Like God’s love for Andrew, Sutherland extends a caring hand to his congregation. When the band filled their bags in preparation for playing another tune, young congregant Nathan Gray, 3, ran up the aisle into Sutherland’s arms at the altar to watch the band up close. Resting his head on Sutherland’s shoulder, the pair listened intently.
Churchgoers and band members participated in the service. Band members come from all walks of life, and some have been with the band for a decade or more.
Martha Griffith, tenor drummer, is the band director at Longfellow Middle School by day. She’s been with the band for two years.
Richard Witt, drummer, said he joined the band because at the age of 14, his son, Hunter Witt, wanted to learn to play the pipes. Father and son have been members of the band for 10 years now.
Benny Hughes, drum major for the band, has been a drum major for more than 50 years. Hughes emigrated from Scotland to Canada in 1956, then to Oklahoma City, where he played tenor drums for a couple of years. Later, he served 40 years with the Highlanders Pipe and Drums before joining the Oklahoma Scottish Pipes and Drums about 15 years ago.
Southerland, originally from Middlesborough, England, had participated in Kirkin’ of the Tartans services on the other side of the Great Pond and decided to bring the tradition to St. Michael’s. The word “kirk” means “church,” so the Kirkin’ of the Tartans is the “churching” or blessing of the tartans, sometimes accompanied with a roll call of the clans.
Sutherland said he plans to have the band help celebrate St. Andrew’s Day on the Sunday before Thanksgiving each year “to give thanks for heritage and for the church of God.”
For more information about St. Michael’s church, visit www.stmichaelsnorman.org. For more information about the Oklahoma Scottish Pipes and Drums, visit www.okscots.com.