For some, tonight will be a time to uncork the champagne, sing “Auld Lang Syne,” and join friends in get-togethers. But for many in Brevard’s faith community, New Year’s Eve will be one of petitioning God for a fresh round of blessings in a tradition stretching back over two centuries.
“It has been an extremely tough year,” said Pastor Glenn Dames of St. James AME Church in Titusville, pointing out a year that on a national note, ended with unrest and increased tensions between police and several communities around the country.
Tonight, said Dames, offers an opportunity for many congregations to recalibrate their spiritual priorities during what is known as ‘watch night’ worship service, a traditional staple of many predominantly African-American churches.
Dames and other ministers point out that the tradition of ‘watch night’ services go back to slavery times when slaves would meet in the evenings for church services.
Ministers hold the services well past midnight, praying about the economy, family relationships and world peace while also calling on members to reflect on the need for spiritual renewal.
“We will be praying to move past the old hurts, the pain. We have to do a better job respecting each other,” said Dames, who will lead watch night services at his Titusville congregation.
“My hope is to see our communities come together more and focus on what makes us alike as a nation while at the same time, not being afraid to discuss our differences,” Dames said.
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SOURCE: Florida Today