Larry Porter WM, Internet Lodge No. 9659 EC, 2006/2007
I was installed in the chair of Internet Lodge on 18th March by W Bro Mike Herman. As usual, the Installation meeting was well-attended and our guests included the Deputy Provincial Grand Master for East Lancashire, VW Bro Dr Nigel Bramley-Haworth, and the Assistant Provincial Grand Master, W Bro Robert Mitchell. The Master's address was a presentation entitled "The Future of Masonic Ritual". It attempted to set Masonry in the context of modern lifestyles, social and business trends and speculated on how these might be reflected in changes to our ritual and ceremonies in the years to come. The full text and slides of the talk are on our web site.
Bearing in mind the time pressure we are under for the Installation meetings, we introduced a streamlined ceremony, in particular speeding up the appointment and investiture of the Officers. This was relatively successful and, after some subsequent on-line discussion, was improved and documented as a suggestion for use in future years.
Two major initiatives were launched immediately after the Installation meeting, both aimed at meeting the objective of improving the Lodge's interest and usefulness to our overseas members who can rarely, if ever, attend our regular meetings and events. The first of these was the Internet Lodge Community Area, a facility which includes discussion forums where members can discuss all kinds of Masonic topics and get views and insights from Brethren all over the world. Each member has the ability to have his own presence in the community in the form of a web log or "blog" enabling us to share information about our background and interests with our fellow members. Each member can also publish his own articles to share with other members without needing the help of a Webmaster to put them up on the site on his behalf.
The second initiative was the introduction of the Internet Lodge Travel Club which enables members to organise informal get-togethers, large or small, in their local area or indeed in any part of the world. The inaugural secretary of the club was W Bro David Holder.
I set up a Master's Advisors Group (MAG) to act as a sounding board in handling various issues and questions which came up during the year. It consisted of the Wardens, Past Masters of Internet Lodge, Treasurer, Secretary and Director of Ceremonies. Later on in the year the Almoner and Charity Steward were added. I will be eternally grateful for all the advice and assistance given to me by members of this group during the year.
It is now an established tradition of the Lodge that we support our nominated charities for a multi-year period, usually three years. Accordingly, we continued our support for Hope and Homes for Children and Aspire. In the event, through the generosity of the Brethren and their families, and the efforts of our Charity Steward W Bro Bill Holden, we raised the fantastic sum of £3,600 over the year and donated £1,500 to each of the charities.
In the past, two members of Internet Lodge had been honoured with Provincial appointments from the Provincial Grand Lodge of East Lancashire. However the Lodge had never formally participated in the East Lancs process by nominating a member for Provincial Honours. In April, in consultation with the MAG, it was decided that we should participate fully in this process and an Internet Lodge Policy for Provincial Honours was agreed and finalised. (I'm delighted to report that the first member nominated by the Lodge, our founding Senior Warden and second Master W Bro John Belton, subsequently received high recognition by the Province though his appointment as an active Provincial Senior Grand Deacon.)
May to July 2006
This was a very busy period for me personally. Much time was spent tuning the Community Area and helping new users get started. Also lots of preparatory work for the August and October meetings, including, with Jaqui, a look-see visit to Durham.
In June we discovered that the long-planned demonstration of a Masonic Ceremony as it might be practised in 100 years time would not be permissible under the Grand Lodge guidelines for demonstrations. This could have been a severe setback to the year's programme but fortunately the Province of Durham came to our rescue. Through the offices of our member W Bro Ray Dinning we managed to procure the services of W Bro Tom Coulson Chairman and Curator of The Library and Museum of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Durham to give an illustrated talk on the exciting project which resulted in the Masonic Hall at the Beamish open air museum.
Our August meeting took place in the wonderful old Cathedral City of Durham, England. We were joined by a good number of Ladies and the weekend had the flavour of a mini-festival.
On the Friday we went on a guided tour of Durham Cathedral, one of the finest Norman buildings in Europe. Our charming and informative Guide turned out to be a Mason, W Bro James Elliot. We promptly invited him to our meeting on the following day and I'm delighted to report that he subsequently became a joining member of the Lodge.
