I am absolutely delighted to be writing my column for this first issue of the newly designed magazine. Our publishing and design house has done an excellent job and I am sure you will like what you see. Importantly, we wanted a magazine you would enjoy reading and be proud to show to your family and friends; something that showcases the huge range of activities we are involved in and our openness.
In early March we ran the third Mentoring Conference for Provincial Grand Mentors here in London. It was a fantastic turnout. I thought I would share with you some brief thoughts on mentoring. I believe that we should have a mentor at all stages of our masonic involvement. Clearly, in the early days, guidance to the candidate on logistics is vital, but mentoring is far more than this. The mentor needs to be able to explain the meaning of everything we do as well as explain that ‘felt’ experience to family and friends. We will be giving you the tools to do this, so that in an ideal world we should all be ambassadors for Freemasonry. What do I mean by ambassador? A member who lives as honest a life as possible, understands and enjoys his Freemasonry and is happy, as appropriate, to talk in a relaxed way about his Freemasonry to the non-mason – particularly to his family. I am crystal clear that support of the family is crucial to both recruitment and retention. To further support this, and as I have touched on before, we are undertaking a lot of positive work from a communication point of view – talking openly about the Organisation and how we contribute to society. There is much work to be done but we are having many successes in our endeavours.
Our members’ website is nearly ready for launching. I am hugely impressed with what I have seen – and when it is launched you will be able to see regularly updated national masonic news, as well as looking at the latest issue of the magazine and important past articles.
Enjoy your read!
This was followed by the Installation meeting of Lancaster Lodge, No. 9413, in the evening and a festive board enjoyed by about 70 brethren. The lodges in Portugal had all been consecrated within the District of Gibraltar 20 years ago, and a strong contingent, led by District Grand Master Alfred Ryan, was in attendance, as was the Grand Inspector of the Grande Loja Regular de Portugal (Legal).
The following evening, at a meeting of Lancaster Chapter, Robert Levitt was confi rmed as Grand Inspector of the Group of Chapters in Portugal.
English masons in Portugal have three lodges: Prince Henry the Navigator Lodge, No. 9360, Lodge of Discoveries, No. 9409, in the Algarve and Lancaster Lodge, No. 9413, in Estoril, as well as a roving lodge, Britannia Masters Lodge, No. 9575, which has one meeting a year in each of the homes of the three other lodges.
The first three lodges each have a Royal Arch Chapter attached to them. Estoril Lodge is nearly 350km away from the Algarve, so visiting is no easy matter. However, all lodges and chapters extend a very warm welcome to any brethren visiting from England or any other constitutions recognised by UGLE.
Lancaster Lodge recently passed and raised a brother from the Grand Lodge of Texas, on instruction from UGLE, via the usual channels, and he is to join the lodge. Scottish and German masons have also been recent visitors. Anyone interested in visiting any of the lodges or chapters in Portugal should check details on the Group website: www.freemasonryinportugal.com
1972 Initiated, Barnard Lodge, No. 5100
1980 Master, Barnard Lodge, No. 5100
1987 PProvDGDC (Warks)
1990 Founding Secretary, Prince Henry the Navigator Lodge, No. 9360
1992 PDistGSuptWks (Gib)
1993 Joined Lancaster Lodge, No. 9413
1993 First Exaltee, Prince Henry the Navigator Chapter, No. 9360
1995 Founder, Britannia Master Lodge, No. 9575
1996 Master, Lancaster Lodge, No. 9413, and 2008 & 2009
1996 Overseas Grand Rank
2000 First Principal, Prince Henry the Navigator Chapter, No. 9360
2002 Founder, Lancaster Chapter, No. 9413
2003 Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies
2004 & 2005 First Principal, Lancaster Chapter
2005 Master, Britannia Masters Lodge, No. 9575
2007 Perfected, Bayard Chapter, No. 70, Rose Croix
Former Grand Secretary Jim Daniel was recently made a Doctor of Philosophy by the University of Sheffield for his thesis, The 4th Earl of Carnarvon (1831-90) and Freemasonry in the British Empire.
When in 1989 Jim Daniel was abruptly switched into a second career in masonic administration as Grand Secretary General of the Supreme Council and then Grand Secretary of the UGLE, he became interested in the Ancient and Accepted Rite’s history and its relationship with the Craft.
One of the names in the lists of Sovereign Grand Commanders of the Rite and Rulers of the Craft was that of Lord Carnarvon – not the Carnarvon involved with discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb – but his father, the 4th Earl, whose main residence was Highclere Castle, where Downton Abbey was recently filmed.
Lord Carnarvon was Grand Master of the Mark and the Sovereign Grand Commander of the Supreme Council. While he was Secretary of State for the Colonies for the second time, he was appointed Pro Grand Master of the Craft, in which capacity he installed the Prince of Wales as Grand Master in 1875 and presided over UGLE’s decision in 1877, in effect, to break off relations with the Grand Orient of France.
