Today it has been my pleasure to invest Bro
Nigel Brown as Grand Secretary. The new
role of Grand Secretary means that he can
concentrate on our Provinces and Districts
and I look forward to visiting many of them
with him in the forthcoming months.
Although the number of Grand Lodge
Certificates issued in 2006 showed a drop
of nearly ten per cent over the previous year,
this is an exciting time for Freemasonry.
I believe we are at a turning point.
This is a turning point for the better.
With this in mind we should all be renewing
our efforts to find men of quality to join
us. To do so we need to be able to openly
voice the objectives and merits of our
Freemasonry. And we need to do this
from the very beginning. By beginning,
I mean from the moment we first interview
a potential candidate. I am looking at
initiatives to help this process.
It has always seemed strange to me that –
for example – we ask the candidate those
three very important questions after the
ceremony has begun. He is in a state of
darkness – has little understanding of the
criteria for membership, and even less
chance of giving a reasoned answer.
So what we need to do is to give clear
guidelines for these interviews. We must tell
the candidate what he can expect from us –
and what we will expect from him. I am on
record as saying that in this age of openness
we should be able to discuss the purpose
of our rituals with a candidate before he
decides whether to join.
To put it another way – no thinking man
is going to join and then stay committed to
an organisation that cannot talk about itself
openly and with clarity. So we have to be
clear in our own minds what the purpose of
Freemasonry is and what our ritual means.
When we are clear – we need to become
good at marketing ourselves. Then, in the
interview we can explain our Freemasonry
in a way that fits the 21st century and why it
will be relevant to the candidate. That will
allow us a better chance of competing for his
leisure time, his finances and his intellectual
I am sure, like me, many of you must feel
frustrated when you open your newspapers
and read how leaders in our society have
been emphasising recently the importance
of morality and tolerance. Yet as Freemasons
we practise both those virtues and have been
doing so for a very long time.
We do not shout about it from the
rooftops, but quietly practise in our
everyday lives those lessons we are taught
in our Lodges. I spoke at Quarterly
Communication in December 2005 about
the need to explain ourselves through the
virtues of tolerance and trust, but there are
other ways in which Freemasonry helps us.
Anyone who has seen a timid brother
climb through the offices and pass through
the Chair of his Lodge with new-found
confidence can see first-hand how Masonry
instils leadership qualities in its candidates.
It also provides a welcome social outlet for
the lonely and bereaved.
How many times have we heard a brother
praising the support he received from his
Lodge when he lost a loved one, discovered
he had a life-threatening illness or just felt
lonely and needed someone to talk to? These
are some of the things we can explain to our
candidates and the popular world to show
the benefits we get from our Freemasonry.
Following my remarks at the last
Quarterly Communication about the
success of the Centre for Research into
Freemasonry at the University of Sheffield,
I learnt soon after that Professor Andrew
Prescott would be leaving his post there.
I am pleased to say I have received a
positive letter from the Vice Chancellor
pledging the University’s strong commitment
to the continuation and development of the
Centre. He goes on to say that ‘they will
shortly be advertising for a successor and will
provide the necessary funding to ensure that
this is a sufficiently long-term appointment to
attract a strong field of candidates’.
We owe a debt of gratitude to Professor
Prescott for all the efforts he has made to
get Freemasonry recognised as a serious and
worthwhile subject for academic research.
Since our last meeting the Grand Master
has attended the 75th anniversary of our
District of Ghana. Last weekend I visited
the Grand Lodge of Spain to celebrate the
25th anniversary of the re-establishment
of regular Freemasonry in that country.
In May I shall be going to Edinburgh
to represent the United Grand Lodge of
England alongside the Grand Masters of
Ireland and Scotland at the International
Conference on the History of Freemasonry,
which is being hosted by the Grand Lodge
It will be a remarkable gathering of
academic lecturers drawn from all over
the world and details can be found on their
website, which will be published in MQ
for anyone who is interested, at
Brethren, on another subject, you should
know that at the Annual Investiture the
Grand Master is minded to make a positive
statement about our relationship with the
other long-established and well-known
Orders of Masonry to which many Craft
members belong. I believe this will be
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