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United Grand Lodge of England seeks a Security Officer

News from UGLE - 12 October 2018 - 10:18am

United Grand Lodge of England is seeking a Security Officer to join the Facilities Department

The duties and responsibilities will be many and varied, but will be to assist in the provision of a high quality security service for the building and a high quality building support service for the users of the building.

Duties include:

  • To ensure the safety and the security of members, staff, tenants, and visitors and guest at Freemasons’ Hall.
  • To maintain accurate records, both in note books and as official incident reports, including any incident reporting software, and to take appropriate action to handle and contain incidents sensitively.
  • To respond to all alarm activations including fire, access control, intruder and panic alarms and assist in the effective evacuation of the building in any emergency.
  • To provide a high profile security operation and presence for the building in the Front Hall, at an entrance or by patrolling at specified intervals the clock points both within the building and around the perimeter of the outside of the building.
  • To ensure rooms and doors are locked/unlocked according to the UGLE agreed policies.
  • To issue and recover security passes for visitors.
  • To give advice and directions to visitors to the building.
  • To develop and maintain good working relationships with members, tenants and other UGLE departments and teams and to explain clearly the Security and Health & Safety regulations they need to understand, and provide them with information on security they require, so as to ensure their continuing support, understanding and assistance.
  • To develop and maintain good working relationships with external authorities (including emergency services) to ensure their continuing support, understanding and assistance.
  • To check and record items and deliveries leaving the building.
  • To receive mail, but to carefully examine suspicious, unusual envelopes, packages or parcels, advising relevant Line Manager accordingly and contacting the relevant authority as required.
  • To undertake random baggage searches as required.
  • To handle telephone calls to the building outside the normal hours of operation of the switchboard.
  • To collect and log any items of lost property.
  • To turn off the lights in all rooms which are not being used.
  • To ensure that all pertinent administrative systems are maintained.
  • To render First Aid treatment/advice as necessary, and keep up-to-date with training.
  • To carry out any other associated duties as required.
  • To use a two–way radio and be available for call-out in an emergency.
  • To report anything suspicious or any unusual behaviour to relevant Line Manager.
  • To understand and follow Security Standing Orders and Assignment Instructions.
  • To act in such a way as to ensure the health and safety and welfare of oneself and others.
  • To be smartly dressed in the required uniform and to wear other security clothes as required.

Must have skills:

Essential

Desirable

5 year verifiable work record in a customer service role

Minimum of 3 years relevant experience in a customer service role

Ability to work in a team and independently with a professional approach which generates credibility and confidence in others.

Previous experience of working in a historic or listed building

The ability, tact and diplomacy to deal with people including our client, the client’s staff and visitors in all circumstances including emergencies and other times of stress.

Qualified First Aider

Flexibility and self-motivation with good organisation skills, ability to work with little direct supervision and to prioritise tasks if necessary on a daily basis.

A current SIA CCTV Licence

Excellent communication skills – both verbal and written

A current SIA Manned Guarding Licence/Door Supervision

Ability to listen to problems and to explain clearly actions to be taken

 

An excellent level of physical fitness to be able to perform patrol and emergency response duties efficiently and effectively.

 

A consistently smart appearance in the uniform provided and required by UGLE.

 

Ability to be vigilant at all times and notice details of what is happening.

 

Knowledge of the job and safe working practices (HASAW).

 

Salary:

Competitive salary and terms package applies.

Hours:

The successful applicant will work a 35 hour week; however you will be required to work on a rotating shift pattern. The rota pattern is based on a 4 on / 3 off pattern each week.

Application details:

To apply please send your CV and covering letter to:

Elizabeth Gay
Head of Human Resources
United Grand Lodge of England
Freemasons’ Hall
60 Great Queen Street
London
WC2B 5AZ

Or via email to egay@ugle.org.uk

CVs received without a covering letter will not be considered.

Closing date for applications is Friday 26th October 2018

Categories: UGLE News

'Solomon - Fostering Curiosity, Developing Understanding': An address by Stuart Hadler and Anthony Howlett-Bolton

News from UGLE - 12 September 2018 - 3:44pm

Quarterly Communication

12 September 2018 
An address by RW Bro Stuart Hadler, Provincial Grand Master of Somerset, and RW Bro Anthony Howlett-Bolton, Provincial Grand Master of Berkshire

A programme to promote learning and development

CASH: MW Pro Grand Master and Brethren, on behalf of the Improvement Delivery Group, we would like to spend a few minutes explaining the learning and development programme that has evolved over the last three years and will be introduced in two month’s time.

AHB: So Stuart where has this learning and development intiative come from?

CASH: Three years ago, the Membership Focus Group was formed to consider what needed to be done to promote Freemasonry as a relevant, worthwhile and attractive organisation in the 21st century. It undertook a series of surveys that enabled members to express personal views, experience and expectations. Over 80,000 responses were received.

AHB: What did they discover?

CASH: The majority of responders stated that understanding our symbolism, moral and philosophical issues was essential or at least very important. Significantly, many expressed interest to learn more of our history and traditions. Royal Arch members had the greatest interest. This interest and expectation to learn was evident across all age groups, particularly amongst newer and younger members.

AHB: And what did you find out about their learning experiences?

CASH: Many reported that they had unmet learning expectations and needs, that too little time, guidance and support was offered to extend learning beyond performing the ritual and ceremonial well. The results also very stongly suggested that many members have a general lack of understanding and a relative dearth of accessible resources to refer to.

AHB: So what did the MFG conclude?

CASH: That whilst the performance of ritual is a highly valued tradition of our constitution and social and charitable aspects are of key importance, we were failing many new and current members who seek to improve themselves through greater insight, knowledge and understanding of Freemasonry. Furthermore, that only through a personal ability to communicate and share these values can Freemasonry hope to demonstrate its worth and value in the 21st century. Our Members are a vital communication channel and need help and support to fulfil this.

Now Anthony, you’ve asked the questions so far and I’m sure that many, especially those behind us, are up to speed with much of what I’ve already said. We ought now to turn to the specifics of what we have been preparing and how this will address these findings.

AHB: Absolutely right, ask me anything you like!

CASH: OK. I imagine there will be some here today who will feel that this is a bit over the top. After all, if you are really keen to learn you will find a book or search the net won’t you? Surely, it’s a personal journey?.

AHB: In some respects yes, but the starting point for most of us is to have what we have experienced explained. The opportunity to offer an explanation in the lodge or chapter can be much more effective. This can signpost relevant material and help us along our own personal masonic journey.

CASH: Tell me more.

AHB: Ritual and ceremonies are core to Masonic life. Whilst many members enjoy learning and performing ritual, often key messages and nuances are missed. The opportunity to explore and understand is rarely provided at Lodge or Chapter meetings or is considered a poor alternative to a ceremony.

Many members are curious and have a sincere wish to improve their understanding. They have expectations when they join and these should evolve over time. We have a responsibility to ensure that our members have ready access to the intellectual and practical resources to enhance their Freemasonry, fulfill their interest and help them become more rounded and committed members. There is a genuine concern that a concentration on the performance of ritual, without appreciating what we are doing and why, overlooks the important messages that lie within and is one reason why some members choose to leave.

CASH: So what benefit will a learning and development approach offer the individual member?

AHB: Greater understanding will add to enjoyment and improve ceremonies. Being more knowledgeable will boost confidence to talk in a comfortable and open way about what Freemasonry means personally. When learning becomes a regular Lodge and Chapter activity, membership should be more fulfilling and meaningful. In turn, this should aid attendance, retention and engagement.

CASH: So what is Solomon?

AHB: A good question, although a wide selection of books and online resources are available, it takes effort to identify appropriate pieces to use within the lodge environment. Solomon is a central repository of informative material that will answer some of the questions and point members along the path of daily advancement in masonic knowledge.

CASH: Who can use it?

AHB: It is designed to be used by individual masons, lodges, chapters, Provinces and Districts and to fit comfortably with the needs of all levels of experience and interest. Solomon will be beneficial to everyone. It can be used on multiple platforms such as smartphones, tablets and computers and currently contains over 350 items. It will continue to grow and evolve.

