Peter F. Lanes WM, Internet Lodge 9659EC, 2001 - 2002
PREVIEW: The predetermined goal, as outlined in my Manifesto on which I was elected the 4th Worshipful Master of Internet Lodge, and also as the first overseas Worshipful Master of the Lodge, was to bring the lodge together as a more cohesive whole via communications. While writing this report about the many happenings within Internet Lodge during my year in the East, I am most deeply grateful for the very many hours of dedicated work by so many brethren of Internet Lodge to make this year a success. I also strongly feel that abbreviating this report would be a disservice to the brethren who worked so hard on the various teams during my year in the East.
OVERVIEW: The best overview of the year, which gave me personally - and the lodge therefore - considerable satisfaction, is found in the very much appreciated and very kind words expressed by members of the lodge and a senior member of the Province. These expressions showed that it was widely felt that the lodge had achieved a most successful year, brought about by high qualities of team leadership, and the contribution made by all Officers of the lodge.
WHAT HAPPENED: My basic actions as Worshipful Master were to stir the deeply buried wishes of the brethren to communicate more readily so that all brethren could more fully enjoy the benefits of camaraderie within the lodge, not just during meetings and social times, but also via our unique asset of our electronic "List".
The year began with the Worshipful Master's traditional Inaugural Address, in which emphasis was placed on Charity. The address emphasized that charity is not only the provision of help or relief to the poor, or of alms giving of which we are well aware and do very well in this Lodge, but emphasized that there are other definitions of charity which are far too often overlooked. These are that charity is benevolence or generosity towards others and towards humanity as a whole, and also the further definition of charity, which was inculcated in me very strongly during the taking of my Masonic Degrees, that charity is indulgence, or forbearance, in judging others, and indicates a need to understand the other person's point of view.
During my year, I was greatly surprised at the alacrity with which brothers jelled together as teams to create and institute the various projects. I feel it is pertinent to list these different projects individually:
Meeters and Greeters: Under the direction of their Coordinator W.Bro. Mike Hughes, the Meeters and Greeters program was developed during a number of conferences with me as Worshipful Master Elect before the Installation Ceremony. Very early in my year in office the Meeters and Greeters, via communication in their own private List: · Developed their own job descriptions · Developed a method of identification · Prepared their working schedule for our lodge meetings · Met and greeted all arriving brothers · In particular took special care of first time attending members and visitors, making sure these brethren were introduced and always had someone with whom to converse. · Escorted overseas brethren of the lodge on first visits to Internet Lodge and stayed beside these brothers during lodge meetings to advise and help with our unique traditions and odes. · Contributed numerous other useful ideas to help develop the camaraderie we enjoy in Internet Lodge.
Overseas Ambassadors: This was a developing group amongst our more geographically far-flung members located in Turkey, Italy and the United States, with the purpose of: · Helping to build a sense of unity with our brethren within Internet Lodge rather than separation by distance. · Meeting brethren in these far flung areas where that was possible · Providing feedback on the concerns of our far-flung brethren.
Officers' List: This new List became a most valuable tool for quick communication with all the Officers of Internet Lodge, for gathering their perspective on certain matters pertaining to the Officers, and for discussions on these matters.
Aides-de-Camp: This was a rapidly evolving list of experienced brothers with skills and useful practical experience in various aspects of managing a Masonic Lodge. This group included all the Past Masters who had sat in the East of Internet Lodge, Officers of the Lodge, and a large number of other highly experienced brothers.
It was quickly found that within this group were brothers with particularly specialized expertise. This meant that, depending on the topic, an experienced contributing team could always be assembled that would provide me, as Worshipful Master, with the specialized counsel I sought in various circumstances. Their unbiased help was always unflinchingly available and to each one of them I offer my most grateful thanks.
