12 September 2018
An address by RW Bro Stuart Hadler, Provincial Grand Master of Somerset, and RW Bro Anthony Howlett-Bolton, Provincial Grand Master of Berkshire
A programme to promote learning and development
CASH: MW Pro Grand Master and Brethren, on behalf of the Improvement Delivery Group, we would like to spend a few minutes explaining the learning and development programme that has evolved over the last three years and will be introduced in two month’s time.
AHB: So Stuart where has this learning and development intiative come from?
CASH: Three years ago, the Membership Focus Group was formed to consider what needed to be done to promote Freemasonry as a relevant, worthwhile and attractive organisation in the 21st century. It undertook a series of surveys that enabled members to express personal views, experience and expectations. Over 80,000 responses were received.
AHB: What did they discover?
CASH: The majority of responders stated that understanding our symbolism, moral and philosophical issues was essential or at least very important. Significantly, many expressed interest to learn more of our history and traditions. Royal Arch members had the greatest interest. This interest and expectation to learn was evident across all age groups, particularly amongst newer and younger members.
AHB: And what did you find out about their learning experiences?
CASH: Many reported that they had unmet learning expectations and needs, that too little time, guidance and support was offered to extend learning beyond performing the ritual and ceremonial well. The results also very stongly suggested that many members have a general lack of understanding and a relative dearth of accessible resources to refer to.
AHB: So what did the MFG conclude?
CASH: That whilst the performance of ritual is a highly valued tradition of our constitution and social and charitable aspects are of key importance, we were failing many new and current members who seek to improve themselves through greater insight, knowledge and understanding of Freemasonry. Furthermore, that only through a personal ability to communicate and share these values can Freemasonry hope to demonstrate its worth and value in the 21st century. Our Members are a vital communication channel and need help and support to fulfil this.
Now Anthony, you’ve asked the questions so far and I’m sure that many, especially those behind us, are up to speed with much of what I’ve already said. We ought now to turn to the specifics of what we have been preparing and how this will address these findings.
AHB: Absolutely right, ask me anything you like!
CASH: OK. I imagine there will be some here today who will feel that this is a bit over the top. After all, if you are really keen to learn you will find a book or search the net won’t you? Surely, it’s a personal journey?.
AHB: In some respects yes, but the starting point for most of us is to have what we have experienced explained. The opportunity to offer an explanation in the lodge or chapter can be much more effective. This can signpost relevant material and help us along our own personal masonic journey.
CASH: Tell me more.
AHB: Ritual and ceremonies are core to Masonic life. Whilst many members enjoy learning and performing ritual, often key messages and nuances are missed. The opportunity to explore and understand is rarely provided at Lodge or Chapter meetings or is considered a poor alternative to a ceremony.
Many members are curious and have a sincere wish to improve their understanding. They have expectations when they join and these should evolve over time. We have a responsibility to ensure that our members have ready access to the intellectual and practical resources to enhance their Freemasonry, fulfill their interest and help them become more rounded and committed members. There is a genuine concern that a concentration on the performance of ritual, without appreciating what we are doing and why, overlooks the important messages that lie within and is one reason why some members choose to leave.
CASH: So what benefit will a learning and development approach offer the individual member?
AHB: Greater understanding will add to enjoyment and improve ceremonies. Being more knowledgeable will boost confidence to talk in a comfortable and open way about what Freemasonry means personally. When learning becomes a regular Lodge and Chapter activity, membership should be more fulfilling and meaningful. In turn, this should aid attendance, retention and engagement.
CASH: So what is Solomon?
AHB: A good question, although a wide selection of books and online resources are available, it takes effort to identify appropriate pieces to use within the lodge environment. Solomon is a central repository of informative material that will answer some of the questions and point members along the path of daily advancement in masonic knowledge.
CASH: Who can use it?
AHB: It is designed to be used by individual masons, lodges, chapters, Provinces and Districts and to fit comfortably with the needs of all levels of experience and interest. Solomon will be beneficial to everyone. It can be used on multiple platforms such as smartphones, tablets and computers and currently contains over 350 items. It will continue to grow and evolve.
CASH: So does Solomon provide definitive answers?
AHB: No, there is no definitive UGLE view. Solomon is a collection of credible views and interpretations. So, you may find different explanations of a symbol or ceremony. This variation in interpretation should stimulate discussion and debate. Such is the nature of Freemasonry.
CASH: I’m pretty busy. I need to find things quickly and easily. How will Solomon help me?
AHB: Once you have registered and enrolled in one or more modules, you will be able to explore Solomon to your hearts content. It has been designed to foster curiosity and to draw you in to seek answers. There are various ways to search so you can expect to quickly find, read or download as much as you wish. Given smart phone access, Solomon could for instance readily provide an answer to a question at a Class of Instruction.
I would add caution however and Solomon also flags this up. Material is separated into modules for each degree and the Royal Arch. We ask users not to explore prematurely beyond the degrees that they have had already conferred so as not to spoil the revelations of their personal journey; to do so would be a shame.