CASH: So does Solomon provide definitive answers?

AHB: No, there is no definitive UGLE view. Solomon is a collection of credible views and interpretations. So, you may find different explanations of a symbol or ceremony. This variation in interpretation should stimulate discussion and debate. Such is the nature of Freemasonry.

CASH: I’m pretty busy. I need to find things quickly and easily. How will Solomon help me?

AHB: Once you have registered and enrolled in one or more modules, you will be able to explore Solomon to your hearts content. It has been designed to foster curiosity and to draw you in to seek answers. There are various ways to search so you can expect to quickly find, read or download as much as you wish. Given smart phone access, Solomon could for instance readily provide an answer to a question at a Class of Instruction.

I would add caution however and Solomon also flags this up. Material is separated into modules for each degree and the Royal Arch. We ask users not to explore prematurely beyond the degrees that they have had already conferred so as not to spoil the revelations of their personal journey; to do so would be a shame.

CASH: The benefits to the individual are clear. But how will Solomon help my Lodge or Chapter?

AHB: The material provided by Solomon complements both the Members Pathway and individual mentoring programmes. Materials include a wide range of “nuggets”, papers for presentation and demonstrations with supporting explanation. Collectively, they provide a selection of interesting and accessible material that, if suitably chosen and well delivered, will complement or replace a ceremony. They will be favourably received, encourage attendance and interest. Ideally, learning activities will become an appreciated and regular feature of lodge and chapter meetings.

CASH: You’ve referred to ‘Nuggets’. Just what are they?

AHB: A Nugget is a five to ten-minute item of interest that will easily fit into a lodge evening; possibly to set the scene for the meeting, or as a short conclusion, or even when the candidate retires. They are flexible and may be delivered by a selected member. They are also very suitable for personal study and a great source of information for lodge quizzes. Nuggets may also lead to a presentation that expands on a topic of interest.

CASH: No doubt some will feel that there is no spare time at a meeting or that this is another imposition?

AHB: We hope that the benefits of making time for learning will readily become apparent and that all Members will increasingly value the time devoted to it. A well organised lodge or chapter will have a programme that reflects the needs and interests of all its members, that they enjoy and which encourages them to attend. Learning may also extend beyond the regular meeting to Class of Instruction or special events for a masonic centre or special interest group. Rather than view this as an imposition, we should view it as an opportunity and an easy way to keep and develop interest and enjoyment.

Now Stuart you’ve been a Provincial Grand Master for longer than me, surely introducing Solomon will have implications for Provinces and Districts too?

CASH: You’re right Anthony, delivering the change agenda for Freemasonry does place additional demand on Provincial rulers and their Teams. Whilst it would be very easy to see Solomon as just another initiative conceived centrally, it is based on expressed member feedback and will, we hope, be favourably received. The reaction of those that have had access to the material already is extremely positive and I am sure that its general use, as outlined today, will lead to a more confident, enthusiastic and informed membership, well equipped to explain and communicate Freemasonry to friends, family, potential members and the public.

AHB: Would you accept that Provinces and Districts may need some help with this?

CASH: Yes absolutely. We have anticipated this and are providing resources to help them to introduce Solomon and develop local learning activities and resources. We wish to be supportive and to work with the appointed lead in each Craft and Royal Arch Province and District.

One of the key areas will be to ensure that material that needs to be presented is delivered in an understandable and engaging way. This takes skill and so we are asking Provinces to identify suitable members to be presenters, develop their skills and promote their use. A critical goal is to move away from the days of the boring lecture.

Many Provinces have provided educational activities for some time, so for them this is not a new topic. We are eager to promote and share good examples, these include specialist lodges and working with light blue clubs. We encourage a collaborative approach between the Craft and the Royal Arch.

AHB: Stuart, it may be that you haven’t convinced everyone this morning about the need?

CASH: Well, firstly, lets remember that none of this is prescriptive. We are however responding to the wishes of members and I hope that in these few minutes, we have demonstrated that Solomon has real benefits across the board. It will help to attract, retain and produce well informed and capable members and leaders for the future. Learning and development is closely intertwined with the Members Pathway and in that sense is an essential component of our membership strategy.

AHB: How and when can I access it and find out more?

CASH: There is an introductory article from Sir David Wootton in this month’s Freemasonry Today. All Craft and Royal Arch Provinces have been advised of a special event in late November. This will be an important opportunity for them to be briefed, have advance access to Solomon and to begin to plan their support. Important elements of the launch will be videoed to support the Districts. The December edition of Freemasonry Today will carry a more detailed article and provide each member with an explanatory leaflet. So, from December, everyone will be able to register and enjoy full access to Solomon.

I suggest we conclude with a little about the future?

AHB: Yes indeed. We intend that Solomon will expand in volume, range and diversity of material. We wish to promote Solomon wherever we can, to share best practice and to offer support. There will always be a need to commission and source new and credible material. There is plenty out there waiting to be shared and willing able members eager to write material for us. We will provide guidance for potential contributors later this year.

CASH: MW Pro Grand Master and Brethren, I should like to place on record that the development of Solomon is the result of a huge commitment of time, energy and determination on the part of the Project Team, the Panel of Editors and indeed the authors, provinces and publishers that have provided some first class material for us to work with.

May I leave you all with a concluding thought that there are three clear golden-threads to bring together, the Members Pathway, Mentoring and Learning & Development. Integrating them into a seamless whole will ensure that lodges and chapters are in a strong position to grow and fulfil their obligations to their Members.

Solomon is part of the solution. It will foster curiosity, develop understanding and continue to evolve over time.

Categories: UGLE News

Pro Grand Master's address - September 2018

News from UGLE - 12 September 2018 - 11:23am

Quarterly Communication

12 September 2018 
An address by the MW The Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes

Brethren, it is a pleasure to see you all back after the long, hot summer, and I would like to particularly welcome again those younger members of our Universities Scheme and, indeed, anyone else making their first visit to Quarterly Communications this September.

Brethren, this year we will see perhaps the greatest change in senior leadership within the Craft that there has ever been - and I'm not of course referring to the three of us! No fewer than 12 Provincial Grand Masters and seven District Grand Masters will have retired and their successors Installed by the end of this year. With each Installation ride the hopes of not just the members of that particular Province or District but, to a certain extent, the success and longevity of the Craft itself. More than ever before we expect so much from our leaders. We hold them accountable for the guardianship of a heritage stretching back centuries, and also for the future of the Craft, its growth and development and, dare I say, the innovation and change needed to allow it to flourish and grow. 

If we are to attract and engage our membership, and those who might flourish as members, we need to be not only responsive to the society in which we live, but also mould and form the perceptions of that society. It is quite right and proper that I pay tribute and thank those who, often for a decade or more, steward and safeguard the Ideals of the Craft for future generations.

Historically we have been a melting pot for ideas, a Brotherhood where concepts at the forefront of science and social change could be debated. We have been fortunate to count amongst our members some of the greatest minds of any age, Alexander Fleming and Edward Jenner; Scott of the Antarctic and Ernest Shackleton; Pope, Trollope, Burns, Kipling, and, like Sir Winston Churchill, those who truly valued service above the external advantages of rank and fortune.

Then, as now, there was not a ‘Right’ way of thinking, but a respect for all ways of thinking - some orthodox, some challenging. If we, as an organisation have a ‘unique selling point’ ghastly expression, I know, we respect each other, irrespective of our beliefs.

I know that some of our members were uncomfortable with the direction the Law has taken on issues such as gender fluidity and the obligation that puts upon us as individuals who pay due obedience to the laws of any State which may for a time become our place of residence.

I know from the debates that have been held up and down the country that there are similarly a large number of you who feel that our response to recent changes in the Law is generous, decent and open minded and you applaud it. 

Throughout our history our members have held vastly different views on many different subjects. It is one of our great strengths to encompass this breadth of views. Unlike the echo chambers of social media, we meet people who are different to us, who think differently, but that does not set us apart, or put us at variance; it binds us together as it did for those many freemasons who have gone before us. 

