Kirkin of Tartan service returns to Montreat

Special to Black Mountain News
Heath Rada will be the guest preacher for the Kirkin of the Tartan service in Anderson Auditorium on May 26.

One of the nation’s largest Kirkin of the Tartan worship services will be held in Montreat’s Anderson Auditorium at 11 a.m., Sunday, May 26.

Commemorating loved ones and veterans on this Memorial Sunday, the Kirkin Service is sponsored by the Montreat Scottish Society (MSS). Prior to the service, at 10:15 a.m., the Montreat Scottish Pipes & Drum Band will play during the Piping on the Green.

The eerie bagpipe drone of a hymn will signal the start of the worship service accompanied by nearly 100 tartan banner carriers marching into the auditorium.

All are invited to this free event.

The Kirkin of the Tartan “is open to everyone from all denominations to attend the worship service – not just those with Scottish background," said Montreat Scottish Society President Ron Vinson.

Former Presbyterian Moderator Heath Rada will be the guest preacher. Rada served as president of the Presbyterian School of Christian Education, as well as with other non-profit organizations.

"The word Kirk is a Scottish term for church. After Scottish tartans were banned for over a generation during the 1700s, legend has it that Scots would bring a piece of the banned tartan to the Kirk for a blessing slipped into the service. Modern Kirkin services trace their origins to that 1941 service conducted by Reverend Peter Marshall," MSS Founder William McCaskill said. "We always recognize veterans and their families at this Memorial Weekend service."

Scottish Luncheon Following Service

The Assembly Inn in Montreat will be open for lunch after the Kirkin service. Tickets are limited to first-come, first-serve. Cost is $20 for adults and teens (12 and over) and $10 for children (5 - 11). Children 5 and under are free. Reservations and payment can be made by calling the Inn at 419-9844. The luncheon sells out, so be sure to order tickets in advance.

About Kirkin Worship Tradition

Worshippers gathered more than 75 years ago on Sunday evening, April 27, 1941, in Washington, D.C., at a special service led by Peter Marshall, famed pastor (1935 - 1949) of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, and Chaplain to the United States Senate (1947 - 1949).

Originally designed to raise funds, this service sought to aid Scottish churches during the early days of World War II, as well as the British war effort by providing a mobile kitchen, according to the church bulletin.

This service later evolved into what is today the Kirkin of the Tartan held in many locations across America. Since 1952, an annual Kirkin has been held at the National Cathedral in the nation’s capital.

A remembrance of early Scottish Presbyterianism, Kirkin of the Tartan worship services have spread. In Montreat, the first Kirkin was held in April 1982. The next year, the Kirkin service was moved to the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend.

Montreat Scottish Society

With more than 350 individual members, the Montreat Scottish Society is a non-profit organization open for membership to any individual or family that enjoys Scottish people, customs, places, traditions and history, regardless of their own ancestral background. The Montreat Scottish Society was formed in 1981.

More information on the Society and its activities can be obtained at     

In addition to the Kirkin, other Montreat Scottish Society activities include Scottish Saturdays at the Movies (January — March); St. Andrews Tea (October) and sponsorship, scholarships and uniforms for the Montreat Scottish Pipes & Drums.