Members of the First Baptist Church of Harker Heights celebrated New Year’s Eve together for their annual Watch Night Service.

Senior Church Elder Dr. Charlie Parmer described Watch Night as, “A time of fellowship and prayer for the new year.”

While many area bars and clubs were packed with patrons, around 30 of First Baptist’s 130 church members spent New Year’s Eve playing board games, enjoying food and good company from 7 p.m. up until the service, which began at 11 p.m. and carried the congregation into the new year.

During the service, any willing church member was allowed to speak of personal testimonies to their hope of success in a new year.

The church property contains a chapel, as well as another assembly building where the majority of the Watch Night service took place.

Linda Dawson, a congregant who has been around longest, said, “We’ve been doing this at least since I’ve come here in 2000.”

Marie Parmer, the church’s administrative assistant since January 2016, said, “It (Watch Night) is an evening where you can have fun, with no alcohol, no drugs, just clean wholesome fun.”

Church members chatted over plates of pizza and finger foods, enjoying each other’s company and awaited 2017.

In addition to offering programs to its congregation, First Baptist is extremely invested in the Harker Heights community.

Church members such as Cindy Holland participate in several outreach programs to include, “After School Kids” or, “A.S.K.” an afterschool latchkey program that provides a safe place for area children who must wait for family members to pick them up.

The church also offers a food pantry on the first, third and fourth Saturday of each month for anyone in need. In addition, the “Bread of Life” program provides a meal served on church property every fourth Saturday of each month.

As one of the oldest churches in Harker Heights at 52 years old, the First Baptist Church and its members watched and reacted as the community grew around them.

Along with other area establishments, the church is also a local “Safe Spot”, a refuge for battered women and children in need of an immediate place to stay.

Once the visitors are under the roof of the church, the members ensure proper channels are notified to help.

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