Watchnight service has added significance and history in the African-American community in the United States, since many slaves were said to have gathered in churches on New Year's Eve, in 1862, to await news and confirmation of the enactment of the Emancipation Proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln, on January 1, 1863.
^ abJames Ewing Ritchie (1870). The Religious Life of London. Tinsley Brothers. Retrieved 28 December 2011. "At A WATCH-NIGHT SERVICE: Methodism has one special institution. Its lovefeasts are old-old as Apostolic times. Its class meetings are the confessional in its simplest and most unobjectionable type, but in the institution of the watch-night it boldly struck out a new path for itself. In publicly setting apart the last fleeting moments of the old year and the first of the new to penitence, and special prayer, and stirring appeal, and fresh resolve, it has set an example which other sects are preparing to follow."
^ abcAnna M. Lawrence (5 May 2011). One Family Under God: Love, Belonging, and Authority in Early Transatlantic Methodism. University of Pennsylvania Press. Retrieved 28 December 2011. "In 1740, Wesley started watch-night services for the coal miners of the Kingswood area, offering this noctural worship as a godly alternative to spending their evenings in ale-houses. The watch-night services consisted of singing, praying, exhorting, and preaching for a number of hours. Wesley meant to establish it as a monthly practice, always at full moon to keep the meeting well lit. In America, this service often supplanted times of traditional drunken revelry, like New Year's Eve and Christmas Eve."