Second Baptist Church, 919 6th Ave., Rock Island, will hold its New Year’s Eve Watch Night service at 10 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 31. It will be a time of devotion, praise, rejoicing and just giving God thanks for bringing us through another year, according to a news release.

The guest preacher is the Rev. Larry D. Dixon, pastor of Trinity Community Baptist Church, Moline.

For more information, contact the church at 309-788-0677.

The history of Watch Night
On the night of Dec. 31, 1862, enslaved and free African Americans gathered, many in secret, to ring in the new year and await news that the Emancipation Proclamation had taken effect, the release says. Just a few months earlier, on Sept. 22, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issued the executive order that declared enslaved people in the rebelling Confederate States legally free. However, the decree would not take effect until the clock struck midnight at the start of the new year.

The occasion, known as Watch Night or “Freedom’s Eve,” marks when African Americans across the country watched and waited for the news of freedom.

Today, Watch Night is an annual New Year’s Eve tradition that includes the memory of slavery and freedom, reflections on faith, and celebration of community and strength.