SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - While most think of parties and fireworks on New Year’s Eve, did you know that many churches were packed Tuesday night?
It’s called a Watch Night Service. It dates all the way back to 1862 during the Civil War.
According to tradition, slaves in the Confederate states gathered in churches and private homes on New Year’s Eve night before President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was expected to go into effect. That document freed the slaves.
The services continue to this day.
Thousands of members of Savannah’s Overcoming by Faith Church packed the Johnny Mercer Theater for the annual New Year’s Eve Celebration. Their two services filled with great music presentations by the OBF Arts Ministries- dancing, singing and more.
“I think every book should close and a new book should open," said Pastor Ricky Temple. "New Year’s Eve is about closing a book, celebrating all you did the year before and starting a brand new year. I’ve been doing that every year of my life. It’s a wonderful season.”
The service ended with a dynamic message from Pastor Ricky Temple.
After the service families enjoyed lots of food and fellowship.