Those few historians who have commented on Freemasonry in the British Empire have tended to argue that it played a crucial role. Daniel, however, concludes that the fact that Victorian politicians like Carnarvon were Freemasons as well as important figures on the imperial stage, does not mean that Freemasonry as an institution had an imperialist agenda or even played a significant part in building and maintaining the British Empire: correlation does not mean causation.
2010 was a busy and exciting year for Freemasonry. We are continuing to work on several initiatives, designed to ensure the future of Freemasonry, particularly on our public relations. You will hear a great deal about this next year but as an example, this issue will be the last one in the present format. Freemasonry Today will have a new look designed to be truly representative of the official journal of the United Grand Lodge of England. We want it to be a potentially award-winning magazine and one that your families and friends will enjoy as well as you. The approach will be entirely supportive of our outward-facing ethos – a magazine that you will be proud to have on display in your home.
In this issue you will find an insert for the Royal Arch Masons 2013 Bicentenary Appeal for the Royal College of Surgeons. Equally you can find the detail of this and the donation form on both the Supreme Grand Chapter and Grand Charity websites. To quote the First Grand Principal: ‘This campaign gives us an excellent opportunity to contribute further towards something that is helping to save lives and improve the quality of life for us, our children and grandchildren’.
The Pro Grand Master referred to our visit to the eighth regional conference of the District Grand Masters of the Caribbean and Western Atlantic in Barbados in his speech at the December Quarterly Communication. He also mentioned that we were caught in Hurricane Tomas – the first time that the island has been hit since 1955! I write this column in Chennai in the fervent hope that the monsoons will not delay my return for Christmas.
I wish you all, on behalf of the Grand Lodge team, a happy and enjoyable 2011.
We were all delighted to receive from the Pro Grand Master such clear direction on how we should communicate our Freemasonry in his speech at the September Quarterly Communication. His remarks are summarised below and represent true leadership on a subject that up to now has been confusing to many members. His speech is also very timely as I have now completed a detailed study, with the help of all Provincial Grand Masters, on the initiatives used by them to assist their members to communicate with family, friends and acquaintances. We will continue to build our strategy on the good work they have already achieved.
Additionally, the communication strategy which takes us up to 2017, will now be approved by a body of the highest level consisting of the Craft Rulers, the President and Deputy President of the Board of General Purposes and the Grand Secretary.
So you will have the confidence that all the initiatives contained in the strategy will first be approved by our leaders and that they are specifically designed to make sure that Freemasonry has a long-term future in this ever changing world. It is designed to give you as individuals clarity on what you talk about and the plain English to do so.
You will have heard of the earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand. This has affected all our Brethren from the District of New Zealand South Island who live in that general area. I am told some 100,000 homes were hit and the miracle is that nobody was killed. Our members’ homes had variable damage from cracks throughout and broken china to total destruction. The Grand Charity and Board of General Purposes have taken action, including a donation to the Mayor’s Fund from the Grand Charity, for immediate relief for the people of Christchurch. We have also sent messages of support and brotherly love from all of us in the rest of the English Constitution.
The pictures at the top of each of the next two pages, represent two aspects of my recent trip to South Africa, when I accompanied the Pro Grand Master. One shows us with the District Grand Masters of Southern Africa and the second, the plane that we flew in on the last leg of our adventurous trip back – beating the volcanic ash. We arrived in South Africa before the volcanic eruption, first visiting our Brethren in KwaZulu-Natal, before moving to Johannesburg to install the new District Grand Master for South Africa North. This was also the opportunity to run a business meeting for District Grand Masters attending.
The eagle eyed amongst you will notice that the Pro Grand Master is wearing the regalia of a Past District Grand Master and I that of a Past Grand Deacon. This was because the two Deputies who were to bring out the regalia were unable to leave the UK due to the imposed flight restrictions. For the purists amongst you it is perfectly correct, in these circumstances, to wear the regalia of an appointment junior to your own. I hope I have saved a lot of letter writing having pointed this out!
The challenge of returning to England represented, for me, the very essence of the true meaning of support. Our challenge was to return to England and in time for the Annual Investitures. Clearly our return flight had been cancelled as were all the subsequent flights we had been booked on by one of our brethren via for example Namibia, Dubai, Malta, Casablanca and Tripoli. Eventually, one of the flights on Air Angola via Luanda to Lisbon had clearance.
We were rushed to the airport and I rapidly wrote on the back of an envelope the flight details as there was no time to even collect our e-tickets. We were somewhat surprised that the flight took off an hour and a half early but at least we made it! In Luanda we went to collect our baggage when they demanded visas which, as we were in transit, we did not have.
