Celebrating 300 years

REGULAR CONVOCATION
9 NOVEMBER 2011
An address by the ME Pro First Grand Principal Peter Lowndes


Companions

I am delighted to report that the Royal Arch Masons Bicentenary Appeal for the Royal College of Surgeons, launched last November, is progressing well. I am informed that very nearly two hundred thousand pounds has been donated to date. Thank you to those who have generously donated.  As we move towards the bicentenary in 2013, I encourage you, in your fund raising endeavours, to continue to request presentations from a Royal College team for example, at your annual Provincial meetings so that the Companions in your Province can fully understand the important research work that the Research Fellows can undertake as a result of our continued support.

The First Grand Principal summed this up with great clarity when he wrote, “This campaign gives us an excellent opportunity to contribute further towards something that is helping to save lives and improve the quality of life for us, our children and grandchildren”.

Your Provincial Appeal co-ordinators know the procedure for requesting these presentations and for ordering donation leaflets for distribution when those presentations take place.  I also remind you that the information for donating to the Appeal is on the Grand Charity website. As a minimum target we are aiming for one million pounds and as I said a moment ago, we are well on our way.

The Appeal is a highly visible external contribution from the Royal Arch. However, there are other internal areas that we all ought, as members of the Order, to be looking at to give the Royal Arch a higher profile. 

The first is encouragement by you, to bring in new members for exaltation, understanding that this will be for them the completion of their pure ancient Masonry that they have discovered during the ceremonies of initiation, passing and raising in the craft – most particularly the latter.  Companions, I like to use the analogy of a four part TV drama.  What is the point of watching the first three episodes and then ignoring the fourth when all is revealed.

This is not just about keeping member numbers up, it is also about making sure you have enough work at each meeting to keep the members’ skills honed.  Remember, of course, to share the work out as much as possible so as to achieve the maximum involvement of the Companions in your Chapter. That way Companions will become far more interested in the beauty of the ceremonies as well as keeping up their interest. I note that we had three thousand nine hundred and thirty exaltations last year.

Companions, I have mentioned before that I, along with many other companions, find the lay out of the current ritual books to be confusing and difficult to follow.  A new lay out with the new version, currently known as the “permissive” version, as the main text and the former version printed separately at the back.  The ritual organisations are updating the books and it is likely that all the major rituals will be reprinted in the next eighteen months to two years.

Secondly, we have two important weapons in our ‘communication armoury’.  Our house magazine, Freemasonry Today and the new members’ website launched in September.  The strap line refers to the magazine as the official journal of the United Grand Lodge of England but Companions, the editorial policy is predominantly to cover stories and news about both the Craft and the Royal Arch. This is also the case with the website which will be timely in getting news to you. I know the Editor of Freemasonry Today is keen to receive more stories for consideration and possible inclusion on the Royal Arch. The Provincial Information Officers have a key role to play here and are well briefed on the process for submission for both the magazine and the website.

For your interest, we are now starting to work on the new website for the Royal Arch, to bring the current one both up-to-date and in line with all the other communications initiatives we have recently launched.

Many of you will know that Grand Scribe Ezra, as Grand Secretary, is chairing a working party on mentoring in the Craft with the aim of seeing what elements of this are relevant to import to the Royal Arch.  We already have Royal Arch representatives in many of our Lodges and one of the key decisions, as I am sure you can all appreciate from your experience, is when is the right time to brief the newly joined Mason on the Royal Arch – to have him understand the importance of the Royal Arch in the completion of pure ancient Masonry. For example there are questions such as, is it best after they have been raised, how does their mentor brief them, and how does the mentor or Royal Arch representative gain the right level of knowledge to correctly brief them in the first place? These are some of the conundrums that the working party are grappling with and I look forward to briefing you on their suggestions early next year.  I am sure, however, that many of you have been debating these issues for some time! Fundamental is establishing the relevance, to prospective candidates, of the Order all of us who have been exalted so enjoy.

Since the beginning of the year we have installed six new Grand Superintendants in our Provinces and I have also installed the new Grand Superintendant for North Island New Zealand.  This is, together, of course, with the South Island, the furthest of our Districts and our visit was seen as both supportive and a real sign of our commitment.  We also met the Grand Superintendent from South Island who explained the continued havoc in Christchurch.  Much of the damage from the devastating earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 and the multitude of aftershocks had come from liquefaction, when the soils are shaken and turn into a liquid form, undermining buildings and other structures.  There is little chance of buildings being replaced in Christchurch as a result.  What brought it home for us was when we learnt that the Hotel we stayed in for District’s 150th Anniversary, at the end of 2010 had crashed to the ground, not that long after we had left. Aftershocks continue to this day, illustrated by the fact that Christchurch was rocked by a 5.5 aftershock last Friday – the biggest they had had since June. Our continued sympathy and support goes out to our Companions in these tough conditions.

It is good top see so many of you here today and it is also appropriate that I take this opportunity to remind you that all Companions are eligible to attend this Supreme Grand Chapter meeting.

