The annual Kirkin of the Tartans ceremony will be held this year, as usual, at First Presbyterian Church, Franklin, at the 10:00 am Worship Service, on June 17th. Church Community Relations Committee Co-Chairperson, Jim Geary, announced that, “Even though the Taste of Scotland festival will be missed by everyone this year, the Kirkin has been a part of Presbyterian tradition for sixty-five years. We will continue that tradition this year.”
Geary also commented that First Presbyterian Church hopes 2013 will see the return of the Taste of Scotland community festival, and that the church plans to make the Kirkin ceremony an integral part of any future festival.
The oral history of the Kirkin has several versions. The most accepted being that when the English crown banned the wearing of the tartan plaids, and kilts, in the mid-eighteenth century, Scottish men rebelled by cutting a piece of the family tartan cloth, hiding it under their clothes, and secretly taking it to the church (Kirk) for a blessing.
Other historians note it was an early Scottish practice to present the family tartan war flag at multi-clan gatherings to show support for the brotherhood of Scottish peoples.
However the tradition began, famed Presbyterian pastor Peter Marshall made the Kirkin an American symbol in 1941when he led a service incorporating the ceremony to rally support for Scotland and England’s early war efforts. Today, as a remembrance of early Scottish Presbyterianism, Kirkin ceremonies are held annually throughout the United States and Canada.
As with most Kirkin ceremonies, First Presbyterian Church Franklin’s begins with the parade of family tartan flags carried into the Church by clan representatives. The bagpiper, who “pipes” the group into and out of the church, leads the tartans. One of the most emotional aspects of the service comes when clan names are called for presentation to the church, and “present” responses are called out to the congregation.
At this time, all clan members stand to be counted as part of that family. Blessings and prayers are given for all the families, Scottish and non-Scottish, and for the country and her leaders.
The Kirkin ceremony at First Presbyterian concludes with an after service luncheon of traditional Scottish foods. The community is invited to both the service and the luncheon.