The Royal Arch Section
The Royal Arch Playlet “Revive and Thrive”
By Stanley Haines PGSoj MEZ.
As a former Metropolitan Grand Inspector, you never quite know what to expect next in Freemasonry, and it was at my final end-of-year review in January 2021 that I unknowingly talked myself into becoming a playwright. I had remarked that of the fifty chapters I had looked after, about 20% were very vibrant, but about 10% may well be surrendering their Charters quite soon unless rescued by a posse of joining PZs. You do not need to be an accountant to realise that that left about 70% of the Chapters in the Inspectorate, and perhaps well over half of all Chapters within Met GC, managing but unfortunately not being particularly vibrant.
I commented that we had achieved a great deal on the Craft side to progress masons to exaltation with projects like Talking Heads, RA Representatives, and Awareness; nevertheless there still seemed a large number of Chapters that were unable to tap into these new initiatives as much as they might. Unwittingly I suggested a playlet, similar in format to Talking Heads, directed at such Chapters with guidance on how they might improve their fortunes.
I was volunteered there and then to draft it. After all, stepping down as “a chain”, I needed to fill my time! I was, however, warned that not all such projects get off the ground, and my work may be aborted. Perhaps I could simply prepare a skeleton draft? No, I thought; with ideas whizzing around, let me nail the whole thing down on paper. So, using all my experiences as a VO, SVO and MetGI, the lot was mine!
It was a very enjoyable experience pulling together many threads and covering topics ranging from abandonment procedures, project streamlining and conjoint meetings to inter-visiting, blue tables and a five-year plan. If any of these topics are unfamiliar, do book yourself into a demonstration for the playlet as it shows Companions how they may be able to improve the vibrancy of their Chapter and appeal more to younger potential recruits.
The playlet consists of two Scribes E, one of a successful Chapter and the other of one much less so, who have their convocations in adjoining temples, together with a narrator who interjects at various times through the dialogue with information and advice. It tells the story over three yearly meetings, each a short act, of how the weaker Chapter is helped to gradually recover. The draft script was dispatched to the RA Rulers a short while after my “retirement”. After a little tinkering, we had our first read through and not long after “Draft 3” of what became “Revive and Thrive” was approved. The playlet lasts about half an hour.
It was agreed that the playlet be launched at London First Principals Chapter No 2712 in the same way that “Talking Heads” had first been demonstrated in that Chapter twelve years beforehand. I am very grateful to Simon White, AMetGSupt, who had worked on the readings of the playlet and his team of Metropolitan Grand Stewards, Ian Morrison, Richard Hime and James Dyer, who took roles. My thanks for his continued encouragement and grammatical corrections must also go to Timothy L’Estrange, our DepMetGSupt.
So, as I said at the festive board that followed the convocation, now it is over to all of you, whom I hope will be interested in seeing the playlet. This phase, to follow the rhythm of the title, I term “Drive! Revive and Thrive”, reaching out to the members of all those Chapters that hopefully will benefit from seeing it and, through this, the further benefit that MetGC will also gain. If you are a member of such a Chapter, please request to see it.
Installation at Ceres Chapter No.4179
By First Principal E Comp George Georgiev
On 21st November at Mark Masons’ Hall, I had the joy of being installed as the MEZ of Ceres Chapter No 4179, and if I may, I know I speak on behalf of my right and left hands, namely Excellent Companion Haggai (Matthew Ludlow, 35) and Excellent Companion Joshua (Peter Petrov, 33). What an experience it is to get to the chairs and First Principal in particular. The rush you get from everyone's emotions invested in the ceremony – it's indescribable. Having my father present at my installation made it unforgettable. I would like to think that this excitement, energy and emotion was reflected in our ritual, which in turn was infectious to all present. As young masons, who have now embarked on the journey of becoming principals, I have to say that the confidence and eagerness to get it right is the end product of the support, guidance and constant approbations from the senior members in our chapter.
Like the three great pillars, all gratitude goes to E Comps Roy Pummell, Stuart Ludlow and Dermot Sharkey – our directors and teachers in our journey through masonry. And I hope that our role, in turn, is to become mentors and guides to those following on and taking their steps through the Royal Arch, and I wish them all the joy and excitement that I have experienced. All the principals are looking forward to exalting two brethren at our next two meetings.
Royal Arch Welcome Project Hosted by Royal George Chapter No 3539
E Comp John Peters, Metropolitan Grand Inspector, reports.
On 12th December 2022, Royal George Chapter No 3539 hosted a Royal Arch "Welcome Project" event at Freemasons’ Hall, followed by a most convivial festive board at the DoubleTree Hilton Hotel on Southampton Row.