Published in Speeches
Tuesday, 04 October 2011 12:27

Working as a team

Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes examines the strategic plans for the Craft and its charitable endeavours

The past year has been a busy time for the Craft. I have selected one or two examples to give you a flavour of what I mean. On the ceremonial side, the Rulers have installed five new Provincial Grand Masters and a Grand Inspector. In addition there have been six installations of Grand Superintendents in the Royal Arch. I had the pleasure of presenting two medals for the Grand Master’s Order of Service to Freemasonry to both brothers Sir John Welch and Simon Waley. And with the Grand Lodge team, of consecrating the new Grand Lodge of Monaco. It was a marvellous success and was extremely good for international relations.

On the business side, I met all the Provincial Grand Masters at my Regional Business meetings and attended the eighth regional conference of District Grand Masters of the Caribbean and Western Atlantic. Additionally, we successfully ran, for the second year, a business meeting specifically for District Grand Masters and Grand Inspectors before the annual investitures.

Regarding communication, I spoke about this at the September Quarterly Communication explaining how the strategic plans supported our open approach. I took the opportunity to encourage members to talk about their masonry as appropriate and I have recently set up a working party to look closely at how best to mentor at lodge level. You also now have the newly designed issue of Freemasonry Today. The magazine will continue to evolve and the key reason for this is to encourage you and your families to enjoy it and to talk more about Freemasonry. You have heard from the President about the timing for the publication of future issues.

On the charitable side, we had a very timely talk from the head of the Disaster Management at the British Red Cross at the March Quarterly Communication. Timely because of the plight of our brethren in Christchurch: New Zealand with the earthquakes, and in Rio de Janeiro, with the devastation after the mud slides. We gave generously through the Red Cross.

I am sure that Father Jonathan Baker’s resignation from his Lodges and Chapters was read with great sadness by all masons and many non-masons. This was as a result of tremendous outside pressures brought on him after his appointment as Bishop of Ebbsffeet. For the time being I shall just say that our feelings on this subject have been made. With the exception of the last item that I have mentioned, we have had a good year and the Craft is in good heart.

This is an excerpt from the MW Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes' Quarterly Communication address, given on 8 June 2011. To read the speech in full, click here.

Published in UGLE
Friday, 16 September 2011 12:22

Investing in the future

Pro First Grand Principal Peter Lowndes discusses Freemasonry rituals and important charity funding projects

Last year I announced that as part of the Royal Arch celebrations in 2013 it had been decided that a donation be made to the Royal College of Surgeons. The Royal Arch Masons 2013 Bicentenary Appeal was launched at the Convocation of Supreme Grand Chapter. Our donation will help to fund the College’s successful surgical research fellowship scheme, which supports surgeons to undertake a surgical research project.

Freemasonry has had a long and close association with the College and we are their major benefactor. We were pleased to have several surgeons – who had been beneficiaries – come and present to us at the Convocation. Although I was unable to be at that meeting, I have heard from many companions how fascinating it was to hear about their research in surgical care for current and future generations. The Grand Scribe Ezra has written to all Grand Superintendents informing them how to request similar presentations from the College in their Provinces.

The information for donating to the Royal Arch Masons 2013 Bicentenary Appeal is on the Grand Charity website and donation leafl ets are available by request. We are grateful to those who have already donated.

Companions, as you are well aware changes were made to the general practice of the Royal Arch in 2004 affecting the ritual, together with certain permitted ritual alternatives. As a result, I wonder how many of you are like me and get thoroughly confused when deciding which version of the ritual to use. With this in mind, it is proposed to use 2013 as the catalyst to publish new ritual books, which would have the permitted alternatives as the main version and the original version printed out separately. For clarity, this is not a change to the ritual. It is intended to be helpful to Chapters by simplifying the printed material and to avoid any confusion the 2004 changes may have caused.

The aim is also to encourage those Chapters who have not yet made the change to the alternative form, to more easily adapt what is already widely practised and enjoyed. This alternative ritual involves more companions in the ceremony and I believe encourages greater delegation of the work. Interestingly, the 2013 Committee is proposing that a demonstration of the alternative exaltation ceremony form part of the bicentenary celebrations, to be performed by the Metropolitan Grand Stewards demonstration Team in the Grand Temple on the morning of the special celebration Convocation in October 2013.

This is an excerpt from ME Pro First Grand Principal Peter Lowndes' address at the Annual Supreme Grand Chapter Investiture on 28 April 2011. To read the speech in full, press here.

Published in SGC
Friday, 16 September 2011 11:45

The external image

HRH the Duke of Kent explains why Freemasons need to not only act as mentors but also ambassadors

Grand Rank should be regarded as a challenge to greater effort and as an incentive to shoulder greater responsibilities. Some of you already hold executive appointments in the Metropolitan, Provinces and Districts. All of you, whether you hold these appointments or not, must remember the importance of training the next generation, which is precisely why the Mentoring Scheme has been set in motion.

