Wednesday, 13 December 2006 08:53

Pro Grand Master’s address - December 2006

QUARTERLY COMMUNICATION

13 DECEMBER 2006

An address by the MW The Pro Grand Master the Most Hon the Marquess of Northampton, DL

Brethren, we held the first meeting of the Rulers’ Forum here yesterday with representatives of the ten groups and have got off to a good start. We discussed a variety of topics which are relevant to the future of English Freemasonry.

The minutes of the meeting will be widely circulated and I hope that any Brother who has any good ideas for the well-being of the Craft will pass them to the Forum through his local group.

The Centre for Research into Freemasonry at the Sheffield University continues to make good progress. Many of you will have seen reports of the events in the spring, accompanying the opening of the Centre’s new premises, named after the pioneering Masonic scholar, Professor Douglas Knoop, a Past Master of Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076.

The University of Sheffield’s teaching affairs committees have now approved an MA programme in the history of Freemasonry and Fraternalism, the first such degree in the world, which will be launched during 2007-8.

Finally, on behalf of my fellow Rulers, I would like to take this opportunity of wishing you and your families a very happy and peaceful Festive Season and a prosperous New Year.

Published in Speeches
Wednesday, 13 September 2006 09:59

Pro Grand Master’s address - September 2006

QUARTERLY COMMUNICATION

13 SEPTEMBER 2006

An address by the MW The Pro Grand Master the Most Hon the Marquess of Northampton, DL

Brethren, a very warm welcome to you all and I hope that you have had a good summer break. As we begin a new Masonic season it is an opportunity to think about our priorities.

A lot of effort has gone into attracting quality young men to join the Craft and one initiative which I commend to you is the Universities Scheme, led by a group of Masons under the Assistant Grand Master.

The scheme aims to introduce Freemasonry to undergraduates and anyone else connected to their universities. The Assistant Grand Master has visited lodges in eight of our Provinces already and has appointed a co-ordinator from his central group for each of them.

I hope this scheme will introduce thinking young men into Freemasonry, many of whom might otherwise not have discovered it until much later in life, or possibly not at all. It may also provide an opportunity for members to introduce their sons and nephews to the Craft.

I hope also that the initiatives taken by the Universities Scheme will encourage other Lodges to take pro-active steps to recruit all young men of good standing regardless of their educational background. The recent agreement by Grand Lodge to reduce the fees by half for under-25s, coupled with the proposal by the Grand Charity today to do likewise for its contributions, should act also as an encouragement.

I am grateful to all those who are helping the Assistant Grand Master with this exciting venture and I am sure those Lodges that are participating will find it a rewarding challenge.

As I have said on a previous occasion the annual intake of initiates is not our main problem as long as we continue to introduce only good men into the Craft. Our biggest concern should be the large number of drop-outs who lose interest within a relatively short period of being raised. Retention is therefore the key to our future success.

There are two aspects to Freemasonry. The first is the inner work that is done in the Lodge room in harmony with the other members. For this we must concentrate our efforts on the individual Mason and encourage him to develop those qualities which will transform him into a better person and thereby reflect well on the ethos of Freemasonry.

The outer work is done by practising in his everyday life those qualities he has been taught in his Lodge. Here we must also include his wife or partner and family as much as possible and make them feel a part of the organisation he has joined.

In this way membership of Freemasonry will become accepted as being relevant to the society in which we live by both his family and the popular world. These different aspects of Freemasonry have to be enjoyable albeit a certain amount of commitment and effort is required for both.

Brethren, I have recently convened a Strategic Working Party under the chairmanship of the Deputy Grand Master to consider the role and functions of a Grand Secretary.

They have recommended that the office should be split, with the Grand Secretary having responsibility for matters Masonic and a Chief Operating Officer, who need not be a Freemason or indeed male, having responsibility for the management of Freemasons’ Hall and its services.

The Strategic Working Party has also recommended that the Grand Secretary, while remaining fully responsible for our Districts and Lodges overseas, will have a reduced role in the conduct of our external relations. It is proposed that a new office of Grand Chancellor should be created to oversee our relationship with other Grand Lodges. It is not intended that he should be a paid employee, but he will have available to him a Secretariat and he will be a member of both the Grand Master’s Council and the Board.

It is worth mentioning that the concept is not new and that many Grand Lodges entrust their external relations to a Grand Chancellor. This will in effect mean that the Grand Secretary will be able to concentrate his energies on Masonic matters for the benefit of English Freemasonry in England and Wales and its Provinces and Districts.

These recommendations have the support of the Grand Master’s Council and the Board of General Purposes. Notice of appropriate amendments to the Book of Constitutions will be given in December for consideration by Grand Lodge next March.

We will shortly be starting the recruitment process for the positions of Grand Secretary and Chief Operating Officer.

Finally Brethren, for a little much needed light relief there is to be another Royal Masonic Variety Show in the presence of the Grand Master on Remembrance Sunday, 12th November at the Prince Edward Theatre in Old Compton Street, starting at 7.30pm. Details can be found on the website address atwww.royal-masonic-variety-show.uk7.net.

