Several local churches are offering a safe, family-friendly alternative for ringing in the New Year tonight.
It’s what they call a New Year’s Eve “Watch Night Service,” with parishioners worshipping, singing and being together until the new year arrives.
The late-night event is a church service offered outside of normal church hours, according to Brittany France, a member at Pine Ridge Baptist Church.
France said her church, along with a few other local houses of worship, will be offering refreshments, games, singing and words of wisdom to “pray in the New Year,” along with songs sung by the children’s choir and congressional hymns.
For Pine Ridge Baptist, the Watch Night Service became just another way for the church to reach out to the community, according to France. The church wanted to offer a “response” to a worldly event within the church, said France.
Melody Fonville, pastor at House of God Church, explained that the tradition was started when slaves set out to “watch” if The Emancipation Proclamation was passed on the night of Dec. 31, 1862.
President Abraham Lincoln had issued a preliminary warning on Sept. 22, 1962, that he would emancipate slaves at the end of the year. Lincoln signed the proclamation Jan. 1, 1863, and it went into effect the same day.
Choosing to participate in the Watch Night Service has been a long-standing tradition for the House of God church, according to Fonville, who has been the pastor there for more than 20 years.
Scott Hale, a minister at Triumphant Pentecostal Church said, “It’s a great way to start the new year by doing something we love, worshiping God.” Hale believes it brings a sense of renewal to the New Year.
“It’s a safe environment, full of love and fun,” said France, to which “everyone is invited.”
Among the area church found hosting a Watch Night Service are:
• Pine Ridge Baptist Church, at 1138 Pine Ridge Road in Mount Airy, activities begin at 8 p.m. and will last through 12 p.m.
• Calvary Baptist Church at 314 South Franklin St. in Mount Airy, activities will begin in the Fellowship Hall at 9 p.m. until 12 p.m.
• House of God Church at 1313 Carter St. in Mount Airy, will begin activities at 10 p.m. until 12 p.m.
• Triumphant Pentecostal Church at 183 Marshall Farm Road, in Mount Airy, will begin activities at 10 p.m. until 12 p.m.
Reach Eva Winemiller at (336) 415-4739