W.Bro William Holden P.Pr.Dep.G.Supt of Wks (West Lancashire).

21st March 2009

Right Worshipful Past Assistant Provincial Grand Master and Brethren allWH2

Brethren, what does Freemasonry and the Internet Lodge mean to us, and how does it impact on our every day lives?

This is a question that I feel that we all need to look at and consider its impact not only on ourselves but the numerous people we come in contact with throughout our lives. To some, it will be just, being a member of yet another Lodge or adding to our Masonic CV, but to a large proportion of the Internet Lodge membership it means far more. I have to admit, that since I joined the ladder of progression within the Lodge have I realised how fortunate we are to have such a dedicated team of enthusiastic members. These members work tirelessly in the background keeping the web site running, sorting the numerous membership applications that are received from all over the world, applying for dispensations to hold our meeting in various areas of UGLE, collecting membership subscriptions from the four quarters of the globe and dealing with the very many facets of promoting and influencing the progress of freemasonry internationally for this the Internet Lodge. These are just a few examples of work to which the members dedicate their time for our benefit behind the scene. We meet only three times a year but this well oiled machine is running behind the scene throughout the year. So as Worshipful Master I personally owe to each and every one of them an unquantifiable debt of gratitude and relief, because Brethren, it is little use looking to me if we have a problem. For this reason I have surrounded myself with insurance, namely the Masters Forum. These are a hand picked, trench coat wearing elite force, who talk down their sleeves. Well, maybe this is taking it a little too far, they are the management team. The purpose of the team is to address any contentious event that may arise during my watch, in order to preserve, Peace, Love and Harmony.

On a personal note, I became a Freemason some 32, years ago for the very same principles I share today. These principles are clearly defined to every Freemason as you take the obligation in each of the craft degrees. These are simple and basic codes of conduct but these didn't just start when I became a Freemason, we were taught by my parents from birth, and have since transmitted these very same values to our families.

Freemasonry is the same as having another family as these very same principles apply. We are all Brothers and as such we treat each other as a part of what is now an extended family. Brotherly love, relief and truth are all part of our obligation but let us not forget about happiness; surely this is just as important. We should try not to offend each other, but if we do a sincere sorry will in most cases suffice. This is where I feel as your Worshipful Master my strengths may lay, so my intention is to make it a year with all the other elements in, but to communicate lots of happiness as well. The Brethren and families who are fortunate enough to physically join in our meetings are well aware of the happiness we derive from our gatherings. But let us not forget the many members who are unable to share that happiness. This is why I decided that the Lodge needs to be seen to be more internationally universal. For this I have chosen Slovenia for our Lodge members and guests to visit. With the very kind help of MW Bro Mladen, the Grand Master of Slovenia, who is also a member of Internet Lodge, a visit has been arranged. We will be guests at a Lodge meeting plus a planned gathering for lunch with our Slovenian Brothers and their families at Lake Cerknica (a most unusual natural phenomenon). The trip also includes guided tours to some of the most beautiful areas of Slovenia. If we are to progress with the international membership of Internet Lodge then we must also be seen to be embracing the lodges in the countries where we have members.

For our August meeting I have chosen Boston, Lincolnshire where we will be treated to a lecture on Masonic Music. We are all aware that a meeting without music seems to loose a tremendous amount of feeling. This lodge building in Boston is where the opening lodge ode was penned so our lecture I feel will be most appropriate.

When did Internet Lodge enter my Masonic life and what does it mean to me and my family? Internet Lodge has played a very special part in my Masonic Life, before and since being accepted as a member at the Installation meeting in 2001. My first knowledge of the Lodge was through a charity donation that was made to purchase computers for spinal injuries patients. This donation was very close to my heart so needless to say I needed no persuading to apply for membership. In 2004 W.Bro John Dutchman-Smith invited me to become Charity Steward of the Lodge, to which I was truly honoured. This now gave me the opportunity to assist in raising funds for the Charity that had supported our worthy cause. I managed to get re-elected for the next four years, but the only thing that I can say is, the membership and guests were gluttons for punishment.

This now leads me to our October meeting and Ladies Festival. Both of these events I have kept near to our home, with the Lodge meeting being at the Masonic Hall, Westhoughton, Nr Bolton, where my other Lodge holds its regular meetings. Once again I have chosen a subject that is close to my heart, Charity. I have invited our honorary member Grahame Elliott CBE, who is the President of the Grand Charity to provide us with a more comprehensive understanding of how the Grand Charity works, and the financial aid and assistance that it provides both nationally and internationally.

Finally Brethren, because I am now getting fed up with listening to myself, so I am sure that you will be as well.
If during my year I only receive a fraction of support from the members that I received as your Charity Steward, then Internet Lodge can only go from strength to strength. We are fortunate within Internet lodge to have a large team of immensely dedicated and very knowledgeable Freemasons that are spread over the four quarters of the globe. My intention is to nurture their passion, knowledge and influential IT skills, to promote more of a unique universal Lodge within the compass of my attainment. Through our world wide membership and our email list we are all able to make a daily advancement in freemasonry that was not possible before. We have a membership which recognises that humanity needs moral and ethical men who are not afraid to stand and voice their opinions on what's right and what's wrong in today's society. I believe that Masons everywhere should accept this challenge with pride, remembering our oath and obligations, for we have been truly prepared to do so. I am proud to tell the outside world that I am a Freemason and if through ignorance or the lack of understanding they are unable to accept it, then, it is regretful. We should never be deterred by these sceptics; we all know and feel what freemasonry is to us, so why not share your thoughts with others. This in turn will provide a foundation, and help to dispel the view that the sceptics in society have of the Craft. Let the world know that Freemasonry is not what they may or not have perceived it to be, but what we are, a group of respectable, likeminded people, who care about society and about the world in which we live.

Bill Holden
Worshipful Master
Internet Lodge No. 9659