I start by welcoming you all to our meeting this afternoon and I offer my warmest congratulations to all the Brethren I have had the pleasure of appointing to or promoting in Grand Rank today. I know they have all worked hard to further the interests of the Craft, but in recognising their achievements we do of course look to them for even greater exertions in the future.
I turn first to the most important issue to have exercised Grand Lodge during the past twelve months, namely the future of Masonry in London. The process of providing a new constitutional structure for London Masonry, which has been in progress for some years, culminated in an historic vote in Grand Lodge last month, following the most extensive consultation exercise ever undertaken in English Freemasonry. This process is not yet complete because Supreme Grand Chapter still has to make its decision on these proposals tomorrow. I recognise the widely differing opinions held on this matter, but have been impressed by the wholly Masonic spirit in which the debate was conducted. I am certain that the increased opportunities offered to London Masons by the new structure will enable them to play a more active part in their Masonry in the future.
Our “Freemasonry in the Community” week, which was such a success throughout the country, was more than the additional effort to raise money for charity which in some areas it became. It gave our Masonic centres and individual Lodges an opportunity to reach out to the “popular” world and put our strategy of openness into practical effect, so bringing Masonry closer to the communities in which our Lodges function and flourish, and from which we draw our members.
This special week showed clearly that Masons are part of their local community and that they work for it in many different ways. It also demonstrated to the country that we are a society with principles which we are determined to put into action for the good of our fellow men, and especially the less fortunate.
Although “Freemasonry in the Community” week was not planned as a charity event, it gave Provinces and Lodges in England and Wales additional opportunities to raise funds for, and make further donations to, non-Masonic charities in their own communities. Everyone taking part in these activities throughout the country enjoyed the experience enormously and many have resolved to continue their efforts in subsequent years.
Continuing in the theme of Charity, Charitable activity, which forms such a large part of Masonic life, in the form of fundraising has continued unabated during the year with the result that we gave approximately £17m to Masonic Charities. I know how hard the Councils work which administer those Charities, and I wish to thank them for all their efforts on our behalf. I am very pleased indeed that the work of the Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys has been recognised by the award of Royal status, and with effect from tomorrow it will be known as the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys. It is also very good news that during the year donations to non-Masonic charities totalling in excess of £4m have been made by Masons under our Constitution throughout the world. This is a highly creditable achievement, and we can take satisfaction from it, but we must nevertheless remember that our Masonic Charities need our continued help, and should remain at the core of our charitable giving.
One of the effects of “Freemasonry in the Community” week has been to encourage many men to make enquiries about possible membership. In mentioning this I return to a topic which I last raised five years ago, namely the three “Rs,” — recruiting, retaining and retrieving. Recruiting is both acceptable and desirable, so long as it does not put undue pressure on potential candidates. Having succeeded in recruiting new Brethren it is clearly important that we make every effort to retain them. We all recognise the career and family pressures faced by younger men, so it is imperative that Lodges work to harness the enthusiasm of the new recruit and make him feel welcome. Retrieving lapsed members is initially a task for the Lodge Almoner, especially where financial or health difficulties have caused a brother to resign; but there is an increasing body of Masons who resigned from their Lodge because of business, career or family pressures, who may have found those circumstances have now eased or disappeared. Here we can all make a difference by encouraging them to rejoin their Lodge, or another Lodge, and once again become active in their Masonry.
I can assure you, however, Brethren, that in looking to you all to promote greater active membership of our Antient Institution, both new and old, I am not suggesting that we should ever contemplate the kind of mass recruitment which has recently been a feature elsewhere in the world. We are hardly going to strengthen our institution by relaxing the principles which we have established and maintained throughout our long history; rather we should respond to the challenges of a rapidly changing society, and show that our values have stood the test of time and are as relevant today as they have always been. This is the example we have set to other Grand Lodges around the world, that the quality of our Masonry should always take precedence over the quantity of our membership.