The site also gives details of the show’s producers and directors who have all been involved over many years in the production of the annual Royal Variety Show. I hope as many of you as possible will attend the event to support the Grand Master and by doing so raise funds for charity. One half of the profits will go to the RMBI and the remainder to other non-Masonic charities.

Published in Speeches
Wednesday, 14 June 2006 10:13

Pro Grand Master’s address - June 2006

QUARTERLY COMMUNICATION

14 JUNE 2006

An address by the MW The Pro Grand Master the Most Hon the Marquess of Northampton, DL

I have received many favourable comments following the MW Grand Master’s remarks at the April Investiture meeting on the question of charity, and how important it is to make our charity multi-faceted by giving practical help as well as financial aid.

We have many small Masonic charities which do just that and next week the Grand Master is coming to my home in Northamptonshire for an event which is being run by the Masonic Trout and Salmon Fishing Club of which I am a Patron. This charity, whose motto is ‘Smiling in the face of adversity’, organises a day’s fishing with professional casters for handicapped and disadvantaged children at venues all over the country.

It is important that we build on the foundations we laid with our Freemasonry in the Community week by arranging events which benefit our local communities. There is no better way of ensuring the public and potential candidates have a good impression of what Freemasonry is all about than by seeing us helping those less fortunate than ourselves.

Since our last Quarterly Communication in March I have made two trips overseas. On 1 May I attended the annual meeting of the Grand Lodge of New York following which they installed their new Grand Master. They kindly honoured me with their Distinguished Achievement Award [see page 30].

On the last weekend of May I flew to Bermuda to inaugurate the new District Grand Lodge of Bermuda and install RW Bro Robert Rego as the first District Grand Master.

It was a most enjoyable occasion with many Scottish and Irish brethren attending the ceremony and supporting our brethren.

Tomorrow I fly to Dublin for the annual Tripartite meeting between the three Home Grand Lodges.

Bro George Francis, Senior Grand Warden, visited our District Grand Lodge and District Grand Chapter of Cyprus for their annual communication and convocation on 27 May. He attended also the Grand Lodge of Ireland for their annual meeting on 1 June.

Brethren, we are coming to the end of another Masonic season which is a good time to reflect on what has been achieved during the past 12 months and make plans for next year.

I wish you and your families a happy and peaceful time over the summer and look forward to seeing you all again in September.

Published in Speeches
Wednesday, 26 April 2006 10:11

Grand Master’s address - April 2006

ANNUAL CRAFT INVESTITURE

26 APRIL 2006

An address by the MW The Grand Master HRH The Duke of Kent, KG

I welcome you all to this Annual Investiture today and I offer my congratulations to all those brethren I have had the pleasure of investing with Grand Rank or promoting to higher office. Your appointment today is not however simply the recognition of the service you have given Freemasonry in the past but, just as importantly, an earnest of the work we expect you to undertake for the future.

The Craft has embraced the policy of openness with increasing optimism and the benefits are becoming ever more visible. 

Nowhere has that openness been more apparent than in our charitable activities. 

The amount of money raised and the donations made to both Masonic and non-Masonic charities has been remarkable, and has contributed significantly to the raising of our profile and our increasing acceptance in the wider community. 

Nevertheless, charity is not just about raising money and making donations to good causes, valuable though these are. It has a broader and deeper purpose. Apart from giving alms and providing help by liberality to those in need or distress, charity is also defined as love of one’s fellow man, as kindness, and as leniency in judging others. 

Some of our more thoughtful members have commented recently that our charitable activities are in danger of becoming onedimensional, whereas real charity, as I have just defined it, is multi-faceted. Many of our brethren and their Lodges already give much of their time to practical charitable work, which is entirely laudable, and must continue. 

But, as Masons we should all try to involve ourselves to a greater extent in activities which bring joy and happiness into the lives of disadvantaged people, and not just assume that a cash donation discharges our obligations. 

Helping those in need or distress therefore has practical as well as financial connotations, but of course taking Masonry into the community through charitable activities means providing tangible assistance to those in need, and that requires time, a commodity that is precious to us all. By the use of time freely given we can show real liberality of spirit to those who need our help. 

We should also spend more time in our assemblies considering the excellences of charity and the lessons it has to teach us as Freemasons, remembering that no less an authority than St. Paul placed charity in front of both faith and hope as the greatest of qualities. 

We are also conscious that Freemasonry rests on the basic tenets of friendship, charity and integrity, which we know as Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth. 

Friendship is the cement which binds us together, integrity is a characteristic which should be inherent in all Freemasons, but charity in all its aspects is the practical application of Freemasonry to the rest of the world. Through our charitable work and our openness about it the world may know the happy and beneficial effects of Freemasonry. 

Brethren, in speaking at some length today about charity I want to stress that we must not fall into the trap of becoming dominated by financial charity, nor even its extension into the aspects of doing good by some practical means, if that leads us to forget that Freemasonry is a system of belief and principle that offers us a framework for the better regulation of our lives. 

Charity is one of the foundations upon which Freemasonry rests, but we must ensure that the other basic tenets are not forgotten or overlooked, and we must look to what observance of all those principles is going to achieve for us. That is the way that we will receive benefit ourselves for what we do for others. 

