Stepping Into Freedom

One of the cherished traditions in some Protestant congregations is the Watchnight Service. People gather close to midnight to reflect on the past year and look forward to the year ahead. The Moravians began this practice in 1733 and the Methodists followed suit. But the most powerful Watchnight traditions belong to our African American sisters and brothers. We will glimpse over their shoulders to the first Watchnight Service, Emancipation Eve and ponder the lessons we may receive from their witness.

Rev. Dawn Volpe is a woman who loves life in all its forms (except bugs and rodents). She especially loves nature…gazing upon it from her picture window. Forays into the wild, not so much. She thinks an overnight stay at a Motel 6 is ‘roughing it’. A native New Yorker, she embodies all the stereotypes — bombastic, opinionated, strange accent, assertive. If she had to work with her hands, she’d starve. She has attempted over the years to master sewing (fail), cooking (not a fan), quilting (‘sigh’), crocheting (fail), drawing (Jesus wept). Fortunately, she enjoys her ‘day job’ as the pastor of Ephraim Moravian Church. She is wild about her husband, Bob — firefighter, first responder, baby-whisperer extraordinaire. She and Bob raised son Robert and shooed him from the nest into the wilds of Illinois. He turns up every now and then to reclaim his room, which mom has appropriated. If Dawn’s not in her office, you’ll find her at a coffee shop or restaurant, if you take a spill, Bob will be right by your side and you’ll find our boy turning up in his mom’s stories.