Bishop Leon Martin
Bishop Leon Martin and the Love, Peace and Happiness Family Christian Fellowship Church will present their Annual New Year’s Eve Celebration on Friday, December 31, with two services at 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. and 9 p.m. to midnight.
The celebrations will be held at their Downey Church located at 11022 Old River School Road (cross street Firestone Blvd.) in Downey.
The services will commemorate the origin of “Watch Night Service – Lest We Forget God Almighty!”
“The Watch Night Services that we celebrate today in Black communities can be traced back to gatherings on December 31, 1862, also known as ‘Freedom’s Eve.’ On that night, Blacks came together in churches and private homes all across the nation, anxiously awaiting news that the Emancipation Proclamation actually had become law,” said Bishop Martin.
“Then, at the stroke of midnight, it was January 1, 1863, and all slaves in the Confederate States were declared legally free. Thus, the Emancipation Services origin was born,” he said.
“This, too, was an extension of Watch Night Services in that January 1 would become a significant date of worship and reflection on the reality of being freed from the tyranny of slavery physically.”
Bishop Martin explained that when the news was received, there were prayers, shouts, and songs of joy as people fell to their knees and thanked God.
“Black folk have gathered in churches annually on New Year’s Eve ever since, praising God for bringing them safely through another year. It’s been 145 years since that first Freedom’s Eve and many were never taught the African American history of Watch Night.
“But, tradition still brings us together at this time every year to celebrate “how Black people received their freedom from the bondage of slavery. Lest we forget the Almighty God,” said Bishop Martin.
The celebration will feature guest churches, performing artists, and congregational activities for the entire family. For information, contact Love, Peace and Happiness Family Christian Fellowship Church at (562) 806-9890 or visit www.lphfamily.org