As with previous briefing papers, in this document I have provided several pieces of information from which you can ‘cherry pick’ items of relevance to pass on to any Lodge for which you are a Visiting Officer. Although we are coming to the end of the Masonic year, much of the information will be useful at the start of the new season and I plan to send you another briefing paper in September. I shall also be organising a meeting early in the new season where you will have the opportunity to meet with the Provincial Executive to discuss issues and ask questions.
The office of Lodge Mentor is now a recognised office and the procurement of Mentor jewels is in hand. Paul Waldron should be contacted to obtain jewels. We now have 92 % of Lodges in the Province with a Lodge Mentor and all Mentors have been provided with the Buckinghamshire Member’s Handbook which is to be given to new initiates.
Please ask Lodge Mentors to encourage all new Masons to support the North East Corner Club. Further details are available on the Provincial website.
Correspondence has been sent to all Lodge Secretaries to encourage them to have at least one oration during each season as an appendage to a working degree. Orations range from 10 to 15 minutes long and can be linked together as a substitute for a working meeting.
Please suggest that the Lodge contacts the Provincial Orator, Bryan Harfield, for further information and to arrange an oration session.
The show team are planning to attend more shows than ever and a list of venues and dates are available on the website. The show stand content will be revamped during the year and a section of the marquee will be used to display details of the ihelp project.
Freemasonry in the Community Week
Please remind the Lodge that all events must be registered with one of the above names in order to be included in the list for the Provincial Grand Master’s annual award at the Provincial meeting in October 2012.
Cheque Presentation Evening
The next cheque presentation evening is on Sunday 13th May 2012. The list is now closed for this event but everyone is welcome to come along on the night and support the Provincial Charity Steward. The next presentation evening will be in the autumn.
Please remind the Brethren to support this project and to give a leaflet to a member of a youth group or to any young person they know. The competition closes at the end of May and additional teams are still needed to fill all of the planned heats and make the 2012 event the best ever. Youngsters only have to complete a six hour project between them to enter the competition and they stand a good chance of winning a very significant monetary prize. Again further details are available on the website.
Please check that a Brother has been nominated to sell the ihelp scratch cards at the Lodge meetings and encourage the Brethren to buy them. About £18,000 a year is needed to run the ihelp scheme and provide the prize money and the success of the project depends on the support of all the Brethren.
The objective of the University Scheme is to establish or enhance arrangements and opportunities for undergraduates and other University members to join and enjoy Freemasonry. Grenville Lodge, which meets at the Yeomanry Hall in Buckingham, has now been accepted as a suitable Lodge to initiate and develop students from The University of Buckingham. On 11 April, it became the 52nd Lodge within the Scheme and the first in Buckinghamshire and, at a meeting attended by the Assistant Grand Master and our own Provincial Grand Master, two Nigerian students were Initiated.
Our Provincial Grand Master is keen for other Lodges within the Province to join the Scheme and information and assistance can be obtained from W. Bro. Peter Moody. It is hoped that, in particular, other Buckinghamshire Lodges which are close to Universities will consider joining Grenville Lodge as Scheme members in the near future.
There are a number of workshops and seminars available for members to attend in order to assist them in their roles as Lodge Officers and to further their Masonic knowledge. In particular, sessions will be held during the summer for DCs and ADCs, in both the Craft and Chapter, Secretaries, Assistant Secretaries, Scribes Es, and Charity Stewards. There will also be the normal Summer Lodge of Instruction Installation Ceremony rehearsals, together with the newly vamped North East Corner Clubs. In addition, the very successful Master Elect/Wardens seminars will be held and details of dates and venues can be found on the Provincial website under the “What’s on in Bucks” tab.
Buckinghamshire Provincial Grand Stewards Lodge Demonstration Team
The Demonstration Team present a series of lectures roughly based on the emulation lectures delivered at the Emulation Lodge of Improvement held in London. The team are available to visit Lodges who either have no other arranged work for a meeting or who wish to supplement their agenda with items which might stimulate and interest the Brethren.
The lectures are based around the three Degrees and each Degree is divided into sections. Each section is arranged catechetically, which means it consists of a series of questions and answers. Each demonstration is organised and orchestrated by a ring master who sets the scene and then co-ordinates the performers.
The demonstrations have been performed at various Lodges around Buckinghamshire and one visit took the team to Southgate Masonic Centre in north London. One of the most enjoyable elements of any demonstration is the performance of the “Masonic fire”. This is loosely based on the Emulation Lodge of Improvement fire. Whenever the demonstration team visit a Lodge the performance concludes with a demonstration of the fire and then a request for all the brethren to join in. This usually generates considerable laughter and jollity.
The team have performed over 25 times and receive new requests for a demonstration to take place in the Province two or three times a year. Which part of the lecture is actually performed depends on who is available from the team and the parts that they know and what level the newer Brethren have reached in the host Lodge. Each demonstration can be tailored to the host Lodge requirements regarding duration and/or content. Most demonstrations last for between 30 and 45 minutes with a maximum of an hour. The demonstration team charge no fee and meet their own dining costs but they do ask that a donation is made to the Stewards Lodge charity account.