The Mentoring Scheme is designed eventually to mentor members at all stages of their masonic progress. Initially this will be especially for candidates during the three degrees and to encourage them to continue their progress into the Royal Arch. All Provinces now have a Provincial Grand Mentor who will be responsible for ensuring the selection of a mentoring coordinator in each lodge. The mentoring coordinator, in turn, will select the member in the lodge with the right personality and knowledge to actually do the mentoring of each individual. The Pro Grand Master announced to the Provincial and District Grand Masters the formation of a working party, under the chairmanship of the Grand Secretary, to look at for example, the selection of coordinators and mentors as well as guidelines to make sure that the messages are consistent.

The aim is to have as many members as possible as ambassadors for Freemasonry. By ambassador I mean a member who not only lives as honest a life as possible, but also understands the meaning of the ritual and, importantly, is able and willing to talk about Freemasonry to family and friends. Talking openly about Freemasonry, as appropriate, is core to my philosophy, central to our communications strategy and essential to the survival of Freemasonry as a respected and relevant membership organisation. As Grand Officers I shall of course be relying upon you to give your full support to the Mentoring Scheme as it develops.

On a visit to the Province of Buckinghamshire to see their Freemasonry in the Community projects, I was particularly impressed with their iHelp youth competition – involving young groups competing for prize money to show the positive side of young people – and the Rock Ride covering a 1,500 mile bicycle ride from Gibraltar to Stowe School to raise funds for non-masonic charities within the Province. These projects are supported by the local dignitaries and are enormously important for our external image.

Another important example of our external image is the very successful event business run here at Freemasons’ Hall. As one of the unique venues of London we are highly respected within the events industry. I was pleased to hear that, last year, we had 53,000 non-masonic visitors to our events. This included London Fashion Week and an after party for the latest Harry Potter world premiere! Many of our visitors did not know that they could come into a masonic building and all of them I believe left having had a very happy experience.

This is an excerpt from the Annual Craft Investiture address by the MW The Grand Master HRH the Duke of Kent, KG, given on 27 April 2011.  To read the speech in full, press here.

Published in UGLE
Wednesday, 14 September 2011 17:48

Deputy Grand Master's address - September 2011

QUARTERLY COMMUNICATION
14 September 2011
An address by the RW The Deputy Grand Master Jonathan Spence


Brethren,

It is very good to see you all here today and I hope you have had a very enjoyable and refreshing summer. The summer is not only a time for the re-charging of batteries, but I find it is also a time for reflection and preparation for the challenges ahead. As our Masonic activities begin again for the Autumn I thought it would be appropriate for me to share with you some thoughts on some essential aspects of Pure Antient Masonry, being the Craft and Holy Royal Arch. I am prompted to do this after listening to an interview given by the Grand Chaplain to the BBC in May in which it became clear there are still substantial misunderstandings about the Craft, when frankly there ought not to be.

We need to be absolutely clear when we discuss our Pure Antient Masonry that we belong to a secular organisation, that is to say a non-religious organisation. This was a point made very eloquently by the Grand Chaplain in his interview. It is, however, a secular organisation that is supportive of religion: it is an absolute requirement for all our members to believe in a Supreme Being. As the late and sadly missed Dean Neil Collings so eloquently put it, this gives "a context and background to the individual's way of life as they seek to live it”. Freemasonry itself, as we all know, is neither a substitute for nor an alternative to religion. It certainly does not deal in spirituality; it does not have any sacraments; or, indeed, offer or claim to offer any type of salvation. Freemasonry, in fact, absolutely fails to meet any of the tests of what it is to be a religion, set by the late Reverend Professor John MacQuarrie, former Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity at Oxford. The fact that men from different faiths can meet easily in harmony and friendship, without compromising their particular religious beliefs, demonstrates that one of the greatest strengths of the Craft, dating from its earliest beginnings, is that of Tolerance. To ensure this tolerance remains untroubled, of course, discussions of religion like discussions of politics are strictly prohibited!

Organised Freemasonry, from its beginnings in the late 17th and early 18th Centuries, a time of religious intolerance, was always concerned with teaching and encouraging morality. Our forefathers were very aware of human nature and its flaws, particularly those of self-absorption and selfishness. The Craft sought to encourage men to be loyal to their country, to obey the law, to try to be better behaved, to consider their relations with others and to make themselves more extensively serviceable to their fellow men, that is to say their wider communities. In other words, to pursue a moral life. The ceremonies were used as the main means of teaching and illustrating the principles of the Craft: they were, and still very much are, a dramatic and effective set of morality plays.

The Craft, as a secular organisation, remains just as concerned today to encourage these ideals. I suggest that, in today's language, we could articulate the fundamental principles to which our members subscribe as integrity, honesty, fairness, kindness and tolerance. These are principles of which we should be very proud and we should not hesitate to articulate them, when appropriate opportunities present themselves, to our family, friends and, indeed, the wider community in which we live. We should also make it very clear that we very much enjoy ourselves and what we do. I have no doubt our principles will appeal to those who are not masons, if they are aware of them. Once it is clearly understood that the nature of our ritual, often written in an elegant older style of language, is that of a morality play, many of the genuine misunderstandings will fall away.

The future of the Craft is obviously dependent on attracting and retaining good quality candidates. Our principles, I believe, should be attractive to many men of good reputation and integrity. It is very important that we all only recommend to our Lodges men who we know subscribe to our principles, who we believe will enjoy being members of the Craft and who will mix happily with the other members of their individual Lodge.

