Celebrating 300 years
Saturday, 19 April 2008 14:36

Our Future's Debt to the Past

The Grand Secretary, Robert Morrow, talks to Julian Rees

When you enter the office of the Grand Secretary of the United Grand Lodge of England, you feel the palpable weight of the history of Freemasonry over nearly three hundred years, and the way in which Grand Secretaries have influenced affairs in that time. 
Yet Robert Morrow, in the first few words we exchanged, proved himself to be the most approachable of Grand Secretaries. ‘Where does that easy contact with people stem from?’ I asked.

‘My background was in senior management in banking, a sphere where you learn to see the good in everyone, and to reciprocate their goodwill.’ But then he added an interesting insight into his own thinking. ‘My training at Oxford University, reading latin, greek and ancient history, and therefore my exposure to ancient texts, gave me perhaps an insight into the way the human mind works. Particularly when you read Aristotle, whose Ethics describes the different kinds of person, which gives you the beginnings of an understanding of the human mind.’

Not long after leaving Oxford he went into banking, but not before he had started on his masonic journey. ‘I never knew a time when I wasn’t going to be a Freemason. On the evening of my twenty-first birthday I went across the road and asked my father’s best friend if he would propose me into Freemasonry.’

Robert comes from an impressive masonic pedigree; there are Freemasons on his father’s side going back at least six generations.

‘What was it that you found in Freemasonry?’ I asked.

‘Two things I think. First, it was a whole new cycle of things that one could get involved in and learn about. It wasn’t long before I discovered Quatuor Coronati and started learning. It was a rich seam to mine, and it is a seam I am still mining. I do not believe you can ever get to the end of the journey, and that is what is so wonderful about it. The second thing I think was the social aspect. There I was, twenty-one years old, and the way the lodge took me to its heart and looked after me was the beginning of a very special relationship. I didn’t know what to expect. I spent the first days wondering what was going on.

‘I often say to initiates, if we have done our job properly tonight, you should by now be thoroughly confused, but please don’t worry. The next time you watch a first degree being conferred on a candidate, take part in his ceremony, and think back to when it was being conferred on you. That is something I still do, even after all these years.’ Did he feel that society might be too bound up in materialistic pursuits, and that Freemasonry might be an effective antidote? ‘The answer to that has to be a simple yes. The ‘me-now’ generation is the most avaricious grasper of satisfaction over a feeling that some things are better enjoyed by waiting for them. Freemasonry can be an antidote to this but only, surely, for those who are so inclined.’ 

‘How would you describe the function of the Grand Secretary?’ ‘Well, he is effectively the Chief Executive of the United Grand Lodge of England. Like any big organisation there has to be somebody who has got day-to-day hands-on responsibility for running it.

As in running any organisation, it would not be possible without the assistance of others, and I am extra lucky to have a team of dedicated people who are absolutely top-flight.’ What about his relationship with the other Rulers? ‘When I give talks to lodges from time to time, I often start with an overview of the hierarchy – what the Rulers do, what the Board of General Purposes does, the Grand Master’s Council and so on, and I say that I am the servant of many masters. A Grand Secretary ought to have in his makeup some view of the future, where he thinks Freemasonry ought to go and how to get it there’.

He explained that the vision of Freemasonry, the richness of what Freemasonry can be in the future, is ‘very much the province of the Pro Grand Master, and without his will in driving forward change in Freemasonry, it would be enormously difficult to have confidence that Freemasonry as we know it is going to survive for another three hundred years. Society has changed more in thirty years than in three hundred, more in three years than in thirty. We have to accept that if society is changing at that rate, Freemasonry must change with it, must adapt, otherwise it will become a dinosaur, and we all know what happened to the dinosaurs. But I don’t want to see Freemasonry changing at a very high speed or changing its essential nature. I don’t want to see it changing its reliance on its past. Change for its own sake is inefficient and ultimately doomed to failure.’

‘Tell me about the relationship of Grand Lodge with foreign jurisdictions,’ I asked. ‘I regard our relationship with other recognised Grand Lodges to be a very important part of my job,’ he said.