CASH: The benefits to the individual are clear. But how will Solomon help my Lodge or Chapter?
AHB: The material provided by Solomon complements both the Members Pathway and individual mentoring programmes. Materials include a wide range of “nuggets”, papers for presentation and demonstrations with supporting explanation. Collectively, they provide a selection of interesting and accessible material that, if suitably chosen and well delivered, will complement or replace a ceremony. They will be favourably received, encourage attendance and interest. Ideally, learning activities will become an appreciated and regular feature of lodge and chapter meetings.
CASH: You’ve referred to ‘Nuggets’. Just what are they?
AHB: A Nugget is a five to ten-minute item of interest that will easily fit into a lodge evening; possibly to set the scene for the meeting, or as a short conclusion, or even when the candidate retires. They are flexible and may be delivered by a selected member. They are also very suitable for personal study and a great source of information for lodge quizzes. Nuggets may also lead to a presentation that expands on a topic of interest.
CASH: No doubt some will feel that there is no spare time at a meeting or that this is another imposition?
AHB: We hope that the benefits of making time for learning will readily become apparent and that all Members will increasingly value the time devoted to it. A well organised lodge or chapter will have a programme that reflects the needs and interests of all its members, that they enjoy and which encourages them to attend. Learning may also extend beyond the regular meeting to Class of Instruction or special events for a masonic centre or special interest group. Rather than view this as an imposition, we should view it as an opportunity and an easy way to keep and develop interest and enjoyment.
Now Stuart you’ve been a Provincial Grand Master for longer than me, surely introducing Solomon will have implications for Provinces and Districts too?
CASH: You’re right Anthony, delivering the change agenda for Freemasonry does place additional demand on Provincial rulers and their Teams. Whilst it would be very easy to see Solomon as just another initiative conceived centrally, it is based on expressed member feedback and will, we hope, be favourably received. The reaction of those that have had access to the material already is extremely positive and I am sure that its general use, as outlined today, will lead to a more confident, enthusiastic and informed membership, well equipped to explain and communicate Freemasonry to friends, family, potential members and the public.
AHB: Would you accept that Provinces and Districts may need some help with this?
CASH: Yes absolutely. We have anticipated this and are providing resources to help them to introduce Solomon and develop local learning activities and resources. We wish to be supportive and to work with the appointed lead in each Craft and Royal Arch Province and District.
One of the key areas will be to ensure that material that needs to be presented is delivered in an understandable and engaging way. This takes skill and so we are asking Provinces to identify suitable members to be presenters, develop their skills and promote their use. A critical goal is to move away from the days of the boring lecture.
Many Provinces have provided educational activities for some time, so for them this is not a new topic. We are eager to promote and share good examples, these include specialist lodges and working with light blue clubs. We encourage a collaborative approach between the Craft and the Royal Arch.
AHB: Stuart, it may be that you haven’t convinced everyone this morning about the need?
CASH: Well, firstly, lets remember that none of this is prescriptive. We are however responding to the wishes of members and I hope that in these few minutes, we have demonstrated that Solomon has real benefits across the board. It will help to attract, retain and produce well informed and capable members and leaders for the future. Learning and development is closely intertwined with the Members Pathway and in that sense is an essential component of our membership strategy.
AHB: How and when can I access it and find out more?
CASH: There is an introductory article from Sir David Wootton in this month’s Freemasonry Today. All Craft and Royal Arch Provinces have been advised of a special event in late November. This will be an important opportunity for them to be briefed, have advance access to Solomon and to begin to plan their support. Important elements of the launch will be videoed to support the Districts. The December edition of Freemasonry Today will carry a more detailed article and provide each member with an explanatory leaflet. So, from December, everyone will be able to register and enjoy full access to Solomon.
I suggest we conclude with a little about the future?
AHB: Yes indeed. We intend that Solomon will expand in volume, range and diversity of material. We wish to promote Solomon wherever we can, to share best practice and to offer support. There will always be a need to commission and source new and credible material. There is plenty out there waiting to be shared and willing able members eager to write material for us. We will provide guidance for potential contributors later this year.
CASH: MW Pro Grand Master and Brethren, I should like to place on record that the development of Solomon is the result of a huge commitment of time, energy and determination on the part of the Project Team, the Panel of Editors and indeed the authors, provinces and publishers that have provided some first class material for us to work with.
May I leave you all with a concluding thought that there are three clear golden-threads to bring together, the Members Pathway, Mentoring and Learning & Development. Integrating them into a seamless whole will ensure that lodges and chapters are in a strong position to grow and fulfil their obligations to their Members.
Solomon is part of the solution. It will foster curiosity, develop understanding and continue to evolve over time.
It's the start
With an emphasis on professionalism and transparency, President of the Board of General Purposes Geoffrey Dearing wants to take Freemasonry to a new level of alignment
How would you describe your masonic progression?
It was a very slow burn. I helped to manage a law practice in East Kent and became a Freemason in 1974 when two of my partners, whom I respected, proposed and seconded me. I only used to go to four meetings a year as I couldn’t do more than that; I was very busy working around the courts. But I found that those four evenings were very relaxing, because you’re with different people who have a similar view of life.