Brethren, this is one of the mnay things that, in my view, we have to offer society, and that so many outside the Craft could learn and prosper from, and it is just one of the many reasons I am proud to be Pro Grand Master.

Categories: UGLE News

Report of the Board of General Purposes - 12 September 2018

News from UGLE - 12 September 2018 - 12:00am

Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge

12 September 2018 
Report of the Board of General Purposes

Minutes

The Minutes of the Quarterly Communication of 13 June 2018 were confirmed.

Meetings in 2019

The dates on which the Board of General Purposes will meet in 2019 are: 12 February, 19 March, 14 May, 16 July, 17 September and 12 November.

Overseas Grand Lodges

The Board considered it appropriate to draw attention to Rule 125 (b), Book of Constitutions, and the list of Grand Lodges recognised by the United Grand Lodge of England, which is published in the Masonic Year Book, copies of which are sent to lodge secretaries.

Only Brethren who are members of lodges under recognised jurisdictions may visit English lodges. They must produce a certificate (i.e. a Grand Lodge certificate or other documentary proof of masonic identity provided by their Grand Lodge), should be prepared to acknowledge that a personal belief in TGAOTU is an essential Landmark in Freemasonry, and should be able to produce evidence of their good standing in their lodges.

It is the Master’s responsibility to ensure that the requirements of Rule 125 (b) are met.

It is particularly noted that the hazard of admitting a member of an unrecognised constitution arises not only in connection with overseas visitors, or individuals resident in this country who belong to an unrecognised constitution overseas, but there are also Lodges of unrecognised constitutions meeting in England, and care must be taken that their members are not admitted to our meetings.

Brethren are reminded that they are permitted to visit lodges overseas only if they come under a jurisdiction which is recognised by the United Grand Lodge of England.

A list of recognised Grand Lodges is published annually, but as the situation does change from time to time, Brethren should not attempt to make any masonic contact overseas without having first checked (preferably in writing) with the Grand Secretary’s Office via their Metropolitan, Provincial or District Grand Secretary, that there is recognised Freemasonry in the country concerned and, if so, whether there is any particular point which should be watched.

The Board recommends that the terms of this warning should be repeated:

  1. Verbally in open lodge whenever a Grand Lodge Certificate is presented, and
  2. In print once a year in a lodge’s summons.

Brethren should also be aware of the masonic convention that communications between Grand Lodges be conducted by Grand Secretaries. They should therefore not attempt without permission to make direct contact with the Grand Secretary of another Constitution. This does not preclude direct contact on a purely personal level between individual Brethren under different Grand Lodges.

Gender reassignment

Following the recent adoption of a policy on gender reassignment, the Board recommended a small amendment to the document Basic Principles for Grand Lodge Recognition originally drawn up by the Board of General Purposes in 1929 at the request of the MW The Grand Master, His Royal Highness The Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, KG.

The amendment relates to paragraph 4 and, if approved, would bring that paragraph into line with this Grand Lodge’s policy. It is intended that when the document is printed in future in the Book of Constitutions, the Masonic Year Book and the booklet Information for the Guidance of Members of the Craft, a footnote will be included to the effect that the amendment was made at the Quarterly Communication of 12 September 2018.

Amalgamations

The Board had received reports that the following lodges had resolved to surrender their Warrants in order to form amalgamations:

Langbourn and Dominicos Lodge, No. 5252, in order to amalgamate with National Westminster Lodge, No. 3647 (London); Pilgrim Lodge, No. 7265, in order to amalgamate with St Catherine’s Priory Lodge, No. 7960 (Surrey); Y Bont Faen Lodge, No. 8533, in order to amalgamate with Industria Cambrensis Lodge, No. 6700 (South Wales); and Erewash Lodge, No. 9376, in order to amalgamate with Dale Abbey Lodge, No. 5603 (Derbyshire).

A recommendation that the lodges be removed from the register in order to effect the amalgamations was approved.

Lodge closures

The Board had received a report that eight lodges had closed and had surrendered their Warrants. The lodges are: Wodehouse Lodge, No. 1467 (South Africa, Eastern Division);

Northbourne Lodge, No. 3241 (Durham); Argosy Lodge, No. 3740 (West Lancashire); Faraday Lodge, No. 4852 (Northumberland); Faith and Honour Lodge, No. 7142 (Middlesex); St Mary’s Lodge, No. 7244 (Warwickshire); Circle of Sussex Lodge, No. 7905 (Sussex) and Beacon Lodge, No. 7915 (Worcestershire).

A recommendation that they be erased was approved.

Expulsions from the Craft

Eight members had been expelled from the Craft

Library and Museum Charitable Trust

The Board had received a report from the Library and Museum Charitable Trust.

Presentation to Grand Lodge

A presentation on Solomon – Fostering Curiosity, Developing Understanding was given by Stuart Hadler, Provincial Grand Master for Somerset and Anthony Howlett-Bolton, Provincial Grand Master for Berkshire.

New Lodges

13 June 2018: 9965 Curitiba Lodge Curitiba, South America, Northern Division.

11 July 2018: 9966 Square Wheels Lodge, Warwick, Warwickshire.

Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge

A Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge will be held on 12 December 2018, 13 March 2019, 12 June 2019, 11 September 2019 and 11 December 2019.

The Annual Investiture of Grand Officers will take place on 24 April 2019, and admission is by ticket only. A few tickets are allocated by ballot after provision has been made for those automatically entitled to attend. Full details will be given in the Paper of Business for December Grand Lodge.

Convocation of Supreme Grand Chapter

Convocations of Supreme Grand Chapter will be held on 14 November 2018, 25 April 2019 and 13 November 2019.

Categories: UGLE News

John Hamill on the natural connections between the armed forces and Freemasonry

Features from UGLE - 11 September 2018 - 12:44pm

Freemasonry  on the march

John Hamill, Deputy Grand Chancellor, on how the shared values and camaraderie found in Freemasonry have appealed to members of the British armed forces through history

Retirement has enabled me to spend more time at my home in the Fens. I have been surprised by how often the peace and tranquillity have been disturbed by aeroplanes from the Royal Air Force and American air bases that still exist in East Anglia flying over the area. Given the recent celebrations marking the centenary of the formation of the Royal Air Force and the commemorative events to honour the closing months of the First World War, I began to reflect on the enormous contribution that members of the services have made to the development and spread of Freemasonry over the last 300 years.

It was the Grand Lodge of Ireland that, in the early 1730s, introduced the practice of issuing travelling warrants to form lodges in regiments of the British Army, enabling the lodge to meet wherever the regiment might be stationed. The idea was quickly taken up by the Premier and Antients Grand Lodges in England and the Grand Lodge of Scotland.The travelling military lodges of the Home Grand Lodges took Freemasonry around the globe; its development mirrored that of the development of the British Empire. 

The travelling lodges did a great deal to help establish Freemasonry in the North American colonies, Canada, the West Indies and Caribbean, and India.

COSMOPOLITAN MEMBERSHIP

Constitutionally, the English Grand Lodges would only issue travelling military warrants in regiments in which the commanding officer agreed to there being a lodge. Equally, they were only supposed to take in members of the particular regiment and not initiate civilians. Inevitably, when a travelling lodge was stationed overseas in an area where there were no lodges, they would take in locals. When the regiment moved on, those civilians would usually apply to a Home Grand Lodge for a warrant to meet as a stationary lodge to enable them to carry on their Freemasonry.

Although there are anecdotes of lodge meetings held on board ships, there is no evidence that the Home Grand Lodges issued travelling warrants for lodges to be held on ships. There is, however, a great deal of evidence in the membership registers, from the earliest registers, of many members of the Royal Navy, Royal Marines and merchant navy being involved in Freemasonry and helping to spread it overseas. 

