Grand Court 2014 - Leicester

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The Annual Assembly of the Grand Court was held at Leicester on 24 & 25 October 2014, and attracted the highest number of brethren to date. 160 sat down to dine after the proceedings on the Saturday, with dinner after the meeting of the Appendant Order of the Scarlet Mantle the previous evening attended by 70 brethren. We congratulate those promoted or appointed at this most memorable occasion. Below is reproduced the text of the address of the MW Grand Master to the Grand Court, with a few "hot off the press" images. Hover your mouse over an image to view an enlarged version. More images from the day and also the meeting of the Appendant Order of the Scarlet Mantle on 24 October are available in the members picture gallery after logging in. We thank Bro Mel Herbert KSM for all these images.

 

Address to Grand Court – Saturday 25th October 2014 by the Grand Master Most Worshipful Brother Paul Weldon Johnston, PGCh GCSM

 

GrandCourt2014-119thumbMay I extend a warm welcome to everyone and it is delightful to see so many in attendance here today. To those attending for the first time I sincerely hope that you have enjoyed your day so far and that you will enter this event into your busy diaries for many years to come.


I would like to congratulate all those brethren who have received their well-deserved Grand ranks today and to those who have retired from active office may I thank you for your service and dedication.


As you heard earlier, Right Worshipful Brother Frank Jefferies has retired as the Assistant Grand Master for Australia. There are no suitable words to do justice to Frank's contribution to our Order. He is a remarkable man and mason and I wish him a happy retirement knowing that he will continue to offer support and wisdom to his successor.


Right Worshipful Brother Ghanshyam Patel retires as Assistant Grand Master for India after 3 years of sterling service to the Order and I also wish him a happy retirement.


Very Worshipful Brother Glyn Goddard has stood down as Grand Marshal and his work is everywhere to be seen; from our new salutations to our ritual enhancements; a wonderful contribution and I thank him for all his hard work.


GrandCourt2014-56thumbBrethren it would be wrong of me not to make special mention of our past Senior Grand Warden, Right Worshipful Brother Benjamin Addy; who until recently held the high office of Pro Grand Master of the Mark but has always found the time to offer our Order and myself such valuable guidance and advice.


Likewise to our retiring Junior Grand Warden, Right Worshipful Brother George Creamer who as Grand Marshal supported the Order tremendously and this dedication has continued for the last 3 years. Right Worshipful Brother George has now taken up the role of Marshal within the Scarlet Mantle.

 

We have brethren who have travelled from the United States of America, Australia, Canada, India, Italy and Spain to be here today. This is with a considerable personal commitment by them of time and of finance. Thank you for making this effort and thank you for your continued support.


Surely this is a great measure of the continuing success of our Order outside of England and Wales.


Overseas expansion is something that continually crosses my desk and I have taken a very hard stance stating that the introduction of our unique Order into other world Masonic jurisdictions should be handled with care, caution and due diligence. The Craft and particularly the Royal Arch Chapter rarely exist in other parts of the world in the forms that our brethren in England and Wales are familiar with.


GrandCourt2014-27thumbThis is not a negative; it is a positive as it is a demonstration of Masonry universal. However, it sets a unique challenge to our Order and if handled incorrectly and outside of the accepted respect and protocol; which is also universal in our Grand and Noble Institution; unique and unwanted problems will arise.


Our expansion into Spain in 2012 regrettably was ill advised and the concordat that was believed to be in place with the Grand Master of the Craft in Spain was not. The respect and protocol I mentioned previous was not followed and misunderstandings have naturally followed.


I have over the last 12 months been working to repair the relationships with the Grand Lodge of Spain and in particular with their Grand Master, Most Worshipful Brother Oscar Alfonso de Ortega.


I am pleased to communicate to Grand Court that cordial relations now exist with Most Worshipful Brother Oscar and we trust that these will further blossom into the successful introduction of our Order into Spain in the near future.


Over the last 2 years we have been working closely with members of our Order based in Bolivia and in particular with Brother Jose Mendoza. This has culminated in a concordat between our Order and the Grand Lodge of Bolivia. I am pleased to announce that in September 2015 we will be consecrating a number of Courts in La Paz and I thank both Brother Mendoza and the Grand Master of Bolivia for their assistance.


GrandCourt2014Brethren, it was an immense pleasure for me to instruct into our Order a goodly number of brethren from Romania whilst in America this February.


In August I spent several days in Bucharest with Right Worshipful Brothers Allen Surratt and Matt Dupee and we enjoyed the amazing hospitality afforded by Brother Gabi Gherasim and our Romanian Brothers. This gave me a first-hand opportunity to learn more about Freemasonry in Romania and to discuss the possible formation of a Court eventually leading to an Overseas Province. Cordial dialogue has been opened with the Grand Master of the Craft in Romania and I sincerely hope this will also develop into a concordat as I have no doubt that our Romanian brothers will greatly enhance our Order. Brethren; it is little wonder that the world conference of Grand Master's was held in Bucharest in May. Masonry universal is alive and well in Romania and I have to be frank and state that they could teach many us a thing or two about brotherhood!