The other side of this coin is that we should be careful in our choice of candidates. This is something every new Mason is told in the Charge after Initiation and for a very good reason. Unsuitable candidates are likely to damage the Craft in general and their own Lodges in particular.

Every one of us has an important part to play in articulating clearly what the Craft is and encouraging appropriately qualified candidates to be members. To support this, our soon to be announced strategic communications direction, together with the results from the working party on mentoring, will go a long way to help us to speak openly, and in an informed way, about Freemasonry. Our success will help to ensure Freemasonry’s long term future.

Published in Speeches
Wednesday, 08 June 2011 21:46

Pro Grand Master's address - June 2011

Quarterly Communication 
8 June 2011
An address by the MW The Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes

Brethren,

It is very good to see such a good attendance here today and I particularly want to welcome those Master Masons who are attending Quarterly Communication for the first time and I hope this experiment may turn into normal practice.  I trust it will be a memorable occasion for you.  

The past year has been a busy time for the Craft.  I have selected one or two examples to give you a flavour of what I mean. On the ceremonial side, the Rulers have installed five new Provincial Grand Masters and a Grand Inspector.  In addition there have been six Installations of Grand Superintendents in the Royal Arch.  I had the pleasure of presenting two medals for the Grand Master’s Order of Service to Freemasonry to both Brothers Sir John Welch and Simon Waley.  And with the Grand Lodge team, of consecrating the new Grand Lodge of Monaco. The consecration was a marvellous success and was extremely good for international relations.

On the business side, I met all the Provincial Grand Masters at my Regional Business meetings and attended the eighth regional conference of District Grand Masters of the Caribbean and Western Atlantic.  Additionally, we successfully ran, for the second year running, a business meeting specifically for District Grand Masters and Grand Inspectors before the Annual Investitures.

Regarding communication, I spoke about this at the September Quarterly Communication explaining how the strategic communication plans supported our open approach. I took the opportunity to encourage members to talk about their Masonry as appropriate and I have recently set up a working party to look closely at how best to mentor at Lodge level.  You will have also recently received the newly designed issue of Freemasonry Today.  The magazine will continue to evolve and the key reason for this is to encourage you and your families to enjoy it and to talk more about Freemasonry. You have heard from the President about the timing for the publication of future issues.

On the charitable side, we had a very timely talk from the head of the Disaster Management at the British Red Cross at the March Quarterly Communication.  Timely because of, for example, the plight of our Brethren in Christchurch New Zealand with the earthquakes and in Rio de Janeiro, with the devastation after the mud slides. We gave generously through the Red Cross.

Brethren, I am sure that Father Jonathan Baker’s resignation from his Lodges and Chapters was read with great sadness by all masons and many non-masons. This was as a result of tremendous outside pressures brought on him after his appointment as Bishop of Ebbsfleet.  For the time being I shall just say that our feelings on this subject have been made.

Brethren, with the exception of the last item that I have mentioned, we have had a good year and the Craft is in good heart. It only remains for me to wish you all a most enjoyable summer.

Published in Speeches

ROYAL ARCH INVESTITURE

28 APRIL 2011

An address by the ME Pro First Grand Principal Peter Lowndes

 

Companions

I know that you would want me to congratulate the Grand Officers whom I have invested on behalf of the Most Excellent the First Grand Principal. At the same time I remind them that their new ranks are not the culmination of their Chapter careers. In accepting appointment or promotion, they have committed themselves to increased activity in the Royal Arch, especially with regard to recruitment and retention.

 At this investiture meeting last year I announced that as part of the Royal Arch celebrations in 2013 it had been decided that a donation be made to the Royal College of Surgeons. The Royal Arch Masons 2013 Bicentenary Appeal was launched at the November Convocation of Supreme Grand Chapter. Our donation will help to fund the College’s successful surgical research fellowship scheme, which supports surgeons to undertake a surgical research project.

Freemasonry has had a long and close association with the College and we are their major benefactor. We were pleased to have several surgeons - who had been beneficiaries - come and present to us at the November Convocation. Although I was unable to be at that meeting, I have heard from many Companions how fascinating it was to hear about their research in surgical care for current and future generations. The Grand Scribe Ezra has written to all Grand Superintendents informing them how to request similar presentations from the College in their Provinces.

The information for donating to the Royal Arch Masons 2013 Bicentenary Appeal is on the Grand Charity website and donation leaflets are available by request. We are grateful to those who have already donated.

Companions, as you are well aware changes were made to the general practice of the Royal Arch in 2004 affecting the ritual, together with certain permitted ritual alternatives. As a result, I wonder how many of you are like me and get thoroughly confused when deciding which version of the ritual to use. With this in mind, it is proposed to use 2013 as the catalyst to publish new ritual books, which would have the permitted alternatives as the main version and the original version printed out separately. For clarity, this is not a change to the ritual. It is intended to be helpful to Chapters by simplifying the printed material and to avoid any confusion the 2004 changes may have caused.

