Celebrating 300 years
Wednesday, 14 March 2012 12:30

Pro Grand Master's address - March 2012

QUARTERLY COMMUNICATION

14 March 2012

An address by the MW The Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes

 
Brethren,

In December I mentioned that one of the many important aspects of mentoring was to give guidance to our members about how to talk about their involvement in Freemasonry, and Freemasonry generally, to those not involved, particularly their family and friends.

Very often one will be asked how one came to join Freemasonry. We will all have different stories to tell, no doubt, but in most cases it will have been knowing people who are masons and showing an interest in and asking questions about the subject, which naturally leads to the answer, "if you are interested why not come and see".

The next stage then should have been to meet other members of the Lodge and for both sides to ensure that the various ramifications and responsibilities of being a member are out in the open. We must make it clear to everyone that when a new member joins us, there should be no surprises in respect of either his time or financial involvement that will come with his membership

I believe that it is important to let people know that we are not an organisation that goes hunting for members for the sake of numbers, but that we do encourage strongly those who show a genuine interest in finding out more about the subject. We should stress that Freemasonry is about the quality of the person who joins and not the number of people who are members.

We must not forget that anyone can go into Letchworths or other such shops and buy a copy of our ritual. If they read it, they will find very few aspects that are not fully explained as well as, of course, the vast majority of the words we use in our ceremonies. It is important to explain to people that there are very few thing we keep private in Masonry and these are restricted to a few words and signs.

Brethren, some people still try to ridicule us about such things as "funny handshakes". There is no Masonic handshake. We know that they are confusing it with the modes of recognition in the three main ceremonies. I would suggest that the majority of Freemasons do restrict their use of these signs to the ceremonies rather than using them in everyday life and I would encourage that to be the case.

We must also acknowledge that the language used in our rituals is somewhat archaic, but we become used to it and enjoy it. However, some of the wording is not appropriate to explaining ourselves to outsiders. One of the obvious examples of this is that we would never explain to an outsider our relationship with another Brother as "doing unto him as we would that he would do unto us", we would say something like "we try to treat others as we hope that they would treat us".

Similarly we should not explain our objects as "Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth", but would be rather more coherent perhaps saying "Respecting everyone, looking after others and being honest".

In modern parlance this isn't rocket science.

I am also often asked what benefits can be derived from being a mason. My first response is always to say what someone must most certainly not expect is an improvement in his business fortunes or any preferential treatment in any walk of life. There is no doubt that there is still a body of opinion that feels that a lot of business is conducted between Freemasons that is to the detriment of others.

I have done a lot of business with and for Freemasons, often without finding out until later that we were both members. Personally I have never seen a case where it has been to the detriment of others. It would be wrong for us to categorically deny that this has never occurred, as I have little doubt such things have happened in the past, but, dare I say, I am confident that this would be considerably less so among Freemasons than members of many other organisations.

We then move on to what benefits a member can expect and I think it is important to stress that people will find many different benefits the more involved and experienced they become. At the outset it is reasonable to expect that, if they join a Lodge, they will be amongst men who they will find to behave in a way in which they, themselves, would approve, share many of the same interests and enjoy the camaraderie of their fellow man. In short, to be among like minded men.

As their membership develops they are very likely to find enjoyment in the more detailed aspects like the meaning of the ritual as well as the delivery of it, the ceremonial or, perhaps, the dinners, although I hope the enjoyment would not be limited to just the dinners.

You will be thinking to yourselves, very probably, that I have left out an important aspect – our Charities. Brethren we are not the only organisation that supports charities and people can easily be extremely generous in this regard without becoming a Freemason. It is all too easy, when asked what we do, to simply say "we do a vast amount of charitable work and raise a huge amount of money every year". This is true but, as I have said before in Grand Lodge, Charity is not our reason for being. Having said that, Brethren, of course we should blow our own trumpets in this respect and, whilst Charity may not be our raison d'etre, it is certainly a most important part of Masonic life of which we should be and are hugely proud. Indeed, it is a very natural result of leading our lives according to the Masonic line and rule.

Our four main Charities are all something of which we should be hugely proud, but our overall charitable giving goes way beyond even that.

