The guardian of regularity
Treading a fine line between advice and interference, Derek Dinsmore’s position as Grand Chancellor is akin to that of Foreign Secretary when it comes to working with Grand Lodges around the world
When did you become a Freemason?
I was initiated in 1970 in the Midlands at Chevron Lodge, No. 6021, where I was also involved with rugby. I played for a club up there and the president of the Worcestershire and Herefordshire Rugby Union proposed me into his lodge. I was in the fashion business and had to come back to London, where I was starting my own business, and I was then asked to go through the Chair. I had control of my own diary, so I was able to go up to their meetings on a Friday. My wife was from Birmingham, so it matched up with weekends when she would go back to see her mother.
In London, I joined the Rose Croix in 1980 and was Grand Director of Ceremonies for 10 years. By that time, I was working with a German company, looking after the promotion of their products in the UK and Ireland. I retired when I was 58 and started to focus more on my Freemasonry. I was then offered the position of Grand Chancellor at Grand Lodge, taking over from Alan Englefield, who was my predecessor, in 2012.
Why was the position of Grand Chancellor created in 2007?
The relationship between our Provinces, Districts and all the overseas Grand Lodges that we recognise used to come under the responsibility of the Grand Secretary. However, with things like the break-up of the Eastern Bloc in the 1990s, the Grand Secretary had to spend an increasing amount of time dealing with urgent external relations as more Grand Lodges sought recognition, sometimes to the detriment of other matters under his care.
The Rulers and the Board of General Purposes therefore decided to relieve the Grand Secretary of the pressure of external relations and created the office of Grand Chancellor in 2007. I’m responsible for overseas relations, not our Districts, and with Grand Lodge now recognising 197 Grand Lodges around the world, there is a lot to deal with.
Of course, I always knew through my days in Rose Croix at Duke Street [in London] of the regard in which the United Grand Lodge of England was held. However, it wasn’t until I started doing this job that I realised quite how high a position we have in the world as the ‘Mother Grand Lodge’. Each Grand Lodge is sovereign, but we do get asked for advice a lot and we have to be very careful in the way that we conduct ourselves.
On the whole, everybody wants to be on side and wants to keep it that way. Generally, that’s the role of the Grand Chancellor – to be seen, to be spoken to, to give advice when asked, and to promote regular Freemasonry worldwide. The biggest problem we’ve got is not regular Freemasonry but irregular Freemasonry. That’s becoming more and more of an issue with things like the internet. With so many voices on the web, people don’t know the difference between regular and irregular Freemasonry.
So is your role to make sure Grand Lodges stick to the rules?
There are principles in our Book of Constitutions that we would call ‘regularity’. If somebody asks me why does UGLE recognise another Grand Lodge the answer would be because we are happy with its regularity and that we would be content for our members to inter-visit with their members. However, there are lots of Grand Lodges, or bodies calling themselves Grand Lodges, around the world that don’t comply with our rules of regularity. They might have mixed lodges, not believe in the great architect of the universe, get involved in politics or religion – things that we would call ‘irregular’.
I’m convinced that the reason that we are going to celebrate our Tercentenary this year is because we’ve not got involved in politics and religion over time; otherwise I think it would have been the end of English Freemasonry. So we have to be careful, and that’s what we’re really trying to do, trying to promote regular Freemasonry. If there is more than one Grand Lodge in a jurisdiction that applies to us for recognition then, provided that the two agree to share the territory or jurisdiction, we would consider recognising them as regular bodies.
‘It was always a question of when, rather than if, we would re-recognise the Grand Loge Nationale Française’
How do you approach your role?
The best bit of advice I was ever given when I first started travelling for Duke Street, around 16 years ago, was that once you’d flown over the Isle of Wight, forget what goes on in English Freemasonry. It’s not about implementing or taking a set of working practices out to other Grand Lodges. Every single one is entirely sovereign and nobody can tell it what to do.
After every trip as Grand Chancellor I make a report. There is also a group of people behind me, I’m not pushed out there on my own. I report to the External Relations Committee, which is a subcommittee of the Board of General Purposes, and I’m also on the Board of General Purposes itself.
If we consider that a Grand Lodge’s practices are irregular, then we’ve only really got two courses of action. One is to suspend relations and the other is, as a last resort, to withdraw recognition. Because of the respect and recognition that UGLE has, just being able to do that does give it power, which is why there is a fine line between advice and interference – you’ve got to tread a fairly careful road.
What happened in France in 2009?
The Grand Loge Nationale Française (GLNF) was formed more than a 100 years ago, and we never considered its members or lodges to be irregular. It was only the behaviour of the then Grand Master that we felt was bringing Freemasonry into disrepute. We made representations, but nothing changed. We then suspended relations, so members of lodges under UGLE and lodges under GLNF could go to their own lodges but there wouldn’t be any inter-visitation.
