Wednesday, 28 April 2010 11:51

Grand Master’s address - April 2010

ANNUAL CRAFT INVESTITURE

28 APRIL 2010

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

Brethren,
I want first to congratulate very warmly all those that I have had the pleasure to appoint or promote this afternoon and to welcome all those of you who are here to support them. Grand Rank is only conferred after much consideration and is a rare accolade given both in acknowledgement of good work done and , more importantly, in anticipation of future endeavours. Be assured that the rest of the Craft members will be looking to you both for leadership, particularly in the important area of mentoring, and to set the highest standards in all your activities at all times. There are many situations when these attributes will be called for and humility will be a common thread in all of them.

Published in Speeches
Wednesday, 11 March 2009 11:08

Grand Master’s address - March 2009

QUARTERLY COMMUNICATION

11 MARCH 2009

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

Brethren,
First thank you for re-electing me as Grand Master and let me say a very warm welcome to you all at this historic Quarterly Communication. Historic, as I have just had the pleasure of installing Most Worshipful Brother Peter Lowndes as the Pro Grand Master, and Right Worshipful Brother Jonathan Spence as the Deputy Grand Master. This is a major event in our Masonic history that will long remain in your memories. I know that you will want to join me in offering these two distinguished Brethren our heartfelt congratulations. I am delighted that Right Worshipful Brother David Williamson has agreed to continue as Assistant Grand Master and I thank him for all he has already achieved in this important office. This team, with their wealth of experience will, I know, build on our recent successes and lead the Craft with inspiration towards 2017 - our three hundredth anniversary.

Published in Speeches
Wednesday, 30 April 2008 01:00

Grand Master's address - April 2008

ANNUAL CRAFT INVESTITURE
30 APRIL 2008
AN ADDRESS BY THE MW THE GRAND MASTER HRH THE DUKE OF KENT, KG

Brethren,

I begin as always by saying a very warm welcome to everyone attending our Grand Lodge meeting today and I warmly congratulate all those whom I have had the pleasure of investing with Grand Rank or promoting to higher office. As Grand Officers you have an important leadership part to play in the future of Freemasonry. By leadership, I mean setting consistently high standards in your own Masonic life as well as demonstrating your understanding of the meaning of the ritual and the principles and tenets of the Craft. This understanding will help you to guide others at all stages of their Masonic journey, whilst encouraging them all to talk openly about their Freemasonry to potential candidates, family and acquaintances.

There is, however, a caveat. Brethren, although you will naturally feel some personal satisfaction at achieving such offices, I know you will all remember the words we hear each year at our Lodge installations, that humility in each is an essential qualification. And I have no doubt that that injunction should apply at least as much to those who are Grand Officers as to more junior Brethren.

Last November, I hosted a reception and dinner on the eve of the European Grand Masters’ Meeting. This was the first such meeting and was thus an historic occasion for representatives of forty-four European Grand Lodges, which included no less than forty-one Grand Masters. It was the most representative gathering of the leaders of regular Freemasonry in Europe that has ever been held. The Pro Grand Master planned it as a one-off meeting so that we, as the mother Grand Lodge, could make clear our views on regularity, recognition and sovereignty.

The Pro Grand Master set out our position on regularity emphasising that it is not Freemasonry as a whole, but the individual Mason, instilled with the principles and tenets of the Craft, who has a positive influence on society. My view is that communication between us all is essential to the future well-being of regular Freemasonry, and I can see no reason why such gatherings should not occur from time to time in the future.

I spoke last year about the Rulers’ Forum, and said then that I should be happy if it achieved a focus for grass-roots Masons to debate issues, which concern you all, with the Rulers and other senior members of the Craft and to act as a conduit for disseminating the results through their Groups to Lodges. I was, therefore, happy to hear that during the year three of the Rulers’ Forum Groups were given the task of identifying and collating best practice from Mentoring Schemes across the country. The project team has seen Masons from eight different Provinces working together, sharing ideas and, importantly, learning from each other. They have now presented their conclusions both to the Rulers’ Forum and at the last Quarterly Communication.

Their ideas support the aim of recruiting and then retaining men of quality. The successful retention of these men will involve the careful selection of Mentors at Lodge level so that, once initiated, each member is fully supported throughout his Masonic journey. The Brethren selected as Mentors will be those who can provide the time and knowledge required to care for the candidate and then to develop his understanding of our Order and how it translates into his everyday life.

