Celebrating 300 years
Wednesday, 27 August 2014 01:00

Joint statement on the Berlin Declaration

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.

August 2014

Signed by:

Charles Iain Robert Wolrige Gordon of Esslemont Peter G. Lowndes Douglas T. Grey
Grand Master Mason Pro Grand Master Acting Grand Master
Scotland England Ireland
Published in UGLE

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.

Signed by:

Charles Wolrige Gordon of Esslemont Peter Lowndes Douglas Grey
Grand Master Mason Pro Grand Master Deputy Grand Master
Scotland England Ireland

Published in UGLE
Wednesday, 11 June 2014 01:00

Pro Grand Master's address - June 2014

Quarterly Communication 

11 June 2014 
An address by the MW the Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes 

Brethren, over the last year or two there has been a certain amount of correspondence in the various masonic magazines regarding the pros and cons of reading rather than reciting our ritual.

One correspondent suggested that as ritual was read throughout European Grand Lodges, we should follow. I am not sure all our politicians would agree with that! Certainly it is true that reading ritual is prevalent in many European Grand Lodges, however it is not universally so, and, in any event, there surely is no good reason for us to follow their example. Indeed, I have many friends in European Lodges who envy the way we deliver our ritual.

You will note, brethren, that I said that they are envious of the way we 'deliver' our ritual and, in my experience, ritual that is recited has much greater meaning to the candidate than ritual that is read, although I am pleased to say I have not been present on many occasions that it has been read.

I entirely accept that learning ritual is time consuming and time is at a premium in today’s hectic schedule of life. But how often is it true that the busiest people are those who find the time to learn it. I am not going to pretend that I have ever found ritual learning easy, and, as time goes by, dare I say, I find learning new ritual more difficult, but, nonetheless, I shall never forget the satisfaction of carrying out a second degree ceremony at the first meeting that I was in the chair of my mother lodge. To be told by an extremely demanding DC that it had been adequate was as good as it gets! I should add that this was a great deal more complimentary than anything he ever said to me during the year that he taught me classics.

By definition reading means looking at the book and, if the deliverer is looking at the book, he is not looking at the candidate or the brethren to whom he is speaking. To read a text well is in itself a skill that not everyone has. Good reading needs preparation and unless our ritual is understood by the deliverer, what chance is there that it will be understood by the recipient. For the reader to have a good understanding of what he is saying he will have had to have read through the text on several occasions and it is most certainly not a case of turning up, opening a book and reading.

Our ritual is to be treasured and there are few better experiences than seeing and hearing a really well conducted masonic ceremony. 

One of the prime reasons that lodges are being encouraged to share the workload is so that members should spend time really learning and understanding what they are delivering and not just reciting ritual parrot fashion. It is inevitable that some members will find ritual easier than others and it is incumbent on all of us to ensure that as much help as possible is given to those who need it, thus giving everyone the opportunity to take pride in their delivery, however short a piece it may be.

I don’t expect what I have said today to be universally accepted, but I would be surprised if the majority do not agree with at least part of it.

Letters to the Editor - No. 28 Winter 2014

All in the delivery

Sir,

With regard to the June address by our Pro Grand Master, Peter Lowndes, there is no doubt that the candidate deserves to experience the ritual without the deliverer needing to read the text from a book. I was greatly impressed by the sincerity and meaning thus offered. At one time I could comfortably deliver the Second Degree Tracing Board as well as preside over a lodge or chapter with similar confidence, but now, with the years advancing and being into my seventies, such standards of delivery are now virtually impossible. The reluctant answer, where appropriate, is to delegate, but sometimes reading the ritual is just unavoidable. I do try to impart appropriate emotion with my delivery.

Barry Mitchell, Zetland Lodge, No. 511, London

Published in Speeches

Taking the right approach

Pro First Grand Principal Peter Lowndes emphasises the importance of making ritual enjoyable and marks the Royal Arch’s achievements

Grand Rank does come with responsibilities. For example, you have a duty to be mindful of both recruitment and retention in the Order. On recruitment, I would first ask who among you does in fact recruit and, to those of you who do recruit new members, are you sensitive to the right time to approach each potential exaltee? This sensitivity is also a challenge to Royal Arch representatives in Craft lodges and emphasises the reason why this is such an important appointment. 