We hoped that this suspension would fire a warning shot across the bows, but after 12 months we had to withdraw recognition. This meant that those members who belonged to lodges under the GLNF and UGLE had to resign from one or the other. There was a lot of movement within Europe trying to create a confederation within France, and some were trying to open Districts within France.
We said to everyone, ‘Look, stand away, it’s a problem for the GLNF’s members. It’s for them to resolve, and outsiders should not get involved.’ For us, it was always a question of when, rather than if, we would re-recognise the GLNF. A new Grand Master was elected by the French brethren, a new executive appointed, and peace and harmony returned. After a period of about two years recognition was restored.
‘I’ve been in Freemasonry for 46 years and I’ll never be able to put back in as much as I’ve got out of it’
How do you interact with other Grand Lodges?
We have open invitations to our sister Grand Lodges to come to our Quarterly Communication meetings. We just ask them to give us four weeks’ notice, and we restrict the visitations to three senior members because of space. There’s a dinner the night before for the visiting Grand Masters, usually in Freemasons’ Hall, where we can talk about any issues, although we try and keep it social rather than business-led.
I also go to annual meetings at overseas Grand Lodges. It gives you the opportunity to talk to everybody and we can resolve most of the issues that come up through face-to-face meetings.
In my business life working for a German company, the common language was English, but sometimes I would be talking at a board meeting and they’d be saying ‘yes’, but when I looked at them I knew they hadn’t understood what I’d said. So I’d go another way to try to get the information across. That’s very important for my role, where I am talking to people whose first language isn’t English. It’s about face-to-face contact and getting a feeling about people.
What does Freemasonry mean to you?
I’ve been in Freemasonry for 46 years and I’ll never be able to put back in as much as I’ve got out of it. I believe very much in the principles of Freemasonry and I’m happy to promote them. They are as relevant today as they ever were, particularly to younger people.
Freemasonry is a personal journey for the individual and we hope that the lessons he learns will affect his public and private life. But for different people it means different things. I’ve met plenty of Freemasons who’ve become quite esoteric and spiritual but on the other hand you also get those people who meet four times a year with the same group, have dinner afterwards, go home and that’s that. There’s nothing wrong with either approach, it just depends on what the individual wants to get out of it – after all, it is a fraternal organisation.
For me, it’s been about being introduced to some great people who I would never otherwise have had the opportunity to meet. The nice thing about Freemasonry is that, irrespective of who you meet, we’ve all gone through the same process: we’ve all been initiated, we’ve all been passed, we’ve all been raised, and we’ve all gone through the rituals. That gives you a level and such a strong base.
It was a gentle journey of sorts...
It involved being gifted water by a gypsy family on the hot juncture where countryside meets the foothills of the Parisian conurbation.
It involved being spat on by a driver in that city's disaffected, poor banlieues.
And in Beauvais, passing a night on my road from London, an Edinburgh man and Grande Loge Nationale Française (GLNF) Provincial Officer, William Laughton, dredged forth his bicycle to crest the first hill with me – the morning after he and his French bride greeted me with Islay whiskies and cheeses which were slightly more local.
I'd pedalled off on the Wednesday, to swap the Crystal Palace Transmitter for the Eiffel Tower, for a London Air Ambulance I hoped not to need on the way.
All this was in memory of two friends, and predecessor First Principals of the Royal Somerset House and Inverness Chapter No. 4 - Clive Thompson and Professor Merton Sandler. Both were lovely chaps who will be fondly remembered for quite a run of time. (Merton was known in medicine and elsewhere as a pioneer within his subject of brain biochemistry. His obituary in the Guardian is here).
I began with a breakneck scamper, atop a Ridgeback Voyage tourer named Herman, to cycle to the sea and set sail – catching by a trice the 11:00pm Newhaven-Dieppe ferry, planning a few hours' sleep in the Channel which aboard the roar and heave of the actual MV Seven Sisters did not quite transpire.
In Normandy, as I cycled a disused rail path beginning in Arques-la-Bataille, almost every last local I passed paused to say hullo. (I paused too, but for twenty minutes' sleep on a park bench).
I joined masonry for enlightenment, and got sunburn on the D927 through la Picardie. (Irish skin and sun sum up to bad news).
Reaching on Friday a city engrossed by strike, I arced off the Boulevard Pereire on to the Rue de Saussure in the capital's northwest, then the gentle right to the Rue de Pisan and the chic Parisian building of the Grande Loge Nationale Française.
A few companions of our chapter were there to meet me with water and rush me – possibly not entirely early – into the GLNF's grand temple, two grand pillars guarding each side of its doors, where we were able to attend a Convocation Exceptionelle of Chapitre No. 25, and an exaltation worked for our benefit in French with Gallic aplomb.
Over dinner – l'Agape, our French brothers call it – I said how happy we British companions and brethren had been to be able to join them, and that our communication with their constitution had been restored. That we had not been complete without them, and had missed them.
This, anyhow, is what I meant to say. Bear in mind I was speaking in French – so I might well have said I was an octopus.
