Grandview Church host to Kirkin’ o’ the Tartan service

Pipers who will take part in the Kirkin’ of the Tartan on Sunday at Grandview United Methodist Church include, from left, Piper Major Andrew Powell, Piper Graves, Piper Lane and Pastor Charles McKinzie.

Grandview United Methodist Church of Winfield is inviting the community to a special service, Kirkin’ o’ the Tartan, on Dec. 1.

“Kirkin’ services originate from the 1940s in America, but their roots go back to the days of the Jacobite uprising of 1745 and the Articles of Proscription which outlawed the wearing of tartan in England,” Grandview pastor Charles McKinzie said.

McKinzie himself has Scottish roots and has played the Great Highland Pipes with a pipe and drum band in Wichita for the past seven years.

“Our Pipe Major, Andrew Powell, will be coming down to offer special music for the service. PM Powell is one of the few Grade 1 pipers in Kansas,” McKinzie said.

In addition to Highland bagpipe music, traditional prayers and liturgies will be offered. Area residents are invited to join in celebrating this special event.

Worship at Grandview begins at 9:30 a.m. Sunday, and breakfast is offered before worship beginning at 9. Grandview invites everyone to come and wear a kilt, tartan or whatever as they celebrate the roots of faith with some special traditions and a unique worship.

For more information, phone the church office at (620) 221-1157, or find them online at


A more detailed explanation of the Kirkin’ service: 

After the defeat of the Scots by the English at the Battle of Culloden in 1746, the Act of Proscription banned the wearing of tartans and kilts, speaking Gaelic and other Highland ways in hopes the rebellious Scottish spirit would be subdued. But the canny and defiant Scots preserved their traditions underground. According to legend, one way was to hide pieces of tartan and bring them to church to be secretly blessed at a particular point in the service. Kirk is the Gaelic word for church. The history supporting this origin is sketchy. In his collection of Highland folklore, the Carmina Gadelica, Alexander Carmichael does list a prayer for the “Consecration of the Cloth,” but no mention is made of it originating from the days following 1746 or being associated with outlawed tartan.

The American roots of the Kirkin’ service are well-documented, however. The Rev. Peter Marshall, born in Scotland, was the pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C., and served as chaplain of the United States Senate before his death in 1949. (He was the subject of the 1955 movie “A Man Called Peter.”) During the Second World War, Dr. Marshall held prayer services at New York Avenue to raise funds for British war relief. At one of the services, in 1941, he gave a sermon titled “the Kirkin’ o’ the Tartans,” and a legend was born. Dr. Marshall was a member of the St. Andrew’s Society of Washington, D.C., which assisted with the first Kirkin’ services. In 1954, the Kirkin’ was  moved to the National Cathedral in Washington, where it continues to be held today. Across the United States and Canada, many Scottish, Caledonian and St. Andrew’s Societies hold Kirkin’ of the Tartan services. Many are in Presbyterian churches, but they may also be found in Episcopal, Methodist, Roman Catholic and other denominations.

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