‘This area is my own specific responsibility. I think I have been able to build on what my predecessor, Jim Daniel, did. There is a very large masonic family out there, and it is nice to know that we are respected by other Grand Lodges. But we do not have any power outside our own jurisdiction. We are the biggest, and we have acquired a certain “mossy” sense of seniority.’ Is the United Grand Lodge of England in some way a sort of reference point? ‘Without question. I get a huge number of enquiries and requests from other Grand Lodges, ranging from points of protocol to advice on disciplinary issues. But we are not the world’s masonic policemen, nor a masonic mediator. If we can help, it’s important that we do so, but only if we’re asked to do so.’

What did he think about the different roles of national masonic publications?

‘When we started MQ, it was as a vehicle for disseminating Grand Lodge and Grand Chapter news. At the beginning, it had perhaps too much lifestyle content. We have changed that in line with feedback we had. Freemasonry Today too has changed since its launch, and you now have what I consider a very successful magazine. You can cover aspects of Freemasonry that MQ can’t, and I find it fascinating. You have some superb writers, you pick on topics of unusual interest, and you do write on esoteric and symbolic aspects in a way that focuses on specialised masonic interests. Your contributors tend to be more independent of the hierarchy, and that is immensely valuable.’

I asked him to tell me about the present health of Freemasonry. ‘I think we can begin to be quietly confident of the future. It is early days, but we are beginning to see signs of improvement. After the second world war there was a gigantic increase in membership, and of new lodges. With hindsight I suppose we can say it wasn’t the best answer, since membership was never going to be sustainable at that level. I believe that as men came back from the war, they had formed a special bond and they found in Freemasonry a way of continuing that.

‘Kipling said “All ritual is fortifying. Ritual’s a necessity for mankind. The more things are upset, the more they fly to it”. Thank God we haven’t had a major war for sixty years, but that means that continuing source of bonding has fallen away. And the simple fact is that we have too many lodges. We must accept the fact that lodges have to close, there is going to have to be amalgamation and so forth, and we are beginning to see some encouraging trends. It is still very early days, and in some parts of the country numbers are still going down, but in other parts there are encouraging signs of an increase in membership.

‘The policy of engaging in the community again is beginning to pay dividends. The “Freemasonry in the Community Week” was a huge success. The local press gave us good coverage, but I think the national press focuses too much on bad news, not good.’

Why was Grand Lodge’s public relations machine unable to break through that? ‘I think “was” is the operative word. We learned from the experience, and we contemplated doing it again after, say, five years. The Pro Grand Master commented that if we did it again we should call it “The Freemason in the Community”. I think this would give a nice fillip to the idea and would give people a slightly newer direction in which to take the initiative.’

This then is a man who evidently has big ideas for the future, ideas which he tantalisingly doesn’t want to talk about just yet. ‘There are some very interesting and exciting initiatives, which I hope it will be possible to progress,’ he says. ‘We have to keep Freemasonry relevant to what’s going on, without betraying that huge historic debt to the past. I haven’t stopped thinking of things to do.’

Clearly not, and with such an energetic Chief Executive mapping out the future, we can only surmise that Freemasonry can look forward to a very interesting future.

Published in Features
Monday, 03 March 2008 13:31

Grand Secretary's column - Spring 2008

At the beginning of February I completed my first year as Grand Secretary and Grand Scribe E. It has been, in a very positive sense, a challenging, happy and successful year. With the approval of the Board of General Purposes, we have re-organised the staff reporting lines so as to run a much more efficient administrative system. I am crystal clear, as I talk to people around the Provinces and Districts, that we need to be still more efficient and this will continue to be a priority aim for me. Several key initiatives have been launched during the year, all with the long term interests of Freemasonry in mind. Importantly, I have taken every opportunity to get to know the Provincial and District Grand Masters, Grand Superintendents, Grand Secretaries and Scribes E. Although I very much look forward to meeting more people in the Districts – having until now travelled to Ghana , Sri Lanka, India and Gibraltar – I will have met everyone else by the time we get to the annual Investitures at the end of April and beginning of May.

