St. Patrick’s beginning Advent with the Kirking of the Tartans

By Sally Neel
Special to The PREVIEW
This Sunday marks the first Sunday in Advent, when the liturgical church begins the new liturgical year marking the four Sundays before Christmas. It is also the Sunday on which the church celebrates the Feast of St. Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland.
Scotland is a particularly special friend to the Episcopal Church in the United States. Following the Revolutionary War, the Church of England, in which the Episcopal Church has its roots and in which many of our country’s founders were members, was having difficulty reestablishing itself in America.
Upon their ordination, clergy in the church had to swear loyalty to King George of England, a practice that was particularly problematic for the new Americans. Furthermore, new clergy had to have the blessing of a bishop in order to be ordained, and the Church of England would not allow their bishops to ordain clergy or consecrate new bishops in America without their professed loyalty to the king.
The Episcopal Church in the United States (ECUSA) almost died before it was begun; that is, until Scotland stepped in and said that they would consecrate a new bishop for America, provided that the American churches would worship from the Scottish Prayer Book. ECUSA readily agreed. Samuel Seabury sailed to Scotland and was consecrated the first American Episcopal bishop. From his consecration, new priests were ordained to establish the Episcopal Church in the United States.
The first Sunday of Advent, many Episcopal churches around the United States pull out the stops in thanksgiving for their special Scottish roots with the Kirking (or blessing) of the tartans. Every Scottish clan has a tartan, or particular plaid design, that represents their family name. Bringing a tartan to the church for a special blessing symbolizes the blessing of the clans, the people who helped the Episcopal Church in the United States establish its roots in the New World.
This Sunday, piper Jim Dorian will begin the service with the playing of his bagpipes. People in the church will bring their tartans (or any plaid they wish to adopt for the occasion) to place on the altar for a blessing. There will be men in kilts, women wearing plaid and a general feel of festivity. Following the service, the congregation is invited to the parish building for a reception of Scottish fare.
St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church, located at 225 S. Pagosa Blvd., invites you to come and worship at the 10 a.m. Sunday service for the Kirking of the Tartans. Don’t forget to wear plaid.

This story was posted on December 1, 2018.