Belfast Telegraph

Thousands attend Reformation rally in Northern Ireland

Loyal Orders stage huge open-air service marking 500th anniversary

By Staff Reporter

Thousands of people took part in an "awesome expression" of the Christian faith by the Loyal Orders in Portadown.

The rally was arranged to mark the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.

Upwards of an estimated 10,000 people - including DUP leader Arlene Foster - attended Saturday's gathering, which included a major procession through the Co Armagh town.

The open-air service at Shamrock Park was jointly organised by the Orange and Royal Black institutions.

Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland Edward Stevenson said it was a fitting tribute to Luther.

"This was our landmark event of the year and certainly has the makings to be one of the most significant and larger public gatherings in Europe marking the enduring relevance of this quincentenary," he said.

"The massive scale of the commemoration was a fitting tribute to Martin Luther and the other great Protestant reformers. Like them, 500 years later, we are gratified to once again take a stand for the Gospel."

Millar Farr, Sovereign Grand Master of the Royal Black Institution, said: "Saturday's religious service and parade was the flagship occasion of our Luther commemorations throughout 2017.

"The large numbers in attendance was a public manifestation of our shared core values and beliefs and commitment to them.

"We are always proud to proclaim the truths of the Reformed Protestant faith and even more so now as we celebrate such a significant evangelical landmark in this notable decade of centenaries," he added.

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