'Solomon - Fostering Curiosity, Developing Understanding': An address by Stuart Hadler and Anthony Howlett-Bolton

Wednesday, 12 September 2018
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(l to r): Stuart Hadler, Provincial Grand Master of Somerset, and Anthony Howlett-Bolton, Provincial Grand Master of Berkshire
Quarterly Communication

12 September 2018 
An address by RW Bro Stuart Hadler, Provincial Grand Master of Somerset, and RW Bro Anthony Howlett-Bolton, Provincial Grand Master of Berkshire

A programme to promote learning and development

CASH: MW Pro Grand Master and Brethren, on behalf of the Improvement Delivery Group, we would like to spend a few minutes explaining the learning and development programme that has evolved over the last three years and will be introduced in two month’s time.

AHB: So Stuart where has this learning and development intiative come from?

CASH: Three years ago, the Membership Focus Group was formed to consider what needed to be done to promote Freemasonry as a relevant, worthwhile and attractive organisation in the 21st century. It undertook a series of surveys that enabled members to express personal views, experience and expectations. Over 80,000 responses were received.

AHB: What did they discover?

CASH: The majority of responders stated that understanding our symbolism, moral and philosophical issues was essential or at least very important. Significantly, many expressed interest to learn more of our history and traditions. Royal Arch members had the greatest interest. This interest and expectation to learn was evident across all age groups, particularly amongst newer and younger members.

AHB: And what did you find out about their learning experiences?

CASH: Many reported that they had unmet learning expectations and needs, that too little time, guidance and support was offered to extend learning beyond performing the ritual and ceremonial well. The results also very stongly suggested that many members have a general lack of understanding and a relative dearth of accessible resources to refer to.

AHB: So what did the MFG conclude?

CASH: That whilst the performance of ritual is a highly valued tradition of our constitution and social and charitable aspects are of key importance, we were failing many new and current members who seek to improve themselves through greater insight, knowledge and understanding of Freemasonry. Furthermore, that only through a personal ability to communicate and share these values can Freemasonry hope to demonstrate its worth and value in the 21st century. Our Members are a vital communication channel and need help and support to fulfil this.

Now Anthony, you’ve asked the questions so far and I’m sure that many, especially those behind us, are up to speed with much of what I’ve already said. We ought now to turn to the specifics of what we have been preparing and how this will address these findings.

AHB: Absolutely right, ask me anything you like!

CASH: OK. I imagine there will be some here today who will feel that this is a bit over the top. After all, if you are really keen to learn you will find a book or search the net won’t you? Surely, it’s a personal journey?.

AHB: In some respects yes, but the starting point for most of us is to have what we have experienced explained. The opportunity to offer an explanation in the lodge or chapter can be much more effective. This can signpost relevant material and help us along our own personal masonic journey.

CASH: Tell me more.

AHB: Ritual and ceremonies are core to Masonic life. Whilst many members enjoy learning and performing ritual, often key messages and nuances are missed. The opportunity to explore and understand is rarely provided at Lodge or Chapter meetings or is considered a poor alternative to a ceremony.

Many members are curious and have a sincere wish to improve their understanding. They have expectations when they join and these should evolve over time. We have a responsibility to ensure that our members have ready access to the intellectual and practical resources to enhance their Freemasonry, fulfill their interest and help them become more rounded and committed members. There is a genuine concern that a concentration on the performance of ritual, without appreciating what we are doing and why, overlooks the important messages that lie within and is one reason why some members choose to leave.

CASH: So what benefit will a learning and development approach offer the individual member?

AHB: Greater understanding will add to enjoyment and improve ceremonies. Being more knowledgeable will boost confidence to talk in a comfortable and open way about what Freemasonry means personally. When learning becomes a regular Lodge and Chapter activity, membership should be more fulfilling and meaningful. In turn, this should aid attendance, retention and engagement.

CASH: So what is Solomon?

AHB: A good question, although a wide selection of books and online resources are available, it takes effort to identify appropriate pieces to use within the lodge environment. Solomon is a central repository of informative material that will answer some of the questions and point members along the path of daily advancement in masonic knowledge.

CASH: Who can use it?

