ANNUAL CRAFT INVESTITURE
29 APRIL 2009
An address by the MW The Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes
I trust that you will forgive me if I start with a skiing analogy. Those of you who know me will be aware that when I speak I prefer to go “off piste”. However, today there is an avalanche warning and, as what I am about to say this afternoon will appear on the UGLE website, in Freemasonry Today and in the Minutes of the Meeting, I think that it is best if I stick to the prepared surface.
Brethren the turn out today is, as always, magnificent - from the Provinces, the Districts and, of course, London. In these difficult times it says a great deal about the morale within the Craft that so many travel so far to attend this important meeting. For those not specifically receiving honours today and who come to support their Provincial and District Grand Masters and their friends who are receiving honours, a particularly warm welcome. I assure you that this is greatly appreciated by those at Headquarters.
I must first congratulate all those that I have invested this afternoon. Grand Rank is not only conferred for your past services to the Craft, but equally for the expectation of your future commitment to ensuring that Freemasonry continues to excel.
In his address to Grand Lodge in March, the Grand Master outlined the tremendous work carried out by my predecessor Lord Northampton and I want to put on record my own appreciation of all that he did for Freemasonry over many years and for handing over to me with the Craft in as buoyant a mood as it has been for some years. Don’t misunderstand me, there is still plenty to be done, but I believe it is most important to ensure that all the initiatives that have been started in recent years are given the attention and support that they need to ensure that they have long lasting benefits for the Craft.
Much has been said about the Mentoring Scheme - and rightly so. I want to emphasise the importance of what the Grand Master said in March - that it does not matter how much mentoring we give a new member after he has been initiated, if we don’t ensure that all candidates for initiation have a proper understanding, before they join, of what we expect of them and, indeed, what they can expect from us. If all of us get that right AND we look after them properly once they are members, then we will lose far fewer members in their early months and years and have a much more enlightened and satisfied membership.
Brethren, I don’t believe that there has been any time during my years as a member of the craft (and that is 37 years nearly to the day) when there has been so much pride shown in being a member. Gone are the days when we might shy away from having a conversation with our non-masonic friends about our involvement.
At long last we have the confidence to explain that we expect, and generally speaking get, all our members to behave in a way that benefits society at large. That does not just mean the considerable sums that Freemasonry gives to non-Masonic Charities every year, and we must emphasise that all our members are expected to behave in a civilised, lawful and neighbourly fashion at all times.
We have a strict code of conduct and action is taken if a member steps out of line. This applies to his behaviour in everyday life as well as within the confines of the Craft. Of course, going back to what I have just said, if we vet candidates properly, we will go a long way to reducing the possibility of misconduct.
Our disciplinary procedures are very firm and hopefully fair. Sadly, from time to time, members are expelled or suspended. One of the main issues that is looked at is: “does the Brother’s behaviour bring Freemasonry into disrepute?”
I hope that we would all agree that, if a Brother is behaving in an antisocial or dishonest manner, he is not only bringing this Order into disrepute, but also he is behaving in a way that is unacceptable to society in general. We want all our members to be good members of society and useful in the community. As, in the vast majority of cases, this is exactly what our Brethren are, it naturally follows that we should be very proud to be members of such an organisation.
Finally, Brethren, today does not just happen. A huge amount of organisation is involved. This building is a busy place most days of most weeks and, as you will all have seen today, it really buzzes on a big occasion like this. I am sure you would all like to join with me in thanking the Grand Secretary and his team for the highly efficient way that they have arranged everything for us today.
Brethren, you may not be entirely surprised to hear that both myself and, I suspect, the Deputy Grand Master have been keeping a watchful eye on the ceremonial today with perhaps rather more than just a passing interest. For my part I have only one word to describe it - impeccable. I really do congratulate the Grand Director of Ceremonies and his team for running the show so smoothly.