12 September 2012
An address by W Bro CE Lord OBE PAGDC and W Bro JR Soper PAGDC
Bro C.E. Lord, OBE, PAGDC: Most Worshipful Pro Grand Master and Brethren, as the National and the London Chairmen of the Universities Scheme, we were honoured to be asked to give thought to this crucial topic of how we make the Craft relevant to all generations.
Bro J.R. Soper, PAGDC: Recruitment and retention of members is a key theme that every Lodge has high on its agenda and it is important whether a newly made Brother joins us aged eighteen, twenty-eight, forty-eight or sixty-eight.
Bro Lord: Inevitably, our own focus has been looking at how we can include younger men in Masonry as not only is that the role of the Universities Scheme, but it is also a reasonable proposition that if can encourage men to join and develop a love of the Craft in their twenties, then we can hope to keep them throughout their lives, providing us with a steady stream of Lodge officers who may, we hope, also become active in their Provinces and the Metropolitan area.
Bro Soper: That said, we believe our findings - based on qualitative research, having consulted a range of Provincial leaders and Lodge secretaries - are relevant to the vast majority of Lodges, as we are sure that every one of you will be keen to expand their Lodges’ membership and encourage participation, as individual circumstances permit.
Bro Lord: Therefore in our talk today we are going to focus on a number of issues, giving some tangible examples of good practice and some suggestions that Lodges may wish to try.
Bro Soper: And the good news is - that recognising that taking notes wearing regalia and gloves isn’t easy - the Grand Secretary has agreed to publish the text of this talk on the UGLE website within the next week, and there will also be an article based on the speech in the next edition of Freemasonry Today.
Bro Lord: To set things in context though, we thought you might be interested to know how our membership breakdowns by age group at the moment.
Bro Soper: Of our members across the English Constitution, only nine per cent are aged under 40.
Bro Lord: And to put that percentage in perspective, it is 3,000 less than the number of members we have aged over 80.
Bro Soper: Indeed the vast bulk of our members, some 65 per cent are aged between 50 and 80.
Bro Lord: The average age at initiation is 44 and the average age of those attaining the Chair over the last four years was 63.
Bro Soper: We are not saying there is anything wrong with that in principle, but with 55 per cent of our members in, or reaching retirement, it does set a generational challenge. Also if the average age reaching the Chair is 63, one can assume that most of the decision makers in a Lodge are near to, or in retirement, which leads one to question the degree of representation that younger members have in a Lodge.
Bro Lord: So how do we attract younger men to join Masonry, and retain them, whilst ensuring that our existing membership still enjoy their participation and don’t feel excluded by change?
Bro Soper: In our research we have found that one crucial element is recognising that Masonry is in increasing competition with many other calls on the leisure time of prospective members.
Bro Lord: It is also clear that working patterns have changed significantly and it is less easy for those in employment to leave their workplace early in order to get to a Lodge meeting.
Bro Soper: Nor for that matter do younger Brethren, especially those with growing families, want to stay late all the time - something that is equally true of more senior members.
Bro Lord: Many successful Lodges don’t start their work until 6 or 6.30 in the evening and they still finish in good time to enjoy their after-proceedings and get home at a reasonable hour.
Bro Soper: They do this by taking a number of simple steps that cut out time consuming yet peripheral activities. Some, for example, don’t process in and out of the lodge. Most circulate rather than read their minutes, and do the same for the Almoner’s and Charity Steward’s reports as well as much of the business normally done under the risings.
Bro Lord: Ceremonies can be reduced in length too, without taking out any of the essential elements that make our ritual so special. For example at installation there is no necessity to present the working tools or to formally re-invest those officers being re-appointed.
Bro Soper: At the meal, there are opportunities to shorten proceedings, and we would make a plea that all long speeches should be avoided - with no exceptions (laughter). All of the above not only cuts down the time taken for formal proceedings, but also increases the pace of a meeting, which is important if one wants to keep the attention of a younger member. The “impatience of youth” is something we can all remember, and need to acknowledge.
Bro Lord: Of course, there are significant time commitments beyond the Lodge meetings, such as Lodges of Instruction, rehearsals, Lodge social functions etc. The overall time commitment of a member needs to be particularly reviewed by the Lodge.
Bro Soper: However, it is not as simple as saying that the time commitment should be reduced. Regular meetings, often informal, and perhaps involving members’ partners and family can be important in fostering a feeling of membership, and this sense of being a member and of belonging is very important.
Bro Lord: Indeed, and hopefully, having a good mentor should greatly assist in helping a new member to feel he belongs, and the formal creation of a Lodge Mentor as a Lodge office should ensure that this happens.
Bro Soper: So we have so far discussed three key points: the need to be mindful of the time commitment that we are asking of members, keeping up the pace of a meeting, and the importance of fostering a feeling of membership. These are all important to ensuring a Lodge is welcoming to all generations. What we have also found is the way a Lodge looks and feels is absolutely vital too.
Bro Lord: A lot of this has already come out from the ground-breaking research undertaken for Grand Lodge earlier this year in the ‘Future of Freemasonry’ report.
For example, the language we use to describe Freemasonry is key to having a broader appeal as is dispelling many of the myths that still surround us as an organisation.
Bro Soper: Being able to describe in simple laymen’s terms, using modern vocabulary, what freemasonry is about is crucial; emphasising the social side of our activities as well as making a contribution to society both through our charitable activities and by helping each individual Mason to become the best person he can be.
Bro Lord: But changing our language doesn’t mean changing our principles.
In his address to the University Scheme Lodges, the Assistant Grand Master has so rightly said: “the society of today lives in a seemingly increasing moral vacuum, a space which Freemasonry, with its Grand Principles … can fill, and to which young intelligent men can look for inspiration, self-improvement and fulfilment.”
Bro Soper: Experience has shown that, approached correctly, young men - indeed men of all ages - find considerable appeal in joining an organisation, which is secular, multi-faith, cross denominational and which shares their values. Indeed, in explaining Freemasonry to new and potential members, a Lodge should consider emphasising such features as lifetime friendships, location flexibility, should they move, personal development possibilities and new experiences.
Bro Lord: I imagine that some of you are thinking that this is all very well, but where exactly do we get these new younger members from? Of course, the basic approach of ‘member-get-member’ remains the best, but some Lodges, particularly those that are affiliated to a school or university, find that discreet advertisements letting people know they exist often attract initial inquiries.
Bro Soper: And in some cases, the adverts are less discreet. The Province of West Lancashire took the back page of last year’s Fresher’s Handbook, which went out to over 20,000 students in Liverpool. That resulted in a bumper crop of new candidates for the University Lodge of Liverpool.
Bro Lord: But many enquiries are now coming through the internet. Every day we are receiving hundreds of hits on the Grand Lodge, Provincial and Lodge specific sites, which then translate into expressions of interest from prospective members.
This is rapidly becoming one of the most important marketing methods for the Craft.
Bro Soper: So if your Lodge doesn’t yet have a website, then it should consider investing in one, but do remember to keep a website up-to-date as there is nothing worse than finding all the information is three years old and no longer relevant.
