.

    And when your master work was complete, you called to yourself a people to be your own. You blessed them with gifts and made them a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. And when they turned from you in their sin, you sent forth your own Son, a humble carpenter from Nazareth, to show us your love, to forgive us our sins, and to bring us into the eternal kingdom that you had built. It is he who has built us into a Church as living stones in your house of love.

    For all this, we praise you and join the hosts of heaven in their unending hymn:

C. (sung or spoken) Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of pow'r and might: Heav'n and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.


P. And so, Father, as living stones built upon the foundation of Jesus Christ, we who have been redeemed by him come humbly into your presence and gather at the table to which he has called us, that we might receive your grace and find strength to do your will and to continue to build for your kingdom.

    In the night in which he was betrayed, our Lord Jesus took bread, and gave thanks; broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying: Take and eat; this is my body, given for you. Do this for the remembrance of me.

    Again, after supper, he took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it for all to drink, saying: This cup is the new covenant in my blood, shed for you and for all people for the forgiveness of sin. Do this for the remembrance of me.

    With joy and with thanksgiving, almighty God, we proclaim the mystery of faith:

C. Christ has died! Christ is risen! Christ will come again!


P. Therefore, O Father, with this bread and cup, we remember all that the Savior taught and all that he promised. We remember his example of faith and his witness to your love. We remember his establishment of the church, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets. And we remember his life-giving sacrifice and death, his glorious resurrection, and his ascension to your right hand. We look to the day when he shall come again and announce to all the saved, "Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."

C. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.


P. We lift this bread and cup before you, O Lord, as an offering of sacrifice and praise. Send down your Holy Spirit upon these gifts, that they may be the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Send down your Holy Spirit upon us also, that, in the sharing of this bread and cup, we may be sanctified in grace and built into a holy fellowship of unity and peace.

C. Amen. Come, Holy Spirit.


P. Great Architect of our Salvation, accept our prayers and praises for the sake of him who is our High Priest, Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom with you and the Holy Spirit, your Church gives honor and glory forever and ever.

C. Amen


Our Father



Hymns as desired


Post-Communion Prayer





Closing Hymn (optional)