Internet Lodge No.9659

W Bro Stephen Wall ProvGReg (Warwickshire)
14th August 2021



It is usual for the newly installed Worshipful Master of Internet Lodge No 9659 to give an inaugural address so that he can communicate information about his plans for the year ahead to the Brethren of the Lodge.

This, however, is not a “usual” Internet Lodge installation meeting.
It is not usual for the installation meeting to be held here in Salford Masonic Hall as normally we we would be a few miles away in Bridge Street, Manchester.
Nor is it usual for there to be only 20-odd brethren present, normally there would be around 100 with Brethren from all over the world.

But perhaps the most unusual aspect is the length of time since we have been able to physically meet, the last time that we were able to be in each others company was on 12th October 2019 some 22 months ago!
The installation meeting planned for 21st March 2020 was an early casualty of the Covid lockdown here in England and the consequent Suspension of Freemasonry by the United Grand Lodge of England.

This does however mean that our IPM, Bro Christian Mihoutoiu has the distinction of being the longest serving Master of the Internet Lodge, having served 2 years and 5 months. I congratulate him on this achievement and on behalf of the members of our Lodge thank him most sincerely.

The last 17 months have been challenging in many ways for people across the globe, within the Internet Lodge online social meetings were quickly started and these were followed by a series of Masonic talks given by a wide range of speakers, and I must thank that small band of Brethren who handled the organising of these on-line events.

Of course this being the Internet Lodge there was a healthy discussion about the technical solution and whether it was secure enough for Masonic discussions, we obviously did not want to be “Zoom-bombed” by any Cowans.

As the situation evolved in England, both legally and in terms of Masonic regulation, there have been many behind the scenes discussions about just when we could hold an Installation meeting, In list of meetings on the Members site you will see abandoned meetings for August, September and October 2020 as well as March 2021 but there were also discussions about a meetings in summer 2020 as well as June and July 2021..

Looking forwards our next meeting will be in Rugby in October and then back up to Manchester or Salford in March for the next Installation meeting.

I believe that many brethren will remain cautious about Covid for several months and I suspect that there will not be a large number of us in Rugby, so with this in mind I will not be holding a Ladies Festival, but hope that the ladies will be able to join us at the festive board for a “white table” event.

The Lodge continues to attract a large number of International applications for membership, with some 60 being able to be proposed today in Salford, however the Lodge is not attracting UGLE masons based in England and Wales and this is something that we must address. There always have been and always will be certain roles within the Lodge that require Brethren who are well versed in the workings of UGLE and the Book of Constitutions and that essentially means Brethren who have done most of their masonry here in England and Wales.

Today I must acknowledge two brethren who have served our Lodge extremely well.

Bro David Starbuck has retired from the office of Secretary, which he has held since 2015. The office of Secretary can be challenging enough in a “normal” Craft Lodge and is certainly the one which demands the most time and effort, but in a Lodge the size of the Internet Lodge which holds two out of three meetings away from their home Masonic Hall, which organises visits overseas and which has 500 members the workload is significantly higher, so on behalf of the Lodge I offer Bro David our grateful thanks for the service that he has given to us.

Bro John Dutchman-Smith has held the office of Assistant Secretary since coming out of the chair in March 2005. I am sure that you are all aware that in the Internet Lodge the office of Assistant Secretary is the one that handles all of the applications for membership of the Lodge. With the number of international applicants this is a far from straightforward job! Each applicant must be checked to ensure that they are a member of a Grand Lodge that is in amity with UGLE, and that they are in good standing within that Grand Lodge and within the Lodges that they are a member of. This is made more complicated by the fact that the Lodge only meets 3 times per year meaning that at any time there are large numbers of brethren, being check, awaiting proposal and awaiting ballot all of whom need to be kept informed of what is happening. On behalf of the Lodge, and especially on behalf of all those Brethren who Bro John has helped to join the Internet Lodge I offer our most grateful thanks for all of the time and effort that he has devoted to the Lodge.

Brethren, I am fully aware that this is likely to be a quiet year by Internet Lodge standards, but I believe that it is right and proper that we all get back to our beloved hobby of FreeMasonry in our own time and in our own ways, so here is hoping that we all are able to stay safe and have good health to enjoy it.

Stephen Wall
Worshipful Master
Internet Lodge No 9659