In this connection I should point out that English Freemasonry recognises 156 Grand Lodges throughout the world, all of which adhere to the same landmarks as does this Grand Lodge. Maintaining good relations with them and responding to approaches from other Grand Lodges seeking recognition from us, is an important part of the work of the Grand Secretary and his staff. I was particularly delighted that, as a result of such efforts, we were able to resolve our difficulties with, and re-recognise, the Grand Lodge of India during the year. Inter-visiting is an important part of Masonic activity and I am certain that our members in India and elsewhere will be gratified that they are able to resume official contact once more with Brethren in the Grand Lodge of India.
Brethren, in conclusion, I should like to thank all those who have worked so hard throughout the year to ensure that we enjoy our Masonry. I wish to mention in particular the Grand Director of Ceremonies, who retires today after eight years. He has been a tower of strength during that time and has directed our ceremonies not only with efficiency but also with good humour and a light touch. I extend our thanks to his Deputies, who have helped him to make today run like clockwork. I also wish to thank the Grand Secretary and all the staff of this building especially the maintenance staff and porters, who look after this magnificent building so well, and finally, Brethren, I thank all of you for your attendance and support in such large numbers at this Investiture.
11 DECEMBER 2002
An address by the MW The Pro Grand Master the Most Hon the Marquess of Northampton, DL
When I was appointed Assistant Grand Master in December 1995, London Masonry consisted of over 1,600 Lodges and nearly 700 Chapters, which were administered by the then Grand Secretary through the London Department in this building. As Assistant Grand Master, a substantial part of my duties incorporated a special responsibility for London.
In 1995 I inherited 900 liaison officers, most of whom reported on the Lodges of which they were the senior members, and in many cases were the only personal contact the London Department had with the majority of our London brethren.
Only 300 of the original liaison officers were able to become active Visiting Grand Officers, and over the next two years more Grand Officers were added, so that every Lodge and Chapter had a visit from someone who could advise, support and encourage its members. I was warned there were as many as 200 Lodges that were unlikely to survive in the short term, so doing nothing was not an option, and I therefore started the active Visiting Grand Officers scheme. The system of allocating ranks, including Grand Rank, was changed and became more transparent so that everyone now knew where he stood. Ranks were now based solely on merit and ability.
The next step was to disentangle London Masonry from its dependence on Grand Lodge, and give it a structure both autonomous and above all caring. London Management was created and London was divided into 22 groups with a chairman at the head of each. For five years London Management, originally chaired by me but now by Rex Thorne, has run London Masonry with the Assistant Grand Master retaining that so-called 'special responsibility'. The final step will be voted on in Grand Lodge next March.
The London Committee was set up by the Board and it was agreed that a long period of consultation would follow, and this is happening.
Uniquely, London Masonry has its own honours system, London Grand Rank being its only appointment and Senior London Grand Rank its only promotion, with no past ranks. Having listened to the views expressed by Lodges and Chapters, the London Committee has withdrawn the recommendation that a Junior London Grand Rank be introduced, and this has been accepted by the Grand Master. The London honours system, Craft and Royal Arch, will remain exactly as it is. However, the proposals for active offices, which will not be Ranks but appointments, will remain, as these are needed for ceremonial and administrative purposes.
The third difference inherent in London Masonry, and probably the most important, is that it has never been in control of its own destiny. It is only very recently that the Board of General Purposes has delegated some of its powers to London Management. But its finances are still included in the accounts of Grand Lodge, and there are many instances where it is not allowed by the Book of Constitutions to make decisions for itself. London Management has done a good job looking after its members for the past five years but it has no authority within the Book of Constitutions, and is headed only by a chairman and not by an officer of Grand Lodge with Masonic authority ratified by the Constitution. Its byelaws have never been approved by Grand Lodge, and remain in a state of limbo - still an integral part of Grand Lodge, but responsible in part for its own affairs. The time has now come to regularise this unconstitutional structure.
