West Point church to hold ‘Kirkin’ of the Tartans’ service

Published 11:00 am Thursday, November 4, 2021

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Churchgoers will be able to enjoy a taste of Scottish heritage Sunday when the West Point Presbyterian Church holds its 26th annual Kirkin’-of-the-Tartans service at 11 a.m., according to a news release from the church.

This year’s celebration will mark 184 years of Presbyterian ministry to the West Point and Greater Valley area. The community is invited to participate as the Order-of-the-Tartan from LaGrange/Columbus and bagpiper Henry Frantz from Atlanta join with the church to celebrate and worship. Mr. Jim Short, a native of Scotland, will be offering a traditional reading of the 23rd Psalm in the Scottish dialect. A covered-dish luncheon will follow the service in Davis Hall.

“Kirk” is the Scottish word for church, and a “tartan” is the traditional woolen plaid pattern that distinguishes the various Scottish clans. Thus, the Kirkin’-of-the-Tartans is the traditional blessing of Scottish families by the Clergy.

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Following a rebellion in 1746, Scots were no longer allowed to wear their tartans or clan insignia. However, legend contends the Scots would hide swatches of tartan fabric among their clothing when they went to church, and at a predetermined time, they secretly touched their tartan material during the worship service.

The Kirkin’ of the Tartans was revived during WWII by the Rev. Peter Marshall, then the chaplain of the U.S. Senate. To encourage Scottish Americans to sign up to fight on behalf of Great Britain, Peter Marshall recreated the Kirkin’-of-the-Tartans ceremony in 1943 to try to instill pride among Scottish Americans in their Scottish homeland. The Kirkin’-of-the-Tartans ceremony was then held in Presbyterian churches across the United States. Today, the Kirkin’-of-the-Tartans is not limited to Presbyterian Churches but can be observed in other Protestant and Roman Catholic services where the ceremony is a great social occasion for people of Scottish origin to congregate and worship God.

West Point Presbyterian Church is located at the corner of West Tenth Street and Fifth Avenue, two blocks west of Capital City Bank. For more information about the church, visit www.westpointpresbyterian.com or call the church office at (706) 443-2260.