"The object of The Welcome Project is twofold: to provide all initiates (Craft) and exaltees (RA) with the opportunity to observe a high-quality ceremony, soon after their own, at a specially selected meeting, booked through a dedicated Welcome Project website: and, equally importantly, to facilitate the extension and growth of their circle of masonic friends and contacts at all levels of the organisation across London. Engagement is at the heart of the project's aspirations. Thanks to convocations such as this, the project is gathering pace, and the word is spreading".
In attendance was E Comp John Peters PGSoj Metropolitan Grand Inspector, accompanied by Escorting Officer E Comp Richard Sams MetGStB, E Comp Ed Lines MetGSteward and a retinue of MetGC officers, which included E Comps Stephen Fenton PGSwdB and Derrick Silver PGSwdB both former Assistant Metropolitan Grand Superintendents.
Bro Maxim Hobbins was duly elected and exalted by the Chapter officers who performed the exaltation ceremony quite superbly and, at the same time, demonstrating how the Royal Arch ritual can be broken down successfully and shared amongst various Companions, ensuring that the candidate had an introduction to the Royal Arch that will be a lasting memory.
This ceremony was witnessed by four new exaltees as part of the Welcome Project initiative, and the ceremony conducted by the Chapter officers was received most enthusiastically by all 48 Companions present.
The Companion exaltee commented that the whole evening had been a wonderful experience, a great pleasure and how he was looking forward to developing his understanding of the ceremony by further engagement.
Companion Sam added, "It was a very informative and enjoyable evening. I would be very keen to visit other Chapters in the future, so I look forward to staying in touch. I was made so welcome by all concerned."
Companion AJ enthused, "The communication from the Welcome Project team was excellent throughout, and the welcome received by both the Metropolitan Team and Royal George Chapter was warm and friendly. The meeting itself was excellent and of a high standard, with an excellent recitation of the three lectures, a highlight for all of the new Chapter members. The festive board at the Hilton was also a delightful experience, where it was a great opportunity to meet with new Royal Arch members. Thank you again for this wonderful experience at the beginning of my Royal Arch journey".
Kings Cross Chapter No 1732 75th Anniversary
On Monday, 21st November, at Freemasons’ Hall, Kings Cross Chapter No 1732 celebrated its 75th anniversary in a most memorable fashion.
In attendance were E Comp John Peters PGSoj Metropolitan Grand Inspector, accompanied by Escorting Officer, E Comp Simon Lincoln LGCR MetGStB, Metropolitan Grand Stewards, Ed Lines and Keith Gregory, and several Grand Officers.
Those present witnessed a most interesting presentation of the Chapter's first 75 years given by Scribe E, E Comp Andy Cooper MetGStwd.
The Chapter being officially consecrated on 5th December 1946 took place around the time that Great Britain was recovering from the Second World War and in 1946, following the end of the war, people expected a better life than before the war years, with the great depression having caused poverty and hardship worldwide.
E Comp John Peters PGSoj Metropolitan Grand Inspector presented a 75th Anniversary "Letter of Congratulation" to MEZ E.Comp Stuart Buckley, further conveying good wishes to the Companions of the Chapter for a long, happy and successful future on behalf of the Metropolitan Grand Superintendent, Sir Michael Snyder.
E Comp John recalled the early years of the Chapter, through significant worldwide events up to the present day, congratulating the Companions past and present for the part they have played in passing the Masonic principles and tenets through the Chapter from generation to generation; and wishing them well on the journey towards their centenary anniversary! Those Companions who had the wisdom and enthusiasm to form and consecrate this Chapter back in 1946 must be congratulated, and equally, the Companions who make up the membership today are charged with their legacy to ensure the Chapter reaches the centenary milestone with the same vibrancy that is synonymous with the Chapter in 2022, its 75th Year.
The convocation being ended, the Companions repaired to a local restaurant for a splendid and lively festive board at which all Companions were presented with a suitably engraved shot glass as a memento of the occasion.
One effect of the Covid pandemic and lockdown was that a number of Lodge and Chapter centenaries were delayed. One such Chapter affected was Blackheath Chapter 1320, which reached the milestone on 3rd December 2020. We should therefore have enjoyed the event at the December meeting in 2020. However, it was actually the December 2022 meeting which finally hosted the celebration.
And what a celebration! As some members of Blackheath are also members of Peckham Chapter, the two meetings ran ‘back-to-back’. Members of Peckham and Blackheath attended both meetings, graced by the presence of E. Comp. The Reverend Timothy L’Estrange, PGSN Deputy Metropolitan Grand Superintendent, as Guest of Honour.