I joined the Royal Arch in 1981. That was purely accidental: somebody’s son was a member of our lodge, and I got talking to his father, who turned out to be the Grand Superintendent for the Province of East Kent. But, again, I was very busy with the business, so nothing else happened until the end of the 1980s, when I was made a Steward in the Province in the Craft and the following year Senior Warden.
Along the way I spent a year as president of the Kent Law Society and became a Past Assistant Grand Registrar in 1994, which is a common office for a lawyer to take in Grand Lodge. But I wasn’t involved at all in the Province, as I had been made managing partner of one of Kent’s largest law firms. I just had no time for anything other than getting on with the business.
When did your focus change?
In 2004, I stepped down as managing partner. My firm very kindly kept me on as a consultant, and I found the change quite reinvigorating. When you’re responsible for two or three hundred people, you’re not able to do your own thing, because you are looking for consensus. I was able to go off and do things that interested me. I did a lot of lecturing on various legal-related bits and pieces and worked with some small companies.
By 2011, I had ceased to be a consultant and coincidentally received a telephone call asking if I would become Provincial Grand Master and Grand Superintendent for East Kent. I’ve never had any grand career plan; if I have been asked to do a job and think I can do it, I’ve done it, simple as that. So that’s really why I’m sitting here now – it was never my ambition.
How did you approach the PGM role?
I went in there entirely cold. I hadn’t been on the executive and knew nothing about how the office ran. But I had run a business. So, I went in there and started asking questions – it was not commercial, and there was a lot that I could bring to it that would make it work better.
I believe strongly that communication is fundamental. Most of the really big errors and some of the biggest claims as a lawyer that I’ve been involved in were avoidable. Things get to where they get to because of poor communication or, indeed, a total lack of it. So, when I started in East Kent in 2011, I supported a communications team.
We don’t tend to know enough about what Freemasons do for a living, but I found that we had web designers, we had people who really understood software and we had people connected with the media and the written word. It meant that when we had the Holy Royal Arch 200-year celebrations in 2013, we were able to interest the media, and ITV came down.
‘When you have to make big calls, you need as much information as possible in order to get it right’
How have you found becoming President?
You’re in touch with every single aspect of how the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) runs, which is fascinating. I’m trustee of the Library and Museum, I’m on the Grand Master’s Council and I’m involved with the External Relations Committee. All aspects of what’s happening in Grand Lodge are ultimately the responsibility of the Board. It gives you an insight into the entire picture, and very few have that privilege.
When you have to make big calls, you need as much information as possible in order to get it right. I think in order to get everything joined up, to get alignment, the communication with the Provinces is very important. What goes on outside UGLE is every bit as important as what goes on inside it, so coming from the background I’ve had, I know about what goes on around the country in the Provinces. I’ve dealt with the same problems that other Provinces have experienced; I’ve got some understanding and some sympathy.
What do you mean by alignment?
The biggest thing in terms of what I hope can be achieved is improving alignment. If you ask what Freemasonry is about, it might be expressed entirely differently if it’s in Cornwall, Durham, Carlisle or London, but it should be broadly the same message. This hasn’t necessarily been the case, because everyone’s in their own areas, not always talking to others.
After the Second World War, there was a period when you just didn’t talk about Freemasonry, and people thought that was the norm. That did us no favours at all. You’re always going to have a lot of conspiracy theorists, and if you’re not providing correct information, that’s their oxygen. If they put false accusations in enough newspapers and say it often enough, people will believe it. We have to communicate.
What role does communication play in alignment?
What you do with communications and how you address those people who are talking nonsense is important. If someone publishes a newspaper article that says Freemasons have a lodge in Westminster with many MPs in it, that’s untrue. So challenge it. You do it quietly, but you do it fairly. And you make sure there’s an audit trail. I know the truth is far less exciting, but why don’t we have transparency? Why don’t we have complete openness? Why aren’t we relaxed? Why don’t we encourage the Library and Museum to talk openly about Freemasonry to people who visit us? I think that’s exactly how it should be and how it should develop.
How are you different to your predecessors?
I’m hugely respectful of tradition and history, but the success of Freemasonry will come from it being able to evolve. That’s how it has managed to survive for 300 years. My responsibility as President of the Board of General Purposes is to try to ensure that we stay relevant. It is our job to look at the big picture and the messages we put forward. We’ve got to get our thinking straight at the centre and then consider how to get the messages out there, making sure that all our organs of communication are going down the same lines.
The more we communicate, the better. David Staples is going to be a very good CEO for the organisation, and I think his approach to management has not been seen before at UGLE. But that is how it needs to be in the modern world. If we get the set-up, professionalism and the operation here as good as it can be, it’s the start.
Why should someone become a Freemason?
One of the attractions of Freemasonry is that it actually takes away a lot of insecurity, because it creates stability and has very good support mechanisms. If you think about the world today, a bit of consistency doesn’t go amiss.