But they were gracious, toasting the Queen and our Grand Master. I ate with hands possibly just a smidge swollen, a side effect of hanging on for dear life.
I had hurled myself before on the kindness of unknown brethren, advancing from Land's End to John o' Groats as a journeyman bicyclist, and the year after, running from the top of Ireland at Malin (you see, reader, downhill!) to its rump in Mizen.
Each time I inflicted myself on kindly, long-suffering strangers' sofas a remarkably consistent twelve hours after I'd intended to appear. To their credit, they each opened up their door to me, guided perhaps by a morbid curiosity, at 4 or 5 o'clock in the morning, and – as much their interest as mine – showing me the way to their shower, quickly tempting their washing machine to an unforeseen nocturnal kit wash.
All this called to mind mediaeval pilgrimage, a perambulation less akin to RyanAir than to the writings of Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor, or perhaps a wandering journeyman or compagnon (the French use this to describe a fellow craft, as well as a Royal Arch companion) who seeks to become a master.
Our Chapter fundraising, www.virginmoneygiving.com/air-ambulance-cycle, is now over midway to its goal. The £4 million campaign to purchase a second air ambulance for London has been covered amply by the BBC. Half the cost is being met by us, the masons of London.
And strapped sweltering to a heavy Herman, I thought of a bevy of supportive compagnons at l'Agape and London, and sharing yarns of misadventure from the dusty route intertwining London and Paris, a tale of two cities.
Because compagnons, we'll always have Paris.
Joint statement from the United Grand lodge of England; the Grand Lodge of Ireland; and the Grand Lodge of Scotland on the "Berlin Declaration"
We have received a copy of the Berlin Declaration and welcome the fact that the five Grand Masters who have signed it are proposing to follow the United Grand Lodge of England and the Grand Lodges of Ireland and Scotland, and others, by restoring recognition to the Grande Loge Nationale Française.
The question of granting recognition to the new Confederation of French Freemasonry is an entirely separate matter. It is a long standing principle of international Masonic relations that where a Grand Lodge exists a second Grand Lodge cannot be recognised, no matter how regular it might be, without the agreement of the existing Grand Lodge to share territorial jurisdiction with it. As the Grande Loge Nationale Française has not agreed to share its territory with the Confederation, and having re-recognised the Grande Loge Nationale Française to then unilaterally recognise the Confederation without their blessing would constitute a breach of this long standing principle, and even be thought to be interference in the territorial jurisdiction of a Grand Lodge.
Since the idea of a Confederation was first floated England, Ireland and Scotland have consistently stated that a "blanket" recognition cannot be given to such a body and that we would require solid evidence that each of the Grand Lodges which are part of the Confederation individually complies with the generally accepted principles for Grand Lodge Recognition. Should one of them not comply with those generally accepted principles then recognition cannot be extended to the Confederation.
At the present time the United Grand Lodge of England and the Grand Lodges of Ireland and Scotland are not considering recognising any other Grand Lodge in France and will not do so in future without the agreement of the Grande Loge Nationale Française.
It is stated that the Confederation is a means of bringing together regular Grand Lodges in France and that it will act as an "umbrella" to represent regular French Freemasonry on the international stage, as the United Grand Lodges of Germany does for regular German Freemasonry. For one hundred years the Grande Loge Nationale Française has been internationally recognised as the representative of regular French Freemasonry. A Confederation claiming to represent regular French Freemasonry which does not include the Grande Loge Nationale Française or in any way have its blessing, can have no credibility on the international stage.
|Charles Iain Robert Wolrige Gordon of Esslemont||Peter G. Lowndes||Douglas T. Grey|
|Grand Master Mason||Pro Grand Master||Acting Grand Master|
Grande Loge Nationale Française
In 2012 the United Grand Lodge of England, the Grand Lodge of Ireland and the Grand Lodge of Scotland (the Home Grand Lodges), because of internal problems within the Grande Loge Nationale Française (GLNF), each withdrew recognition from the GLNF. This action was undertaken in the belief that it was in the best interests of the Home Grand Lodges to distance themselves from the problems within the GLNF and to give the GLNF time and space to resolve their problems without external interference.
The Home Grand Lodges continued to monitor the situation and believe that the actions taken by the current leadership of the GLNF have actively and comprehensively addressed the problems which led to the withdrawal of recognition, with the almost unanimous support of the Brethren of the GLNF, and that peace and harmony have now been restored.
Accordingly, at their respective Quarterly Communications held on 5th June (Ireland), 11th June (England) and 12th June (Scotland) 2014 the Home Grand Lodges each moved resolutions to restore recognition to the GLNF, which resolutions were accepted.
|Charles Wolrige Gordon of Esslemont||Peter Lowndes||Douglas Grey|
|Grand Master Mason||Pro Grand Master||Deputy Grand Master|
Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge
11 June 2014
Report of the Board of General Purposes
The Minutes of the Quarterly Communication of 12 March 2014 and of the Annual Investiture of 30 April 2014 were confirmed.