Bro Lord: We can also use social media such as Facebook to communicate with our members outside Lodge meetings. A number of Lodges, including Apollo University Lodge in Oxford, and the Metropolitan Grand Stewards’ Lodge have established an active presence on Facebook, for example. Not only can this be used to organise social events, but it also helps develop the feeling of membership.
Bro Soper: And if you don’t know what Facebook is, ask your children or grand-children (laughter) as it’s a great way of keeping in touch with them too.
These direct benefits of embracing the internet also help in making Freemasonry in general, and a Lodge in particular, more modern, and thus more relevant to younger Masons. An important challenge to us all is to respect our traditions, stay faithful to our values, whilst appearing modern and thus relevant to younger generations.
Bro Lord: We have now covered the interlinked key points of the importance of appearing up-to-date, embracing the internet, and using clear modern vocabulary when describing Masonry. Such marketing and communication is all very well attracting initial interest, but we have found that Lodges that have successfully spanned the generations have other attributes as well, not least in making new members feel welcome.
Bro Soper: An aspect of Freemasonry that can be off-putting to newer and/or younger members is rank, particularly if it is interpreted as “superiority”. We would suggest, for example, that Lodges avoid being too hide bound by rank or seniority and that Grand Officers and Provincial Grand Officers should spread themselves around both in the Lodge room and at the Festive Board, actively engaging younger members in conversation.
Bro Lord: Involving younger members is a common theme that we have heard from successful Lodges. Involvement in ceremonies is important, but involve them in a pace that is right for them. Let them if they want to, but don’t force them up the ladder if they do not. However also involve them in the organisation of social events, and in the decision making of the Lodge. Some Lodges, in order to do just that, have abolished the Lodge Committee or made it all of the members - this ties in with our earlier comment about the relatively high average age of decision makers.
Bro Soper: And if you find that you have a Masonic star in waiting, let him move forward quickly and become a young master as the chances are he could help ensure the future of your Lodge as well as being of huge benefit to your Province or Metropolitan Grand Lodge.
Bro Lord: That does lead to a respectful request to Provincial Grand Masters and Provincial Grand Secretaries that when you do invite younger Masons to become members of committees or working groups, please do avoid having all meetings in the middle of the working day.
Bro Soper: Provinces can also help retain younger members through initiatives like London’s Connaught Club, which welcomes all Masons in the capital aged under 35, to socialise together and, which, by encouraging better connections, also supports inter-visiting. It may also accelerate the feeling of belonging, by causing a young Mason to be surrounded by a number of like-minded people, and reinforces the idea that Masonry is for all age groups.
Bro Lord: Another approach is for Provinces to create Lodges specifically designed for younger professional people. For example, the establishment of The Leeds Lodge last year in the West Riding, which meets four times a year in the centre of the city at a time suitable for people coming straight from the office.
Bro Soper: There are many more ideas that came from our research that we believe will help assure the future of Freemasonry and make it relevant for all generations, but time today is against us.
Bro Lord: We very much hope this has proved interesting and thought provoking and thank you Most Worshipful Pro Grand Master for inviting us to make this presentation and thank you, Brethren for the way in which you have received it.
12 September 2012
An address by W Bro CE Lord OBE PAGDC and W Bro JR Soper PAGDC
Most Worshipful Pro Grand Master and Brethren,
As the National and the London Chairmen of the Universities Scheme, we were honoured to be asked to give thought to this crucial topic of how we make the Craft relevant to all generations.
Recruitment and retention of members is a key theme that every lodge has high on its agenda and it is important whether a newly made Brother joins us aged eighteen, twenty eight, forty eight or sixty eight!
Inevitably, our own focus has been looking at how we can include younger men in masonry as not only is that the role of the Universities Scheme, but it is also a reasonable proposition that if we can encourage men to join and develop a love of the Craft in their twenties, then we can hope to keep them throughout their lives, providing us with a steady stream of Lodge officers who may, we hope, also become active in their provinces and the metropolitan area.
That said, we believe our findings – based on qualitative research, having consulted a range of Provincial leaders and lodge secretaries – are relevant to the vast majority of lodges, as we are sure that every one of you will be keen to expand their lodge’s membership and encourage participation, as individual circumstances permit.
Therefore in our talk to today we are going to focus on a number of issues, giving some tangible examples of good practice and some suggestions that lodges may wish to try. And the good news is - that recognising that taking notes wearing regalia and gloves isn’t easy – the Grand Secretary has agreed to publish the text of this talk on the UGLE website within the next week, and there will also be an article based on the speech in the next edition of Freemasonry Today.
To set things in context though, we thought you might be interested to know how our membership breaks down by age group at the moment:
- Of our members across the English Constitution, only nine per cent are aged under 40. And to put that percentage in perspective, it is 3,000 less than the number of members we have aged over 80!
- Indeed the vast bulk of our members, some 65 per cent, are aged between 50 and 80
- The average age at initiation is 44 and the average age of those attaining the chair over the last four years was 63
We are not saying there is anything wrong with that in principle, but with 55 per cent of our members in, or reaching retirement, it does set a generational challenge. Also if the average age of reaching the chair is 63, one can assume that most of the decision makers in a Lodge are near to, or in retirement, which leads one to question the degree of representation that younger members have in a Lodge.
So how do we attract younger men to join masonry, and retain them, whilst ensuring that our existing membership still enjoy their participation and don’t feel excluded by change?
In our research we have found that one crucial element is recognising that masonry is in increasing competition with many other calls on the leisure time of prospective members. It is also clear that working patterns have changed significantly and it is less easy for those in employment to leave their workplace early in order to get to a lodge meeting. Nor for that matter do younger brethren (especially those with growing families) want to stay late all the time – something that is equally true of more senior members.
Many successful lodges don’t start their work until 6 or 6.30 in the evening and they still finish in good time to enjoy their after-proceedings and get home at a reasonable hour. They do this by taking a number of simple steps that cut out time consuming yet peripheral activities. Some, for example, don’t process in and out of the lodge. Most circulate rather than read their minutes, and do the same for the Almoner’s and Charity Steward’s reports as well as much of the business normally done under the risings. Ceremonies can be reduced in length too, without taking out any of the essential elements that make our ritual so special. For example at installation there is no necessity to present the working tools or to formally re-invest those officers being re-appointed. At the meal, there are opportunities to shorten proceedings, and we would make a plea that all long speeches should be avoided - with no exceptions(!).
All of the above not only cuts down the time taken by the formal proceedings, but also increases the pace of a meeting, which is important if one wants to keep the attention of a younger member. The “impatience of youth” is something we can all remember, and need to acknowledge!
Of course, there are often significant time commitments beyond the Lodge meetings themselves such as Lodges of Instruction, rehearsals, Lodge social functions etc. The overall time commitment that is being asked of a member needs to be critically reviewed by the Lodge.
However, it is not as simple as saying that the time commitment should be reduced. Regular meetings, often informal, and perhaps involving members’ partners and family can be important in fostering a feeling of membership, and this sense of being a member and of belonging is very important. Indeed a good mentor should greatly assist in helping a new member to feel he belongs, and the formal creation of Lodge Mentor as a Lodge office should help ensure that this happens.
