Kirkin' o' the Tartans

The Kirkin' o' the Tartans service in 2016 will be:
October 23, 2016
10:55 am Service

(Rehearsal at 8:30 am for participants)

Hendersonville Presbyterian Church will host the Annual Kirkin’ of the Tartans on Sunday, October 23 at the 10:55 Service. Guest Pipers, The Montreat Scottish Pipes and Drums, under the direction of Joe Bailey will play Highland Cathedral and Scotland the Brave. Carol Ownbey, Harpist, will play a prelude of Sacred Music from 10:30 to 11:55.

The choir, under the direction of Gayle Stepp, Director of Music/ Organist will sing The King of Love My Shepherd Is by Dan Forrest. The Piano Prelude will be an Irish melody “Sometimes A Light Surprises”  arr. Larry Shackley. 

The sixty two Tartans in the processional include variations of : District of USA,  Hamilton, District of Aberdeen, Anderson, Blair, Bruce, Buchanan, Burns, Cameron, Campbell, District of Carolina, Cunningham, Davidson, Elloitt, Farquharson, Fraser, Galloway, Gordon, Graham, Gunn, Hardie, Henderson, Irvine, Kincaid, Lindsay, MacArthur, MacDonald, Magill MacGregor, MacKay, Mackenzie, MacMillan, MacNaughton, MacPherson, MacQuarrie, MacRae, McCauley, McClintock, McKean, McLeod, Morgan, Morrison, Murray, Nisbet, District of Perthshire, Stewart, Taylor, Wallace. 

The Beadle will be Bruce Hatfield. Liturgists are David Garrison and Dwayne Durham. Pastor Bill Campbell will deliver the Homily.

The public is invited.


The Kirkin’ o’ the Tartans Service honors the Scottish heritage of the Presbyterian Church and of many families within the church. It is designed to recognize the faithfulness of families who have passed their Christian faith and love of country down through the  generations, regardless of their national origin.

Legend holds that the service originated in Scotland during a time in the eighteenth century when, following the failure of the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745, the English forbade the Scots from wearing their clan-identifying tartans. Not only were these symbols of geographical and family unity outlawed, so were the traditional bagpipes and music so dear to the Scots.

In defiance, and as a show of faith during this bleak time, brave Highlanders would hide a small bit of fabric on their person and wear it to church (in Scotland, a church is called a “kirk”). At a predetermined time, they would all secretly touch their material during the service. This blessing (or “kirking”) of the tartans was one way of staying connected to their heritage.

The concept was revived during World War II by the Reverend 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, Marshall recreated the “Kirkin’ o’ the Tartans” ceremony at his home church, New York Avenue Presbyterian, in Washington, D.C. Since that time, Presbyterian churches (as well as other denominations) around the country have celebrated this annually as a grateful expression of our freedom to worship.

The service includes the proud playing of traditional Scottish hymns and the presentation of the tartans for blessing. On October 25, we will host the Montreat Scottish Pipes and Drums. Over thirty families of Hendersonville Presbyterian Church will be presenting their “colors” during the service. Whether presenting banners or not, all who wish to do so are encouraged to wear their own plaids as they join in this uplifting ceremony.

2014 Kirkin' O' The Tartans featured on WLOS 13 News