The Board’s recommendation for the annual dues payable to Grand Lodge in respect of each member of every lodge for the year 2015 was approved.
The Board’s recommendation that fees (exclusive of VAT) payable for registration, certificates and dispensations should be increased in line with inflation was approved.
Contribution to The Grand Charity
The Resolution was not put.
2013: As we were seen - the Press and Freemasonry
The Lecturer, P.R. Calderwood, informed the Board that in addition to the three official deliveries to Jubilee Masters Lodge, No. 2712 (London), Bowen Lodge, No. 2816 (Buckinghamshire) and Torbay Masters Lodge, No. 8227 (Devonshire), the Lecture was also delivered on twenty-six other occasions throughout the Constitution. The Board thanked Bro. Calderwood for the considerable time and effort he has spent in this connection.
2014: 1814: Consolidation and Change
The Prestonian Lecturer for 2014 is Dr M.A. Kearsley. Three official Prestonian Lectures for 2014 have been or will be given under the auspices of The London Grand Rank Association, Egerton Worsley Lodge, No. 1213, Eccles (West Lancashire) and Temple of Athene Lodge, No. 9541, Harrow (Middlesex).
2015: The Board has submitted a nomination to the Trustees of the Prestonian Fund and they have appointed Prof R. Burt as Prestonian Lecturer for 2015. The title of his Lecture will be Wherever dispersed – the Travelling Mason.
Arrangements for the delivery of the Lectures to selected lodges will be considered by the Board in November and applications are now invited from lodges. Applications should be made to the Grand Secretary, through Metropolitan, Provincial or District Grand Secretaries.
The Board desires to emphasise the importance of these, the only Lectures held under the authority of the Grand Lodge. It is, therefore, hoped that applications for the privilege of having one of these official Lectures will be made only by lodges which are prepared to afford facilities for all Freemasons in their area, as well as their own members, to participate and thus ensure an attendance worthy of the occasion.
Traditional History of the Third Degree
In May 2011 it was brought to the Board’s attention that some lodges were working only the main part of the Third Degree ceremony, leaving the Traditional History to be delivered on a future occasion. The Board concluded that the delivery of the Traditional History of the Third Degree, containing as it does certain of the secrets of the degree, was an integral part of the ceremony of Raising. It therefore instructed the Grand Secretary not to register any Brother as having received the Third Degree until it was established that he had received the Traditional History.
Although it was the hope of the Board that as a consequence of this direction the practice of delivering the Traditional History on a separate occasion would gradually cease, this has not proved to be the case.
The practice appears to be largely unknown in London and most Provinces, and Provincial Grand Masters generally have expressed surprise that it should exist. It has been suggested (though this is not easily capable of verification) that, with fewer candidates coming forward, Lodges are ‘spinning out’ their work. If this is so, it would suggest that the practice is of recent origin; and it is, at any rate, certain that all the more commonly used rituals treat the Third Degree as a single indivisible whole. Moreover, the omission of the Traditional History saves only some ten to fifteen minutes, so that the overall length of the ceremony is unlikely to have been a significant consideration.
The Board has now reaffirmed its view that the delivery of the Traditional History of the Third Degree is an integral part of the ceremony of Raising. It therefore trusts that the Grand Lodge will endorse its recommendation that the Third Degree be given in its entirety on every occasion that it is worked.
Grande Loge Nationale Française
At its Quarterly Communication in September 2011 the Grand Lodge voted to suspend relations with the Grande Loge Nationale Française (the ‘GLNF’) in view of the widespread disharmony then existing within that Grand Lodge.
At the Quarterly Communication in September 2012 the Board reported that the situation within the GLNF had deteriorated and that the continuing turbulence within the GLNF made it impossible at that time to determine the true state of affairs. The Board, after taking advice from the Grand Registrar, had reluctantly decided that it had no alternative but to recommend that it was in the best interests of the Grand Lodge that recognition be withdrawn from the GLNF. The Grand Lodge voted to withdraw recognition.
The Board has continued to monitor the situation and notes that changes have been made in the Constitution and Rules of the GLNF, with the full support and participation of the members, which should in future prevent any individual or group of individuals usurping power, and that significant numbers of former members are returning to the GLNF. The GLNF has now submitted a request to this Grand Lodge that the Grand Lodge restore recognition of the GNLF.
The Board believes that the problems which led to the withdrawal of recognition in September 2012 have been actively addressed by the new Grand Master and his executive and that stability and harmony have returned to the GLNF. Accordingly, the Board recommends that the Grand Lodge restore recognition to the GLNF.
A Resolution to this effect was approved.
Paper of Business and Printed Proceedings of the Grand Lodge
The Board has appointed a committee which is considering how electronic systems and methods might be used to streamline systems and produce economies in the way in which Freemasonry is administered at all levels. It is expected that some of the measures which may be recommended will require amendments to the Book of Constitutions and the Board expects to give notice of motion in September to introduce the first of such amendments.