Brethren, I most certainly am not saying don't talk about our Charities, quite the reverse, but what I am saying is don't use our Charities to avoid answering more fully what we are all about. Above all stress that we are all in masonry for the immense amount of fun and enjoyment that we derive from our membership.

Published in Speeches

Quarterly Communication

14 March 2012
Order of Service to Masonry citation for RW Bro Dr Roeinton Burjor Framji Khambatta

Bro Roeinton Khambatta, who was born in September 1924, was made a mason in Lodge Zoroaster, under the Scottish Constitution, and in 1965 joined our Lodge Faith, No. 2438. That lodge (then meeting in Karachi in the District of Punjab) was also his father's and his grandfather's lodge. In the Royal Arch he was exalted in Chapter Faith and Charity, under the Scottish Constitution, and joined our Faith Chapter, No. 2438, in 1966.

He had a swift rise in the District of Punjab, which was renamed Pakistan in 1967, and in 1970 was installed as District Grand Master and Grand Superintendent. He held those offices until his resignation in 1976, after Freemasonry had been made illegal by the government of Pakistan. Having taken up residence in London, he continued to practise as a Consultant Cardiologist for many years until his retirement, and pursued an active masonic career not only in London, but also in the Provinces of Suffolk, Hertfordshire, and Worcestershire, in all of which he holds the rank of Past Provincial Senior Grand Warden.

Brother Khambatta's record of masonic activity is as impressive as any. At differing times he has been a member of 16 Lodges and 8 Chapters under our Constitution. He has served in the Chair of very many of them and is the senior subscribing Past Master of Jubilee Masters Lodge, No. 2712. In 1988–89 he served as a Grand Steward on the nomination of Lodge of Felicity No. 58, and was the President of his Board. He is a long-standing member of Quatuor Coronati Lodge, No. 2076, the Premier Lodge of Masonic Research, becoming its Master in 2000. As a further distinction he was the Prestonian Lecturer for 2007, taking as his subject "The Grand Secretaries 1813–1980".

He is also active in many other Orders, most notably as a former Provincial Grand Master for London in the Mark degree. As an elder masonic statesman, he holds a special place in the affections of the many brethren with whom he has come in contact.

Published in Speeches

QUARTERLY COMMUNICATION

14 March 2012

A Statement by the RW Deputy President of the Board of General Purposes Michael Lawson concerning the Attorney General's Reference to the Charity Tribunal

 

Brethren,

Many of you will be aware that last year the Attorney General brought a case (known as a Reference) to the Charity Tribunal to determine a number of questions concerning Benevolent Fund Charities and whether their Charitable status was affected by the Charities Act 2006 - in particular by that Act's requirements relating to public benefit.

Some 1,400 Masonic Charitable Funds, almost entirely Lodge Benevolent Funds, were named in a Schedule to the Reference, although it was likely to affect nearly every Lodge or Chapter Benevolent Fund, of which we believe there are more than 4,000. The four main Masonic Charities were also concerned that they might be affected.

Accordingly the Board instructed a leading Firm of Solicitors, Farrer and Co, which has a specialist Charity Department, and a leading Chancery silk, Simon Taube QC, to look after the interests of Masonic Charities at the Hearing. The Board also arranged for a nominated Masonic Charity to be a party to the proceedings.

The issue before the Tribunal was whether the pre-existing case law that is authority for the charitable status of funds relieving poverty amongst a group of beneficiaries with a common link (e.g. where the beneficiaries are defined by a family relationship, a common employer or as in the case of Masonic Benevolent Funds membership of a body such as a Lodge) had been overturned by the public benefit requirements of the Charities Act 2006.

The Upper Tribunal has ruled unequivocally that the Charities Act 2006 has made no change to the law in that respect and that Charities for the prevention or relief of poverty amongst a group of beneficiaries defined in this way remain valid Charitable Trusts.

The decision was handed down shortly after the Board met in February. The Board will be considering the decision and whether any further guidance should be given and will report further to Grand Lodge in due course. For those who wish to read the decision we have put the following link on UGLE's website.

Finally, I draw your attention to the Charities Act 2011 which comes into effect today consolidating most of the Charities Acts 1992, 1993 and 2006 and the Recreational Charities Act 1958. It does not alter the existing law, but sets out in a more accessible form how Charities in England and Wales are registered and regulated, and is now the governing legislation for Charities.

