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Churches mark history in Watch Night services

12/27/2013, 6 a.m.
Watch Night commemorates the day that the Emancipation Proclamation took effect in 1863.

Area churches are holding worship services or traditional Watch Night Services on Dec. 31 to usher in the new year.

Watch Night took on great significance for African Americans on Dec. 31, 1862, as they, abolitionists and others awaited word on the Emancipation Proclamation taking effect.

President Abraham Lincoln issued the proclamation in September 1862, and it became effective on Jan. 1, freeing the slaves in all territories still at war with the Union.

Many black congregations now gather on New Year’s Eve to pray the old year out and the new year in.

  • At First Afrikan Presbyterian in Lithonia, the church’s annual “Umoja Karamu” Watch Night service begins at 10:45 p.m.
  • During the narrated service that includes dance and spoken word, ministers will preach semonettes and worshippers will display colors to symbolize stages in the struggle from enslavement, to emancipation, through the freedom movement and into the future.
  • The Rev. Dr. Mark Lomax will deliver the message just before midnight. The church is at 5197 Salem Road. For more information, call 770-981-2601.
  • Greater Piney Grove Baptist Church will hold services at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Dec. 31. The church is at 1879-1921 Glenwood Ave. S.E. in Atlanta. For more information, visit www.pineygrovebapt.org or call 404-377-0561.
  • Ousley United Methodist Church’s service gets under way at 10:30 p.m. The church is at 3261 Panola Road in Lithonia. For more information, call 770-981-0180.
  • Berean Christian Church in Stone Mountain will hold three New Year’s Eve Worship Services, at noon, 6:30 and 10 p.m. The church is at 2201 Young Road. For more information, visit www.bereanchristianchurch.org or call 770-593-4421.
  • Watch Night Service at The Ray of Hope Christian Church starts at 10 p.m. and includes worship, dance, praise and celebration. “The Ray” is at 2778 Snapfinger Road in Decatur. For more information, visit www.rayofhope.org or call 770-696-5700.
  • Greater Travelers Rest Baptist Church, House of Hope Atlanta, is offering two services, at 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. The church is at 4650 Flat Shoals Parkway in Decatur. For more information, call 404-243-9336.
  • New Birth Missionary Baptist also is holding two services on Dec. 31, at 6 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. in the sanctuary.
  • New Birth is at 6400 Woodrow Road in Lithonia. For more information, visit www.newbirth.org or call 770-696-9600.
  • Antioch-Lithonia Missionary Baptist Church will hold its Watch Night Service at 10 p.m. The church is at 2152 Rock Chapel Road in Lithonia. For more information, visit www.antiochlithonia.org or call 770-482-1277.
  • There will be services throughout the day on New Year’s Eve at Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Stone Mountain.
  • Daily Mass begins at 8:30 a.m., Vigil for Holy Day starts at 4 p.m., Holy Hour is at 11 p.m., followed by Midnight Mass.
  • Corpus Christi is at 600 Mountain View Drive. For more information, visit www.corpuschristicc.org or call 770-469-0395.