Anniversaries can be an afterthought in the age of social media and rapid digital communication. Yet for churches seeking to positively impact their local communities and the world, marking significant years is an opportunity not to be missed.
These special occasions provide a natural entry point for churches looking to embed themselves more deeply in their communities by collaborating with other organizations, charities, and businesses.
With this in mind, here are 7 thematic ideas to inspire your 100-year church anniversary celebrations – whether coming up soon or sometime in the future.
7 Creative 100-Year Church Anniversary Themes You Can Try:
As we’ve seen, church anniversaries are prime opportunities to connect with local communities and organizations. And one of the most apparent metaphors for connecting people is togetherness.
So, celebrate your centenary with a big event that brings together people from different generations, cultures, and backgrounds – people your church would love to engage with more deeply.
You could celebrate your centenary with a peace festival, as London’s Union Chapel did in 2018 – bringing together faith leaders and activists, political figures, and people from all walks of life.
2. Commemorate Your Past, Inspire the Future
One of the advantages of a 100-year timeframe is that it gives you a lot of flexibility around how to mark the occasion. You could, for example, divide the event into 10-year milestones, with each milestone marked by a significant event or campaign.
For example, the 10th anniversary of your church could be marked by a celebration of the sacraments, while the 25th anniversary could focus on water – perhaps with a water-themed musical event.
And what about the 50th anniversary being marked by an event on inter-faith relations? Alternatively, your centenary could be drawn by a single large-scale event, such as a festival across a weekend.
3. Equipping and developing your church members
Most churches with 100 years or more behind them have benefitted from a long and fruitful relationship between their members and the surrounding community. Yet all too often, we overlook the contribution that these long-standing members would make if given the opportunity.
Let your centenary be a moment to celebrate and honor the contribution of your longest-serving members – whether they be clergy, members of the congregation, or lay leaders.
And consider how you can use the occasion to provide and equip these members with specific skills – so they can go on to make even more significant contributions to their communities.
4. Servant Leadership and Social Change
The word centenary is derived from the Latin centum, meaning “hundred”. So, in marking the 100th anniversary of your church, you have a chance to emphasize the power of long-term commitment.
You could invite your community to reflect on the significance of the 100-year milestone.
How has your church changed and developed over the last one hundred years? What has remained constant? What would your church like to achieve over the next one hundred years?
While the church’s own history is a prominent and essential theme, consider how you can also mark the history of your local community – with its stories of triumph, struggle, and social change.
5. Environment and Sustainability
As we enter a new decade, the world is waking up to the scale of the threat posed by climate change. As faith communities, we must respond. For churches seeking to boost their green credentials and positively impact their local communities, there’s no better time to plan for the long term than your centenary celebrations.
While you might mark your 100-year celebration with a single event, such as a festival or open-air service, you could also consider hosting a series of events over a more extended period. For example, you could host a series of concerts or exhibitions focused on different aspects of sustainability – such as food, water, or energy.
6. Creativity, Culture, and Arts
As we’ve seen, the arts can be a powerful and accessible tool for engagement with local communities. And they can be particularly well-suited to marking centenary celebrations, given their natural focus on longevity.
For each of your 10-year milestone celebrations, you could host a series of exhibitions, performances, workshops, and other cultural events. Alternatively, you could host one major event each year, with the themes changing each year. For example, you could host an exhibition on the theme of “nature” in your first year and an exhibition on the theme of “culture” in your second year.
7. Congregational Care and Support for Vulnerable People
Centenary celebrations are about more than looking back at the past 100 years. They’re also about looking forward to the next 100 years – and beyond. And one of the most important ways churches can positively impact their communities is by caring for those in greatest need.
For example, you could celebrate your centenary by launching a new charity. Or you could use the occasion to re-launch your church’s existing charity – with a new focus or new initiatives.
You could also host events to raise awareness of issues affecting vulnerable people in your community. For example, you could host an exhibition to raise awareness of the effects of loneliness on health and well-being.
One hundred years is a long time. It’s a significant milestone for any organization – and for your church, it’s an opportunity to look back and reflect on where you’ve come from and where you’d like to go next.
Your centenary provides a way for churches seeking to embed themselves more deeply in their communities by collaborating with other organizations, charities, and businesses.
This 100-year event is a chance to celebrate the past while looking ahead to the future. It’s an opportunity to engage with your local community and build lasting connections for decades.