If we can get alignment, I think Freemasonry will become more normal, more accepted and more understood. And that’s a good thing. It’s not for everybody; a lot of people don’t like the ceremonial that goes with it, but others do.
I don’t think it’s any accident that those who have been involved in the armed services or organisations that have a certain disciplinary culture find Freemasonry very attractive. I absolutely get that, but we all have different reasons. For me it’s actually about the people. I have met some terrific people along the way, and it’s been my privilege to know them and to spend time with them.
‘I’m hugely respectful of tradition and history, but the success of Freemasonry will come from it being able to evolve’
Where do you want masonry to be in five years?
It’s a big question. I don’t have a burning ambition for massive change, but I do have a goal to improve and evolve. The basics would be that we have good alignment within UGLE, including the Library and Museum and the Masonic Charitable Foundation. They’re separate and independent operations, but they’re both masonic and are golden opportunities for communication with the wider world.
I mentioned relevance before, because if Freemasonry is going to regenerate and be here in another 50 or 100 years, staying relevant will be part and parcel of that journey. Then there’s the way in which we communicate what we’re about – we have to do this in a much better way in order to strengthen our membership. It’s a big ambition, and I’m not sure that it can be achieved in five years, but we can certainly start the process.
We have a fantastic opportunity here. Today is not going to repeat itself tomorrow, or any other time, so we need to make the most of it. I always have the ambition that, every day, something constructive gets done.
With their own terminology and structures, masonic Orders offer new opportunities for growth, development and friendship in Freemasonry. We look at the origins, requirements and beliefs of the Knights Templar
When did it begin?
The earliest records of the masonic Knights Templar can be found in the minutes of the Chapter of Friendship in Portsmouth dated 1778. At that time, the degree was worked under lodges and chapters warranted by the Antient Grand Lodge using a variety of rituals. Lancashire had 10 of the first 40 encampments (now called Preceptories).
When did the Knights Templar become popular?
In 1791, Templar Masonry entered a new era with the formation of its first Grand Conclave (now Great Priory). Thomas Dunckerley was Grand Master. At that time, there were just seven encampments in existence; it wasn’t until after 1851 that the Order began to expand in response to the standardisation of the ritual.
Did the masonic Knights Templar fight in the Crusades?
There is no historical connection between the medieval Christian military order and the masonic body known as the United Religious, Military and Masonic Orders of the Temple and of St John of Jerusalem, Palestine, Rhodes and Malta of England and Wales and its Provinces overseas – more commonly referred to as the Knights Templar.
What does the Order believe in?
Thomas Dunckerley wanted to promote a concept of chivalry and Christianity within a masonic framework.
So is it open to all faiths now?
The Order is one of several in masonry in which membership is open only to Freemasons who profess a belief in Christianity.
How many members are there?
The Order numbers just under 12,500.
How do I join?
Membership can be achieved through the recommendation of an existing member.
Is it difficult to progress?
Having joined the Knights Templar, the next step is to take the Malta Degree, which is a two-stage process: first becoming a Knight of St Paul by taking the Mediterranean Pass, and then becoming a Knight of Malta.
Can anyone from the Craft become a member?
To become part of the Order, a brother must be a Master Mason and a member of the Royal Arch.
Who heads up the Knights Templar?
The Most Eminent and Supreme Grand Master is Paul Raymond Clement, who joined the Order in 1984 and was installed as its Most Eminent and Supreme Grand Master in May 2017.
Where is the nerve centre?
The headquarters of the Order is Mark Masons’ Hall, St James’s, London, from where all administration activities are conducted.
What causes does it support?
The Order has a favoured charity that members have supported since 1915 – the St John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital, which is the main provider of charitable eye care in the West Bank, Gaza and the East Jerusalem area.
Hungary is a long way from Middlesex, but in the quest for disseminating masonic enlightenment and learning, several Royal Arch Freemasons from Middlesex made the journey
Their destination was the City of Kecskemét, which is the eighth largest city in Hungary with a population of circa 110,000. On the weekend of 29th/30th June 2018, a team of Middlesex Royal Arch Provincial Grand Stewards, with permission from Supreme Grand Chapter and accompanied by Andrew Ford from Surrey and Sean Austin from Middlesex, made a visit to the Symbolic Grand Chapter of Hungary, to deliver a demonstration of the Passing of the Veils ceremony.
The demonstration gives an insight into what precedes the Exaltation ceremony in a Bristol Chapter. Since 1834, within the jurisdiction of the Provincial Grand Chapter of Somerset, it is the only Province in England where the ritual is performed, but only in Chapters in the City of Bristol itself. However, it is used elsewhere as part of the Royal Arch workings in the United States of America, Scotland and Ireland. English Royal Arch Masons in the other Provinces will know of this working and of the fraternal invitation that extends to them by Freemasons in Bristol to witness the working.
