W. BRO. DR. CHARLES A. LEWIS,JR
17th March 2007
Right Worshipful Assistant Provincial Grand Master and Brethren all
Over fifty years ago, in 1956, to be specific, I was a cadet-midshipman on the training ship T/S Empire State III en route London from New York via Bermuda. It was an exciting time for a nineteen year old. The ship moored at the Greenwich Naval College . The prime meridian was at hand. I remember visiting a family from my home town that had relocated to Oxshott in Surrey. I also have vivid memories of centuries of English history and the many works of British literature that had been in my instructional background. And here I was experiencing firsthand the museums, galleries, and sites that had been only facts and narratives in the days of my youth. I even managed to find Freemason’s Hall so that I could tell my Dad – later to become my Masonic brother – that I had taken the time to accomplish that feat! I came back in 1958 on my final training cruise and it was more of the same. In 1959 I was Third Officer on the S/S Stella Lykes and I once again sailed past Land’s End to Southampton and thence to London’s Surrey Docks.I didn’t realize it at the time but I was Masonically speaking in the days of my youth although it wouldn’t be until 1961 that I began my actual Masonic journey.
Remember now the days of thy youth. I know this Masonic admonition full well. In sequence I passed to the Masonic step of maturity as I became more and more involved in Masonry.
I retired from the Naval Reserve in 1969 and the decade of the 1960’s saw me changing my career direction to academia where I subsequently spent forty-five years primarily as a University Professor and administrator. It was during the next thirty years, from 1969 to 1999, that I took American students to Regents College in London, to the Bedford College of Higher Education and to the University of Wales Institute Cardiff. And it was during this period that I visited Lodges throughout England and Wales. From Freemason’s Hall in London to Bath, Bedford, East London, York , and Cardiff I traveled. I even managed a KT meeting in Dalkeith, Scotland. In doing this I had Masonically proceeded to old age, both figuratively and literally speaking.
I had become an Anglophile as well. And to cement this notion in the last three years I have become a Freeman of London and a Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Masons. T his is a long way to the point: never did I dream that I would become a member and officer of a Lodge under English Constitution.
The past eight years in the Internet Lodge No. 9659 have been most rewarding and enjoyable. I stand here today humbled and honored by my investiture as Master of this unique Lodge.
I recall another Masonic teaching appropriate to this day: time, patience, and perseverance accomplisheth all things. I would like to think that the Great Architect of The Universe had something to do with all of this. I resisted the temptation to state that this journey has been mysterious because reality was focused for me in the words of a great American Mason, Joseph Fort Newton.
Apart from its rite, there is no mystery in Masonry, save the mystery of all great and simple things. So far from being hidden or occult, its glory lies in its openness, and its emphasis upon realities which are to the human world what light and darkness are to nature. Its mystery is of so great a kind that it is easily overlooked; its secret almost too simple to be found out. “We know as much as we do,” said Francis of Assisi. It is not enough to enact a truth in ritual; it must become both an incarnation and an act.
The Builders-A Story and Study of Freemasonry, 1951,p. 63.
Yes brethren, when it is all recited , memorized, questioned, and debated, Freemasonry is simple. The Internet Lodge has proven this to be true time and again. A Mason becomes interested in the matching of technology with Masonic practice. He petitions. He gains membership. Simple.
The world of computer listings, blogs, forums, debates, postings, archives, transactions, and visitations become available. Foreign visitation within the context of Lodge gatherings become available. Simple.
But let’s not overwork simplicity. The Internet Lodge exists within the fabric of change and the world which embraces change. Its members respect and honor the status quo. They hold in veneration the sacred landmarks, the propriety of Masonic jurisprudence, and the customs of the craft. Yet the Lodge exists also within the framework of change and its members don’t hesitate to raise questions and offer opinions. How refreshing that is as a standard of practice. Yes, we’re changing. New thrusts. A short papers contest supported by UGLE; the consideration of initiation in a Lodge not accustomed to degree work. Line officers who decide not to proceed to the Chair for good reason. The decision making process concerning Lodge Charitable giving in the designation of selected charities that are not palatable to some.