In the meantime, the Board has considered the wording of Rule 47 which requires the Grand Secretary to forward the papers of business and the Proceedings of the Grand Lodge to Grand Officers and certain others, and to send copies to all lodge secretaries. It has concluded that the Rule already permits this to be done by electronic means and accordingly proposes that, starting with the Quarterly Communication in December 2014, such papers should in future be so transmitted to those within the specified categories for whom the Grand Secretary’s office has an e-mail address, unless the Brethren concerned request otherwise. The Board wishes to stress the importance of Brethren ensuring that they inform those who will need the information of any change in e-mail address or any other relevant contact details.
The Committee will also in due course consider all other aspects of electronic systems and related technology insofar as they may be relevant to streamlining current procedures and methods.
Audit of Lodge and Other Accounts
It has been brought to the Board’s attention that both national and international professional accountancy bodies are seeking to place restrictions on their members carrying out any process described as an ‘audit’ that does not conform to the exacting regulations that they lay down. Those regulations are in general intended to govern the audit of accounts far more complex than those of masonic units, and impose a level of compliance and responsibility in excess of what is required for most masonic accounts.
The Board is concerned that Brethren possessed of useful (even though not essential) skill and expertise will be discouraged or prevented from undertaking the audit of lodge and other masonic accounts as a consequence of what it considers to be no more than a matter of nomenclature. It therefore trusts that the Grand Lodge will endorse its recommendation that whenever a Rule in the Book of Constitutions or a lodge’s, Province’s or District’s by-laws requires that accounts be audited such Rule will, in the case of an individual who is a professionally qualified accountant or auditor, be deemed to be complied with if he carries out an ‘examination’ of those accounts and certifies that he has done so.
The Board had received reports that the following lodges had resolved to surrender their Warrants:
Blackheath Lodge, No. 1320 (London) in order to amalgamate with Lodge Fidelis, No. 5405 (London); Leyland Lodge, No. 4249 in order to amalgamate with Hesketh Lodge, No. 986 (West Lancashire); Kentish Companions Lodge, No. 8483 in order to amalgamate with Hervey Lodge, No. 1692 (West Kent); and Mount Sinai Lodge, No. 8855 in order to amalgamate with Old Mancunians Lodge No. 3140 (East Lancashire). The Board recommendation that the lodges be removed from the register of Grand Lodge in order to effect the amalgamations was approved.
Erasure of Lodges
The Board had received a report that thirty-five lodges had closed and had surrendered their Warrants. They are: Lodge of Affability with Villiers, No. 317 (East Lancashire); Yarborough Lodge, No. 633 (East Lancashire); Callender Lodge, No. 1052 (East Lancashire); Starkie Lodge, No. 1634 (East Lancashire); All Saints Lodge, No. 1716 (London); St George’s Lodge, No. 1723 (East Lancashire); Radcliffe Lodge, No. 2701 (East Lancashire); Westcliff Lodge, No. 2903 (Essex); Proscenium Lodge, No. 4152 (Cheshire); Victory Lodge, No. 4157 (South Africa, North); Isthmian Lodge, No. 4566 (Essex); Halliwick Lodge, No. 4800 (London).
Aintree Lodge, No. 4906 (West Lancashire); Anglo-Dutch and Barnes Lodge, No. 4968 (London); Sphere Lodge, No. 5051 (Warwickshire); Pro Minimis and Marble Arch Lodge, No. 5180 (London); Halcyon Lodge, No. 5300 (East Lancashire); Farnworth Lodge, No. 5301 (East Lancashire); Hounslow Lodge, No. 5415 (Middlesex); Summit Lodge, No. 5944 (Staffordshire); Heber Lodge, No. 6241 (Northumberland); St Michael’s Lodge, No. 6332 (Durham); Stamford and Assheton Lodge, No. 6427 (East Lancashire).
Lodge of True Friendship, No. 6631 (London); Richard Taunton Lodge, No. 7050 (Hampshire & Isle of Wight); Dextras Dare Lodge, No. 7054 (London); Cricketers Lodge, No. 7508 (Northumberland); Monitorial Lodge, No. 7676 (London); Lodge of Fraternal Friendship, No. 7777 (London); St Edmund Lodge, No. 7945 (West Kent); Hilsea Bastion Lodge, No. 8245 (Hampshire & Isle of Wight); Lodge of Dignity, No. 8304 (East Lancashire); Tewkesbury Lodge, No. 8344 (London); Ajex Lodge, No. 8407 (London); and Hawkshaw Lodge, No. 8624 (East Lancashire).
Over recent years, the lodges had found themselves no longer viable. The Board was satisfied that further efforts to save them would be to no avail and therefore had no alternative but to recommend that they be erased. A Resolution to this effect was approved.
Fifteen brethren have been expelled from the Craft.
Grand Lodge Accounts for 2013
The Audited Accounts of Grand Lodge for the year ended 31 December 2013 were approved.