Brethren, there have been a number of advances since this time last year which I believe will bring substantial benefits. For example, the new magazine, Freemasonry Today, has been successfully launched, and I am confident it will become a major channel for our open communications. In addition, the four Masonic Charities have all now congregated in this building, a move which will result in cost savings as well as leading, I hope, to a better understanding by the Brethren in London and the Provinces of the roles of each of the Charities. With so many successful initiatives having been launched since I last addressed Grand Lodge, I see this coming year as one of consolidation.

Finally, Brethren, I know you would all want me to express our thanks to the Grand Director of Ceremonies and his team for the meticulous way in which they have run this meeting, as well as to the Grand Secretary and his staff for their careful and thorough organisation.

Published in Speeches
Monday, 01 October 2007 01:00

Jersey: Local Masons guard the Duke

Earlier this year, HRH The Duke of Kent visited the island of Jersey to commemorate the liberation of the islanders from the German occupation forces in 1945.

The hospitality of the Governor of Jersey was at his disposal and it fell to the honorary police force – the ‘centeniers’ – to assist in his protection at Government House in the Parish of St. Saviour, covering continuous duties for 48 hours. 

The Duke was representing the Queen, but the Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England was being guarded by three fellow Masons, all centeniers. 

The role of the centeniers is a long and honourable one, having been mentioned in 1502. The force provides support to the States Police, yet the centenier has greater powers, in that only they can charge an accused and bring them to court. 

They, along with their vingteniers and constables, are the front line to the community, and it is the centenier who acts as parish magistrate, offering words of advice and issuing cautions, fines and eventually prosecutions. 

The centeniers have carried out such functions recently as protection to the Queen, Prince Charles, the Princess Royal and regular Government House community functions, which are all part of their responsibilities. 

In 2003, the greatest honour bestowed on the honorary police was to receive the Queen’s Jubilee Award for the vital role of voluntary service within the community.

For further details go to www.jerseyhonorarypolice.org and the Jersey Masonic website at www.jerseymason.org.uk and learn of the many years of service given by the local masonic community, its charitable work and history, which includes the sacking of the island’s temple by German forces during the Second World War.

Published in UGLE
Wednesday, 25 April 2007 16:18

Grand Master's address - April 2007

ANNUAL CRAFT INVESTITURE

25 APRIL 2007

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

Brethren,
I start by saying a very warm welcome to everyone attending our Grand Lodge meeting today and I congratulate all those whom I have had the pleasure of investing with Grand Rank or promoting to higher office. 

As Grand Officers, I would remind you that you have an important leadership role to play in the Craft. As well as continuing to set high standards for the Craft to follow, I hope you will also be active in promoting greater openness about our Freemasonry, which I consider essential.

Together with helping us to understand our own place in Freemasonry, this more open approach should also ensure we are better prepared to explain our Masonry to our family, friends and acquaintances.

There is no doubt in my mind Brethren, that with today’s rapidly changing society, Freemasonry is more relevant than at any other time.

Many of you will be aware that the four main Masonic charities, the Grand Charity, the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys, the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution and the Masonic Samaritan Fund will shortly all be under one roof here at Freemasons’ Hall.

This move will, I believe, bring enormous benefits. I have in mind, for example, increased liaison between the charities themselves and between them and the United Grand Lodge of England, as well as shared resources.

The Rulers’ Forum had its first meeting in December, and from all the comments I have had, it has got off to a good start. I will be happy if it achieves three things.

First, there are many excellent initiatives coming out of London and the Provinces which, because of geographical reasons and lack of communication, are only taken up by a few and not disseminated to a wider audience. The teddy bear children’s hospital scheme is an example of how slowly a good idea percolates through our organisation.

The Rulers’ Forum should act as a central exchange for new ideas.

Secondly, much effort is wasted duplicating things which could be used uniformly by us all. Many Provinces, for instance, have their own booklets for Initiates, Fellow Crafts and Master Masons.

Then there are booklets on the work of the Almoners, Charity Stewards and other Lodge Officers as well as on mentor schemes and our charities.

I believe a lot of effort and cost could be saved if we took the best points from all of them and created something uniform which we could all use.

One group in the Rulers’ Forum is doing just that for mentor schemes, and it will be interesting to see how that develops.

Thirdly, it must act as a forum for grass roots Masons to debate issues, which concern us all, with the Rulers and other senior members of the Craft, and act as a conduit for disseminating the results through their groups to the Lodges.

In the course of the memorable and most enjoyable meeting of the 150th anniversary of the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons, where I was present as a guest of their Grand Master, my brother Prince Michael, I had the opportunity to see also many other long established, well-known and respected Orders of Masonry to which many Craft members belong. I believe this may be a good moment for me to say something about them.

