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History of the Society

by John Switzer

The Kansas City St. Andrew Society began on January 8, 1914, at a meeting of twelve Scottish-American men in Kansas City. The state of Missouri granted the society a charter on February 12 of that year.
The founders stated a "desire to impress upon their fellow citizens an understanding of the ancient Scottish feeling and spirit in support of all right and forward movements to better the condition of their community, for honesty, kindness and ready sympathy; in short, 'Watch Weel ' that the signal fires of their forebears shall be a shining light to posterity."
Another purpose of the organization was to aid and assist fellow countrymen and to promote a friendly fraternal association amongst their fellow Scottish-Americans and by doing so to guard and carry on the tradition of Scotland.

The society established and supported a home for those worthy and deserving, particularly those of Scottish birth or descent. In 1929 Mrs. Mary Laird Gair gave the society the house and grounds at 500 East 45th Street across from the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. On March 31, 1941 a fire destroyed the interior of the home and the property was then sold.
In 1961 the society had 75 members. It now numbers more than 250. In the beginning there was a separate organization known as the "Women's Auxiliary." On December 13, 1934, the Women's St. Andrew Society consolidated with the then all men's group.
The St. Andrew Society sponsors active groups of Highland dancers, country dancers (from which the popular American western square dance evolved), a Robert Burns study group (the "Chapman Billies"), the Scottish Singers and the Scots Readers. Classes are available in reading and speaking the Gaelic language.
Each year the society holds formal dinners to commemorate its patron saint St. Andrew in November and the birthday of poet Robert Burns in January. It takes part in the annual Kansas City Ethnic Festival. There is an annual family picnic, and there are various other social events sponsored by individual interest groups.
The bagpipe and drum band was organized by the society in July, 1963. Each year the band marches in the American Royal and the St. Patrick's Day parades and other public events. It competes in musical events all over the country and performs locally at public and private events. The band provides free training in the pipes and drums for beginning and advanced talents. Many instructors have won honors in North American individual piping contests.
The girls of the society have been competing in highland dancing for more than 35 years nationally and in Canada and Scotland. The dancers' organization provides free training. Instructors include some world champion dancers.
The society maintains a library of Scottish literature, and three bound volumes of scrapbooks cover the society's 90-year history.
Since 1968 the society has helped sponsor the "Scottish Highland Games," currently held each year on the second Saturday of June at the E. H. Young Riverfront Park in Riverside, Missouri. The event draws bagpipe bands, Scottish athletes and dancers from all over the world. Each year thousands of Kansas City area residents and visitors attend the Games.


Saint Andrew, Patron Saint of Scotland

by John Switzer

Andrew was born and raised in Bethsaida, a town in Galilee on the banks of Lake Genesareth about 70 miles north of Jerusalem. He was probably about 20 years old when he met Jesus, making him 5 or 10 years younger than Christ. Andrew and his older brother Simon worked for their father in the fishing business.

Andrew and three other fishermen were mending their nets on the shore when Christ approached them and said, "Come and follow me. I will make you fishers of men." Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist before he met Jesus and was with him when John the Baptist pointed to Jesus and said, "Behold the Lamb of God!"

Andrew introduced his brother Simon to Jesus, who accepted him as a disciple and gave him the name Peter. This might make Andrew the first missionary of the disciples. About a year later Jesus chose 12 to be his apostles and Andrew was named among the first four.

Andrew was the disciple who brought the boy with the loaves and the fishes to Jesus for feeding the 5,000.

After the resurrection of Christ, Andrew became a missionary. He preached in Scythia on the north shore of the Black Sea in an area which is now Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, and the Ukraine. He preached in Russia as far as the Volga River and was also the patron saint of Russia.

It was at Patras in Greece that he was crucified on the X-shaped cross known today as the Saint Andrew's Cross. Andrew was put to death because he refused to renounce his Lord. It was at his own request that an X-shaped cross was used because, he said, "I am not worthy to be crucified in a cross like my Lord's." Andrew was not nailed, but bound, to a cross, on which he preached to the people for two days before he died. The saint's body was placed in a casket and buried at Patras.

This crucifixion occurred in about the year 70. His "cult" was very popular in the Greek Church and then spread to Rome in the 5th century, and from there to France and England.

In the fourth century, Constantius, son of Constantine, ordered that St. Andrew's body be moved to Constantinople. A monk named Regulus had custody of the burial place. Two days before the body was to be taken, Regulus was visited by an angel who commanded him to take some of the bones out of the casket and await further instructions.

The relics of St. Andrew were transported from Patras to the Church of the Apostles at Constantinople. And after the seizure of that city by the Crusaders in 1204, they were stolen and given to the Cathedral of Amalfi in Italy.

The angel appeared to Regulus a second time. The angel told him to take the bones "to the far land of the Picts." After two years of rough voyaging and many hardships, Regulus and some companions landed at Kilrymont, now called Saint Andrews, where an unnamed king of the Picts, with all his nobles, received and venerated the relics. This king dedicated a "great part of the place" to God and Saint Andrew that it might be the head and mother of all the Churches in the Pictish Kingdom.

Regulus built a church to shelter the relics and was made its first bishop. He evangelized the people for 30 years. Gradually the Scots succeeded and absorbed the Picts. Historians report two stories of a great battle. Hungus, a great king of the Picts, fought against Adhelstan, king of the Saxons. He was encamped at the mouth of the River Tyne. St. Andrew appeared to Hungus in a dream and told him to divide his army into seven bodies. He defeated the Saxons.

The other story has Hungus surrounded by a divine light when the voice of St. Andrew promises him victory if he will dedicate the tenth part of his inheritance to God and St. Andrew. He is victorious and thanks God and St. Andrew.

The victorious king met with the monk Regulus and the relics of St. Andrew at the harbor called Matha. They fixed their tents where the royal hall now is, and King Angus gave the place and city to God and St. Andrew to be the head and mother of all the churches in the kingdom of the Picts.

A similar legend says that a Scottish king, in grave peril as he went into battle, looked upward and beheld a white, luminous X against the blue sky and took it as an omen of victory. From that incident came the St. Andrew's banner, a white X on a field of blue, which became the national flag of Scotland, and is now the foundation of the Union Jack, on which are imposed the crosses of St. George and St. Patrick.



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