Click here to view the full decision of the Charity Tribunal.

Published in UGLE
Wednesday, 14 December 2011 15:43

Pro Grand Master's address - December 2011

QUARTERLY COMMUNICATION
14 December 2011
An address by the MW The Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes

Brethren,

Mentoring has been high on the agenda for some time and I want to take this opportunity to give clarity and perspective to what we mean by mentoring.

You have heard today the President of the Board of General Purposes give notice of motion enabling a Master to appoint as an additional officer a Mentor, with a view to voting on this proposition at the March Quarterly Communication.  I want to stress that this is an optional office and it is up to individual Lodges as to whether or not they use it.

You have all heard previously that the mentoring scheme is designed to eventually mentor members at all stages of their Masonic progress.  Initially this is especially for candidates – the next generation – during the three degrees and then to encourage them to continue their progress into the Royal Arch.  London and all Provinces now have a Metropolitan or Provincial Grand Mentor who currently is responsible for liaising with the Lodge Mentor.  For the avoidance of doubt the Lodge Mentor is responsible for coordinating and selecting suitable Brethren to be the personal mentors.  It is most certainly not the intention that the Lodge Mentor should carry out the task himself.   The personal mentor is best described as a friend and guide.

We all have our ideas about what mentoring is and, for that matter, what mentoring is not.  Indeed, some believe there is no need for mentoring and some believe they are already mentoring perfectly satisfactorily and so on.  These sentiments are perfectly understandable without an explanation of what we actually mean by mentoring and what we are trying to achieve. In an ideal world, mentoring would happen naturally anyway and that everyone would be looked after as a matter of course, and that this, in turn, would take care of issues such as recruitment, retention and retrieval – the three ‘Rs’.  Whatever your idea of mentoring might be, one of the aims we should all keep in mind is the promotion of an environment of belonging, understanding, involvement and enjoyment within the Lodge.  The skill will be to achieve this with a “light touch”.

But first, Brethren, the word mentoring itself is translated in so many ways – rather like our Masonry! Let me be quite clear – mentoring is not just about the Lodge of Instruction – valuable though that is for advancement in Masonic ritual.  Rather it is mostly about pastoral care – seeing the candidate is looked after, kept informed and that that support and care remains throughout each member’s Masonic life.

In terms of the mentoring scheme I see pastoral care – at the very least – being eighty per cent of what mentoring is all about.  Put simply, the real test is how you would like to have been welcomed when you first joined and how you would like to have been supported from then onwards.  I do not want, nor I am sure do any of us, to have a complicated or onerous scheme – rather one that is as natural as possible yet, at the same time, allowing consistency of advice and support.

Mentoring has essentially three stages.  The first two are in many ways obvious as they cover logistics, basic ritual meaning and developing a sense of belonging and the third – how to talk about our Freemasonry to the non Mason – needs more explanation as it links in with our overall communications strategy.  A strategy that supports an external facing organisation and underpins our new ambassadors’ scheme.

The first stage is for each candidate to understand the basic logistics that are involved in becoming a Freemason. It is really about a proper welcome.  I am not going into that detail today – other than to say that a candidate should never feel under briefed and should be made aware of his financial and time commitment. During this stage the personal mentor answers any questions the candidate may have for him to gain a sense of belonging.  In other words, there should never be any surprises.

The second stage is to understand the basics of the ritual, especially after initiation and then passing and raising.  But this understanding should be about the ability to answer questions about the myths that non Masons have – so that right from the start, members can counter the questions about the so-called funny hand shakes and then the nooses and trouser leg being rolled up – all these classics. The questions on the myths need to be answered accurately and without embarrassment.  I am not talking about an in depth knowledge, but more a common understanding. The Mentor can, of course, point them in the right direction for this additional and important information as they require it. It is not, however, part of the new mentoring scheme.

We all understand the need to look after candidates, but it is the third stage of giving the confidence – from the very outset – in order that you can speak to, in particular, family and friends about Freemasonry. That, Brethren, is vital to ensuring the future.  A candidate – and this applies equally to the rest of us – needs to understand how to talk to the non Mason about what Freemasonry means. The aim is to have as many members as possible as ambassadors to Freemasonry.