The Preliminary Declaration of the Act of of the two Grand Lodges in December 1813, says that it was ‘declared and announced that pure Antient Masonry consists of three degrees and no more’, that is to say ‘Entered Apprentice, the Fellow Craft and the Master Mason, including the Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch’.

This has been the position for nearly 200 years and will remain unchanged.

However, since many members of the Craft are members of these Orders, I am pleased to acknowledge formally their existence and regularity, and in particular their sovereignty and independence.

The best known of these orders are:

Mark, Ancient and Accepted Rite, Knights Templar, Royal and Select Masters, Royal Ark Mariner, Red Cross of Constantine, Allied Masonic Degrees, Order of the Secret Monitor and Knight Templar Priests.

I also accept the valuable role they play in providing additional scope for Brethren to extend their Masonic research in interesting and enjoyable ways.

The Orders I have just mentioned are simply the best known and largest of those practised in London, the Provinces and Districts overseas. I am aware that there are in addition others that have a valid place in Freemasonry and with whom we enjoy a good relationship. What is important is that Brethren who join these other Orders still retain their membership of a Craft Lodge, and I am pleased that the Orders will be encouraging their members to do so.

In early March, Brethren, I was in Ghana to celebrate the 50th anniversary of that country’s independence. During my visit I also attended the 75th anniversary of the District Grand Lodge of Ghana. At the meeting, attended by nearly 500 Brethren, I appointed Brother His Majesty Osei Tutu, King of the Ashanti, to Past Senior Grand Deacon and I am pleased to have invested him here today.

Finally, Brethren, I know you would all want me to express our thanks to the Grand Director of Ceremonies and his team for the meticulous way in which they have run this meeting, as well as to the Grand Secretary and his staff for their careful and thorough organisation behind the scenes.

Published in Speeches

The Grand Master attended the celebrations of the Mark Degree as John Hamill explains

History was made at the Royal Albert Hall on 26 October when the Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, and the Pro Grand Master, Lord Northampton, in their Craft capacities and regalia officially attended the celebrations of another Masonic Order

The occasion was the 150th anniversary of the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons, of which HRH Prince Michael of Kent is Grand Master. Over 5,000 attended the ceremony at the Royal Albert Hall, but such was the call for tickets that over 600 others met in the Grand Temple at Freemasons’ Hall to watch the proceedings on giant television screens directly linked to the Albert Hall. 

In addition to many Mark Masons, the ceremony was attended by non-Masons and ladies, including the Mark Grand Master’s wife, HRH Princess Michael of Kent, and HRH The Duchess of Cornwall. 

The latter was present as President of the National Osteoporosis Society, to which Mark Grand Lodge, as a tangible celebration of its anniversary, gave a cheque for £3 million. This is to fund a major project to provide mobile diagnostic and treatment facilities to cover areas where reasonable access to hospitals is lacking. 

The ceremony also included a PowerPoint presentation on the history of the Mark Degree by Brother James Daniel (Past Grand Secretary of the Craft), the dedication of special banners for the five Lodges which had formed Mark Grand Lodge in June 1856, and a musical interlude provided by the choir of the Royal Masonic School for Girls and two gifted instrumentalists from the school. 

The ceremony at the Royal Albert Hall was the culmination of a week of celebratory events including a special exhibition mounted at the Library and Museum of Freemasons’ Hall, a dinner at the Guildhall, and a reception for overseas visitors at the Drapers’ Hall. 

A collection of papers was published on various aspects of the Mark by leading Masonic historians under the title Marking Well, edited by Professor Andrew Prescott, of the Centre for Research into Freemasonry at Sheffield University. 

Published in Features

A day's fishing for disadvantaged youngsters at the home of Lord Northampton was attended by the Grand Master, as Michael Imeson reports

A stiff breeze played down the lake from west to east. The Arctic terns revelled in it as they soared with ease over the ruffled water and made their diving bid to catch lunch.

Dozens of fishermen, young and old, eagerly lined the banks, not so much to catch lunch, but simply to try their hand, in almost every case for the first time, at getting a fish on the hook.

One youngster and his caster caught a staggering 56 perch, roach and bream, another 50. But a lot of others didn’t get a bite. Blame the wind, said some. That is fishing, we were told by others.

It was also fishing with a massive difference: it was a Masonic Trout and Salmon Fishing Club day at glorious Castle Ashby, home of the Pro Grand Master, the Marquess of Northampton, the patron, who also sponsored the event.

