Starting a blog is a great way to encourage reflection. Looking back over my Masonic activities of the last week, I am struck by how many wonderful people I know, and am close to, through Freemasonry.
As for Lodge meetings, all online of course, they included Austral Lodge No. 2534 in Mafikeng, of which I have been a member since my visit in 2012. Despite most members only having met me once, and some not at all, they have very kindly embraced me and I feel as much part of that Lodge as most others.
Another was with the members of The Scout Lodge M.M.M. No. 1907, of which I am proud to have been the founding Master. This is the world’s first ever Scout Mark Lodge and it travels to different Provinces to connect local Scouting with local Mark Masonry.
My third meeting was for a quiz with Walesby Forest Lodge No. 9674, the Scout Lodge of Nottinghamshire. I was a founder in 1998 and absolutely love this Lodge. I joined the quiz with Diane and Caroline on the night of our 32nd wedding anniversary. And then we won the quiz! Thank goodness for Caroline is all I can say.
Monday also saw an “Ask the ProvGM & GSupt” Zoom meeting in the Province of West Kent. The ProvGM / GSupt is Mark Estaugh. Mark had received around 50 questions in advance and by clustering them around themes was able to answer all of the issues. His openness, clear direction and passion set him apart as an outstanding leader and members of the Province, of which I am proud to be one, cannot fail to feel his enthusiasm rub off on them. The meeting was expertly managed by Dan Spencer, the new Assistant PGM.
On Tuesday, I delivered a talk for Mimosa Lodge No. 4396 in the District Grand Lodge of Orange Free State. The District is one of our smallest with less than a hundred members. Nevertheless, Rob Allam managed to assemble an audience of 50 to hear my “Have we anything to communicate?” talk, and they included many from surrounding Districts and other jurisdictions, as well as some from South Africa Lodge No. 6742 in London, an excellent Lodge ably managed by James Dow, a great servant to Freemasonry here and in South Africa.
I have also been writing this week. I tidied up my paper, “Why some brethren resist change and how to respond” and put it up on my website on a new page. I added something I wrote during the Grand Secretary’s Enough is Enough campaign called, “The secret of Freemasonry.” The first of these papers is a response to many questions I get to how to respond to resistance from influential brethren. I am happy to expand this paper with more scenarios if people want. The second is a robust response to our detractors. I put it up on social media at the time of the campaign and thought some people might find it useful again.
Over the course of the week I have had a number of discussions with brethren about a planned return to Lodge & Chapter meetings. Most seem to feel that, despite our natural inclinations to gather as brethren, we should not rush to return and that most meetings in the next two to three months are likely to end up abandoned. Despite this, some are clearly going ahead. I just hope that partial returns do not divide rather than unite us.
In case you are wondering about the title of this blog article, all will be revealed as I outline what I am expecting in the coming week.
On Tuesday, I am delivering my talk, “The future of Freemasonry: evolution & change” for brethren who meet at Dore Masonic Hall. Dore is going through an exciting change process. The members have been invited to contribute to developing a clear and agreed vision of the future and a structured development plan. The process is being managed by a small group under the leadership of Steve Williams, an energetic and skilled Freemason who recently retired as a local Solicitor. Dore is very fortunate to have him. If you would like to “attend” this talk, please register at https://fofec-doremh.eventbrite.co.uk before 15.30 on Tuesday.
Then on Wednesday we have a Zoom meeting of Peak Council R.S.M. No. 184. I was due to go into the chair of the Council this summer but will now have to wait until next year. I enjoy the Order of Royal & Select Masters and, having only recently re-joined, was looking forward to my Installation. I left many Orders around the time I was appointed as Prestonian Lecturer, so that I could concentrate on Craft, Mark & Royal Arch. I have re-joined because I recognise the valuable lessons Cryptic Masonry offers. To be honest though, I am not looking forward to learning lots of new ritual. Oh well.
Thursday evening will be a Zoom Committee meeting of The Mark Provincial Grand Secretaries Lodge No. 1641. This is an unattached Lodge with membership restricted to present and past Mark Provincial Grand Secretaries. We meet twice a year in a Province selected by the Lodge Committee, normally with one being near the WM’s home. At one of the meetings we host The Grand Secretary’s Forum, an update by the Grand Secretary followed by a Q&A session. The Grand Secretary, R.W.Bro. Ryan Williams, is an excellent ambassador for the Lodge as well as for Mark Masonry in general. I joined the Lodge immediately after I became the Provincial Grand Secretary of Derbyshire in 2007 and am now privileged to be its Secretary. Keeping over 100 Provincial Secretaries is an interesting task at times, and I am grateful to the members for their fantastic support. As to what to call us, other than M1641, answers please in the comments area!
So, that is my reflection on the last week and a look forward to the next. How it turns out in practice, we shall see.
If you want to see dates of my talks this coming week and beyond, please go to https://prestonian2012.org.uk/upcoming-talks/.
Onwards and upwards.