Election of Grand Lodge Auditors
The re-election of Crowe Clark Whitehill LLP, as Auditors of Grand Lodge, was approved.
A Quarterly Communication of the Grand Lodge is held on the second Wednesday in March, June, September and December. The next will be at noon on Wednesday, 10 September 2014. Subsequent Communications will be held: 10 December 2014, 11 March 2015, 10 June 2015 and 9 September 2015.
The Annual Investiture of Grand Officers takes place on the last Wednesday in April (the next is on 29 April 2015), and admission is by ticket only. A few tickets are allocated by ballot after provision has been made for those automatically entitled to attend. Full details will be given in the Paper of Business for December Grand Lodge.
Supreme Grand Chapter
Convocations of Supreme Grand Chapter are held on the second Wednesday in November and the day following the Annual Investiture of Grand Lodge. Future Convocations will be held on 12 November 2014, 30 April 2015 and 11 November 2015.
12 March 2014
A Statement by The President of the Board of General Purposes, RW Bro Anthony Wilson, concerning Grande Loge Nationale Française (GLNF)
MW Pro Grand Master and Brethren, in September last the Grand Chancellor made a short statement on our position with regard to the GLNF. The Board has continued to monitor the situation and I believe it would be useful for Grand Lodge to receive an update on the subject. The Board has been encouraged by the progress being made in restoring peace and harmony within the GLNF. A special meeting will be held in April at which the members of the GLNF will be invited to approve significant changes to their Constitution and Rules, which will return power to the Grand Lodge and its members. If those changes go through, the Board believes that it would be possible to consider restoring recognition to the GLNF in the near future. The Grand Lodges of Ireland and Scotland are of the same opinion.
11 September 2013
A statement by the Grand Chancellor Derek Dinsmore on the Grande Loge Nationale Française (GLNF)
MW Pro Grand Master and brethren, Grand Lodge will recall that twelve months ago it voted to withdraw recognition from the Grande Loge Nationale Française (GLNF). Since then the Board and its External Relations Committee have continued to monitor the situation in France.
Last December the GLNF installed a new Grand Master, MW Bro Jean Pierre Servel, as a result of which the mandate of the Court appointed administrator ceased so that the GLNF is once again in full control of its affairs. His predecessor as Grand Master, having failed to attend a disciplinary hearing, has been expelled. The new Grand Master has already made changes welcomed by his brethren and is setting in train constitutional processes to return to the Grand Lodge and its constituent lodges powers and authority removed by his predecessor. His actions appear to be restoring harmony within the GLNF.
Five Grand Lodges in Europe – Austria, Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg and the Swiss Grand Lodge “Alpina” – have been in discussion with four other Grand Lodges in France with regard to the formation of a “Federation of Regular French Grand Lodges”. The four Grand Lodges, none of which has ever been recognised by this Grand Lodge, are: the Grande Loge de France, the Grande Loge de l’Alliance Maçonnique Française, the Grande Loge Traditionnelle et Symbolique Opéra and the Grande Loge Indépendante de France. In June they agreed a charter outlining the basic principles on which the Federation will be founded but have not yet given any details as to how it will be organised and administered. So far the discussions have not included the GLNF, despite its having been internationally recognised for almost one hundred years as the only representative of regular Freemasonry in France.
Whilst the five European Grand Lodges have kept us informed of the progress of the discussions it is important to note that this Grand Lodge has not been a party to them nor has it given any sanction to the project. It is equally important to note that, should the Federation come into being, before we could consider extending recognition this Grand Lodge would have to be wholly satisfied that each of its constituent Grand Lodges fully complied with our Basic Principles for Grand Lodge Recognition.
The “blogosphere” is, as usual, full of rumour and misinformation, particularly regarding what the United Grand Lodge of England is supposedly planning in relation to France. We continue to believe that the problems in France are internal to that country and that the French brethren should be allowed to sort out their problems without interference from outside. Whilst we welcome the changes taking place within the GLNF we do not have under active consideration any plan to recognise or re-recognise any Grand Lodge in France. We will continue to monitor the situation and, in doing so, will not enter into any formal discussions with any of the Grand Lodges in France. As a consequence of this position, we shall not be participating in any way in the centenary celebrations of the GLNF to be held later this year.
12 September 2012
Statements by the President of the Board of General Purposes and the Grand Chancellor concerning Grande Loge Nationale Française (GLNF)
The President of the Board of General Purposes, RW Bro Anthony Wilson:
MW Pro Grand Master and brethren, I believe that there is nothing in the Board’s Report that calls for comment, except for the paragraphs relating to the National Grand Lodge of France, and even they are largely self-explanatory. Since this Grand Lodge suspended relations with the GLNF twelve months ago the Board has continued to monitor the situation. It is clear that the GLNF is not in full control of its own affairs. For well over a year its administration and finances have been under the control of a Court appointed administrator, Maitre Legrand. She, although not a Freemason or a member of the GLNF, is currently organising the nominations for and election of a new Grand Master.