At the Lodge meeting we were honoured by the presence of the Provincial Grand Master, RW Bro Derek Richmond. The ladies joined us for the excellent lecture by Bro Tom Coulson and also at the festive board. (Note: RW Bro Derek, a relatively young PGM, was delightful company, full of vigour and enthusiasm. It is very sad to reflect that within 2 years he had passed to the Grand Lodge Above.)
On the last day we enjoyed an interesting post-script to the lecture by visiting the Masonic Hall at the Beamish Museum. English Freemasonry has broken new ground with the Beamish project, something that the members of Internet Lodge can identify with.
The look-see visit in May had paid off. We avoided making a mistake with hotels. Most of us stayed at the Royal County with the singles enjoying a better deal at the Three Tuns. Some sampled the University ambience by staying at Hatfield College and reported an enjoyable sojourn with a particularly good breakfast.
Jaqui and I had chosen Durham because we had been students there 30 years before. Revisiting our old haunts was a happy and at times moving experience. The Province of Durham provided tremendous support to our visit, including rescuing us from the last minute hiccup with our Agenda. For this I shall always be grateful to the Province.
W Bro Rob Allen expressed a wish that his two sons, Toby and Ben, should be initiated into Internet Lodge. It was never part of the original raison d'etre of the Lodge to make new Masons. The question was discussed in great depth by the MAG. Our main concern was that these two young men should receive the same care and experience that they would gain in a "normal" Lodge. These issues were discussed at length with Bro Rob. I finally took the historic decision that the names of the two Candidates should be put before the Lodge.
An electronic Alms collection was implemented to enable Brethren to contribute to the October alms collection in advance using a credit card securely over the web. This enables members to contribute even if they are unable to attend the meeting. Once more Internet Lodge was breaking new ground.
A set of guidelines on the use of the community area was published.
The Lodge's annual festival took place over four eventful days in October. On Thursday Jaqui and I were delighted to welcome Brethren and their ladies to our home. Having gathered together, we set out on a group walk to Mudeford Quay from where we embarked on the ferry to Mudeford sand spit. We then walked over Hengistbury head with spectular views over Christchurch harbour.
Jaqui met us at the Land Train station with champagne and canapes which we happily consumed on the way back to the ferry. We then returned home for a lunch full of chatter and companionship.
On Friday we picked up the theme from Durham with a tour of Winchester Cathedral, a very different but equally historical building. This was followed by an evening of old-fashioned self entertainment in the tradition of the Victorian parlour. It turned out to be a memorable event full of music, song and recitation. Here is the programme:
|Warm up overture,
(Concertina Harp and Piano)
|Larry, Jaqui and Naunton||Kum Ba Yah||Community Singing|
|Introduction||WM||2 Recitations||Charles and Helga Lewis|
|Flanders and Swan Medley||Naunton Liles and Chris Malpus||Over the Rainbow||Elizabeth Plenty|
|Liverpool Lullaby||Judy Jones||2 More Lancashire Songs||John Dutchman-Smith|
|The Sentry's Song||Alex Viner||The Widow at Windsor||Larry Porter|
|Cockles & Mussels
|Community Singing||A Policeman's Lot||Alex Viner|
|2 Lancashire Songs||John Dutchman-Smith||Michael Row the Boat Ashore||Community Singing|
|2 Morris Tunes,
Princess Royal, Portsmouth
|Larry, Jaqui and Naunton
(and the IL Morris Dancers!)
|Michael Turner’s Waltz
The Bear Dance
|Larry, Jaqui and Naunton|
|Harp Solo: Blind Mary||Jaqui Porter||Enya’s “On Your Shore”||Jaqui Porter|
|Albert and the Lion||Bill Holden||Enya’s “On Your Shore”||Jaqui Porter|
|Habanera from Carmen||Jaqui Porter and Naunton Liles||Sonny and Cher's "I got you babe"||Mark Arthurworrey & Jeff Sloneem|
|Quiz: Name that tune!||Naunton Liles||Mud||Naunton Liles and Chris Malpus|
|The sick note||Sue Dorman||La Vie en Rose (Piaf)||Jaqui Porter|
|The Wild Rover||Community Singing||Amazing Grace||Led by Judy and Jaqui|
|When the Saints||Community Singing|
|New Orleans funeral style.||Led by Rich Van Doren|
At the Saturday Lodge meeting we were honoured by the presence of the Provincial Grand Master for Hampshire and Isle of Wight, RW Bro Brian Bellinger.
