I am very conscious that I have not been using the website as I out to have done since taking up my post in January 2011. I have had the Website updated and now we have regular information on the meetings by all four Lodges and Three Chapters and it is now up to me to make a determined effort to add to it regularly.
This year has been a good one for the Group in General with Prince Henry the Navigator Lodge having three Initiates, two joining (one re-joining) and another in the pipeline; Lodge of Discoveries had a Raising and has an Initiation for its January meeting in 2020; Lancaster Lodge having two Raisings, a Passing and two Initiations as well as a joining member and two more proposed at the last meeting and candidates in the pipeline.
Visiting is an essential part of Masonry, but we are unlucky here in that we have so few Lodges to visit. I went to a Lodge in Hull just over a year ago when staying with my younger daughter. This year I managed to go in June to Malta for a week, (Air Malta now has a direct flight from Lisbon in the summer) at the invitation of the Grand Inspector, for the Celebration of the 200th Anniversary the only Chapter there under UGLE, there are two Lodges. Barbara was singing in a concert on the Friday night and had to fly via Geneva on the Saturday, arriving in the small hours of Sunday morning and missing all the Masonic events. Neither of us had been before and it is a fascinating Island with an amazing history and well worth visiting.
RW Bro Gareth Jones, who is the Provincial GM for South Wales and since 2016 the Third Grand Principal at Supreme Grand Chapter was there as the principal guest. I took the opportunity to ask when he would visit Portugal, “When you ask me” he said, so I did.
He had said it is always easier if there is something to celebrate such as an Anniversary, but Rulers rarely ever attend less than a 200th or more for a Lodge or 150th for a Chapter. Next year Brethren we shall be celebrating 20 years of the Group and I am pleased to be able to tell you that at the Quarterly Communication last week he told me SGC had approved the visit. He will be attending the Meeting of Prince Henry the Navigator Chapter on 8th September next year.
Don’t ask me how I managed it for just 20 years, but I did suggest that his presence to talk about the Royal Arch would be a great help in gaining candidates where we have the difficult situation of each Lodge having a Chapter attached to it, when in England two or three lodges usually feed members into a Chapter. Hopefully his visit will boost the desire to join Chapter, really an essential part of Freemasonry, to complete what is learned in the Third Degree.
I am calling a meeting of my Grand Officers early in the New year and we will discuss how to deal with the meeting and also get Master Masons to it. Perhaps calling off, although there is no procedure for that in Domatic Ritual. We may try to get Lodge of Discoveries to call a meeting by Dispensation the day before or after so that we can celebrate the 20 years with all Brethren able to attend.
I also managed to visit my Mother Lodge in Birmingham on the 10th December, when I was reminded that I shall have been a Mason for 50 years on 9th May 2022 and they are already considering something special to mark the occasion! I bumped into the GM of GLRP at the Quarterly Communication and he invited me to their meeting on the 14th. It took just over two and a half hours compared to the QC, where English efficiency did it in just over one hour!
The other significant event being planned for next year is the “Tripling” of the Group with Malta and Yorkshire West Riding. I spoke briefly to David Pratt, PGM and Larry Porter, GI for Malta at the QC and we settled a query about funding the Protocol Document. Peter Wilkinson is in charge of negotiations for the Group, Richard Jump (GI designate) for Malta and a sub-committee of three from YWR. It is still early days but the date of Wednesday 6th May in Harrogate has been chosen for the signing of the Protocol. YWR is planning a social programme around it with our Ladies present so a good opportunity for a few days holiday in a lovely Spa town in the Yorkshire Dales. It should assist us with visitors as there are over 5,500 Masons in the Province, quite a number of whom we would hope will visit us.
My final comment on visiting is that to push for visiting Britannia Masters Lodge No. 9575. This Lodge does not hold Initiations and only those in the Master’s Chair or passed the chair of any Lodge can join it, However, all Master Masons are welcome as visitors and in the early days many members of the local lodges would visit. The Lodge holds four meetings a year, one its Installation and the other three being peripatetic, visiting the locations of the other three Lodges within the Group. As well as the Officers, who should be there, having accepted office, most other members ought to make an effort to attend, how else can we encourage Master Masons to come? The next meeting is during the afternoon of January 20th and I urge all who can possibly make it to attend, members, including Officers and others as well as Master Masons. The meetings always contain something of Masonic interest, papers or demonstrations.
Brethren, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy and Prosperous New Year.