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01.01.2008 Religion

Christians hold watch night services to usher in New Year

By GNA
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Christians in the Cape Coast municipality on Monday night ushered in the New Year with watch-night services, singing songs of praise, hymns amidst dancing and waving of white handkerchiefs, in honour of God for brining them into another year.

Many of the churches were filled to capacity, with both regular and occasional worshippers, most of them clad in white attires to signify their joy at making it to the end of the year, and to bid farewell to 2007, while entering the new year with commitment and re-dedication to the work of God.

At the stroke of midnight, there were spontaneous shouts of 'afrehyia pa' (Happy New Year) and jubilation.

Earlier in a sermon, at the Christ Church Cathedral of the Anglican Diocese of Cape Coast, the Right Reverend Bishop Daniel Allotey, called on Ghanaians to resolve to maintain the relative peace that the nation was enjoying.

"Let us move boldly into the new year with only one resolution. That we love God and our neighbours as we strive to help bring here on earth God's Kingdom of justice, peace and love", he declared.

Rt, Rev. Bishop Allotey, further appealed to Ghanaians to "try and die a little for the country", stressing that, they should let hard work and fortitude be their clarion call as they move into the new year, with the abiding spirit of God and to eschew laziness and the spirit of inertia at work places and in the house of God.

He said God had done a lot for Ghanaians, including the successful celebration of the nation's golden jubilee, election of President Kufuor as African Union chairman, hosting of the African Union Summit and the peaceful election of presidential candidates for some of the political parties.

Rt. Rev. Allotey, in this regard, urged Ghanaians to give thanks to God for all the favours He had bestowed on the country, and tasked leaderS of the political parties, to try as much as possible to avoid personal attacks on their opponents.

"The Ghanaian citizenry would like to be well-informed of issues at stake and how they are to be handled by proactive and effective leadership, but not insults and utterance or acts that would destabilize the society as a whole", he emphasized.

He also called on chiefs and opinion leaders to work for peace and be at peace with one another and come out with pragmatic plans that would help solve the numerous chieftaincy and land disputes in the country.

The Bishop repeated calls on stakeholders in the education sector to help re-introduce religious and moral studies in the new education reform and urged the media to continue to do the good work of promoting peace and prosperity in the society.

At the Amanful St. Joseph's Catholic Church, Reverend Father Samuel Asantey, the parish priest, said the beginning of a new year was the dawn of a new creation and that God's favour and his revealing light may be peace in the hearts of all.

He called on Christians to make resolutions that would build bridges and enhance total transformation of lives and the development of the nation, by being ambassadors of peace, unity and reconciliation, and continue to pray that the next elections would be incident free, and all parties would accept the election results in good faith.

Prayers were said for the President and ministers of state, peaceful general elections, the youth and the development of the nation.

At the Varrick Memorial Zion Church, the Presiding Elder of the Church, Rev Wilberforce Wireko, called on Christians to vote for candidates who are God fearing and can perform during the 2008 general elections.

He said more often than not, some political parties influence people with money for votes, and charged Ghanaians, especially the youth who form the majority of the population to turn down such offers and vote for candidates with sterling qualities.

Rev. Wireko appealed to Christians to dedicate themselves to the service of God and approach the New Year with determination and hope.

Delivering the sermon on the theme; " the need to stay focused" at the International Central Gospel Church (Grace Temple), the Minister in-charge, Reverend Reuben Obeng, stressed the need for Ghanaians, particularly Christians, to stay focused in God in the new year to ensure the fulfilment of their aspirations.

He said there was therefore the need to discard negative attitudes and tendencies in the New Year, and to live life purposefully "so that our end will be better than the beginning".

Rev Obeng called on Ghanaians not to give up even in the face of constraints and challenges and was optimistic that the next general elections would be peaceful and devoid of any blood shed.

At the Winners Chapel International, Pastor Daniel Dominion, who based his message on the theme; "On eagles wings", also observed the need for Christians to be prayerful, and to "become addicted to the word of God", by constantly relying on Him for everything.

The Area Head of the Christ Apostolic Church International, Rev. Peter Derry, likened the current situation in the country to the Biblical story of when Jonah was swallowed by a whale, but did not lose hope, and relied on God for his salvation.

He said he was therefore encouraging Ghanaians not to give up, but to work hard, because God was in control, adding that, "anything that had swallowed us up in 2007", would be spewed out by God and that Ghanaians would be delivered from poverty.

While the watch night services were going on, other people, mostly the youth, converged at various points, in the night clubs and on the streets, dancing to blaring music and although illegal, popping fire-crackers amidst merry-making.

Beach parties have been planned for the celebration of New Year's Day.

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