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 recently.
‘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 Queen’s University 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 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.
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 revealed the Institution is about to launch its next Grand Master’s Appeal, which has raised almost £80,000 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.
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.”
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