The History

The ceremony of Kirkin’ o’ the Tartans is American in origin, though based on Scottish history and legend. After Bonnie Prince Charlie’s Scottish forces were defeated by the English in 1746, Scotland again came under British rule. An Act was passed that forbade carrying arms and the wearing of kilts or tartans which represented Scottish heritage.

This Act prompted the Scots to secretly carry a piece of their tartan as they went to the Kirk (church). The minister then slipped a blessing (a Kirkin’) into the service for the tartans. The prohibition against tartans lasted for nearly 50 years. When at last repealed, the Church of Scotland celebrated with a Service of Family Covenant, at which time the tartan of each family was offered as a covenant expression for the Lord’s blessing.

The First Kirkin'

The Saint Andrew’s Society of Washington, DC held the first Kirkin’ during the early years of World War II. The late Dr. Peter Marshall, an eloquent Scot, then Chaplain of the US Senate as well as a pastor, led the service in 1943, choosing “Kirkin’ o’ the Tartan” for the title of his sermon. He had preached many sermons in support of the British War Relief and the Scottish Clans Evacuation Plan. As the war continued, the DC St. Andrew’s Society continued to hold prayer services for the British subjects. These became known as Kirkin’s.

The Service

The service is traditional in content, using much of the Church of Scotland form. Central to its theme is the presentation of various tartans—through flags and the wearing of tartans—for a blessing. The Kirkin’ is intended to encourage participants to reflect with thanksgiving on their own family and ethnic heritage, and to celebrate God’s grace poured out for all generations.

Kirkin’ and Homecoming at Geneva…

Pipers and drums, and approximately 40 tartan banners meant to be representative of all our church families.

If you have a family tartan, wear or bring it this day.

The Procession gathers around 10:15 a.m.


In addition to the Kirkin’ o’ the Tartans, this Sunday has been designated as homecoming for Geneva Presbyterian Church.  You are encouraged to invite former members, friends of Geneva or friends of yours.

A Powerful, historic service, celebrating our Scottish roots!

All are invited to enjoy a fabulous lunch in the fellowship hall immediately following worship prepared by our Deacons and the Fellowship Committee.