Church Anniversary Poems


I wrote these two church anniversary poems on the exact day our local church celebrated its 110th anniversary of dedication. It's a beautiful brick church. The pastor joked, "The roof's still on!"

The church building is important, but the spiritual church edifice is much more important, as I explain after the poems.


Important update! This first poem has been in high demand. As explained below, a new 4 verse version was made, and set to organ music by a professional composer. It follows this original 5 verse poem. I'm providing both versions for your preference.



82. Church Dedication Anniversary Prayer

     by Paul Berchtold, February, 2011

Let us celebrate a grand feast,
From the greatest to the least,
Let us rejoice, on this happy morn,
The special day our church was born.

God bless those who planted the seed,
And those who gave to every need,
And those who labored, with such care,
To build this church, God's House of Prayer.

May we follow their example bright,
Generously live, do what's right,
Like them, may we, give God our best,
So our souls can find his rest.

May all who come find peace and light,
May God's presence and his might,
Gently guard this holy place,
May all find joy, abundant grace.

Thank you, God, for what's been done,
Here at this place, through your son,
May your work, keep on growing,
Love and peace overflowing. Amen.

___________________________________


You are welcome to use and share these church anniversary poems, provided you follow the Poem Terms and Conditions.


The Newer Version

The original 5 verse poem above was revised over several months into the newer 4 verse anthem below.

The parish of St. Eleanor Church in Collegeville, Pennsylvania, commissioned Kile Smith to use the poem and compose an anthem for the 100th Anniversary of their church.

St. Eleanor's is a very large church. It has around 4500 families, and is the largest church in Montgomery county.

Kile set it to organ music with optional brass quartet, to be sung by their 4 part choir - and brass quartet - on the 100th anniversary on Sunday, October 16th, 2011.

It has been my honor and pleasure to work with Kile and all those involved to get it just right. It is now set to exact meter, and has more of a hymn-like construction with a doxology.

Kile wrote a a blog post announcing this special occasion.

Kile put a lot of work into the composition. It's 6 pages of solid notes. In my humble opinion, it ranks right up there with some of the best church organ pieces I've heard. Imagine what it would be like on a large church pipe organ!

To God be the glory, he truly had a hand in making this a masterpiece, when many times I didn't know how we would make it work.

May God be praised, may God be blessed for this exciting development!

Here's the newer 4 verse poem:



82a. Come Gather All

     by Paul Berchtold, September, 2011

Come gather all, from great to least,
Come celebrate this special feast.
This is the day, by God's own choice,
Our church was born. Let us rejoice!

May God be praised! May God be blest!
May He find here His place of rest.
We honor those who built with care,
His throne on earth, this house of prayer.

May all who come, find truth and light,
Receive new hope of future bright.
God fill us with abundant grace.
May angels guard this holy place.

We thank you, Lord, for what you've done
Here in this place through your dear Son.
Abide with us, your Spirit show,
As rivers may your blessings flow.

___________________________________


You are welcome to use and share these church anniversary poems, provided you follow the Poem Terms and Conditions.


83. O House of God

     by Paul Berchtold, February, 2011

O house of God, his dwelling on earth,
Today we honor your day of birth.
Let us celebrate with jubilation,
This special feast of dedication. (consecration)

O gift of God, from his hand,
May you always bravely stand,
A beacon to our community,
Calling all to Christ in unity.

O loving witness to the work of others,
Strong in faith, our Christian brothers,
Great their sacrifice in times past,
May their memory always last.

May we your children take every care,
That this remains God's house of prayer.
May God be worshiped in reverent praise,
That he may dwell within always.

O holy symbol of God's bride,
May your doors be open wide.
Inside of you, be always heard,
God's truth and grace, his holy word.

O welcome arms, with open door,
Solemn beauty, ceiling to floor,
Your inner vault, so calm and spacious,
Shows how our God, is big and gracious.