Those of you who do not recruit, why not? Recruiting to the Royal Arch is, after all, simply a matter of persuading someone to extend their knowledge about a subject of which they are already partly aware and enjoy. It is not introducing them to something completely alien.

On retention, you can help by actively showing your enthusiasm for and enjoyment of the Order. Also, by guiding the new Companion through the various stages of his progression, making sure that, wherever possible, the work is shared, so that the ritual is enjoyed by him and does not become a burden to him.

‘Those of you who do not recruit, why not? Recruiting to the Royal Arch is, after all, simply a matter of persuading someone to extend their knowledge…’

In October last year we celebrated the Bicentenary of the Holy Royal Arch. The First Grand Principal announced then that the Royal Arch Masons 2013 Bicentenary Appeal for the Royal College of Surgeons had exceeded £2 million and that the appeal would remain open until the end of 2013. Companions, as you have already heard from the President of the Committee of General Purposes, the figure is now £2.5 million. This is a wonderful achievement and a great credit to the Royal Arch. 

I turn now to the Grand Temple organ restoration project, which is a Royal Arch initiative using existing funds. Designed and built by Henry Willis and Sons, the organ has been in place since Freemasons’ Hall was opened in 1933. It is possibly the largest complete, unaltered Willis instrument in full working order after eighty years. It is, however, in need of substantial restoration. 

English Heritage and Camden Council have agreed to the restoration plans with full completion in early 2015 – in good time for the Craft’s Tercentenary in 2017. Not only will this fine organ be restored, the Royal College of Organists will also be approached to investigate the possibility of encouraging young organists to use the Grand Temple Organ, as well as conducting organ recitals that are open to the public.

Published in SGC

United we stand

Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes considers how the future of Freemasonry depends on every part of the organisation working together

For men of quality to join, the unity of the English Constitution is crucial to our survival as a relevant organisation in society. In particular, I want to emphasise the importance of all the component parts of our organisation working together. Enormous progress has been made in the liaison between the centre, London, the Provinces and Districts.

The consistent approach from the centre is now very much a consultative one: working directly to seek views before making proposals for consensus approval. This is typically through the Grand Secretary; on behalf of the Rulers and Board of General Purposes; by direct contact or online surveys; or by Provincial Grand Masters championing or being members of committees looking into and ensuring the future of Freemasonry. This inclusive approach is working well and I am keen that it continues. 

This is an exciting time for Freemasonry, with several initiatives dealing with future recruitment and retention, as well as business effectiveness in running a large membership organisation. The brief of the newly formed Membership Focus Group is to advise the Board of General Purposes on how best Freemasonry can concentrate the minds of members, lodges, Provinces and Rulers to work in a collaborative, focused manner in stemming the decline in membership and meeting the long-term needs of the Craft. 

The Tercentenary Planning Committee is working with the Board of General Purposes looking at the overall plans for celebrations in 2017. Although there will be a final event in London towards the end of the year, I am determined that the Provinces and Districts run their own celebratory events throughout the year at times convenient to them. 

I have talked about Provincial Grand Masters being involved with helping to set the strategy as members of committees, but wider views are also sought with online surveys that are quick and informative. For example, we ran a survey seeking opinions on communication strategies for the English Constitution. More recently, we had a survey on potential new branding as we move towards 2017.

‘We are working more closely together than at any other time in our history.’

Let us not forget the Districts, which form an important part of the English Constitution. Last year, accompanied by the Grand Secretary, I attended business meetings with groups of District Grand Masters in Trinidad, Harare and Lagos, while the Deputy Grand Master attended the inaugural Asia Oceanic Conference of District Grand Lodges in Kuala Lumpur. In addition, I hold a dedicated meeting for all District Grand Masters who attend the Investitures in April.