Two workshops are scheduled to take place at Slough on 23rd June and 21st July and are open to any potential DC’s to attend. These sessions will start at 9.30am and finish around midday.
BMCF & BMBF
Please refer to your last briefing paper regarding details of the BMCF and the BMBF. These are very important funds and the Brethren should be regularly reminded about them. Please also advise Lodges that the BMCF operates a "matched-funding" scheme whereby upon application from a Lodge, the BMCF will match a Lodge donation to a Buckinghamshire charity if it is for either equipment or a special purpose, up to a figure of £1,000.
Please encourage the Brethren to read their copy of Concord and afterwards pass it on to their family and friends to enjoy. If they don’t wish to keep their copy, why not pass it further afield or even leave it in their Doctors or Dentists waiting room or perhaps their local chip shop.
Provincial Web Site. www.buckspgl.org
Significant changes and various improvements have been made to the Provincial web site during the last couple of months. It contains a lot of up to date material and is a very valuable source of information. Please use it yourself to supplement the information you receive in the briefing papers and remind the Brethren that by visiting the site on a regular basis they can learn a lot about our Provincial initiatives as well as what events are talking place in Buckinghamshire.
All the Brethren in our Province have received a ‘Freemasonry Cares’ leaflet, which gives details of the scheme, along with a letter from our Provincial grand Master encouraging them to familiarise themselves with the information and keep the contact details readily available. Please remind the Brethren that the scheme it is not only there to assist current Freemasons, but also wives, partners, dependants, Lodge widows and former Freemasons.
Each of the Charities has historically produced its own information, and Masons and their dependants who may be eligible, have contacted the specific Charity to seek the help they needed. However, about two years ago, the Charities agreed that it would be much easier to raise awareness about their work if they ran a joint campaign. ‘Freemasonry Cares’ helps Freemasons, and their families and other dependants, access the information available to them in an easy and efficient manner, by the use of a central freephone telephone number and a web site packed full of information.
‘Freemasonry Cares’ is therefore designed to increase the awareness of all to the assistance that the Charities can provide, along with a unified message of support if needed. It aims to complement the help available from local and Provincial funds. Under no circumstances does it diminish the important work of the Lodge or Provincial Almoner but should be considered as an additional tool for them to identify and reach potential beneficiaries.
Anyone who thinks they, or someone in their family, may be in need of support is strongly encouraged to talk to the Lodge Almoner and ask for help. They can, of course, contact the Provincial Almoner or one of his area assistants directly and all information received is treated with the strictest confidence. If, however, someone is uncomfortable about discussing their personal affairs with the Lodge or Provincial Almoner then ‘Freemasonry Cares’ offers an alternative route to obtaining advice and assistance. After initial contact is made, a member of the relevant grants team will contact the person making the enquiry to discuss their needs and eligibility in greater detail and advise them how to proceed with the application process. The Provincial Almoner is made aware of any ‘Freemasonry Cares’ application and its progress as he will be ultimately responsible for the distribution of any grants.
Royal Arch Representatives
At the Craft Executive meeting in January, it was agreed that Craft Masonry in Buckinghamshire would follow the lead of many other Provinces and actively promote the introduction of Royal Arch Representatives into our Lodges.
Why should we do this? Well you will no doubt be aware of the Preliminary Declaration in the Book of Constitutions which states “that pure Antient Masonry consists of three degrees and no more, viz., those of the Entered Apprentice, the Fellow Craft, and the Master Mason, including the Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch”
In Buckinghamshire, the Royal Arch to Craft membership stands at only 38%. Basically what this means is that there are some 2000 Craft Mason in Buckinghamshire who are not subscribing members of Royal Arch.
Our Rulers in the Craft and Royal Arch have challenged all Provinces to aim for 50%.
There is a clear directive from our Rulers to become more proactive in our processes to encourage more Craft Masons to take the next step in their Masonic journey and to join the Holy Royal Arch.
To move this matter forward the Provincial Grand Master has sent a letter to all Lodge Secretaries in the Province requesting them to identify a Royal Arch Mason among their membership who would be willing to become, effectively, the conduit between the Craft and Royal Arch and to be nominated the ‘Royal Arch Representative’. Secretaries have been asked to submit their nomination to the Provincial Grand Secretary by 30th April.
With the letter was an outline profile covering the characteristics required of the Representative, to assist the Lodge in selecting the most appropriate Brother for the role.
Once the Representatives have been identified a series of Workshops will be arranged, together with an ongoing support programme, in order to equip our Brethren for this most important role. This role is not a formal Lodge Office, and should not be seen as such, but it is a vital component in enabling Masons to attain the climax of pure Antient Masonry.
Brother Visiting Officer, I trust you will find the above information useful when you advise the Brethren and also when you address them on the second rising or at the festive board.
Thank you for your continued support and assistance and please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any queries.
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