Members of First Presbyterian Church in Geneseo will be “Kirkin’ o’ the Tartan” on Nov. 4.
“Kirking, is from the Gaelic word ‘kirk,’ which means ‘church,’ and in this usage means, ‘blessing,’” said the Rev. David Esche of First Presbyterian Church.
“Scotland in the mid-18th century saw the English parliament and monarchy banning weapons as well as the wearing of tartan or kilts by clansmen. A legend has it that clansmen would carry small pieces of the banned tartan cloth to the church and the clergymen would slip a blessing into the service,” said Esche.
On Nov. 4, members of First Presbyterian Church and area residents are invited to a special celebration at the church.
First Presbyterian Church is observing its 150th anniversary and the Nov. 4 event will include prayer, scripture, preaching, blessing, bagpipes and the singing of “Amazing Grace.”
On Nov. 4, worship service will start at 10:15 a.m. in front of the church with children releasing balloons. Bagpipers will then lead people into the church for worship.
“In our ‘Kirkin’ service, we will remember ancient times, as well as the more recent past, while asking God’s help and blessings in the future,” said Esche.
Many of the charter members who helped found First Presbyterian Church in Geneseo in 1863 had Scottish names. In addition, many of the first Geneseo settlers were from the New York communities of Bergen, Geneseo and Oneida and had Scottish or Irish names and selected a Presbyterian form of government to follow in the early years of the formation of the town, said Esche.
As a remembrance of early Scottish Presbyterians, “Kirkin’ o’ the Tartan” services have become a Scottish-American custom, he said.
Members of the First Presbyterian congregation and guests are encourage to wear “their colors” — tartan cloths, ties and kilts in the plaid pattern associated with a particular clan.
“If you do not have a Scottish clan, you may adopt one for the day. We will invite you to present a swatch of cloth for the blessing,” said Esche.