Brethren let me say straightaway that an ambassador is not a rank or office - it is a mode of behaviour. On the fundamental understanding that we recruit only people who live up to our principles – an ambassador will not only understand the basics of ritual but also, importantly will be able and willing, with our support and guidance, to talk to family and friends about their Freemasonry as and when appropriate. We need to have confidence in them to do so appropriately.  To quote the Grand Master, “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”. 

It is with these three stages in mind that the Grand Secretary’s working party is producing brief and succinct guidelines for the Mentor to give, in turn, to the personal mentors.

So Brethren the mentoring scheme is in place and evolving.  In March you will vote on whether you wish the appointment of Mentor to be an optional additional office.  In essence I see mentoring as a “light touch” resulting in everyone enjoying their Freemasonry even more and feeling comfortable and confident talking to their family and friends in an informed and relaxed way.

Mentoring is progressing well in our Districts.  Since the last Quarterly Communication I have travelled to Auckland, North Island New Zealand to install the new District Grand Master.  It was good to see that they were in excellent spirits. We should however continue to keep in mind the hardship of our Brethren in the South Island after the earthquakes and the severe damage that was caused, whilst remembering the continuing after shocks that they are still experiencing on a regular basis.

I also travelled to Georgetown, Guyana, with a brief visit to our Brethren in Port of Spain in Trinidad ‘en route’, where we ended up singing Christmas Carols on a November evening!

In Georgetown I attended the 9th Regional Conference of the District Grand Masters in the Caribbean and Western Atlantic before installing the new District Grand Master for Guyana. I have mentioned before how uplifting it is to see the enjoyment with which our brethren in the Caribbean go about their masonry and the pride they show in being members of the English fraternity.  I should add that this is not only true in the Caribbean, but can be seen in all our Districts that I have visited.

Finally I wish you all a very enjoyable Christmas and a happy New Year.

Published in Speeches

QUARTERLY COMMUNICATION
14 December 2011
A speech by VW Bro Graham Redman, Assistant Grand Secretary, and VW Bro John Hamill


GFR: MW Pro Grand Master and Brethren, the Minutes of the Premier or Moderns Grand Lodge for February 1811, record that

The Most Worshipful Acting Grand Master the Earl of Moira having expressed his intention of being installed previous to the Business of the Quarterly Communication this day and having signified his directions to the R.W. Master and Officers of the Lodge of Promulgation for that purpose they assembled at Free Masons’ Hall, at half past seven o’clock and required the attendance of all the Members of the Grand Lodge in the Committee Room to assist in the ceremony of installing the Acting Grand Master. The Lodge was then opened in the First Degree … The Earl of Moira was thereupon introduced … to receive the benefit of installation when the Ancient Charges and Regulations were read … to which His Lordship was pleased to give his unqualified approbation and assent. Such members of the Grand Lodge as were not actual installed Masters were then desired to withdraw and the Lodge was opened in the Third Degree and the Right Hon. The Earl of Moira was installed according to Ancient Custom Acting Grand Master of Mason[s] and duly invested and saluted on the occasion: after which the Lodge was closed in the Third Degree and subsequently in the First Degree and the usual procession being then formed the Acting Grand Master was conducted into the Hall where the Grand Lodge was opened in due form and the Laws relating to the behaviour of Masons in Grand Lodge were read.


JMH: MW Pro Grand Master and Brethren, it might seem odd to us today that the Acting (or as we would say Pro) Grand Master had not been properly installed. One of the ritual differences between the Moderns and Antients Grand Lodges was that in the Lodges of the former the installation was simply the ceremonial placing of the Master in the chair with no additional signs, tokens or words. Possibly due to their Irish origins, Lodges under the Antients Grand Lodge did have an inner working limited to Installed Masters. The Lodge of Promulgation, which had been set up by the Premier Grand Lodge in 1809 to bring its rituals into line with those of other Grand Lodges, recognised the Installation Ceremony as one of the true landmarks of the Order. Lord Moira’s very public installation was in a sense pour encourager les autres, for the Lodge of Promulgation continued to meet over the next few months to enable Masters and Past Masters of Lodges under the Premier Grand Lodge to receive the benefit of Installation.

