With mentoring high on the agenda, Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes takes the opportunity to give clarity and perspective to what it means for Freemasons
You have all heard 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 own ideas about what mentoring is and, for that matter, what it is not. Indeed, some believe there is no need for mentoring and some believe they are already mentoring perfectly satisfactorily. These sentiments are 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, everyone would be looked after as a matter of course, and 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, let’s look at the word ‘mentoring’, which 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 that 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 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 to have a complicated or onerous scheme but rather one that is as natural as possible yet, at the same time, allows consistency of advice and support.
Mentoring has essentially three stages. The first two are straightforward as they cover logistics, basic ritual meaning and developing a sense of belonging. The third – how to talk about our Freemasonry to the non-mason – needs more explanation as it links in with our overall communications 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. Essentially, they should get a proper welcome. A candidate should never feel under-briefed and should be made aware of his financial and time commitments. 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. Right from the start, members can counter the questions about the so-called funny handshakes, the nooses and trouser leg being rolled up. The questions 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 them the confidence from the very outset in order that they can speak to family and friends about Freemasonry. This is vital to ensuring our future. A candidate needs to understand how to talk to the non-mason about what Freemasonry means and we aim to have as many members as possible being ambassadors for Freemasonry. 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 will also talk to others about their Freemasonry.
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 succinct mentor guidelines. I see mentoring as a ‘light touch’ resulting in everyone enjoying their Freemasonry even more and feeling comfortable in talking
to their family and friends in an informed and relaxed way.
Letters to the Editor - FreemasonryToday No.18 - SUMMER 2012
I believe the one-to-one relationship is essential between candidate and mentor and it is good to see the lodge mentor’s role described as ‘co-ordinating and selecting brethren to be personal mentors’. Freemasonry proved to be a strong bond between my father-in-law and myself and I have always been appreciative of the shared interest, as well as the support he gave me.
Dr Cliff Jones, resident at RMBI care home Connaught Court in York, has celebrated 60 years in Freemasonry. His home held a sherry morning to celebrate the event, which was attended by Deputy Provincial Grand Master of Yorkshire, North and East Ridings, Jeffrey Gillyon, and members of Humber Lodge No 57.
Jeffrey presented Cliff with a certificate and jewel to commemorate his masonic career. Cliff started his career in Freemasonry in 1951, aged 22, after being inspired by the headmaster of his school. He became Third Provincial Grand Principal in the Royal Arch and was a founding member of Mitre Chapter of York No.7321.
The Deputy Provincial Grand Master concluded, ‘Cliff is a true gentleman.’
Since the Royal Arch Masons 2013 Bicentenary Appeal for the Royal College of Surgeons was launched last November, close to £200,000 has been donated. As we move towards the bicentenary in 2013, I encourage you in your fundraising endeavours to continue to request presentations from a Royal College team. These presentations could be at your annual Provincial meetings, for example, so that the companions in your Province can fully understand the important work that the research fellows can undertake as a result of our continued support.
The First Grand Principal summed up the importance of the appeal 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.’
While the appeal is a highly visible external contribution from the Royal Arch, there are other areas that we all ought, as members of the order, to be looking at to give the Royal Arch a higher profile. For example, it is critical that we encourage new members towards exaltation as this will be the completion of the pure ancient masonry that they have discovered during the ceremonies of initiation, passing and raising in the Craft – most particularly the latter. 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?
ENSURING maximum involvement
This is not just about keeping member numbers up, it is also about making sure there is 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.
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 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. The editor of Freemasonry Today is keen to receive more stories on the Royal Arch for consideration and possible inclusion. The Provincial Information Officers also have a key role to play here and are well briefed on the process for submission for both the magazine and the website.
We are now starting to work on the new website for the Royal Arch to bring it both up-to-date and in line with all the other communications initiatives that have been recently launched. 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.
Royal Arch representatives are already in many of our lodges and one of the key decisions is in determining when it 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. But is this best done after they have been raised and 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. Fundamental is establishing the relevance to prospective candidates of the order that all who have already been exalted enjoy.
