Watch Night services ring in new year

Mira Hobbs knows where she’ll be when the clock ticks past midnight and into 2013.


Her church, Hammond Grove Baptist in North Augusta, hosts an annual Watch Night service.

“We’ll pray in the new year,” Hobbs said.

Churches across the area hold the late-night services, complete with music, prayer and often breakfast.

The services are steeped in history and tradition, but their origin is disputed. Watch Night holds a place of special significance in black churches, who tie the observance to 150-year-old Freedom’s Eve celebrations.

On Dec. 31, 1862, slaves and abolitionists gathered in anticipation of the day President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation took effect – Jan. 1, 1863.

That celebratory atmosphere continues in today’s Watch Night services.

“It’s a pretty jubilant atmosphere,” Hobbs said. “It’s a time of celebration.”

It’s also a time to reflect and give thanks, she added.

“We made it through the past year,” she said. “We’ve got great expectation for the year ahead.”


• Hammond Grove Word Power Ministry, 214 W. Five Notch Road, North Augusta; 10 p.m.

• Good Hope Missionary Baptist Church, 710 E. Cedar St.; 10 p.m.

• Mount Sinai Missionary Baptist, 1458 Swanee Quintet Boulevard; 10 p.m.

• First Mt. Moriah Baptist, 2040 Milledgeville Road; 10 p.m.

• New Birth Missionary Baptist, 847 Shadrack St., Waynesboro; 10 p.m.

• Bethlehem Missionary Baptist, 815 Murrah Road; 10 p.m.

• Allen Chapel Missionary Baptist, 113 Allen Chapel Road, Waynesboro; 10 p.m.

• Bean Pond Baptist, 437 S. Hankinson St.; Jackson; 10 p.m.

• Tremount Temple Baptist, 1363 11th St.; 10 p.m.

• Rock of Ages Missionary Baptist, 3647 Karleen Road, Hephzibah; 10 p.m.

• St. John Baptist Church, 286 Huber Clay Road, Warrenville; 10:30 p.m.

• Pleasant Lane Baptist Church, 12 Peterson Lane, Edgefield, S.C.; 10:30 p.m.

• Gethsemane Missionary Baptist Church, 1485 Wrightsboro Road; 10:30 p.m.