GFR: As the final item of business that evening:

The Grand Treasurer moved That the Tickets for the Grand Feast be in future delivered by the Stewards at One Guinea each instead of half a Guinea, which being seconded, an amendment was duly moved that the Tickets should be fifteen shillings: and the Question being put on the said amendment. It passed in the affirmative.

JMH: It says much for the economic stability of the last half of the 18th century that the cost of tickets for the annual Grand Feast had been set at half a guinea (52½ pence in our terms) for more than forty years! Then, as now, the Grand Stewards had the privilege of making up the short fall between monies received from ticket sales and the actual cost of the Grand Feast. Clearly the difference had become onerous by 1811 and this motion by the Grand Treasurer John Bayford, himself a Past Grand Steward, sought to redress the situation. Grand Lodge, as was to often happen in the 19th century, agreed the rise but only at half of the rate requested!

GFR: The only other matter of interest that year was at the April Communication, when

The Grand Lodge proceeded to take into consideration the following motion which was duly made and seconded at the last Grand Lodge, vizt: “That the Thanks of the Grand Lodge be given to Brothers James Earnshaw, James Deans, William Henry White and Charles Bonnor the Officers and to the several other members of the Lodge of Promulgation for their labors respectively; and that a Blue Apron be presented to Brothers Deans and Bonnor, Officers of that Lodge who do not at present possess the same and that they be requested to wear such Apron in all future meetings of the Society. And also that they be considered Members of the Hall Committee.

And the Question being put thereon it duly passed in the Affirmative.

JMH: The work of the Lodge of Promulgation brought the ceremonies of the Premier Grand Lodge into line with those of Ireland and Scotland and thereby with the Antients Grand Lodge, removing a number of potential obstacles to the proposed . Blue lined and edged aprons were restricted to the actual Grand Officers and those who had served in those high offices. As there was no concept of appointing Brethren to past ranks, with the exception of Princes of the Blood Royal who were usually appointed Past Grand Masters within a short time of their being initiated, James Deans and Charles Bonner were singularly honoured by this motion. Deans became the actual Junior Grand Warden in 1812.

GFR: Rather more was going on – though perhaps not much more being achieved – in the Antients or Atholl Grand Lodge. To remind you, in May 1810 that Grand Lodge had passed a threefold resolution setting out its requirements for a with the Moderns: first uniformity of Obligation and Rules; secondly, the Grand Lodge to consist of the Masters, Wardens and all Past Masters of the respective Lodges; thirdly, a monthly disbursement of Masonic benevolence. At its meeting in March 1811, the report of the Committee appointed to meet the Moderns’ Committee was received, setting out the Moderns’ responses to the threefold resolution:

To the First resolution ... That the [Moderns] Grand Lodge had resolved to return to the Ancient Land Marks of Masonry and in order to a perfect of the two Grand Lodges they will consent to the same Obligations and continue to abide by the Ancient Land Marks of Masonry when it should be ascertained what those Ancient Land Marks and Obligations were.

To the Second resolution the Committee of the [Moderns] Grand Lodge submitted .... That a true representation of all the warranted Lodges in and adjacent to London and Westminster should consist of the Master and Wardens with one Past Master from each Lodge that to admit all Past Masters would be inconvenient and if admitted could not be said to be a true and prefect representation of all the Lodges …

To the Third resolution, ... The Committee of the [Moderns] Grand Lodge agreed with the resolutions of the Antients Grand Lodge, the whole of this and all other minor concerns to be nevertheless discussed by a joint Committee of Masters to be chosen and appointed by the two Grand Lodges respectively to meet thereon and finally to conclude and arrange all matters relating to an of the two Grand Lodges.

A resolution that the Antients’ Committee be empowered to accede to such modification or alteration of the second resolution, respecting Past Masters, as might appear to them expedient and necessary for fully accomplishing a between the two Grand Lodges was, after a long and protracted discussion, defeated by a very large majority.