AHB: It is designed to be used by individual masons, lodges, chapters, Provinces and Districts and to fit comfortably with the needs of all levels of experience and interest. Solomon will be beneficial to everyone. It can be used on multiple platforms such as smartphones, tablets and computers and currently contains over 350 items. It will continue to grow and evolve.

CASH: So does Solomon provide definitive answers?

AHB: No, there is no definitive UGLEview. Solomon is a collection of credible views and interpretations. So, you may find different explanations of a symbol or ceremony. This variation in interpretation should stimulate discussion and debate. Such is the nature of Freemasonry.

CASH: I’m pretty busy. I need to find things quickly and easily. How will Solomon help me?

AHB: Once you have registered and enrolled in one or more modules, you will be able to explore Solomon to your hearts content. It has been designed to foster curiosity and to draw you in to seek answers. There are various ways to search so you can expect to quickly find, read or download as much as you wish. Given smart phone access, Solomon could for instance readily provide an answer to a question at a Class of Instruction.

I would add caution however and Solomon also flags this up. Material is separated into modules for each degree and the Royal Arch. We ask users not to explore prematurely beyond the degrees that they have had already conferred so as not to spoil the revelations of their personal journey; to do so would be a shame.

CASH: The benefits to the individual are clear. But how will Solomon help my Lodge or Chapter?

AHB: The material provided by Solomon complements both the Members Pathway and individual mentoring programmes. Materials include a wide range of “nuggets”, papers for presentation and demonstrations with supporting explanation. Collectively, they provide a selection of interesting and accessible material that, if suitably chosen and well delivered, will complement or replace a ceremony. They will be favourably received, encourage attendance and interest. Ideally, learning activities will become an appreciated and regular feature of lodge and chapter meetings.

CASH: You’ve referred to ‘Nuggets’. Just what are they?

AHB: A Nugget is a five to ten-minute item of interest that will easily fit into a lodge evening; possibly to set the scene for the meeting, or as a short conclusion, or even when the candidate retires. They are flexible and may be delivered by a selected member. They are also very suitable for personal study and a great source of information for lodge quizzes. Nuggets may also lead to a presentation that expands on a topic of interest.

CASH: No doubt some will feel that there is no spare time at a meeting or that this is another imposition?

AHB: We hope that the benefits of making time for learning will readily become apparent and that all Members will increasingly value the time devoted to it. A well organised lodge or chapter will have a programme that reflects the needs and interests of all its members, that they enjoy and which encourages them to attend. Learning may also extend beyond the regular meeting to Class of Instruction or special events for a masonic centre or special interest group. Rather than view this as an imposition, we should view it as an opportunity and an easy way to keep and develop interest and enjoyment.

Now Stuart you’ve been a Provincial Grand Master for longer than me, surely introducing Solomon will have implications for Provinces and Districts too?

CASH: You’re right Anthony, delivering the change agenda for Freemasonry does place additional demand on Provincial rulers and their Teams. Whilst it would be very easy to see Solomon as just another initiative conceived centrally, it is based on expressed member feedback and will, we hope, be favourably received. The reaction of those that have had access to the material already is extremely positive and I am sure that its general use, as outlined today, will lead to a more confident, enthusiastic and informed membership, well equipped to explain and communicate Freemasonry to friends, family, potential members and the public.

AHB: Would you accept that Provinces and Districts may need some help with this?

CASH: Yes absolutely. We have anticipated this and are providing resources to help them to introduce Solomon and develop local learning activities and resources. We wish to be supportive and to work with the appointed lead in each Craft and Royal Arch Province and District.

One of the key areas will be to ensure that material that needs to be presented is delivered in an understandable and engaging way. This takes skill and so we are asking Provinces to identify suitable members to be presenters, develop their skills and promote their use. A critical goal is to move away from the days of the boring lecture. Many Provinces have provided educational activities for some time, so for them this is not a new topic. We are eager to promote and share good examples, these include specialist lodges and working with light blue clubs. We encourage a collaborative approach between the Craft and the Royal Arch.

AHB: Stuart, it may be that you haven’t convinced everyone this morning about the need?

