"One New Years Eve, on my way home from a gathering with friends, I drove along the mostly empty streets and noticed that many of the churches I passed were full. It seemed particularly odd. I didn’t remember going to church on NYE as a kid, and I’m pretty sure my parents drug us to church anytime the doors were open. I wondered what the significance of this might be.
The next day I did some research and was given the opportunity to learn about a remarkable part of American history. On December 31st 1862, people forced into slavery gathered in churches all across the South. They watched and waited for some sign to come that the Emancipation Proclamation had finally been signed by President Lincoln. For countless people in the American South, New Years Day 1863 meant freedom. The signing did come and to this day churches hold Watch Night Services to remember the past and pray for a better future in the years to come.
Every year since I learned about the special service, I try and take some time out today and tomorrow to remember how far we’ve come and how much more we’ve yet to accomplish in the area of freedom and justice."