Regular Convocation of Supreme Grand Chapter
13 November 2019
An address by the ME Pro First Grand Principal Peter Lowndes
Companions, for a long time we have been trying to come up with good reasons why all Brethren should join the Royal Arch and I think between us we have had some success and the percentage of brethren who are members has increased almost everywhere over the last few years.
Today I want to turn the question round and ask, 'Why don’t all our Brethren join the Royal Arch'.
It seems to me that there are five main reasons (but I am sure others will come up with many more).
Firstly, they don’t know anything about it. If this were to be the main reason, I would be very depressed, which I am not. However, I am sure that there will be some who fall into this category and that is a real condemnation of those who appoint the Royal Arch Representatives in Lodges. They must clearly be failing in their duties. Where there are no Royal Arch representatives then senior Brethren and particularly Mentors as well as Proposers and Seconders must step up.
Secondly, they have heard about it, but have been put off by some aspect. Frequently I have heard people talking about how difficult the ritual is to learn. Surely our Brethren should be able to make up their own minds about that and not have seeds of doubt sewn in their minds without having tried it. Let them find out for themselves and if they are reluctant to join the ladder they can watch from the side until they feel ready. The exaltation ceremony is one of the best to sit and watch.
Personally, I don’t consider it any more difficult than any other ritual and the main long sector delivered by the Principal Sojourner is a good story which I have always found sticks in the mind reasonably well. Also, Companions, the Principal Sojourner has two assistants. Why should they not live up to their names and assist in the ceremony. The work splits naturally and gives the Assistant Sojourners good reason to attend.
With the fairly recent changes to the ritual the 1st Principal’s task has been considerably eased by sharing much of it with the other Principals.
Thirdly, cost. This is clearly relevant, and it is imperative that any candidates are fully briefed on this just as they should have been when joining the Craft. In part this can be considered in the same way as my fourth reason, time. Again, extremely relevant. Many Chapters only meet three times a year, but that is still an added burden for working people to manage. Do our Lodges, perhaps meet too often. Many meet 10+ times a year and along with Lodges of Instruction and rehearsals this is an enormous time burden on the young working brother. I know I shall be unpopular with many, but if Lodges that meet that often considered reducing the number of their meetings, it could possibly invigorate their Chapters, by saving the Brethren both time and money.
Fifthly, they have joined other orders already and have reached the limit of the involvement in Freemasonry that they want. If this is the case, we have again failed in our duties as Craft Masons. There can be no logical masonic reason for a craft mason to join any other order before joining the Royal Arch, unless they don’t know about the Royal Arch or the reasons for joining have been poorly explained.
I must add that I am all for our craft brethren joining whatever other legitimate order that they want, but strongly believe that the Royal Arch should come first.
Companions, the Royal Arch is a wonderful order as everyone here this morning knows, I am extremely proud of being the Pro First Grand Principal and look forward to the day when we can boast that more than 50% of Craft masons have joined the Order and we can then move upwards from there.