Kirkin O’ The Tartan

             Christ Church will be recognizing the Feast of St. Andrew during our 10:30am service on November 26th with the Kirkin O’ The Tartan. St. Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland, and the Kirkin O’ The Tartan (or Churching of the Tartan) is a Scottish-American custom which celebrates Scottish heritage and the contributions of Scotland to the United States. The roots of this custom date back to the 1746 Act of Proscription which forbade the wearing of kilts in the Scottish Highlands. According to legend, the Highlanders would hide pieces of their tartan and bring them to the church to be secretly blessed.

The custom as we know it today, was started in 1941 by the Rev. Peter Marshall (a Presbyterian minister and member of the Society of St. Andrew) as a fundraiser for British war relief during the Second World War. Since 1952, the Episcopal National Cathedral in Washington D.C. has annually hosted the nation’s largest Kirkin O’ The Tartan service, in which tartans from the different Scottish clans are processed into the cathedral and blessed. The custom has since spread throughout the United States and is typically observed in Presbyterian and Episcopal Churches.

The Episcopal Church’s connection to Scotland is one of great importance. In the aftermath of the American Revolution, the Church of England denied consecration to American candidates for bishop. Having no bishops to oversee the newly formed Episcopal Church, the Episcopal Church of Scotland stepped in, and on November 14, 1784, consecrated the Rev. Samuel Seabury as the first American bishop in the Anglican tradition. The Episcopal Church of Scotland also heavily influenced the formation of the 1789 Book of Common Prayer, the first American Prayer Book. Due to these influences, the St. Andrew’s Cross which adorns the Scottish Flag, is incorporated in the upper left-hand corner of the Episcopal flag and shield.

In keeping with this custom, and to commemorate the Episcopal Church’s indebtedness to the Scottish Episcopal Church, we will be inviting parishioners and community members of Scottish descent to join in the procession and blessing of the tartans on November 26th. (Yes, there will be bagpipes!) We invite representatives from the families to carry their banner. Kilts, skirts, sashes, and other traditional Scottish attire are encouraged! If you do not have Scottish ancestry, you are welcome to bring something that represents your own heritage, and we will offer a blessing over that as well!  

To further commemorate the Feast of St. Andrew, members of our own Brotherhood of St. Andrew chapter will assist in officiating the liturgy on November 26th and their newly elected leadership will be formally installed. The Brotherhood of St. Andrew is the oldest and largest men’s ministry in the Episcopal Church. The mission of the brotherhood is to bring youth and men to Christ through the threefold disciplines of prayer, study, and service. Following the service, the Brotherhood of St. Andrew will host a reception that will be open to the entire church community.


Blessings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Rev. Daniel