Earlier this month, a new Grand Lodge in the Philippines was also constituted. And the United Grand Lodge of America was constituted on St. John's the Evangelist's day, December 27, 2005. It seems good brothers all over the world have had enough of the politics and racism they've found in their original Grand Lodges, and are taking it upon themselves to make changes as they deem necessary.
None of the new Grand Lodges that have come about in the last year are "upstarts" or "clandestine," as some entrenched Antient Masons would have the world believe. These new organizations are made not of men pretending to be Masons, but of regularly made Masons who love the Craft, who have seen wrongs they have tried to right. The Freemasons who are involved in these new Grand Lodges have worked long and hard within the system through proper channels to make needed changes, but have been met with scorn, disdaine and derision.
Just as King George's refusal to listen to the Colonies or to make concessions to their needs led to the American Revolution, so the continued deaf ear offered by current Antient and conventional Grand Lodges to the younger, more progressive Freemasons (formerly) under their jurisdiction has directly led to the formation of these new Grand Lodges.
Here is the announcement by Bro. John Gordon Graves:
Grand Lodge of All EnglandThis announcement has been previously posted on Alabama Free-Mason and Le Chevalier Maçonnique.
Brethren, this day The Grand Lodge of All England has been duly and properly formed, armed with a constitution that remains true to its predecessors, and fit for the 21st Century and beyond.
The reponement, or rebirth of our illustrious institution here in York, which dates back to time immemorial, has produced a great surge of interest and activity since our historic meeting last year. Indeed, apart from ongoing developments in Yorkshire, we are now fully committed to the inauguration, within the next six months, of a second operative Lodge, to meet regularly in London. Brethren, this and much more will come to pass.
I am also pleased to announce that negotiations are at an advanced stage with The United Grand Lodge of America. We expect to agree terms for a formal Agreement of Amity before our next meeting in December.
We send them our fraternal greetings, together with our support and best wishes for the future of Craft Masonry throughout the United States of America. They have taken on a difficult task with great fortitude, resilience and determination and, although they are a "new" Grand Lodge, they carefully and in every respect uphold the principles and purposes of Ancient Freemasonry. Not least, they provide us all with a freshness, vitality and renewed enthusiasm.
Unfortunately however, but not unexpectedly, some of the interest expressed in the Grand Lodge of All England has been malign. I am sorry to have to announce that we have found it necessary to suspend the "Latest News" section of our very successful website. This is due to the actions of a small minority in misusing the information provided in order to disrupt our lawful activities, including this very meeting of Grand Lodge. We wish to make it quite clear, of course, that we do not place any blame directly on any other Grand Lodge. The guilt lies with a few sad and misguided individuals perhaps more needful of our prayers than our disapprobation.
Brethren, this is most unfortunate. It is also unhelpful to those interested in monitoring our progress and who wish to keep up to date with the development of Craft Masonry in England, Wales, the Channel Islands and elsewhere. However, the purile actions of such delinquents cannot interrupt or delay our inevitable progress. We will continue to give out as much information as we possibly can to Freemasons and the general public alike without detriment to ourselves or connections.
In such circumstances it is perhaps timely to clarify what we in this Grand Lodge understand by true and genuine Freemasonry. In this we can best start by considering the aims and aspirations for our Brethren and candidates.
An initiate into Freemasonry first enters a Lodge unknowing, and untutored in the Craft: a so-called rough ashlar (building block). But, if he is joining for a valid reason, he anticipates that his life is about to be fundamentally changed by the experience.
Thenceforward it is his duty, and the purpose of true and genuine Freemasonry, to develop his character and knowledge to such a degree that he figuratively evolves into a perfect ashlar (a carefully measured and prepared stone), thereby ensuring that he becomes fit and ready for the challenges of citizenship, and prepared for his inevitable destiny in this life, and in the hereafter.
However, many illustrious Brethren, not least our late Brother Walter Wilmshurst, have pointed out how a Mason's understanding of the Craft often remains at an early and undeveloped stage. Whilst the literal, superficial value of our teachings is gained through ceremony in the Lodge room and through memorising of ritual, this is merely the first part of the journey.
Unfortunately, the great majority of Brethren are unable to take further steps towards a deeper understanding.
They choose instead to remain at a level of knowledge whereby the Craft is regarded as a social, quasi-secret club to which it is agreeable, and possibly advantageous to belong to in terms of the external, materialistic world.
Aspirations at this stage are often for office and apron. The ability to perform proficient ceremonial and to parrot catechism are regarded the pinnacle of Masonic endeavour. Other matters, such as the conviviality of the festive board or the amount of charitable monies raised in order to purchase public approbation regarded as more fundamental than the work itself. But such sentiments are the uncrafted, rough ashlar stage of Masonic understanding.
What then do we in our own Grand Lodge consider to be true and genuine Freemasonry?
Curiously, any such attempt at a working definition is absent from many works on the Craft. It is all very well to talk with somewhat archaic usage of "a peculiar system of morality veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols", but does this really explain very much? Should we, in any event, restrict our understanding of Freemasonry to that system which has grown up since speculative Masonry was organised into its currently recognisable structure, or should we raise our eyes to a much wider vista?
Brethren, allow me to offer something of my own fallible understanding. I see an initiatory order based upon a treasury of ancient truths and values enshrined in human experience, and resonating with the underlying philosophies of many religions. A system of spiritual alchemy based on a symbology free of dogma, doctrine, crafted to guide and assist individuals in realising their full potential in their life-journey towards self-knowledge.
Freemasonry, on this definition, or anything like it, represents a serious internal, intellectual and spiritual journey far beyond the concerns of the external, profane, uninitiated world. True and genuine Freemasonry thus represents the precise and absolute opposite of the mafia of the mediocre of popular imagination.
It is thus crucial to the survival of the true Craft, that those men humbly soliciting to be admitted to the mysteries and privileges of Ancient Freemasonry are in actual fact, and not just in empty words, first prepared to become a Freemason, in their hearts. Without such heartfelt fervency and zeal they will always remain at best as rough ashlars, and the spiritual temple of Freemasonry bereft of its living stones.
Brethren, we are engaged upon weighty matters. We could not have come so far without your support, committment and perseverance in the face of adversity. Thank you for taking the time to attend Grand Lodge today. I look forward with confidence and enthusiasm to our next Convocation in December, and offer my good wishes to you all for an enjoyable and reinvigorating Summer break.
— Most Worshipful Brother John Gordon Graves, Grand-Master Mason
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