The format of the Centenary meeting was as would be expected. A splendid oration was delivered by E Comp Zvi Solomons MetDepGChap. The centenary warrant was duly and formally read and then presented to E Comp Stanley Haines, MEZ of Blackheath. It was with pleasure that the members of Blackheath were then entitled to display their Centenary Jewels.
The short history of Blackheath Chapter was, sadly, unusually short. It was presented in an excellent fashion by E Comp Mike Hammond. Why so short? Well, in the recent history of the Chapter, the then Scribe E suffered a disastrous fire at his home, where historical records of the Chapter were stored. The fire destroyed his home and the Chapter records. Happily, no one was injured. Notwithstanding the brevity, the tone and style of Blackheath were very clearly presented. In addition, backups of Chapter matters will now be held in future in preparation for the bicentenary.
The festive board was held in the Grand Connaught Rooms. Fair to state that the wine was quite plentiful and the meal rather good. But most important was the atmosphere created by all present. Convivial, fraternal and companionable certainly help describe the feeling at the meal.
A very amusing speech from our Guest of Honour E Comp Timothy was enjoyed by all, in fact, everyone was quite surprised at just how well informed he was with respect to railways….!
Of late, in order to catch up after the pandemic, perhaps centenaries have been just a little like busses, with more than one coming at the same time after the long break.
However, it is fair to report that the delayed Blackheath centenary was enjoyed as a landmark event by all attending.
London Welsh Chapter No 2867 Centenary Convocation – “A Double celebration”
On Friday, 4th November, in temple 5 at Freemasons’ Hall, the London Welsh Chapter No 2867 celebrated their centenary in a most memorable fashion.
In attendance were E Comp The Reverend Timothy L’Estrange PGSN Deputy Metropolitan Grand Superintendent, E Comp John Peters PGSoj Metropolitan Grand Inspector, accompanied by E Comps Mick Scotchmer PAGSoj Senior Visiting Officer, Gary Powel LGCR Visiting Officer, escorted by E Comp Rhys Madoc MetDepGDC, and Metropolitan Grand Stewards Andy Cooper and Peter Greenaway.
Those present were privileged to receive a short history of the Chapter from E Comp Claude Evans, who traced the events from the consecration in 1922 up to current times and set it in the context of the Welsh in London.
Representing Metropolitan Grand Chapter, E Comp. Tudor Morgan read the text of the Centenary Charter, which was then presented to the MEZ, E Comp Stacey Harman, by E Comp Timothy, who then invested the MEZ with the Centenary Jewel. The Chapter members were then invited to reveal their own London Welsh Chapter Centenary Jewels, and an informative and lively oration was delivered by E Comp The Reverend John Hughes.
The MEZ then presented E Comp Timothy L’Estrange with a £2,500 cheque as the Chapter’s donation to a Masonic Charity on this special occasion.
This memorable occasion became a double celebration when E Comp L’Estrange then presented honorary member E Comp Gwynne J Thomas, 87, with a 50-year-long service certificate. E Comp Gwynne was exalted into London Welsh Chapter on 6th May 1972. He was MEZ in 1983 and made an Honorary member in 2019. As part of his long service certificate presentation, E Comp Timothy delivered a brief run-through of the private, professional and masonic life of E Comp Thomas, highlighting his contribution to the Royal Arch in general and to London Welsh Chapter in particular. E Comp Timothy noted that, although he is now an honorary member of the Chapter, E Comp Gwynne has continued to pursue his masonry in Spain, where he has lived for many years.
The closing hymn was sung in Welsh, as is the Chapter’s tradition, and 39 companions then enjoyed a sumptuous meal within the vestibule of the GrandT at Freemasons’ Hall.
Companion John Anderson, Principal Sojourner of Carbon Chapter No 2910, installed to the Most Venerable Order of St John of Jerusalem, to the rank of Member.
Companion John Anderson, principal sojourner of Carbon Chapter No 2910, has been a volunteer with St John Ambulance since 2002 and was, in late 2021, installed to the Most Venerable Order of St John of Jerusalem, to the rank of Member.
Companion John said, "I have been a member in several locations across the country and provided aid at major and national emergencies such as the Covid-19 response where, among other things, I provided frontline 999 ambulance support to the NHS and vaccination support.
“During the vaccination period, I was in charge of providing training materials for members of the public to become vaccinators across London and the Home Counties. On one occasion, I had to source a new vaccination training centre at short notice during a lockdown in Westminster. Fortunately, due to masonry, I knew of one location that could work. Working with Mark Masons’ Hall, we secured one of the reception rooms, which provided training for 250 new vaccinators who were deployed across London to vaccinate the public.