They promptly confiscated our passports and after ages eventually, under escort, allowed us to collect our cases. Security checks abounded when we, at last, arrived to a point where the check-in desks were in sight and demanded to see our tickets. Etickets were not in their vocabulary and the production of our flight details on the back of my envelope did not seem to do the trick. After some considerable diplomatic negotiation we were checked onto the flight to Lisbon, and not knowing to the last minute whether we would be diverted because of the ash, we arrived in Lisbon.
As Lisbon is in our Inspectorate of Portugal it was arranged for one of our brethren to drive us ten hours up to Bilbao, where another of our brethren flew over to pick us up in his twin-engine propeller plane. We landed on a grass airfield in Essex where the accompanying photograph was taken. Needless to say, one of the rumours is that we flew back from South Africa on a private jet! Our grateful thanks for the wonderful support we had.
Many of you would have seen the recent article in The Times explaining that I am the new public face of Freemasonry.
Overall it was a well balanced piece with great publicity for our open policy.
There was a time, not so long ago, when Freemasonry was run discreetly, like a private gentleman’s club and the Grand Secretary seemed a distant, even aloof, figure gazing down from privileged heights. But no longer: Freemasonry is now run as a modern business and the Grand Secretary is a hands-on chief executive but accountable, not to shareholders, but to a large and diverse membership. It is a job needing skill, business acumen and diplomacy.
It seemed right, at a time when important changes are taking place amongst our rulers, that I should speak with Nigel Brown, Grand Secretary, about the changes in the administration of Grand Lodge since he was appointed and the plans for the future which he is tasked with implementing.
The first thing, he explained, was to understand that Grand Lodge was the centre of a large and dynamic international network of Freemasons.
As an example he mentioned the trip he recently made to Singapore to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the District of the Eastern Archipelago - which covers masonic lodges of the English Jurisdiction in Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. This was an important milestone and celebrated not only the District’s longstanding success but 150 years of contribution to the local communities.
Many District Grand Masters from other areas were present and so he took the opportunity to chair business meetings to ascertain how well they are supported by Grand Lodge and how easily can they communicate their needs and concerns.
‘The Districts have long supported us and we need to demonstrate that we are constantly supporting them,’ he explained.
‘The Districts are a good example of the dynamic network of Freemasonry founded upon a shared moral understanding which, far from being anachronistic, is actually the way forward in the twenty-first century.’
‘In England and Wales we are increasingly dealing with a diverse population and Freemasonry could not be better placed to support and promote an understanding of that diversity since, in the end, what we are looking for are men of quality.’
‘And how would you define quality?’
‘People who understand the need for mutual respect of each other, who seek to become better men themselves and who understand that the community is better served by an active participation without expecting any reward. Therefore the need to select candidates of quality is essential.’
‘In Singapore, almost seven thousand miles away, I was heartened to find myself in the company of just such men of quality who selflessly give to their local community as we do here in England and Wales.’
The Administration of Freemasonry
The precise role of a Grand Secretary is to represent the Rulers - the Grand Master, Pro-Grand Master and his Deputy and Assistant - and the executives, the Board of General Purposes. He is rather like an honest broker to both these groups, advising them on all situations which arise. His task is also to implement whatever action they decide as a result of that advice.
‘So that takes care of missives from the top down,’ I commented on hearing this explanation, ‘what about concerns from the bottom up?’
‘We needed to reorganise the staff in Grand Lodge to create clear communication lines in order that Provincial, District and individual concerns can quickly be addressed by the right people and in a timely manner.’
‘At the beginning of my appointment one of the first objectives I was given was to make sure that Grand Lodge was run as a business. Of importance was the need to focus on an ease and efficiency of communication.’
‘Lord Northampton has been an enormous influence and working with him has been a very constructive experience. He was the right man in the right place and right time, the catalyst driving all these major initiatives vital for us to be a member of the twenty-first century.’
‘You have been Grand Secretary now for two years. How well have these objective been met?’
‘We are well on the way to achieving them. In fulfilling this remit the first organisational changes were made after my first six months in office and on behalf of the Board. I now have a clear understanding of what still remains to be put in place.’
The two main changes which were made were firstly to address the problem that Grand Lodge operated like a series of independent entities and that sometimes Provinces and Districts were not receiving the attention they deserved. Grand Lodge needed to understand fully what it was required to provide to Provinces and Districts and so a close analysis was made of the relationships.
At the same time Nigel Brown travelled around the Provinces and Districts with the Pro Grand Master, Lord Northampton, to be introduced to the Provincial Grand Masters and hear directly their concerns and requirements.
As Grand Scribe E he also performed the same task for the Royal Arch. ‘One of the great decisions to allow me the time to concentrate on Provinces and Districts was the appointment of the Grand Chancellor. We have regular meetings and discuss any matters which might impact on the Districts. There can be issues between Districts under our jurisdiction and a sovereign Grand Lodge in the same country but, to date, all such issues have been resolved.’
