Celebrating 300 years
Friday, 01 October 2010 14:14

Masonic Mentoring - A Vision

Mentoring as a concept has been widely embraced by members of the Craft and as The Pro Grand Master, MW Bro Peter Lowndes, said in his address to the Provincial Grand Lodge of West Lancashire in May this year, “it has to be right to explain to a brother what he has joined and to help him enjoy his masonry so that he wants to contribute to its future”. The Rulers’ Forum Working Party stated in their address to Grand Lodge in March 2008 that “Mentoring has to run through the Craft like Blackpool through a stick of rock”, however there is still a huge amount of work to be done to reach this utopian state. In this article I am going to consider what steps the Craft should take, if we are to achieve this goal, but before you say this is a wild “pipe dream” the encouraging news is that there are many Lodges around the country where this is the case and what happy places they are to visit, they are vibrant and they have candidates waiting to join. These Lodges are not clones of each other, I know one that is two hundred years old and others that are much younger. They each have their own unique character, but they all have the same feeling of warmth, of welcome and of caring about each other that is not just superficial and shallow, but genuine and deeply felt.

How can we achieve this?

How easy our task would be if we could just bottle the essence of these lodges and pass it around the others so that they could imbibe it and enjoy its efficacious effects. Unfortunately, as in most things in life, it is not that easy, but the concept is very simple, a genuinely caring attitude, a deep feeling of friendship and a respect for the other members of the Lodge. The challenge for the craft is to convey this simple message to every mason and the method we have chosen is mentoring. The majority of Provinces, London Metropolitan and some Districts now have systems in place that are either cascading the message from the top or allowing it to “well up” from the Lodges, depending on their preference and the individual character of their Lodges. I suspect that we are going to find that this first stage will prove to be the easy bit and that embedding the understanding and belief in the principles will be a much longer task. The image of painting the Forth Bridge comes to mind, but our prize is a happy vibrant and active Craft with an important role to play in society that is both inspirational and aspirational.

To attain this goal we must equip our brethren with the knowledge and understanding to achieve it. To use one of our own allegories we must take the rough ashlar and shape it into a smooth ashlar fit for the intended structure and, as I said above, the tool we are going to use – the chisel – is Mentoring. However, we will not attain our goal by substituting mentoring with “tick box” exercises or a series of hoops for a candidate to jump through.

Neither will it be achieved with the occasional chat when a new brother leaves the Lodge room whilst there is a higher degree ceremony taking place. The whole point of mentoring is that it is a one to one relationship where a more experienced person guides, encourages and supports a less experienced one. The objective of the various Mentoring Schemes is to provide support at every level. The Personal Mentor is supported by the Lodge Mentor (or Lodge Mentoring Coordinator or Lodge Mentoring Officer). He in turn is supported by the Metropolitan, Provincial or District Grand Lodge and they in turn are supported by each other and by Grand Lodge.

It is the responsibility of the Lodge Mentoring Coordinator to select an appropriate Personal Mentor for every new candidate who joins his Lodge. In an ideal world there would be a number of suitable brethren to act as Personal Mentors who have each attended Workshops and who understand what mentoring entails. It is these brethren who will help the new member understand the principles and tenets of the Craft and ensure that he is included and involved in the life of his Lodge.

What else can we do?

We should also ask ourselves, is the role of the Personal Mentor finished when the new mason is raised to the Third Degree? It has been said that once a mason has been introduced to the Preceptor of the Lodge of Instruction the Mentor’s role is finished, but I would suggest that as a brother progresses through each of the offices he continues to need a mentor, especially when he is appointed Junior Warden. This Mentor may not necessarily be the same person who looked after him when he was a new member in fact this is an excellent role for a recent Past Master. It utilises his experience to help, for example a Warden to avoid any pitfalls that may await him. It also gives them both the opportunity to visit other Lodges together so that the Warden can meet brethren who will be in his Masters’ Circle and the Past Master can maintain his friendships with other Past Masters. When the Master is Installed he does of course have the guidance of his IPM and the support of all the Past Masters of the Lodge, but if he has been properly prepared by a mentor then his time will, hopefully be even more enjoyable and successful than might otherwise have been the case.