So we have so far discussed three key points:
- the need to be mindful of the time commitment that we are asking of members,
- keeping up the pace of a meeting,
- and the importance of fostering a feeling of membership.
These are all important to ensuring a lodge is welcoming to all generations. What we have also found is the way a lodge looks and feels is absolutely vital too. A lot of this has already come out from the ground-breaking research undertaken for Grand Lodge earlier this year in the ‘Future of Freemasonry’ report. For example the language we use to describe freemasonry is key to it having a broader appeal as is dispelling many of the myths that still surround us as an organisation. Being able to describe in simple laymen’s terms, using modern vocabulary, what freemasonry is about is crucial; emphasising the social side of our activities as well as making a contribution to society both through our charitable activities and by helping each individual Mason to become the best person he can be. But changing our language doesn’t mean changing our principles. In his address to university scheme lodges, the Assistant Grand Master has so rightly said: “the society of today lives in a seemingly increasing moral vacuum, a space which freemasonry, with its Grand Principles … can fill, and to which young intelligent men can look for inspiration, self-improvement and fulfilment.”
Experience has shown that, approached correctly, young men – indeed men of all ages – find considerable appeal in joining an organisation which is secular, multi-faith, cross denominational and which shares their values. Indeed, in explaining Freemasonry to new and potential members, a Lodge should consider emphasizing such features as
- lifetime friendships
- location flexibility, should they move
- personal development possibilities
- and new experiences
I imagine some of you are thinking that this is all very well, but where exactly do we get these new younger members from? Of course, the basic approach of ‘member-get-member’ remains the best. But some lodges, particularly those that are affiliated to a school or university say, find that discreet advertisements letting people know they exist often attract initial enquiries. And in some cases, the adverts are less discreet. The Province of West Lancashire took the back page of last year’s Freshers’ Handbook, which went out to over 20,000 students in Liverpool. That resulted in a bumper crop of new candidates for the University Lodge of Liverpool. But many enquiries are now coming through the internet. Every day we are receiving hundreds of hits on the Grand Lodge, Provincial and lodge specific sites, which then translate into expressions of interest from prospective members. This is rapidly becoming one of the most important marketing methods for the Craft. So if your lodge doesn’t yet have a website, then it should consider investing in one. But do remember to keep a website up to date as there is nothing worse than finding that all the information is three years old and no longer relevant.
We can also use social media such as Facebook to communicate with our members outside lodge meetings. A number of lodges, including Apollo University Lodge, in Oxford, and the Metropolitan Grand Stewards have established an active presence on Facebook, for example. Not only can this be used to organise social events, but it also helps develop the feeling of membership. And if you don’t know what Facebook is, ask your children or grand-children as it’s a great way of keeping in touch with them too.
These direct benefits of embracing the internet also help in making Freemasonry in general, and a Lodge in particular, more modern, and thus more relevant to younger masons. An important challenge to us all is to respect our traditions, stay faithful to our values, whilst appearing modern and thus relevant to younger generations.
We have now covered the interlinked key points of the importance of appearing up to date, embracing the internet, and using clear modern vocabulary when describing masonry. Such marketing and communication is all very well at attracting initial interest, but we have found that lodges that have successfully spanned the generations have other attributes as well, not least in making new members feel welcome.
An aspect of Freemasonry that can be off-putting to newer and/or younger members is rank, particularly if it is interpreted as “superiority”. We would suggest, for example, that lodges avoid being too hide bound by rank or seniority and that Grand Officers and Provincial Grand Officers should spread themselves around both in the lodge room and at the festive board, actively engaging younger members in conversation. Involving younger members is a common theme that we have heard from successful lodges. Involvement in ceremonies is important – but involve them at a pace that is right for them – let them if they want to, but don’t force them up the ladder if they do not. However also involve them in the organisation of social events, and also in the decision making of the Lodge. Some lodges, in order to do just that, have abolished the Lodge Committee so that decisions are taken by the whole Lodge – this ties in with our early comment about the relatively high average age of decision makers. And if you find you have a Masonic star in waiting, let him move forward quickly and become a young Master as the chances are he could help ensure the future of your lodge as well as being of huge benefit to your Province or the Metropolitan Grand Lodge.
That does lead to a respectful request to Provincial Grand Masters and Provincial Grand Secretaries that when you do invite younger Masons to become members of committees or working groups, please avoid having all meetings in the middle of the working day!
Provinces can also help retain younger members through initiatives like London’s Connaught Club which welcomes all masons in the capital aged under 35, to socialise together and which, by encouraging better connections, also supports inter-visiting. It may also accelerate the feeling of belonging, by causing a young mason to be surrounded by a number of like-minded people, and reinforces the idea that masonry is for all age groups. Another approach is for provinces to help create lodges specifically designed for younger professional people. For example the establishment of the Leeds Lodge last year in the West Riding, which meets four times a year in the centre of the city at a time suitable for people coming straight from the office.
There are many more ideas that came from our research that we believe will help assure the future of freemasonry, and make it relevant for all generations, but time today is against us. We very much hope that this has proved interesting and thought provoking and thank you Most Worshipful Pro Grand Master for inviting us to make this presentation and thank you, brethren for the way you have received it.
13 June 2012
An address by the MW The Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes
I am pleased that we have had the opportunity today of acknowledging and celebrating, as Freemasons, the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty the Queen. Our association with members of the Royal family over the years has always been of great importance to us, not least the privilege of His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent being our Grand Master.
We have already heard the address on ‘Royal Jubilees and Loyal Freemasons’ and most enjoyable it was, and also we have called off Grand Lodge for the Annual General Meeting of the Grand Charity. I feel that is quite sufficient for one day and I suspect you will be relieved to hear that you won’t be being detained by a further address by me.
So before welcoming our distinguished visitors it only remains for me to wish you all an enjoyable summer.
13 June 2012
An address by RW Bro Dr JW Daniel, PJGW
MW Pro Grand Master, Distinguished Visitors, and Brethren
The last year in which the loyal freemasons of the English Constitution had occasion to celebrate a royal diamond jubilee was 1897. You will recall, however, that in the Charge after Initiation we are enjoined
'to be exemplary in the discharge of our civil duties…above all, by never losing sight of the allegiance due to the Sovereign of our native land…'
Of course, we demonstrate that allegiance at every masonic banquet when we honour the loyal toast to ‘The Queen’ – indeed, I doubt if there is any other organisation in Her Majesty’s dominions that has drunk her health more often over the last 60 years. But there have been no greater expressions of the English Craft’s allegiance and loyalty to the sovereign of its native land than at the two ‘Special Meetings’ of this Grand Lodge held in 1887 and 1897 to commemorate the golden and diamond jubilees of Queen Victoria, two of the largest Masonic meetings ever held in England. Both were held in the Royal Albert Hall, and the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) presided over both as Grand Master, yet neither is (yet?) included in the list of ‘Outstanding Masonic Events’ in the Masonic Year Book, and little has been said or written about them since. So, in this address of between 15 and 20 minutes, I will attempt to repair that loss, taking as my theme ‘Royal Jubilees and Loyal Freemasons’
First, though, the ‘back story’.
