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Big Zion AME Zion Church at 112 South Bayou St. is pictured Monday, Sept. 9, 2013, in Mobile, Ala. The church is holding a Kwanzaa program Dec. 30. (Mike Brantley/mbrantley@al.com)

Several coastal Alabama congregations are planning events during the New Year s holidays, ranging from Watch Night and Kwanzaa services to the commemoration of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Watch Night services have historically been held on the last night of the year, when Christians make their confessions and prepare spiritually for the next year. For African-American congregations, the event takes on added significance as many believers gathered on New Year s Eve in 1862 to await news of the enactment of the by President Abraham Lincoln.

St. John Deliverance Temple, at 2621 Ralston Rd. in Mobile, welcomes all to its New Year's Eve and Watch Night service: "In him we live, and move, and have our being. Let's sing, dance, shout and give thanks unto him because he has kept us another year," the church says in its invitation.

Kwanzaa, meanwhile, refers to the weeklong celebration of African-American culture that begins Dec. 26 and culminates on Jan. 1 with a feast and gift-giving.

Here are the upcoming events:


BIG ZION AME ZION CHURCH, 112 S. Bayou St., Mobile, will conduct its annual Kwanzaa program at 6 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 30. Big Zion is celebrating its 171st year of existence.


ST. JOHN DELIVERANCE TEMPLE, 2621 Ralston Rd., Mobile, will hold its annual New Year s Eve Watch Night Service at 10:30 p.m. on Dec. 31. Doors open at 9 p.m. Apostle Cleveland Smith is organizing pastor.

MT. HEBRON CHURCH MINISTRIES, 2531 Berkley Ave., Mobile, will hold services on New Year s Eve at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. The Rev. Joseph F. Johnson is senior pastor.

BETHEL AME CHURCH, 714 Savannah St., Mobile, will hold Bethel Boosters Lamplight Theater at 8 p.m. Dec. 31. Watch Night Services will begin at 11 p.m.

AZALEA BAPTIST CHURCH, 4060 Halls Mill Rd., Mobile, will hocld a Watch Night service with guests Crimson City Quartet, Amy Dunnam Lewis McBride. The service will begin at 8 p.m. and last until midnight.


MT. ZION BAPTIST CHURCH, 1012 Adams St., Mobile, will host the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance Annual Emancipation Proclamation Celebration Service at 10 a.m. on New Year s Day. Former Mobile Mayor Samuel L. Jones will be the speaker.

(If you would like to include your church event, please email the information to coastalreligion@al.com.)

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