Loyal orders set for massive reformation rally

PIctured at Shamrock Park in Portadown ahead of Saturday's rally are (from left) Orange Order Deputy Grand Master, Harold Henning; Royal Black Sovereign Grand Master, Millar Farr; Orange Order Grand Master, Edward Stevenson; and Royal Black Grand Registrar, Billy Scott
PIctured at Shamrock Park in Portadown ahead of Saturday's rally are (from left) Orange Order Deputy Grand Master, Harold Henning; Royal Black Sovereign Grand Master, Millar Farr; Orange Order Grand Master, Edward Stevenson; and Royal Black Grand Registrar, Billy Scott

Thousands of Loyal Order members will take part in what has been described as an “iconic” event to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

The rally takes place on Saturday in Portadown and will feature members of the Orange and Royal Black Institutions along with representatives from the Apprentice Boys, Association of Loyal Orange Women of Ireland, Independent Orange Institution, Grand Royal Arch Purple Chapter and Junior Association.

It is anticipated to be one of the largest and most significant public events in Europe to mark the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther beginning the Protestant Reformation by nailing his ‘95 Theses’ to the door of All Saint’s Church in Wittenberg in Germany.

Sovereign Grand Master, Millar Farr, said: “The Royal Black Institution stands unapologetically for the truths of the Reformed Evangelical Protestant faith.

“In this decade of centenaries, and as a Protestant fraternity, we recognise the need to commemorate such an important evangelical landmark.

“I would encourage all of our members to make every effort to attend this iconic event to celebrate the Reformation.”

Following a procession through Portadown led by upwards of 60 marching bands, an open-air religious service will take place at Shamrock Park from 7.15pm.

The main message will be delivered by Robert Campbell, Royal Black Imperial Deputy Grand Chaplain.

A male voice choir, incorporating members of the Loyal Orange and Royal Black Institutions, will lead the praise.

Organised by the Loyal Orders, it is the flagship event of the Luther 500 project.

The parade will momentarily pause at the Bann Bridge as a wreath is laid to commemorate those Protestants killed in the 1641 Portadown massacre. Respects will also be paid at the town cenotaph in memory of those who lost their lives during two World Wars and in service of the British Crown.