The main item on the Agenda was a debate of the proposition "The Masonic Ritual needs significant change to meet the needs of Masonry in the 21st Century”". W Bros John Belton and Rich van Doren made the case for the proposition and W Bros John Acaster and Hugh O'Neill the case against. There was a spirited contribution from the Brethren present. W Bro Charles Lewis (also MW Bro Charles Lewis, Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Borth Carolina) was elected Master for the year beginning March 2007.
We also announced the launch of the Internet Lodge Short Papers Competition, the brainchild of W Bro John Belton and under the patronage of the Most Worshipful Pro Grand Master.
In the evening we held the Ladies Festival at the Winchester Guildhall. In addition to the PGM and Jenny Bellinger, we were joined by many friends from Hampshire & Isle of Wight including the Deputy PGM, VW Bro Mike Wilks and his wife Kay and the Assistant PGM W Bro Charles Kemp and his wife Tina. During the evening we were entertained by a fantastic troop of young Irish dancers.
On Sunday we travelled to Portsmouth for the day. We visited the historic dockyard with access to Henry VIII's warship the Mary Rose and Nelson's flagship, HMS Victory and also HMS Warrior, the world's first steam-powered warship.
I must thank W Bro Alex Viner, the festival secretary and Jaqui who both worked so hard to make the festival a success.
November 2006 January 2007
These months were mainly taken up by a review of some of the funadamentals of the Lodge. Two papers were produced, debated, agreed and published. The first concerned the Purpose and Aims of the Lodge and the second documented the decision-making process in the Lodge. These were difficult subjects to tackle and neither was without controversey (open debate and strong opinions are the norm in Internet Lodge!).
Polls were used for the first time in the Lodge in seeking members' opinions on substantive issues such as these. Although a relatively small proportion of the Brethren voted in the polls, they proved a useful indicator of the balance of views.
In December I appointed the first Lodge Historian: W Bro Alan Tibbets (RW Bro Alan in the Grand Lodge of Canada). Alan's first objective was to ensure that the early years of the Lodge were properly documented and not lost to history and here he was much aided by the magnificent work of W Bro John Dutchman-Smith in tracking down the documentation and accounts of our Consecration meeting and other formative events.
W Bros Jim Hogg and John Dutchman-Smith came up with the idea of producing a Lodge memento in the form of a replica of the Founder's Jewel. After taking advice from Provincial Grand Lodge, the project was launched and Bro Jim procured a large batch of these sourced in California.They subsequently went on sale to members in aid of charity.
At long last decided to purchase some traditional alms bags. We had always, from the early days, collected alms in Internet Lodge baseball caps. However this had proved rather unwieldly for the Deacons and the Treasurer, W Bro Tony Porter, proposed that we should a adopt a more manageable system which he was pleased to procure on our behalf.
Our Junior Warden made the decision, for understandable reasons, not to carry on towards the chair in the coming year. This resulted in our first ever extraordinary call for manifestos which produced a new Junior Warden-designate, W Bro Bill Holden, our current Charity Steward. W Bro Mark Griffin kindly agreed to bring his plans forward by a year and became the Senior Warden-designate
Finally I had the very great privilege of installing my successor, W Bro Charles Lewis, into the Chair of Internet Lodge. Although already a Past Grand Master in another Constitution, because he had not before served as Master of an English Constitution Lodge, it was necessary to carry out the full ceremony of Installation. This made for a particularly pleasurable event for me personally.
The Installation meeting marked the end of an eventual year, probably the toughest but also the most satisfying I've had in my 20 years in the Craft.
Immediate Past Master