New Year's Eve periodically lands on a Sunday, and that's the case this year — but should this Sabbath Day occurrence affect how Christians celebrate the arrival of a brand new year?

Most local churches aren't sponsoring New Year's festivities this year, and so basically it is left up to individuals and families as to how to handle a Sunday New Year's Eve.

"It doesn't make a lot of difference to us," Pastor Terry Long of Calvary Chapel of Salt Lake said of the Sunday New Year's Eve.

He said his church hasn't sponsored an adult New Year's Eve party in many years, but it will have its all-night (7 p.m. to 8 a.m.) party for junior and senior high school students from Sunday night to Monday morning again this year.

Pastor Long said he will use the morning worship service Sunday to talk about the New Year and goals for 2007, but that's about the only impact a Sabbath Day New Year's Eve is having on Calvary Chapel this year.

Pastor Steve Goodier of Christ United Methodist Church, Salt Lake City, said his church isn't holding any New Year's celebrations this year, but he would like to return to a "watch night" event a year from now on Dec. 31, 2007. That's a spiritual event that starts the new year with prayer.

Richard Wolf, an elder in the North Salt Lake congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses, said his faith doesn't celebrate non-spiritual holidays, like New Year's Eve and Day. Thus, there's no conflict for them with the holiday being on a Sunday.

"We do not celebrate holidays that have non-Christian religious origins or those that promote nationalism," The Watchtower, official Web site for Jehovah's Witnesses, states.

Adventure Foursquare Church, a nondenominational church in Draper, is one of the few Christian churches in the area sponsoring a New Year's activity this year. The church, 352 W. 12300 South, has a band and comic performing starting at 8 p.m.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is holding a special youth fireside (geared for ages 12-18) Sunday from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the Conference Center. This event will likely provide a religious orientation for the evening for those who attend, given its theme of "Let Virtue Garnish Thy Thoughts Unceasingly" and best-dress suggestion.

That fireside will be broadcast to many stake centers church-wide and is a kickoff to the new theme for the church's young men and young women's programs during 2007.

Otherwise, most wards and stakes are steering clear of sponsoring New Year's Eve activities on a Sunday.

What to do is left to individual members and families.

Bishop Brad Turner of Layton's Park West Ward said if he was giving advice to church members about New Year's Eve celebrations on a Sunday, he'd ask them, "What do you think?"

He said typically church members know the right answers and are just seeking confirmation.

"It's still the Sabbath Day and we should keep it holy," Bishop Turner said.

He explained that means not going to commercial ventures, and spending more time with family. He expects the LDS fireside that evening will set the right tone for the night, and when people leave it, they will want to do what's right.

Provo's "First Night" celebration has been moved to tonight, as has St. George's. Kaysville city simply canceled their traditional New Year's Eve celebration because of the Sunday impact.

When Provo's First Night was also switched to Saturday night back in 2000, its organizers feared it might not be commercially successful on a Sunday night. That's likely the focal point for many of the city controversies. However, Salt Lake City and Ogden in 2000 both held successful Sunday night First Night events. They are planning the same this year.

Some other cities are holding their Dec. 31 celebrations as usual.

— New Year's Eve doesn't land on a Sunday every six or seven years. Thanks to leap year, it has happened recently in only 2000, 1995, 1989 and 1978 in the past three decades. It will next occur in 2017 — later than usual, because leap year will lengthen the gap next time.


E-mail: lynn@desnews.com