Indeed, lodges in the ports around the English coast in the 18th and 19th centuries became cosmopolitan in their membership, holding meetings when foreign ships were in port and taking in officers and crew members, often putting them through all three degrees on the same day. Equally, lodges in the colonies would hold meetings or social events when ships came into port. Admiral Nelson himself recorded being entertained at a masonic ball in the West Indies.

COMMON IDEALS

One of the problems for seafaring brethren was that being at sea for long periods meant that their masonic progress could be rather slow, as it would be dependent on being on shore at a time when their lodge met. Many naval officers had to wait until they retired before they could fully participate, but others appear to have taken full advantage of every opportunity to do so. 

One such officer was Admiral Sir Albert Hastings Markham, KCB (1841–1918), who appears to have joined a lodge in every port he spent any time in or visited regularly. Being stationed in the Mediterranean, he rose to the rank of District Grand Master of Malta. In today’s slimmed-down navy, it is even more difficult for serving members to become fully involved in Freemasonry unless they receive a shore-based appointment.

The attraction of Freemasonry to members of the services appears to be a combination of shared values; the ideals of service and tradition; and the continuation of the camaraderie they have experienced within the armed forces. It was certainly the latter that led to the huge expansion of Freemasonry in the English-speaking world at the end of both World Wars. Long may the connection continue.

‘The travelling military lodges took Freemasonry around the globe’

Categories: UGLE News

Celebrating the life of long-time Freemason Anthony Wilson

News from UGLE - 11 September 2018 - 12:24pm

Great dignity

Instrumental in shaping the way that Freemasonry is now run, Anthony Wilson embraced modernisation with a focus on teamwork

Anthony Wilson, a long-time Freemason, died on 14 May this year after a long battle with cancer fought with great dignity. Anthony was born in 1950, educated at Eton, and subsequently qualified as a chartered accountant. One of the first audits he conducted was for the Grand Lodge 250th Anniversary Fund. Some 20 years later he became a Trustee of the charity, which is now known as The Freemasons’ Fund for Surgical Research.

Initiated into Tuscan Lodge, No. 14, in March 1976, Anthony was appointed Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies in 1997 and served as President of the Committee of General Purposes from 2001 to 2004. He subsequently became President of the Board of General Purposes in March 2004. 

Anthony was instrumental in reducing the Board to a more manageable size and making it more effective, efficient and fit for purpose. ‘My background is in chartered accountancy, and I’ve always been interested in business and how you can improve it,’ Anthony told Freemasonry Today 10 years after becoming Board President. ‘Working on the Board was a way of helping the running of Freemasonry that wasn’t purely ceremonial but rather administrative. It’s very much a collegiate affair – we’re a team and I’m very fortunate with the support and counsel I get.’ 

Promoted to Past Senior Grand Warden in April 2012, Anthony played a prominent role during the Tercentenary celebrations, including unveiling the memorial stones to Freemasons awarded the Victoria Cross during the First World War, through to the Especial meeting of Grand Lodge at the Royal Albert Hall, where he was seated in the Royal Box with the Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent. 

He retired as President of the Board of General Purposes at the end of 2017. Following his death, the United Grand Lodge of England sent condolences on behalf of all members of Grand Lodge to his widow, Vicky, and family.

Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes paid tribute to Anthony’s work: ‘I don’t often mention individuals in this context, but Anthony Wilson was a very special mason and a very special friend to so many of us. He carried out his duties in a very understated way, but he presided over the Board during a very busy period including, of course, the 300th celebrations.

‘He was an incredibly hard-working and efficient President who managed to carry out his role without falling out with anyone – quite a feat! And all this despite his illness, which was with him for far too many years. But he never, ever complained, and many would not have known how ill he was. He is sorely missed by all who knew him.’ 

Looking back on why he first became a Freemason, Anthony told Freemasonry Today: ‘Initially, what attracted me was the intrigue of finding out what Freemasonry was about, but once I’d been through the ceremonies, my whole view of it changed. It was relaxed, but there was also a formality – it wasn’t an easy ride. Don’t just expect to get things out of it; put things into it and you’ll get enjoyment. I realised that there was a lot of knowledge, that it was telling you a story linked to your values and that it gelled with what I stood for in life.’

Categories: UGLE News

Lifelites spread the word in 2,500-mile challenge

Freemasory cares - 11 September 2018 - 12:00am

It’s the journey  that matters

Via Rolls-Royce, camper van, horse and cart, speedboat and tandem bicycle, Lifelites chief executive Simone Enefer-Doy travelled 2,500 miles in two weeks to raise the profile of this hard-working charity

Providing life-changing assistive technology, Lifelites helps the 10,000 children and young people in hospices across the British Isles live their short lives to the full. On 25 May 2018, the charity’s chief executive, Simone Enefer-Doy, set off on an epic road, air and river trip to spread the word and raise funds.

The 2,500-mile challenge, called Lift for Lifelites, was to take in 47 famous landmarks in England and Wales in just 14 days. For each leg of the journey, Simone received a lift from Provincial supporters in an eclectic mix of transportation. After setting an initial target of raising £50,000 for Lifelites, the total now stands at over £104,000. Simone says she has been astounded at the support and generosity she encountered as she travelled around the country. 

‘Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that so many people would come out to meet me on my journey and support my challenge. We have received a terrific welcome wherever we have gone, and it really spurred me on to continue whenever I felt myself flagging. I would like to thank everyone – drivers, donors and venues – for helping to make Lift for Lifelites happen. We couldn’t have done it without you.’

If you’d like Lifelites to come to one of your Provincial meetings to make a presentation about Simone’s adventure and how the charity will use the money, please get in touch via email at info@lifelites.org or call 0207 440 4200.

Categories: UGLE News

Everything Freemasons need to know about the General Data Protection Regulation

News from UGLE - 11 September 2018 - 12:00am

Freemasonry on file

With new data protection laws putting personal data, privacy and consent in the crosshairs, Donald Taylor, Head of Legal Services at UGLE, explains the impact on the day-to-day running of lodge business

What do Freemasons need to know about the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)?

There’s been a lot of foolishness from other organisations about data protection, but actually not a lot has changed. Members entrust us with their data, and we always strive to be worthy of that trust. That was the case before the new law and it’s the case now. So, we are determined to comply with the law in a way that minimises red tape, as we really don’t want to impose new burdens on our members except where absolutely necessary.

How does Grand Lodge currently use data?

We use data in the way Freemasons would expect, which is to facilitate the administration of the organisation. At the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE), we have a data protection policy that explains how we use the data – that is set out on the website. The important things to remember are that we never sell data and we never share it outside Freemasonry without the individual’s consent. 

What about lodges? Do they need a policy?

All lodges should adopt a data protection notice. We have circulated to Metropolitan Grand Lodge, Provinces and Districts a template data protection notice for lodges together with draft guidance in the form of a Q&A for lodge Secretaries. The template will need to be adapted by each lodge if it holds or uses data for any purpose not covered by the template. The notice must contain contact details so that lodge members can ask queries or request a copy of their personal data.

What else do lodge Secretaries need to know?

Essentially, members’ details should only be used for normal masonic activities relating to the lodge, such as issuing summonses, arranging Almoner visits, chasing subscription payments or lodge committee business. There are also the activities relating to the Metropolitan Grand Lodge, Provinces, Districts or UGLE, such as submitting annual returns or contributing to disciplinary processes. 

Any other use of details held by the lodge requires the consent of the individual. For example, the lodge mailing list should not be used to circulate requests for charity donations except for those on the list who have provided their consent to receive such requests. If a lodge circulates its summonses by email, care should be taken not to reveal email addresses to other members.

Should a Freemason be concerned if they haven’t heard from their local lodge?

Most lodges will not need to contact their members in relation to data protection. Normally a lodge will not require explicit new consents to use your data for ordinary masonic activities.

What about Almoners?

Almoners sometimes hold data about people’s health or finances. This is sensitive information that requires a slightly different approach. We are preparing specific guidance for Almoners that we are aiming to circulate to Metropolitan Grand Lodge, Provinces and Districts soon.

Does a lodge Secretary need to obtain individual consent from lodge members or new joiners? 

