W.Bro Alan Tibbetts PDepDistGM (Ontario, GL Canada).
20th March 2010
Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master, Bro Wardens and brethren
Some fourteen years ago, when I first got involved with the group of Freemasons starting to organize this Lodge, I never dreamed that one day I would be standing here as 13th Worshipful Master of Internet Lodge. It was a grand experiment in Masonry that is still an ongoing journey as we continue to redefine our mission within this great fraternity.
At that same time, as evidence of the forward-looking attitude of this Province, Sir, your predecessor of the time, RWBro James D. Hemsley, encouragingly approved the founding of our Lodge, and conducted its Consecration right here in this building.
At our founding as the premier Internet Lodge in the world, there were five foreigners, located in four countries, amongst the 52 founding members; that made ten percent. I thought that was remarkable at the time, but looking at our statistics now, I am even more impressed. From that modest beginning, we now have about 300 members worldwide, hailing from 80 jurisdictions in 30 countries, and foreigners make up almost 50 percent of our membership. And our numbers are still growing, as you can see from the applications to be read out and voted on today. This is one of the truly unique things about Internet Lodge, that we are spread literally over the four quarters of the globe, and come pretty close to a representation of Masonry Universal. Several more Internet lodges have since been formed, or are in the process of forming in jurisdictions around the globe.
From the beginning, we had four aims:
- Universality-communication and idea exchange on a worldwide basis
- Collaboration-working together to carry out projects
- Education-promoting education through communication
- Progress-to advance FM especially using new technologies
These aims are still being worked on every day by our membership. I will give you examples of each:
First, we as members of Internet Lodge, through our mailing list service and the members' community feature of our web site, are in constant daily contact with one another. I can't count the number of times I have seen members' comments about how the perspectives of their brethren from other jurisdictions have enriched their understanding of our Craft. The other striking comment is that, because of our constant contact, you get more quality Freemasonry in a month in this lodge than you get in a year in any other lodge.
Secondly, our International Development Scheme is a project to use equipment and regalia from Lodges in the UK which have gone into darkness or merged with another Lodge, and therefore have no need for it any more. We collect and refurbish it, then send it on or take it personally to new and developing lodges in the former east bloc countries, where Freemasonry is emerging from hiding and growing quickly, but without many of the resources needed.
Third, our Short Papers Competition, started in 2006, has been a success at promoting Masonic education around the world, by encouraging Masons to write one page papers on any Masonic topic and submit them for judging by an expert panel. These papers have been collected and published on the public section of our web site for the edification of the public. We will be assessing the future of this program again this year. Our last aim, progress in advancing Freemasonry through technology, is a never-ending one by its very nature. This past year, our late WM appointed a committee to study recent changes in internet applications and our continuing use of both old and new technologies, and to report back to the lodge. This study is now complete, and a report will be issued to the members shortly after this meeting. WBro Larry Porter and his team deserve a great vote of thanks for all their hard work on this. From this study, we will establish which of the ongoing and emerging technologies we can best use to promote Freemasonry, to try to stay current with the users out there who may want to learn about, and even join our fraternity. We intend to remain a leader in the use of technology to advance Freemasonry.
These four aims are as relevant today as they were in the beginning, and I will do my best over the next year to promote them.
This year, our meetings will be in Chester in August, and in Wells, Somerset in October, where we will be holding our Ladies Festival. Some additional social activities have been planned around each of these meetings. I hope the members will come out to the meetings in these two areas where we have not gathered before.
As our members are aware, it has become a tradition of the lodge that, when a Master from a non-UK jurisdiction is in the chair, that the members are invited to a fraternal visit to the Master's home country. This year, my wife and I will be hosting the members and wives on a visit to the Niagara region of Ontario in Canada from May 26 to 30. A great programme of activities has been planned, and I hope to see many of you come over and enjoy my homeland.
Every third year we appoint a new non-Masonic charity to be the recipient of our charity funds. In consultation with my Senior and Junior Wardens, Bros Chris Malpus and David Starbuck, I am pleased to inform you that we have chosen "LifeLites" for this next three year period. This charity is well known to many Internet Lodge members, and indeed is supported at local and national levels by some of you already. To strengthen our local link further, we will be especially supporting Francis House Children's Hospice in Didsbury, Manchester, over the next three years.
You are also aware that the Province of East Lancashire is embarking on its next Festival fund raising project this year, culminating in 2015. Funds are being raised for the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution. We intend to be a substantial contributor to this as well, and I hope all of you will give as generously as you are able.
It is never easy being Master of this lodge while being based outside the UK. I know I can count on the officers and brethren of Internet Lodge to give a helping hand when asked, and I appreciate that very much. My sincere thanks are extended to all the brethren who worked so hard on the installation ceremony, and to those who have agreed to serve in the many important offices over the coming year. I am looking forward to the challenges and rewards to come, and I hope all of you are too. I know it will be a terrific year. Thank you.
Internet Lodge No. 9659