Sovereign Grand Master Millar Farr called for “a new reformation” among members of the Royal Black Institution in his address at Castledawson on Saturday.
“This year marks the 500th anniversary of the commencement of the Reformation, an event which began through the actions of one man, Martin Luther,” he said.
He added: “As an institution which is founded on Biblical principles, it is fitting we recognise and celebrate this anniversary of Luther’s action but we must also rise to the challenge of what we face today. That is a world where alcohol, drugs and personal pleasures are foremost in the minds and behaviour of so many people, especially in the younger generation, though not exclusively so.
“As Sir Knights we have a responsibility within our communities to ensure the Gospel message as contained in the Holy Scripture is adhered to by each of us. We have a duty to set examples for others to follow so that our own families and those we are in a position to influence live in accordance with Gods wishes.
“Today we have been challenged – let us make sure we respond in the positive manner required.”
He also reaffirmed loyalty to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and give thanks for the example she has set since her accession to the throne in February 1952.
“Earlier this year, Her Majesty marked the occasion of her Sapphire Jubilee, 65 years of committed service to her people, throughout this nation and the Commonwealth,” he said. “She is the first British monarch to reach this landmark, and during all those years, she performed her duties with dignity, with enthusiasm and with a smile.”
Meanwhile, he noted that the Duke of Edinburgh has indicated his intention to step back from the public scene, at the age of 96.
“Today, we give thanks for the service given and the example set by both and it is our hope and prayer they will be blessed with health and strength to enjoy life for many years to come.”
Mr Farr also paid tribute to the 630,000 men who were killed, wounded or missing presumed dead in a string of World War I battles fought 100 years ago, in 1917. They were the battles of Vimy Ridge in France, Messines in Western Flanders and Ypres which is better known as Passchendaele.
“There is a sense of service and duty which still prevails to this day and was very evident during the recent terrorist atrocities in London and Manchester” he said. These attacks saw courage by the emergency services which went “far beyond the call of duty”.