It was with great delight that I announced, just before Christmas that our people at Freemasons’ Hall, 60 Great Queen Street, could at last move back into their refurbished offices. During the refurbishment they had to work in very cramped conditions for far longer than anticipated and I thank them for all their patience and endurance. I am also happy to report that all the Charities have now moved into the Garden Level here at Great Queen Street. This has already produced a new, exciting energy in the building and we welcome them all. Apart from the strategic good sense of this move and the benefits of the synergies between the Charities, we are very keen that you should all know more about what the Charities can do for the membership and the wider community. The Charities will be regular contributors to Freemasonry Today.

Since last writing I have accompanied the Assistant Grand Master to New Delhi for the inauguration of the new District of Northern India and the Installation of their District Grand Master and Grand Superintendent in early January. In February I also accompanied the Deputy Grand Master to Gibraltar for the Installation of their District Grand Master and Grand Superintendent. During this period I, accompanied by the Assistant Grand Secretary, had meetings with all Provincial Grand Secretaries and Scribes E. These meetings have been extremely constructive and, coupled with the meetings last year when I accompanied the Pro Grand Master on his Provincial Conferences, I feel that we now have a very good relationship building between the Provinces and Grand Lodge. That rapport is growing daily and underpins the Grand Secretary’s core aim of working with and supporting the Provinces and Districts.

Now that I have one year ‘under my belt’, I have often been asked what three things I would like to highlight about Freemasonry. The issue with answering that question is that people might think it arrogant or that those three things are the only points. They do not necessarily answer key questions such as, ‘Is Freemasonry relevant in today’s society’ or ‘Is there a long term future for Freemasonry in the new world order’. The answer, by the way, to those two questions is a resounding ‘Yes’. With those caveats here are three points. First, Freemasonry is to be enjoyed. Secondly, we should all – yes, all – be able and then willing to talk openly about our Freemasonry to potential candidates, family, friends and new acquaintances. Thirdly, always chose men of quality – remembering our aim to make good men better.

Published in UGLE
Monday, 03 December 2007 13:27

Grand Secretary's column - Winter 2007

In November I had the opportunity to accompany the Pro Grand Master on his very successful visit to our three Districts in India: Bombay and Northern India, Bengal and Madras. This visit generally underpinned our supportive approach to the Districts under the jurisdiction of the United Grand Lodge of England as well as further strengthening our rapport and communication with our Indian Districts in particular.

This is a clear example of the Grand Secretary’s role on overseas visits as compared with the role of Grand Chancellor. In other words I continue to work with and, as appropriate, visit all Districts under our jurisdiction.

The core aim in each District was to hold a business meeting with the District Grand Master and his executive team, to meet as many of the Brethren as possible and, importantly, their wives. This approach was positively received and we were shown great warmth and hospitality wherever we went on our hectic schedule.

It is of interest to note that in early January Bombay and Northern India will reform into two Districts. This will mean that the district of Bombay remains in Mumbai with Northern India being centred in New Delhi. I hasten to add that this is at the request of the District, based purely on the enormous distances between some of the Lodges.

You will already have noticed the mix between the old and new names of Indian cities; our travels took us to Mumbai (Bombay), Kolkata (Calcutta), Chennai (Madras) and Bangalore. Those of you who have travelled to India will have the distinct memory of the bustling communities and the ‘interesting’ driving styles! In general terms we share many of the same issues confronting modern Freemasonry, including questions of how to compete for the leisure time of quality young men. The presence of the Pro Grand Master was a sign of great support to the Districts and it was a very happy trip.

Published in UGLE
Monday, 01 October 2007 01:00

Grand Secretary: Exciting times ahead

The merger of MQ and Freemasonry Today and the development of external relations is discussed by Nigel Brown, Grand Secretary

It is always good to hear exciting news. The announcement, by the Pro Grand Master in his speech at the September Quarterly Communication, that MQ and Freemasonry Today are to merge, is indeed exciting. The merger has been planned for some time and further underpins the positive initiatives of the Pro Grand Master to communicate with you, your families and non-masons.