Membership Applications Project: Our backlog of Applications for Affiliation with Internet Lodge had remained over 125 names for three years. The processing of applications had become so large a project that no brother had the time or patience to handle it. To resolve this problem, I appointed W.Bro. Bruce Morton Assistant Secretary, specifically to revise our application processing procedures, to institute the latest leading edge of software technology, and to minimize this extraordinary workload. Bruce Morton instituted a Master Data Base for Applications, modified the Application for Affiliation form with appropriate approvals, persuaded Grand Lodge to accept Applications in spreadsheet form, and was able to reduce the backlog of applications by 80%, from 125 to 25 by the end of the year.
Software Team: Under the direction of our Webmaster W.Bro. Charles Arnold, this team of many highly experienced and knowledgeable brethren of Internet Lodge constantly amazed me. I merely had to ask if something could be done and almost in the next instant it was done, except for some projects that required very hard work and extensive research on the current leading edge of software technology. This team at my request:
- Implemented our new Social Page to enhance our fraternal relationships and to let Brethren of Internet Lodge know what is happening, where to go, how to get there, where it is happening, what are the alternatives, what are the maps like to get there? These were all on the Social Page to enhance our Internet Lodge experience
- Implemented our electronic Event Booking System.
- Implemented Web Based Credit Card payments.
- Installed Streaming Media into our Home Page which included the Worshipful Master's Welcome Message in motion picture format with sound and the Worshipful Master's Inaugural Address in stereo sound; also recorded, processed and published on our Web Page in streaming sound and written word, the speech delivered in our lodge by a distinguished visitor, the V.W. Bro. Rev. Neville Barker Cryer.
- Accomplished a sub-web overhaul including links to three of the four main charity web sites in England
- Included a Statistics Server of hits on our web site. This quickly showed that on average our Internet Lodge Home Page was attracting 5,200 hits a day to our Web Site, and over 375 daily in depth sessions with our various Web Site Pages.
Ladies Festival: This team, under the direction of W. Bro. Alex Viner, performed an incredibly difficult task of pulling together all the basic items I requested to make a three day Ladies Festival Weekend a reality. Starting with the basic outline for a lodge meeting in Nottingham in the Provincial Grand Lodge Temple where my father was initiated, the team also:
- Contracted for deluxe hotel rooms at an extraordinarily attractive rate.
- Arranged effective promotion and maps on the List for the Festival
- Arranged a Friday night through Sunday morning continuum of activities.
- Provided a Friday night-before-the-meeting cocktail and dinner party with our ladies.
- Provided entertainment for the ladies during our lodge meeting.
- Arranged a luncheon for us with our ladies for after the lodge meeting.
- Provided a choir for entertainment in the lodge room in the afternoon after the lodge meeting.
- Organized a formal dinner dance with a live band.
- Provided a beautiful very high quality gift for the ladies.
- Provided a Sunday morning "Breakfast after the Ball".
- Accomplished every single one of my objectives and managed also to show a surplus of £92.00.
Virtual Library: Under the direction of W. Bro. John Belton, this library began with a distinguished collection of papers, and with much hard work the system eventually became a working reality for the benefit of all Brethren.
Calendar: Internet Lodge's year consisted of three Regular Meetings (also known in other parts of the world as Stated Meetings), plus a visit to Florida:
The August meeting was held in Nottingham in the same lodge room where my Father was initiated in 1920 and my Uncle was initiated in 1915.
As would be expected, this meeting was particularly poignant for me. The Provincial Grand Master of Nottinghamshire was admitted with some of his officers and attended the meeting with us. The lodge meeting was followed by a light lunch with our ladies, then a choral concert, and in the evening a Formal Dinner and Ball.
On the Friday night before the meeting, there was a large gathering of Internet Lodge brethren with our ladies and other Masonic guests in a most amicable social gathering at the adjacent hotel. A large gathering of brethren and their partners enjoyed the Sunday morning "Breakfast after the Ball".
The Chairman of the weekend planning team was W. Bro Alex Viner, and the Director of Ceremonies and Master of Ceremonies who greatly contributed to the smooth running of the events was W. Bro Stephen Williams.
