Companions, it is a great pleasure for me to preside over this meeting in these magnificent surroundings and to see the Grand Temple so full.
As the Presiding Officer, I offer my congratulations to all those whom the Most Excellent First Grand Principal has appointed to and promoted in Grand Rank today. All such elevations are well deserved but, as has been stated at previous Investitures, they should be seen not solely as a reward for past contributions to Freemasonry and the Royal Arch in particular but also as an expectation of future service.
The Annual Report for the United Grand Lodge of England for 2022/23 was published earlier this week and highlights the critical role the Royal Arch plays in the delivery of the Strategy for Freemasonry launched at Grand Lodge’s Quarterly Communication in December. For the Royal Arch to play its part requires both a consistent, compelling story about the Royal Arch and a clearer explanation of why every Master Mason should aspire to complete their journey in Pure Antient Masonry by becoming a Royal Arch Mason.
The Committee of General Purposes has been working on these matters over the last year or so and we are starting to see the fruits of all their labours. The first is a booklet called “Discover More”. It is aimed primarily at Master Masons, although it is suitable for Entered Apprentices and Fellow Crafts, and complements the light blue “Discover Freemasonry” booklet with which most of you will be very familiar.
This new booklet refers to the fact that whilst you ‘Discover Freemasonry’ in the Craft, you ‘Discover More’ in the Royal Arch and goes on to describe in greater detail what it is that you discover. It explains that the messages contained in the Royal Arch, and the discoveries you make (many of which are deeply personal) are still relevant today – and it does so without attempting to rewrite the preliminary declaration, the Book of Constitutions or the ritual.
This is just the start of a wider communications strategy being prepared by the Committee that will also provide more detailed materials suitable for Exaltees, as well as more materials for Solomon. The messages highlight the existing themes within the Royal Arch which should be recognisable to all Freemasons, while emphasising the values of companionship and the enjoyment we all experience in the Royal Arch.
At the risk of stating the obvious, it is an accident of history the Royal Arch is administered separately. The Craft and Royal Arch share far more than just a common leadership, administrative support, and the same magnificent building. In reality the journey in Pure Antient Masonry represents one journey, administered by one organisation, from Initiation in the Craft to Exaltation in the Royal Arch.
The ‘Discover More’ booklet and the other documents that will soon become available will be followed by the release of Archway later in the year. The resources it provides will assist Chapters to shape and plan their future, grow their membership, engaging their members, and ensuring they enjoy themselves in the process.
The next 12 months will , I hope, be an exciting time and in due course we hope to reveal other more practical ways in which the Craft and the Royal Arch can work together and can be seen to be working seamlessly for the benefit of all our members. It is something I am strongly encouraging both the Committee and the Craft’s Board of General Purposes to develop together.
Companions, this investiture meeting always seems to proceed smoothly, and this is largely due to the enormous amount of work put in by the Grand Scribe Ezra and his staff, most of it behind the scenes, as well as by the Grand Director of Ceremonies and his team. All of them deserve both our thanks and our congratulations.
Thank you Companions.