CASH: Well, firstly, lets remember that none of this is prescriptive. We are however responding to the wishes of members and I hope that in these few minutes, we have demonstrated that Solomon has real benefits across the board. It will help to attract, retain and produce well informed and capable members and leaders for the future. Learning and development is closely intertwined with the Members Pathway and in that sense is an essential component of our membership strategy.

AHB: How and when can I access it and find out more?

CASH: There is an introductory article from Sir David Wootton in this month’s Freemasonry Today. All Craft and Royal Arch Provinces have been advised of a special event in late November. This will be an important opportunity for them to be briefed, have advance access to Solomon and to begin to plan their support. Important elements of the launch will be videoed to support the Districts. The December edition of Freemasonry Today will carry a more detailed article and provide each member with an explanatory leaflet. So, from December, everyone will be able to register and enjoy full access to Solomon.

I suggest we conclude with a little about the future?

AHB: Yes indeed. We intend that Solomon will expand in volume, range and diversity of material. We wish to promote Solomon wherever we can, to share best practice and to offer support. There will always be a need to commission and source new and credible material. There is plenty out there waiting to be shared and willing able members eager to write material for us. We will provide guidance for potential contributors later this year.

CASH: MW Pro Grand Master and Brethren, I should like to place on record that the development of Solomon is the result of a huge commitment of time, energy and determination on the part of the Project Team, the Panel of Editors and indeed the authors, provinces and publishers that have provided some first class material for us to work with.

May I leave you all with a concluding thought that there are three clear golden-threads to bring together, the Members Pathway, Mentoring and Learning & Development. Integrating them into a seamless whole will ensure that lodges and chapters are in a strong position to grow and fulfil their obligations to their Members. Solomon is part of the solution. It will foster curiosity, develop understanding and continue to evolve over time.
Brethren all   From: Provincial Office <Office@province.org.uk> Date: 30 November 2018 at 22:59:14 GMT To: Provincial Office <Office@province.org.uk> Subject: FAO Lodge Secretaries - Joint Statement from the Royal Craft and Holy Royal Arch Joint Statement from the Royal Craft and Holy Royal Arch Royal Craft: The Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master has reluctantly accepted the decision of V.W.Bro. H.E. Roy Woodward,PGSwdB to retire from the high office of Deputy Provincial Grand Master, with effect from 31st December 2018. Brother Woodward has served our Province with great distinction as our Deputy for over 5 years and at Executive level for many years before that, and his leadership and wise counsel will be greatly missed. In consequence, the Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master will be pleased to appoint W.Bro. William E. Jenkins,PSGD to succeed Brother Woodward as Deputy Provincial Grand Master. The Deputy Provincial Grand Master Designate will be appointed and invested at the regular meeting of Hendre Lodge No. 3250 in Cardiff Masonic Hall onThursday, 24th January 2019. Holy Royal Arch: Following the Deputy Grand Superintendent’s appointment as Deputy Provincial Grand Master, the Most Excellent Grand Superintendent is pleased to announce that E.Comp. C. Hugh Thomas, OStJ, PGStB, Third Provincial Grand Principal will succeed Companion Jenkins in that high office. E.Comp. Phillip A. Aubrey, PGStB, ProvGSE will succeed Companion Thomas as Third Provincial Grand Principal. The Deputy Grand Superintendent Designate and Third Provincial Grand Principal Designate will be appointed and invested by the Most Excellent Grand Superintendent at the regular meeting of Lord Swansea Chapter No. 8364 in Swansea Masonic Hall on Friday, 8thFebruary 2019. Secretariat: As a result of Companion Aubrey’s appointment to the Royal Arch Executive, the Provincial Grand Master and Granduperintendent have decided to appoint W.Bro. and E.Comp. Ben Gait ProvAGSec/PPrAGSE to the roles of Provincial Grand Secretary and Provincial Grand Scribe E. Brother Gait will be appointed to the former role at Hendre Lodge and to the latter at Lord Sq
R.W.Bro. Gareth Jones, OBE E.Comp. D. Gerald Rowbottom
Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master Most Excellent Grand Superintendent
 