There are of course other offices in the Lodge that would benefit from having a Mentor. Some offices have an assistant and this is a good opportunity for a future Secretary or Director of Ceremonies to learn the role, but others such as the Almoner or Charity Steward do not. The position of Almoner is a demanding one and requires particular skills to carry it out and so the need for a mentor in this case is essential. But even where a Lodge Officer has been an assistant for a number of years he will still need to be mentored when he steps into the actual Office.

The Royal Arch

We should also consider the Royal Arch. If the Masonic journey is from Initiation to Exaltation as stated in the Book of Constitutions then the Candidate’s Mentor must prepare him for Exaltation just as he does for the other ceremonies. He must not allow him to be rushed into Chapter too soon by over enthusiastic companions, but make certain that he is ready to take the important decision to be exalted. I will digress for a moment and say that many mentors agree that part of their role is to protect their charge from over-zealous masons who are eager to introduce them into various other side degrees before they have had time to enjoy and understand the Craft. A surfeit of a good thing can become indigestible and some promising masons have been lost through too much masonry. Equally the Mentor may need to advise caution to the Lodge if they are pushing the new mason into Office before he is ready for it. However, back to the Royal Arch; because the Chapter ceremony is so different to the Lodge ceremonies, even being set in a different time frame, I believe the candidate again needs to be mentored. Not in the understanding of the teachings of the Craft in general because this will be covered in Lodge, but in the specific meaning and teachings of the Royal Arch which should to be set in context with the other ceremonies. I would suggest that if it was possible for the same Mentor who had guided him through the three degrees in Lodge, to guide him through the meaning of the Royal Arch this would provide continuity, but very often this will not be possible.

Making it happen

All of the above requires organising. In the original presentation to Grand Lodge in 2008 the proposition was made that the role of the Lodge Mentoring Coordinator was to organise the appointment and training of the Personal Mentors, but as the scheme develops so will his role. There is a concern amongst some brethren that, if the Lodge Mentor becomes a Lodge Officer with a Collar and Jewel, appointments may be made for the wrong reasons, perhaps just to fill the office or to help a brother “up the ladder”. Of course we cannot rule this out, but the role of Lodge Mentor is demanding and not for the faint hearted. A Lodge Mentor who fails in his role will very soon be found out. Also a Lodge could be risking its future by making the wrong appointment and the Provincial Grand Mentor should be in contact with, and be aware of the abilities of, all the Lodge Mentors either personally or through his Group Mentors to prevent this happening. Strangely there have been some reports of Lodges that will not adopt a Mentoring Scheme because the Office is not in the Book of Constitutions. At the end of the day unless the brethren make mentoring work and believe in it, nothing will happen.

The Prize

If we succeed in achieving the goal, we will have created an organisation where every member will be a competent and confident ambassador for the Craft who has the ability to talk to the outside world about Freemasonry and answer any questions he may be asked. Our Lodges should be vibrant, warm and friendly places in which to meet, where the brethren feel involved and will want to encourage their friends to join and it is quite likely that the brethren will be more generous in their charitable giving because they will have a better understanding of our charitable aims. But all of this requires each of us to help new brethren to understand the principles of Freemasonry and to become involved in their Lodges so that they can enjoy being members of the Craft as much as we do.

James Bartlett - UGLE Mentoring Scheme Coordinator

Published in Mentoring Scheme

Four good reasons to join this Order are put forward by John Hamill

In line with the fashion of the day, I should perhaps begin with a declaration of interest. At the age of 23, and only three months after becoming a Master Mason, I was exalted into the Royal Arch. That is something I have never regretted.

On joining the Grand Lodge Library staff in August 1971 like all keen young historians I looked for a subject on which little work had been done. Knowing the seniority of the Royal Arch and its indissoluble link with the Craft I was amazed to find that little was available on its origins, history and development and I spent a fair amount of my 28 years in the Library and Museum trying to repair that loss.

In the best sense of the word, I am an enthusiast for the Royal Arch and find it difficult to understand why more brethren do not seek membership in it.

Why should anyone join the Royal Arch rather than any of the other Masonic degrees and Orders available to us? My first reason would be that indissoluble link, which is peculiar to English Freemasonry.

For historical reasons, when the two Grand Lodges came together in 1813 to form the United Grand Lodge of England they adopted a definition of “pure ancient Masonry” which stated that it consisted “of three degrees and no more, viz., those of the Entered Apprentice, the Fellow Craft and the Master Mason, including the Supreme order of the Holy Royal Arch.”

As a result the two became indissolubly linked administratively and thematically.