To complicate matters further, we understand that at the end of April a group of members of the GLNF and their Lodges broke away and formed a new Grand Lodge which now claims over 10,000 members and more than 500 Lodges. It has just been announced that a further group has broken away and is intent on forming yet another Grand Lodge. It is, therefore, becoming impossible to know who are and who are not bona fide members of the GLNF, which at this moment remains the only Grand Lodge in France recognised by this Grand Lodge.
The Board is aware that, if its recommendation is accepted by Grand Lodge, a number of our members who have joint memberships will need to decide with which constitution they will remain. The Board regrets this but it has a duty to have regard to the best interests of the whole English Craft and in the present circumstances believes those interests will be best served by withdrawing recognition from the GLNF. One hundred years ago members of this Grand Lodge were materially involved in the formation of the GLNF and the return of regular Freemasonry to France: for this and other reasons, the Board’s recommendation was not reached lightly but only after considerable discussion and consultation.
It is important to emphasise that in making this recommendation the Board is not stating that the GLNF or its members are in any way irregular, nor will the withdrawal of recognition of itself make them so. They will, however, become unrecognised though capable of being re-recognised at some future point. For that reason the Board has not entered into discussion with any of the other bodies claiming to represent regular Freemasonry in France nor does it have any intention at the present time of recommending to this Grand Lodge the recognition of any other Grand Lodge in France.
Indeed, we have just learnt that in the last few days a candidate for the Grand Mastership has been nominated. His name will go forward for approval by a General Meeting of the GLNF. The Board will continue to monitor events in France and hopes that this may be the first step – and I emphasise the words “the first step” - towards normalising relations between our two Grand Lodges. In the meantime, however, this event does not change the Board’s recommendation to withdraw recognition.
The Grand Chancellor, VW Bro Derek Dinsmore:
MW Pro Grand Master and brethren, in moving the resolution standing in my name at item 3 of the Paper of Business may I add to the President’s comment on the regularity of the GLNF. Although it has serious internal problems we believe that the Lodges and members of the GLNF are working in a regular manner. Withdrawal of recognition will not of itself affect the GLNF’s regularity and it will be capable of re-recognition. There is a long established, fundamental principle of Masonic international relations that where Freemasonry exists within a territory, whether or not it is formally recognised, that territory is closed to other Grand Lodges, and the latter should not set up lodges there. Despite the growing number of Grand Lodges which are withdrawing recognition from the GLNF, France remains closed territory and this Grand Lodge would not look kindly on any other Grand Lodge which attempted to invade French territory by setting up Lodges there or taking into its jurisdiction Lodges warranted by the GLNF.
MW Pro Grand Master and Brethren, for the reasons given in the Report of the Board of General Purposes, I move that recognition of be withdrawn.
Grand Lodge subsequently voted to approve the motion that recognition be withdrawn from the Grande Loge Nationale Française (GLNF) with immediate effect.
Quarterly Communications of Grand Lodge
12 September 2012
Report of the Board of General Purposes
Meetings in 2013
The Board of General Purposes will meet in 2013 on 12 February, 19 March, 14 May, 16 July, 17 September and 12 November.
Attendance at Lodges under the English Constitution by Brethren from other Grand Lodges
The Board drew attention to Rule 125 (b), Book of Constitutions, and the list of Grand Lodges recognised by the United Grand Lodge of England, which is published in the Masonic Year Book, copies of which are sent to Secretaries of Lodges.
Attendance at Lodges Overseas
Brethren are reminded that it is part of their duty as members of the English Constitution not to associate Masonically with members of unrecognised constitutions, and should such a situation occur, they should tactfully withdraw, even though their visit may have been formally arranged.
Brethren should not attempt to make any Masonic contact overseas without having first checked (preferably in writing) with the Grand Secretary’s Office at Freemasons’ Hall, Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5AZ, that there is recognised Freemasonry in the country concerned and, if so, whether there is any particular point which should be watched.
The Board recommends that the terms of this warning should be repeated verbally in open Lodge whenever a Grand Lodge Certificate is presented, and in print once a year in a Lodge’s summons. Brethren should also be aware of the Masonic convention that communications between Grand Lodges be conducted by Grand Secretaries.
Prestonian Lecture 2013
The Trustees of the Prestonian Fund have appointed W Bro P.R. Calderwood as Prestonian Lecturer for 2013. The title of his Lecture is "As we were seen – the Press and Freemasonry".
Arrangements for the delivery of the Lectures to selected Lodges will be considered by the Board in November and applications are now invited from Lodges.
Applications should be made to the Grand Secretary, through Metropolitan, Provincial or District Grand Secretaries. The Board desires to emphasise the importance of these, the only Lectures held under the authority of the Grand Lodge.
It is, therefore, hoped that applications for the privilege of having one of these official Lectures will be made only by Lodges which are prepared to afford facilities for all Freemasons in their area, as well as their own members, to participate and thus ensure an attendance worthy of the occasion.