The Grand Master could, under Rule 62 of the Book of Constitutions, turn London into one or more Provinces. This was considered by the Committee, but swiftly rejected, even though it would have been a much simpler change. Exercising powers under Rule 62 would probably have entailed the loss of the special features that London enjoys, like the London Grand Rank system.
It is an anomaly that many relatively minor decisions concerning London Masonry have to be approved by the Board of General Purposes and Grand Lodge, of which the majority of members are brethren from the Provinces. If London Masons had their own Grand Lodge they could decide much about their future for themselves.
Masonry's future depends on training our younger brethren to become tomorrow's leaders, but when does one get the opportunity of seeing the potential of future leaders in London? Not in Grand Lodge - which is the only forum at present for London Masons who are Wardens and above - but solely at private Lodge level, where many go unrecognised.
The London Committee recommended the creation only of active officers needed to service a Metropolitan Grand Lodge, with no past ranks. The 71 annual Craft appointments represent approximately one for every 750 Masons. Such a small number will have no impact at the grass roots, but a Metropolitan Grand Lodge will give London Masons a self-regulating Masonic structure for the first time.
The recommendations have not been suggested lightly. It is a big step, which is acceptable to the Grand Master and has been approved by all the bodies entrusted by our members to manage the Craft on their behalf. The world is very different from what it was even ten years ago, and unless Freemasonry adapts, as it has always adapted throughout its long history, it will not survive and grow. Some have suggested that these proposals will lead to a decline in the numbers of London Masons. I believe exactly the opposite. We have already seen a considerable decline in numbers over the past 30 years, and unless we rise to the challenge, there is no reason why that decline will not continue. I am confident that once a new structure is established, we will all see great and exciting advantages, and it will prove to be an asset to English Masonry.
You will be aware of the unfortunate and ill-advised remarks concerning Freemasonry made by the new Archbishop of Canterbury. A very large number of our members wrote to him at Lambeth Palace to express their dismay, and in some cases outrage, at his insensitive and inaccurate comments. The Grand Secretary has written to him officially on behalf of Grand Lodge (see P4). His letter is on the UGLE website. Although, all of us, whatever religion, can only be appalled at the implications of the Archbishop's allegations, I believe that we should, for the time being at least, assume that his comments were based simply on ignorance of the truth, and not malice. The Archbishop has been invited to Freemasons' Hall to learn a little about Freemasonry, as all his predecessors have done over many years. We can then only hope that he will revise his opinions and have the grace to admit just how wrong he was about the compatibility of any of the great religions with Freemasonry.
11 SEPTEMBER 2002
An address by the MW The Pro Grand Master the Most Hon the Marquess of Northampton, DL
Lord Northampton said that, as a public relations exercise, Freemasonry in the Community week was undoubtedly a great success with much positive coverage from local press and radio, albeit very little in national media.
12 JUNE 2002
AN ADDRESS BY THE MW THE PRO GRAND MASTER the Most Hon the Marquess of Northampton, DL
Next Tuesday we are celebrating ‘Freemasonry in the Community’ week which is fast becoming ‘Freemasonry in the Community three weeks’, with a service in St Paul’s Cathedral at 11a.m. There are still a few places available and if you have not already done so please apply for tickets today using the form provided. You might be interested to know that we have well over 1,000 events taking place all over the country during this initiative.
On Wednesday, 26 June, the Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys are holding a Grand Choral Celebration here in the Grand Temple. The choir will largely comprise choristers from all over the country who have been supported by the Charity. Tickets at £10 each are available outside the Grand Temple.
Many of you may have seen the recent series on television called ‘Spooks’, some of which was filmed in this building. Filming here has proved a useful source of income for Grand Lodge, and we are grateful to the London Film Commission for supporting us. In return we are sponsoring part of the costs of a free public showing which they are arranging of the film ‘Singin’ in the Rain’. This is due to take place next Saturday evening at the Paddington Recreation Ground at 7p.m. and is open to the first 3,000 people to arrive. I don’t know what the weather forecast is for next Saturday but if you like ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ do give your support.
