The story so far and what’s ahead…
So the end of my active year as a Provincial Grand Steward is nearly here. After our summer break I will hand over my collar to another very worthy Brother. I have had a brilliant two years in office due to Covid. I have had the pleasure of visiting all of our centres and many Lodges. It has been lovely to see meetings returning to normal even though numbers are understandably low. The standard of ritual has been very good, I think this is due to the amount of time given to learning whilst our meetings were suspended. I will certainly miss being in active office but I’m very pleased to know that another brother will partake of the enjoyment I have had.
My Masonic workload will not slow down though, I am still heavily involved in managing the Social Media and Social Media team in the Province of Berkshire.
September will see me being installed as Master of The Be Prepared Lodge in Berkshire (www.bepreparedlodge.org.uk), this will be my second time as Master of a lodge, Be Prepared is a young, fun and enthusiastic lodge. Im looking forward to working with their team and supporting the new members, I am planning on having (hopefully) a ladies evening or weekend and many social activities for the members to enjoy. I will be on the circuit and visiting as many lodges as I can fit in to represent BP Lodge, I look forward to seeing many other WMs on my travels.
Some of you may be aware that I have been working on setting up an Emergency Services Lodge in Berkshire. Its been a year in the planing so far and I’m very pleased to say that we are now able to submit our application to the Province for consecration. We have all of the offices filled and a good number of founders. we are of course still taking applications for Founders and joining members. Membership is open to all past and present members of the emergency and support services, NHS, Prison and Voluntary services. We will be holding 2 meetings a year with additional meetings as and when required. We had a curry night with potential founders and members and the decision was made on only two meetings a year to ease the commitment around shifts etc. This has actually proved very popular and I’m sure has resulted in founders joining who would not have joined had we been having more meetings. I would encourage others to consider this when planning a new lodge. To find out more about this lodge and to follow our activities go to www.emergencyserviceslodge.org.uk .
I will continue to be Director of Ceremonies, Membership Officer and Preceptor of The Old Sunning Lodge: www.oldsunninglodge.org.uk. Like many lodges Old Sunning has lost a few members and is rebuilding itself. We are pleased to have two new candidates joining us and will make sure they have a great time.
The summer break will give all members and lodges time to plan and look forward to the next year. Lodges need a “game plan” and need to look at publicity for attracting new members and looking after their existing members. Update your websites, work on your social media, plan a lodge night out or jolly. Use the summer to have some down time and enjoy the company of Brethren in a social setting with their partners and families.
It is my personal opinion that due to covid Freemasonry is slightly fragile at the moment, we need to rebuild, re-energise and plan for the years to come. We need to engage with our members, especially those who feel unable to attend at the moment. Keep them informed, remind them they are still part of us as much as they have always been. Consider assigning them jobs they can undertake from home if they are willing to do so eg Festive Board, Social Planning, online help with ritual for junior members who are delivering it etc etc. We need to work on our future now, we can’t assume that all will be well.
Now I’m going to return to reading my blue book in preparation for my Installation (1st September, Wokingham Masonic Centre, all Freemasons are very welcome to attend!!). Plan for the next LOI and rehearsal, work on the provincial social media and a few other bits. Have a fantastic summer and hopefully I will see at least some of you around in September onwards.
Take care, be safe!!
Social Media and Freemasonry
I have only been a Freemason for a short while (8 years), yes that is very short in Freemasonry!! When I joined there was very little use of Social Media in the organisation. I can remember mentioning Facebook, Twitter etc at a committee meeting of my Lodge, it received a very frosty reception from the members. When I mentioned us designing a website it was even more frosty!! After a very long discussion and many words of advice such as “be careful, watch what you say, do your homework and make sure you don’t get in trouble!” I was given the go ahead to start up the various pages. I did and then helped the other (older) members of the lodge to start their own personal pages. They now use it more than me!!
I posted quite a bit of Masonic information and details about what I had been up to in the hope that it would show non Masons what we are about. I developed this blog for people to read, hopefully some may find it interesting.
So what do I think about Social Media, well obviously I think it is a good idea as I am now the Provincial Social Media Officer for Berkshire. It is a good tool and can be beneficial for Provinces and Lodges but it must be used well. UGLE recently sent out guidance on its use, it is very important to read this fully before you start posting anything related to Freemasonry. To be honest most of the advice is common sense. As a Lodge using Facebook and Twitter is a great way to publicise your events and work. Facebook is great for detailed information, photos and events. Twitter is great for short information bursts, I have been surprised at the number of Lodges and obviously Provinces that are on there. For fast up to date information Twitter is perfect, you can see lots of information in a short period of time. My advice for all Lodges would be to start off with Facebook and Twitter. Twitter spreads information very quickly. If you think about the enough is enough campaign, UGLE could not have spread the word faster using any other means than social media. The #EnoughisEnough hashtag went “viral”.
