"Kirk" is the Scottish word for "church." Tartans, with their distinctive plaid, represent specific Scottish clans, regions, or regiments. The "Kirkin' O' The Tartans" is an acknowledgement of a Scottish family's symbol, its tartan, at church for blessing. As a celebration of our Scottish heritage, we annually celebrate the “Kirkin’ of the Tartans” here at First Presbyterian Church.
After Scottish forces were defeated by the English in 1746, the wearing of tartans and the playing of bagpipes were forbidden in Scotland for many years. Wearing or displaying of tartans was punishable by death. During those years, some Scots wore concealed pieces of their tartan when they attended church. At a particular point in the worship service, they would secretly touch their hidden tartan cloth, and the minister would offer a blessing.
We in the USA continue this tradition today through recognition of all those of Scottish heritage to the sound of bagpipes and the ceremonial identification of the various clans represented by our members through their ancestry.
Beyond the particular heritage of Scotland and its people, First Presbyterian Church's Kirkin is intended to encourage all participants to reflect with thanksgiving on their own family and ethnic heritage, and to celebrate God's grace poured out for all generations.