You are here, when things go well,
Christmas, Easter, and wedding bells,
You're the place where we find,
Joy of heart and peace of mind.

You are here when we cry,
Comes pain and death, and questions why.
You call to mind our home hereafter,
When tears give way to joy and laughter.

O silent teacher, by your steeple,
You point to heaven all God's people,
Standing tall for all the years.
A place to come with all our fears.

You invite us to deeper grow,
In God's word, so that we know,
To love, to serve, give God our best,
In you our souls can find his rest.

O home for sinners to repent,
By Christ's death, the veil was rent,
Christ rose again, that we may live,
Thank you, church, for what you give.

As we depart, the service ending,
Help recall that Christ is sending,
Each of us to show his peace,
His kingdom, come, will never cease. Amen.

___________________________________

             Poems by Paul Berchtold
      © Copyright - All rights reserved.
___________________________________


You are welcome to use and share these church anniversary poems, provided you follow the Poem Terms and Conditions.


Church Anniversary Poems - Love, Sacrifice, and Hard Work

When planning a church anniversary program and looking for ideas, gratitude should be the overall theme in the annual church anniversary celebration. Be sure to include a few words of gratitude in your church bulletin or invitation letter, in the welcome sermon, and of course, in your church anniversary prayers of thanksgiving.

A church anniversary is an important occasion to give thanks to God, and to all the people that built it, and all the people who have maintained it over the years. We appreciate all their love, sacrifice, "blood, sweat, and tears" to leave us a precious legacy - because we are enjoying today the fruit of their labors.


Church Anniversary Poems - In the Beginning

We especially hold, in grateful memory, the people who formed the first community, before the church was built. In many cases, it started with missionaries, and often the first gatherings were in homes, schools, stores, and even barns.

Unfortunately, as time goes by, many historical details are lost. Thank the Lord he knows all things. He rewards every good deed.


Church Anniversary Poems - The Story of our Local Church

As I said above, our local church celebrates its 110th anniversary this year. It's a beautiful old brick building built by the parish community. Before they built the church, they gathered for worship for years in a white-painted wooden house converted into a small church.

All of those people are long gone. Because several generations have passed, it leaves many unanswered questions. Who, where, and when did what, how, and why?

Well, unfortunately, there were 3 big fires in the town, which has been around 150 years. The fires happened before and after the present church building was erected. Luckily, the church escaped fire and is still in existence, but nevertheless, many documents and photos were lost. Some questions we'll have to wait to get answered in heaven.


Church Anniversary Poems - The Meaning of "Church"

The word "church" has multiple meanings. Here they are in the order of importance:

  1. the kingdom of heaven within,
  2. the congregation of believers worldwide,
  3. the congregation of believers as a local community,
  4. and the actual church building.


Church Anniversary Poems - The Kingdom of Heaven

A church building is holy because it is dedicated to God, and sanctified with his presence, as was the Jewish Temple in the Bible Old Testament. But a building does you no good if the most important thing – the kingdom of heaven within you – is missing

The most important meaning of "church" is the kingdom of heaven within us.


Church Anniversary Poems - A Church Story

In my very first parish I was assigned to as a pastor, I had to fight for this idea of the true meaning of church. The congregation was very small.

Some of the people wanted to "save the church" building, but the true church is not a building. It's more important that your soul is saved.

By the way, that first parish ended up dividing into many splinters and lost their church building anyway! A very painful experience for all of us.


Church Anniversary Poems - A Happier Conclusion

I eventually left the denomination entirely, as they were putting more emphasis on ritual, buildings, and material things, rather than putting emphasis on changing the heart and living the gospel.

More than 20 years later, as I look back, I see it was the very best thing that could have happened to that parish. Over the years, I stayed in touch with some of the parishioners who also left. Many really got the true meaning of "church." Some of them have already passed from this life into eternity, and are hopefully in heaven today - the eternal church - the eternal kingdom of heaven - the kingdom of God.

Thank your stars!


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