Promoting the Royal Arch
I do not know if there is objective research to justify Geoff Belson's gloomy assertion (MQ Issue No. 5) that it takes "at least three good Lodges to feed one Chapter".
In Yorkshire, North & East we have 55 Chapters serving 97 Lodges. Many Chapters are well "fed" by a single Lodge and most are thriving.
The average attendance at Installations is 47 and at regular meetings 35. At Redcar Chapter 1244 on 13th May last, the attendance was 83.
Ballots for candidates have been on a rising trend for several years.
Most encouraging is the increase in members re-joining or joining from unattached status, and a reduction in resignations and exclusions.
It has not just happened. It has needed sustained, centrally-directed, hard work. A letter by the Deputy Grand Superintendent, is sent to newly-raised Master Masons, together with a colourful brochure describing the Royal Arch.
A statement on the relationship between Royal Arch and Craft is read at the conclusion of each ceremony of raising.
Some Lodges take a report on the activities of their associated Chapter under "Any other Masonic business".
The Provincial Grand Master has suggested that all should do so in future. Rulers or Representatives of the Grand Superintendent attend each Chapter twice in every year, promoting the message that Royal Arch meetings must be brisk, efficient and enjoyable.
Nor do we ignore families. We hold a Provincial Officers Dinner each year for members and their wives/partners.
An increasing number of Chapters devote one afterproceedings a year to a Ladies Dinner.
The families of newly-created Provincial Officers are invited to 'Meet the Rulers' parties each year.
Social activity of this sort is a major factor in maintaining the interest of members and the support of their families.
It is true that a few of our Chapters are failing. They are the ones which refuse to change their ways, chanting the mantra: "But we have always done it that way in our Chapter" as they die.
But it is only a few.
Geoff Belson's doom-laded (London-based?) words are not applicable here or in many other Provinces.
Donald Davinson, Grand Superintendent, Provincial Grand Chapter, Yorks N & E Ridings
Many Masons have travelled on the MV Victoria cruise ship P&O Line over the years and was sold to a German line last November. I, along with Trevor Clarke of Halsey Hall Lodge No. 4752 in Hertfordshire and our wives were on a cruise last year.
At a Masonic cocktail party hosted by the Captain we enquired as to the fate of the Minute Book and other Masonic memorabilia, and were advised to write to P&O. This we did, and as a result a record of all the meetings and monies raised during her time with P&O were sent to the Library and Museum of Freemasonry in London.
According to Mark Denies, the Library and Museum Curator, Masonic meetings on ships go back to the 1750s on a warship. Perhaps there is a story here for MQ.
Martin Freeborn, Totteridge, London
The Editor writes: This is a good idea and MQ hopes to run a feature on the broad aspect of Masonic meetings aboard ships in a future issue.
The Ring Cycle
In reply to the question of which way up a Masonic ring should be worn on the finger (Letters, MQ Issue No. 5), it should follow the custom of the member's Lodge with regard to the placing of the square and compasses on the VSL.
Emulation Lodges have the position so that the WM can read the VSL and the points of the compass are towards him.
However, in Taylor's working, it is the other way around. I prefer the latter, where the candidate is able to read the VSL, but as an old Taylor's preceptor, I would say that wouldn't I?
Tony Field Edgware, Middlesex
Regarding the letter on 'Chair Tipping' at Festive Boards in your April issue, for years now our Lodge seats the Master, Wardens and IPZ in correct relation to each other; any Candidate on the right of the Master, then Grand Officers on their right.
A record of table plans is kept and at successive Festive Boards diners are seated next to different members with their guests next to them or opposite.
As our numbers at Lodges of Instruction are following the pattern of other London Lodges, that is getting less and less, our Festive Board seating enables all members, regardless of rank, to have a better opportunity to get to know and increase their friendship with all other members.
James Wescombe, Woking
Last year my wife and I were on holiday at Ayia Napa in Cyprus and we met fellow Freemason and his wife and son, Chris, Linda and son Justin. They must think that I have been very rude, but we have lost their telephone number and address.
We are hoping that through MQ he will get in with us. Our name is Jim and Pam Henderson from Plymouth. Our address is: 109 Rigdale Close, Eggbuckland, Plymouth, Devon PL6 5PR.
James W Henderson, Plymouth
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