On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me a climbing wall

Bottle of ChampagneI usually spend New Year's Eve in New York City out and about until the wee hours. This year I went to church for a special concert by the Concordia Theological Seminary's fantastic Kantorei. The service, which marked Christ's circumcision, also featured a wedding of two of my friends. I was rather impressed how well my pastor preached on the two occasions. The other thing I was impressed by was just how many people were there. Apparently going to church on New Year's Eve is quite common for Christians who are better than not me!

So I was pleased to see new religion reporter Jacqueline Salmon's piece in The Washington Post on evangelical churches and megachurches that host New Year's Eve services and parties. The cute subhead? "Many Celebrations Across Region Focus on Religion Rather Than Spirits":

Such large and elaborate New Year's celebrations are growing increasingly popular among evangelical churches. The events provide the faithful with family-friendly festivities and -- just as important, say church leaders -- they are an attractive way to help pull unbelievers into the Christian fold.

As the year draws to a close, "people want to make positive changes in their lives," said Georgette Patterson, director of marketing for New Life Anointed Ministries International, known as The Life. At church New Year's Eve celebrations, "they hear a message that is uplifting."

At megachurch McLean Bible, the all-night New Year's Eve party for teenagers has swelled from a few hundred to 1,500 kids in the past three years. Last night's celebration, at McLean Bible's worship complex off Route 7 in Fairfax County, featured Christian rock bands, video games, a climbing wall and movies.

At midnight, several hundred youthful attendees were expected to come forward to be "saved," said Denny Harris, the church's director of ministry operations.

I wonder how they are able to predict how many people will convert? Also, I love the scare quotes around saved.

Still, Salmon covered churches from Maryland, Virginia and Washington for the piece, which was nice. A good story all around.

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