The standard application forms collect the necessary consents. There’s no need to obtain consents from existing members for normal lodge business.

The crucial point to remember is that what was once a matter of courtesy and common sense is now a matter of law. People need to act sensibly, and masons can take responsibility themselves regarding masonic data. For instance, if they print out information or get a printed copy of their lodge summons, they should shred it or dispose of it in another responsible way. 

Similarly, if masons have taken photographs at a private event such as a lodge meal or other masonic gathering and wish to publish them online, they need to check that everybody captured in the photograph is happy with this.

So, it’s business as usual?

The key message is that while there has been some running around behind the scenes to make sure we are compliant – and everyone needs to continue to think carefully about how they store or use other masons’ data – nothing should change for most members’ experiences.

To find out more, go to the UGLE data protection notice, or contact your Metropolitan Grand Lodge, Province or District.

Categories: UGLE News

Freemason Jason Liversidge is breaking the boundaries of what should be possible

Freemasory cares - 11 September 2018 - 12:00am

Fraternity without limits

Freemason Jason Liversidge may be living with motor neurone disease, but he's not letting it hold him back from any challenge

When asked what motivates him, Jason Liversidge has no hesitation. ‘It’s simple: my children, my wife and raising awareness of disability and the part I play in that. It’s showing the world that having a life-limiting illness isn't a reason to stop.’

Jason was just 37 years old when he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease (MND), an illness mostly affecting people in their 60s and 70s. The condition progresses over time, leading to muscle weakness, paralysis and death – sometimes within months of diagnosis. Jason is now in his fifth year with MND, but experienced symptoms as early as 2008.

There are 5,000 people living with MND in the UK at any one time, affecting two in every 100,000, but Jason has also been diagnosed with Fabry disease, which is even rarer. According to his doctors, he is the only person in the world suffering from both conditions.

He’s reliant on the support of others and He’s reliant on the support of others and is unable to walk or feed himself. But being virtually paralysed doesn’t hold him back.

Since his diagnoses, Jason has been breaking the boundaries of what should be possible. In 2017 he became the first person to climb Mount Snowdon in a wheelchair. A few months later he made history as the first person with MND to abseil the Humber Bridge. He’s also ridden the fastest zip line in the world, lapped Silverstone in a Formula One race car and raised thousands of pounds for charity – all in the past year.

In 2018, Jason will attempt his biggest and riskiest record yet. Speaking through the voice synthesiser he now has to use, he declares: ‘I plan to set the Guinness World Record for fastest speed in an electric wheelchair. The speed to beat is 55mph, but I want to go close to 100mph.’ 

‘Jason shows people that no matter  what happens to you, no matter how bad things get, there’s always joy in life’

NO BARRIERS

Sitting in the lobby of Tickton Grange Hotel in East Yorkshire, Jason is joined by his wife, Liz, and fellow masons from Wyke Millennium Lodge, No. 9696, into which he was initiated earlier this year. 

‘Normally when a candidate is initiated, they do an undertaking – an oath. But, of course, Jason can’t speak properly; he can only talk through a voice synthesiser,’ explains Lodge Almoner Edward McGee. ‘So, the lodge sought permission for another member, Paul Matson, to have power of attorney and act as Jason’s voice. It was wonderful. Jason has proved to everyone that disabilities aren’t a barrier to becoming a Freemason.’ 

‘It was always something I had hoped to do – to follow in my family’s footsteps,’ says Jason, whose father, stepfather and grandfather were all masons. ‘The members have all been very welcoming. I’ve only been to the lodge once due to the summer break, so I’m waiting to go again and get a better insight. I’m looking forward to learning more about it.’

Whether it’s inspiring others through charity work, breaking world records or simply joining the Freemasons, Jason is resolute in making the most of his time. ‘He tries as hard as he can to live life to the absolute fullest,’ says Liz. ‘He’s amazingly positive – and so is our family. We’re determined to live life as normally as we can, for as long as we can.’

As Jason is the son of a Freemason, his daughters Poppy (five) and Lilly (six) have been receiving various forms of support from the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) since his diagnosis. ‘The masons have done a lot for the girls,’ Liz says. ‘They’ve provided grants for extracurricular activities like horse riding and swimming lessons, and they've paid for school uniforms. They’ve given us money for some family days out so we can make memories together. The Freemasons are a fantastic organisation. They do so much good.’

WHENEVER AND WHEREVER

The MCF will continue to support the family however it can through grants that aim to relieve financial pressure. But it’s up to Jason’s masonic fraternity to be there when it matters the most. ‘There are two things we’ll do in the future,’ says Edward. ‘First is look after Jason and the immediate family. Then, when Jason passes away, we’ll look after Liz and the two kids. It’s a long-term issue. We’ll give them whatever support we can, wherever and whenever it’s appropriate.’

Sometimes the support will be financial. At other times it will be something as simple as a friendly chat or quick cup of tea. Either way, Edward lives just down the road from Jason, so he and his fellow masons will continue to be there for the rest of his family.

In the meantime, Jason has plenty of zest for life. Next up is a fundraising event for the Bendrigg Trust: potholing in the Yorkshire Dales. And then there’s the big one: aiming for 100mph in an electric wheelchair. Jason says it will be just like riding a bike.

‘I’ve always had a passion for speed, whether it’s on two wheels, four wheels or skis. But I can’t do that anymore; I can only drive my wheelchair,’ he says, smiling. ‘So, it seemed like the right way to go.’

‘Maybe people think Jason’s mad for doing all the things he does,’ adds Liz. ‘But it’s about breaking down the boundaries of disability. It’s about raising awareness of MND, of Fabry disease and of disability. Jason shows people that no matter what happens to you, no matter how bad things get, there is always joy in life. You just have to find it.’

Building from inspiration

Wyke Millennium Lodge was introduced to Jason through his power of attorney, Paul Matson, a builder and army veteran who served in the British military. In 2015, two years after Jason was diagnosed with MND, Paul received an email from the producers of the TV show DIY SOS, asking if he’d like to help renovate the home of a man suffering from a terminal illness. ‘Of course, I said yes,’ says Paul. ‘But before filming started, I had to survey the property – that’s when I met the owners, Jason and Liz. We quickly got to know each other and have been friends for a long time.’

Paul was so inspired by Jason’s determination that he started his own charity, Hull 4 Heroes, which provides homes for homeless veterans. One of his biggest projects has been to turn an entire row of derelict houses into a ‘Veteran Street’, complete with specially adapted homes for ex-service personnel. ‘It’s amazing. Because of Jason this whole thing has come about,’ says Paul.

Watch a video of Jason's initiation into Wyke Millennium Lodge, No. 9696, at: www.mcf.org.uk/jasons-initiation

Categories: UGLE News

Interview with President of the Board of General Purposes Geoffrey Dearing

News from UGLE - 11 September 2018 - 12:00am

It's the start

With an emphasis on professionalism and transparency, President of the Board of General Purposes Geoffrey Dearing wants to take Freemasonry to a new level of alignment

How would you describe your masonic progression?

It was a very slow burn. I helped to manage a law practice in East Kent and became a Freemason in 1974 when two of my partners, whom I respected, proposed and seconded me. I only used to go to four meetings a year as I couldn’t do more than that; I was very busy working around the courts. But I found that those four evenings were very relaxing, because you’re with different people who have a similar view of life. 

I joined the Royal Arch in 1981. That was purely accidental: somebody’s son was a member of our lodge, and I got talking to his father, who turned out to be the Grand Superintendent for the Province of East Kent. But, again, I was very busy with the business, so nothing else happened until the end of the 1980s, when I was made a Steward in the Province in the Craft and the following year Senior Warden. 

Along the way I spent a year as president of the Kent Law Society and became a Past Assistant Grand Registrar in 1994, which is a common office for a lawyer to take in Grand Lodge. But I wasn’t involved at all in the Province, as I had been made managing partner of one of Kent’s largest law firms. I just had no time for anything other than getting on with the business.

When did your focus change?

