The evocative drone of bagpipes will again fill the halls of Laurinburg Presbyterian Church next Sunday as area families claiming Scottish heritage parade their family tartans into the sanctuary during the 11th annual “Kirkin’ o’ the Tartans” celebration.
Created in the 1940s at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, DC, the service is a celebration and remembrance of Scottish heritage and culture – a culture which is inextricably linked to the church itself.
“(Presbyterian churches) have their roots in Scotland. (The Church) has a really deep connection to Scotland,” said Pastor Neal Carter.
Responsible for overseeing the elaborate service, Carter said that the “Kirkin’ o’ the Tartan” is an annual highlight which attracts people from all over the state.
“They come from Greensboro and other states. They come from all over, really.”
After about 70 years of existence, the special service is still serving the purpose for which it was originally intended.
“Peter Marshal, who was a renowned Presbyterian Minister, he was originally from Scotland and during World War II he created this service for those Scottish Americans to instill pride,” Carter said of the service’s roots.
Citing the olden Scots’ “love of scripture, unwavering faith, devotion to their ‘kirk’ … and strong independence” as the foundation of the service, Carter said that the highlight comes when the tartans are paraded through the sanctuary to the stirring sound of bagpipes.
Asked about the unique name of the church staple, Cater said that it, too has roots in the home country.
“’Kirk’ is the Gaelic-Scottish word for church, so it is literally a kind of blessing of the tartans,” Carter said.
In this case, each tartan represents one of the houses or old clans of Scottish lore, so it is a way of blessing the families also.
According to Carter, the celebration is not one that every Presbyterian Church recognizes, and the ones that do hold the service often do it on another date.
“A lot of churches do it on Reformation Sunday in October, but we do it on the weekend of the Scottish Heritage Center’s Symposium at St. Andrews.”
Carter said that churchgoers see it as a way of uniting not only those sharing their heritage, but also as a way of bringing together the entire community.
“And because of Scotland County’s long historical connection with the country of Scotland, we are all linked up with that history as well.”
The “Kirkin’ o’ the Tartan” worship service will take place on April 7 starting at 11 a.m. in the Sanctuary of Laurinburg Presbyterian Church on 600 West Church Street.
There will be a luncheon in the fellowship hall following the service. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children and may be purchased at the church office through April 4. Call 276-0831 with questions.