Some Churches Ring in New Year with "Watch Night" Service - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Some Churches Ring in New Year with "Watch Night" Service

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While thousands of people will be partying, thousands of others will ring in 2014 with a spiritual celebration.

Churches are currently preparing for Watch Night services, a tradition that goes back for more than 100 years in the African-American community. For a number of Christians, this is a way to receive the ultimate motivation to let go of old baggage and start anew.

One pastor says the reason why this remains a popular tradition is because people want to be inspired. Pastor Stanley Woodfolk of Evergreen Ministries spent the day getting ready to welcome the nearly 300 people expected to attend Tuesday's Watch Night service. The church has been honoring the tradition for about 24 years, but Tuesday will be the first time it has the service in its new space in Albemarle County.

Woodfolk says the night offers an alternative to the traditional scene - celebrating historical victories and what's to come.

"Because this type of celebration commences ethical behavior, treating people right and embracing different ethnicities and loving people and being great citizens and great citizens for Christ,” said Woodfolk.

The Watch Night tradition dates back to the Civil War. It began on December 31, 1862 as many African-American church congregations awaited word the Emancipation Proclamation had taken effect.

The Watch Night service at Evergreen starts at 10 p.m. and will continue into the New Year. While this is a Christian service, Woodfolk says their doors are open to everyone looking for inspiration.

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