Unfortunately that definition was open to misinterpretation and until relatively recently the general view was that the Royal Arch was the completion of the Master Mason degree. Indeed, so widely held was that view, that in the ritual the candidate was informed that he must not think that he had taken a fourth degree but that he had completed his third.

I always had a problem with that statement. It was both illogical and rather insulting to those who remained solely in the Craft. Illogical, because the Third Degree is complete in itself, and insulting in that it implied that those who did not go into the Royal Arch were somehow incomplete or second class Master Masons.

Completion in a different form would be my second reason for joining. Our progress through Freemasonry is a journey of selfdiscovery and self-knowledge. In the Craft we are presented with eminently practical principles and rules which, if we follow them in our lives, we would hope to live a life of service to our fellow man and pleasing to God, however we worship Him.

But we are not simply practical beings.

We have a vital spiritual aspect to our natures which is addressed in the Royal Arch. In essence the Royal Arch, without transgressing the bounds of religion, invites the candidate to consider the nature of God and his relationship with Him.

In that way the Royal Arch completes the man by leading him from the practical to the spiritual, and the Craft and Royal Arch form “pure ancient masonry”.

My third reason would be the ceremony and the ritual itself. Done well, the exaltation ceremony is one of the most beautiful and thought-provoking in Freemasonry.

More dramatic than the Craft, the climax of the ceremony forms a vivid memory for all who go through it. Done “by the book” the ritual lays a heavy burden on the principal officers. Sadly, that has been used in the past to deter candidates from coming forward, suggesting that they should concentrate on getting through office in the Craft before joining the Royal Arch.

That should no longer be the case, as for more than 20 years Supreme Grand Chapter has been encouraging Chapters to share the work. This has three advantages: it lessens the burden on the principal officers, it enables more Companions to take part in the ceremony rather than sitting as spectators, and it allows newer members to learn the ritual at their own pace and to fit in with what they are doing in the Craft.

My fourth reason would be companionship and enjoyment. It is rare for a Chapter to draw its membership from only one Lodge. By joining a Chapter you will increase your Masonic acquaintance beyond the membership of your own Lodge, which, in turn, can lead to an increase in your Masonic experience and knowledge.

But, above all, joining the Royal Arch should increase your enjoyment of Freemasonry. It brings with it new experiences, new insights and new Companions, all of which add to our pleasure and our enjoyment of Freemasonry.

Published in Features

They key role played by John Knight in the Royal Arch in Cornwall is outlined by John Mandleberg

For speculative Freemasons, times have always been a-changin’, and the erection of the Premier Grand Lodge by ‘Four Old Lodges’ in 1717 was itself a novelty. When, in 1722 the Grand Master, the Duke of Wharton, laid down the procedure for constituting a new Lodge, this was almost revolutionary.

Not only had it not occurred to anyone before this that a special ceremony was needed to do such a thing, but it was the first time since 1717 that the detailed ritual for any ceremony had been written down. When, during the next 30 years the Royal Arch emerged from the shadows, many brethren in the Premier Grand lodge considered this not only a novelty, but an outrage – it was not ‘Pure Ancient Masonry’.

Those who founded the Grand Lodge of the Antients in 1751 took the opposite view – they regarded the Royal Arch as “the heart and marrow of Masonry.” However, by the end of the century the Premier Grand Lodge – the Moderns – had not only recognised the Degree, but had set up a Grand and Royal Arch Chapter, something which the Antients never effectively did.

Often too little thought is given to how Masonic developments taking place in London affected Brethren and Companions in the rest of the country. The “collective wisdom of the tribe” to use Galbraith’s phrase, is that communications in England were so poor at the end of the 18th century that it is a wonder that changes made in London ever filtered down to distant communities. And where was more remote than the north coast of Cornwall, 300 miles from London, the other side of Exmoor, Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor.

Here, Freemasonry flourished in many towns, including Redruth, where for some 40 years before his death in 1828 John Knight was the leading Masonic figure.

In fact, Knight was to correspond at considerable length with leading London masons – Thomas Dunckerley, Robert Gill and Edward Harper for example – with little more difficulty than he would have experienced today.

Weekly at 2pm each Friday the mail coach left neighbouring Truro for London, where it arrived on Monday morning, and weekly it left London at mid-day on Tuesday and returned to Truro on Thursday. In 1791 Dunckerley, “the Grand Master of Royal Arch Masons”, could reply from Hampton Court on 15 July to a letter written in Cornwall three days earlier.

