Choose to win in 2013! Run the race of life in such a way to win. At the stroke of midnight and the dawning of a new year, the Reverend Al Miller charged his congregants to do just that.
Handing each member inside the jam-packed Fellowship Tabernacle assembly in St Andrew a baton, Miller declared that the race of life, including the life of a Christian, was best compared to a relay.
"Take that baton and run … and run to win!" he bellowed to a jubilant congregation.
With the church hall transformed to symbolise a track meet and adorned in Jamaica's national colours, from as early as 8 p.m. church members streamed into the assembly dressed in their Jamaican colours, well prepared to take the symbolic baton from the old year into the new.
With a baton raised in hand, Miller told his congregants, "You may have ran a bad year, but you are now given a new opportunity to run another leg. Take the baton and run the race. Run it well and run to win!"
He added: "And always consult with your coach, God, who will guide you in that race."
Fellowship Tabernacle joined the countless churches across the island in celebrating the beginning of the new year on Monday night.
At the Faith United Church of God International in St Andrew, the youth in the community of Mandela Terrace came out in their numbers to ring in the new year giving thanks.
For 17-year-old Monique Mullings, it was important to attend the watchnight service to "thank God for everything He has done for me".
For 15-year-old April Hyman, it was to celebrate the beginning of another year, while 18-year-old Rolando Lindsay was there to "praise the Lord".
It was a packed house inside the Open Bible Church on Washington Boulevard in St Andrew. Even the chairs placed outside weren't enough to accommodate the crowd that turned out to ring in 2013 in the presence of God.
"I am here to give God thanks to take me through a year and bring me to another," said Denise Robinson, who has been attending the church for more than 25 years.
"Watchnight service is just as important to me as any other church service."
At the Emmanuel Apostolic Church on Slipe Road, the members raised their voices in jubilation, grateful for new beginnings.
As the Gleaner team made its way across Kingston and St Andrew, the sweet strain of thanksgiving and praise rang out from the countless churches found on practically every corner as many Jamaicans sought to start 2013 with hope for a blessed year.