Brethren, a very warm welcome to you all
and I hope that you have had a good summer
break. As we begin a new Masonic season it is
an opportunity to think about our priorities.
A lot of effort has gone into attracting quality
young men to join the Craft and one
initiative which I commend to you is the
Universities Scheme, led by a group of
Masons under the Assistant Grand Master.
The scheme aims to introduce
Freemasonry to undergraduates and anyone
else connected to their universities. The
Assistant Grand Master has visited lodges
in eight of our Provinces already and has
appointed a co-ordinator from his central
group for each of them.
I hope this scheme will introduce thinking
young men into Freemasonry, many of
whom might otherwise not have discovered
it until much later in life, or possibly not
at all. It may also provide an opportunity
for members to introduce their sons and
nephews to the Craft.
I hope also that the initiatives taken by
the Universities Scheme will encourage other
Lodges to take pro-active steps to recruit all
young men of good standing regardless of
their educational background. The recent
agreement by Grand Lodge to reduce the
fees by half for under-25s, coupled with the
proposal by the Grand Charity today to do
likewise for its contributions, should act also
as an encouragement.
I am grateful to all those who are helping
the Assistant Grand Master with this exciting
venture and I am sure those Lodges that
are participating will find it a rewarding
As I have said on a previous occasion
the annual intake of initiates is not our main
problem as long as we continue to introduce
only good men into the Craft. Our biggest
concern should be the large number of
drop-outs who lose interest within a
relatively short period of being raised.
Retention is therefore the key to our
There are two aspects to Freemasonry.
The first is the inner work that is done in
the Lodge room in harmony with the other
members. For this we must concentrate
our efforts on the individual Mason and
encourage him to develop those qualities
which will transform him into a better
person and thereby reflect well on the
ethos of Freemasonry.
The outer work is done by practising
in his everyday life those qualities he has
been taught in his Lodge. Here we must
also include his wife or partner and family
as much as possible and make them feel a
part of the organisation he has joined.
In this way membership of Freemasonry
will become accepted as being relevant
to the society in which we live by both
his family and the popular world. These
different aspects of Freemasonry have to
be enjoyable albeit a certain amount of
commitment and effort is required for both.
Brethren, I have recently convened
a Strategic Working Party under the
chairmanship of the Deputy Grand Master
to consider the role and functions of a
They have recommended that the office
should be split, with the Grand Secretary
having responsibility for matters Masonic
and a Chief Operating Officer, who need
not be a Freemason or indeed male, having
responsibility for the management of
Freemasons’ Hall and its services.
The Strategic Working Party has also
recommended that the Grand Secretary,
while remaining fully responsible for our
Districts and Lodges overseas, will have a
reduced role in the conduct of our external
relations. It is proposed that a new office
of Grand Chancellor should be created to
oversee our relationship with other Grand
Lodges. It is not intended that he should be
a paid employee, but he will have available
to him a Secretariat and he will be a member
of both the Grand Master’s Council and
It is worth mentioning that the concept
is not new and that many Grand Lodges
entrust their external relations to a Grand
Chancellor. This will in effect mean that the
Grand Secretary will be able to concentrate
his energies on Masonic matters for the
benefit of English Freemasonry in England
and Wales and its Provinces and Districts.
These recommendations have the
support of the Grand Master’s Council and
the Board of General Purposes. Notice of
appropriate amendments to the Book of
Constitutions will be given in December for
consideration by Grand Lodge next March.
We will shortly be starting the recruitment
process for the positions of Grand Secretary
and Chief Operating Officer.
Finally Brethren, for a little much needed
light relief there is to be another Royal
Masonic Variety Show in the presence
of the Grand Master on Remembrance
Sunday, 12th November at the Prince
Edward Theatre in Old Compton Street,
starting at 7.30pm. Details can be found on
the website address at www.royal-masonic-variety-show.uk7.net.
The site also gives details of the show’s
producers and directors who have all been
involved over many years in the production
of the annual Royal Variety Show. I hope
as many of you as possible will attend the
event to support the Grand Master and by
doing so raise funds for charity. One half
of the profits will go to the RMBI and the
remainder to other non-Masonic charities.
Web site created by Mark Griffin