JMH: As I remarked last year when the three resolutions were first proposed in the Antients Grand Lodge, the second resolution regarding the composition of the United Grand Lodge was to cause problems leading to an almost childish reaction on the part of the Premier Grand Lodge. Membership of the Premier Grand Lodge was limited to the present and former Grand Officers, the Master and Wardens of each Lodge and representatives from the Grand Stewards’ Lodge. Membership of the Antients Grand Lodge encompassed present and former Grand Officers, Masters and Wardens of Lodges and all subscribing Past Masters. Not surprisingly, the Antients were not willing to deprive Past Masters of their Lodges of a privilege they had held from the start of that Grand Lodge. When asking the Premier Grand Lodge to explain their stance, the only response they got was that if all Past Masters were included there would not be a room large enough in which to hold meetings of the proposed United Grand Lodge!

At the meeting of the Antients in May a compromise was suggested, whereby those who were Past Masters at 24 June 1811 would continue to have the right to be members of the proposed United Grand Lodge, but after 24 June 1811 only the actual – or as we would say Immediate – Past Masters of Lodges would qualify as members of the new body. As the Minutes record, however, “After some discussion and long debate thereon and the question being put passed in the negative by a large majority”. Back to square one!

GFR: At the September Communication of the Grand Lodge a letter dated 5 June from the Grand Secretary of the Moderns was read, which reported that he had laid before the Earl of Moira and the Moderns’ Committee a letter reporting the decision of the Antients Grand Lodge and continued:

I am directed by his Lordship and the Committee to acquaint you for the information of the Grand Lodge under His Grace the Duke of Atholl that it appears to them wholly unnecessary and nugatory, that any further Meeting between the two Committees should take place at present in as much as the Committee of the Grand Lodge under the Duke of Atholl is not furnished with any sufficient powers to enter into the discussion or arrangements of the various subjects necessary to the proposed as is sufficiently manifest from the circumstance of the Grand Lodge under His Grace the Duke of Atholl having at different times negatived propositions which its Committee had acceded to thereby annulling and frustrating concessions which the Grand Lodge under the Prince Regent had professed itself upon certain points willing to make. I am further directed by his Lordship and the Committee to acquaint you that whenever the Committee from your Grand Lodge shall be invested with the powers specified in my letter of 26th January last the Committee of the Grand Lodge under His Royal Highness the Prince Regent will be most ready to meet and confer with them in the hope and expectation of finding a cordial and sincere desire correspondent with their own, for effecting a of the two Societies upon terms honorable and equal to both.

The matter was then deferred to a meeting of the Grand Lodge held on 9 October, when a Committee was at last appointed – and by a large majority – with full powers to carry into effect the measure of a Masonic , subject to a specific Instruction on the entitlement of Past Masters to attend Grand Lodge.

JMH: Correspondence between Lord Moira and Grand Secretary White shows that his Lordship was becoming increasingly angry at the delays caused by the Antients Commissioners for not having full power to decide matters but having to report back to a quarterly meeting of their Grand Lodge on every small decision. He was conscious that his time was limited as in 1812 he was being posted to India as Governor and Commander-in-Chief at Bengal and wanted matters settled before he departed. It took all of White’s diplomatic skills to dissuade Moira, writing direct to the Duke of Atholl demanding action or a complete cessation of the negotiations. Instead, White wrote the letter we have just heard and in October the Antients agreed a compromise and allowed their Commissioners full powers.

It was perhaps as a result of this, and to limit the number of future Past Masters, that at its meeting on 4th December 1811 the Antients Grand Lodge adopted two regulations which still stand today: that no one could be elected to the Master’s Chair until he had served for twelve months as a Warden, and that no Brother would be entitled to the privileges of a Past Master unless he had served a full twelve months as Master of his Lodge. Previously to this it had been the custom in both Grand Lodges for the installation of the Master to take place twice each year, on the two feasts of St John, and the Warden qualification did not exist. Indeed, under both Grand Lodges it was constitutionally possible for a Fellowcraft to be elected Master, the reasons why today we still say the Master is elected by “his brethren and fellows in open lodge assembled” and why he takes the obligation as to his duties as Master in the second degree.