As a united English Constitution, we are working more closely together than at any other time in our history. At a strategic level, I believe that continuing to work together will not only stem the decline in membership but also start to increase it to ensure the future of Freemasonry. 

At an individual level, consider the fact that the more members there are, the better chance Grand Lodge has of keeping the dues down.

Published in UGLE

Annual Investiture 

1 May 2014 
An address by the ME Pro First Grand Master Peter Lowndes 

Companions, this is a very special day for those that I have had the pleasure in investing and I congratulate you all. 

Grand Rank does come with responsibilities. For example, you have a duty to be mindful of both recruitment and retention in the Order. On recruitment, I would first ask – who among you does in fact recruit and, to those of you who do recruit new members - are you sensitive to the right time to approach each potential exaltee? This sensitivity is also a challenge to Royal Arch representatives in Craft Lodges and emphasises the reason why this is such an important appointment. Those of you who do not recruit, why not? Recruiting to the Royal Arch is, after all, simply a matter of persuading someone to extend their knowledge about a subject of which they are already partly aware and enjoy, not introducing them to something completely alien.

On retention, you can help by actively showing your enthusiasm for and enjoyment of the Order. Also, by guiding the new Companion through the various stages of his progression, making sure that, wherever possible, the work is shared, so that the ritual is enjoyed by him and does not become a burden to him.

As many of you will know, in October last year we celebrated the Bicentenary of the Holy Royal Arch. The First Grand Principal announced then that the Royal Arch Masons 2013 Bicentenary Appeal for the Royal College of Surgeons had exceeded £2m and that the Appeal would remain open until the end of 2013. Companions, as you have already heard from the President of the Committee of General Purposes, the figure is now £2.5m. This is a wonderful achievement and a great credit to the Royal Arch. Well done to those of you who have given so generously.

The First Grand Principal also took the opportunity to announce his intention to make additional appointments this year to past Grand Rank to Companions who have carried out significant work for the Appeal or had made a significant contribution in some other way to last year’s Bicentenary celebration. Grand Superintendents were responsible for making the recommendations based on this criteria and I again congratulate those of you who received these special appointments which celebrate the success of the Bicentenary.

I turn now to the Grand Temple organ restoration project, already briefly mentioned by the President, which is a Royal Arch initiative using existing funds. Designed and built by Henry Willis and Sons the Organ has been in place since this building was opened by the then Grand Master, the Duke of Connaught in 1933. It is possibly the largest complete unaltered Willis instrument in full working order after eighty years. It was, however, in need of substantial restoration. English Heritage and Camden Council have agreed to the restoration plans with full completion in early 2015 – in good time for the Craft’s tercentenary in 2017. Not only will this fine Organ be restored but the Royal College of Organists will be approached to investigate the possibility of encouraging young organists to use the Grand Temple Organ, as well as conducting organ recitals that are open to the public.

Finally Companions, great ceremonial events such as this take an enormous amount of planning for and direction on the day. I thank the Grand Scribe Ezra and his staff for all their planning and the Grand Director of Ceremonies and his Deputies for the smooth running of this memorable event.

Published in Speeches
Wednesday, 12 March 2014 12:00

Pro Grand Master's address - March 2014

Quarterly Communication 

12 March 2014 
An address by the MW the Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes 

Brethren, it has been a pleasure to install Right Worshipful Brother Sir David Wootton as Assistant Grand Master. In offering him our congratulations I know that you would want me to wish him well in his important task at this exciting time for Freemasonry. 

I also take this opportunity to thank RW Bro David Williamson for his thirteen years as Assistant Grand Master serving the English Constitution admirably in that role. I can think of few people who have done more for Freemasonry in general and the Craft in particular. I also know that I speak for Lord Northampton when I say that there could not have been a more loyal and supportive AGM.

