First Presbyterian will celebrate heritage with Kirkin' o' the Tartan

Wednesday, October 24, 2012 | 5:06 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — The Presbyterian Church has roots in Scotland, and it will be celebrating that heritage with a Kirkin' o' the Tartan.

For the first time, the First Presbyterian Church in Columbia has orchestrated the music, costumes and ceremony for this Scottish worship service. It will be held from 11 a.m. to noon Sunday in the sanctuary of the church at 16 Hitt St.

"The Presbyterian church in the United States has a very rich history coming from Scotland," Ruling Elder Buddy Worrell said last week.

Kirk is the term in Scotland for church, and kirking is considered a blessing. The Kirkin' o' the Tartan service will include a ceremonial procession, hymns and bagpipe music led by Boone County Fire District Pipes and Drums.

A number of families have ordered or rented tartans, the classic patterns used in kilts and shoulder blankets to represent Scottish heritage, Worrell said.

Around 15 families will carry their tartan as a flag during the processional and recessional, and some will sport full Scottish regalia.

"Each family has their own distinctive color and pattern," he said.

The church began planning the event four months ago after Worrell pitched the idea to other church leaders.

"The reason I got in charge with this event was because I've seen it done at different churches in my travels," he said.

The event is being held on Reformation Sunday, a day near the end of October that marks Martin Luther's public protest against Catholicism in 1517.

"Reformation is just a good Sunday when we kind of look back on our reformed tradition," Worrell said.

The Presbyterian church can be traced back to both John Calvin, a French theological reformer, and John Knox, a Scottish clergyman. Both had a hand in continuing the reform that Luther initiated.

Scotland helped foster the Presbyterian denomination by permitting self-governance, and it was later brought to North America largely by Scottish and Scots-Irish immigrants.

Worrell said the public is invited to witness the Sunday service.

"Most of all, it's a church service," he said. "It's all done for the glory of God. It is a special service of worship, not just a show." 

Supervising editor is Jeanne Abbott.

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