Sunday, October 29, 2017


Fellowship after service
(Food, Dancing, Bagpipes, and More!)

The origins of the KIRKIN’ O’ THE TARTAN are unclear, shrouded in mist like the Scottish highlands themselves.  Many believe the KIRKIN’ dates back to antiquity and was an ancient ceremony where the swords and armor of the highlander were blessed before a coming battle.

One story suggests that it was to commemorate the Battle of Culloden, and the persecutions which followed, that the service of the KIRKIN’ O’ THE TARTAN was first held.

Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) had returned to Scotland from France to invade England, with the express purpose of taking over the throne.  Many of the Scottish clans flocked to his side.  The Battle of Culloden, fought on the cold, drizzly morning of April 16, 1746, began the persecution and destruction of the Highlander of Scotland.

One of the first actions of the English after their victory at Culloden was to outlaw all signs of the Highlander culture.  King George decreed that the kilt was forbidden dress, and that speaking the Gaelic language and playing bagpipes were all to cease.  These restrictions were bitterly resented by the proud Highlanders, and they did everything they could to circumvent the law.  Many people, in defiance, continued to wear bits of tartan under their clothes, next to their hearts.

It came to pass that in many Highland churches, even after such persecutions ended, one service each year was designated for the blessing of the tartan.  On that day, each clan member wore a piece of tartan next to the heart and, during the service, the minister offered a prayer of thanks for the heritage for which it stood.

In this country, the KIRKIN’ O’ THE TARTAN was first celebrated in Washington D.C.’s New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in 1941, pastored by the Reverend Peter Marshall.  In 1954, it was moved to Washington National Cathedral where it has been held ever since. It has also become a tradition at First Presbyterian Church, Port Huron—held annually on Reformation Sunday.

The KIRKIN’ today is celebrated to honor all nationalities and peoples under God.  Its central affirmation is that the tradition of the KIRKIN’, when celebrated beneath the banner of Christ’s love, can be embraced by all members of the church.  The Scots, who were once alienated from each other, now celebrate their common heritage under God.  Thus the KIRKIN’ can serve as a pattern for uniting our world.

On this day we offer our thanks to God for the faith of our ancestors and for these tartans—the symbol of their faithfulness.

Join us in this celebration of the family of faith!

All are welcome

10:00a.m. – service of worship

11:00a.m. – fellowship (with treats, dancers, bagpipes and more!)