The Passing of the Veils ceremony refers to and uses the Ark of the Covenant: ‘a table on which rested the Ark of the Covenant containing the tablets of stone and the pot of manna.’ One was not available in Hungary, and given the significant size and weight of transporting this piece of furniture, Middlesex Freemason Steve Heynes requested that one be produced locally. This was duly done using supplied photographs.
However, there was no scale supplied and the Hungarian craftsman looked up the dimensions – some wires were crossed though and an impressively larger version was produced instead.
An informal BBQ was held on the Friday night after arrival where, as well as being treated to a wonderful feast, the demonstration team were entertained by Márk Beke, Hungary's young musician of the year who gave a lovely evening of Trombone playing interspersed with traditional Hungarian dancing from children from the Kodály Zoltán School of Music. The following morning, the Symbolic Grand Chapter of Hungary held a meeting with the team from Middlesex delivering the demonstration of the Passing of the Veils ceremony, which was enjoyed by all that attended.
On the Saturday afternoon, the St Stephen Lodge No. 7 of the Symbolic Grand Lodge of Hungary held its Installation meeting. St Stephen’s Lodge under the guidance of Mark Walton and Seamus Conlan hosted the weekend. This was also an unusual meeting as St Stephen Lodge use the old workings and did the full Installation in the Board of Installed Masters, including proving the Master Elect in all three degrees before he was entrusted.
The Festive Board took place afterwards where each member of the visiting team was presented with a decanter of Pálinka (Hungary fruit brandy) engraved with the crest of the Symbolic Grand Chapter.
Changing of the guard
Graham Ives reflects on 10 years of teamwork free from preaching and dictating as he prepares to step down as Lincolnshire’s Provincial Grand Master and Grand Superintendent
In the middle of May 2008, Graham Ives received a letter from the Grand Secretary that would change his life. The Grand Secretary had been instructed by the Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, to offer Graham the position of Provincial Grand Master for Lincolnshire.
Graham was installed as Provincial Grand Master one month later. ‘I didn’t really know what the role held for me; it was a steep learning curve,’ he says. ‘For a time, I felt like a fish out of water, but I received much support, advice and friendship, and soon became very comfortable with the role.’
Graham’s rise to the role of Grand Superintendent in the Royal Arch happened at a more leisurely pace. ‘I had been a member of the Provincial Executive of the Royal Arch for a number of years before I became Grand Superintendent. I understood that role more fully and was immediately at ease with it,’ he says of the office, which he has held for as long as he has been Provincial Grand Master.
Occupying the two most senior roles in Lincolnshire Freemasonry, Graham knew there would be a tremendous amount to do in the years ahead. ‘Fundamental to my time in office has been a desire to reach out to every mason in the Province, whatever their rank. Whenever I was on an official visit, I ensured that I was talking not just to senior brethren and companions, but to everyone.
‘My hope was always that when I left the lodge or chapter, everyone would be smiling and would have enjoyed my presence as much as I had enjoyed their company – from the newest Entered Apprentice to the longest-serving Grand Officer. I genuinely believe that I have achieved that goal.’
Graham recognises how crucial those around him were during his time as Provincial Grand Master and Grand Superintendent. ‘It would have been impossible for Lincolnshire to have achieved what it has without the capable and dedicated teams I have had the privilege of working with.’
Looking forward, Graham acknowledges that given the pace and form of modern Freemasonry, no one individual can accomplish all the tasks required. ‘The modern roles of the Provincial Grand Master and Grand Superintendent are very similar now to those of a chief executive. I believe that it is an exciting time to be a Freemason and that we can all look forward with confidence to the future.’
HIGHLIGHTS FROM A DECADE AS PGM
Far exceeding Festival targets
‘Against a target of £1.5 million, Lincolnshire raised £2.75 million for the 2014 Festival for the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys. This was right at the top of my achievements during my term of office. I was overwhelmed by the way in which the brethren and their families donated their hard-earned money to this very worthy cause, especially when you recall that for part of the time, the country was in recession.’
The Tercentenary service in Lincoln Cathedral
‘In Lincolnshire, we celebrated the Tercentenary in fine style, culminating in a magnificent service in Lincoln Cathedral. It took a lot of organising by a large number of people, but it paid off handsomely. It was a splendid and moving feeling to see the brethren and their companions, together with families and friends, filling the cathedral to capacity, wearing full masonic regalia.’
The commitment to involving Provincial officers
‘I made a decision to invite the year’s acting Provincial officers to accompany me on all my official visits. I wanted to create the opportunity for it to be something very special, but this is a big Province, stretching from the Humber almost to Peterborough. Would the officers want to make those journeys? It turned out that they did, and the visits have been a resounding success for the acting Provincial officers as well as the brethren and companions of the lodges and chapters visited. I suspect that I shall miss those official visits more than anything else.’
Consolidating the Royal Arch in Lincolnshire
‘I was determined that the Royal Arch would play a prominent part during my terms of office, not only as Provincial Grand Master but also as Grand Superintendent. A number of successful initiatives have taken place, and I am very grateful to all the dedicated Royal Arch masons who have supported me in these ventures. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, and Lincolnshire has one of the country’s highest percentages of Royal Arch masons in relation to Craft masons. We have consolidated the strength of the Royal Arch in Lincolnshire over the past 10 years, and there is a very sound platform to move forward.’