Brethren, we have received 400 hundred possible designs for the tie competition from 124 applicants and I hope this summer will give an opportunity for the judges to suggest a short-list for consideration.
And finally, Brethren, on Thursday, 27 June, I shall be opening the exhibition of the works of the Artist-Photographer, Alvin Langdon Coburn, who was also a prolific Mason. It is being organised by the Library and Museum Charitable Trust, will be the first major exhibition of its kind that we have sponsored and I recommend a visit. Brother Coburn had a long and distinguished Masonic career in North Wales and Freemasonry was central to his life. He wrote an explanation of it which seems appropriate for our Freemasonry in the Community initiative. He said “that Freemasonry is not a thing apart, cut off from life, it is interwoven with it, and the more it is studied with a view to spiritual progress, the more enlightened one becomes, and the richer in consequence are our lives!”
Brethren, this is the last time I shall be able to address you before the summer break, but I wish you all a very time with your friends and families and look forward to seeing you again in September, when the new Masonic season starts.
ANNUAL CRAFT INVESTITURE
24 APRIL 2002
An address by the MW The Grand Master HRH The Duke of Kent, KG
This has been an exciting and successful year for the Craft, which will culminate in our Freemasonry in the Community initiative.
I have been delighted and greatly encouraged by the enthusiastic way in which the Provinces, Districts and London have taken up the challenge of communicating to the general public and the media what a substantial contribution the Craft has made to society for well over 300 years.
13 March 2002
A statement BY lord cadogan on the Local Government Act 2000
Lord Cadogan, President of the Board of General Purposes, in a statement referred to the Local Government Act 2000, particularly for those in the Craft who are elected members of local authorities, health, fire and similar committees of such - but not employees.
The President said they were all affected by the provisions of the Local Authorities (Model Code of Conduct) (England) Order 2001, made under the Act, which came into force on 27 November 2001. The list of such authorities is set out in the Order, and there is a seperate Order that contains a similar code of conduct for parish councillors. Under the code, any such elected or co-opted member must register with the authority's monitoring office his (or her) membership of, or position of general control or management in, any charity or body directed to charitable purposes.
Lord Cadodan said the Board had obtained an Opinion from Miss Helen Mountfield, one of the Counsel in the successful action of Grand Lodge against the Ministry of Defence last year.
He added: 'She has confirmed that all members of Grand Lodge, i.e., Grand Officers, Installed Masters and current Wardens of Lodges must, as members of the Grand Charity, declare their membership of the Grand Charity to their monitoring officer.
'Likewise, brethen who are patrons of the Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys and/or members of the New Masonic Samaritan Fund, will have to declare that they are either members of, or are directed to their management.
'The code will cover anyone who is a member of any national or local charity, and it is not restricted specifically to Masonic charities.' Lord Cadogan added: 'The Board was concerned that it might be argued that all Masons are members of a body directed to charitable purposes.
'Those of our members who are bound by the code need not declare that they are Freemasons, even though they are obliged to declare their position - if any - in the management or membership of a Masonic, or indeed other charity.
'This may have repercussions on proposals that the Council of the Grand Charity have in mind to widen the membership of the Grand Charity to all Freemasons.'
12 December 2001
AN ADDRESS BY THE MW THE PRO GRAND MASTER THE MOST HON THE MARQUESS OF NORTHAMPTON, DL
In November 1999 the Grand Master’s Council appointed a Committee to consider the basis on which appointments to Grand Rank were allocated to Provinces and Districts and various related matters, and to make recommendations to my predecessor as Pro Grand Master, the late MW Bro Lord Farnham.
The Committee, under the Chairmanship of the Deputy Grand Master, RW Bro Iain Bryce, reported its interim findings to Lord Farnham in the middle of last year and those findings were considered by the Grand Master’s Council in September 2000 and have already been implemented.