When HRH Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, was elected Grand Master in 1874, the close connection with the British Royal Family that had been broken with the death of HRH The Duke of Sussex, the Grand Master, in 1843, was restored. The Duke of Sussex and his brother, the Duke of Kent (sons of King George III), had supervised the of the two English Grand Lodges in 1813; the Duke of Kent was the father of Queen Victoria, and when he died, the Duke of Sussex gave her away at her marriage to Prince Albert, and Prince Albert Edward was the first of their four sons.
Although Prince Albert Edward, the Prince of Wales, had been a Freemason since his initiation in Sweden in 1868, and had been appointed as a Past Grand Master of the UGLE a year later, it was almost as an afterthought that he was formally offered the Grand Mastership in 1874 after the resignation of the Marquess of Ripon on his conversion to Roman Catholicism. I suspect that it was somewhat to the surprise of the Earl of Carnarvon, the Deputy Grand Master, that the Prince accepted the offer. However, the Prince immediately appointed Lord Carnarvon as his Pro Grand Master, and the earl then installed him as Grand Master in the Royal Albert Hall in April 1875 at a meeting which thousands of Freemasons attended.
In his address to the Prince Lord Carnarvon emphasised what he saw as the key aspect and value of ‘English’ freemasonry, namely its alliance with
‘social order and the great institutions of the country, and, above all, with the monarchy, the crowning institution of all.’
That was the first sound of the theme of loyalty that was to be heard ever more clearly and frequently as the Queen’s reign and the Grand Mastership of her son continued. Lord Carnarvon also claimed that Freemasonry’s ‘works of sympathy and charity’ had earned it ‘respect even in the eyes of the outer world’. And for his part the newly installed Grand Master added that
as long as Freemasons do not, as Freemasons, mix themselves up in politics so long I am sure this high and noble order will flourish, and will maintain the integrity of our great empire.
The Times described the event as a ‘gathering unequalled alike in the numbers and social status of those who took part in it’, representing ‘the largest association of English gentlemen’, an event that marked out the difference between freemasonry as practised in England, with its ‘solemn protestation of its loyal, religious, and charitable principles’, and continental freemasonry where it was ‘quite possible that under the pressure of past tyranny Freemasonry was really used…as a means of revolutionary agitation.’ Indeed, the favourable press the Craft then received as ‘a perfectly innocuous, loyal and virtuous Association’, constituted a high-water mark in the public recognition of ‘English’ freemasonry at the outset of the last quarter of the nineteenth century.
The Prince of Wales thus got off to a flying start as Grand Master. He was the head of an ancient and well respected institution that was perceived to be socially useful and, above all, loyal to the monarchy that crowned the largest empire the world had ever seen and over which he would eventually preside. The Empire was still growing apace and the Craft under the English, Irish and Scottish Grand Lodges grew with it. At every Masonic function throughout the Empire, Freemasons drank the Queen’s health. Even in the Dominion of Canada and the colony of South Australia, where the majority of the British lodges had broken away to form their own Grand Lodges, their new Grand Lodges insisted that they remained loyal to the British Crown.
Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in June 1887 provided just the right context for the celebration of the renewed close relationship between the Royal family and the Craft. The major event was to be a ‘Special Meeting’ of Grand Lodge, at the Royal Albert Hall, to move a loyal Address to the Queen, but two additional ideas were put forward early in that jubilee year, only to fade away in the following months.
First, the Prince of Wales, with the Queen’s approval, decided in 1886 that the nation should commemorate the jubilee by erecting the ‘Imperial Institute of the United Kingdom, the Colonies, and India’, and he called on institutions and individuals to subscribe to the Fund he had set up for that purpose. So in January 1887, Lord Carnarvon, the Pro Grand Master, dutifully wrote to each lodge under the English Constitution to ask it to consider his suggestion that it make a voluntary subscription to the Fund of not more than a guinea per head (about £85 in today’s money). Although he announced in April that the initial response was largely in favour of the idea, and the intended Masonic collection was then announced in The Times on 25 April, the amount actually collected appears to have been so insignificant that the Masonic contribution received no further mention either in Grand Lodge - or indeed at the Albert Hall meeting, the proceeds of which were donated to the Masonic charities rather than to the Imperial Institute.
The second idea was more imaginative but had an even shorter life. At the March Quarterly Communication the Master of Mizpah Lodge moved that
'to perpetuate the memory of the Jubilee…it be resolved that the Grand Lodge of England do prepare forthwith a Foundation Stone…to be ultimately placed, if possible, upon the ground in or near the original site of King Solomon’s Temple…and that the rebuilding of the said Temple as a “House of Prayer for all Nations” shall be proceeded with as soon as necessary funds be provided.'
Although the proposer claimed that the expense to Grand Lodge would be but £25, and despite his argument that Queen Victoria was ‘quite equal in glory to King Solomon’, the minutes of the meeting record that ‘The motion not being seconded fell to the ground.’ On the other hand, and to support needy regalia manufacturers, Grand Lodge then proceeded to carry the motion ‘That Past Masters be entitled to wear a distinctive Collar.’
Thousands of Freemasons attended the Special Meeting on 13 June 1887. The Prince of Wales presided as Grand Master. At his side sat his younger brother, the Duke of Connaught (the Provincial Grand Master for Sussex and the District Grand Master for Bombay, and whom he had also appointed as a Past Grand Master). The Senior Warden was none other than the Grand Master’s eldest son, Prince Albert Victor. His Highness the Maharaja of Kuch-Behar added imperial lustre to the occasion, and the wider universality of the Craft was demonstrated by deputations from the Irish and Scottish Grand Lodges, a Past DepGM from New York City, a general from Hawaii, and a bishop representing the Grand Lodge of British Columbia. In opening the proceedings the Grand Master reminded the brethren that ‘Loyalty and Philanthropy’ were two of the Craft’s proudest tenets. He then invited the Grand Secretary to read the proposed Address, and, as this extract will show, loyalty was its keynote:
We, your Majesty’s most loyal and faithful subjects…most respectfully desire…to assure your Majesty of our fervent and unabated attachment to your Throne and Royal person. Founded as our ancient Institution is on principles of unswerving loyalty to our Sovereign and fidelity to our country, we rejoice to think that the great increase of our Order in all parts of your Majesty’s Dominions is in unison with the welfare of the nation and the maintenance of the established Institutions of the land…
In moving the motion, the Pro Grand Master, Lord Carnarvon, declared that
'in English Freemasonry order and law and loyalty to our Sovereign are the pillars of our ancient Institution'.
He reminded the audience that the Queen was ‘the daughter of a Freemason, that her uncles had been in Freemasonry, that her Royal sons are Freemasons, and that she has a Grandson in the Order’, and he repeated the claim that of all her subjects ‘there are none who are animated with more heartfelt loyal devotedness to her Throne than the Freemasons of England.’ The Address was adopted ‘unanimously amidst loud cheering’. Having signed it, the Grand Master ‘called on the Brethren for three cheers for Her Majesty’ and then joined in the singing of all three verses of the National Anthem, led by the Grand Organist, none other than ‘Brother Sir Arthur Sullivan.’ A Golden Jubilee Jewel had already been commissioned for all members of the Craft at the time of the celebration, and, in further support of my theory that Craft was designed by and for regalia manufacturers, the Grand Master ended the jubilee celebration by appointing and investing about 100 ‘deserving Brethren’ with Past Grand ranks.