The aim is also to encourage those Chapters who have not yet made the change to the alternative form, to more easily adapt what is already widely practised and enjoyed. This alternative ritual involves more companions in the ceremony and I believe encourages greater delegation of the work. Interestingly, the 2013 Committee is proposing that a demonstration of the alternative exaltation ceremony form part of the bi-centenary celebrations, to be performed by the Metropolitan Grand Stewards demonstration Team in the Grand Temple on the morning of the special celebration Convocation in October 2013.

Finally, Companions, I must on your behalf and mine, thank the Grand Director of Ceremonies and his Deputies for conducting today’s proceedings so successfully and the Grand Scribe E and his staff for all the arrangements for this important day. Most of you will be aware that the Grand Scribe E and his Secretary were working here on Monday to ensure the smooth running of yesterday and today.

Published in Speeches
Wednesday, 27 April 2011 11:26

Grand Master's address - April 2011

ANNUAL CRAFT INVESTITURE

27 April 2011

An address by the MW The Grand Master HRH The Duke of Kent, KG

Brethren,

I welcome you all to this Annual Investiture and I should like to congratulate all those who have become Grand Officers or who have been promoted in Grand Rank. This is a special day for you. At the same time I thank those other Grand Officers who, reappointed from year to year, do so much to ensure continuity in the direction of the Craft.

Grand Rank should be regarded as a challenge to greater effort and as an incentive to shoulder greater responsibilities. Some of you already hold executive appointments in Metropolitan, the Provinces and the Districts. All of you, whether you hold these appointments or not, must remember the importance of training the next generation, which is precisely why the Mentoring Scheme has been set in motion.

The Mentoring Scheme is designed eventually to mentor members at all stages of their Masonic progress. Initially this will be especially for candidates during the three degrees and to encourage them to continue their progress into the Royal Arch. All Provinces now have a Provincial Grand Mentor who will be responsible for ensuring the selection of a mentoring coordinator in each Lodge. The mentoring coordinator, in turn, will select the member in the Lodge with the right personality and knowledge to actually do the mentoring of each individual. The Pro Grand Master announced yesterday to the Provincial and District Grand Masters the formation of a working party, under the chairmanship of the Grand Secretary, to look at for example, the selection of coordinators and mentors as well as guidelines to make sure that the messages are consistent.

The aim is to have as many members as possible as ambassadors for Freemasonry. By ambassador I mean a member who not only lives as honest a life as possible, but also understands the meaning of the ritual and, importantly, is able and willing to talk about Freemasonry to family and friends. Talking openly about Freemasonry, as appropriate, is core to my philosophy, central to our communications strategy and essential to the survival of Freemasonry as a respected and relevant membership organisation. As Grand Officers I shall of course be relying upon you to give your full support to the Mentoring Scheme as it develops.

Brethren, in July I visited the Province of Buckinghamshire to see their Freemasonry in the Community projects. I was particularly impressed with their iHelp youth competition – involving young groups competing for prize-money to show the positive side of young people – and the Rock Ride covering a 1,500 mile bicycle ride from Gibraltar to Stowe School to raise funds for non Masonic Charities within the Province. These projects are supported by the local dignitaries and are enormously important for our external image.

Another important example of our external image is the very successful event business run here at Freemasons’ Hall. As one of the Unique Venues of London we are highly respected within the event industry. I was pleased to hear that, last year, we had 53,000 non Masonic visitors to our events. Events that included the London Fashion Week and the after party for the latest Harry Potter world premier! Many of our visitors did not know that they could come into a Masonic building and all of them I believe left having had a very happy experience.

I understand that the head of Disaster Management at the British Red Cross came to speak at the March Quarterly Communication. This was timely as I am particularly mindful of our Brethren in Christchurch, South Island New Zealand with the earthquake, and those north of Rio de Janeiro in the District Grand Lodge of South America, Northern Division with the mudslides and flooding. Both these Districts received immediate help from the Grand Charity through the British Red Cross. I am pleased to report that though there was considerable structural damage none of our members were lost.

In conclusion I should like to congratulate the Grand Director of Ceremonies and his Deputies and the Grand Secretary and his staff for all they have done to make this meeting such a success.

 

Published in Speeches
Wednesday, 09 March 2011 16:19

Pro Grand Master’s address - March 2011

QUARTERLY COMMUNICATION

9 MARCH 2011

An address by the MW The Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes

Brethren, 
In February, accompanied by a Grand Lodge team, I consecrated the Grand Lodge of Monaco. It was an enormously successful occasion with representation from many Grand Lodges from around the world - all meeting in harmony.

The Lodges that make up the new Grand Lodge are from the English, French and German constitutions and we were delighted to be asked, as the mother Grand Lodge, to run the Consecration assisted by the Grand Master of Germany and a past Grand Master of France. On behalf of the Grand Master, I presented them with a fine sword. For the rest of the day we found ourselves on the receiving end of countless handshakes and heartfelt congratulations on the ceremony, which had been superbly organised by the Grand Director of Ceremonies and his team.

I am delighted to tell you that Freemasonry Today, due in early April, will be the first of the newly designed issues to reflect the magazine as the official journal of the United Grand Lodge of England. The editorial side will evolve to align the content more closely with our communications strategy, as the magazine is an ideal way for us to communicate our key messages to our members, their families and potential members.