In 1872, the Lodge of Harmony, No. 1411, was consecrated in ValparaÍso, Chile. It is the only English Lodge meeting on the west coast of all the Americas and comes under the immediate supervision of our District for South America Southern Division. It was formed with the agreement of the Grand Lodge of Chile, then just 10 years old, and has always had happy relations with that body and its lodges.
There was no tradition of Royal Arch Masonry in Chile, where Master Masons who wished to extend their masonic experience joined the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of 33 degrees. That changed last year when the Grand Lodge of Chile agreed to its three lodges being able to work the Royal Arch. The Lodge of Harmony immediately contacted one of their initiates, now resident in England, Nicholas Bosanquet, Grand Sword Bearer and a former Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies, and asked him to liaise with Grand Chapter on their behalf.
Nicholas contacted the then Deputy Metropolitan Grand Superintendent for London, Charles Grace, who put him in touch with Wandle Chapter, No. 2699. This Chapter was in the sad position of being about to close only two years short of achieving their centenary. The Wandle companions were delighted that their Chapter would be able to continue, rather than dying, albeit many thousands of miles from London. They readily agreed to be taken over, and on 15 February 2011, 15 companions from South America Southern Division became joining members of Wandle Chapter. The first meeting was held in ValparaÍso, with great celebrations, on 16 May.
The chapter was founded and named after Rowland George Venables, who became the first Grand Superintendent for Shropshire when the Royal Arch Province was formed in 1913. The day was marked by the exaltation of Kevin Gwilliam, bringing chapter membership to 50.
First Principal David Griffin presented inscribed centenary whisky tumblers to those gathered, while a raffle raised funds for The Royal Arch Masons Bicentenary Appeal 2013 for the Royal College of Surgeons, adding to money already raised from the alms donations for the same cause.
On 16th May 2011 one of the most far-flung lodges of our English Constitution realised its dream of over a century to establish a Royal Arch chapter attached to it.
In 1872 Lodge of Harmony No. 1411 was consecrated in Valparaiso, Chile, the principal port and trading post of the country, dominated at the time by English merchants. It still meets in the same building where it started life, in a side street off one of the main thoroughfares and under the steep hills (cerros) of this rather scruffy but enchanting typical port city. It is the only Lodge under the jurisdiction of UGLE on the West Coast of all the Americas and falls within our District of South America Southern Division, which has its headquarters in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
So, why has it taken so long for the Royal Arch to reach Chile?
Lodge of Harmony was formed in the days before the current convention was agreed between Grand Lodges of the World, that no foreign Grand Lodge should form a lodge under its jurisdiction in a country with a local Grand Lodge already established. By 1872 the Grand Lodge of Chile had already been in existence for 10 years: so their support was needed by the Harmony founders to form an English lodge under the jurisdiction of UGLE, which was duly given.
The Grand Lodge of Chile works the first three degrees under the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite, which enables brethren to pass on to ‘higher degrees’ after reaching the final Craft degree of a Master Mason. Under this Rite, the Royal Arch is neither recognised nor required as a completion of the Third Degree, principally as the story of the Royal Arch is covered in ‘higher degrees’, particularly the 14º to 16º, albeit differently. Consequently, in Chile, particularly owing to this difference, there has been long resistance to allowing the very few Chilean lodges (3) that exceptionally practise the Emulation or York rites to attach a Royal Arch chapter to their lodges. Several appeals were made to the Grand Lodge during the 20th Century by these lodges to grant them leave to form Royal Arch chapters, even under foreign jurisdictions. It was not until June 2010 that the Grand Lodge of Chile, acting under the initiative of its outgoing Grand Master, Juan José Oyarzún, eventually passed a decree permitting Chilean lodges that practise the Emulation or York rites to form Royal Arch chapters.
Lodge of Harmony, as an English lodge, has never been under the same restrictions, a fact that was recognised under treaty between our respective Grand Lodges. However, as Harmony owes its formation to support from the Grand Lodge of Chile, lives isolated from other English lodges making inter-visiting only possible with Chilean lodges and consequently has not wanted to risk any potential offence to the Grand Lodge of Chile, with whom UGLE has been in amity since 1862, the Lodge has hitherto refrained from pursuing this course out of respect for Chilean masons. That self-imposed restraint was released with the issue of the decree from the Grand Lodge of Chile last year.
