Dear Brethren All,
Welcome to our Installation meeting and they annual renewal of this our Internet Lodge No. 9659, on our journey towards our future, The Future is the theme of my year as your Master. In my Manifesto to be Master of our great Lodge I spoke of my thoughts, dreams and ambitions for our Lodge, “The starting point being what binds us together. I believe that our sense of belonging, being part of, and feeling valued and being needed is paramount.. I spoke of certain areas in which our lodge can make progress to further those objectives, and I will speak later of them addressing what has already been done because we as a Lodge have not been still.
Continuing our theme “The Future” through our meetings, our August speaker at Grantham will be John Acaster, John is a Masonic historian, a past master of Quatuor Coranati Lodge 2076 and regularly published in “The Square” Masonic magazine. John will be presenting “Freemasonry: Our Future”, expressing some international thoughts. In October at our Festival weekend in Sheffield, Patrick or Padrig, Belton, will also speak on “The Future of Freemasonry” Patrick is a writer and you can see some of his works and read about some of his adventures on Linked In. Patrick‘s two latest charity fund raising efforts being a short bike ride from Land’s End to John ‘O’ Groats and a run round Ireland.
Why the future? Because Internet Lodge was consecrated as a step into the future by founders looking to the future and although we remember our roots and maintain and guard our principals we must stay relevant to society and the world around us. That for us all means embracing new ideas and not forgetting that Masonry grew out of Renascence, Humanist thought, the philosophy of Protgoras, the creation of a citizenry able to speak and write and thus being capable of engaging in the civic life of their communities. Their subjects were Grammar, Rhetoric, History, Poetry, and Moral Philosophy. Our subjects are “Grammar, Rhetoric, Logic, Arithmetic, Geometry, Music and Astronomy” and not forgetting, “Our Craft” is a system of Moral Philosophy “Veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols”. Our Speculative Free Masonry, that which we practice today was also born looking to the future and grasping the exciting world of Enlightenment.
This Great Lodge was founded as the dream of 52 Brothers in 1998 and with 50 joiners on that first meeting growing and evolving on the support of it’s dynamic members and the tremendous efforts of it’s Officers .In 2005, 7 years on we had 168 members, 50% bigger! In 2012 our membership was 310 expanding threefold in a mere 14 years. How many members will we have for our 21st birthday in 2019 when we come of age. Our current membership is 408. This raises the question, how or what can we do to support our Lodge in continuing to evolve into the future whilst not losing the essence, that warmth that tightly binds us and cements together. Along side this our Web Master and his team was shrinking as members moved on to other Masonic duties and our Assistant Secretary and Web Team Leader, WBro. John Dutchman Smith who had been wishing to retire for some three years announced at our last installation that he would retire at our 2016 Installation meeting. Something had to be done! This matter needed addressing and urgently.
Several discussions were had and our Worshipful Master Ben Allen formed an “IL Future” group in August 2015 to look at not only the Web Team and Assistant Secretaries role but also those jobs overseen by our Web Master, Charles Arnold and by October we had an audit of our Assistant Secretaries / Web Team Leader’s roles basically all John’s jobs and responsibilities melded into one and an audit of Charles Arnold our Web Masters roles along with a host of his innovative ideas. I did say at the beginning we had not been still. In the middle of this John Dutchman Smith suggested a new “Technology Study” was overdue, the last one being in 2010 but we were still short of a replacement for John and it was very clear too few were trying very hard to do an awful lot to keep us just going. John’s prompting did however raise some volunteers with a by-line to Past Master Ben and myself, there you are! A basic lesson and reminder I think, because to enter Freemasonry we all had to walk up to the door, knock and when the door opened ask to enter. We needed help and we needed to ask.
Following my October posting to the IL Members mail list proposing an Assistant Secretaries Team (technology users) and Web Team, (computer techies and programmers) there was some resistance within but out with the support was over whelming and Brethren I thank you all for coming forward. At this point Bro. Gerard Otten kindly offered to carry out an in-depth audit of our functions and help co-ordinate our efforts into a functional structure. An idea was evolved of “Users”, both the public and our Members viewing our Web pages and Our Members on our intra net or Private site, “Information Publishers” inputting data on membership and where in the world, publishing our meetings and providing news and articles for our Web pages and our Face Book presence. One more team has been formed completing our structure to support our changing venues around the country an “Events Team” to co-ordinate those venues, arrange accommodation and ensure easy access on transport networks and accessibility. With accessibility in mind our disabled group is re formed and will be supporting us with guidance for the Event Team to ensure our meetings are open to all. Lastly and very importantly are the Brethren who build the databases and write the programmes that make all this function, our “Intra net” or IT Team.
I am very pleased to say this process has been successful and you will all have seen the results in the diagram “IL New Administration Structure” and it’s four teams. Three of the teams Membership headed by Philip Harris, Publishing headed by Claudiu Ionescu and Events headed by Roy Morris are formed, functioning and in a position to evolve and to respond to our needs as a Lodge. These were of course the most urgent with John retiring. Our IT Team is the next priority on our agenda and is now a team and no longer our Web Master Charles on his own but three, Charles Arnold, Larry Porter and headed by Gerard Otten having completed his work in the other three areas. We will need suitably skilled understudies to spread the work load and allow “Web Development” to happen improving the great services we already have. We also wish to carry out an Information and Communications Technology (ICT) study not only to produce a report but to access opportunities for us to develop and evolve. Our last IT report received much acclaim in the Masonic world but in the last 5 years Information Technology has moved on. For those of you who kindly responded to John and I back in October, yes, we still have this on the agenda so watch this space. We must also recognise the opportunity created by the work carried out over this winter by Larry Porter who has upgraded our public web site to Joomla 3 and has heralded a big step forward which will greatly aid our editor in helping our web page to develop in promoting a lively, brighter public face.
Ben’s work is as Master is now complete and I look forward to his support as Immediate Past Master as I set off in my year and toward our future with my Wardens, your future. Now to the point of this exercise of the creation of our teams. Our Lodge being spread both in membership and management over the four quarters of our globe our communications are paramount. We are engaged in an Art whose aim is “To be Happy” and to “Communicate and Spread Happiness” and I believe we have not only secured our capacity and future to continue those aims but enhanced our opportunities as users and members to practice this art within our Lodge. Our mail list founded our sharing in basic communications and is well used but it’s potential is still not fully utilised in that we would like to hear from you all in sharing your thoughts feelings and news with one another. We have two Face Book pages, now part of the Publishing Team and moves have been made to liven them up for those of you who enjoy that medium but above all they need your support. Now as part of our Publishing Team and heading it we have an “Editor” and he would love to hear your news and see what you are all up to. All the special things that happen in Internet Lodge can easily be written up and posted on our public pages to be shared not only by us but also the Masonic world and world beyond and fulfil the quest of “Communicating and Spreading Happiness”.
As we step forward together and into the future may I wish you all a great deal of fulfilment and pleasure from you all being part of and involved in this wonderful Lodge. I urge you all to share in the adventure that support from around the world brings in so many dimensions and to join solidly with one another in sharing your Freemasonry continuing to bind this great edifice of Freemasonry with the cement of Brotherly Love.
I leave you all with a little poem by Robert Browning and a thought;- Truth lies within ourselves: it takes no rise from outward things, whatever you may believe. There is an inmost centre in us all, where truth abides in fullness and to Know rather consists in opening out a way whence the imprisoned splendour may escape than in effecting entry for light supposed to be without.
And my thought:- Brethren, we are not an imprisoned splendour and we have an opening therefore let us all join together and let our light shine brightly.
Brethren thank you for your kind attention, I wish us one and all a happy Year.