To that end the Strategic Communications Committee, which I told you about in my September Quarterly Communication speech, has asked the Board of General Purposes to agree a clear policy on editorial content for the future. Our aim is that you enjoy the magazine, are proud to show it to your family and that it becomes an award winning journal.

It was very timely to have the head of Disaster Management at the British Red Cross talk to us today. Most particularly we are mindful of the plight of our Brethren in Christchurch, New Zealand. Although there has been terrible damage to many of their homes none of them are amongst those who have been killed. The District Grand Master’s home is in ruins but they are doing the best they can to maintain morale. It is suggested that at least one third of the buildings will have to be destroyed.

When I attended the one hundred and fiftieth celebration of their District in Christchurch at the end of 2009 we changed in the Cathedral before our street march to the civic centre where the celebrations were held. The following day The Dean invited us to attend their Holy Comm service in regalia and I read the lesson. It is particularly distressing to see on the news that the Cathedral spire has collapsed and I am informed that the civic centre, where we held the main celebration, has been completely destroyed. The Grand Charity immediately sent £30,000 via the Red Cross to Christchurch.

But Brethren, there have also been, for example, the floods in Brazil where another emergency grant of £20,000 has been made to the District Grand Lodge of South America, North Division, to assist with the devastation after the mudslides and flooding north of Rio de Janeiro. The key is that the Grand Charity sends the money through the Red Cross and we know that they will use the money properly at the beginning of these disasters.

On the subject of charity, many of you may be aware that the Attorney General has referred to the Court questions directed to clarify the law relating to some Charities for the relief of poverty among those who fall within a particular class or category and the public benefit requirement following the coming into effect of the Charities Act 2006.

The Reference has potential implications for Masonic Charities at various levels although it would seem that it will not affect our four main Masonic Charities.

I wish to assure you that both the Rulers and the Board of General Purposes are treating the Attorney General’s Reference seriously. A leading firm of solicitors specialising in Charity Law have been retained and we are in the process of instructing Leading Counsel to advise and represent us. The initial advice that we have received is that any of our Lodge Benevolent Funds which have been established using the Objects Clauses in the Model Trust Deed we have been promulgating for over sixty years are unlikely to be affected.

We intend to apply to be joined as a party to the Reference Proceedings and hope that our vast experience of charitable activities for the public benefit will be of assistance to the Court, the Charity Commission and all who will be participating in the Reference.

To keep this in perspective, the Attorney General is looking at Charities in general, and although in the Schedule to the Reference they have named over one thousand of our Charities we do not believe this to be in any way discriminatory. On the contrary – and it is very good that there are so many Masonic Charities –we should look at this as a reflection of the extent of our Charitable activity. There are few organisations who can boast such a large number of Benevolent Funds.

Published in Speeches

QUARTERLY COMMUNICATION

8 DECEMBER 2010

A speech by VW Bro Graham Redman, Assistant Grand Secretary, and VW Bro John Hamill

GFR: MW Pro Grand Master and Brethren, in February 1810, the Premier or Moderns Grand Lodge, which in 1809 had been exercised with the affairs of the Royal Naval Lodge, then numbered 57 and now No. 59, was opened in due form and the Laws relating to the behaviour of Masons in Grand Lodge were read.

The three Brethren who had been appointed to attend Royal Naval Lodge to ensure the reinstatement of certain Brethren

reported that they had attended at the House where the said Lodge is held in Burr Street, Wapping on Wednesday 3rd January last being the usual evening of meeting of the Lodge and notice of which meeting had been advertised in the newspapers and on enquiring whether the Lodge was opened they were informed by a person who said he attended there to answer any one who might come, that there would not be a Lodge held that evening. That they again attended this evening being likewise one of the usual days of meeting of the said Lodge when they were also informed that the Lodge would not meet.

Brother F[rancis] C[olumbine] Daniel then addressed the Grand Lodge and said it was the determination of the Brethren of the Royal Naval Lodge not to admit again into their Lodge Brothers [John] Blacklock and [John William] Smith and he read some Resolutions to that effect but that rather than do so they would surrender the warrant of the Lodge and give to the Grand Lodge the Books of the Royal Naval Lodge to enable the Grand Lodge to pay itself what was due from the Royal Naval Lodge by collecting in the arrears due from its Members and Brother Daniel accordingly delivered to the Grand Master in the chair the Warrant of Constitution of the Royal Naval Lodge, No. 57, whereupon it was 

Resolved that the consideration of what further proceedings it may be proper to adopt respecting the Royal Naval Lodge be deferred to the next Committee of Charity.

