Our Scottish Heritage
Last Sunday we were thinking about the day the fire came, the Day of Pentecost. Our sermon from the day can be found here. This week, here at Mount Hebron Presbyterian Church, we hold our annual service that celebrates our Scottish heritage. Weather permitting we meet in the outside beauty of our amphitheater and mark the occasion with a bagpiper and liturgy from the Scottish Presbyterian tradition.
Scottish people have always had a reputation for their strong spirit of independence. When the Romans attempted to conquer the world they only managed to get as far as the border of Scotland. A recent Scottish comedian joked that when they were under threat they built a wall, named it after the emperor and then got Rome to pay for it! “Hadrian's Wall” survives to this day.
I recall leading a youth retreat in North Wales. Each year the Presbyterian Church of Scotland would send a small group to be a part of the fellowship week. This particular year three girls and one boy were there, representing their country.
When it came to the end of week Talent show, Rory (who had been relatively quiet throughout the week) appeared in his kilt, jumped onto a table and sang the Scottish national anthem at the top of his lungs, accompanied by fist pumps and with tears rolling down his cheeks. He was more than a little proud of his heritage and independence. Movies like “BraveHeart” keep in the public mind that the Scots are a people to be reckoned with.
Following the “Highland Clearances” that began in the 1750's (when many in Scotland were disenfranchised from their historic lands) many Scots emigrated to the New World to seek a home where they could continue to flourish. The history of the United States bristles with their influence. To mention just a few famous folk...
Of the 45 men who have served as President, an astonishing 33 have been of either Scottish or Ulster-Scots descent. This includes George Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. President Donald Trump's mother, Mary Anne MacLeod, was an immigrant from Glasgow.
Andrew Carnegie the industrialist, was born in Dunfermline, became a business magnate, and philanthropist, who led the expansion of the American steel industry in the late 19th century and is often identified as one of the richest people in history.
Elvis Presley's roots can be traced back to a village in Aberdeenshire. The musical icon is descended from Andrew Presley, who emigrated to North Carolina in 1745.
In the religious development of the United States the influence of the Scottish Presbyterian Church has been profound. Born in the midst of the religious and political turmoil of the mid-1500's, Knox's influence led to the Presbyterian Church being acknowledged as the National Church of Scotland, a position it still holds today.
When Scottish settlers made their home in the United States they carried with them their religious traditions. The earliest Presbyterian ministers in the U.S.A. were of Scottish or Scots/Irish descent. Needless to say, their spirit of independence and Protestant work ethic had a huge influence on the developing nation.
Such is why, each year, at Mount Hebron Presbyterian, we celebrate our national and denominational heritage with the sound of the pipes! If you are in the area, regardless of your ancestry, you are invited to join us in our celebrations.
For some music... to set the mood... the sound of bagpipes playing “Amazing Grace.”
The Reverend Adrian J. Pratt B.D.