You might wonder why we are using the title ‘Freemasonry Today’ for the new magazine, especially as this is a merger and will be the magazine of the United Grand Lodge of England. The answer is simply that it is a good title.

You will also be interested to know that the Grand Secretary, on behalf of the Board of General Purposes, will act as ‘compliance officer’. That means that all editorial, now to cover a wider range of topics, will be approved before publication.

This then, is the last issue of MQ. The first issue of the new magazine will be published in January 2008 with your free copy being distributed in the same way as MQ was.

At the Tripartite meeting held at Freemasons’ Hall in June I had the opportunity to meet my opposite numbers in the Grand Lodge of Ireland and Scotland, Barry Lyons and David Begg respectively. We liaise very well and it was a pleasure to meet them.

In July the Assistant Grand Master traveled to Sri Lanka to celebrate their centenary and to install the new District Grand Master and Grand Superintendent. As part of my remit to look after the Districts under our jurisdiction, I had the privilege of accompanying him.

We met many of the brethren and their wives. The Assistant Grand Master was also interviewed for the District magazine called The Banner. The interviewer was pleasantly surprised about our openness and the clear direction our Rulers have set.

I accompanied the Pro Grand Master on the third of his four Provincial meetings. These continue to be extremely successful. I cannot put enough emphasis on how important are our Provinces and Districts.

On that point, the Grand Chancellor gave an excellent talk at the last Quarterly Communication clearly confirming how successfully our respective roles were working out.

In particular, re-emphasing how his role allows the Grand Secretary to now concentrate on the Provinces and Districts, whilst he can concentrate on matters regarding Grand Lodges not under our jurisdiction.

Any thoughts that I may have had that August was a quiet month at Freemasons’ Hall London were soon dispelled. Clearly, from a ceremonial aspect, things do go quiet.

However, in all other respects it is as busy as ever. On top of this, the building works continue and we all look forward to their completion and to welcoming the Charities into Freemasons’ Hall. I am happy to report that our discussions on their move have already given us the opportunity to establish a very good relationship.

This is a wonderful and inspiring time for Freemasonry and we look forward to keeping you up-to-date with all the initiatives in the new Freemasonry Today.

 

Published in UGLE
Sunday, 01 July 2007 01:00

Grand Secretary: Notes

Grand Secretary Nigel Brown reviews the latest developments within Grand Lodge

His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent celebrated 40 years as our Grand Master on 14 June. This is a wonderful achievement and we are all honoured that His Royal Highness has done, and continues to do, so much for the Craft and Royal Arch.

The Pro Grand Master’s speech at the June Quarterly Communication emphasised that this is an exciting time for Freemasonry.

Lord Northampton has launched several initiatives, which will support our spirit of openness and ensure the bright future of the Masonry we so enjoy. The Pro Grand Master spoke of the importance of openness with family, non-Masons and potential candidates. We are all the best people to communicate our love of Masonry.

Interestingly, someone mentioned the other day that if each of us proposed one new candidate of quality in the next five years, membership would cease to be an issue. Finding new members is surely the responsibility of all of us.

Provincial Information Officers are doing a very important job on the communications front. In order to support us all in communicating and the openness that I have already referred to, the Pro Grand Master is looking at our house magazine, the websites and the production of a DVD. We will keep you informed on progress.

Later this year the Charities will all be under one roof at Freemasons’ Hall. Although the Charities are separate entities, a new sense of belonging and unity will be instilled. Talking about the Charities, the Pro Grand Master announced the fantastic news that recent Festivals had raised over fourteen and a half million pounds. For your interest this total was based on:

Yorkshire, West Riding raising £5.02 million for the Grand Charity;
Somerset raising £3.56 million for the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution;
Cumberland and Westmorland raising £2.05 million for the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys;
Nottinghamshire raising £3.79 million for the Masonic Samaritan Fund.

During my nearly twenty years as a Mason, remembering that I am still secretary of two Lodges and Scribe E of a Chapter, I often wondered what Grand Lodge actually did. I am now amazed at the sheer volume of work that is tackled, with the minimum of staff. Nevertheless, it is high on my agenda to always improve our professionalism and efficiency.

