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Kirkin’ o’ the Tartans service Sunday

This coming Sunday, Oct. 28, is an important day for us at First Presbyterian Church in Natchez.  It is the Kirkin’ o’ the Tartans or the Blessing of the families. It commemorates the Scottish roots of the Presbyterian Church. After the defeat of the Scots by the British at the Battle of Culloden in 1745, the English banned the Scots from wearing their family tartans and playing the bagpipes because these were symbols of geographical and family unity and music that were dear to the Scots.

In defiance and as a show of faith during this bleak time, brave Highlanders would hide small bits of fabric on their person and wear it to church (in Scotland, a church is called a “kirk”). This blessing (or “kirking”) of the tartans was one way to stay connected to their heritage.

This concept was revived during WWII by the Rev. Peter Marshall, a native of Scotland who was then chaplain of the U.S. Senate. To encourage Scottish Americans to enlist in the war effort on behalf of Great Britain, he created the ‘Kirkin’ O’ the Tartans’ ceremony at his home church in Washington, D.C.

Since that time, Presbyterians (as well as other denominations) around the country have celebrated this annually as an expression of our freedom to worship.

This service includes a processional as well as the presentation of the Tartans for a blessing and the ‘Calling of the Clans’ in which the names of the Scottish families are read and the members in the congregation honor their ancestors by standing when their family clan name is called.

We Presbyterians are proud of our heritage and we want to share this excitement with everyone. Please come join us at 10:30 a.m. Sunday Oct.28, at First Presbyterian Church on the corner of Pearl and State Streets and plan to stay for the luncheon.

Kay McNeil is a member of First Presbyterian Church in Natchez.

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