90th Anniversary Celebration

Jayson Byrd   -  

By God’s Grace, He has allowed the fellowship of Linwood Community Church to exist and minister for 90 years. Our congregation is planning to commemorate this milestone with a 90th Anniversary Celebration. 

On New Year’s Day in 1773, a pastor presented a poem based on reflections from 1 Chronicles 17. That passage is David’s covenant and speaks of David’s past, present, and future. The kingdom promised David outlasts a temple or a mansion. It’s a dynasty and eternal sonship in which the ultimate fulfillment is in our Lord Jesus (2 Tim 2:8). The poem the minister presented that day was entitled “Faith’s Review and Reflection.” We know it by the first two words of the opening line, “Amazing Grace How Sweet the Sound, that Saved a Wretch Like Me.” 

Our theme for this anniversary is taken from John Newton’s text, ‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.” That famous line in “Amazing Grace” reminds us of past, present, and future grace. It also sets the tone and vision for this 90th Anniversary Celebration. We seek to declare God’s works from one generation to another (Psalm 145:1-4), and look back to learn and gain encouragement and endurance so we can look forward with unity and hope. Last Sunday’s Sermon shared the background and setting of it to set us up to think and reflect on the anniversary.

Anniversaries are a big deal. Scripture has many examples and encouragement for remembering and looking back for the purpose of instruction and encouragement for the future. The Bible reminds people to tell all generations of the Lord’s wonderful works and preserve the memory of how God has worked in our lives. Several of the Psalms speak of declaring God’s work from one generation to another. A great example is Psalm 145:1-4. Someone challenged me that one of the rules of a senior pastor is to feel a responsibility to steward your congregation’s story. I’ve taken that charge to heart. 

Our best example of how to tell the history of our church is the inspired account of the history of The Church. The book of Acts is the history book of the New Testament. It tells us how the church bore witness to the Gospel by the power of the Holy Spirit. It tells how the Gospel made geographical, sociological, and ethnic progress from Jerusalem to Judeo, Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth. Acts 1:8 outlines the entire book of Acts. One of those “uttermost parts of the earth” is right here at 1838 Shore Rd. Linwood, NJ. That story is our story. Church history as a whole and our local church history is our family history. 

Yet one of the interesting things about the Book of Acts in chapter 28 is that it doesn’t really end. It assumes that the initial ‘acts’ of the Apostles and the acts of the Holy Spirit will continue throughout the church age. Acts 2:42 speaks of the early church “continuing steadfastly” in some very basic and essential activities. May our “looking back” also be “looking forward” to being a “continuing church.” 

There are many benefits of looking back. The Bible reminds people to tell all generations that the Lord’s wonderful works preserve the memory of how God has worked in our lives. We need to remember what we’re passionate about. Being passionate about the message of the gospel is what we want this church to be known for rather than personalities, the latest fads, or the oldest traditions. Romans 15:4-6 a discipline of looking back to gain encouragement and hope for the future, not discouraging.

We look back to learn, to gain endurance and encouragement so that we can look forward with unity and hope. We believe that when you celebrate the past, it’s easier to believe in a bright future. We want to honor God’s grace in our heritage. Plus, parties make life fun—they’re biblical. We also want to use this time to reinforce church culture.
Telling these stories shows what our church values: building a mindset for newcomers and reinforcing it for oldtimers.

Focusing on the past also has some potential pitfalls. Overly looking in the rearview mirror can lead to distracted driving and a failure to focus on the road ahead. There is a warning…as Ed Stetzer says, “Nostalgia is a culdesac that leads nowhere.”

Our goal in this celebration is to look back but, in doing so, to keep the windshield bigger than the rearview mirror!

What LCC has been is because of grace, What is going on here now is because of Grace. What LCC and your fuure is in the hands of His Grace.

There is a task unfinished. What is your part in it? 

“Through many dangers, toils, and snares,

I have already come;

‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,

And grace will lead me home.” 

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Ephesians 3:20-21 (ESV) 

 Download the 90th History Booklet