To this list of parameters of change, at least the discussion for change, I add the following. I fully intend to support and promote the continual upgrading of the Lodge’s technology platforms; we are on the cutting edge as we should be and we have the expertise through committees and individuals to keep us at the forefront We should change only for efficiency and higher quality use of the internet and its applications.
Lacking a better term, I believe that we need an internal LODGE OFFICERS HANDBOOK to guide those who desire to submit manifestos and enter the elected line. , particularly for those whose base membership is in a “foreign” jurisdiction. Such a Handbook would have duties, budgetary information, process deadlines, and other pertinent hands-on items; these would be particularly valuable if Past Masters of the Lodge could offer advice on potential pitfalls and the unexpected! I was unaware of the nightmare that I was to experience this past year as far as process is concerned!
As a Grand Master and Past Grand Master of a North American jurisdiction I have been active in the World Conference of Grand Lodges and in the Conference of Grand Masters Of North America. On the world scene I have attended Conferences in India, Spain, and France. My intent is to utilize these venues to promote the Internet Lodge No. 9659 in an informational context by distributing printed materials and exploring the possibility of having a booth on-site at these conferences. The next World Conference will be in sixteen months time in Washington, D.C. I intend to explore the possibility of having a Lodge booth on site with delegates from the Lodge.
I also intend to approach the Conference of Grand Masters and propose that all North American Lodges publish informational articles about our Lodge so that their members can take advantage of dual membership if they so choose. Further, I will propose the same to Central and South American Conferences. The model for all approaches will be the one used by WBro. Frank Harris in his native jurisdiction of Minnesota. Change for the better? We’ll see,
On the subject of meetings 2007 will not be anything like the schedule proposed in my Manifesto. Changes. Here they are. We have had our usual excellent time of fellowship and Masonic business this weekend in Manchester. Thanks especially to WBro. Arthur Renshaw and WBro. Brian Cozens for all that they have done on our behalf. In May the scheduled Lodge visit will be held in Atlanta, Eatonton, and Milledgeville, Georgia. Please don’t be looking for Wilmington, North Carolina!! WBro. David Herman and I are working diligently and we hope successfully to provide an enjoyable social and fraternal experience. While we may fall short in terms of expectations, it won’t be because we didn’t try. I decided to go on with the commitment of the visit in spite of the fact that I’ve only resided in Georgia for seven months at this point in time.
Change. August will find us in Rugby , not York. The Hall has been reserved and a speaker of high interest will be arranged and announced in advance of the meeting. A special initiatory degree is on the trestle board .
Change. October will find us in Cardiff. The Masonic Center has been reserved. WBro. Naunton Liles is facilitating the details of the weekend which will include a Celtic Banquet on Saturday night at Cardiff Castle en lieu of a Ladies Festival.
Change. Designated Charity. The performance of The Internet Lodge No. 9659 in Charitable giving has been most impressive over time. My Manifesto stated that I would consult with my wardens about the designation of a Charity. I have been in consultation with WBro. Mark Griffin and WBro. Bill Holden who will serve this year with me and I have decided to support the E-Learning Foundation
Finally Brethren, may I express a sensitivity that I possess. In this enterprise of Masonic electronic communication I believe that we need to temper our passions as we express ourselves.
Brethren, howsoever we may disagree on a given topic, it is un-Masonic to be disagreeable and intolerant of the expression of another brother’s thoughts. We meet on the level, we act by the plumb, and we part upon the square, knowing that every brother has had his due and that we have collectively acted in what will be the best interest of the Internet Lodge No. 9659 in particular and Freemasonry in general.
Provincial Officers, Brethren all. You have my very best wishes for health, happiness, and prosperity. May we all be a part of the positive growth and development of this our very special Internet Lodge. Thank you for the honor you have bestowed upon me.
Dr. Charles A. Lewis,Jr.
Internet Lodge No. 9659