The “Kirking O’ the Tartans” service will be held at the local Presbyterian Church on Sunday, May 31, beginning at 4 p.m. This is a unique celebration of family, heritage and remembrance that the congregation invites the community to attend.
A special offering will be taken and the proceeds will benefit the Grady County Help Agency, so church members are hopeful a large crowd will be on hand.
The Kirking celebration was begun during the early years of World War II by the St. Andrews Society of Washington, D.C., and Dr. Peter Marshall, pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington and Chaplain to the U.S. Senate. The service recalls the years in Scotland under oppressive English rule following the Battle of Bloody Culloden in 1746.
In Scotland at that time, the playing of bagpipes, wearing of family tartans, and most everything “Scottish” were strictly forbidden, but worshipers secretly carried tartan swatches which were grasped on a signal by the minister as he began a special prayer of blessing for the gathered families.
Cairo Presbyterians encourage participants to wear traditional Scottish attire or something plaid, but it is not required.
The 4 p.m. service will be preceded at 3:30 p.m. by musical selections to be performed by members of the Tallahassee Pipe Band lead by Pipe Major Joe Ashcraft, organist Pamela Ellis of Bainbridge First Presbyterian, and guest flautist Lisa Gatherer from Thomasville.
The procession of Scottish tartan banners will be led into the sanctuary by the pipers. In a tradition that is unique to Cairo Presbyterians, heirloom family quilts will also be displayed. The addition of family quilts began when a longtime member was concerned that her family had no Scottish roots and thus no tartan.
Because quilts are made of scraps of familiar cloth and every family has at least one, the Cairo Presbyterian Church family adopted the family heirloom quilt as its own “tartan” and members proudly display their treasured quilts, coverlets and afghans in the sanctuary.
The church is located at 100 Fourth Ave. S.E. Regular Sunday worship services begin at 11 a.m. each Sunday.