ISSUE 14, July 2005

The King and the Craft
Quarterly Communication: Speech of the Grand Master and Speech of the Pro Grand Master and Report of the Board of General Purposes Supreme Grand Chapter: Speech of the Pro First Grand Principle and Report of the Committee of General Purposes Grand Lodge dues: Message from the President of the Board of General Purposes
    Masonic Housing: Major changes Finance: Choosing an investment manager Travel: Tantalising Tunisia Goose and Gridiron: Historic Masonic unveiling Extravaganza: Hollywood comes to Grand Lodge Masonic Events: Day of Fun and Medical, University and Legal Lodges' Festival Education: Sheffield Masonic Library and Forthcoming events and The Entered Apprentice Specialist Lodges: Revving up to success and where eagles dare International: The horror of Phuket and Grand Charity team visit disaster area Library and Museum: Fraternal societies Masonic Charities: NMSF and RMBI and RMTGB and Grand Charity
Obituaries, Letters, Book reviews, Gardening

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Welsh Assembly backs down

After four years of often angry deliberation, the Welsh Assembly has finally decided to drop its Standing Order to single out Freemasons, who are elected members, as having to declare membership, with criminal sanctions if they failed to do so.
    The Assembly Members (AMs) only did so, however, after warnings that failure to change the Standing Order could result in being prosecuted in court under human rights legislation.
    Cardiff’s Western Mail described the events on the day of the vote as “especially bizarre”. The newspaper added: “Over the past three years, however, this stipulation [singling out Freemasons] has been increasingly regarded as arbitrary, unenforceable, and rather odd.”
    However, the final outcome was unsatisfactory as the AMs decided to change the Standing Order to insist on declaration of membership of any organisation which had a “closed membership”.
    From the start, the official position of Grand Lodge has been that there is no problem in Freemasons declaring their membership of the Craft, provided Freemasonry is not the sole organisation which has to make such a declaration. So, four years ago, the whole matter could have been amicably resolved.
    Kirsty Williams, a Liberal Democrat AM, and chairman of the standards committee, referring to possible court action, told the Assembly: “It would do little for the Assembly’s reputation either as a legislative body or one that prides itself as upholding human rights legislation.”
    There had been an earlier move – in 2002 – to change the rules, but this had failed to produce the necessary two-thirds majority. The Province of South Wales, Eastern Division, has been in the thick of the battle since the beginning. On its website, the province commented: “Some [Assembly] members displayed what can only be described as breathtaking ignorance of, and antipathy towards, Freemasonry.
    “Such ignorance really cannot be excused because for over four years we have repeatedly offered each AM the facility of having their questions answered – and/or to visit a Masonic premises. The antipathy could therefore be said to be fuelled by wilful ignorance.”
    In addition, John Hamill, director of communications at Grand Lodge, appeared before the standards committee to put the case against the Standing Order.
    At least there has been a solution of sorts, but it has been achieved only by the threat of court action, and has been a disappointing episode which has done little for the reputation of the Welsh Assembly.

Tsunami appeal

As we show on page 54, a Grand Charity team has visited the stricken tsunami disaster area following the massive support given by the Craft to help rebuild the lives and hopes of the people in the area.
    The Grand Charity has led the way in providing the support on behalf of the Craft, and the task faced by all charities working in the area is formidable, to say the least.
    But it has shown the Craft at its very best, and has again underlined the immense amount of community work in which the main Masonic charities are involved. The work of the Grand Charity and individual Masons, Lodges and Provinces over the tsunami is something of which every member of the Craft can be proud.

Helping new Masons

The Grand Master, HRH the Duke of Kent, made clear (see page 13) the role he sees for Grand Officers in their Lodges. They must, in particular, be mentors to new Masons, setting an example by encouraging those who have just come in to the Craft.
    Apart from this mentoring, the Grand Master also wants to see more Masons taking part in the rituals – not leaving it to the same old reliable faces. To keep the interest of all members, it is essential that more brethren play a more active role in the ceremonies.
    The Grand Master also had other advice for Lodges – the principal officers should, ideally, stay in office no longer than between five and eight years. Again, by moving on they open up the Lodge to the keen Masons who might otherwise he held back.

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