The testimony of former Orange Treasurer, “Worshipful Master,” Deputy “Master” and Chaplain – Jackson Blakely
It was a privilege to be brought up in a home where my parents knew the importance of sending their children to Sunday School. At a young age I was sent to Kilmore Brethren Gospel Hall where I heard the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ faithfully preached. I was taught that I was born in sin and was therefore a sinner by nature and that if I wanted my sins forgiven I must first acknowledge my sin and then repent of my it through the LORD JESUS CHRIST. He alone came into this world and sacrificed His life and died that cruel death on the cross for my sins. I continued on at Sunday School through my early years.
When I was aged eleven a Gospel Mission came to Moira Methodist Church. My aunt invited me to that mission. The preachers were Mr Noel Grant and Mr Boland. I attended the mission, and on the final night I accepted the Lord Jesus Christ into my life. From that moment on my life changed. My desires were to read the Bible and learn all about Jesus. I continued to go to Sunday School and Church until I was sixteen.
When I started working and made new friends, unfortunately I was influenced by them and started backsliding in my Christian life. This continued on for some years. I always knew that real peace in life came from the Lord. I always felt the Holy Spirit convicting me of my backsliding but I did nothing about it.
When I was Twenty-six I got married, my wife was not a Christian then. We had two sons. During this time we had many opportunities of going out to Missions and hearing the Gospel. Unknown to us, Christian family members were praying for us.
One night when I returned home from an evening out with my friends my wife told me that she had got saved. This came about through a trip to Africa we had just returned from. I then came under heavy conviction of my backsliding and of sin. All my married life I had been promising the Lord that if He saved my wife I would come back to Him. After she got gloriously saved, I humbly came back to the Lord. This was a wonderful experience in our home living together as Christians and being able to teach our boys about the Lord.
When I was seventeen my Uncle asked me to join the Orange Order, I said I would, so I joined the Lodge my Uncle and Grandfather were in. The Lodge was Halliday’s Bridge Faith Defenders Lodge, Hillsborough, County Down, which was a temperance Lodge. At this stage I was a nominal member and only attended on the 12 July. Some years later I started to take a greater interest in going to the monthly Lodge meetings.
The Lodge asked me if I would like to go through the Royal Arch Purple Degree. I was strong in my Christian faith at this stage and felt it would be a profitable move. I therefore decided I would like to go through this degree. I was led to believe I was not a fully-fledged Orangeman unless I completed this. I knew absolutely nothing about the initiation of the Royal Arch Purple ceremony I was agreeing to travel, as no one was allowed to speak openly about it to non-members.
The night of the initiation ceremony I was led through the travel by a Christian man and was assured that I would come to no harm. However, the ceremony ended up quite a daunting experience. Firstly, I wondered why I had to be blindfolded for to enter a Christian meeting. They brought me into the hall and made me walk over branches and holly in my bare feet whilst whipping my legs with branches. I knew this wasn’t right. But when it was explained to me at the end of the ceremony about the travel relating to the Children of Israel going to the Promised Land this put me at ease. Signs and symbols were also explained and how we were to live in harmony with our fellow Royal Arch Purple members.
The lecturers asked me: “What do you stand most in need of?”
The answer I was told to give was, “Light.” My blindfold was then removed.
The lecturers then asked, “of blue, purple, and scarlet, which did you choose?
Q. Why purple?
A. Because I received it in darkness, and brought it forth to a marvellous light.”
1 Peter 2: 9 says of believers alone, “Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.”
I eventually became Treasurer, “Worshipful Master” and Deputy “Master” of my Lodge. During the time of being “Master” I attended various Royal Arch Purple initiations, where upon doubts started to enter my mind about the Royal Arch Purple Degree. One of the lecturers was able to prompt a member when he was going through an initiation ceremony about needing to put his trust in the Lord. I later asked the lecturer if he had put his trust in the Lord and he told me he had not. This baffled me as he knew every word of the Degree but had not become a Christian himself.
Psalms 118:8 says, “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.”
I continued on with the Royal Arch Purple for several years bluffing myself and not facing up to the fact that this degree was against biblical truth. One day at work, however, a colleague told me that he had left the Orange Order. We discussed the Royal Arch Purple and I told him there was no harm in it, but really I did have doubts about it. We left each other and agreed to differ.
A few months later I turned on the radio and there was a discussion about the Royal Arch Purple book written by Paul Malcomson. The next day I purchased one of these books. Within twenty minutes of reading the book I knew I had been deceived by the Royal Arch Purple Degree. I read the book three times, always coming to the same conclusion. I rang my colleague at work and he arranged for me to meet Paul Malcomson at his house.
I went to my colleague’s home and met Paul. We had a great night of fellowship together. Paul explained the origins of the Orange Order and how the Royal Arch Purple degree came about. Being able to meet Paul face to face enabled me to ask him many questions. I wondered how he got so much information, some of which was secret from archives of the Orange Order and the Royal Arch Purple. It also intrigued me how much time had been spent on research for the book. I knew from speaking to Paul that the Lord was behind this, as so many doors had been opened for him.
I went along to the next Lodge meeting and addressed the Lodge as Worshipful Master. I explained to the members that I was not happy being in the Royal Arch Purple. I tried to put over my point of view to enlighten other members. The meeting started to get hostile towards me. That night I resigned from the Royal Arch Purple but continued to be a member of the Orange Order. Members of the Lodge thought I could not continue as Worshipful Master but I was able to explain to them that the Royal Arch Purple Degree is not recognized by the Grand Lodge of Ireland. I continued as Worshipful Master to the end of that year. The next year I was elected in as Chaplain of the Lodge.
The Twelfth of July demonstration was held at Ballinderry that year. In the field I knew the Lord was speaking to me as desire to be there was leaving me. This all coincided with my lodge voting, in an overwhelmingly manner, to change its identity from a temperance Lodge to a Lodge which allowed the consumption of alcohol on its premises. I felt very upset. How could God bless a so-called Christian organisation that permitted this? How could God’s Spirit dwell in these meetings?
At the August Lodge meeting I handed in my letter of resignation from the Orange Order.
I regret that I didn’t know the truth about the Orange Order and the Royal Arch Purple Order years ago, as I wouldn’t have joined. My greatest regret is the amount of TIME I wasted in the Orders over the years, which could have been put to better use in the Lord’s work and with my family. I wasted so much time participating in Lodge and District meetings, initiations and parades; works which will one day undoubtedly be exposed as “wood, hay and stubble.”
1 Corinthians 3:11-15 says, “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”
All the time I spent being involved in Orange business has now been taken up serving God in various ways. God has led me into serving him as an Elder in my Church. God’s Word tells me that time spent serving Him is laying up treasures in heaven.
My prayer is that the Lord would work in the hearts of the Christian members in the various Lodges, and let them see the truth. Many Christian members already know the truth and I pray that the Lord would give them courage to speak up and take their stand for Him, so that we can be an example to non-Christians.
Former County Londonderry Orange and Royal Arch Purpleman Andrew Evans
Former County Armagh Orange, Royal Arch Purple and (Red Cross) Blackman Alex Newell
Former County Tyrone Orange Chaplain and Orange/Small Purple Lecturer Paul Stewart
(also former Red Cross Blackman)
of Inside the Royal Black Institution from Rev. Canon Brian T. Blacoe (former Deputy Grand Chaplain of the Royal Black Institution), Malcolm McClughan (former Royal Black Lecturer) and David Carson (Chairman of the United Protestant Council).