Did you know that it takes ten members of staff two hours each morning just to sort the post out so that it can go to the right department? In addition to that there are emails and telephone calls coming in all day – and overnight! You need to know that we treat everything as important and I thank the staff so much for all they do for us all.

In fact, we are keen that you learn more of each department’s work in future editions of the house magazine.

Another fact I have learnt is the enormous amount of time and effort the Rulers give us. We have very strong leadership and we can all be confident of the future. The Grand Secretary also reports to the

Board of General Purposes for the Craft and the Committee of General Purposes for the Royal Arch. Both the Board and the Committee have the very best of experts with great experience to handle all the issues we face. 

The Rulers are involved in visiting the Provinces and Districts under our jurisdiction, whether it be to install a new Grand Master or Grand Superintendent, attend festivals or annual meetings or an unrelated visit to give support.

For example, the Pro Grand Master, accompanied by the Grand Secretary, attended the first of his Provincial meetings at Sindlesham in May, with the remaining three to be held in Manchester, Bristol and Nottingham. At the end of these visits all 47 Provincial Grand Masters, or their Deputies, will have attended.

The Pro Grand Master also mentioned at the last Quarterly Communication that he would be visiting our Districts in India at the end of November and that the Assistant Grand Master was attending the centenary of the District Grand Lodge of Sri Lanka and installing the new District Grand Master and Grand Superintendent.

So, there is much exciting news and I have only been able to give a flavour of some of the areas our leaders are looking at. John Hamill, our Director of Communications, in the last issue of the magazine, ended one of my quotes to him as saying '… but if we do not make it an enjoyable experience there seems little point in doing it'. I stand by that – keep having fun!

Published in UGLE

Nigel Brown, the new Grand Secretary, is interviewed by John Hamill

With Grand Lodge agreeing the resolution empowering the Grand Master to appoint a Grand Chancellor to oversee Grand Lodge’s Masonic external relations, the role of the Grand Secretary has been freed up to enable him to concentrate primarily on the huge task of administering the Craft and the Royal Arch both at home and in our Districts, Lodges and Chapters overseas.

With the central administration for over 283,000 brethren in 8,357 Lodges (of which 792 are overseas) organised in 47 Provinces, 33 Districts and five Groups under Grand Inspectors to oversee, to say nothing of the organising of Grand Lodge meetings and those of the Board of General Purposes, Strategic Working Party, ad hoc and permanent committees (and their equivalents in the Royal Arch) as well as organising and co-ordinating the paperwork for each, ensuring that the Rulers and Board members are properly briefed on all topics of the day, and dealing with questions from Metropolitan, Provincial and District Grand Masters and their secretaries, the Grand Secretary’s role is no sinecure!

Nigel Brown, appointed Grand Secretary from 1st February, brings a wealth of professional and Masonic experience to his new office. Born in Lusaka, in what was then Northern Rhodesia, he was educated in Southern Rhodesia before entering the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, from which he was commissioned into the Grenadier Guards in which he served for ten years, retiring as a Captain.

Then followed 15 years in senior management in which he earned a high reputation for his administrative and planning skills and attention to detail, leading to his setting up a consultancy advising clients on winning competitive global tenders.

Although not the first in his family to be involved in Freemasonry, it was through his Service connections that he entered the Craft, being initiated in the Household Brigade Lodge No. 2614 in 1985. After being Master, he continued to serve the Lodge as Director of Ceremonies, Charity Steward and, currently, Secretary.

He has also been active in Prince of Wales’s Lodge No. 259 and other Lodges and Chapters. His liking for ritual and ceremonial brought him to the attention of the Grand Director of Ceremonies and his appointment in April 2005 as a Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies.

The GDC and his Deputies are key players in serving the Grand Master and the Rulers, and in maintaining the high reputation that the United Grand Lodge of England has in the Masonic world for the excellence of its ceremonial at Grand Lodge and other major Masonic gatherings.

The new Grand Secretary sees close co-operation between the centre and the Metropolitan, Provincial and District authorities as being vitally important to the good administration of the Craft and Royal Arch.

