10 November 2010
An address by the ME Second Grand Principal George Francis, Acting First Grand Principal
Companions, it is now five years, give or take a day, since I was installed as Second Grand Principal here in Supreme Grand Chapter in November 2005, by the then Pro First Grand Principal, the Marquess of Northampton, DL, and it continues to be a most enjoyable and rewarding office. During that period, I have officially visited all but one of our forty-six Provinces and, of course, London on several occasions (and I hope to visit that last Province shortly). On each and every visit I have been struck by the enthusiasm and commitment of all Companions, and I sense everywhere a new confidence and an awareness of our future; the decline in our membership numbers over many years has slowed considerably, and in some Provinces our numbers are gradually increasing again; more importantly, the number of exaltations is holding steady and I believe they will also begin to increase, reflecting the hard work being put in by many Companions, Chapters and Provincial teams.
The focus of our attention is now moving to the celebration of the Bi-Centenary of the Royal Arch in 2013; to mark the official recognition of the Royal Arch as “the completion of pure and Antient Freemasonry”, at the of the two great English Grand Lodges in 1813, which also created the United Grand Lodge of England. We therefore celebrate our official birthday, or to put it another way, the full emergence of the Royal Arch as we know it, 200 years ago.
A key item is the programme for a celebratory Convocation on 16 October 2013 (to replace the normal November Convocation that year). There will be a lunch in the Grand Connaught Rooms beforehand, followed by the Convocation to be held later in the afternoon here in the Grand Temple, in the presence of the First Grand Principal, followed by a guest dinner to be hosted by him at The Savoy in the evening. Details of who will be able to attend each event will be communicated to you by your Grand Superintendent, in due course.
Another important element in the programme is a fund raising exercise over the next three years to provide a permanent reminder of our celebrations. The amount raised will be used to create a Research Fund for the benefit of the Royal College of Surgeons, to be administered at no extra cost alongside the Craft’s 250th Anniversary Fund for the purpose of research by the Royal College. As soon as this Convocation is closed, and before the outgoing procession, we will be hearing a presentation by members of the Royal College about their research work, so their presence here today gives me the opportunity officially to launch The Royal Arch Masons’ 2013 Bi-Centenary Appeal for the benefit of their Surgical Research Fellowship Scheme.
Grand Lodge has always supported the Royal College since its foundation in 1800 and, more specifically, since the 250th Fund was set up in 1967 to provide support for the Fellowship Scheme. As you will see from a leaflet you should all have received this morning, our Appeal will reinforce our support for this vital work, bearing in mind that the Royal College is a registered charity, receives no direct funding from the NHS, and relies heavily on voluntary contributions; it is fair to say that this is how they prefer to operate.
We have opened a Relief Chest with the Grand Charity into which all donations will go. The aim over the next three years or so, is to raise a minimum of £10, plus Gift Aid, from every Companion; that is a little over £3 a year, but this would raise more than one million pounds. You will appreciate that Gift Aid is worth nearly 30% added value to your individual donation, so we hope that Chapter donations will incorporate this additional amount. The leaflets will be distributed through Freemasonry Today, and to every Companion by London, the Province or District.
As I have already mentioned, the final Fund will be overseen by us, through Trustees appointed by the Royal Arch, and used to provide specific Research Fellowships in the same tried and tested way as the 250th Fund and at no extra cost.
This cannot in my view fail, in due course, to benefit all Royal Arch Masons, or those near and dear to them.
Finally, Companions, I would like to take this opportunity to thank every one of you for your attendance today, and for all you do for your Chapters and Provinces, to keep the Royal Arch flourishing and in great heart.
Companions, as time is marching on, I will move on to the announcement of appointments made by the ME The First Grand Principal before we close, and then hear from the Research Fellows of the Royal College of Surgeons. Thank you Companions.
Royal Arch Investiture
29 April 2010
An address by the ME Pro First Grand Principal Peter Lowndes
Companions, firstly I congratulate all those of you that I have had the pleasure to appoint to or promote in Grand Rank this morning. It is important for you all to understand that the Royal Arch is both the completion and the climax of pure Antient Masonry. In our constitution there is an indissoluble link between the Craft and the Royal Arch making the Royal Arch not just a graceful adjunct to the Craft but a vital part of pure Antient Masonry. This theme will be the common thread through my speech.
As in the Craft, Grand Rank is a rare accolade – not given liberally – and with that Grand Rank comes the responsibility to explain and promote the Order – with the aim of recruiting and retaining members.
I have also had the especial pleasure, on behalf of the First Grand Principal, of installing Most Excellent Companion David Williamson as Third Grand Principal. He is already well known to you and respected in the Royal Arch and he has frequently carried out Royal Arch duties in his previous capacity of Past Third Grand Principal. On your behalf I congratulate him and wish him every success in this important role. At the same time I wish recorded our heartfelt thanks to the Past Third Grand Principal, the Very Reverend Neil Collings, for his enormous contribution to the Order for which he will never be forgotten.
Companions, it has been too long since we last had a Royal Arch celebration and I am delighted to announce the decision that we will celebrate the Bi-Centenary of the Declaration of the Royal Arch as the completion of pure Antient Masonry in 2013. In the 18th century the Premier Grand Lodge and the Antients Grand Lodge developed differing attitudes to the Royal Arch. The Premier Grand Lodge would only accept it as an order completely separate from the Craft. The Antients Grand Lodge readily embraced it and worked it within their Lodges. This divergence of opinion was settled in 1813 – two years before the Battle of Waterloo and I am delighted to say with no bloodshed – with the of the two Grand Lodges.
The Articles of between the two, forming the Craft and Royal Arch into pure Antient Masonry, defining it as consisting of ‘...three degrees and no more, that is to say, those of Entered Apprentice, the Fellow Craft, and the Master Mason, including the Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch’. For your added interest the between the original Grand Chapter and the Royal Arch members of the former Antients Grand Lodge was initially known as the United Grand Chapter, with the name changed to Supreme Grand Chapter in 1820.
With the understanding that, although the in 1813 is also very significant to the Craft, the major Craft celebrations will be in 2017 to celebrate three hundred years since the formation of the Grand Lodge of England in 1717.
The Royal Arch celebrations in 2013 will take the form of a Special Convocation here in the Grand Temple followed by a commemorative dinner. The 2013 Royal Arch Committee is being chaired by the Second Grand Principal and the Executive Committee for the event is being run by Grand Scribe Ezra. Grand Superintendents will be briefed in detail by Grand Scribe Ezra who, in turn, will promulgate the information accordingly.
This will be a most important event in the history of the Royal Arch. To further recognise the event it has been decided that a collection be made for a donation to the Royal College of Surgeons, to be used specifically for Royal Arch bursaries. Again, the detail of this will be communicated by your Grand Superintendent.
An approved Royal Arch tie has been produced and is on sale as from today.
I am wearing one now. As another example of the indissoluble link between the Craft and the Royal Arch, the Grand Master announced yesterday, in his speech at the annual Craft Investiture, that the Royal Arch tie can be worn in Craft Lodges.
Grand Scribe Ezra will be issuing guidelines on the wearing of the tie within both Grand Chapter and Chapter meetings.
Finally, I wish to thank the Grand Director of Ceremonies and his Deputies for the excellent way the ceremony has been conducted and Grand Scribe Ezra and the large number of people in this building who have been involved in the detailed planning and organisation of this important meeting.