Now there are those who think we shouldn’t be so public and we should still be exclusive and select people via our existing membership. I truly understand this and see your point but the reality is that this method doesn’t produce the number of new members we need to keep the craft going. It would be brilliant if it did but it just doesn’t so we need to explore other avenues. A saying I like is if you always do what you have always done you will always get what you always got, this is true. If we don’t spread the word of what a great organisation we belong to and what a great time we have and the fantastic donations we are able to give to charity then the general public won’t have a clue. They will still think of a secretive organisation with funny handshakes etc etc. We are not like that anymore, we are fun, young and open to all!!
So give Social Media a go, what have you got to lose?? Be proud of your Lodge and province, show it off and tell everyone about it.
That is the only way Freemasonry will thrive!!
I look forward to reading your posts!!!!!!!
Twitter: My Twitter Link
Facebook: My Facebook Link
Im now a Companion
So October the 9th has been and gone and I am now a Companion of the Holy Royal Arch of Jerusalem or Chapter as it is known.
Joining a Chapter (Exaltation) is an extension of your Master Mason degree, some consider it the natural progression for Master Masons.
I joined Old Sunning Chapter No 5987 in Berkshire. The Chapter is attached to my Mother Lodge, Old Sunning Lodge (The first lodge I joined) . It was great to join this Chapter as it meant I would already know a few of its members. I also got to meet new people.
As with most things Masonic you don’t really know what is going to happen when you join. I will now tell you a bit about my experience but of course I wont be giving away details of the ceremony as it would spoil it for other people.
I arrived at Sindlesham for 5pm. It was a weird feeling, as normally I turn up at Sindlesham as a Master Mason attending my lodge or visiting another, I then know what I’m doing and feel comfortable. This night I had the same feelings as when I was Initiated. I was the new boy again!!
I made my way to the lounge to grab a coffee and met up with members of the Chapter. I already knew a few of the members so sat down and had a chat. It was great, they were all wishing me well with the ceremony and were very encouraging. I did relax a bit after that! I met up with the Secretary of the Chapter, there was a bit of paperwork to do. The time came for the members to go in to the Lodge, I then had a few minutes on my own finishing my coffee. This is the moment when the excitement/nerves set in a bit. A little while later the Janitor (A member of the Chapter for prepares new members) came out to see me and took me to the lodge room. He had received confirmation all was well and the ceremony could begin. I put on my Master Mason regalia and was then greeted by another member of the Chapter.
I had to prove that I was a Master Mason, it is a requirement that you are a Master Mason before you can join. The ceremony started. The ceremony was very different from the ceremony of Initiation when you join. It is more of a story/play. I was told by many people that the ceremony was Colourful, I didn’t quite understand this. All I can say without spoiling it is that the meaning of Colourful will be understood when you join. It was a beautiful ceremony and a memory/picture that will stay with me for a long time. Many members took part in the ceremony and it was very obvious that they had put a lot of work into preparing for the evening. I absolutely loved it!! It was a really special evening that I will always remember. The atmosphere in the Chapter was incredible. I am so glad I joined.
When I became a Mason my proposer said to me “you will always remember your initiation”. I would totally agree with this! My Exaltation (Joining the Chapter) feels as special to me for various reasons as my initiation. Knowing that many of my friends who had come to visit and watch me joining, were as excited about my joining as I was made the evening even more special.
I would encourage any Mason to join a Chapter. I would also repeat the advice I received and that was not to join until you feel you are ready and understand your Craft work first. My Chapter is very happy to let me progress slowly through the Chapter. I requested this as I want to concentrate on my work in my craft lodges first. Once I have been through the Masters Chair of my Craft Loge I will then look to progress through Chapter. Trying to learn too much can get very confusing.
So all in all I’m really glad I joined. I’m looking forward to visiting other Chapters and meeting lots of Companions I have not had chance to meet yet. As always with Freemasonry, lots of good times ahead!!……
To non Masons the regalia we wear may seem a bit strange but as with everything in Freemasonry it is all symbolic and has lots of history / tradition attached to it. The main part of our regalia and the bit that most people know about or comment on is the Apron. A full history can be found here http://freemasonry.bcy.ca/aqc/apron.html
The apron denotes the level you are within Freemasonry. There are whats known as the three degrees when you become a Mason. Your 1st degree is Entered Apprentice. When you join you wear a plain white apron. You then progress to becoming a Fellow Craft and wear a white apron with two blue rosettes at the bottom, you then progress further to become a Master Mason. This is a white apron with a blue border, three rosettes and tassels. It took 12 month for me to become a Master Mason. Each degree has a different ceremony that you go through. Each ceremony teaches you more about Freemasonry, you never stop learning!!