Initiatives for the twenty-first century
One important recent success has been the Library and Museum Trust which has been transformed under the direction of Diane Clements. It has achieved official recognition by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council for its displays, comprehensive holdings and research.
Freemasonry has also been capitalising on the extraordinary nature and architecture of Freemasons’ Hall itself which is now listed among the ‘Unique venues of London’.
Shows, concerts, lectures and presentations have all been held here and, as most will now know, it is also used as a film and television location - most notably in recent years as the headquarters of the Intelligence agency featured in the Television series ‘Spooks’.
A major initiative about to bear fruit is the new United Grand Lodge of England website which is designed to be extremely easy to access and explore and will be regularly updated. It should provide everything anyone needs to know about Freemasonry and is designed particularly for the under-forty-five age-group both for members interested in Freemasonry and those thinking of joining. It will make it clear that Freemasonry is founded on Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth and explain what that means in a twenty-first century context. In this way it will underpin English and Welsh Freemasonry’s desire for more open communication.
‘But what then should we keep to ourselves?’
‘The only things we wish to keep private are the modes of recognition which might be required when entering a lodge of which you are not a member. Of course, there should be an element of mystery about the rituals but it is not exactly secret since ritual books are freely available. Of course, reading the ritual is one thing, being part of it is another. What really counts is the felt experience of the ceremonies.’
‘One word we do not like is ‘secret’ for there are no secrets in Freemasonry. Nevertheless, at its heart is that great mystery of what it truly means to be human in an uncertain world and our ceremonies are a personal journey of discovery deep into this often uncharted region. Here, the recently introduced Orator and Mentoring programmes are important for they are focused upon the help, advice and support of those who choose to make the masonic journey.’
‘To have respect for others, give to the community and to journey towards insight and wisdom is to fully adopt those fundamental and ancient masonic principles of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth which have served Freemasonry since time immemorial and which will serve Freemasonry just as well into the future.’
NIGEL BROWN: GRAND SECRETARY
Born in Northern Rhodesia in 1948. Educated in South Africa and Southern Rhodesia, he entered the British Army and after graduating from Sandhurst joined the Grenadier Guards with whom he served in Northern Ireland, British Honduras, Kenya and Cyprus. He was an instructor at the School of Infantry and commander of the Queen’s Company. After leaving the army he first entered financial publishing then later ran a company advising clients on winning global tenders.
10 MARCH 2010
A speech by the VW The Grand Secretary Nigel Brown
Most Worshipful Pro Grand Master and Brethren,
On the 27 April this year, the day before the Annual Craft Investitures, the Pro Grand Master has made the decision to hold – for the first time – a business meeting here specifically for all District Grand Masters. This is a clear sign of the importance we attach to supporting our Districts and the Board of General Purposes felt it important for me to give a short talk today on both why the Districts are important to us at Grand Lodge as well as to all their members.
I am pleased to let you know that, in my capacity of head of Grand Lodge Communications, I am now the Publishing Co-ordinator for the magazine. This means that, for the first time since the merger, the magazine is being entirely run from Great Queen Street. It also successfully completes the merger. Be assured that we will be looking at constantly improving Freemasonry Today and its website. In January I accompanied the Assistant Grand Master to Montreal for the installation of the new Grand Inspector for Montreal and Halifax. This was a very happy occasion and a pleasure to meet many of our Canadian Brethren (see p.22). In February we ran the second Mentoring conference. I was impressed by the outstanding turnout of the Metropolitan and Provincial Mentors. The Scheme – essential to the future – is going from strength to strength.
What is particularly heart-warming is to see the co-operation between Mentors as well as the huge success of the Regional Discussion Groups. I have agreed that we host next years’ meeting – again at Grand Lodge.
You have often read about our strong support for the Districts. This year the Pro Grand Master is running a business meeting for all District Grand Masters, the day before the Annual Investitures. This prompted a talk about our Districts at the March Quarterly Communication, which the Editor has reproduced in this issue (see p8).
Many of you would have seen my appearance on Tony Robinson’s Channel 4 programme entitled Decoded: Dan Brown’s Lost Symbol. Five hours of filming with six minutes of valuable air time.
The majority feedback is that people were pleasantly surprised at the openness and that the programme has done us a great deal of good. You may also have seen the new Sherlock Holmes film with Robert Downey and Jude Law and the very recently released film The Green Zone with Matt Damon.
Both these Hollywood blockbusters had sections filmed here at Freemasons’ Hall.
Interestingly, we are looking at the messages that will take us forward to 2017 and beyond. We have many great messages to be proud of and we will not forget to stress that, for most of us, it is primarily about enjoyment and friendship. Don’t you agree?