Over the last few years pressures from other areas – particularly foreign relations and dealing with the outside world – have led to there being less of a focus on Freemasonry at home and in our overseas Districts and Groups, but the Grand Secretary sees the strengthening of ties between the centre and the Metropolitan, Provincial and District Grand Lodges as his first and ongoing task.

'I am very much looking forward to the end of April when I shall have the good opportunity of informally meeting the Metropolitan, Provincial and District Grand Masters when they attend the Pro Grand Master’s business meeting.

'As a Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies I have had the privilege of visiting a number of Provinces as part of the Grand Lodge team for the installation of a new Provincial Grand Master or Grand Superintendent and have begun to get a feel for how a Province works.

'Equally, I look forward, with my senior management team, to my first meeting with the Provincial and District Grand Secretaries and Scribes E when we get together on the morning of the Annual Investiture. Later in the year I shall be accompanying the Pro Grand Master when he meets the Provinces in groups for more detailed discussions.

'I sincerely hope – if invited – that over a period I shall be able to attend the annual meetings of the Metropolitan and Provincial Grand Lodges. Communication is of vital importance and should be a two-way process from which we can all learn and benefit the Craft as a whole.

'The same thoughts apply to our Districts, Groups and Lodges overseas, though there is the additional dimension of distance involved. However, just as with groups at home, communication is the key. With the ease of today’s electronic communications I believe that ‘distance’ should not be a problem in providing a high quality of service from the centre.

'Thought is being given as to how we can increase personal contact, possibly by once again meeting Districts in groups as was done a number of years ago, and of striking a balance between visits to our own people overseas and those to foreign Grand Lodges and major international Masonic gatherings.

Published in UGLE

With Grand Lodge agreeing the resolution empowering the Grand Master to appoint a Grand Chancellor to oversee Grand Lodge’s Masonic external relations, the role of the Grand Secretary has been freed up to enable him to concentrate primarily on the huge task of administering the Craft and the Royal Arch both at home and in our Districts, Lodges and Chapters overseas.

With the central administration for over 283,000 brethren in 8,357 Lodges (of which 792 are overseas) organised in 47 Provinces, 33 Districts and five Groups under Grand Inspectors to oversee, to say nothing of the organising of Grand Lodge meetings and those of the Board of General Purposes, Strategic Working Party, ad hoc and permanent committees (and their equivalents in the Royal Arch) as well as organising and co-ordinating the paperwork for each, ensuring that the Rulers and Board members are properly briefed on all topics of the day, and dealing with questions from Metropolitan, Provincial and District Grand Masters and their secretaries, the Grand Secretary’s role is no sinecure!

Nigel Brown, appointed Grand Secretary from 1st February, brings a wealth of professional and Masonic experience to his new office. Born in Lusaka, in what was then Northern Rhodesia, he was educated in Southern Rhodesia before entering the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, from which he was commissioned into the Grenadier Guards in which he served for ten years, retiring as a Captain.

Then followed 15 years in senior management in which he earned a high reputation for his administrative and planning skills and attention to detail, leading to his setting up a consultancy advising clients on winning competitive global tenders.

Although not the first in his family to be involved in Freemasonry, it was through his Service connections that he entered the Craft, being initiated in the Household Brigade Lodge No. 2614 in 1985. After being Master, he continued to serve the Lodge as Director of Ceremonies, Charity Steward and, currently, Secretary.

He has also been active in Prince of Wales’s Lodge No. 259 and other Lodges and Chapters. His liking for ritual and ceremonial brought him to the attention of the Grand Director of Ceremonies and his appointment in April 2005 as a Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies.

The GDC and his Deputies are key players in serving the Grand Master and the Rulers, and in maintaining the high reputation that the United Grand Lodge of England has in the Masonic world for the excellence of its ceremonial at Grand Lodge and other major Masonic gatherings.

The new Grand Secretary sees close co-operation between the centre and the Metropolitan, Provincial and District authorities as being vitally important to the good administration of the Craft and Royal Arch.