Parcel post took no longer, for packages of regalia, Books of Constitutions and Lodge and Chapter furnishings travelled on the same mail coach. Cornish Freemasons could be made aware of developments in London as they occurred, little more slowly than would be the case today.

The letter which Dunckerley wrote on 15 July 1791 provided a Dispensation to open the Druids Chapter of Love and Reality in Redruth – at the time there was a tradition in Cornwall that the Ancient Druids had brought Freemasonry to the country.

It was a Dispensation and not a Warrant or Charter “as the Grand Chapter will not meet til the last Thursday in Oct.” Dunckerley wrote it out in due form in his own hand on the back of the letter. John Knight was named as the First Principal Z., an office which he was to occupy for the rest of his life.

Consecrations differed somewhat from what we are used to today. A senior Companion would be delegated to install the three principals, who appointed their officers at the following meeting.

For example, in 1810 John Foulstone, the Grand Recorder, was delegated to travel to Falmouth to install the principals of the newly Warranted Valubian Chapter. He took the Chair of ZX, with John Knight acting as H. Foulstone “opened [a Chapter] in Ample form the several Comps who had not passed the Chair of Zerubi being duly passed with the proper Signs & Words.”
In other words, all those present were made Passed Zs so that they could witness the installations. [To have been Exalted, a Brother would already either have presided over a Lodge as it Master, or have been through a ‘Passing the Chair’ ceremony.]

When the Druids Chapter of Love and Liberality had been founded in 1791, Knight had evidently wanted the Companions to be properly clothed. He wrote to Dunckerley in August 1792 wishing to obtain “proper Royal Arch Masons Aprons”, but received the reply that “Royal Arch aprons were directed to be worn by the old Chapters, but to have been discarded for several years, & Sashes being deem’d sufficient.”

Dunckerley omitted to point out that the reason why sashes had been “deem’d sufficient” was because Grand lodge had refused to allow Companions to wear their red-bordered aprons in Craft Lodges, with the result that in a fit of pique Grand Chapter ordered them to be discarded.

In the early 19th century new regalia was designed for Royal Arch Companions, so that John Knight could write to London in 1803: “You mentd. in your last letter that patterns of Jewells & aprons to be worn by officers and companions of the order were to be fixed on & when ready shall be glad to know what they are.” The new aprons had the indented red and blue border with which we are familiar today.

But these were minor changes compared with those imposed by Supreme Grand Chapter when it was formed in 1817, four years after the Union of the Grand lodges.

For example, while each Antient Chapter worked under the Warrant of the lodge from which it had sprung, a Modern Chapter such as Love and Liberality had been granted its own separately numbered Warrant.

Now, every Royal Arch Chapter had to be sponsored by a regularly Warranted lodge, the number of which it assumed.

Supreme Grand Chapter then issued Charters of Confirmation” to each Chapter which complied with this instruction, those formerly Modern and Antient alike. For some reason this gave John Knight particular concern. He involved himself in considerable correspondence to ensure that the new Charter would fit exactly into the frame which surrounded the former Warrant.

John Knight then summoned the Companions of his Chapter to an especial meeting “for the purpose of framing Bye- Laws, entering into Annual Subscription, Electing members for the Better Regulating & Support of the Royal Arch Chapter.”

Up to this time there had been no well defined ‘Membership’ of a Chapter. Now, in accordance with the new Regulations of the order, all those who had previously been Exalted in the Chapter had to make the decision whether they should formally become members of it.

This would involve them in paying an annual subscription and adhering to its bye-laws – which had yet to be written – or being excluded from it except as visitors.

Several Companions who had formerly considered themselves part of the Chapter declined to become subscribing members.

However, John Knight was elected to continue as First Principal.

The records of how John Knight and his Companions reacted to the further changes which were made in his lifetime have not survived, and Love and Liberality Chapter itself did not long survive his death in 1828. His 35-year reign may have made it impossible to find anyone to follow him.

Redruth was then without Royal Arch Masonry for nearly 40 years.

John Mandleberg is Master of Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076, the premier Lodge of Masonic research

Sources

Royal Arch Masons and Knights Templar at Redruth, Cornwall, 1791–1828, C J Mandleberg and L.W. Davies, QCCC Ltd.

Published in Features
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