The October Meeting was held in a magnificent old Masonic Temple in Leicester. After the lodge meeting, we were especially honored to hear a brilliant and fiery address by a Past Grand Chaplain, the V.W. Bro. Rev. Neville Barker Cryer on the subject of the "Relevancy of our Masonic Ritual" His address was recorded, processed and placed on our web site in audio and in printed word.
The March meeting was held in Manchester, as is required. It was a unique Installation Ceremony because I, as an American and as Worshipful Master of Internet Lodge, installed a Dutchman as my successor in the East of an English Lodge. W. Bro. Ab Goedhals survived his installation with grace and goodwill and the lodge authority was transferred to safe and experienced hands.
There was one other gathering of the brethren of Internet Lodge. This was not to any Internet Lodge meeting, but as a group, individual Internet Lodge Brothers visited two American lodges, Beach Lodge in Indialantic, Florida, and Harbor City Lodge in Melbourne, Florida.
While our ladies enjoyed a fashion show, brethren of Internet Lodge visited Beach Lodge and saw the Beach Lodge Master's son initiated. The differences and similarities of and between Florida ritual and U.G.L.E. ritual were noted and actively shared between brethren of both lodges.
The social activities following the Beach Lodge meeting included the Brethren of Internet Lodge and their ladies being hosted for dinner at the Beach Lodge Temple and in exchange, the brethren and officers of Beach lodge were then hosted by Internet Lodge Officers and Brethren at a festive after-dinner cocktail party at our hotel.
Several days later at Harbor City Lodge we saw a third degree conducted. The second section of that degree, in Florida style, was a full-length play on the floor of the lodge room and all brethren doing the ritual were dressed in appropriate costumes of the period of the building of King Solomon's Temple.
The camaraderie and good will between the officers and brethren of Beach Lodge and of Harbor City Lodge with our Internet Lodge brethren was extraordinary, and at this time of writing eight months later, is still being mentioned in both of these lodges. I was particularly pleased that at the end of our visit Florida visit, the Grand Master of Florida sent to me as Worshipful Master of Internet Lodge, a package containing large Grand Lodge of Florida lapel pins which included his name as Grand Master of Florida. These pins were given to us to commemorate this historical visit to Beach Lodge and Harbor City Lodge. Additionally, the Grand Master's wife also sent a different pin for all the ladies who accompanied us. I distributed these pins before and during my next visit to the UK.
During the eight day visit to Florida, brethren of Internet Lodge who attended the visit and their wives and companions, also enjoyed:
- A Worshipful Master's Reception and Lawn Party with Barbecue on the East bank of the Indian River Lagoon.
- Highly enjoyable entertainment by various brethren and spouses who provided us with ballads and poetry.
- A visit to natural Florida wildlife habitats.
- A private hands-on touching lecture by a Park Ranger on the birds, snakes and animals of Florida
- Airboat rides into the far reaches of the Florida marshes that form the headwaters of the St John's River.
- A plentitude of beach and sun tan time.
- Numerous shopping opportunities at prearranged discounts at a local store.
Conclusion: My year as Worshipful Master ended with my installing my successor W.Bro. Ab Goedhals in the East of Internet Lodge. As Immediate Past Master of Internet Lodge, my Festive Board toast was to our newly installed Worshipful Master. During this emotional toast I thanked all those Officers and brethren who assisted and supported me with their most abundant help and unstinting support during my year of office.
Although I have had the pleasure of over fifty years in Freemasonry, nothing has given me greater pleasure, and the feeling of greater brotherhood and support from you than the unique honor I was given to be Master of Internet Lodge. I truly feel that as an American, who left my native English shores as a sixteen-year-old man fifty-six years ago, that indeed I "came home" to my birthplace. I have been afforded a signal honor and I will treasure it always.
I thank all the members of Internet Lodge most warmly for all that I have been allowed to be in Internet Lodge, and I look forward with great pleasure to sharing this special lodge with you all for many years to come.
Peter F. Lanes
Immediate Past Master