Our public position
Following the Annual Investiture of Supreme Grand Chapter, Pro First Grand Principal Peter Lowndes hails the progress made in converting members in the Craft to Royal Arch
Grand Rank in the Royal Arch is both a senior and, in many cases, a public position within the organisation. I would hope that you all feel willing to communicate the pride you now feel to those you meet, and to act as ambassadors for the Royal Arch not only to those within your lodges and chapters, but also to the general public at large. I do appreciate that the general public might not understand the relevance of the Royal Arch, but it clearly demonstrates your seniority within Freemasonry as a whole.
I have heard it said that the Royal Arch might have been somewhat eclipsed by the Tercentenary celebrations in the Craft, but far from it. The Royal Arch completes the Craft degrees, and increased interest and membership in the Craft can only be to the good of our Order.
A new injection of pride and confidence in Freemasonry – in what we do, and in our relevance to the wider community from which we herald – can only result in a strong, confident and successful future.
WE ARE WINNING
We must be careful to maximise the momentum, energy and enthusiasm that surrounds Freemasonry at the moment as well as ensure that it is neither wasted nor neglected. We must make the effort and spare the time to explain who we are and what we do, and also ask ourselves why some of those brethren in our lodges have not taken that extra step to become our companions. We must listen to them and think hard on the answers they give.
I believe we are winning. If we turn the clock back 10 years, we were experiencing a 30 per cent conversion rate from Craft to Royal Arch. Now there are very few Provinces or Districts where the ratio is under 40 per cent, and some are considerably higher.
May I take this opportunity to bid a fond farewell to Excellent Companion Willie Shackell, Grand Scribe Ezra, who has served in a number of senior appointments over the last 11 years. We all wish him well in his fourth, and what I am sure he hopes will be his final, retirement.
Companions, I look forward to hearing of and reading about your exploits over the summer, and also to welcoming you back in the autumn.
‘A new injection of pride and confidence in Freemasonry can only result in a strong, confident and successful future’
Meeting of Supreme Grand Chapter
Thursday 26 April 2018
Report of the Committee of General Purposes
The minutes of the Regular Convocation of 8 November 2017 were confirmed.
Petitions for new chapters
The Committee has received the following petitions for new Chapters: For a new Chapter to be attached to Hervey and Kentish Companions Lodge, No. 1692, to be called Hervey Chapter, and to meet at the Shirley Woolmer Masonic Hall, Church Road, Sidcup (West Kent) and for a new Chapter to be attached to Semper Paratus Lodge, No. 3015, to be called Semper Paratus Chapter, and to meet at the Masonic Hall, New Road, Woodstock (Oxfordshire).
The petitions being regular, the Committee recommends that the prayers thereof be granted.
The Committee has received Memorials from the following Chapters, praying for Charters authorising the members to wear the Centenary Jewel: Unity Chapter, No. 132 (Hampshire and Isle of Wight) from 18 December 2018; Perpetual Friendship Chapter, No. 135 (Somerset) from 22 September 2018; Boscombe Chapter, No. 2158 (Hampshire and Isle of Wight) from 19 November 2018; Hatherton Chapter, No. 2474 (Staffordshire) from 2 October 2018; Chapter of Hope, No. 2679 (West Lancashire) from 28 September 2018; Whitson Chapter, No. 2943 (Bristol) from 23 November 2018; Wanstead Chapter, No. 3524 (London) from 9 September 2018 and Campbell Chapter, No. 3643 (Worcestershire) from 3 October 2018.
The Memorials being in form and the Chapters having proved uninterrupted existence of one hundred years, the Committee recommends that the prayers thereof be granted, with effect from the dates shown above.
The Committee has received Memorials from the following Chapters, praying for Charters authorising the members to wear the Bi-Centenary Bar on the ribbon of the Centenary Jewel: Chapter of Hope, No. 54 (East Lancashire) from 3 September 2015 (retrospective) and Mount Zion and Jerusalem Chapter, No. 185 (London) from 29 October 2018.
The Committee has received reports that the following Chapters have resolved to surrender their Charters: Fistral Chapter, No. 6258 in order to amalgamate with St Michael Chapter, No. 2747 (Cornwall) and Blaauwberg Chapter, No. 9337 in order to amalgamate with Wynberg Chapter, No. 2577 (South Africa, Western Division).
The Committee accordingly recommends that the Chapters be removed from the register in order to effect the amalgamations.
The Committee has received a Memorial from Dee Chapter, No. 1576 (Cheshire) to be detached from Dee Lodge, No. 1576 (Cheshire) and attached to St Anselm Lodge, No. 5166 (Cheshire) and be known as St Anselm Chapter, No. 5166.
The Lodges concerned being in agreement, the Committee recommends that the prayer of the Memorial be granted.