Given at Swansea; Friday, 30thNovember AD2018 AL6018
 
A proud mummy moment Captain Gareth Gonthier and soldiers from the Royal Welsh road their bikes from Maindy Barracks to Storey Arms and then carried bikes to top of Pen y Fan in memory of the 100 anniversary of WW1. And after all that they’re now heading back to Cardiff again under peddle power. Much Respect to our troops.
Brethren, thank you for your attendance here this afternoon. As usual, this meeting is an excellent opportunity for us to consider and discuss administrative and procedural issues which would not be appropriate and for which we would not have time at our Provincial Grand Lodge meeting in June. May I start by thanking my Deputy and Assistants, the Provincial team and all South Wales lodges for another successful and enjoyable year. We have celebrated our tercentenary in fine style; made excellent progress on our membership drive; launched our Provincial learning and development tool, PROGRESS; and of course successfully managed significant changes to both the Royal Arch and Craft Provinces. The 2021 Committee continues to work hard on what I know will be a successful Festival and I am grateful to them, lodge Charity Stewards and all brethren for the first class progress we are making towards our testing target of £5 million. More on that at Provincial Grand Lodge in a few weeks time. Can I remind all lodges that we have 2 events coming up in the near future. The annual church service will be held at Margam Abbey on Saturday, 19 May and I would like to see as many Grand and Provincial officers as possible there, together with a representative from every lodge in the Province. This is a lovely opportunity for us to worship together as a Province with our wives, partners, families and friends and I have to say that I am disappointed that, so far, over 100 lodges have not even had the courtesy to respond to the very clear letter they have received asking who their representative will be. We have 2 weeks left brethren, so I hope that we will hear from them before then and that W Bro Rev Edward’s church will be full on this once in a year occasion. Secondly, our Provincial Grand Lodge meeting will be in Barry Memorial Hall on Monday, 25 June. Let’s make a real effort this year to fill the hall and celebrate together all those being honoured with appointments or promotions. I have been concerned for some years that there are some lodges which seem reluctant to support it. On to a few procedural issues brethren, which I should be grateful if you would take back to your lodges for consideration and implementation as appropriate. For several years now I have been asking lodges to start their installation meetings later so that working men can attend and so that I can continue to appoint younger Provincial officers without their feeling they have to take time off work or, worse, refuse appointments because of the unreasonable time commitment involved. I see no reason why installation meetings need to start before 5.30 pm, provided lodges adhere to the guidance they have received on efficient ceremonies, undertake good quality ritual and cut down on unnecessary intervals between the ceremony and festive board. Unfortunately my exhortations seem to have fallen on some stony ground so, in order to ensure that Provincial teams attending installations do not feel unduly pressured into early starts, I am instructing them to plan to arrive at Installation meetings no earlier than 5.30. If lodges insist on starting earlier than that, they should be aware that those invited to represent me at the meeting will not be arriving until then. This is not an excuse to allow proceedings drag on at the end of the evening. Provided things are pushed along at a reasonable pace without unnecessary periods of inactivity, a 9.30 or 10 pm conclusion should be easily achievable. I have long thought it rather odd that we ask new brethren, Fellow Crafts and Entered Apprentices, to re-enter the lodge after an installed board at the front of the relevant procession. These inexperienced brethren are then expected to perambulate in the proper way, giving the appropriate sign, with no-one to follow or emulate. I should be grateful if lodges would, in future, place Entered Apprentices or Fellow Crafts in second or third place in incoming processions. That should make for a more comfortable experience for them and add to the dignity of the processions. Thirdly brethren, I have been encouraged by the increases in membership we have seen in the Holy Royal Arch. It is very noticeable that Provinces across England and Wales are more successful where a good quality Royal Arch representative system is in place. We introduced a more robust Royal Arch reps system in South Wales last year, with lapel pins presented to the representatives at installations. I have to say that there are still too many lodges where that does not happen; neither is the Royal Arch rep being given the opportunity to speak for a few minutes at a couple of lodge meetings every year. Brethren, if the Royal Arch rep is not well known to the brethren, is not given the chance to speak and doesn’t have his details outlined on every summons, our brethren will not be properly encouraged to take the fourth important step in Pure and Ancient Freemasonry. This system is an absolutely crucial follow-up to our introducing a candidate to the Royal Arch before he joins the Craft and, most certainly, as he progresses through his interview before joining. As I have made clear before, I see the Royal Arch as a necessary step for all brethren. I will continue to take committed membership of the Royal Arch into account when considering Provincial appointments and promotions in the Craft. You will all know I hope of the great strides we are making towards the digitisation of our Yearbook. Like us, many Provinces are making progress towards producing online (and therefore more accurate and up to date) versions of Yearbooks and we are fully committed to doing so here in South Wales. An online version of the yearbook, currently trialled on our website to a limited number of Brethren, is perhaps resulting in fewer brethren wishing to receive the traditional booklet; most certainly we are seeing too many piles of unwanted Yearbooks in some of our Masonic centres. Indeed, many Brethren question why we still produce the hard copy in this digital age. As a result, and to help in a small way to saving the environment, W Bro Roger Richmond will be contacting all Lodge secretaries this year to ascertain how many physical books are required for 2018-19. We still have to produce both online and physical versions so the cost will remain at the equivalent of £2.50 per member for the time being. Full access to the online book will be made available to all before publication of the hard copy this year. Please take the time to view or download it. I hope that nearly six thousand proof readers will result in as near perfect a hard copy as is possible! In light of experience this year, I hope we will be able to make still further reductions in numbers of physical books next year. If we find that take up is relatively small, I also hope to be able to announce cost reductions from next year on. And if it makes sense for us to do so, we will also consider integrating the Yearbook cost into annual Provincial dues from 2019 onwards. I hope you can see brethren that this will result in many benefits: fewer wasted paper booklets; a better and more accessible online version which is bang up to date; and eventually overall reduced cost for all members. Finally brethren, 2 very important issues coming your way where failure to keep up with legal requirements could result in substantial, occasionally unlimited, fines, as well as significant reputational damage for the lodge, Province and the Craft. These relate to Transgender and Data Protection issues. You will be receiving guidance soon, but my clear message to you is that, if you face either of these issues in your lodge, take immediate advice from the Provincial office and our Provincial Grand Registrar. There is great scope here for us to get things badly wrong brethren so support will be provided to any lodge which finds itself grappling with these difficult subjects. Brethren, that’s all from me today. I look forward to seeing you all at our Provincial events and lodge meetings over the next few months. Continue to enjoy your Masonry and together let us continue to take our wonderful fraternity forward for many years to come.
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  Congratulations to W.Bro.Arran Mordecai on his appointment to P.Pr.A.G.D.C in PGL of South Wales and also many congratulations to W.Br.G.Stuart Kerr on his promotion in PGL South Wales to P.Pr.J.G.W.   On behalf of the Brethren of the Breaksea Lodge 8358 we congratulate both Worshipful brethren, a great honour for our Lodge and Freemasonry in general. We look forward to seeing them receive their honours at the Provincial Grand Lodge meeting this year.