When the ‘loyal and dutiful’ Address was eventually presented to the Queen at Osborne on 2 August 1887 by a deputation from Grand Lodge, led by the Prince of Wales, she received it with pleasure and commented:
I observe that the Society of Freemasons increases in numbers and prosperity in proportion as the wealth and civilization of my Empire increases. I heartily appreciate the charitable efforts which have always distinguished your Society. I thank you sincerely for your affectionate devotion to my throne and person.
And just to round off a remarkable year, Grand Lodge, in September 1887, gladly accepted the Grand Master’s suggestion that Provincial and District Grand Masters be allowed to award a number of Past Provincial or District Grand ranks.
Queen Victoria completed the sixtieth year of her reign in 1897, and her Diamond Jubilee was celebrated even more grandly and widely. By then even more of the terrestrial globe was painted red, and the number of lodges on the role of this Grand Lodge alone had grown from 646 in 1837 to 2,220. In 1837 there had been only three Grand Lodges in the British Empire (England, Ireland and Scotland) but by 1897 a further twelve had been established, all independent, sovereign bodies but whose members, as British subjects, still owed their loyalty to ‘Her Imperial Majesty The Queen-Empress’.
However, I did not find any formal announcement of Grand Lodge’s intentions to honour that Diamond Jubilee until I came across one in The Times of 1 May 1897 after an article starting with the sentence
'The Greek Government have taken a fresh step, and a long step, towards meeting the demands of Europe'.
In a section headed ‘The Queen’s reign’ I read first that the Grand Secretary had sent out invitations to Freemasons to support the Pro Grand Master by attending ‘a Masonic service to commemorate the record reign of Her Majesty the Queen’ at Southwark Cathedral on 27 May; and then the announcement of the Masonic celebration to be held in the Albert Hall on 14 June, the proceeds from which were to be divided between the ‘Prince of Wales Hospital Fund’ and the three Masonic charities.
The idea of calling on loyal Freemasons to mark a royal jubilee by raising money for a purpose other than the Masonic charities again met with some opposition. On this occasion, however, a compromise was reached. Seven thousand Freemasons attended the Albert Hall celebration, and the sale of tickets produced £7,000 (more than half a million pounds in today’s money), half of which went to the Prince’s Hospital Fund, and the rest to the three Masonic charities.
The Grand Master, HRH The Prince of Wales, presided, as in 1887, and among those present were the Grand Masters of Ireland, Scotland and South Australia, and His Highness the Rajah of Kapurthala, the 25 year-old head of the eponymous princely Indian state, then within the British Empire.
In his opening remarks the Grand Master repeated his belief that
'there is no body in her Majesty’s dominions who are more orderly or more loyal that the Freemasons'
and in these extracts from the proposed address to the Queen you will again note the emphasis on loyalty:
'We, your Majesty’s most faithful and loyal subjects, the Free and Accepted Masons under the United Grand Lodge of England, venture...on this, the completion of the 60th year of your Majesty’s reign over these Kingdoms and the vast Empire of the British Crown, humbly to offer our dutiful and heartfelt congratulations, and to express our continued and unswerving loyalty to your Majesty… No class of your Majesty’s subjects outvies in loyal attachment to the Throne and devotion to your Majesty’s person than the Ancient Institution of English Freemasonry… '
The motion to present the address to the Queen was carried by acclamation, and the address was there and then signed by the Grand Master – whereupon, according to The Freemason’s Chronicle
'Bro Sadler, Grand Tyler, seized the pen with which the important document had been completed, probably recognising its value as a memento of this most unique celebration. No doubt we shall hear in good time that the pen has been added to the collection of interesting articles in the possession of Grand Lodge, and in which our Grand Tyler takes so great and lively an interest'.
MW Pro Grand Master and Brethren, this is that very pen. Bro Sadler subsequently suggested that brethren who had yet to donate to the Prince of Wales’ Fund could write their cheques with it. I have no idea how many brethren took up that idea, but the pen, and this, the inkstand used on 14 June 1897, are still kept in the Library and Museum.
The Grand Master then invested the Raja of Kapurthala as a Past SGW, the Grand Master of South Australia as a Past JGW and the Lord Bishop of Bath and Wells as a Past Grand Chaplain, before going on to make sixty further appointments to past Grand Rank, most of whom were present to be invested. There was one notable absentee, however, from the District Grand Lodge of Egypt, who was nevertheless appointed as a Past JGW, namely Major-General Sir Horatio Herbert Kitchener. His apology for absence, if he sent one, might have mentioned that he was instead leading his Egyptian and British armies up the Nile to Khartoum to avenge the murder of General Gordon.
Before the meeting closed the Earl of Lathom, on behalf of Grand Lodge, presented the Grand Master with a jewel in commemoration of the great event, a jewel set with 62 diamonds and which is now on display in the Library and Museum, together with examples of the other jewels specially commissioned by Grand Lodge for the Queen Victoria’s Golden and Diamond Jubilees. HRH expressed his thanks and, on retiring from the Hall, he ‘turned and bowed three times before disappearing from view’. (The Home Secretary took only a month to acknowledge the Queen’s receipt of Grand Lodge’s ‘loyal and dutiful address’, and, following the example set in 1887, Provincial and District Grand Masters were empowered to confer a large number of Past ranks.)
But we did not celebrate the 1897 Diamond Jubilee only at that special meeting of Grand Lodge, or with additional Masonic ‘bling’. Loyal Masons in full regalia attended cathedral and church services from Axminster in Devon to Bridgetown in Barbados and from Durham to Llandaff; the Freemasons of Kent presented the east window to the Chapter House of Canterbury Cathedral; at a ceremony in Leicester, Bro Sir Israel Hart laid the foundation stone of the new Jewish synagogue and the Mayor, Bro Marshall, laid a second stone to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee; the Scarborough brethren installed electric light in the Hospital and Dispensary; the Nottinghamshire brethren put on a concert and a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Nottingham Castle – specially illuminated by electric light for the occasion – to which ‘non-Masons and ladies’ were admitted, the Masons being ‘at liberty to appear in the clothing and jewels of any Degree to which they may belong; and Constitutional Lodge in Beverley, Yorkshire, held its own ‘special meeting’ when a ‘handsome moose deer head’ was presented to the Earl of Londesborough.
Full reports of the Albert Hall event appeared in the press. This extract from The Evening Standard encapsulates the depiction of the English Craft at that time:
'The great meeting of Freemasons at the Royal Albert Hall was remarkable for the presence of many of the Indian Princes now present in the country, and it was stated…that the Indian Christians, Parsees, Hindoos, and Mohammedans met together in the Lodges, irrespective of religion and caste, and dined and held social intercourse with each other… Happily, Freemasonry has not been converted in Great Britain or her colonies into a political machine, as has been the case in Europe, but has held itself aloof from all subjects alien to its constitution and purposes, foremost among which stand charity and goodwill towards men…There can be no doubt that the Masonic body exercises a large influence for good, and that it is an institution that has a beneficial effect upon public life in England.'
