First Presbyterian Church holds first Kirkin' o' the Tartan

Sunday, October 28, 2012 | 6:58 p.m. CDT
From left, Jane Rabeni, Heather Foote, Gail Fitzgerald, Bill McKenzie, Dell McMillan and John Cunning play the bagpipes and drums at the first Kirkin' o' the Tartan event Sunday at First Presbyterian Church. The event celebrated the church's Scottish roots.

COLUMBIA — People of all ages sported plaid in various forms for First Presbyterian Church's first Kirkin' o' the Tartan on Sunday.

Members from other churches and the community were invited to the special service, which celebrated the Scottish influence on the Presbyterian Church in America.


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"It was a good reminder of our heritage," church member Betsy Rall said.

The service included a procession with church members, Boy Scouts Troop 4 Color Guard and music provided by Boone County Fire Protection District Pipes and Drums.

Several members wore tartans — plaid patterned cloths that represent a Scottish family clan — in the form of kilts or shoulder blankets.

Under King George III's Act of Proscription in 1747, the Scottish were banned from wearing tartans. To rebel, they would hide pieces of tartan that would be blessed during the service.

Around 17 members carried a tartan as a flag during Sunday's processional, which was then positioned at the front of the church for the rest of the service.

Rall wore a tartan she already owned that represented the Stuart clan. Her mother made sure she and sister, Mary Regan, who displayed the MacMullen tartan, knew of their Scottish heritage, she said.

Pastor Richard Ramsey ordered a Ramsey plaid tartan to wear along with his clergy clerical stole.

"A whole bunch of people ran out of the door and said, 'Let's do that again,'" he said.

Rall said she was pleased with the turnout for the service.

"I just really feel good about the number of people we had," she said.

Because Sunday was also Reformation Sunday for the church, the service was centered around the theme of grace, Ramsey said.

After families signed up to participate in the procession and bagpipers were booked, he said planning the service "came together pretty easily."

Boone County Fire Protection District Pipes and Drums player Bill McKenzie has played with the band for 17 years, but Sunday was his first Kirkin' o' the Tartan.

"My heritage is Scottish and I've never heard of it," he said.

The band played Scottish patriotic songs "Highland Cathedral" and "Scotland the Brave" for the processional and recessional, respectively. The music was already familiar to the players, McKenzie said. 

"We had a lot of fun," he said. "I hope they have us back. We like doing stuff like this."

Ramsey said he hopes the service leaves others with an idea of what the church stands for.

"One of the things that we believe is that our faith isn't private," Ramsey said. "I hope people will see this as a reminder that while we live in this day in age, our church isn't in this day in age."

Supervising editor is Zach Murdock.

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