Royal Arch - Enjoyment, Recruitment, Retention

A talk by E Comp the Rev. E.D. Levy, PAGSoj at Supreme Grand Chapter on the 8th November 2006

Most Excellent Pro First Grand Principal and Companions.

The Royal Arch is a most beautiful degree. It stands beyond Craft masonry as the culmination of the candidate’s journey through pure Ancient Masonry. The beautiful lesson that this degree teaches, places man in the context of eternity. A brother becomes a complete Mason when he takes the Holy Royal Arch, and it is therefore our duty to ensure that this degree is as widely disseminated as possible.

However because Chapter deals with a different set of relationships, it will appeal to brethren on a different level to the Craft, and partly for different reasons. To those who find it attractive, the Royal Arch is a never-ending source of interest study reflection and self-awareness. In many ways, it is the serious mason’s degree.

It is true that recruitment is a problem, and this is for reasons that significantly go beyond Freemasonry. We live in a world where people tend not to join organisations, with the possible exception of the health club. Religious bodies of all denominations, Rotary, Scouts, Clubs of various types — all suffer from the effect that television and the Internet is having on human behaviour. Isolation and loneliness can readily occur in the midst of crowds. All of us here know the warm sense of brotherhood and friendship that comes with membership of Freemasonry.

The Holy Royal Arch is known as a friendly degree; we should stress this when recruiting, and welcome the candidates with genuine warmth. May I therefore suggest that recruitment to the HRA will increase in proportion to the publicity that we give to it within our own lodges, and the image we project?

Chapter should be seen as something special, and membership of the degree as an exaltation, a higher sense of Freemasonry. Worshipful Masters of Craft lodges should be encouraged to take wine, at least once a year, with Companions of Chapters — any chapter, not just the one connected to that particular lodge.

If there is a Chapter closely involved with the Lodge, the names of the principals could be publicised within the Lodge. The respect that junior brethren tend to feel towards senior member of their lodges could then be channelled into joining those Brethren in the Lodge’s Chapter. The candidate would be able to complete his journey through pure ancient masonry in company with those brethren with whom he is already familiar. We need to stress the brotherhood of Masonry.

Retention will often be a question of involvement. The new ritual, more comprehensible and understandable, can easily be mastered in bite-sized chunks. Not everyone will work the ritual to the same high standard.

Inevitably there will be variations, but a sense of enjoyment and participation will carry the Chapter along, and raise its standards.

Those that need help, will be helped and encouraged. We need to explain the Royal Arch to its new exaltees, and we need to encourage them in a non-judgemental way. Progress is not always easy — many companions can only progress with difficulty, but we must help them to do so, even if only an inch at a time.

The more a companion participates, the more he gets involved, the more will he feel a sense of belonging to his Chapter, and the loyalty that follows from being a member. Retention will become much easier, and those companions who are happy in their Chapters will themselves bring in their brethren from the Craft.

And finally enjoyment. There is no point in being a miserable freemason. Freemasonry in its widest sense, and particularly this degree with its interesting and dramatic story, its strong sense of morality, its deep lesson, and its happy atmosphere, is here to be enjoyed, not to be endured.

Freemasonry is important in today’s society. It encourages mutual respect and tolerance, qualities that are becoming increasingly necessary in a progressively fractured world. It adheres to standards of morality and behaviour in a society that seems increasingly unable to tell right from wrong.

But most of all it is fun. The grand design of being happy and communicating happiness affects and benefits us all. The Royal Arch is there to be enjoyed. If we can communicate our sense of enjoyment, all the rest - recruitment, retention, growth - will inevitably follow.

Provincial Chapter of Surrey
With acknowledgment to Provincial Grand Chapter of Cumberland & Westmorland

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