ISSUE 12, January 2005

Kitchener of Khartoum: Mason extraordinary
Travel: Where east meets west
Veteran Honoured: Old soldier remembered
Royal Masonic Family: The Six Masonic Sons of George III, Part 1
Supreme Grand Chapter: Speech of the Pro First Grand Principal and, Report of the Committee of General Purposes
  Quarterly Communication: Address of the Pro Grand Master and, Report of the Board of General Purposes
Metropolitan Grand Lodge of London: London's first consecration
Soccer: Man in the Middle
Wales: Joseph Parry - flawed genius?
Library & Museum: Donations gather pace
Education: Dates for your diary and, Planning a 'white table' and, Looking to the future and, Time marches on
Grand Charity: General meeting and non-Masonic grant list
Masonic Charities: Reports from the four main charities
Letters, Book reviews, Gardening

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Planning a `white table'

The objective of a `white table' is to stimulate an interest in Freemasonry from wives, family and friends and to dispel fears and misconceptions that prevent suitable candidates from seeking membership of the Order.
     Planning arrangements are crucial, and a satisfactory outcome depends on the quality and quantity of initial research and planning. Responsibility for planning should not be left to one individual ­ it is a matter of teamwork.
     Past Masters and officers should be well experienced to contribute to creative ideas, carry out research, e.g., history of the Lodge etc, and meetings should take place with the planning team to establish a sensible and practical format.

An agenda might be:
-- Open the Lodge
-- Read the minutes of the last regular meeting
-- Deal with any important items of business
-- Close the Lodge

     Members remain in their places in regalia and the Director of Ceremonies invites ladies and invited guests ­ Masonic and non- Masonic may attend ­ to enter and are seated. It is most important to maintain a friendly and relaxed atmosphere ­ a Lodge room may be unusual and solemn to the guests. The Master gives a brief address of welcome and explains the purpose of the meeting. He also introduces his officers with a brief explanation about who they are and their duties.
     It is most important that the meeting is not advertised as a recruitment campaign. A very brief history of Freemasonry can be given, perhaps a short resumé of the history of the Lodge, and an explanation of the layout of the Lodge room.
     This is an opportunity for a member to pass around the Lodge to describe the furniture, the Warrant etc., and a description of the Lodge Banner and its history may be of interest.
     Regalia worn by the principal officers and those depicting the Three Degrees, followed by those of Provincial Grand Lodge and Grand Rank is explained.
     As reference is made to each item of regalia, a brother wearing the apparel rises to his feet to display his apron, collar and jewels where appropriate.
     As a finale, a carefully abbreviated version of the Charge to the Initiate can be read from the Junior Warden's pedestal or from a suitable lectern.
     It is considered better to read the passages rather than to deliver a piece of Masonic ritual from memory, which is not appropriate for the occasion.
     The Charge to the Initiate is by far the most powerful piece of public relations material that could be written or spoken in support of the aims and objectives of Freemasonry, and an edited version is therefore suitable for this meeting. There then should follow a question and answer session. Visitors at this stage may be deep in thought about what they have just witnessed, or somewhat overawed by the proceedings and atmosphere, and this may stifle a flow of suitable questions.
     It would therefore be appropriate to select a few suitable questions, and `plant them' by prior arrangement in the audience. This enables the Lodge to prepare well- considered answers in advance to important and difficult questions.
     A last question about charity provides a wonderful opportunity for the Lodge Almoner or Charity Steward to explain the work of the four main Masonic charities and refer to the Non-Masonic grants given each year. The meeting concludes with remarks from the Master.
     The Lodge being closed, there is no reason why the Brethren should not procession out whilst the Closing Ode is sung, thus bringing the proceedings to a neat conclusion.
     Guests are requested to remain in their places until after the procession has left, and then invited by the Lodge Director of Ceremonies to join the brethren for pre-dinner drinks.
     A copy of the Lodge Summons, together with other relevant or interesting material can be given to each guest as they retire from the Lodge room or at the end of the evening. The festive board can follow the traditions of an informal Ladies Night.
     The quality of performance of the Lodge team will depend on the preparation, editing and timing of the material to be used. The whole programme should not exceed about one and quarter hours.
     Several rehearsals are essential to ensure a polished performance, to say nothing of the pleasure of doing something out of the ordinary as a great team effort.

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