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Event ‘shines a light’ on Royal Black

A group of Queen’s University students were given an interesting insight into the history, values and traditions of the Royal Black Institution when they attended a special event at Brownlow House in Lurgan this week.

“Shining a Light on the Black Institution” was an informative evening which involved thought-provoking talks from three guest speakers: Rev William Anderson, Sovereign Grand Master; Rev Nigel Reid, Imperial Grand Chaplain, and Dr Jonathan Mattison, curator of the museum of Orange Heritage.

The event was organised in conjunction with Queen’s Orange Society and Lurgan Royal Black District Chapter No 2, and supported by the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland Youth Development Officer.

In addition to the QUB students, who also enjoyed a tour of the historic Brownlow House earlier in the evening, a very good attendance saw the room packed with interested members and non-members of the Institution.

Welcoming everyone along to the event – held on Tuesday, January 28 – was principal organiser and host, Ross Hall. The Lurgan man, 22, is a member of the Apprentice Boys, Orange Order and Royal Black. He joined Johnson Memorial RBP 189 in 2015 and is District Registrar of Lurgan RBDC No 2. He is also a past chairman of Queen’s Orange Society.

Mr Hall gave an outline of the Drew Nelson Legacy Project, which aims to empower young people and equip the next generation of community leaders. The project was set up in memory of the Orange Order’s former Grand Secretary, who died in 2016.

Mr Hall spoke about his affinity to all three Loyal Orders, and appealed to each of them to push forward and develop young talent, before adding: “The future is Orange, Black and Crimson.”

The first guest speaker was Dr Jonathan Mattison, who gave an interesting account of the history of the Royal Black Institution, including how, in the early years, the Royal Black Institution and the Orange Order did not enjoy the harmonious relations with each other which they do today.

In his address, the Sovereign Grand Master, Rev William Anderson, spoke about the present-day activities of the Royal Black Institution and his vision for its future.

He explained to those gathered that the Royal Black is a worldwide Institution. Its core objective is to witness for the Reformed Christian Faith. Parades are only ever held to and from a service of worship.

The Royal Black Institution, said Rev Anderson, exists to give its members the opportunity to study Holy Scripture; increase knowledge of the Reformed Faith; engage in Christian and charitable outreach; and to continue and further develop social and responsible citizenship.

His vision is to see the Royal Black Institution “shape the future by preserving our heritage through a confident Institution ready to share the Reformed Christian Faith with the world”.

He explained how this ambition is rooted in Scripture, as found in Proverbs 29 verse 18: “Where there is no vision the people perish.”

Rev Anderson’s action plan would see the Royal Black Institution seek to: extend the influence of the Reformed Faith; grow its worldwide membership; empower its members; encourage charitable giving; and improve standards.

He revealed the Institution is about to launch its next Grand Master’s Appeal, which has raised almost £800k over 16 years for a number of good causes.

The final speaker was Rev Nigel Reid, Grand Chaplain and the minister of Tullyallen and Mountnorris Presbyterian Churches.

Rev Reid told how, in today’s confusing world, the Royal Black Institution can provide stability, direction, guidance and encouragement.

The teaching of the Institution is Bible-based and Christ-centred, and it promotes traditional Protestant values, he said.

Rev Reid spoke about the Institution’s many symbols. At the heart of the Royal Black Institution, he said, is the symbol of the Red Cross, which reminds him of God’s love for us that He gave His only begotten Son; God’s forgiveness; and the opportunity of a new beginning in Christ.

“If you are looking for help and guidance, you can find it in the teaching of the Royal Black Institution,” said the Grand Chaplain.

The event then broke for tea and sandwiches, followed by a question-and-answer session in which the three speakers took questions from the floor, before closing with prayer.

Afterwards, Rev Anderson said: “This was an excellent evening and I commend Ross Hall and the organisers for putting together such an interesting programme.

“I was delighted to take part, and in particular I was delighted to address so many young people in the audience.

“I am sure everyone learned something new about our wonderful Institution, and I hope they were reassured that we are a strong and vibrant organisation, willing to robustly stand up for the Reformed Faith, and ready to play an active part in our communities.”