Little did I know that, 20 years before our Church held its first Kirkin' of the Tartans service, God was preparing me.
One of my "tours of duty" with the US Navy was a two-year assignment in Scotland. It was there that I bought a kilt. While there, I wore it to church and to special events like many men in town. When I returned to the States to my next duty station in Florida, my kilt was safely packed away.
When I completed my active duty, I returned to Spartanburg and to First Pres. Then one day, I received a surprise call. I was asked by Dr. Bill Arthur if I would consider being the Beadle for a new Scottish-themed Sunday service.
If someone asked you (as a man) to get up in front of the entire congregation of First Presbyterian Church in what some people mistakenly call a skirt (it's a kilt), what would your first thought be? But when the person who asked you was our beloved minister, Dr. Bill, you knew you had not been asked; you had been selected. I must say, I had some trepidation, but in my heart, I knew it was part of God's plan and that He had laid the framework for this years earlier.
And what a plan it was! Through God's inspiration and Dr. Bill's vision, we began a tradition that has touched so many lives. It has been such a moving service that many of our members have commented on how it truly "touched their souls." It has brought new members into our congregation and it has brought more than a few to know Christ for the first time.
The significance of this special service extends far beyond the beautiful colors of the tartan banners and the soul-stirring music which represent the heritage from which our church sprang. It is a very tangible display of how we come from many different earthly families, far beyond our Scottish roots, but we are all one in God's family.
It has blessed me many times over to see how God has used me as a tool to spread His Word and advance His Kingdom.
About the Contributor
Dr. Howard Carlisle Bean, Jr. (Budge) is a lifelong member of First Pres. He was baptized and grew up here. He has served on various committees, gone on mission trips, and serves as a Deacon. He and his wife Martha have raised their 4 children at First Pres. They love this church and are deeply committed to it.