Thanks to the industry of Right Worshipful Brother Bryce Hildreth, Provincial Grand Master for the United States of America; both he and I were afforded a most courteous welcome when we accepted and invite to attend the 2014 Conference and annual meeting of the Grand Masters of Masons in North America held at Baltimore in February.


In another historic milestone for our Order we were formally presented to the sitting Grand Masters and other conference delegates along with many other leaders of other recognised Masonic organisations. Thus further cementing the Masonic Order of Athelstan's standing in world Masonry and personally very humbling for me to be ranked among such visionary Masonic leaders.

 

GrandCourt2014In May I was once again in America this time in Charlotte, North Carolina. This after accepting an invitation to represent our Order to attend the valedictory celebrations of Worshipful and Eminent Brother Edward H. Fowler Jr. as he retired after many years of sterling service as the Provincial Grand Master for the United States of America in the Royal Order of Scotland.


Worshipful and Eminent Brother Ed is one of those visionary Masonic leaders that I referred to and I am very fortunate to call him not only brother - but also a very dear friend.

 

At home we have been quietly working away enhancing the administration of the Order to cope with our increasing membership and the demands of 21st Century communications.


As I mentioned to Grand Court last year; the Grand Registrar has successfully migrated our membership database to a secure online server and the benefits of this will be seen at a Provincial and Court levels in the very near future. The Main Archive is now in place and online while the massive task of populating this continues under the direction of Very Worshipful Brother Tony Burke and I thank him for his dedication and the many hours spent in ensuring the success of these tasks.


The consecration of the Coronation Stone Court No 50 took place in January and this Court now takes its place as one of the pre-determined numbers of 1, 50 and 100. This is significant in itself, however; at this consecration we introduced a more familiar and traditional Masonic consecration ceremony that proved a huge success.


This will now replace our previous ceremonials and provides something more befitting for such an important day in any Courts history; i.e. its birth – it only happens once brethren so we should not dilute such an occasion.

 

The changes that I introduced to the opening and closing ritual has been warmly received welcomed and successfully introduced.


I am delighted that our Courts are delivering lectures at their installation meetings and I have witnessed on several occasions lectures being prepared and delivered by brethren who would not usually tackle such things. It is gratifying to see this original tenet successfully reactivated in our Order and with such great enthusiasm that it is now enshrined in Statute and long may this wisdom prevail in your Courts.


The appointment of Very Worshipful Brother Fred Lomax to the new Grand rank of Grand Lecturer is another important innovation that will assist brethren in their endeavours and studies to produce interesting and engaging lectures.


Very Worshipful Brother Fred is a Masonic researcher, historian and lecturer of immense experience and of some note. I am delighted that he has accepted this challenge which will also see the promised review and refreshment of the Chevalier Ramsey Lecture award.

 

GrandCourt2014A few months back I was accosted by a senior member of the Order who with great passion informed me that it had been promised at the time our ritual was last messed about with that this would not happen again for 5 years. He proceeded at length to mention the many members who had resigned over this matter; they being John, Tom, Dick and Bob from Courts he could not quite recall but it was fresh in his mind enough to concern him. After listening intently, then removing his finger from my chest, I assured him in my 'usual manner' that I was quite sure that John, Tom, Dick and Bob had a better grasp of mathematics than he, as the previous ritual review was completed in 2010 and the latest will be in 2015!


Brethren, the task I set our Assistant Grand Master and Right Worshipful Brother John Paternoster to review our rituals with the remit of reviving some of our original tenets and more importantly to set us apart with unique and engaging ritual was indeed a huge one. I am delighted to announce that the timetable that I suggested to Grand Court last year has been achieved. Not only that, Grand Council has endorsed an enhanced version of Ritual No. 1, it has passed the scrutiny of the Grand Marshal and his team and with the thanks to the Province of Lindsey it has been recently worked under special dispensation to great acclaim.


The enhanced Ritual No. 1 is a credit to the hard work of Chris, John and many other brethren who offered valuable advice and assistance, and we are in their debt. I particularly thank W Bro Mervyn Western in that regard for his wise insights. Not only does the new ritual engage the candidate from start to finish; it enhances the uniqueness of our Order. It celebrates our connection with King Athelstan; it clarifies the nature of our Institution and firmly explains the wisdom of our forefathers by bringing to life the Ancient Charges so fundamental to Freemasonry.


The rituals of the Installation of a Master and for the Consecration of an Eminent Prior have also been reviewed and I am delighted with the new proposals. In summary, we are intending to dispense entirely with the current ritual number 2, and incorporate the consecration of the Prior into a re-worked and more concise single installation ceremonial.


