DETROIT (WWJ) – On Saturday, churches all around the city of Detroit will ring in the New Year with “Watch Night” services.

The historical service started in 1862, when African Americans gathered in churches and homes anxiously waiting to find out if the Emancipation Proclamation had become law — making January 1, 1863 the day they gained freedom.

Pastor Jim Holley of the historic Little Rock Baptist Church in Detroit spoke to WWJ about how his congregation plans to celebrate on Watch Night.

“Basically it is a praise and worship service to thank God for the year of 2011 and to also give an appreciation for what he’s going to do in 2012,” said Holley.

Despite its historical beginnings, Holley said Watch Night is just as important to society today as it was back then.

“We have to have a sense of appreciation for what God has already done, and also anticipation of what God is going to do. And I don’t think that has really changed from centuries ago. It’s still the same today as it was yesterday,” said Holley.

Traditionally, Watch Night service begins between 7 and 10 p.m. and lasts through midnight.


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