Tim Bruneau from St Giles Kingsway Presbyterian Church gives his thoughts on this years twelfth parade in Garvagh.
Our family participated in what is likely the largest celebration in Northern Ireland of the year – the July 12th Parade.
It is commonly called “The Twelfth”, or ‘the Glorious Twelfth’ or ‘Orangemen’s Day’. It is an Ulster Protestant celebration though anyone is welcome, and many Roman Catholics are in attendance. It began in the late 1700’s as a celebration of the revolution (1688) and the victory of the Protestant king William of Orange (from the Netherlands) over Catholic king James II at the Battle of the Boyne (1690) in Ireland. Though it has been a contentious celebration since its’ origins and has been the place for violence and protests, in most towns it is a peaceful and community bonding event.
We all enjoyed the colourful banners, the powerful bands, the variety of uniforms and the beautiful horses (Clydesdale, I believe).
It was great to see the bands so unified in their drumming, fluting, piping and walking. To see the young and old together – a man from Moneydig congregation (David McAleese) was playing the flute in his 74th ‘Twelfth’ and there were children no older than six helping with the banners, clashing cymbals, or tossing batons.
Whatever the initial reason for the celebration, I believe the majority of the people love to see the unity in the procession within the diversity. We long to see unity in the world – we like that they are all marching the same path, they are following their leader, they are playing, walking or riding as a demonstration of their ‘oneness’.
In the short worship service that took place in the field before the bands marched the streets of Garvagh, there were strong words spoken by a Minister who pointed to Christ as the King. Also, the centrality of the Scriptures was reaffirmed. Although there were few who were listening to the Word of God and joining in the Christian hymns, there was an effort to take the opportunity to point to our Lord as the One who could bring us together in peace. I am so thankful for the experiences that our family has had to see the love of God in so many of our new acquaintances. May God continue to call those who are seeking peace and a sense of purpose in what can be confusing times. May Christians never cease to look for ways to point to the hope we find in Jesus Christ. – Tim Bruneau