New Year’s Eve is a festive and important time of thanksgiving, consecration and optimism, especially in the African American Church community. Thousands of churches will host worship gatherings that go well into the New Year complete with tambourines, dancing and shouts of thanksgiving for a New Year! The Pastor will bring a prophetic message that next year will be better than this year. And then, the hungry masses will look for a bite to eat! It’s a fun and important tradition for many of us as it marks a time to slow down and give thanks while reflecting optimistically on the future.
This year, Gospel Today asks the question, “What is the Word for 2012?” Please come back to this page and share the prophetic message that you or your pastor is speaking concerning 2012.
A Historical Tidbit (Adapted from “Watch Night services provide spiritual way to bring in New Year” by Joey Butler)
Tradition holds that the founder of the Methodist movement, John Wesley originated Watch Night services in the mid-18th century, sometimes calling them Covenant Renewal services. According to Cynthia Wilson, an Atlanta-based worship leader the African American connection to Watch Night services are connected to the days of slavery.
At the end of the year, owners tallied their property and often sold slaves to pay debts, Wilson said. Slaves didn’t know after tallying if they’d be separated. New Year’s Eve was often the last night a family of slaves would be together.
Watch Night took on even more significance during the Civil War. When President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, it was to take effect Jan. 1, 1863. Slaves sat up the night before, waiting for their freedom to arrive at midnight.