JMH: MW Pro Grand Master and Brethren, the problem with Royal Naval Lodge, or rather Francis Columbine Daniel continued to rumble! At the April meeting of the premier Grand Lodge it was reported that the books of the Lodge had been turned over to the Grand Secretary but not the jewels and furniture – they having been seized by the landlord in Wapping as surety for £200 owed to him and others in the area. The Brethren who had been refused re-admission to the Lodge had petitioned for the return of the warrant as they had not been party to its being given up or to the activities of Daniel. The Grand Lodge agreed that the warrant and books be returned to them and that the Lodge be re-instated in all its Masonic privileges. An attempt by Daniel and his friends to take over the Lodge of Felicity (now) No. 58 and rename it the Royal Naval Lodge of Felicity was refused by the Grand Master. That should have been the end of it but Grand Lodge was troubled again in November, resulting in Daniel being “suspended from all Masonic functions and privileges” until he cleared the debt he had incurred with the Grand Lodge (£300) by not sending in returns. It took Daniel until 1817 to repay the money when he was restored to all his privileges.

GFR: Earlier at that same Communication it had been:

Resolved, that in consequence of recent occurrences the Resolution of the Grand Lodge of the 9th February 1803 for the expulsion of Brother Thomas Harper be rescinded.

JMH: Thomas Harper had been expelled from the premier Grand Lodge in 1803 because he was a senior member of the Antients Grand Lodge, although it took the premier Grand Lodge more than a decade to recognise this despite the fact that Harper had been a Grand Steward (as a member of Globe Lodge) in 1796 when he was Deputy Grand Secretary of the Antients. In 1801 he became the Deputy Grand Master of the Antients, but a blind eye was taken. Enter F. C. Daniel again! He it was who brought charges against Harper in the premier Grand Lodge. It was a case of spite. Daniel had also been a member of the Antients and had been expelled from their Grand Lodge in 1801, just after Harper became Deputy Grand Master. He believed that Harper was behind his expulsion and so began to work against him, leading to his expulsion from the premier Grand Lodge. That put paid to the fledgling move towards between the two Grand Lodges. Harper’s re-admission to the premier Grand Lodge made the revival of the idea possible.

GFR: At the April Communication, at which the affair of Royal Naval Lodge was finally resolved, the minutes go on to record that

The Grand Master in the chair the Right Honourable the Earl of Moira was pleased to inform the Grand Lodge that in a conference which he had had with His Grace the Duke of Atholl they were both fully of opinion that it would be an event truly desirable and highly creditable to the name of Masons to consolidate under one head the two Societies of Masons that existed in this country. In consequence of the points then discussed and reciprocally admitted the matter came under deliberation in the Grand Lodge under his Grace the Duke of Athol and the result was a Resolution which the Earl of Moira laid before this Grand Lodge. It was as follows “That a Masonic of the Grand Lodges under the present Grand Masters H.R.H. the Prince of Wales and his Grace the Duke of Atholl on principles equal and honourable to both Grand Lodges and preserving inviolate the Land marks of the Ancient Craft would in the opinion of this Grand Lodge be expedient and advantageous to both.”

Needless to say the resolution was passed unanimously and a Committee appointed “for negotiating this most desirable arrangement”.

JMH: That resolution having been passed the ceased to trouble the premier Grand Lodge. They were quite happy for their negotiators to have full powers to discuss and move forward, without their having to come back to the Grand Lodge on every point. As we shall see over the next two years, if this double act is to continue, the Antients were not so trusting of their negotiators who had to listen and discuss but had no powers of decision. They had to report back every point for discussion in and agreement by a quarterly meeting of their Grand Lodge. It is not surprising that the negotiations dragged on for three years!

GFR: By way of contrast, indeed, the Antients or Atholl Grand Lodge, at its meeting in March 1810, when it came to the reading of the minutes of the Grand Lodge Committee, to which it had been delegated “To consider of the propriety and practicability of accomplishing a Masonic with the Society of Masons under His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales and to report thereon to the Grand Lodge” was faced with an objection from Bro. Charles Humphreys, Past Grand Warden that the proceedings should not be received, being “informal and premature”. His objection was defeated on a vote and the Minutes continue:

“The proceedings of the Committee were then read and thereupon the Grand Secretary recommended to the Grand Lodge to pause and consider well before they proceeded any further upon a matter of so great a magnitude; previous to any answer being received from the Most Noble R.W. Grand Master to whom the resolution of the Committee has been transmitted and before any communication had been made thereon to any of the Country, Military or Foreign Lodges immediately under or in correspondence with this R.W. Grand Lodge, the best interests and immunities of this Grand Lodge ought not to pass nor be tendered or offered in barter without information to and consent of all parties interested first had and obtained.”

JMH: There were powerful forces within the Antients Grand Lodge who did not wish to see a . Not least amongst them was their Grand Secretary, Robert Leslie, who delayed everything he possibly could. Even when the game was up and the achieved he refused to accept it, or hand over the books and papers of the Grand Lodge, until paid off with a pension of £100 a year!

GFR: Things now moved a little faster. At a Grand Lodge of Emergency held on 1st May, there were

“Read the Minutes and proceedings of the Grand Lodge Committee of the 19th April, with the Letter and Communication received from the Earl of Moira with the resolution therein inclosed from the Grand Lodge in Queen Street under H.R. Highness the Prince of Wales.”

