The Orange Institution is unique in many ways but one of the most interesting is that it is probably the only organisation founded in this country that has spread across the world becoming an integral and vital part if life in many different countries.
An organisation formed in humble surroundings in County Armagh that within a few short years was to establish itself across four continents, enjoy Royal patronage and form the basis of the governmental structure of a country.
Just as the Institution across the world has identical principles it has also faced identical problems and has come through them with fortitude and courage. For example it is interesting to note that Orange expansion in the great City of Liverpool (which is now synonomous with English Orangeism) really began after the only Orange Lodge in that City was attacked on parade in 1819.
In 1798, not for the first or last time Ireland was in a state of turmoil and it was through soldiers from England and Scotland serving here alongside Orangemen in the Yeomanry and Militia that the Institution was brought into existence in both those countries.
The first Orange Lodges in Scotland were formed in Ayrshire and the movement has spread rapidly with Lodges now operating across the country. It is very much part of Scottish life as reflected in the massive parade in Cumnock in 1998 commemorating 200 years of Orangeism in that country.
In England soldiers brought the Institution into Manchester in the first instance.
Within a few short years the Institution in England not only spread through the country but enjoyed Royal patronage.
Canada is probably the best example outside the British Isles of how Orangeism became part of a way of life. It is undoubtedly in Canada that we find the greatest ethnic mix. The structure of Government in Canada is said to be based on the Orange Model of Lodge, District, County, and Grand Lodge.
Orangeism was brought to the United States of America by Irish immigrants in the early years of the 19th Century and was largely confined to the Eastern and Western Seaboards. There were difficulties for some in the relevance of an organisation committed to civil and religious liberty in what is considered to be the world's greatest democracy and whose constitution actually provides such freedom. However the Institution persisted and today we are actually witnessing a dramatic growth in membership and interest.
Orangeism was introduced to Australia in 1835 through a Warrant sown into the tunic of a soldier, Andrew Alexander, of the 50th Queens Own Regiment. In 1845 this Lodge admitted the first civilians into its ranks and began the development of the Institution across Australia. Today we have Lodges in all the states of that great country.
It was through immigration that the Orange Institution was introduced to New Zealand in the 1840's and by the 1870's it had grown to such an extent that the Grand Lodge of New Zealand was born. New Zealand was the first Orange jurisdiction in the Southern Hemisphere to host the world governing body the 'Imperial Orange Council' when it met in Auckland in 1994.
The Orange Institution was probably introduced into West Africa through a combination of military personnel and missionaries.
The first Lodges were formed in Nigeria at the beginning of the last century. From there it spread into Togo and Ghana.
The political situation in West Africa has meant many difficulties for our members there but they have persevered and ultimate recognition came in 1994 when the first African (and coincidentally the first French Speaker) Emmanuel Aboki Essien was elected Imperial President of the Imperial Council.
In each of the countries mentioned the Orange Institution is relevant to the people of that country and is not an organisation for displaced Ulster or Irish men and women.
It is this great movement of Orangeism across the world encapsulating faith, determination, and commitment that is the Institution's hope for the future.
It is appropriate to conclude this section by quoting from two great Orangemen from the 19th Century.
Lord Roden writing in 1869 states "I hope the day will never come when the Orange Order will cease to exist" and William Johnston speaking in the same period said "They thought Orangeism was dead it is in fact undying". The fortitude of our members across the world will ensure that Roden's hopes remain and that Johnston was correct.
Orangeism is undying!