Knowing of the intentions of the Chilean Grand Master and in anticipation of realising the Lodge’s dream, 6 members of Harmony were exalted together into Lomas Chapter 2517 in Buenos Aires in April 2010 with another member, already a RA mason (exalted in London), joining at the same time.
The members of Harmony, supported by the District Grand Superintendent, E Comp Jock Rodger, lost no time in setting about establishing a RA chapter for the Lodge with the objective to be the first in the country to do so, after the issue of the Chilean decree. Having aborted an initial idea to consecrate a new chapter, the decision was taken for expediency to take over an existing chapter from England. As the only member living in England and best placed to make the necessary arrangements, E Comp Nick Bosanquet PDepGDC initiated the process last autumn and with strong support from Metropolitan Grand Chapter and the then Deputy Metropolitan Grand Superintendent, E Comp Charles Grace PGSN, in particular, a struggling London chapter was soon found as a potential candidate for transfer out to Chile.
After hearing the story and attracted by the historic nature of the project, the members of Wandle Chapter No. 2699, persuaded by their charismatic Scribe E, E Comp Alan Linton, readily agreed to the transfer, encouraged by the fact that their Chapter would not now sink into oblivion within just two years of celebrating its Centenary, but play a leading role in establishing the Royal Arch firmly in Chile. On 15th February this year, 14 Companions joined Wandle Chapter from the District of South America Southern Division – 8 from Chile (including E Comp Bosanquet) and 6 from Argentina, including the GS, the 2nd District Grand Principal, the 3rd District Grand Principal, the District GDC and District Scribe E. Meeting in a small chapter room at Clerkenwell Masonic Centre, it was perhaps fortunate that not all of these joining members could attend. The South Americans were represented by E Comp Bosanquet, who was elected Scribe E of the Chapter during this last meeting in London, a very sad occasion for the stoic ‘old’ members. In recognition of and gratitude for their magnanimous generosity, the South Americans subsequently elected all the London members to Honorary Membership.
There then followed a frantic period of sourcing chapter furniture and regalia as none existed in Chile. Following appeals to Provinces by E Comp Bosanquet, many generous Companions responded promptly to the call. Some items could be made up locally, for which copious specifications with supporting photographs from a chapter room set up in Duke Street, St James’s, were sent out to Chile. The most difficult items to find were going to be Banners and Ensigns, as these typically belong to Masonic centres rather than individual chapters, with Robes and Sceptres likely to prove challenging too. Furthermore, everything had to be in Chile well before 16th May, the day set for the first meeting of the Chapter in its new home.
Out of the blue and to enormous relief, through assiduous action by Provincial Grand Officers in Shropshire, Fitz Alan Chapter No.1432 in Oswestry, which had commissioned new Banners and Ensigns in 2010, most generously donated their old set. These were delivered to an exceedingly grateful E Comp Bosanquet by E Comp Mike Parry PPrGSN of Fitz Alan Chapter within days before a large box of kit was shipped out to Chile with everything else acquired from England.
Supreme Grand Chapter presented the Chapter with a fine set of Robes and surplices, whilst a set of long-forgotten Sceptres was discovered still in good condition in Buenos Aires during refurbishment of the District Grand Lodge premises earlier in the year and donated to the Chapter by the District Grand Chapter together with tools and an engraved trowel, the latter a personal gift of the Third District Grand Principal, E Comp Neville Glynn.
The day of the first meeting in Valparaiso fell on a Monday. So, in true South American fashion, the weekend before was fiesta time to celebrate the historic event. Six members of the District flew over from Buenos Aires to join the Harmony brethren for three days of parties, lunches and dinners in Valparaiso and along the coastal resort towns nearby, indulging in copious quantities of Chile’s famous seafood, wines and, of course, pisco sour – pisco being a 40-proof local liqueur made from grape. Between the partying, just enough time was squeezed in with the help of wives, girlfriends and even sons and daughters to provide finishing touches to the furniture and rig the temple for the momentous meeting.