So, Brethren, those were some snapshots of how our predecessors celebrated the golden and diamond jubilees of Queen Victoria. How times have changed! But, Brethren, I am sure you will agree with me that our loyalty to the sovereign of our native land, and indeed to all our principles, remains unabated.
MW Pro Grand Master, at Grand Lodge’s celebration of the Golden Jubilee in 1887 the Prince of Wales led the assembly in giving three cheers for Queen Victoria. I am assured that it is your wish that we celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at least as enthusiastically.
The Pro Grand Master warmly confirmed this.
The Grand Director of Ceremonies then called the Brethren to order and led them in three hearty cheers for Her Majesty the Queen.
Royal Arch Investiture
28 April 2011
An address by the ME Pro First Grand Principal Peter Lowndes
Companions, this is a special day for those of you who have been appointed to Grand Rank or have been promoted. Grand rank is sparingly awarded and I congratulate you on your achievement. In recognising that the Royal Arch is the completion of pure ancient masonry, exaltation into the Order should neither be hurried nor obligatory, as not all Craft Brethren will wish to take this final step immediately upon being raised. However, it is hoped that you as Grand Officers will be able to communicate something of the colour, enjoyment and essence of the Royal Arch to committed members of the Craft.
As we move towards the bi-centenary of the Order in 2013 we have taken the opportunity to further ensure the long term future of the Royal Arch. In raising the profile to achieve this, it is important to make sure we are seen as appealing, inspiring and relevant.
To that end, a strategic working party, under the chairmanship of the Second Grand Principal, reported their nine recommendations to me in March. The first of these recommendations in their Report was that the strap line ‘initiation to exaltation’ be adopted to promote the Order.
The working party looked at mentoring and how it should align to the work being done on this in the Craft. Here it was suggested that the Craft Personal Mentor and the Royal Arch Representative actively guide a new Master Mason towards membership of the Royal Arch at an appropriate point in his Masonic journey. Also that once exalted the new Companion has a knowledgeable Royal Arch Mason to help him better understand the ceremony and meaning of the Royal Arch and how best to become involved in the Chapter.
The role of the Lodge Royal Arch Representative is fundamental to the promotion of the Order and it is recommended that Metropolitan, Provincial and District Grand Lodges continue to encourage Craft Lodges to make this appointment and to develop the role. It is also considered important that the adoption of the permitted ritual variations, introduced by the 2004 Royal Arch Strategic Working Party be encouraged in Chapters.
I am aware that the Metropolitan Grand Lodge and several Provinces and Districts are already presenting a letter to the newly made Master Mason on the merits of the Royal Arch. This practice is highly recommended by the Working Party. Efforts to improve the profile of the Order in all website contexts is underway and will help the potential exaltee to have a better understanding of the Order he is about to join.
Two clear outward ways to promote the Order are emphasised. First, the taking of wine with Royal Arch members at selected Craft Festive Boards and secondly, that the wearing of the official Royal Arch tie be further encouraged. The final recommendation is that Chapters be encouraged to re-engage with Lodges from which they have traditionally derived members.
In order to encourage a greater participation amongst all Companions, as well as lending clarity to the Royal Arch teachings, the Working Party looked at the layout of the ritual books so that the Revised and Permitted Alternative variations adopted in 2004 be encouraged as the standard. I emphasise that nothing is now being suggested which in any way enforces or changes what was introduced by Supreme Grand Chapter in 2004.
A wider participation in the ritual is clearly beneficial in encouraging a deeper understanding of the teaching and by giving the permitted variations of 2004 a greater prominence in the various printed and authorised rituals – for example, Aldersgate, Domatic, Perfect and Metropolitan – I trust more Chapters will be encouraged to adopt them and benefit accordingly. For your interest, all these are likely to be reprinted in the next eighteen months.
The celebration of the bi-centenary next year will be held on Wednesday 16 October. This earlier date will replace the November Convocation – for that year only. The planned events of the day will begin with a demonstration by the Metropolitan Grand Stewards’ Chapter Demonstration Team – in the Grand Temple – to encourage the use of the Permitted Alternative Variation that I have just referred to. This will be followed by lunch in the Grand Connaught Rooms. The main celebration will take place in the afternoon - again in the Grand Temple, followed by a dinner at the Savoy. You will appreciate that these events will be restricted by numbers. The Grand Scribe Ezra will be briefing Grand Superintendents and Provincial Scribes Ezra on the detail in good time.
The 2013 Royal Arch Appeal for the Royal College of Surgeons is progressing well – with over half a million recorded so far. This means that we are well on our way to exceeding our target, so that we can then further help the research fellowship scheme, run by the College, by financially supporting additional fellowships. I encourage you to keep up your efforts.
Finally Companions, on your behalf I congratulate the Grand Director of Ceremonies and his Deputies for the excellent way in which today’s meeting has been conducted and the Grand Scribe Ezra and his staff for their hard work in ensuring a successful Investiture.
CRAFT ANNUAL INVESTITURE
25 APRIL 2012
AN ADDRESS BY THE MW THE GRAND MASTER HRH THE DUKE OF KENT, KG
Brethren, I start by congratulating most warmly all those whom I have had the pleasure of investing today. To attain Grand Rank in the Craft is a very high accolade of which you can feel justly proud. This promotion does, however, come with an obligation always to set the highest example in standards of integrity, honesty, and fairness wherever you are.
Among those I have appointed to acting office are the new Grand Chancellor, the President of the Grand Charity and the Deputy President of the Board of General Purposes, and I want to take this opportunity of thanking their predecessors. First of all, Brother Alan Englefield, who as the first Grand Chancellor, has made an invaluable contribution to bringing us closer to other Grand Lodges around the world, as well as to maintaining our position as the Mother Grand Lodge. Secondly to Brother Grahame Elliott, who as President of the Grand Charity, as well as presiding over the Grand Charity itself, was instrumental in the successful move of the four Charities into this Building and thirdly, to Brother Michael Lawson who has given a long and dedicated period of service on the Board since 1988. To all three Brethren we owe a considerable debt of gratitude.
Brethren, today our concern must be for the future, especially with the approach of our three hundredth anniversary in 2017. In planning for this great anniversary, I believe these times demand innovation, and imaginative thinking, whilst retaining our principles. In this I make no apology for again reminding Brethren of the need truly to demonstrate transparency, and to work towards regaining our enviable reputation in society. To do this we have to show how and why we are relevant and to concentrate on the positive aspects of Freemasonry, in particular our generous tradition of giving to a wide variety of causes.
In regards to transparency we still have some way to go in dispelling the myths that remain 'deep rooted' in many people's minds, not least the media. Very considerable progress has been made in this direction already, but challenges remain, and there is still work to do to overcome prejudices and misconception.
I am very pleased that we have already achieved two firsts of some importance in tackling this challenge. The first of these was the commissioning of the first ever independent, third party report, written by non-Masons, on the future of Freemasonry. This Report has been highly successful and has itself acted as the catalyst for the second of our two innovations, namely the first media tour, conducted by the Grand Secretary, and which achieved a reach of more than 117 million people.
I recommend that you all take advantage of this active spirit of openness to talk with equal frankness to your family and friends. I think that if you follow this advice, you may well be surprised by the positive reception you will gain.