Over the last few years pressures from other areas – particularly foreign relations and dealing with the outside world – have led to there being less of a focus on Freemasonry at home and in our overseas Districts and Groups, but the Grand Secretary sees the strengthening of ties between the centre and the Metropolitan, Provincial and District Grand Lodges as his first and ongoing task.

“I am very much looking forward to the end of April when I shall have the good opportunity of informally meeting the Metropolitan, Provincial and District Grand Masters when they attend the Pro Grand Master’s business meeting.

“As a Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies I have had the privilege of visiting a number of Provinces as part of the Grand Lodge team for the installation of a new Provincial Grand Master or Grand Superintendent and have begun to get a feel for how a Province works.

“Equally, I look forward, with my senior management team, to my first meeting with the Provincial and District Grand Secretaries and Scribes E when we get together on the morning of the Annual Investiture. Later in the year I shall be accompanying the Pro Grand Master when he meets the Provinces in groups for more detailed discussions.

“I sincerely hope – if invited – that over a period I shall be able to attend the annual meetings of the Metropolitan and Provincial Grand Lodges. Communication is of vital importance and should be a two-way process from which we can all learn and benefit the Craft as a whole.

“The same thoughts apply to our Districts, Groups and Lodges overseas, though there is the additional dimension of distance involved. However, just as with groups at home, communication is the key. With the ease of today’s electronic communications I believe that ‘distance’ should not be a problem in providing a high quality of service from the centre.

“Thought is being given as to how we can increase personal contact, possibly by once again meeting Districts in groups as was done a number of years ago, and of striking a balance between visits to our own people overseas and those to foreign Grand Lodges and major international Masonic gatherings.

“Even in the short time I have been in office I have experienced the warmth of welcome received overseas, when the GDC and I joined the MW The Grand Master in Ghana for a brief Masonic meeting whilst he was representing The Queen at the 50th anniversary celebrations of Ghana’s independence.”

The Grand Secretary will continue to lead the Communications team at Grand Lodge and would like to see a more pro-active policy.

“Openness and a steady flow of good, factual information about Freemasonry are key to restoring Freemasonry to its proper place in society, and the Craft at all levels has a vital part to play in the process. The Grand Lodge team and the network of Provincial Information Officers have made significant changes to public attitudes over the last few years and we need to build on their successes.

“We need to find ways of giving individual brethren the tools and the confidence to talk about Freemasonry with their families, friends and colleagues and, above all, with potential good candidates.

“I have no doubt that negative public attitudes have had an effect on potential candidates and that in some professions joining Freemasonry has not been seen as a smart career move. These are attitudes we must change if we are to continue to attract professional men.

“Talking about Freemasonry is not always easy, as I have found from recent experience! Before becoming Grand Secretary, at social events, when the conversation inevitably turned to what people did, I would talk about my various business and personal interests.

“Now, as Grand Secretary, I am having to learn how to talk succinctly and clearly about Freemasonry! Talking about something which we all clearly enjoy is surely one of the best ways of dispelling some of the myths that have grown up around the Craft. Enjoyment is one of the keys to the future success of Freemasonry.

“We must be efficient and professional in how we organise our Masonic affairs at all levels, but if we do not make it an enjoyable experience there seems little point in doing it. I think that whoever put together the Address to the Brethren got it so right when they exhorted us ‘to unite in the Grand Design of being happy and communicating happiness’”.

John Hamill is Director of Communications at Grand Lodge

Published in UGLE
Thursday, 01 January 2004 00:00

Grand Lodge of Israel's 50th anniversary

Celebrations in Israel

The Grand Secretary, Bob Morrow, visited Israel in mid October to represent Grand Lodge at the 50th Anniversary celebrations of the Grand Lodge of the State of Israel

Formed by the Grand Lodge of Scotland in 1953, the Grand Lodge of Israel celebrated in style with a gala meeting of Montefiore Installed Masters Lodge, the consecration of a new Lodge - Jerusalem Lodge No. 84 - and the Grand Lodge meeting itself.

It was something of a marathon for the Grand Secretary, who was invited to speak at each meeting and their banquets!