The Committee has received a Memorial from Cambridge Heath Chapter, No. 4506 seeking that the Chapter be permitted to be removed from the Metropolitan Area of London to the Province of Essex.
The Grand Superintendents concerned having accorded their assent, the Committee recommends that the prayer of the Memorial be granted.
The Committee has received reports on 17 Chapters: Excelsior Chapter, No. 1155 (London), Molesey Chapter, No. 2473 (Surrey), Harringay Chapter, No. 2763 (London), Hillingdon Chapter, No. 3174 (Middlesex), Benfleet Chapter, No. 3798 (Essex), Rhetoric Chapter, No. 4265 (London), Carshalton Chapter, No. 4429 (Surrey), Bristol Chapter, No. 4522 (London), Luxborough Chapter, No. 4700 (Essex), Dewi Sant Chapter, No. 4728 (London), Vicar’s Oak Chapter, No. 4822 (London), Newark Priory Chapter, No. 5396 (Surrey), Temple Porchway Chapter, No. 7209 (London), Chapter of Ideal Endeavour, No. 7379 (West Kent), Byron Chapter, No. 7426 (Middlesex), Marlborough Chapter, No. 8218 (Zimbabwe and Malawi) and Bedfordshire Meridian Chapter, No. 9643 (Bedfordshire).
Over recent years, the Chapters have found themselves no longer viable and have resolved to surrender their Charters.
The Committee has reluctantly recommended that the Chapters be erased from the register of Grand Chapter and the Charters cancelled.
Grand Chapter Register
The tables below show the number of Chapters on the Register and of Certificates issued during the past ten years.
The Committee presents the audited Accounts of the Supreme Grand Chapter for the year ending 31 December 2017.
The Committee recommends, in accordance with Regulation 98, that the fees for Registration, Replacement Certificates, Certificates for Serving Companions, and Dispensations for 2019 should be increased by approximately 2.6% to keep pace with the costs of providing the services concerned.
Charges for patents and charters
In accordance with Royal Arch Regulation 99, the Charges for Patents and Charters are reviewed annually and are based on the cost of producing the documents. The Committee has considered the matter and recommends that the charges (exclusive of VAT) for the year commencing 1 May 2018 be as follows:
Contributions to Grand Chapter
The Committee recommends, in accordance with Regulation 100, that the contributions (inclusive of VAT) payable annually to Grand Chapter in respect of each member of a Chapter in a Metropolitan Area or a Province for the year 2019 shall be £5.00.
The Committee believes that it will be able to recommend next year that contributions remain unchanged in 2020.
Meetings of Supreme Grand Chapter
Future Convocations will be held on 14 November 2018, 25 April 2019 and 13 November 2019.
Annual Investiture of Supreme Grand Chapter
26 April 2018
An address by the ME Pro First Grand Principal Peter Lowndes
Companions, this meeting is always a very happy occasion and I do congratulate all those of you whom I have invested today. It both recognises your past endeavours but is also a clear indicator that we expect more from you in the future. Grand Rank in the Royal Arch is both a senior, and in many cases, a public position within the organisation, and I would hope that you all feel willing to communicate the pride you now feel to those you meet, and to act as ambassadors for the Royal Arch not only to those within your lodges and chapters, but also to the general public at large. However, I do appreciate that the general public would not understand the relevance of the Royal Arch, but it clearly demonstrates your seniority within Freemasonry as a whole.
I have heard it said that the Royal Arch might have been somewhat eclipsed by the Tercentenary celebrations this year in the Craft, but far from it. The Royal Arch completes the craft degrees and increased interest and membership for the Craft can only be to the good for our Order. A new injection of pride and confidence in Freemasonry – in what we do, and in our relevance to the wider community from which we herald can only result in a strong, confident and successful future.
We must be careful to maximise the momentum, energy and enthusiasm that surrounds Freemasonry at the moment and ensure that it is neither wasted nor neglected. We must make the effort, and spare the time to explain who we are and what we do, and also ask ourselves why some of those brethren in our lodges have not taken that extra step to become our companions. We must listen to, and think hard on the answers they give. I believe we are winning. If we turn the clock back 10 years we were experiencing a 30% conversion rate from Craft to Royal Arch, now there are very few Provinces or Districts where the ratio is under 40% and some are considerably higher.
May I take this opportunity to bid a fond farewell to Excellent Companion Willie Shackell, Grand Scribe Ezra, who has served in a number of senior appointments over the last 11 years. We all wish him well in his fourth, and what I am sure he hopes will be his final retirement.
Companions, events like this do not just happen and I would like, on your behalf, to congratulate the Grand Director of Ceremonies and his team for once again arranging such an impressive ceremony and the Grand Scribe Ezra and his team for ensuring all the other arrangements have gone so smoothly.
Companions, I look forward to hearing of, and reading about your exploits over the summer, and also to welcoming you back in the autumn.