Now I’m sure you’re wondering about the secret stuff!! Well, people say that we are a secret society, we are not. If we were I wouldn’t be writing this blog. Freemasonry is a club, a hobby, nothing more than that. The main purpose is to raise money for charity. There are elements of what we have that we don’t publicise. Yes you can call them secret but they are kept secret really by tradition. If you go back to Freemasons started. They were Stone Masons, highly skilled people. Most of them could not read and write. This posed a problem with their training, if we gain a qualification today we get a certificate. Back in their day they couldn’t issue certificates because very few people could read them, so they had to invent a way of proving how qualified they were. They developed a system of passwords, signs and “handshakes” to let potential employers know what level of training they had. These were obviously kept secret and only revealed to Masons when they became qualified. As a mark of respect we don’t disclose these either. Everything else we are free to discuss. So I know it’s probably a bit of a let down but that’s it I’m afraid. No big secrets!!!
As a society we are very open, you can visit lodge open days and have a good look around. You can ask whatever questions you like and you will get a very honest answer. All Freemasons are encouraged to speak about their membership and will gladly help you to join.
Welcome to my Masonic Blog
Hi to all and welcome to my blog. As you know I am a freemason, this blog is all about my “Masonic Career”. I hope you find it interesting and I hope by reading this you will join me in learning more about Freemasonry. Throughout my blog I will keep you up to date with what I am doing and what its like to be a Mason. I am not going to mention anything that may spoil the experience of people wanting to become a Freemason but I will certainly tell you as much as I can about it.
I have always been very curious about Freemasonry and wanted to find out more. For some reason it was something that I felt I wanted to join but like most people didn’t really know why. Lots of people had said it was a secret society and I have heard lots of rumors about secret handshakes, passwords and ceremonies. This all seemed a bit strange to me but I was curious to find out more. I studied many websites and was very impressed with the donations made to charity by various lodges, I also liked the social aspect of Freemasonry. So my enthusiasm to find out more grew! It was after this during a shift on an Ambulance response car (my day job!) I got talking to a colleague who I was working with for the first time. During the conversation he mentioned to me that he was a Freemason, what an opportunity!! We were together for 12hrs and now I had plenty of time to find out more and ask questions. At the end of the shift I was sure it was something I wanted to do, my colleague and new friend invited me to look around his lodge and meet a few other Masons. I went for the visit and filled out the application form.
What struck me was how friendly and welcoming everyone was. I was shown around the various lodge rooms and had a look around the archives. The various lodges were very impressive, full of symbols, pictures, banners and lots of things that obviously meant something. I got a sense of how “complex” freemasonry is and that there would be lots to learn and understand. I have to say some of the explanation to the meaning of objects in the lodge seemed a bit strange, now that I understand what they mean it all makes sense. My first visit was great, I spoke to lots of people who were very encouraging and I went home excited about the prospect of joining.
A while later I returned to the lodge to have an official meeting with members of the lodge I was going to join. They told me about the lodge and what was involved. One of the comments that really impressed me was the fact that Family and work must always come before Freemasonry. They also wanted to make sure I had the support of my Wife and family. A little while later I received a letter inviting me to attend my first meeting or my “initiation”. This is where I started to wonder what was going to happen, the term “initiation” is not a term you use every day. Again it did seem a bit weird because no one tells you what happens when you are initiated. I have to say I had a mixed feeling of curiosity and nerves about the whole thing. So eventually the evening arrived of my initiation. Everyone I had spoken to said it was going to be a brilliant evening and night I would never forget. I can honestly say I can remember it as if it happened yesterday. As a candidate you are made to feel as though you are the star of the show. During the ceremony you are told about Freemasonry and what you are joining. Different people tell you about the history and the origins of Freemasonry. Its was a great experience and I’m glad no one told me what was going to happen because it would definitely spoil the surprise. I went through the ceremony and all of a sudden I was a Freemason and yes I was wearing an apron.
I was taken to a seat and sat down in the meeting as a Mason, it was a strange feeling. The meeting continued just like any other committee type meeting. The meeting ended and we went down to the bar and had a drink. I had a constant flow of people shaking my hand and congratulating me. We then had a meal together. Following every lodge meeting you sit down and have a meal, it is called the Festive Board. As I was the new initiate I got to sit on the top table with the Master of the lodge. It was a great night of speeches and welcoming messages. I will always remember the date at it was November 5th, I walked out of the lodge surrounded by fireworks going off. I know they were not for me but they did add to the experience.
It was a brilliant night, I had only known these people for a few hours, when I left it was if I had known them for years. I had never been made to feel as welcome anywhere as I did that night, I knew there were many good times to come.
Here is the official Youtube clip giving you more info of Freemasonry.