In April 2001 I requested the Committee to carry out the second phase of the review, dealing principally with the basis on which appointments to London Grand Rank, Overseas Grand Rank and Provincial and District Grand Ranks are allocated. At the same time certain changes were made to the composition of the Committee. The Committee submitted its report and recommendations on 21st November and I have already authorised its distribution for comment by 1st February 2002 to the Grand Master’s Council, Provincial and District Grand Masters, Grand Superintendents, Grand Inspectors, the Board and Committee of General Purposes.
I would like to express my gratitude to the Committee for its work and, in particular, the Deputy Grand Master for his Chairmanship of it and to the Assistant Grand Secretary, Bro. Graham Redman for his excellent and painstaking work as the Clerk to the Committee.
Speaking of my predecessor, Lord Farnham, I am pleased to announce that the Grand Charity, at the next opportunity in March, is to propose two grants of £25,000 each in memory of Lord Farnham. The first is to the Cancer Vaccine Institute with the Division of Oncology at St. George’s Hospital Medical School to continue the development of the kidney cancer vaccine. The research has now reached the stage of clinical trials and the grant will allow thirty patients to be treated over the next two years.
The second grant is the Palliative Care Research Fund of the Royal Marsden Hospital. This grant will provide funding to investigate the clinical uses of cannabis and the effectiveness of morphine for the treatment of cancer pain.
Lord Farnham also was, of course, an Irish Mason and I had the pleasure of representing the Grand Master at the Installation of the new Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Ireland, MW Bro Eric Waller, in Dublin on 22nd November. It was a very happy occasion and we all wish him and his Grand Lodge every success for the future.
A few days later I was in Edinburgh for the re-Installation of the Grand Master Mason of the Grand Lodge of Scotland, Bro. Archibald Orr Ewing, now in his third year in that office. This was my first visit in my present capacity and I can report that both our two sister Constitutions are in very good hands.
From Edinburgh I flew to Paris for the Installation of the new Grand Master of the Grande Loge Nationale Française, MW Bro Jean Charles Foellner. He too received from me a personal gift from our Grand Master, a medallion struck by the Royal Mint bearing on one side the Arms of the United Grand Lodge of England and on the other the signature of His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent, as Grand Master. Brethren that was a remarkable occasion, with more than forty Grand Lodges represented, many of them recent creations in Africa by the GLNF. I took the opportunity to stress that the GLNF is the only regular Grand Lodge in France and to express the hope that it will soon be able to overcome the difficulties it has been facing from within and without.
Brethren, it has come to my attention that a reconstruction of an 18th Century variation of our ceremonies, including the opening and closing of a Lodge has been demonstrated by members of this Constitution when non-Masons, including ladies, have been present. This cannot be right. The essential parts of our ceremonies have hardly changed over the centuries and although they were exposed more than 250 years ago we have individually promised not to reveal them. I believe that the guidelines the Board of General Purposes has laid down for demonstrations of rituals, other than those practised by our own Lodges stand equally to historical reconstructions, but I have asked the Board to look into the matter and, if necessary to bring guidance before Grand Lodge at a future meeting.
Brethren, I would like to add my thanks to Bro Daniel for his work as Grand Secretary over the past three and a half years. His re-organisation of the staff structures in this building and the introduction of systems of management, both financial and administrative have helped ensure that the Craft is better run and his contribution to our external relations, with his wide experience of Freemasonry overseas has ensured that the voice of the United Grand Lodge of England is once again being heard as a force for common sense and stability. I am sure you will all join me in wishing him a very happy retirement in Cornwall and more time to spend with his wife Jenny and sailing his boat.
Finally Brethren, I am pleased to tell you that we will be holding a service of celebration to launch the Freemasonry in the Community week on June 18th next year in St Paul’s Cathedral. While it will be a predominantly Christian service, Brethren of all faiths will be included and further details will be provided in due course.