Royal Arch changes
At an historic meeting of Supreme Grand
Chapter in October (see pages 22-26),
major changes to the Royal Arch ritual were
approved and come into effect immediately.
Having listened to the many suggestions
made by Royal Arch members, the final
version of the Strategic Working Party made
considerable changes from the original draft.
The changes also fall in line with the
decision of the Craft in December 2003
to redefine the relationship between the
Craft and the Royal Arch, making clear that
the latter is an Order in its own right, and
not the completion of the Third Degree.
Unfortunately some Lodges still insist
on putting this misleading fact on their
Summons, a practice which ought to stop
forthwith. The Third Degree is a Masonic
Degree in its own right. It is complete.
This is why the 27-word reference to the
Third Degree in the Royal Arch Exaltation
ceremony has been removed and this
change is compulsory, even if the old
ritual is still performed by Chapters.
Individual Chapters now have a choice
of three ways forward: stay with the old
ritual, change to the new ritual or mix and
match, i.e., have one Lecture delivered
in the old form and another in the new.
It is, however, very strongly
recommended and the First Grand
Principal, Lord Northampton emphasised
this at Supreme Grand Chapter that
Chapters change to the new ritual.
Those of us who attended Grand Chapter
in October saw the ceremony conducted
in outstanding fashion by a team from
Hertfordshire. It makes much more sense,
is shorter and, for example, the Mystical
Lecture can now be given in three parts.
The new books of ritual will be out
later in the year, but it might be a good
idea if Provinces began demonstrations
of the new ritual right away. To see it is
to be converted to it!
Amalgamations of Lodges are now a
regular occurrence, but in the Quarterly
Communication of Grand Lodge for
last month (see pages 28-30) there was
an important Notice of Motion for the
9 March meeting.
A new Rule 165A will allow for the
transfer of members of a Lodge being
amalgamated rather than having to become
joining members. While it may seem a minor
point, it is in fact a considerably important
change, for to transfer to another Lodge
is a more acceptable method than joining.
It is always sad to lose Lodges, but when
they do go ahead at least the decision can
now be eased by the transfer principle.
Our colleagues in the Grand Lodge of
Ireland whose members cover the whole
of Ireland including Ulster have been
vigilant in pursuing the Police Service of
Northern Ireland (PSNI) over a planned
declaration of Masonic membership.
This declaration, which was to have
been a condition of membership of the
PSNI, was withdrawn by the Chief
Constable, but has been reinstated.
A prolonged and largely successful
battle has been fought for several years, by
UGLE in particular, against attempts to
single out Freemasons as being required
to disclose membership.
Masons are not prepared to accept such
blatant discrimination. Hopefully, the Chief
Constable will see sense on this issue.
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