It is, in fact, the unity of the English Constitution that I wish to talk about today. That unity is crucial to our survival as a relevant organisation in society for men of quality to join. In particular I want to emphasise the importance of all the component parts of our organisation working together. Enormous progress has been made in the liaison between the centre, here, and London, the Provinces and Districts.

The consistent approach from the centre is now very much a consultative one, working directly to seek views before making proposals for consensus approval. This is typically through the Grand Secretary, on behalf of the Rulers and Board of General Purposes by direct contact, online surveys or by Provincial Grand Masters championing or being members of committees looking into and ensuring the future of Freemasonry. This inclusive approach is working well. I am keen that it continues.

I will illustrate this inclusive approach with some examples to support this starting with the Board of General Purposes whose nine members include the Metropolitan Grand Master, two current and two past Provincial Grand Masters. They not only bring a wealth of experience but also an understanding of the issues directly facing the Provinces. For your information the latest issue of Freemasonry Today, which has just come out, has an article in which the President of the Board explains how the Board is fully transparent, where every member is an active contributor. He also mentions the increasing professionalism in the way the Craft is run with standards you would expect to find in successful businesses.

I mentioned that this is an exciting time for Freemasonry with several initiatives dealing with both future recruitment and retention as well as business effectiveness in running a large membership organisation. For example the newly formed Membership Focus Group which includes eight Provincial Grand Masters. Their brief is to advise the Board of General Purposes on how best Freemasonry can concentrate the minds of members, lodges, Provinces and Rulers to work in a collaborative and focused manner in stemming the decline in membership and meeting the long term needs of the Craft. Interestingly, they have already identified the high loss of members throughout the first ten years of membership. It is also already clear that the majority of recruitment is carried out by a relatively small number of members. 

The Tercentenary Planning Committee is working closely with the Board of General Purposes looking at the overall plans for celebrations in 2017. Although there will be a final event in London towards the end of the year, I am determined that the Provinces and Districts run their own celebratory events throughout the year at times convenient to them. With this in mind two Provincial Grand Masters sit on the Committee with the aim of supporting and coordinating the planning with other Provincial and District Grand Masters. This way, many more members, throughout the English Constitution, will be able to participate in celebrating this milestone in our great history.

I have talked about Provincial Grand Masters being involved with helping to set the strategy as members of committees. But, brethren, wider views are also sought with online surveys which are quick and informative. For example, we have run a survey seeking opinions on communication strategies for the English Constitution. More recently, we have had a survey on potential new branding as we move towards 2017. 

There are, of course, many other examples of how well we are all working together. I hold a business meeting for all Provincial Grand Masters the day before the annual Craft Investitures in April each year, and later this year I will be holding my next round of regional meetings with Provincial Grand Masters. These meetings have proved invaluable in the past, openly exchanging views and opinions.

Let us not forget the Districts who form an important part of the English Constitution. Last year, accompanied by the Grand Secretary, I attended business meetings with groups of District Grand Masters in Trinidad, Harare and Lagos whilst the Deputy Grand Master attended the inaugural Asia Oceanic Conference of District Grand Lodges in Kuala Lumpur. In addition I hold a dedicated meeting for all District Grand Masters who attend the Investitures in April to discuss issues that particularly affect them.

So, brethren, we are, as a united English Constitution, working more closely together than at any other time in our history. At a strategic level, I believe that continuing to work together will not only stem the decline in membership but start to increase it to ensure the future of Freemasonry. At an individual level, consider the fact that the more members there are, the better chance Grand Lodge has of keeping the dues down. 

Changing tack, brethren, you will all be more than well aware of the appalling conditions being experienced by thousands of people as a result of the winter floods. Whilst the south west has been worst hit, Kent, Sussex and Berkshire as well as parts of Wales are not far behind, in fact there is barely a part of the south that does not have its tales of woe.

It will not surprise you to know that Freemasonry has been to the fore with providing relief funding. The Somerset Community Fund has received £750,000 in all, of which £125,000 has been from various masonic sources. The Provincial Grand Master of Somerset set a target of £50,000 and so, brethren, you can imagine how overwhelmed he is by the support  the Province has received, from the Grand Charity, other Provinces (Essex alone donating £40,000) and many Lodges from all over the country, as well as those in his own Province.