And it was a day when the club’s aim of bringing fishing and countryside experiences to mentally and physically disabled people was perfectly illustrated to another most welcome guest, the Grand Master, the Duke of Kent. Both the Duke and Lord Northampton happily donned the club’s cap and meandered along the lake bank, speaking to everyone, young and old, Mason and non-Mason.

The MTSFC, which in turn has spawned the Lodge of Opportunity No. 9777, has in just a few short years extended its reach to give more than 2,000 disabled young people (and some older from day centres) an experience they will surely talk about for many years to come.

Fishing days for the disabled began in Hertfordshire and Middlesex. Now they are spreading across more Provinces. Up to the close of their season in October, the club will have organised 23 fishing days in 10 different Provinces from Essex and London to Berkshire and North Wales.

While the Castle Ashby day was mainly course fishing, the club’s roots are in fly fishing for trout. There were trout – a lake was specially stocked with 200 of them for the day, and several fly fishermen and their young charges – but only 199 of them got away!

So, with Castle Ashby literally as the backdrop on a June day, young Danny from St Neots was casting his line like a veteran in the capable hands of Steve Moule from Southgate, north London. Just along the bank was school friend Stephanie who, it has to be admitted, did have a bit of a habit of casting her line over Danny’s. But they stayed friends, and Stephanie and her caster, Gerry O’Driscoll from the Square and Level Lodge in Ealing, landed five perch.

Gerry summed up his day: 'I have worked all my life and you just plod on and you take no notice of some of life’s challenges… doing this for the children makes my day. Sometimes you go home and have a tear in your eye. Just to see their faces at the end of the day makes it very important. There are some people who take the day off work to come to a fishing day like this. We are giving something back.'

Young Michael from St Neots said: “The fish seem to like the red maggots best. Is it true that some fishermen put the maggots in their mouth to warm them up before they put them on the hook?” 

Another fisherman casting his line from a wheelchair said he had enjoyed the fishing – “but I like the people who are helping us to do it.”

Club member Gary Ferris of Friendship Lodge No. 8357 in St Albans, Hertfordshire, is a golfer. Now he is also a fishing fan. “This is my 10th or 11th event like this in the last two years. I have never had a bad experience. We go home with a warm feeling because we know the children have enjoyed themselves.”

After lunch the Duke of Kent handed every participant a certificate, passed to him in turn by the Pro Grand Master, sometimes plunging into the excited crowd of participants to reach a smiling, satisfied, wheelchair-bound person. As the “young guests left in their community coaches, the Club president, Gordon Bourne, reminded us: “All our casters and helpers gain hugely from their experiences during these days.

“Many have not had the experience of witnessing first hand the problems that many of our participants face in their everyday lives, and it is a real education to us all when we spend time with them. We have all become much more aware of the great amount of work that goes on in the specialist schools and centres.”

Freemasonry’s charitable giving is well known, but the club represents the other side of our lives – the time given to worthy causes. When you’ve spent a day like that at Castle Ashby, you’d be hard pressed to find a more worthy cause!

The Club, a registered charity, is entirely organised and financed by Freemasons, and help to fund their activities is always needed. It costs around £50 per head for each participant. The club hopes to expand into more Provinces and is looking for new organisers to start the ball rolling to “catch some more smiles”.

There is more information on the website at www.mtsfc.co.uk or via Ken Haslar (01923 231606) or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

And while the Lodge of Opportunity may be rooted in Hertfordshire, meetings will be held wherever in the country there is an interest. The Lodge can be contacted via its secretary, Warren Singer, on 0208 958 7652.

Michael Imeson is the Provincial Information Officer for Hertfordshire

Published in UGLE
Wednesday, 26 April 2006 10:11

Grand Master’s address - April 2006

ANNUAL CRAFT INVESTITURE

26 APRIL 2006

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

I welcome you all to this Annual Investiture today and I offer my congratulations to all those brethren I have had the pleasure of investing with Grand Rank or promoting to higher office. Your appointment today is not however simply the recognition of the service you have given Freemasonry in the past but, just as importantly, an earnest of the work we expect you to undertake for the future.

The Craft has embraced the policy of openness with increasing optimism and the benefits are becoming ever more visible. 

Nowhere has that openness been more apparent than in our charitable activities. 

The amount of money raised and the donations made to both Masonic and non-Masonic charities has been remarkable, and has contributed significantly to the raising of our profile and our increasing acceptance in the wider community. 