In 2004, I stepped down as managing partner. My firm very kindly kept me on as a consultant, and I found the change quite reinvigorating. When you’re responsible for two or three hundred people, you’re not able to do your own thing, because you are looking for consensus. I was able to go off and do things that interested me. I did a lot of lecturing on various legal-related bits and pieces and worked with some small companies.

By 2011, I had ceased to be a consultant and coincidentally received a telephone call asking if I would become Provincial Grand Master and Grand Superintendent for East Kent. I’ve never had any grand career plan; if I have been asked to do a job and think I can do it, I’ve done it, simple as that. So that’s really why I’m sitting here now – it was never my ambition.

How did you approach the PGM role?

I went in there entirely cold. I hadn’t been on the executive and knew nothing about how the office ran. But I had run a business. So, I went in there and started asking questions – it was not commercial, and there was a lot that I could bring to it that would make it work better. 

I believe strongly that communication is fundamental. Most of the really big errors and some of the biggest claims as a lawyer that I’ve been involved in were avoidable. Things get to where they get to because of poor communication or, indeed, a total lack of it. So, when I started in East Kent in 2011, I supported a communications team. 

We don’t tend to know enough about what Freemasons do for a living, but I found that we had web designers, we had people who really understood software and we had people connected with the media and the written word. It meant that when we had the Holy Royal Arch 200-year celebrations in 2013, we were able to interest the media, and ITV came down.

‘When you have to make big calls, you need as much information as possible in order to get it right’

How have you found becoming President?

You’re in touch with every single aspect of how the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) runs, which is fascinating. I’m trustee of the Library and Museum, I’m on the Grand Master’s Council and I’m involved with the External Relations Committee. All aspects of what’s happening in Grand Lodge are ultimately the responsibility of the Board. It gives you an insight into the entire picture, and very few have that privilege.

When you have to make big calls, you need as much information as possible in order to get it right. I think in order to get everything joined up, to get alignment, the communication with the Provinces is very important. What goes on outside UGLE is every bit as important as what goes on inside it, so coming from the background I’ve had, I know about what goes on around the country in the Provinces. I’ve dealt with the same problems that other Provinces have experienced; I’ve got some understanding and some sympathy. 

What do you mean by alignment?

The biggest thing in terms of what I hope can be achieved is improving alignment. If you ask what Freemasonry is about, it might be expressed entirely differently if it’s in Cornwall, Durham, Carlisle or London, but it should be broadly the same message. This hasn’t necessarily been the case, because everyone’s in their own areas, not always talking to others.

After the Second World War, there was a period when you just didn’t talk about Freemasonry, and people thought that was the norm. That did us no favours at all. You’re always going to have a lot of conspiracy theorists, and if you’re not providing correct information, that’s their oxygen. If they put false accusations in enough newspapers and say it often enough, people will believe it. We have to communicate.

What role does communication play in alignment?

What you do with communications and how you address those people who are talking nonsense is important. If someone publishes a newspaper article that says Freemasons have a lodge in Westminster with many MPs in it, that’s untrue. So challenge it. You do it quietly, but you do it fairly. And you make sure there’s an audit trail. I know the truth is far less exciting, but why don’t we have transparency? Why don’t we have complete openness? Why aren’t we relaxed? Why don’t we encourage the Library and Museum to talk openly about Freemasonry to people who visit us? I think that’s exactly how it should be and how it should develop.

How are you different to your predecessors?

I’m hugely respectful of tradition and history, but the success of Freemasonry will come from it being able to evolve. That’s how it has managed to survive for 300 years. My responsibility as President of the Board of General Purposes is to try to ensure that we stay relevant. It is our job to look at the big picture and the messages we put forward. We’ve got to get our thinking straight at the centre and then consider how to get the messages out there, making sure that all our organs of communication are going down the same lines.

The more we communicate, the better. David Staples is going to be a very good CEO for the organisation, and I think his approach to management has not been seen before at UGLE. But that is how it needs to be in the modern world. If we get the set-up, professionalism and the operation here as good as it can be, it’s the start. 

Why should someone become a Freemason?

One of the attractions of Freemasonry is that it actually takes away a lot of insecurity, because it creates stability and has very good support mechanisms. If you think about the world today, a bit of consistency doesn’t go amiss. 

If we can get alignment, I think Freemasonry will become more normal, more accepted and more understood. And that’s a good thing. It’s not for everybody; a lot of people don’t like the ceremonial that goes with it, but others do. 

I don’t think it’s any accident that those who have been involved in the armed services or organisations that have a certain disciplinary culture find Freemasonry very attractive. I absolutely get that, but we all have different reasons. For me it’s actually about the people. I have met some terrific people along the way, and it’s been my privilege to know them and to spend time with them. 

‘I’m hugely respectful of tradition and history, but the success of Freemasonry will come from it being able to evolve’

Where do you want masonry to be in five years?

It’s a big question. I don’t have a burning ambition for massive change, but I do have a goal to improve and evolve. The basics would be that we have good alignment within UGLE, including the Library and Museum and the Masonic Charitable Foundation. They’re separate and independent operations, but they’re both masonic and are golden opportunities for communication with the wider world. 

I mentioned relevance before, because if Freemasonry is going to regenerate and be here in another 50 or 100 years, staying relevant will be part and parcel of that journey. Then there’s the way in which we communicate what we’re about – we have to do this in a much better way in order to strengthen our membership. It’s a big ambition, and I’m not sure that it can be achieved in five years, but we can certainly start the process. 

We have a fantastic opportunity here. Today is not going to repeat itself tomorrow, or any other time, so we need to make the most of it. I always have the ambition that, every day, something constructive gets done.

Categories: UGLE News

The 2018 Prestonian Lecture – examining the origins of Freemasonry via the Ancient Greeks

News from UGLE - 11 September 2018 - 12:00am

The tools of the craftsmen

I n his 2018 Prestonian Lecture,  Christopher Noon examines the Ancient  Greek texts that would have inspired  the founders of modern Freemasonry

When Christopher Noon switched careers from lecturing in ancient history and classical languages at Oxford to becoming a data scientist for a major tech company, he feared he was leaving his love of the classical world behind for good. But a chance to revisit the subject presented itself when he was asked if he would give the 2018 Prestonian Lecture. Given under the authority of the United Grand Lodge of England, the annual lecture offered Christopher the opportunity to once more pore over the texts of Ancient Greek writers, but this time with the aim of finding masonic metaphors. 

‘When I was studying and lecturing I’d looked at some references to workers’ tools in Ancient Greek texts that were used in a metaphorical way. Not just people talking about squares and compasses, but people talking about squares, rules and compasses as a way of measuring conduct,’ he explains. ‘I wanted to find really concrete references to things that are actually masonic rather than somebody saying “be a good man”, which is very general.’

On the hunt, Christopher found that ‘working tools’ showed promise. ‘It’s not an immediately obvious thing to tell somebody that their conduct must be tried by the square or they should keep within the bounds of the compass. These are very carefully thought-out metaphors that link conduct with tools. And as far as I could see, they began in the sixth century BC.’

The research formed the basis for ‘A Good Workman Praises his Tools: Masonic Metaphors in Ancient Greece’, a lecture that Christopher has already delivered to wide appreciation in several lodges throughout the country. He is well qualified for the task. As well as having studied and taught Ancient Greek literature, Christopher is also a dedicated mason, having joined Apollo University Lodge, No. 357, in Oxford when he was 19. Now 32, he is a member of four other lodges as well as several side Orders. ‘I am fairly masonically busy,’ he adds, with a touch of understatement. 

Christopher first became intrigued by masonry when he saw his father leaving for meetings in a black tie and with a briefcase. Now, he particularly enjoys the chance to engage with the variety of people drawn to masonry.

‘I love seeing a ceremony performed well, and uncovering new meanings and then discussing it afterwards, sharing ideas of where it came from with people of all ages and backgrounds,’ he says. ‘It was only when I became a mason that I realised I could sit with somebody who is 18 or 80 and have a really interesting conversation.’

