On a cold February morning in 1940 I was
born the fourth child of a Regimental
Sergeant-Major stationed at Catterick
camp in Yorkshire. He was also a life-long
Salvationist. He became a Freemason many
years later and had been Chaplain to Eden
Park Lodge No. 123 in Surrey.
On his death-bed he turned to me –
I was dressed in my uniform as a full-time
Salvation Army officer – and said wistfully:
“I always wondered, David, why you never
asked to join my Lodge?”
He then proceeded to recite the working
tools of an Entered Apprentice Freemason:
“The twenty-four inch gauge represents the
twenty-four hours of the day, part to be spent
in prayer to Almighty God, part in labour
and refreshment, and part in serving a friend
or Brother in time of need…”
Was this, in essence, so different from the
Covenant and Dedication that I had signed
and pledged my allegiance to, 17 years earlier,
at the time when I was Commissioned and
ordained to serve God through the ranks of
the Salvation Army?
I spent many days, months – indeed, over
five years thinking and pondering on these
thoughts before a very fine friend asked me
if I had ever thought of becoming a Mason?
I answered – ‘Yes!’ And so, on the first day
of April 1981, I was initiated, as a Lewis, in
company with a second candidate, into
Freemasonry and became a member of the
Lodge of Integrity No. 5149, which meets
‘….Masonry is free, and requires a perfect
freedom of inclination in every Candidate for
its mysteries. It is founded on the purest
principles of piety and virtue…vows of fidelity
are required; but let me assure you that in those
vows there is nothing incompatible with your
civil, moral or religious duties….’
Oh! I have found this to be so very true.
Freemasonry is not a religion – ‘it is a peculiar
system of morality’ but its teachings provide so
much of…‘what’s good to be understood by a
Twenty-six years have now passed and
they have been a most thrilling and rewarding
part of my life. As a Salvationist and a Mason
there has been no conflict with my faith, no
conflict in my daily living, and no conflict in
my dealings with other people.
Both the Salvation Army, a branch of the
Christian Church, and the Fraternity of our
Brotherhood, have parallel ideals – both
require an acknowledgement of God as the
Creator, both require truth in all our
dealings, and both require commitment to
the care and service of others – so there need
be no conflict.
Prior to my present Masonic
appointment as Provincial Grand Chaplain
for Buckinghamshire, I enjoyed the great
honour of being the Provincial Almoner.
The role of Almoner is very special and I
have felt privileged to be able to seek out
those who were experiencing difficult
circumstances, and to be able to bring about
change in quality of life for so many of our
brethren and the dependents, by accessing
our various Masonic Charities.
Those years have truly been a most
fulfilling period, not only of my Masonic
experience, but of my life. This ‘work’ has
been so very compatible with my religious
duties, and the great joy for me has been
that I have always been able to carry out
those Masonic duties as if I was wearing
the Salvation Army uniform ‘S’ insignia
on my collar.
There will inevitably be those who will
say “Ah! But what about the Gospel of
Christ – where does that fit into your belief
as a Salvationist and your Masonic teaching!
Well, I don’t have a problem with that -
but perhaps it could, or maybe should, be for
a future discussion or article!
David M Sawyer is Provincial Grand
Chaplain, Province of Buckinghamshire
David Sawyer – compatability of
being a Salvationist and a Mason
Web site created by Mark Griffin