“Away from national incidents, I'm on the logistics management team for planning national and major events such as the London Marathon, Notting Hill Carnival, New Year's Eve Celebrations and recently, the funeral arrangements for the late HM Queen Elizabeth II. I also volunteer with St John in Malta with their Rescue Corps, which supports the islands’ Civil Protection Department with Fire and Rescue, Cliff Rescue, lifeboat and water rescue ".
Carbon Chapter was consecrated in April 1902 by members of the coal trade, merchants who assembled from all around the country to buy and sell coal at the coal exchange, which was then situated at Thames Street opposite the Old Billingsgate Market.
Outstanding Contribution Award for volunteering
E Comp Joe Brocking, LGCR and Second Principal of Acanthus Chapter No 2715, was recently honoured as the winner of the Outstanding Contribution Award at the St Catherine’s Hospice Volunteer Awards ceremony. St Catherine’s Hospice provides expert end-of-life care and support to terminally ill people and their families across West Sussex and East Surrey.
Peter Nesbitt, St Catherine’s head of volunteering, said, “Joe is the embodiment of many of the St Catherine’s Hospice values. He’s human, energetic, and connected and has made an unrivalled difference to St Catherine’s during the nine years and five months he’s volunteered with us.
During a nine-month period, Joe volunteered 1,435 hours and walked approximately 7,118km to deliver 76,920 leaflets across Horley, Crawley, Horsham, and other West Sussex areas to raise awareness of our fundraising.
Joe makes an incredible impact across West Sussex and East Surrey. He’s volunteered in many different capacities and roles for St Catherine’s, from putting up and taking down signage for our Sussex landmarks hike to car park marshalling and cheering on runners at running events, including Run Reigate and Run Barns Green, supporting our large-scale dragon boat festival and midnight walk fundraising events, collecting money tins, speaking to the community at bucket collections and delivering leaflets to local homes.
More recently, Joe began volunteering in our Redhill shop as soon as it reopened after the lockdown. Every week Joe volunteers for three full days and one-half day. Redhill shop manager Dawn describes him as “an absolute godsend whose shifts in our shop help to raise vital funds for our hospice. “
Centenary Celebrations of In Arduis Fidelis Chapter No 3432
By E Comp Nick Carey, PAGDC
The In Arduis Fidelis Chapter No 3432 was formed by members of the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) and adopted their motto ‘In Arduis Fidelis’, meaning ‘Faithful In Adversity’. It’s no surprise that many of its members were attracted by the philosophy of Freemasonry: brotherly love, relief and truth. Our centenary celebrations should have taken place in 2020, but with Covid-19 and the various associated lockdowns was postponed until 19th October 2022, when we were able to hold our meeting in temple eight and afterwards, 51 dined in the vestibules at Freemasons’ Hall.
This Chapter holds dear its heritage, being formed from a body of men from the RAMC who lost 6,873 men in the First World War, many killed in action while treating wounded soldiers. It was fitting and a privilege to invite as our guest of honour Assistant Metropolitan Grand Superintendent E Comp Ian Clark, who was accompanied by Metropolitan Grand Inspector E Comp Tony Shepherd, together with a retinue of Metropolitan Grand Officers. All of whom were ably escorted by the Metropolitan Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies, E Comp Ebenezer Abbey, and Metropolitan Grand Stewards E Comps Clive Goodman and Cos Trizis.
The first principal, E Comp Richard Field, a retired major in the RAMC, gave a brief, but detailed, account of the Chapter’s history, which was well received by the assembled companions. E Comp Richard also presented our honoured guest with a painting he had commissioned of the Chapter logo. E Comp Ian thanked the Chapter for this gift and proceeded to give an interesting talk relating to the early beginnings of the RAMC and their recorded endeavours around the 1900s – 1920s. E Comp Ian also presented to the Chapter a ‘Letter of Thanks’ from the Metropolitan Grand Superintendent, Sir Michael Snyder, as well as a personal gift of an original copy of The Times newspaper from 3rd June 2020, our consecration date.
Since this milestone meeting, the In Arduis Fidelis Chapter has welcomed four new joining members and one exaltee, with a further exaltation planned for later this year. We are actively looking to expand the membership to ensure the next 100 years can be a rewarding place for like-minded Companions to support each other and the wider community by being faithful in adversity.
This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 51 December 2022 edition.
Arena Magazine is the official magazine of the London Freemasons – Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London.
Read more articles in the Arena Issue 51 here.