In its most literal sense the word ‘evangelist’ means ‘bringer of good news’. Without a doubt that’s the role of the Royal Arch in the Freemasonry story, and I suppose, by association, that makes me evangelical about it too, says Mike Rix, Lincolnshire's Second Grand Principal in the Royal Arch
Why so? It’s like this; awakened to the reality of the Royal Arch and what it had to offer when I joined it at the Masonic Centre at Crowle in Lincolnshire, I’m now in the position of helping others – perhaps like you – to see what it can offer them too.
I can’t tell if my evangelical feelings for the Royal Arch have led me to the role of Second Provincial Grand Principal in Lincolnshire, and seats on the Chapter Focus Group in the Province and similar bodies associated with Supreme Grand Chapter, but frankly it hardly matters. I’d feel the same about the companionship of the Order either way.
Let me reiterate. In an earlier article on this topic I highlighted the background story of the Third Degree in Craft Freemasonry; a story that’s actually a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions, telling the account of assault, death, and the subsequent manhunt. Remember I suggested it could be a ‘duf-duf-duf’ moment in Eastenders? Well, TV has moved on. Now we could liken it to searching for H in Line of Duty, or some other parallel in Game of Thrones.
In Freemasonry the episode beyond Craft Freemasonry is the Chapter; containing as it does the happy ending with its story, characters, and hidden meanings of self-discovery.
With my colleagues on the Focus Group we have sought to shine a light on a new Chapter (if you’ll pardon the pun) for about half of the Province’s Master Masons.
I suspect our Provincial Communications Officer is a bit of a pessimist. Tell him the good news that Lincolnshire has one of UGLE’s highest proportions of Master Masons going on to join Chapter as part of their Masonic journey, and he’ll flip the coin and ask about the other half; the half that are missing out. He’s not wrong, of course (though it has been known).
Only four Provinces out of 48 (if you count Metropolitan Grand Lodge as one) have more Royal Arch Freemasons than Lincolnshire as a proportion of their total membership. That's an awful lot of people understanding only part of the story.
The way the Focus Group has gone about promoting the Royal Arch – ‘the beautiful degree’ – is still ‘work in progress’, and I suppose always will be. Every bit of progress is just somewhere to stand whilst looking for the next opportunity. (Our PCO told me that as well). We are getting the message out, and the response is coming back in terms of the numbers who are making the same journey I did.
Here’s some of the things we’ve done:
- We’ve produced learning materials for Master Masons (which, with the item below, is seen by Supreme Grand Chapter as being a bold an innovative step)
- We’ve supported members of the Active Chapter Team to be ambassadors for the Royal Arch
- We have created a Talking Heads presentation still available for a Craft Lodge demonstration*
- We have striven to empower, promote, support, and encourage wherever we can.
I joined the Royal Arch to spend time with my friends, and to make new ones. But I’ve done much more. I have discovered Companionship for life’s journey, and when I look around the room at a Chapter meeting I see like-minded people, and I know what I would have missed if I’d not accepted a fateful meeting to a Craft Lodge in Crowle, which first awakened me to the possibilities of the Royal Arch.
I don’t want Craft Freemasons to miss out on the epiphany I had at the Isle of Axholme Chapter in Crowle; not to have the chance to join this new dimension of Freemasonry.
I hope I sound passionate about it, because I am, and I make no apology for that. Please find out more for yourself. Talk to your Craft Lodge’s Royal Arch representative; his name ought to be on the summons, or any member – they’ll be wearing a Chapter jewel with its white, burgundy, or three-coloured ribbon. Those conversations will set you on a similar path to the one I’ve trodden – and deliver the same life-enriching rewards.
As told to Lincolnshire's Provincial Communications Officer Stuart Pearcey