Tips for Planning Your Church's Anniversary

04 Jan 2024 in

A church anniversary celebration is an opportunity to make meaningful and creative connections with the congregation's history. It is a time to learn more about the people who founded and led the church and about the events that have shaped its unique personality. Even more, it is a chance to learn more about the larger Christian and Congregational traditions.


Some Time-Tested Suggestions

  • Begin well in advance. Three or four years ahead of the event is not too soon!

  • Create a core committee of creative and hardworking people, with a good representation across the age spectrum. History buffs are welcome, but so are good ideas of all kinds.

  • Plan a celebration that goes beyond your church doors. An anniversary is an opportunity to re-introduce yourselves to your town or neighborhood, to build connections with other churches and community organizations, and to include them in the story you tell about yourselves. Tie a person or event in your church history to a community project like fixing up the local cemetery or improving the neighborhood playground.

  • Involve the entire congregation in an oral history project.

  • Use the resources at the Congregational Library & Archives to learn the larger story behind your local one. Our online catalog contains a wealth of information, much of it in digital form or available for accessing in our reading room at 14 Beacon Street in Boston.

  • Think creatively about events that are fun and inspirational. These might include: writing a pageant or drama about your church's founding, putting together a scrapbook, commissioning a hymn or special music, creating a timeline (church, community, and national events), making a commemorative quilt, or designating a special gift to an organization that your church played a role in establishing.


Writing a Church History That People Will Read

Our pamphlet, Writing a Church History That People Will Read, provides tips on research, organizing information, and editing, and suggests resources for publishing your final product.

Our collection will be helpful in pulling together your story. If you are close enough to Boston to come in for a visit, library staff are always happy to assist with research. We have many town and county histories and a large collection of local church histories for you to consult. Our sermon collection may well include one or two from a past minister serving your congregation. For those outside the Boston area, there are many digital resources on our website, including denominational yearbooks that will show, for example, how an individual congregation's attendance has changed over the years, names of clergy, and obituaries. Our obituary database provides a way to search for information on some 29,000 ministers and missionaries.


Organizing and Maintaining Good Church Records

An anniversary year is the time to get your church archive in order, and the library can help with tips and guidelines for creating and maintaining old records. Check out the videos in our "Church Stewardship Initiative" series on our YouTube channel. Our archivists are always ready and willing to help with your records management questions. You can contact them at

Churches with very old records (up to 1820 in most cases) might wish to participate in our Hidden Histories program. Please contact Tricia Peone ( for more information.