This Day in History: December 31st, 1770 “America’s first-known “watch-night” service was held at St. George’s Methodist Church in Philadelphia.”
“The modern rise and use of the watch-night service, for the most part, may be traced to John Wesley and the Methodists. In a letter dated June 8, 1750, John Wesley, noted that the Anglican Book of Common Prayer made use of the word “vigil” to describe a practice observed by Christians in the early Church. In his letter, Wesley stated that it was common for early Christian believers to spend the entire night in prayer and that this practice was called Vigiliae or “vigils.” He reasoned that this practice among the English Methodists was not original, but based upon the example of early Christians: “Therefore, for spending a part of some nights in this manner, in public and solemn prayer, we have not only the authority of our own national [Anglican] Church, but of the universal Church in the earliest ages.” While Wesley is correct that the practice of praying throughout the night or a part of it may be traced to the early Church, the contemporary observance of the watch-night service may be traced to the English Methodists, particularly early converts of Methodism who came under the influence of Wesley and his preachers. An extended prayer meeting at night came to be known as a watch-night service.” If you want to read the rest of this article, click the following link:
I grew up in the Church of God of Prophecy: Pentecostal Church. Every, I mean every, New Year’s Eve, our church threw a party. It was called a “watch-night” service. Until today, I had thought that they made the name up. I had no idea that these “watch-night” services had been going on around here since before the Revolution.
Back to the party: Our Church sang & danced every New Year’s Eve away. No alcohol involved; just the Holy Spirit, “Ghost”. As I just sat and watched, they threw the most exciting New Year’s Eve party that I have ever been to. Running, flag waving, speaking in tongues, communion, singing, dancing; all in anticipation of Jesus’ return. Maybe tonight…
Source: www.christianhistoryinstitute.org/today/12/31/ & http://www.historicstgeorges.org/museum & http://www.umc.org/who-we-are/seven-sites-every-united-methodist-should-see