Grand Loge Nationale Française
Statements made by the President of the Board of General Purposes and the Grand Chancellor are available here.
Grand Lodge subsequently voted to approve the motion that recognition be withdrawn from the Grande Loge Nationale Française (GLNF) with immediate effect.
Conditional Recognition of a Foreign Grand Lodge
The Grand Lodge of Ireland currently has 20 Lodges meeting under its Provincial Grand Lodge of Nigeria and the Grand Lodge of Scotland has 45 Lodges meeting there under its District Grand Lodge of Nigeria.
It is the intention of the Grand Lodges of Ireland and Scotland, following consultation with this Grand Lodge, to constitute from their Province and District respectively a Grand Lodge of Nigeria on 3 November 2012.
To date none of the 33 Lodges under our own District of Nigeria has indicated a desire to participate in the formation of the new Grand Lodge, but nevertheless the Board of General Purposes has agreed that an English deputation should attend the Inauguration in order to lend support to the Grand Lodges of Ireland and Scotland.
By the time this Grand Lodge meets in December, the Grand Lodge of Nigeria will already have been constituted. The Board would prefer that the new Grand Lodge be recognised from the moment of its creation, rather than after a delay, and accordingly recommended this course.
A Resolution to this effect was approved.
Installed Masters’ Lodges
Since 1 January 2006 Installed Masters’ Lodges have been exempt from paying dues to Grand Lodge and the contribution to the Grand Charity, except in respect of those members who belong to no other Lodge.
From time to time the Grand Secretary receives a request from a Lodge such as a Provincial Grand Stewards’ Lodge or a research Lodge, all of the Members of which are Installed Masters, to be considered an Installed Masters’ Lodge, and therefore entitled to the exemption.
The Board wishes to remind Brethren that the exemption was introduced to recognise the special role traditional Installed Masters’ Lodges play in education and communication, and to make it plain that the exemption will not be granted to Lodges which are merely de facto Installed Masters’ Lodges.
At the same time the Board recognises that there exist certain Installed Masters Lodges which operate as such but are open to the Masters and Past Masters of a particular category of Lodges only, such as the City of London Lodge of Installed Masters, No. 8220.
The Board has hitherto considered itself to be acting within the spirit and intent of Rule 269 and Rule 271 in determining such Lodges to fulfil the requirements of the proviso to those Rules. It considers, however, that the time has now come to regularise the situation by making such Lodges clearly the subject of the exemption.
Notice of Motion to amend the Book of Constitutions accordingly appeared on the Paper of Business.
The Board had received a report that Hiraeth Lodge, No. 8834 had resolved to surrender its Warrant in order to amalgamate with Wenallt Lodge, No. 9082 (South Wales).The Board accordingly recommended that the Lodge be removed from the register in order to effect the amalgamation.
A Resolution to this effect was approved.
Erasure of Lodges
The Board had received a report that 15 Lodges had closed and voted to surrender their Warrants. The Lodges are: Portland Lodge, No. 637 (Staffordshire), Dalhousie Lodge, No. 860 (London), Cosmopolitan Lodge, No. 917 (London), John Hervey Lodge, No. 1260 (London), Clapton Lodge, No. 1365 (London), Victoria Park Lodge, No. 1816 (London), Raymond Thrupp Lodge, No. 2024 (Middlesex), Sheraton Lodge, No. 3019 (London), Westminster Hospital Lodge, No. 5292 (London), Priory of Lambeth Lodge, No. 6252 (London), Caslon Lodge, No. 6303 (London), Nile Lodge, No. 6476 (West Lancashire), Phoenix Lodge of Hanwell, No. 7317 (London), Lodge of Felicity, No. 7509 (Middlesex) and Rivermead Lodge, No. 8444 (Nottinghamshire).
The Board recommended that they be erased. A Resolution to this effect was approved.
Report of Library and Museum Trust
Board had received a report from the Library and Museum Charitable Trust.
Assuring the Future of Freemasonry
Grand Lodge received a talk entitled 'Assuring the Future of Freemasonry: making the Craft relevant to all generations'.
List of new Lodges for which Warrants have been granted
26 April 2012: No. 9874 Terpsichore Lodge (Stamford, Northamptonshire and Huntingdonshire).
13 June 2012: No. 9875 Armed Forces Lodge (Newport, Monmouthshire) and No. 9876 Cambria Meridian Lodge of Installed Masters (Rhyl, North Wales).
Meetings of Grand Lodge
Quarterly Communications of Grand Lodge will be held on 12 December 2012, 13 March 2013, 24 April 2013 (Annual Investiture), 12 June 2013, 11 September 2013 and 11 December 2013.
Meetings of Grand Chapter
Supreme Grand Chapter will meet 14 November 2012, 25 April 2013 and 16 October 2013.
12 September 2012
United Grand Lodge of England has voted to withdraw recognition from Grande Loge Nationale Française (GLNF) with immediate effect.
A full statement will follow shortly.