Freemasons call for end to 'discrimination' of members

  • 8 February 2018

The Freemasons have placed full-page advertisements in several national newspapers calling for an end to the "discrimination" against their members.

The United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) said it welcomes individuals from all walks of life but that members are "undeservedly stigmatised". It said it had written to the Equality and Human Rights Commission. Recent news stories questioned the influence of Freemasons in policing and in parliament. In an advert in the Times, the Daily Telegraph and the Guardian, the governing body of Freemasonry complains of the "gross misrepresentation" of its members. Under the headline "Enough is enough", chief executive Dr David Staples said the organisation raised more than £33m for good causes last year. He said people of any race, faith, age, class or political persuasion were welcome in the 300-year-old organisation. The United Grand Lodge of England is restricted to men, although separate women-only lodges also exist.
Image copyrightUNITED GRAND LODGE OF ENGLAND
Image captionThere are about six million Freemasons worldwide and more than 200,000 in the UK under the United Grand Lodge of England
  • There are about 200,000 male Freemasons and 4,700 female Freemasons in the UK
  • Freemasons meet in a temple, which they call a "lodge", as it is understood that is where ancient stonemasons met when working on a church or cathedral
  • Lodges are grouped by region, roughly in line with the old county boundaries
  • Freemasons wear masonic aprons, dating back to the theory that freemasonry evolved from the stonemasons, who wore them for protection from stone chipping
  • The "third degree" is the final stage before becoming a fully fledged Mason. The ceremony involves close questioning, which is where the expression "giving someone the third degree" originates
  • Famous Freemasons have included Sir Winston Churchill, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Rudyard Kipling, Robert Burns, Oscar Wilde and Peter Sellers