Nevertheless, charity is not just about raising money and making donations to good causes, valuable though these are. It has a broader and deeper purpose. Apart from giving alms and providing help by liberality to those in need or distress, charity is also defined as love of one’s fellow man, as kindness, and as leniency in judging others. 

Some of our more thoughtful members have commented recently that our charitable activities are in danger of becoming onedimensional, whereas real charity, as I have just defined it, is multi-faceted. Many of our brethren and their Lodges already give much of their time to practical charitable work, which is entirely laudable, and must continue. 

But, as Masons we should all try to involve ourselves to a greater extent in activities which bring joy and happiness into the lives of disadvantaged people, and not just assume that a cash donation discharges our obligations. 

Helping those in need or distress therefore has practical as well as financial connotations, but of course taking Masonry into the community through charitable activities means providing tangible assistance to those in need, and that requires time, a commodity that is precious to us all. By the use of time freely given we can show real liberality of spirit to those who need our help. 

We should also spend more time in our assemblies considering the excellences of charity and the lessons it has to teach us as Freemasons, remembering that no less an authority than St. Paul placed charity in front of both faith and hope as the greatest of qualities. 

We are also conscious that Freemasonry rests on the basic tenets of friendship, charity and integrity, which we know as Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth. 

Friendship is the cement which binds us together, integrity is a characteristic which should be inherent in all Freemasons, but charity in all its aspects is the practical application of Freemasonry to the rest of the world. Through our charitable work and our openness about it the world may know the happy and beneficial effects of Freemasonry. 

Brethren, in speaking at some length today about charity I want to stress that we must not fall into the trap of becoming dominated by financial charity, nor even its extension into the aspects of doing good by some practical means, if that leads us to forget that Freemasonry is a system of belief and principle that offers us a framework for the better regulation of our lives. 

Charity is one of the foundations upon which Freemasonry rests, but we must ensure that the other basic tenets are not forgotten or overlooked, and we must look to what observance of all those principles is going to achieve for us. That is the way that we will receive benefit ourselves for what we do for others. 

Brethren, I should like to express my thanks to the Grand Director of Ceremonies and his Deputies for the efficient manner in which they have conducted our proceedings today. And also to thank the Grand Secretary’s staff, who work so hard behind the scenes to maintain this magnificent building and to ensure that we all enjoy our Freemasonry.

Published in Speeches
Wednesday, 27 April 2005 10:33

Grand Master’s address - April 2005

ANNUAL CRAFT INVESTITURE

27 APRIL 2005

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

Brethren,
I begin as always by welcoming you all to our meeting this afternoon, and I offer my warmest congratulations to those brethren I have had the pleasure of investing with Grand Rank today on their preferment.

Published in Speeches
Wednesday, 10 March 2004 00:00

Grand Master's address - March 2004

QUARTERLY COMMUNICATION
10 March 2004
AN ADDRESS BY THE MW THE GRAND MASTER HRH THE DUKE OF KENT, KG

Brethren,

I am delighted to see so many of you here this morning for this Quarterly Communication and I bid you all a very warm welcome. I thank you all for the honour you have done me by re-electing me as your Grand Master and I look forward to another busy and challenging year at the head of English Freemasonry.

I should like to start by expressing my thanks and that of the Craft to two distinguished Brethren who have just retired from high office.

RW Bro Iain Ross Bryce has been a Grand Officer for 21 years, which includes 8 years as Provincial Grand Master of the Province of Yorkshire, North and East Ridings and 12 years as Deputy Grand Master. In addition to the extensive duties attached to the offices he has held, Bro Bryce has spent a considerable amount of his time working with and co-ordinating the Masonic charities. His chairmanship of the Committee which decided the future of the Foundation for the Aged and the Sick in 1988, and of the Sick fund in 1989 which later developed into the New Masonic Samaritan Fund, was followed by his work on creating the Charity Festival matrix in 1992. More recently he chaired the Committee looking at the allocation of Grand and Provincial Ranks. He intends to remain active, you will be pleased to know, in Masonry and is currently the founding Master of Bridlington Bay Lodge, No 9778, which was consecrated in November 2003. Bro Bryce will continue in office as Second Grand Principal in the Royal Arch so his experience and advice will not be lost to us.

