Traditional Scottish Kilt

Traditional Scottish Kilt

News & Events >> Kirkin' O' the Tartans

Each year, First Presbyterian Church celebrates our Scottish Presbyterian heritage with a Kirkin’ O' The Tartans service. Events over this weekend include a golf tournament, a party, playing pipes and drums outdoors, a guest speaker, a “Blessing of the Tartans,” and a large procession involving flags, Scottish banners, pipes and drums.

After worship, a luncheon is held which includes music by The Reel McCoy, a Celtic band from Memphis, as well as a Knobbiest Knees contest. We also have a contest which elects someone to receive a family kilt to be worn for the first time at next year's Kirkin'.

Kirkin' History

"Kirk" is the Scottish word for "church." Tartans, with their distinctive plaid, represent specific Scottish clans, regions, or regiments. The "Kirkin' O' The Tartans" is the presentation of a Scottish family's symbol, its tartan, at church for blessing.

After Bonnie Prince Charlie's Scottish forces were defeated by the English in 1746 in the Battle of Culloden, the wearing of tartans and the playing of bagpipes were forbidden in Scotland for many years. Wearing or displaying of tartans was punishable by death. During those years, some Scots wore concealed pieces of their tartan when they attended church. At a particular point in the worship service, they would secretly touch their hidden tartan cloth, and the minister would offer a blessing.

The first formal "Kirkin" in America was conducted at New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C., in 1941. Their minister at the time was Dr. Peter Marshall, born in Scotland, who was also Chaplain of the United States Senate.

Beyond the particular heritage of Scotland and its people, First Presbyterian Church's Kirkin' is intended to encourage all participants to reflect with thanksgiving on their own family and ethnic heritage, and to celebrate God's grace poured out for all generations.

Past Kirkin' Preachers

  • Rev. William Mahood - 2007
  • Dr. Iain Torrance - 2006
  • Dr. James Simpson - 2005
  • Dr. Andrew Purves - 2004
  • Dr. Daniel W. Massie - 2003
  • Dr. Henry Mobley - 2002
  • Dr. James Simpson - 2001
  • Dr. James Simpson - 2000
  • Rev. James Simpson - 1999
  • Dr. James Goodloe IV - 2018
  • Dr. Jim Miller - 2017
  • Dr. Daniel W. Massie - 2016
  • Dr. Paul Eckel - 2015
  • Dr. Daniel W. Massie - 2013
  • Dr. William T. Bryant -2012
  • Rev. William Mahood - 2011
  • Dr. David Renwick - 2010
  • Dr. Andrew Purves - 2009
  • Dr. Norman Pritchard - 2008