GFR: 1911 was a relatively uneventful year. In March the Pro Grand Master, Lord Ampthill, announced that he was

Commanded by the Most Worshipful Grand Master to inform you that he intends to preside over the Festival of Grand Lodge on the 26th April. I believe that the opportunity which will be afforded by His Royal Highness’s gracious intention is one that anticipates the heartfelt desire of all Freemasons.

JMH: The reason was that at the request of His Majesty the King, the Duke of Connaught had accepted the Governor Generalship of Canada, which would lead to his protracted absence abroad. To meet the expected demand from those wishing to attend, the Investiture was moved to the Royal Albert Hall. A huge amount of work went into the preparation of the meeting, attended by over 6,000 Brethren. Disaster struck! The Grand Master was struck down by bronchitis and held prisoner by his doctors! A loyal address was moved expressing disappointment, wishing him a speedy relief and a safe journey to his onerous duties in Canada. At the June Quarterly Communication a further message was received from the Grand Master in which, inter alia, he said: “It has been a source of deep gratification to me to have held for eleven years that post of Grand Master of English Freemasons, in which my dear brother King Edward VII took such pride, and while I have considered it a solemn duty to carry on his work I have not been forgetful of the great advantage to myself of my association with the Craft. Wherever I have been I have felt that proud assurance that I had you watchful sympathy and interest in my welfare. I know that scarcely a day has passed on which bodies of Freemasons, all over the Empire, have not wished me well at their Festive assemblies and listened with sympathetic attention to kind words which have been said about me. I can assure you Brethren, that I have not regarded all this as mere formality and that I have attached the highest value to your personal and fraternal goodwill.”

GFR: In June the Board of General Purposes reported that, acting on the recommendation of the Officers and Clerks Committee, it had resolved

to recommend to Grand Lodge that the salary of the Grand Secretary be increased to £2,000 a year, as from the 1st January last, on the understanding that such increase shall not be considered as a permanent endowment of the office of Grand Secretary but solely as a personal recognition of the services which have been rendered to Freemasonry by the present Grand Secretary.

The Report of the Board was taken as read and confirmed, the recommendations contained therein adopted, and the Report entered on the Minutes.

JMH: Until 1909 the appointment of staff from the Grand Secretary downwards, their terms, conditions and salaries had all been debated in Grand Lodge. The setting up of the Officers and Clerks Committee of the Board in that year removed much of the debate, except for additional finance, out of Grand Lodge. The Grand Secretary, Sir Edward Letchworth was indefatigable and much liked, hence the ready agreement to the motion. The present Grand Secretary might be interested to know that the purchasing power of £2,000 in 1911 equates to over £150,000 today!

GFR: The year ended with some sad news: the death of W Bro Henry Sadler, first the Grand Tyler and then the Librarian and Curator of the Grand Lodge, and therefore in the latter capacity one of the predecessors of my co-presenter, who can pay a far more eloquent tribute to him than I could hope to do.

JMH: My co-presenter is, as always, correct! (Laughter) Henry Sadler is one of my Masonic heroes. Indeed it could be argued that had he not worked at Freemasons’ Hall I might well not be standing before you today. Sadler joined the staff in 1865 as an assistant to the Grand Tyler, being appointed to that office in 1879. As Grand Tyler, in addition to ceremonial work, he was responsible for the running and letting of Freemasons’ Hall and was provided with an apartment in the building. Fascinated by history he spent most of his spare time searching cupboards and cellars locating all the archives of the two previous Grand Lodges, the United Grand Lodge and Supreme Grand Chapter. When in 1887 the Board revived the moribund Library and Museum with the Grand Secretary as nominal Librarian, Sadler was appointed sub-Librarian and quickly set to, expanding the collections. He quickly became known to the growing group of Masonic historians both at home and abroad, all of whom acknowledged his help and knowledge. When the house next door to Freemasons’ Hall was acquired in 1904 for additional office space, such had been Sadler’s work that the main rooms were set aside as a Library and Museum. His work was crowned in 1910 when he was appointed the first Librarian and Curator of Grand Lodge and was elected Master of the renowned Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076. The many tributes to his memory praised his kindness, helpfulness and great willingness to share with others what he had learned from the treasures under his care. He was certainly one who “lived respected and died regretted” and, one hundred years later, Masonic historians still revere his memory.

Published in Speeches

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
Page 8 of 16

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