A threefold resolution was then passed:

1st: That as the Grand Lodges of the United Kingdom viz. The Grand Lodge of England under the Most Noble Duke of Atholl the Grand Lodge of Scotland and the Grand Lodge of Ireland are all bound by the same obligations and all work by Uniform Rules it is necessary in the first instance to be informed whether the Grand Lodge under H.R. Highness the Prince of Wales in order to a perfect will consent to take the same obligations under which the three Grand Lodges [are bound] and that they will consent to work in the same forms.

2nd: That it is essential to the true preservation of the true and ancient Land Marks that the Grand Lodge shall be a perfect representation of all the Lodges and that to this end it shall be composed of the present and past Grand Officers, Masters and Wardens of each Lodge with the Past Masters of all Lodges. That the Grand Lodge under H.R.H. the Prince of Wales shall agree that upon the the Grand Lodge of England in all times to come be composed of the present and past Grand Officers, Masters, Wardens and Past Masters of the regular Lodges under the two Constitutions the Lodges to sit under their respective banners according to Seniority of Number every Brother to speak and vote and that the Grand Lodge shall be convened and held quarterly on a given day in each quarter for communication with the Craft besides the Anniversary Meeting of St John the Evangelist and St John the Baptist.

3rd: That the Masonic benevolence shall be distributed monthly by a Lodge specially constituted and summoned for that purpose consisting as it now is of a deputation from the resident Lodges in and adjacent to London and Westminster.

JMH: The premier Grand Lodge had already gone a fair way to meeting the resolutions put forward by the Antients . As we reported last year they had set up a special Lodge of Promulgation to bring it ceremonies into line with those of Ireland and Scotland (and thereby the Antients). They had introduced Deacons into their Lodges and recognised the installation of the Master. Indeed they had spent a great deal of time holding special meetings to install those who had been Masters of Lodges without receiving the secrets of the chair, including the Duke of Sussex and the Earl of Moira. The problematical point would be the composition of the new United Grand Lodge. The premier Grand Lodge had reserved its membership to the Grand Officers, Masters of Lodges and the Master and others from the Grand Stewards Lodge. The Antients Grand Lodge had been much more democratic and was composed of the Grand Officers, Master and Wardens of Lodges and the subscribing Past Masters. This difference was to lead to long, and at times childish, arguments. The premier Grand Lodge was set against an increase in the membership, arguing at one point that their Hall was not large enough to take so many people. Happily for us the Antients won through.

GFR: To round off this subject, the Minutes for September record that:

A Motion was made by Bro. Jeremiah Cranfield, P.M. 255 ‘That all Motions made in this Grand Lodge and Grand Lodge Committees respecting a Masonic with all communications from the Committee under his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales as well as the opinions of the Grand Lodges of Scotland and Ireland on this important subject be printed and circulated throughout the ancient Craft….Ordered.

JMH: Although he was troublesome, we should bless Jeremiah Cranfield. As a result of his resolution the Antients did regularly circulate to their members. Had they not we should have little information as to what did happen. The letter book and other records of the premier Grand Lodge for this period appear not to have survived and very little was reported to their Grand Lodge.

GFR: By contrast 1910 was a relatively uneventful year. Loyal addresses on the death of H.M. King Edward VII were approved at an Especial Grand Lodge in May, and in June an honorarium of 1,000 Guineas was voted to the retiring Grand Registrar, to coincide with his golden wedding; but the only genuinely contentious item of business was a Motion in June that:

“In the opinion of Grand Lodge it is desirable that in the next, and all subsequent issues of the Masonic Year Book, there should be printed a list of the names of all Brethren who have been honoured by appointment to London Rank, together with the name and number of the Lodge that recommended them for, and the date of, such appointment.”

JMH: Those who were present here last year may remember that there was a “robust” debate in Grand Lodge in 1909 over the proposal that the Grand Registrar be paid a retainer. Despite it being proposed by the Pro Grand Master and seconded by the Deputy, it was thrown out. They were determined, however, to reward John Strachan, who had been a very busy Grand Registrar since his appointment in 1898, as the Proceedings of Grand Lodge testify. His retirement and Golden Wedding provided the opportunity and Grand Lodge readily agreed.

The death of the King marked the passing of one who had, as Prince of Wales and Grand Master for 26 years, presided over a great period of expansion in the English Craft both at home and overseas. On becoming King he had taken the title of Protector of Masonry. At the timer of his death Grand Lodge was quietly acquiring property to the east of the then Freemasons’ Hall with idea of extending the building. A memorial fund was set up in his memory to fund the building work. The First World War intervened and the Edward VII Memorial Fund was subsumed into the Masonic Million Memorial Fund, which resulted in this building.

The resolution regarding the inclusion of list of those honoured with London Rank, as London Grand Rank was then styled, produced another of those robust debates in Grand Lodge. The year book had only as recently as 1908 been brought back under Grand Lodge control, it for many years having been published by Kenning (before they were sandwiched between Toye and Spencer). The Provinces rightly argued that if London Rank was to be included then so should Provincial honours. That seems to have clinched it and, happily for my co-presenter and his staff who edit the year book, the proposal was negatived – but the year book grew in many other ways! And those of you who have read your business paper, and in particular the Board’s Report, will note that next year’s edition, which will be replete with useful information, will be on sale at a snip of £12!

Published in Speeches
Page 9 of 16

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