In December VW Bro Victor W Keene, PDepPGM was installed as the new WM of the Stanley Lates Lodge 9683. He delivered an inspiring address to those who attended which is shared below:
Installation address - 2 Dec 2017.
Following the trauma of the closure of Stirling Road, Freemasonry in Warwickshire is settling down. It is sad that we have lost some lodges and units of the additional degrees but the closure of our headquarters only accelerated a process which had already begun.
I was privileged to attend the presentation of RW Bro Michael Price’s 50 year certificate at the Lodge of Hope and St Alphege the other evening. A very memorable occasion, not only for the presentation, which was made very kindly and generously by our Provincial Grand Master, but also for the very impressive dedication of their new banner. In this lodge we can see how the merger of two lodges can be happily and successfully accomplished.
It appears that many Lodges are flourishing and have attracted new and younger members, often through web sites and social media. A new University Lodge, Collegiate Lodge, has been formed in Coventry and new members have already been introduced. Retention of new members will improve as Lodge Mentors learn how to encourage junior brethren and, as experienced masons, we must give Mentors every assistance.
Let me share some more good news with you. You will know that happy relations have been restored with Coventry Cathedral. The Bishop at the time of its consecration in 1962 was Cuthbert Bardsley, PGChap, the Provost was H C N Williams, PAGChap and the Provincial Grand Master was Michael Clark, Rector of Westonbirt. In those days we were welcome in the Cathedral. In 1962 there was a service dedicating the gift of a window from the Freemasons of Warwickshire and I remember attending a Provincial Service there in 1969. (There was also a service in the Methodist Central Hall but that’s another story).
In following years the regime at the Cathedral changed and the relationship deteriorated to the extent that Grand Charity donations were twice refused but then subsequently accepted after some discussions. The gift of the window was forgotten. A conversation with the Dean last year led to a meeting with his team at which the Provincial Grand Master very eloquently put the case for Freemasonry.
This was followed with a letter of thanks from the Dean for the meeting in which he expressed his understanding of Masonry as a community of high principled men dedicated to work for the common good. He was happy to be reassured of the ethical and moral basis of Masonic life and understood that members were encouraged to follow their own religious faith.
Since that meeting there have been two services of Evensong in the Cathedral, one commemorate the gift of the window and one to celebrate 300 years of Grand Lodge.
This has been a remarkable 300th Anniversary year. There have been celebrations and services throughout the country and the Sky TV series shown earlier this year. In Warwickshire a huge effort by the Provincial team has resulted in so many Provincial and individual Lodge events. The great highlight was, of course, the Provincial Meeting which took place at Grand Lodge. This brought immense pleasure to the Brethren and their guests. Mfest was an amazing inter-province weekend and hugely successful.
We were twice able to process through the streets, firstly of Warwick for the annual Provincial Service at St Mary’s and then again in Stratford to dedicate the bronze desk and chair donated by Freemasons to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. There was also a Provincial Service at the Birmingham Synagogue. We are greatly indebted to our Provincial Grand Master and his team for their vision, leadership and sheer hard work.
At our next meeting I hope to have our recently retired Grand Secretary to address us and share his experiences and insights over the past few years.
I close with a verse from a Charles Wesley hymn which describes one of the important aims of Freemasonry and which has been one of the guiding principles of my life:
He bids us build each other up; and gathered in to one,
To our high calling’s glorious hope we hand in hand go on.
Thank you for your attention, have a Happy Christmas and I hope we all enjoy the coming year.