The Grand Charity can and does react quickly in these situations and as well as its support of Somerset, it has donated to the Red Cross, Berkshire, Devonshire and West Wales. In all, so far, it has made donations of nearly £60,000.

We should all be immensely proud of the way in which our members respond to emergencies and how well we are able to coordinate our giving. Thank you to all those concerned.

Published in Speeches

New ProvGM appointed for South Wales

Gareth Jones has been installed as the new Provincial Grand Master for South Wales by Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes at Barry. 

A ‘seven-point plan’ is now in motion to address recruitment and retention, and to maintain standards within lodges. Charitable efforts will be further developed, as will greater social interaction for families.

In good company

Royal Alpha Lodge celebrated the Grand Master’s fifty years in the Craft at an historic occasion in Freemasons’ Hall

His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent was initiated into Royal Alpha Lodge, No. 16, on Monday, 16 December 1963 at a meeting held at the Café Royal. The then Grand Master, the Earl of Scarbrough, was his proposer and his seconder was Lord Cornwallis, Provincial Grand Master of Kent.

Although the Master was the Marquess of Zetland, it was the Assistant Grand Master, Sir Allan Adair, who took the chair for the ceremony. Adair was both a famous soldier and a well-known mason; not only had he heroically commanded the 4th Guards Armoured Division in World War II, he also went on to become Deputy Grand Master.

Fifty years on, members celebrated the anniversary at the December 2013 installation meeting of Royal Alpha Lodge. Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes presented His Royal Highness with a framed collage of pictures of past royal Grand Masters surrounding a picture of the current Grand Master. The Pro Grand Master pointed out that Earl Cadogan, who was present when he was Viscount Chelsea, had acted as Junior Deacon at the ceremony. Also in attendance was Sir John Welch whose father had also been present on that day.

The meeting was held in the Grand Secretary’s Lodge Room at Freemasons’ Hall, followed by dinner at Lincoln’s Inn, where His Royal Highness is the Royal Bencher. The members were delighted that the Grand Master was able to attend his lodge on this historic occasion and his health was drunk with much enthusiasm.

Published in UGLE

Strong constitution

Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes explains how UGLE has been supporting Districts across the world and looks closer to home at the recommendations of the Universities Scheme Committee

One of my pleasurable duties is, along with the other Rulers, visiting our Districts. In June I was in Trinidad and Tobago and, more recently, I visited Zimbabwe to install our new District Grand Master. We were given a very warm welcome and I was somewhat surprised that the last visit there from Grand Lodge was in 1989. I was even more surprised to find that two of our lodges are in Malawi, where seventy members ensure masonry thrives.

Apart from meeting many of the local brethren and their wives, we were driven to a school in a township seventeen miles west of Harare, where we were entertained by some very moving African dancing and singing. The education support programme that started here in 1992 now has four hundred and seven orphaned children. A trust fund has been set up for these children to provide school fees, books, uniforms, a daily hot meal, healthcare and sports activities. It was most impressive and exactly the type of charity the District should support. 

On a different theme, following the presentation at the Quarterly Communication last year on assuring the future of Freemasonry, I challenged the Universities Scheme Committee to consider how the principles expressed in the address could be implemented across the whole Craft.

I have now had first sight of their report, which covers a series of recommendations and examples of good practice from lodges around the English Constitution. This is an excellent document and I will be discussing the proposals through the Provinces and Districts to lodge level. Brethren, how often do we hear that changes and progress in masonry take an eternity? This report has been put together with admirable speed and it is incumbent on the Rulers to ensure that there is no delay in passing them on.

We are united in recognising the importance of recruiting and retaining younger Freemasons and these recommendations will give a better chance of strengthening all lodges, however successful, while not alienating established brethren.

‘We are united in recognising the importance of recruiting and retaining younger Freemasons.’

Published in UGLE
Page 9 of 15

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