14 March 2018
An address by the MW The Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes
Brethren, it is always a pleasure to see this magnificent temple as full as it is today, although it is hardly surprising bearing in mind the special nature of today’s meeting. Our Provinces and Districts, as well as those involved here at the centre, have taken a great deal of trouble in identifying those brethren most deserving of the honour that they have received today. I hope it has been a very special day for them and I really do congratulate and thank them. As always brethren, whilst congratulations are very much in order for all that you have done, particularly during the Tercentenary year, it also raises great expectations for your endeavours in the future.
We also have the Soane Ark back with us today. As those of you who were at the Tercentenary celebration at the Royal Albert Hall, (or those of you who read Freemasonry Today) will know, the original of this beautiful mahogany piece, the “Ark of the Masonic Covenant”, was made by Bro Sir John Soane in 1813. It was dedicated at the great celebration marking the Union of the Ancient and Modern Grand Lodges in 1813 and the Articles of Union were deposited inside.
It was tragically destroyed by fire in 1883, but UGLE commissioned an exact replica for our Tercentenary, which was dedicated at the Royal Albert Hall in October. Then, as in 1813, we placed a facsimile of the Articles of Union inside it, as well as the “Three Great Lights”.
It was on public display at the Soane Museum in Lincoln’s Inn Fields for the months after the Royal Albert Hall celebration, but now it has returned to its intended place in Grand Lodge. Triangular in form, it has at each corner a column of the Ionic, Doric and Corinthian order representing Wisdom, Strength and Beauty, the three great pillars on which our lodges, including this Grand Lodge, are said to stand.
I am sure that it will grace our Grand Lodge meetings for centuries to come.
We have become only too well aware of the term 'fake news' in recent times and we began this year with our own encounter with 'fake news'. Many of you will have seen the coverage generated by the outgoing Chairman of the Police Federation and the Guardian newspaper and I trust you will have also seen our responses. Let me assure you that UGLE will always stand up for its members, their integrity and their care for the communities from which they are drawn. It is my firm belief that policemen are better policemen for their membership of our proud organisation. However, it is not just policemen who can benefit from membership – lawyers, public servants and indeed all men benefit from the teaching our ceremonies have to offer, and the time has come for the organisation to stand up and make these points loudly and clearly. Enough, brethren is enough.
I have said it before and I say again I strongly believe that the future is bright for Freemasonry. We created a bow wave of optimism last year which produced a surge of interest in the Craft. We must now ensure that we maintain the momentum created and build on that legacy, and we will.
This year is very much a year of change, particular of key personalities both here and in the Provinces and Districts. On your behalf I welcome Geoffrey Dearing to his first Quarterly Communication as President of the Board of General Purposes and, in April, David Staples, our CEO will become our new youthful and dynamic Grand Secretary, bringing together all the activities here in Freemasons’ Hall. Already this year we have installed two new PGMs as well as new DGMs in New Zealand South Island and SA Western Division. Both John Clark from Buckinghamshire and Anthony Howlett-Bolton from Berkshire are able to be present and I welcome them to their first Quarterly Communication as Provincial Grand Masters. We now start a steady stream of installations: nine Provincial Grand Masters and ten District Grand Masters, plus many Grand Superintendents in the Royal Arch. This will keep the Rulers in both the Craft and Royal Arch busy this year as we catch up on the backlog.
Although we have plenty of ceremonial work to do, I am also keen that we continue to visit Provinces and Districts in a less formal way. We are here to provide help and support and we must show it.
This year, as you know, is the 100th Anniversary of the end of the First World War – 'The Great War'. I have no doubt that many of you will be commemorating this, as appropriate in your area. This building was built to commemorate those masons who lost their lives in that war. It was called the Masonic Peace Memorial Building, but changed its name at the outbreak of the Second World War to Freemasons’ Hall. We shall commemorate the end of the First World War on 10th November 2018 under the auspices of Victoria Rifles Lodge and I am sure it will be an impressive occasion.
Brethren, I hope that today has been a memorable event for those I have invested. Many congratulations, once again, and remember there is no resting on your laurels.
Over 50 Freemasons from the Provinces of Cornwall and Devonshire assembled in the Cornish seaside resort of Bude for the annual installation meeting of Granville Chapter
The members and guests were delighted to be able to welcome the leaders of both provinces, David Pascoe from Cornwall and Simon Rowe from Devon. The Masonic Hall was packed to near capacity to witness the installation of E Comp Charles Yelland as MEZ of the Chapter.
Also elected and installed to serve alongside him for the next 12 months were Derek Prouse as H and Mike Johns as J. This is the second year running that three companions living in Devon have held the top offices in a Cornish chapter.
After their installation, the Principals appointed and invested their team of officers to work with them. The appointments always include a Secretary, Treasurer, Charity Steward and an Almoner, and these posts were filled by Keith Taylor, John Weller, Mike Johns and Barrie Rose respectively.
After the main meeting, a celebration dinner was held in the refectory and a toast was proposed to the three newly installed Principals. The MEZ replied on behalf of the Principals, and thanked everyone for attending and supporting a very special and happy occasion in the life of Granville Chapter.
A raffle and bottle draw was also held during the meal and raised £310 for Masonic charities.