 FINDING NEW PARALLELS

Masonry fuels Christopher’s intellectual curiosity, but it also taps into his academic rigour. For his lecture, he deconstructs the received wisdom regarding the origins of masonic metaphor in relating the tools of a craftsman to the measurement of good conduct. He discusses some of the ways previous writers and historians have found parallels between the visual imagery of the ancient world and the Craft, proposing that such visual references are too ambiguous. 

‘A lot of people have come up with highly speculative theories about our ancient origins, but I wanted to look at early literary evidence rather than more ambiguous pictures that could mean a lot of different things,’ Christopher explains. ‘In a way, I’m trying to be boring – I’m asking what is the least we can say based on this evidence. The visual evidence isn’t strong, so let’s look at what we can prove. I see this as providing a baseline: the earliest very clear masonic references in classical literature.

‘The Classics were incredibly important in educated English society three centuries ago, and there was a lot of value placed in Greek architecture and literature,’ he says. ‘Freemasonry was created by an intellectual elite who would have been steeped in these metaphors, and they would have been an inspiration, providing the building blocks for modern-day masonry. The Greek writers would have been very well known among the circles the forefathers of Freemasonry moved in.’

After a quick perusal of the Delphic maxims – which include masonic principles such as ‘know thyself’, ‘help your friends’ and ‘do not tire of learning’ – Christopher looks in close detail at three Greek writers: Theognis, the lyric poet; Xenophon, the historian and biographer; and Euripides, the dramatist and tragedian. These writers were from different eras, writing for different audiences and located in different parts of the Greek world. However, they all used similar metaphors for similar purposes – metaphors that centuries later provided inspiration for masonic ceremonies.

‘The Greek writers would have been very well known among the circles the forefathers of Freemasonry moved in’

DIVING INTO THE CLASSICS

Christopher found the earliest references were made in the sixth century BC by Theognis of Megara, who wrote from the position of an aristocratic tutor educating a young gentleman pupil in the ways of decent behaviour. Much of his poetry survives only as fragments, with one verse discussing ‘a path straight as a rule, not veering off to either side’. As Christopher notes, this is a phrase very similar to that found in the Second Degree Working Tools: ‘neither turning to the right hand nor to the left from the strict path of virtue.’

Further references can be gleaned from other fragments, such as an instruction for man ‘to be straighter than the compasses, rule and square’. For Christopher, this is the earliest surviving example of literature that expresses masonic principles using masonic metaphors. 

‘I’d seen things with masonic undertonesin Plato and Aristotle, and a chap called Isocrates – not Socrates – who used masonic ideas and talked about virtuous conduct. But it was only when I read Theognis of Megara that I saw these really clear references to squares,’ he says. ‘I began to dig through Greek literature broadly chronologically and found a lot more examples. However, Theognis was the first definite masonic link, whereas the philosophers showed a more general interest in the ideas.’

The better-known later writers, such as Xenophon of Athens and Euripides, also embraced this imagery, using the symbols of line and rule in the context of fashioning moral goodness. Christopher does not believe the three writers necessarily came up with these concepts independently. ‘The literature would have been passed around by the elite. They form a thread that runs through Greek literature.’ 

Christopher hopes his lecture will provoke further study; he would particularly like it to be read by a mason of his acquaintance who lectures in ancient philosophy. ‘I hope he will follow up by exploring Aristotle,’ he says.

Further insight could also come when Christopher takes the Prestonian Lecture to Athens for a talk early next year. Will he deliver it in Ancient Greek? ‘No, that might be a bridge too far,’ he chuckles. ‘But it will be a lot of fun.’

Categories: UGLE News

Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes on why it's important that Freemasons behave and act responsibly

News from UGLE - 11 September 2018 - 12:00am

A better place

If Freemasonry is to thrive by spreading a consistent and strong message, Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes believes that every member needs to behave and act responsibly

During the early part of this year, we have built on the euphoria of our Tercentenary year. In March, 149 brethren were invested with their special Tercentenary ranks, and in April we had the usual Annual Investiture presided over by the Grand Master. I felt both meetings had a wonderful atmosphere.

I have lost count of the number of times that I have been asked why Freemasonry is relevant in today’s society. I think it would be right to turn this round and ask how today’s society cannot fail to be improved by Freemasonry.

I have said in the past that I believe that the Charge after Initiation explains very clearly what is expected of a Freemason throughout his life – at home, at work, in lodge and in the community at large. If the world lived their lives in accordance with that Charge, how much better a place it would be.

Over and above this, Freemasonry provides continuity and reliability – qualities so often missing in the lives of so many. We all know when our lodges meet, and that Grand Lodge meets on set dates every year. We all know the format that our meetings will take, and there is perhaps solace to be drawn from that comfortable regularity of the masonic year. 

 LIVING UP TO RESPONSIBILITIES

We are all confident that those needed at our meetings will turn up, usually on time, unless there is a very good reason. We all know that our lodge Secretaries will produce the minutes and that the Treasurer will have prepared the accounts and had them audited for the appropriate meeting. Surely, in a world where there is so much disharmony and a general lack of agreement, an organisation that can provide so much unanimity and concord should be welcomed with open arms?

If I may use a cricket analogy, just as the Marylebone Cricket Club is considered to be the custodian of the laws of the game, the United Grand Lodge of England, in conjunction with the Grand Lodges of Ireland and Scotland, are looked on by the majority of the masonic world in rather the same light. It is important that we live up to that responsibility in all aspects of our behaviour – from the individual mason to Grand Lodge.

There is an annual meeting between the three ‘Home’ Grand Lodges, and I have recently returned from this year’s meeting in Dublin. We are agreed that Freemasonry is going through a good phase at the moment, but we are equally agreed that there is no room for complacency. 

Lodges must give a good account of themselves in their communities, which should be backed up by the Provinces and Districts in a wider context. It is Grand Lodge’s duty to monitor all this and, at the same time, ensure that we exemplify all that is good in Freemasonry to the world at large.

Brethren, if we are all successful in this, the world will be a better place, and a better place for the positive influence we bring to it. Long may that continue.

‘Freemasonry provides continuity and reliability’

Categories: UGLE News

Sir David Wootton on why the Improvement Delivery Group is building a repository of masonic learning

News from UGLE - 11 September 2018 - 12:00am

Daily advancement

Assistant Grand Master and Chairman of the  Improvement Delivery Group Sir David Wootton  explains how a new online service will allow  members to access the learning resources  necessary to enjoy Freemasonry to the full

A survey conducted three years ago by the Membership Focus Group found that 68 per cent of respondents thought that understanding the moral and philosophical issues underpinning Freemasonry and its symbolism was either very important or essential. These values and principles define us as Freemasons and our relevance as an organisation. Explaining them to our members is a strategic imperative of the Rulers.

Ritual and ceremonies are a core activity of lodge and chapter life. While many members attend Lodge of Instruction and enjoy learning and performing ritual, often key messages and nuances are simply missed. With the emphasis on performance, devoting time to gaining the underpinning knowledge about ritual and ceremony has all too often become peripheral or optional. The opportunity to explore and understand is often not provided at lodge or chapter meetings or is considered second best to a ceremony. 

There are, however, growing instances of well-delivered presentations about masonry and an evident enthusiasm for more. So, it is important that we ensure that our members have ready access to the intellectual and practical resources necessary to enjoy their Freemasonry to the full. 

UNDERSTANDING THE WAY

The history of Freemasonry and the evolution of our ceremonies is fascinating. Our ceremonies originated during a period of relative instability and intolerance, and our forebears saw a need to create a society founded on moral and social values. 

Back in the 18th century (the Age of Enlightenment), Freemasons were stimulated by the desire to explore and explain the world through the application of moral, religious and intellectual principles. Over time, this intellectual aspect has dropped away. 

But as we seek to demonstrate Freemasonry’s relevance in the 21st century, it is timely to remind ourselves of those moral and social lessons contained within our ritual and their fundamental value to our lives today.