The Masonic Hall in Calle Wagner is owned by Harmony along with two smaller lodges – one American, one German. The building has been ravaged by several earthquakes in its time and was largely rebuilt in the 1970s, like a ‘bunker’, with the help of funding from UGLE, after a particularly violent quake. As a consequence, the building was able to withstand the second most violent earthquake in the country’s history, in February 2010, without suffering too much serious damage. The last of the repairs (to damaged lavatories), again assisted by funds from UGLE, were being completed as the temple was being rigged for the first Chapter meeting. Miraculously, the large temple, with its magnificent entrance columns and painted wooden ceiling of the night sky, has survived these natural disasters and looked magnificent in its new livery as a Royal Arch chapter
The first meeting of Wandle Chapter in Chile conveniently coincided with its annual Installation meeting. Sadly but understandably none of the London members were able to make the long journey out. However, besides the 14 members, 9 guests attended to witness the historic occasion, mostly Chilean RA masons who were members of an Argentine chapter in Mendoza, the wine capital of Argentina just across the Andes from Chile’s Capital City, Santiago.
E Comp Jock Rodger, District Grand Superintendent, accompanied by E Comp Philip Thompson, Second District Grand Principal, and E Comp Neville Glynn, Third District Grand Principal, opened the Chapter soon after 8 in the evening. After important administrative matters to deal with the transfer from London to Valparaiso, a short ceremony was performed to reconfirm the dedication of the temple to include Royal Arch masonry, before installation of the new Principals – E Comps Philip Thompson as MEZ, Neville Glynn as H, and John MacGregor as J. E Comp Nick Bosanquet handed over as Sc E to Comp Francisco Díaz, only to find the Principals with typical local humour appointing him at the end as Steward, a task that he will find difficult to administer from over 7,000 miles away. Other offices were taken by Comps Dragutín Paic as Sc N and Fernando Bórquez as Treasurer, E Comps Dennis Crisp (DGDC) as DC and Ernesto Marcer (DGScE) as Principal Sojourner, Comps Germán Buchheister and Enrique Cánepa as 1st and 2nd Assistant Sojourners, Erwald Finsterbuch as ADC and Kurt Baum as Janitor.
Proceedings were completed by 10:15, when members and their guests, after viewing a display of Wandle Chapter artefacts brought out from England, retired downstairs to the bar with a roaring fire (being winter in the Southern Hemisphere) for Scotch and pisco sours before dinner of traditional Chilean fare and wines. Toasts as usual were not proposed until after midnight.
It is gratifying to see English Freemasonry leading the initiative to establish the Royal Arch properly in Chile. The determination and dedication of the Harmony brethren has enabled this. However, with a lack of experienced companions in Valparaiso, the commitment of the six members from Buenos Aires to fill key offices and enable the Chapter to function is nothing short of heroic, especially without the benefit of an EasyJet or RyanAir in South America.
The Chapter expects most, if not all, MM of the Lodge of Harmony to join and hopes also to attract Chilean masons in the future … but they will have to speak English.
Since this first meeting in Valparaiso, there have been two further meetings with double Exaltation ceremonies at each. The first of these, in early July, took place soon after the volcanic eruption in Southern Chile cast a dense ash cloud across the Argentine halting flights out of Buenos Aires. This prevented the Argentine members of the Chapter from flying across to Chile for that meeting. Without these senior experienced companions the meeting would have had to be abandoned. The MEZ of the Chapter sent a message to the Chilean members - “maybe The Almighty is testing us to see if our Chapter is strong enough; look for Plan B”. An SOS was sent to the Chilean companions of the Mendoza chapter, who had attended the May meeting, for help. In a display of true Masonic fraternity they appeared in force to assist - in itself another historic moment for RA Masonry in Chile. Since these events these Chilean companions have been given permission by the Grand Lodge of Chile to move the meetings of their Chapter from Argentina to Chile.
Overall a great result!
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.
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
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.
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
Royal Arch Masons and Knights Templar at Redruth, Cornwall, 1791–1828, C J Mandleberg and L.W. Davies, QCCC Ltd.