Do not think that this in any way diminishes the role or office of Prior; just the opposite. Our intention is to revive the juxtaposition of church and state within the medieval Royal Court as part of our ceremonial and enhance the involvement and status of the Prior accordingly. The Prior will in future be a high profile non progressive office held by a Past Master, who will have a new central role to play in the installation of the Court Master and within the ceremonial for consecration of new Priors.
All this will be formally unveiled early in the new year and I know that you will not be disappointed.


I am pleased to inform Grand Court that Ritual No. 1 will be available for use by all Courts from January 1st 2015 with a mandatory usage from the 1st September 2015. This provides Courts 8 months in which to become familiar with the enhancements and for existing officers to absorb the amendments; which I promise are not at all onerous.


The task of compilation into a ritual book publication is underway and it is anticipated that this will be available from 1st January 2015. There will be an announcement by the Grand Secretary regarding the logistics of dissemination and with further detail before the end of the year so please no ceremonial burning of your existing books!

 

On 22nd October 2015 we will celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the consecration of our first Court; the Court of Aelfred No. 2, the formation of the first Province that of East Anglia and of course the inauguration of the Masonic Order of Athelstan. 10 years is not long in Masonic terms but for a new Order it is a definitive period and we should not be ashamed to celebrate this achievement.


A very unique set of circumstances and events have with great serendipity provided us with an amazing opportunity to ensure that our birthday celebrations will be significant.


On the 4th September 925 Athelstan the king of the Anglos Saxons of the House of Wessex became King of all the English. This world changing event took place in the chapel of the Saxon church of St Mary in a place called Cynin stun. We now call this place Kingston-upon-Thames and the site of St Mary's chapel is now All Saints Church.


Returning to mathematics for a moment; the 4th September 2015 is actually the 1090th anniversary of this historic event, that is 10 – 90 and celebrating our 10th anniversary also give the10 .. so I formally introduce 'Cyningstun 10-90'.
You will have had sight and the time to read in detail the newsletter entitled 'Cyningstun 10-90' which sets out the vision of what we can achieve together. It briefly sets out how we can assist in the enshrining of our Order into the story of the historical Athelstan through our relationship with All Saints Church.


I am sure that the majority of our members are aware that the coronation ceremony involved a very famous stone that now lies rather forgotten and neglected outside of the Guildhall at Kingston.


The supporting of the All Saints Heritage Scheme will provide us with direct involvement in the relocation of the Coronation Stone to a significant location within the Church grounds and to within a few metres of where it probably originally stood.
The Stone has been neglected over the centuries and we will also assist in a restoration and conservation project.


Another part of 'Cyningstun 10-90' will involve our Order working with the All Saints Heritage Scheme to provide an ongoing education programme based upon their Anglo-Saxon heritage with a focus on the jewel in their crown and ours; King Athelstan.
The educational programme has many dimensions and will be aimed at their local community such as school children and also importantly at the many visitors to All Saints Church.


What a fitting way to celebrate our 10th anniversary and in the process leave a lasting and tangible imprint at a significant location in Athelstan's life and the history of the English speaking world.


A lot of hard work has already taken place and I have appointed a small but exceptionally experienced committee to assist. It is chaired by our new Senior Grand Warden Right Worshipful Brother Roy Leavers assisted by Chris Craddock, Lionel Mee, Noel Grout, Keith Waters and the design assistance of Bob Tuthill.


I am delighted to announce that a service of re-dedication will be held at All Saints Church, Kingston on Saturday 7th November 2015. During this service the Grand Banner will be blessed and later in the day a commemoration banquet will be held.
An individual Court wishing to assist will have the opportunity to emblazon on their summons the distinctive emblem of 'Cyningstun 10-90' soon to be unveiled. An individual brother may assist with the purchase of a unique lapel pin and I have authorized the commissioning of a limited edition commemorative coin.


This collectable coin will be available to all and for UK based tax paying members we will take advantage of the Gift Aid scheme through the United Grand Lodge Relief Chest.


I feel sure that the 'Cyningstun 10-90' coin will be swapping hands on internet auction sites for large sums in the future so make sure you get one as they will be limited.


Brethren, the 'Cyningstun 10-90' Committee will be contacting you with further information which will also appear on our website.


Please support this unique chance to communicate the Masonic message of our Order, to become part of the ongoing legacy of King Athelstan and in the process make our successors proud.

 

Finally, I would like to thank the Grand and Deputy Grand Secretaries for their hard work in organising today and also to all those who have assisted them. I am indebted to Very Worshipful Brother John Watts our new Grand Marshal and to his team for their efforts.


To my Executive; I am indeed blessed to receive your continued sound guidance and support.

 

Brethren; your attendance is the vital component in ensuring a successful and enjoyable Assembly. I know that it is much appreciated by all those receiving their Grand appointments and I remain humbled by your support.


Thank you and enjoy our festive banquet and to everyone, I wish you a safe journey home and back to your loved ones.

 

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