Today's has been a memorable gathering and its undoubted success has been achieved by a great deal of careful planning and hard work, so that on your behalf, I want first of all to thank the Grand Director of Ceremonies and his Deputies for the skill and precision with which the ceremony has been conducted, and secondly the Grand Secretary and his staff for their long hours of planning which have 'borne fruit' so excellently this afternoon.
14 March 2012
An address by the MW The Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes
In December I mentioned that one of the many important aspects of mentoring was to give guidance to our members about how to talk about their involvement in Freemasonry, and Freemasonry generally, to those not involved, particularly their family and friends.
Very often one will be asked how one came to join Freemasonry. We will all have different stories to tell, no doubt, but in most cases it will have been knowing people who are masons and showing an interest in and asking questions about the subject, which naturally leads to the answer, "if you are interested why not come and see".
The next stage then should have been to meet other members of the Lodge and for both sides to ensure that the various ramifications and responsibilities of being a member are out in the open. We must make it clear to everyone that when a new member joins us, there should be no surprises in respect of either his time or financial involvement that will come with his membership
I believe that it is important to let people know that we are not an organisation that goes hunting for members for the sake of numbers, but that we do encourage strongly those who show a genuine interest in finding out more about the subject. We should stress that Freemasonry is about the quality of the person who joins and not the number of people who are members.
We must not forget that anyone can go into Letchworths or other such shops and buy a copy of our ritual. If they read it, they will find very few aspects that are not fully explained as well as, of course, the vast majority of the words we use in our ceremonies. It is important to explain to people that there are very few thing we keep private in Masonry and these are restricted to a few words and signs.
Brethren, some people still try to ridicule us about such things as "funny handshakes". There is no Masonic handshake. We know that they are confusing it with the modes of recognition in the three main ceremonies. I would suggest that the majority of Freemasons do restrict their use of these signs to the ceremonies rather than using them in everyday life and I would encourage that to be the case.
We must also acknowledge that the language used in our rituals is somewhat archaic, but we become used to it and enjoy it. However, some of the wording is not appropriate to explaining ourselves to outsiders. One of the obvious examples of this is that we would never explain to an outsider our relationship with another Brother as "doing unto him as we would that he would do unto us", we would say something like "we try to treat others as we hope that they would treat us".
Similarly we should not explain our objects as "Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth", but would be rather more coherent perhaps saying "Respecting everyone, looking after others and being honest".
In modern parlance this isn't rocket science.
I am also often asked what benefits can be derived from being a mason. My first response is always to say what someone must most certainly not expect is an improvement in his business fortunes or any preferential treatment in any walk of life. There is no doubt that there is still a body of opinion that feels that a lot of business is conducted between Freemasons that is to the detriment of others.
I have done a lot of business with and for Freemasons, often without finding out until later that we were both members. Personally I have never seen a case where it has been to the detriment of others. It would be wrong for us to categorically deny that this has never occurred, as I have little doubt such things have happened in the past, but, dare I say, I am confident that this would be considerably less so among Freemasons than members of many other organisations.
We then move on to what benefits a member can expect and I think it is important to stress that people will find many different benefits the more involved and experienced they become. At the outset it is reasonable to expect that, if they join a Lodge, they will be amongst men who they will find to behave in a way in which they, themselves, would approve, share many of the same interests and enjoy the camaraderie of their fellow man. In short, to be among like minded men.
As their membership develops they are very likely to find enjoyment in the more detailed aspects like the meaning of the ritual as well as the delivery of it, the ceremonial or, perhaps, the dinners, although I hope the enjoyment would not be limited to just the dinners.
You will be thinking to yourselves, very probably, that I have left out an important aspect – our Charities. Brethren we are not the only organisation that supports charities and people can easily be extremely generous in this regard without becoming a Freemason. It is all too easy, when asked what we do, to simply say "we do a vast amount of charitable work and raise a huge amount of money every year". This is true but, as I have said before in Grand Lodge, Charity is not our reason for being. Having said that, Brethren, of course we should blow our own trumpets in this respect and, whilst Charity may not be our raison d'etre, it is certainly a most important part of Masonic life of which we should be and are hugely proud. Indeed, it is a very natural result of leading our lives according to the Masonic line and rule.
Our four main Charities are all something of which we should be hugely proud, but our overall charitable giving goes way beyond even that.
Brethren, I most certainly am not saying don't talk about our Charities, quite the reverse, but what I am saying is don't use our Charities to avoid answering more fully what we are all about. Above all stress that we are all in masonry for the immense amount of fun and enjoyment that we derive from our membership.
14 March 2012
Order of Service to Masonry citation for RW Bro Dr Roeinton Burjor Framji Khambatta
Bro Roeinton Khambatta, who was born in September 1924, was made a mason in Lodge Zoroaster, under the Scottish Constitution, and in 1965 joined our Lodge Faith No. 2438. That lodge (then meeting in Karachi in the District of Punjab) was also his father's and his grandfather's lodge. In the Royal Arch he was exalted in Chapter Faith and Charity, under the Scottish Constitution, and joined our Faith Chapter No. 2438, in 1966.
He had a swift rise in the District of Punjab, which was renamed Pakistan in 1967, and in 1970 was installed as District Grand Master and Grand Superintendent. He held those offices until his resignation in 1976, after Freemasonry had been made illegal by the government of Pakistan. Having taken up residence in London, he continued to practise as a Consultant Cardiologist for many years until his retirement, and pursued an active masonic career not only in London, but also in the Provinces of Suffolk, Hertfordshire, and Worcestershire, in all of which he holds the rank of Past Provincial Senior Grand Warden.
Brother Khambatta's record of masonic activity is as impressive as any. At differing times he has been a member of 16 lodges and 8 chapters under our Constitution. He has served in the Chair of very many of them and is the senior subscribing Past Master of Jubilee Masters Lodge No. 2712. In 1988–89 he served as a Grand Steward on the nomination of Lodge of Felicity No. 58, and was the President of his Board. He is a long-standing member of Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076, the Premier Lodge of Masonic Research, becoming its Master in 2000. As a further distinction he was the Prestonian Lecturer for 2007, taking as his subject "The Grand Secretaries 1813–1980".
He is also active in many other Orders, most notably as a former Provincial Grand Master for London in the Mark degree. As an elder masonic statesman, he holds a special place in the affections of the many brethren with whom he has come in contact.
14 March 2012
A Statement by the RW Deputy President of the Board of General Purposes Michael Lawson concerning the Attorney General's Reference to the Charity Tribunal
Many of you will be aware that last year the Attorney General brought a case (known as a Reference) to the Charity Tribunal to determine a number of questions concerning Benevolent Fund Charities and whether their Charitable status was affected by the Charities Act 2006 - in particular by that Act's requirements relating to public benefit.
Some 1,400 Masonic Charitable Funds, almost entirely Lodge Benevolent Funds, were named in a Schedule to the Reference, although it was likely to affect nearly every Lodge or Chapter Benevolent Fund, of which we believe there are more than 4,000. The four main Masonic Charities were also concerned that they might be affected.