As the keynote speaker at the Grand Lodge meeting in Tel Aviv, he said:

MW Grand Master and Brethren, I am delighted and privileged to be with you today to take part in the jubilee celebrations of your Grand Lodge.

A Jubilee in England can be the celebration of 25, 50 or 75 years but, as we read in the Book of Leviticus, a golden jubilee is very special.

In Leviticus Chapter 25 verse 10 we are commanded: "to hallow the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land unto all the inhabitants thereof".

In verses 12 and 13 we read: "For it is the jubilee; it shall be holy unto you; you shall eat the increase thereof out of the field. In the year of this jubilee ye shall return every man unto his possession".

A jubilee is therefore a year of emancipation, a time of remission from the penal consequences of sin, but above all a time of rejoicing and celebration.

You have much to celebrate. In times which have not always been easy, your Grand Lodge has developed and expanded, and has become "a centre of union for those who must otherwise have stood at a perpetual distance".

That is clearly shown by the presence of the three VSLs in your Lodges and by the place you have achieved in the world of regular Freemasonry, clearly demonstrated by those who have travelled to join with you in your celebrations.

A jubilee should also be a time of reflection - not simply looking back to the achievements of the past - but looking forward and giving thought to the future. We live in a rapidly changing and often dangerous world in which people are looking for stability and certainty.

Regular Freemasonry, with its immemorial principles and its refusal to involve itself in political or religious disputes - knowing that they are what divides people - provides for many a centre of calm and harmony in which they can for a time forget the troubles of daily life and refresh both their spirits and their bodies. That, brethren, is surely worth defending and preserving.

Unfortunately, there are organisations calling themselves Freemasonry which have departed from the ancient landmarks and involve themselves in politics, religion and self-promotion.

They bring regular Freemasonry into disrepute, for the non-Masonic world does not know the difference between the two. That is why in recent years my Grand Lodge, with others, has been vigilant in ensuring that only regular Freemasonry is recognised as part of our worldwide fraternity.

A journalist in London recently asked one of my staff what relevance Freemasonry has to the 21st century. That is the question we should all ask, brethren.

The answer given in London was that in an increasingly selfish and uncaring world in which moral standards seem to count for nought, Freemasonry's principles, its support of law, its striving for truth and moral standards and its continuing history of service within the community are not only relevant, but essential to the 21st century.

MW Grand Master we congratulate you on your Grand Lodge reaching its Jubilee. We wish you strength, peace and harmony, and, above all, happiness for the future.

Published in International

Robert A. H. Morrow took up his duties as Grand Secretary and Grand Scribe E on 1 March. Born in Nottingham in 1947 he was educated at Nottingham High School and Hertford College, Oxford. Opting for a career in banking, he joined National Westminster Bank in 1971, qualifying as an Associate of the Institute of Bankers in 1973. After experience of the Domestic Banking Division, in 1977 he was appointed to a management position in the Bank's International Division. In 1984 he went to Rome to set up a new business development office marketing the Bank's services from Florence to Naples. 

Returning to London in 1988 he became a Commercial Loans Manager in the wholesale money market. Later he specialised in administering syndicated loans.

On NatWest being taken over by The Royal Bank of Scotland, Bro Morrow retired and undertook a number of consultancy roles until the opportunity arose to marry professional experience with his greatest hobby: Freemasonry. Coming from a long line of Irish Freemasons, Bro. Morrow cannot remember a time when he did not expect and intend to become a Freemason as soon as he was eligible.

Initiated at 21 in his old school Lodge, Dame Agnes Mellers Lodge No. 3498, he is currently a member of seven lodges, including Shakespear Lodge No. 99 of which he was Master in 1992 and represented it in that year as Grand Steward. In 2001 he was appointed a Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies.

In the Royal Arch he was exalted in Abbey Chapter No. 47, Nottingham, in 1971, and subsequently joined three other Chapters. In 2000 he was appointed an Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies and became a member of the Committee of General Purposes. A member of many of other Orders in English Freemasonry, he holds Grand Rank in several of them.

A Governor of The Royal Masonic School for Girls, he retains an interest in City of London affairs through membership of the Worshipful Company of Masons.

Published in UGLE
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