Every year on December 31s,t members of the International Charismatic Church (ICC) gather with their family and friends, at the Redmond Community Centre in Hackney to welcome the New Year and give thanks for times gone by.
The Hackney Church, containing just 35 members, is led by Pastor Nana Prempeh, who oversaw the service. Churchgoers enjoyed, a night of singing, dancing, spontaneous prayers, scripture readings, and testimonials.
Pastor Prempeh gave her insights as to why this night service was an important tradition.
“The end-of-year service is very important for many Pentecostals. We focus more on thanking God for our lives and asking him to take control of every situation in the New Year.”
“Christians get this inspiration from the Holy Bible when God promised the Israelites a land flowing with milk and honey, and he brought them from Egypt to Cana. They encountered so many difficulties on their way, but God was with them throughout, from crossing the Red Sea to drying up Jordan to the fall of the Jerico wall.”
“This all-night prayer and service is in preparation for our crossing from 2023-2024. In each new milestone of our life we encounter, we are determined to spend with God and with our community whom we rely on”.
Each New Year, the church selects an overarching theme for the year ahead and sets goals for serving the community.
“Our plan for the community in the future is to invite people to know Christ and that the whole community will come to experience the true love of God, by giving to those in need and living in harmony with our neighbours and loving one another as instructed by our Bible
One testimony shared by Pastor Prempeh detailed how thankful she was to God for being able to give back to the members of her church.
“When I came to this country with no sixth-form education and having English as a second language – I struggled. Now I have a degree and it's only by the grace of God. Being able to support those in a similar position who may have limited means of supporting themselves is an opportunity that I am grateful for.”
Many different Christian traditions, such as those of Moravians, Methodists, Catholics, Lutherans, Anglicans, Baptists, Adventists, and Reformed Christians, also observe the “night vigil” or the “watch night service” on New Year's Eve.
Since the time of the early church, Christians have held these vigils. As reported in Church History by Johann Heinrich Kurtz and John Macpherson, Christians distinguished themselves from non-Christians in the Greco-Roman empire with prayer and fasting, following the example of Jesus instead of ringing in the New Year with drunken “revelry”.
Pastor Prempeh said, “Although the denominations differ in tradition, the aim of the churches remains the same, to celebrate and invite the community to be inspired by Jesus' example”.
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