Quarterly Communication 10 September 2003
Address of the Pro Grand Master, the Marquess of Northampton, to Grand Lodge
Archbishop of Canterbury
You will all recall the unfortunate occasion last November when the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, was reported as having suggested that he had doubts about the compatibility of Freemasonry and Christianity.
The Grand Secretary wrote to him on behalf of Grand Lodge to challenge these reported opinions, along with the assertion that he had refused to promote Freemasons to 'sensitive' posts within the Church in Wales - something which could, if true, have been a breach of a ruling of the European Court of Human Rights.
He also invited the Archbishop to meet some senior Freemasons to discuss his concerns in detail.
The initial response from the Archbishop's office was less than satisfactory, so the Grand Secretary wrote again in January of this year and received a response from the Archbishop himself, which went a long way towards reassuring us that the views which had been reported were not those which he held personally.
Since then we have continued in our desire to welcome him here, so that we can show him around and deal with any concerns he may have in the most open way possible.
Regrettably, the constraints on his time have not yet permitted this, although the Archbishop has invited the Grand Secretary and me to meet him at Lambeth Palace.
I would prefer, however, to welcome him here, and have therefore deferred a meeting until such time as his current pressures make this possible.
Meantime, I believe we can feel content that our prime concerns have been answered adequately, and can now put this unfortunate episode behind us.
Deputy Grand Master
At the last Convocation of Supreme Grand Chapter in May, the President of the Committee of General Purposes gave notice of a motion which he will formally propose at the next Convocation in November, to make a change to Regulation 10 of the General Regulations established by the Supreme Grand Chapter.
This clause currently requires that the Deputy Grand Master, if an Installed First Principal, shall be Second Grand Principal. The
proposition will make this provision optional instead of mandatory, thus enabling the First Grand Principal, should he so wish, to appoint a Second Grand Principal other than the Deputy Grand Master, instead of having both offices held by the same brother.
This change is part of a number of changes to the Royal Arch which have been recommended by a Strategic Working Party which I convened last year to consider ways of strengthening the Royal Arch, and making it more independent, without in any way compromising the strong historic links which have so closely bound it to Grand Lodge since 1813.
In the expectation that the proposition will be carried in Supreme Grand Chapter, the Deputy Grand Master, RW Bro. lain Bryce, who fully supports the idea, has expressed a wish to retire from next March to make room for someone younger.
I am pleased to announce that the MW Grand Master has appointed RW Bro. Peter Lowndes PJGW, Past Grand Director of Ceremonies, to succeed him.
A full tribute to the hard work and dedication of the Deputy Grand Master during his 12 years in that office will be made at the appropriate time.
As I have invited him to preside at Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge in December, being the last he will attend as Deputy Grand Master, this is the only opportunity I will have of recording my personal thanks for the unstinting support he has given me since I was installed as Pro Grand Master.
It was not an easy time for Bro. Bryce when my predecessor Bro. Lord Farnham was taken ill, and for two years he carried out his extra responsibilities with great diligence.
Since my installation he has given me his wholehearted support, and his advice, based on so many years as Deputy Grand Master, has been invaluable.
I shall miss the good relationship we have developed, but I am delighted to tell you that should Grand Chapter approve the change, Bro. Bryce has agreed to continue in office as Second Grand Principal of the Royal Arch. His wise counsel will, therefore, still be available to me, and I am sure he will concentrate on promoting that Order for the benefit of all Companions.
RW Bro Brian Smith has asked to step down as President of the RMBI next April, and the MW Grand Master has been pleased to appoint VW Bro John Moore, PGSwdB, the present Treasurer of the Institution and Chairman of its Board of Trustees, to succeed him. Once again a tribute to Bro. Smith will be given at the appropriate time. He has had a distinguished Masonic career, and his work for this charity has been vitally important as it develops a more business-like ethos to ensure that costs are controlled without in any way lowering the high standards of care for which the charity is renowned.
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