RW Bro Earl Cadogan has been a Grand Officer since 1969 when he served as Senior Grand Warden. His 34 years as a Grand Officer include 11 years as President of the Masonic Foundation for the Aged and the Sick, 6 years as President of the Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys and 4 years as President of the Board of General Purposes. Bro Lord Cadogan first joined the Board as an appointed member as long ago as 1983. He served on the Finance Committee from then until he became its Chairman in 1991, and relinquished this office only when he became President in 1999, having also acted as Vice-President of the Board in 1991 and 1992.

The Craft owes both these Brethren an immense debt of gratitude for their hard work, which they have undertaken over so many years, and their dedication to Freemasonry. We thank them for everything they have done for us and wish them many more happy and rewarding years in Freemasonry.

Brethren, you will know that I normally attend the Craft Annual Investiture and take the opportunity of addressing Grand Lodge. This year however I shall attend the Annual Investiture of the Royal Arch on 29th April and it is my intention to address Supreme Grand Chapter. I want to take this opportunity, therefore, of dealing with some important issues which affect the Craft in particular.

It was a great pleasure for me to be able to take part in the splendid ceremonies at the Royal Albert Hall last October, setting up both the Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London. It was a magnificent occasion and reflects great credit not only on the staff of London Management who worked long hours over many months in preparation for the event, but also the volunteers of the London Grand Rank Association. We also owe a debt of gratitude to those in the Grand Secretary’s office without whose dedication and support no great occasion of Grand Lodge would be possible, and in particular to the Assistant Grand Secretary for his work on the complex changes to the Book of Constitutions. Praise is also due also to Bro John Wright who acted as overall Project Manager, and his team of Stewards under the leadership of Bro Andrew Wigram, and of course to the Grand Director of Ceremonies and his Deputies, who conducted the ceremonial activities of the day so smoothly.

It will take time for the new structure to bed down because this is the biggest change in Freemasonry for almost 200 years, but there are already welcome signs that a new spirit of co-operation and companionship is beginning to transform the newest Masonic venture into something of which we will be very proud.

The Strategic Working Party, set up by the Pro Grand Master to review the Royal Arch, has worked hard on the proposed revisions, and Grand Lodge has already taken an historic step by adding a paragraph to the “1813 Declaration.” This allows us to recognise, formally, that the Royal Arch is a separate Order of Masonry and will strengthen the status of Supreme Grand Chapter without affecting the relationship of the Royal Arch to the Craft. I know that some of you have expressed concern that this change may tend to weaken those historic ties, but I want very strongly to endorse the phrase used by the Pro Grand Master in his speech last September, when he emphasised that the Royal Arch is to remain “indissolubly linked to the Craft”. There is no compromise here, Brethren: that bond is to remain as strong and as close as ever, and the Royal Arch should be regarded by all as the important final step in pure Antient Freemasonry. I shall have more to say about the future of the Royal Arch at the Annual Investiture of Supreme Grand Chapter, but in the meantime I wish to thank all the members of the Strategic Working Party for their hard work.

Support of our Masonic charities has always been one of the Keystones of Freemasonry. It is very important, I believe, that in addition to the great Masonic causes we also reach out to the public and ensure that our charitable giving also extends as well to non-Masonic causes, which indeed is a necessary part of our duty to society. It is vital, nevertheless, that our Masonic Charities have the funds they need to fulfil their primary purpose of looking after our beneficiaries, and that is why I welcome today’s initiative to increase the contribution which we all pay to the Grand Charity.

I have been reflecting on the changes in Masonry since you honoured me 36 years ago by electing me as your Grand Master. Membership during this period has declined, it is true, from its post-war boom back to the levels seen in the interwar years. At the same time the almost obsessive secrecy of the thirty years from the 1950s onwards has been followed by a policy of increasing openness which has encouraged us to be more outward looking.

The consequence of this has been a greater desire to defend ourselves against unwarranted external attack and a willingness to correct malicious falsehoods about the Craft spread by those who do not wish to hear the truth.

The Craft has shown in recent years that it is prepared to adapt itself to the changing circumstances of modern life to a greater degree than ever before in its history. Only thus, as the Royal Arch ritual tells us, can it ‘survive the wreck of mighty empires and resist the destroying hand of time’, and I welcome the flexibility which enables us to react so positively at a time of unparalleled changes in society at large. 

Before closing, I would like as usual, to express our thanks once again to all those who make our meetings run so smoothly, the Grand Director of Ceremonies and his team who have conducted today’s proceedings with their customary calm competence, and the Grand Secretary and his staff who ensure that our organisation is administered and serviced so efficiently. Finally Brethren I would like to thank all of you who have attended in such large numbers today.

Published in Speeches
Page 15 of 16

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