A Louisiana church is continuing its 32-year-old tradition of ringing in the new year with 42 hours of prayer and fellowship with the hopes that 2014 will be a year of change for the city.
Calvary Missionary Baptist Church in Shreveport began the tradition after Pastor Joe Gant felt the need to lift their city's officials and education system in prayer. This time, the church will structure the initiative into blocks of time during which church members will pray for specific subjects like their policemen, firefighters and local schools.
"I think that's the major thing we need is to get the education system going because everything else feeds off of that," said Gant, reports Shreveport-based KTAL-TV. "[We] pull people from across the city, it's no longer a Calvary event, it's a citywide event."
Despite 42 hours of no sleep and continuous prayer, congregants and city residents gather to participate while the church remains full of people who also attend to fellowship and join together for an end-of-year celebration that includes music and dancing.
"There's no party like a Holy Ghost party, and a Holy Ghost party don't stop. [The] Secret is not to eat a whole lot," said Gant on how he maintains his energy for the event. "I basically drink more tea and hot chocolate. I'll eat a little salad, but I don't eat a lot because if you eat you're going to get sleepy."
Margaret Phillips Jackson, a church member at Calvary added, "No, you can't sleep when the Lord got you and is in control…Years ago, I used to be in the night club. Right now, I'm getting the same joyful feeling inside me until the new year."
While Calvary church awaits the new year in prayer, millions more across the country will do the same as it has been a tradition for many congregations for several years.
In 2010, a study found that 66 percent of Americans said they were going to ring in the new year in prayer and while five percent said they would engage in end of year party festivities, most churches held family-friendly alternative celebrations that continue to be a tradition each New Year's Eve.