New Year’s Eve night was first time in history of Beulah Baptist Church of Rixeyville that Pastor Kenneth Pitts and the members went to two church services: Good Hope Baptist Church of Norman and Antioch Baptist Church of Culpeper. They were there to celebrate Watch Night Service and to welcome in the New Year.

On this night, Good Hope’s service started early, while Antioch lasted until midnight. At both services, Pastor Pitts delivered the message, and the Beulah Baptist Church Mass Choir rendered the music. The people were excited to sing songs unto the Lord, to share their testimonies and to come to the altar. More than 100 people were in attendance.

Within the African American church, the observance and celebration of Watch Night Services has a long history.

This observance can be traced back to what was called “Freedom Eve,” the night preceding the day (Jan. 1, 1863) when the Emancipation Proclamation would be enforced. On that night, black Christians gathered in churches to “watch” and wait for midnight when they would finally be liberated and set free from slavery forever.

President Abraham Lincoln had issued the Proclamation in the midst of the Civil War saying that “upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution, upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious favor of Almighty God.”

From that day to now, the observance of Watch Night Service has continued in African American churches across the country. This night is a tradition in African American churches and among African American families where they come together to see the end of the old year and the beginning of the new year.

Pastor Pitts said, “Our future is a future in God—so there is nothing to fear. God’s perfect vision will bless many in 2020. The New Year is a time of promise, and it’s there that God’s promises will be fulfilled in us.”

—Submitted by Beulah Baptist Church

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