Accordingly the Board instructed a leading Firm of Solicitors, Farrer and Co, which has a specialist Charity Department, and a leading Chancery silk, Simon Taube QC, to look after the interests of Masonic Charities at the Hearing. The Board also arranged for a nominated Masonic Charity to be a party to the proceedings.
The issue before the Tribunal was whether the pre-existing case law that is authority for the charitable status of funds relieving poverty amongst a group of beneficiaries with a common link (e.g. where the beneficiaries are defined by a family relationship, a common employer or as in the case of Masonic Benevolent Funds membership of a body such as a Lodge) had been overturned by the public benefit requirements of the Charities Act 2006.
The Upper Tribunal has ruled unequivocally that the Charities Act 2006 has made no change to the law in that respect and that Charities for the prevention or relief of poverty amongst a group of beneficiaries defined in this way remain valid Charitable Trusts.
The decision was handed down shortly after the Board met in February. The Board will be considering the decision and whether any further guidance should be given and will report further to Grand Lodge in due course. For those who wish to read the decision we have put the following link on UGLE's website.
Finally, I draw your attention to the Charities Act 2011 which comes into effect today consolidating most of the Charities Acts 1992, 1993 and 2006 and the Recreational Charities Act 1958. It does not alter the existing law, but sets out in a more accessible form how Charities in England and Wales are registered and regulated, and is now the governing legislation for Charities.
14 December 2011
An address by the MW The Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes
Mentoring has been high on the agenda for some time and I want to take this opportunity to give clarity and perspective to what we mean by mentoring.
You have heard today the President of the Board of General Purposes give notice of motion enabling a Master to appoint as an additional officer a Mentor, with a view to voting on this proposition at the March Quarterly Communication. I want to stress that this is an optional office and it is up to individual Lodges as to whether or not they use it.
You have all heard previously that the mentoring scheme is designed to eventually mentor members at all stages of their Masonic progress. Initially this is especially for candidates – the next generation – during the three degrees and then to encourage them to continue their progress into the Royal Arch. London and all Provinces now have a Metropolitan or Provincial Grand Mentor who currently is responsible for liaising with the Lodge Mentor. For the avoidance of doubt the Lodge Mentor is responsible for coordinating and selecting suitable Brethren to be the personal mentors. It is most certainly not the intention that the Lodge Mentor should carry out the task himself. The personal mentor is best described as a friend and guide.
We all have our ideas about what mentoring is and, for that matter, what mentoring is not. Indeed, some believe there is no need for mentoring and some believe they are already mentoring perfectly satisfactorily and so on. These sentiments are perfectly understandable without an explanation of what we actually mean by mentoring and what we are trying to achieve. In an ideal world, mentoring would happen naturally anyway and that everyone would be looked after as a matter of course, and that this, in turn, would take care of issues such as recruitment, retention and retrieval – the three ‘Rs’. Whatever your idea of mentoring might be, one of the aims we should all keep in mind is the promotion of an environment of belonging, understanding, involvement and enjoyment within the Lodge. The skill will be to achieve this with a “light touch”.
But first, Brethren, the word mentoring itself is translated in so many ways – rather like our Masonry! Let me be quite clear – mentoring is not just about the Lodge of Instruction – valuable though that is for advancement in Masonic ritual. Rather it is mostly about pastoral care – seeing the candidate is looked after, kept informed and that that support and care remains throughout each member’s Masonic life.
In terms of the mentoring scheme I see pastoral care – at the very least – being eighty per cent of what mentoring is all about. Put simply, the real test is how you would like to have been welcomed when you first joined and how you would like to have been supported from then onwards. I do not want, nor I am sure do any of us, to have a complicated or onerous scheme – rather one that is as natural as possible yet, at the same time, allowing consistency of advice and support.
Mentoring has essentially three stages. The first two are in many ways obvious as they cover logistics, basic ritual meaning and developing a sense of belonging and the third – how to talk about our Freemasonry to the non Mason – needs more explanation as it links in with our overall communications strategy. A strategy that supports an external facing organisation and underpins our new ambassadors’ scheme.
The first stage is for each candidate to understand the basic logistics that are involved in becoming a Freemason. It is really about a proper welcome. I am not going into that detail today – other than to say that a candidate should never feel under briefed and should be made aware of his financial and time commitment. During this stage the personal mentor answers any questions the candidate may have for him to gain a sense of belonging. In other words, there should never be any surprises.
The second stage is to understand the basics of the ritual, especially after initiation and then passing and raising. But this understanding should be about the ability to answer questions about the myths that non Masons have – so that right from the start, members can counter the questions about the so-called funny hand shakes and then the nooses and trouser leg being rolled up – all these classics. The questions on the myths need to be answered accurately and without embarrassment. I am not talking about an in depth knowledge, but more a common understanding. The Mentor can, of course, point them in the right direction for this additional and important information as they require it. It is not, however, part of the new mentoring scheme.
We all understand the need to look after candidates, but it is the third stage of giving the confidence – from the very outset – in order that you can speak to, in particular, family and friends about Freemasonry. That, Brethren, is vital to ensuring the future. A candidate – and this applies equally to the rest of us – needs to understand how to talk to the non Mason about what Freemasonry means. The aim is to have as many members as possible as ambassadors to Freemasonry.
Brethren let me say straightaway that an ambassador is not a rank or office - it is a mode of behaviour. On the fundamental understanding that we recruit only people who live up to our principles – an ambassador will not only understand the basics of ritual but also, importantly will be able and willing, with our support and guidance, to talk to family and friends about their Freemasonry as and when appropriate. We need to have confidence in them to do so appropriately. To quote the Grand Master, “Talking openly about Freemasonry, as appropriate, is core to my philosophy, central to our communications strategy and essential to the survival of Freemasonry as a respected and relevant membership organisation”.
It is with these three stages in mind that the Grand Secretary’s working party is producing brief and succinct guidelines for the Mentor to give, in turn, to the personal mentors.
So Brethren the mentoring scheme is in place and evolving. In March you will vote on whether you wish the appointment of Mentor to be an optional additional office. In essence I see mentoring as a “light touch” resulting in everyone enjoying their Freemasonry even more and feeling comfortable and confident talking to their family and friends in an informed and relaxed way.
Mentoring is progressing well in our Districts. Since the last Quarterly Communication I have travelled to Auckland, North Island New Zealand to install the new District Grand Master. It was good to see that they were in excellent spirits. We should however continue to keep in mind the hardship of our Brethren in the South Island after the earthquakes and the severe damage that was caused, whilst remembering the continuing after shocks that they are still experiencing on a regular basis.
I also travelled to Georgetown, Guyana, with a brief visit to our Brethren in Port of Spain in Trinidad ‘en route’, where we ended up singing Christmas Carols on a November evening!
In Georgetown I attended the 9th Regional Conference of the District Grand Masters in the Caribbean and Western Atlantic before installing the new District Grand Master for Guyana. I have mentioned before how uplifting it is to see the enjoyment with which our brethren in the Caribbean go about their masonry and the pride they show in being members of the English fraternity. I should add that this is not only true in the Caribbean, but can be seen in all our Districts that I have visited.
Finally I wish you all a very enjoyable Christmas and a happy New Year.