Brethren, I should like to express my thanks to the Grand Director of Ceremonies and his Deputies for the efficient manner in which they have conducted our proceedings today. And also to thank the Grand Secretary’s staff, who work so hard behind the scenes to maintain this magnificent building and to ensure that we all enjoy our Freemasonry.

Published in Speeches
Wednesday, 08 March 2006 09:22

Pro Grand Master’s address - March 2006

QUARTERLY COMMUNICATION

8 MARCH 2006

An address by the MW The Pro Grand Master the Most Hon the Marquess of Northampton, DL

Brethren,
I would like to say something about the proposal to create The Rulers’ Forum and why I believe such a body will have an important role to play in the future. When the old Board of General Purposes was transformed into the new much smaller one, it was thought advisable to create a General Council, under the chairmanship of the President of the Board, to retain that wealth of knowledge and experience which the former members had acquired over many years of service.

It did not succeed for a variety of reasons and is now a standing committee which has not met for some years. The Associated Masonic Provinces is a much older body, and although it has performed some useful functions for the Craft and has come up with many innovative ideas, it has struggled to be heard. 

The Rulers’ Forum would, in effect, unite both the General Council and the Associated Masonic Provinces under the chairmanship of the Grand Master. Although it will have no powers, as such, it cannot fail to have considerable influence, comprising, as it will, the High Rulers, the President and Deputy President of the Board and the President of the Committee. 

Of the remaining members, two-thirds will be elected to represent the Provinces and London, while one-third will be appointed by the Grand Master. Its role will be to debate some of the issues facing us at this time, and to encourage brethren with good ideas to air them in a spirit of fraternal co-operation. I am excited by the creation of such a representative body and hope its members will be enthusiastic and forward thinking with the best interests of the Craft at heart. 

In fact, brethren, visiting Lodges in London, our Provinces and Districts over the past year I have begun to sense a new optimism among our members and this is reinforced by the figures [see p20]. 

We are continuing to lose members overall and Lodges will go on closing when their numbers make them untenable, but the number of Grand Lodge certificates we issue each year appears to be holding up. If we average out the drop in the number of initiates since the millennium, it is less than 1% a year. This surely means our efforts must be concentrated on retaining them, and to do that we must educate them into the meaning and relevance of Masonry in the 21st century. 

Brethren, as you will have read in the report of our last meeting, the Prestonian Lecture is entitled The Victoria Cross – Freemasons’ Band of Brothers and will be given by W Bro G S Angell. I would like also to commend to you the exhibition currently on view in the Library and Museum to mark the 150th anniversary of the institution of the Victoria Cross in 1856. The criterion for the reward is simple – conspicuous valour in the presence of the enemy – but its winners have been drawn from all sections of the armed forces, including some civilians under military command, and from all walks of life. 

This exhibition is a tribute to those holders of the Victoria Cross who were also Freemasons and includes some of their stories. They amount to over 10% of all the awards ever won, which is a remarkable figure and one of which we can feel justifiably proud. 

Pro Grand Master’s tribute to The Hon. Edward Latham Baillieu, Past Deputy Grand Master:

Brethren, many of you will be aware of the loss that has been suffered by the Craft by the death on 10 February of RW Bro. the Honourable Edward Latham Baillieu, Past Deputy Grand Master. I believe that a memorial service will be held in due course, but in the meantime I should like to say a few words in Grand Lodge now, so that those of us who knew him can be reminded of what sort of man – and Mason – he was, and those who did not may have some idea of what they have missed. 

Bro. Baillieu, known to all his friends as ‘Ted’, was born in 1919 and was educated at Winchester and Oxford University, where his career was interrupted by the Second World War. He served in the Royal Horse Artillery and was invalided out after being wounded. In 1946 he was initiated into Empire Lodge No. 2108 in London and two years later was exalted into Empire Chapter. 

Meanwhile, he was making his career in the City as a stockbroker. In 1962 he was appointed a Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies and served in that capacity for three years under the late Brother Frank Douglas, whom he succeeded as Grand Director of Ceremonies in 1968. When he relinquished that office in 1976 he became Assistant Grand Master in succession to the present Lord Cornwallis, in this again following in Frank Douglas’s footsteps (though this time at one remove). When Lord Cornwallis became Pro Grand Master in 1982, Ted succeeded him as Deputy Grand Master (and Second Grand Principal), finally retiring in 1989. 

Ted was a larger than life character with an imposing presence, forthright in expressing his opinions, but commanding great affection among many of those who worked with or for him. He was a most impressive Grand Director of Ceremonies, but was nonetheless modest enough to claim in later years that Bro. Alan Ferris, who succeeded him, was the true professional in that office. 

As a Ruler of the Craft he had no need to grow into his office, for he already brought with him all the necessary characteristics. After his retirement he only rarely attended Masonic functions in London – the last one of any magnitude being the 275th anniversary of Grand Lodge at Earls Court in 1992. Increasing infirmity in his later years meant that we saw less and less of him. 

He nonetheless retained a keen interest in the affairs of the Craft, which is left the poorer by his passing.

Published in Speeches

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