There are about 200,000 Freemasons in England and Wales, who meet in more than 7,000 lodges. In the last week, the Guardian reported that two Freemasons' lodges are operating at Westminster - which it said were for MPs and political journalists. But Dr Staples said that, although the lodges existed, none of their members were MPs or political journalists. The revelation followed claims that members of the Freemasons were blocking reform in policing. The outgoing chairman of the Police Federation, Steve White, told the Guardian the society was thwarting progress of women and those from black and ethnic backgrounds. Dr Staples rejected those claims as "laughable". He told BBC Breakfast: "We're not a secretive society. Nepotism (and) corruption is not tolerated." He added that the handshake used by members during ceremonies is "not secret" but, when he was asked to demonstrate it to viewers of BBC Breakfast, he declined, saying he had "promised" not to.
Presentational grey line

Tuesday, October 31st 2017 Grand Temple Freemasons’ Hall

As there are limited places at the Royal Albert Hall and even fewer seats at the dinner afterwards at Battersea Evolution there will be a streaming of the event in the Grand Temple at Freemasons’ Hall, which will be followed by a dinner afterwards in the Grand Connaught Rooms. The screening will be on a giant screen constructed on the dais in front of the Grand Organ and easily visible to all present. Entrance to this event is just £10, which will include a free 72 page A4 Tercentenary commemorative brochure (usual price £10). The screening and the optional dinner afterwards in the Grand Connaught Rooms will be attended by the wives and partners of the Grand Masters of recognised Grand Lodges from around the world as well as other distinguished brethren from other constitutions. The dinner will be hosted by RWBro the Rt Hon the Earl Cadogan, PDepGM, and RWBro Simon Duckworth OBE DL PJGW, Deputy Metropolitan Grand Master. The dinner will commence with a champagne reception followed by a four course dinner including carefully selected red and white wines and cost £80.00 per head. 16.30 Screening of the Albert Hall meeting of Grand Lodge 18.15 Champagne Reception in the Grand Connaught Rooms 18.45 Four course dinner in the Grand Connaught Rooms 21.00 Carriages

THE BOARD OF GENERAL PURPOSES IS PROUD TO ANNOUNCE THAT THE MAIN LONDON EVENT CELEBRATING 300 YEARS OF THE UNITED GRAND LODGE OF ENGLAND WILL BE HELD AT THE ROYAL ALBERT HALL IN SOUTH KENSINGTON ON 31 OCTOBER 2017

The gala event will be the culmination of the many varied events taking place throughout the Provinces and Districts during that year. The Royal Albert Hall will accommodate up to 5,000 masons and their partners, with 2,500 invited to attend a dinner afterwards at Battersea Park. With places limited, it is currently planned for the whole event to be streamed. .  

Brethren !!
Once again, we would like to say a big thank you to everyone who took part in the MCF Community Awards by voting and encouraging their friends and families to vote
THE SOUTH WALES RESULTS ARE IN! Once again, we would like to say a big thank you to everyone who took part in the MCF Community Awards by voting and encouraging their friends and families to vote. The Eight charities nominated in South Wales received a fantastic amount of support from their local communities and we are pleased to announce the following results: NSPCC WALES Congratulations to the  National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children Wales  who received the most votes in South Wales and have secured a grant of £25,000! TOUCH TRUST Touch Trust has been awarded a grant of £15,000 ALZHEIMERS SOCIETY SOUTH WALES Alzheimers Society South Wales has been awarded a grant of £15,000 AGE CONNECTS CARDIFF AND THE VALE Age Connects Cardiff and the Vale has been awarded a grant of £6,000 THRIVE CARDIFF Thrive Cardiff has been awarded a grant of £6,000   PROSTATE CYMRU Prostate Cymru has been awarded a grant of £4,000   SOUTH EAST WALES DOWNS SYNDROME SUPPORT GROUP South East Wales Downs Syndrome Support Group has been awarded a grant of £4,000 THE PRINCES TRUST The Princes Trust has been awarded a grant of £4,000  
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