Kirkin' o' the Tartans at First Pres

On September 25, we will celebrate the Kirkin' o' the Tartans during the morning services. This is a ceremony initiated in 1941 by the Rev. Peter Marshall (born in Coatbridge, Scotland), pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington DC. In addition to celebrating the life and teachings of Reformer John Knox, the Scottish Covenanters, and our Presbyterian heritage; the Kirkin' remembers the time in 1745 when Christian Highlanders were forbidden by a foreign oppressor to wear their clan tartans (beautiful plaid banners *) and secretly carried small tartan pieces into their churches in search of a blessing for their clans.  


Our Celebration

At our Kirkin' the participants will gather in front of the church before each morning service. During the opening hymn a band of Highland bagpipers will pipe the procession of families into the sanctuary carrying tartans, each representing their family name. The tartans will remain on display during the service and be carried out by the same families at the end of the service.  The entire procession will include the following:

  • the American flag
  • the flag of St. Andrew (representing the first Apostle)
  • a large sword (representing the sword of the Spirit)
  • the beadle (herald) carrying a large Bible
  • the pastors
  • the band of bagpipers
  • the families bearing their tartan flags


Family Tartans

If you would like to participate by purchasing a tartan for your family and carrying it in the happy procession, please contact Paul Roberts at 706-284-0839 soon. The number of tartans which may be accommodated is limited. In early August a representative from a reputable tartan supply firm in Columbia, SC will come to First Pres to display various tartans, answer questions, and take orders for purchase. There are many family names represented by tartans, not only Scottish, but also English, Irish, Welsh, and others. The tartan flags purchased for the Kirkin' will be of fine quality wool with wooden poles and brass tips and cost approximately $225 each. Each family may make purchases in one of two ways:

  • For the church in the name of someone else (tax deductible) to be owned and stored at the church after the Kirkin'
  • For the family to be owned and stored by the family after the Kirkin'


In addition to flags, other tartan garments will be available: shirts, jackets, sashes, ties, and full sets of kilts. Orders will be delivered to the church at least one week before our Kirkin'.  For a preliminary idea of some of the tartans available, go


Then enter your family surname in the search box and press Enter. The resulting pages will show you tartans associated with your family name. Be careful: if the catalog does not contain a tartan pattern in your family name, it may substitute a similar name.



* For more information about tartans, consult:

Kirkin' o' the Tartan

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