There is a genuine concern that a concentration on the performance of ritual, without appreciating what we are doing and why, overlooks the important messages that lie within, and that this is one reason why some members choose to leave. Although a wide selection of books and online resources are available, it takes effort to identify appropriate pieces to use within the lodge environment. Additionally, there is a need to have someone with excellent presentation skills who can really engage members and stimulate lively discussions that will assist them along their individual masonic journeys.

PRIORITISING LEARNING

This provides three key challenges. The first is to identify suitable material that is appropriate to any given situation. This might be a short nugget or a quick talk; at other times it may be a longer presentation with questions and answers. Or perhaps a demonstration of a ceremony with a detailed explanation of the underlying symbolism. A further development would be the provision of material in audiovisual formats.

The second is how to deliver the material. We need to identify, recruit and support people with the enthusiasm and ability to communicate the essence of the material, delivering it in an attractive, understandable and engaging way. This will also require investment in suitable equipment and resources. 

The third and perhaps the biggest challenge is how to build and sustain the demand for and interest in learning to become a regular part of masonic activity. This is a challenge for Provinces as well as for those in lodges and chapters, such as Mentors and Directors of Ceremonies who have a responsibility for doing this anyway.

Learning and development is an important element of Freemasonry. On behalf of the Improvement Delivery Group, an online repository of masonic learning called ‘Solomon’ has been created. It will provide informative and accessible material to inform and point members along the path of a daily advancement in masonic knowledge. It is designed to be used by individual masons, lodges, chapters and Provinces, evolving over time. 

Solomon will also offer examples of good practice – submitted by Provinces – to help develop and deliver learning activities and opportunities. It will facilitate the obtaining of knowledge at a local level and in forms that will fit comfortably with the needs of both the younger and the more experienced mason. Solomon will complement the Membership Pathway as well as individual Provincial mentoring programmes.

I look forward to the launch of our Learning and Development programme and the introduction of Solomon. It is due to be launched in November and will be explained in detail in the next edition of Freemasonry Today.

Categories: UGLE News

Grand Secretary's column - Autumn 2018

News from UGLE - 11 September 2018 - 12:00am

From the Grand Secretary

Brother Rudyard Kipling was initiated in 1886 into the Lodge of Hope and Perseverance, No. 782, in Anarkali, Lahore, when he was only 20 years old. Eight years later, while hosting brother Sir Arthur Conan Doyle of Sherlock Holmes fame in Vermont, he wrote a poem for the Pall Mall Gazette titled ‘The Mother Lodge’. It is one of my favourites, celebrating that great masonic principle: equality. Equality without distinction of rank, race, creed, profession or class.

‘The Mother Lodge’ speaks of the various characters in that lodge, their backgrounds and their beliefs. During the height of the British Raj and all that colonial India meant, Hindus met with Catholics, Jews, Muslims and Anglicans in Lodge No. 782; officers sat with enlisted men, and accountants with railway workers. The poem contrasts the behaviours shown in public, where differences were observed by the conventions of the time, with those in lodge, where they were swept away. 

In 19th-century India, just as today, brethren held strong views about a wide range of subjects. There is no doubt that Kipling’s Catholic brethren would have believed that most of the rest of their lodge would quite literally be going to hell – a very real and unpleasant place for a 19th-century Catholic! Yet their one strength seems to be their acceptance of one another, and their celebration of their shared humanity. A desire to put aside their own feelings and beliefs and to try to understand the unintelligible. 

I have followed with interest the debates on social media since the United Grand Lodge of England released its gender diversity policy. At the one end, there are those who think that ‘wanting to be a tomato doesn’t make you a tomato’ through to those who would feel that changing gender should be as easy as changing your underwear.  

In our great organisation, there is room for that breadth of opinion, just as there was back in a small, dimly lit and dusty masonic hall in Anarkali over 130 years ago. Freemasonry is so much bigger than what each of us believes, and we do not all have to think the same. 

Dr David Staples
Grand Secretary

Outside – “Sergeant! Sir! Salute! Salaam!”
 Inside – “Brother,” an’ it doesn’t do no ’arm. 
We met upon the Level an’ we parted on the Square,
 An’ I was Junior Deacon in my Mother-Lodge out there!
Extract from ‘The Mother Lodge’ by Rudyard Kipling

Categories: UGLE News

United Grand Lodge of England seeks a Receptionist (Part-time – Saturday only)

News from UGLE - 6 September 2018 - 1:57pm

United Grand Lodge of England seeks a Receptionist for the Facilities department part-time (one day a week on a Saturday)

This role acts as first point of contact for visitors of Freemasons’ Hall by greeting, welcoming and directing them appropriately.

Duties:

This person must be able to:

  • Deliver excellent customer service at all times
  • Give advice and directions to visitors to the building
  • Deal with all enquiries in a professional and courteous manner in person, on the telephone or via e-mail
  • Handle telephone calls to the building outside the normal hours of operation of the switchboard
  • Fulfil all reasonable requests from visitors to ensure their satisfaction and safety
  • Assist in keeping the Front of House reception area clean and tidy at all times
  • Maintain security by following procedures; monitoring logbook and issuing/recovering visitor badges
  • Receive mail and carefully examine suspicious, unusual envelopes, packages or parcels, advising relevant Line Manager accordingly and contacting the relevant authority as required
  • Collect and log any items of lost property
  • Ensure that all pertinent administrative systems are maintained
  • Operate Helpdesk as directed
  • Maintain personal knowledge by completing internal/external training
  • Adhere to United Grand Lodge of England’s policies and procedures
  • Be involved and contribute at team meetings
  • Carry out any other associated duties as required by the Front of House Manager
  • Use a two-way radio

Must have skills:

  • Excellent telephone manner
  • Excellent verbal and written communication ability
  • Positive attitude
  • Excellent customer service skills
  • Friendly and professional
  • Ability to deal appropriately and effectively in a variety of situations

Salary:

Competitive salary and benefits package.

Hours:

The successful applicant will work on a Saturday - 09.00am – 17.00pm.

Application details:

To apply please send your CV and covering letter to:

Elizabeth Gay
Head of HR
United Grand Lodge of England
Freemasons’ Hall
60 Great Queen Street
London
WC2B 5AZ

Or via email to egay@ugle.org.uk

CVs received without a covering letter will not be considered.

Closing date for applications is close of business on Thursday 20th September 2018.

Categories: UGLE News

United Grand Lodge of England seeks a Personal Assistant

News from UGLE - 5 September 2018 - 2:26pm

United Grand Lodge of England seeks a Personal Assistant to assist the CEO office working closely with the Executive Assistant

Duties include:

  • Management of incoming phone calls and emails as required.
  • Receive and interact with incoming visitors.
  • Jointly managing CEO diary, private flat diary and other room bookings.
  • Typing of business emails and letters as directed by the CEO.
  • Arranging travel (working with Secretariat and the Chancellery).
  • Arrange and coordinate meetings and events.
  • Managing incoming mail.
  • Preparing weekly schedule for Housekeeper.
  • Arrange draft agendas, attend and take minutes of meetings, prepare documentation for meetings.
  • Devise and maintain up-to-date soft and hard copy filing and retrieval systems.
  • Prepare and edit correspondence, communications, presentations and any other documents as required.
  • Additional similar tasks will be delegated by the Executive Assistant in order to support the organisation’s objectives.
  • Dealing with ad-hoc requests from Rulers, BGP Members etc.

Must have:

  • Previous PA experience
  • Excellent interpersonal skills
  • High attention to detail
  • Ability to work under pressure
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Advanced computer skills
  • Experience of minute taking
  • Highly organised

Salary:

Competitive salary and benefits package.

Hours:

The successful applicant will work Monday to Friday (35 hours) 9am – 5pm.

Application details:

To apply please send your CV and covering letter to:

Elizabeth Gay
Head of HR
United Grand Lodge of England
Freemasons’ Hall
60 Great Queen Street
London
WC2B 5AZ

Or via email to egay@ugle.org.uk

CVs received without a covering letter will not be considered.

Closing date for applications is close of business on Friday 14th September 2018.

Categories: UGLE News