The Royal Black Institution has a new Soverign Grand Master, thanks to a vote taken during a meeting of the loyal order’s ruling body at the weekend.
Church of Ireland minister Rev William Anderson was voted into office, replacing Millar Farr who last month declared that he would step down from the role, having served in post for a decade.
The bi-annual meeting of the organisation’s Grand Council took place on Saturday at the Union hall in Newbliss, Co Monaghan, and was the first time the institution has selected its new leader at a meeting held in the Republic of Ireland.
Rev Anderson, a father-of-three, is minister of the Tullanisken and Clonoe parishes in Co Tyrone.
He is a member of Causnagh RBP 352 and a member of the Orange Institution (LOL 98).
He is a past Assistant Sovereign Grand Master, an Imperial Deputy Grand Master, and an Imperial Deputy Grand Chaplain.
Re-elections to the post happen every year.
In a statement Rev Anderson said: “I am extremely honoured to be elected Sovereign Grand Master by my fellow Sir Knights, and very humbled to be following in the footsteps of those who have served in the post previously.
“Like my predecessors before me, I pledge to represent the membership to the best of my ability at all times, and in so doing, uphold the Christian ethos of the Institution; promote the Reformed faith; and continue our longstanding track record of exceptional charitable outreach.
“This is a very exciting time for the Institution as we proceed with plans to develop our new headquarters in Co Armagh, which we anticipate will open to the public in 2020.
“Such a major development has energized and enthused our membership, as we count down to our traditional flagship parades this summer.
“I look forward to participating in such events and meeting with members, and the wider community, over the coming weeks.
He also praised the “outstanding leadership”of Mr Farr, who he said had led the Loyal Order with “great foresight”, enhancing its position in the mainstream of community life.
Rev Anderson’s first significant public appearance as Sovereign Grand Master will be at the annual Sham Fight in Scarva next month.
Former Sovereign Grand Masters of the Imperial Grand Black Chapter have included William Logan, Lord Molyneaux and Sir Norman Stronge.
Meanwhile, Billy Scott and David Livingstone were re-elected as Imperial Grand Registrar and Imperial Grand Treasurer respectively.