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Archway: Strategic Strides




Archway, developed over the past two years, was officially launched at the Supreme Grand Chapter in November 2023. Provinces have enthusiastically embraced this initiative, viewing Archway not merely as a separate project, but as a pivotal component of the Membership Challenge and the ‘One Journey, One Organisation’ approach.

Each Province has designated a Single Point of Contact (SPoC) for Archway. Although still in its early stages, we’re excited to share the diverse strategies that various Provinces are employing to implement Archway. Key highlights from Provinces include Provincial Executives from both the Craft and Royal Arch collaborating on Archway, dedicated teams at both Provincial and Chapter levels driving Archway implementation, and a Province-wide communication plan tailored for Archway. Additionally, Archway QR codes now feature on Summons and other Provincial materials, visiting officers are briefed to promote Archway actively, robust connections with the Royal Arch Representative role are established, and a mix of roadshows, face-to-face meetings, and online sessions are utilised to communicate Archway’s benefits. Metrics to gauge success are also being formulated.

Our goal is to establish a network of SPoCs across England and Wales. This network will serve as a valuable resource for assistance, support, and sharing good practices.

Durham: 151 Lodges, 54 Chapters

As the launch of Archway at Supreme Grand Chapter approached last November, the Province of Durham decided that, as part of our ongoing activities to raise the profile of the Royal Arch, and at the same time raise awareness of the benefits of Archway, we would focus on a month of Royal Arch events. We called it our ‘Royal Arch Festival Month’ and it ran from mid-March to mid-April 2024.

Our month kicked off with a demonstration of the Ceremony of the Veils, involving a Provincial team and the host Chapter members. This was publicised as a rare opportunity to witness a key part of our heritage and the event attracted a capacity audience. We visited Lodges to present ‘Talking Heads’ as a light-hearted introduction to the Royal Arch in the Lodge environment. And we also presented our ‘Royal Arch Roadshow’ to Lodges, again involving a number of Companions to further explain the Royal Arch.

We visited several Chapters with ‘Adding More Theatre to the Principal Sojourner’s Story’. By bringing more drama through actions and lighting, the Candidate and Companions are better able to appreciate and enjoy the Sojourner’s story. During a busy month, we also managed to fit in a Lodge visit to present ‘The Keystone Connection’, where the Grand Superintendent and the Provincial Grand Master of the Mark discussed the Royal Arch and Mark degree.

Our Festival Month was largely geared towards the ‘involve/enjoy’ stones, but by enhancing a Companion’s experience we believe that this will lead to the shaping and growing of our Chapters. We see Archway as a useful tool when addressing challenges faced by Chapters. Chapters will be guided to Archway on the basis that they don’t have to start from scratch, as in Archway, they will find a wealth of information, guidance, and examples of good practice.

East Kent: 173 Lodges, 64 Chapters

From the outset, we viewed Archway as a key element in our strategy to secure the long-term future of the Royal Arch in East Kent. We have been clear that it’s not only important to make sure that every Freemason in the Province has a full understanding of what Archway is and how it can be used to best effect, but that it’s crucial that they also understand how it fits with all the other initiatives that have been, or will be, happening locally and nationally.

The way in which we have chosen to launch Archway reflects our need to communicate this wider agenda for change, gain people’s commitment to it, and reinforce our mantra of ‘One Province, One Journey’. If we want people to become fully committed to any initiative, we have to talk to them about it, explain why it’s necessary, what it means to them, and listen to what they have to say. In simple terms, we have to grab their hearts and minds.

We hold a strong view that we can’t effectively achieve this via social media or online resources alone. These are all very important methods of communication, but they’re essentially impersonal and one-way processes. We therefore chose to launch Archway using a series of face-to-face breakfast presentations across the Province during March and April that were open to all members of the Craft and Royal Arch. We gave ownership of the initiative to a small team tasked with developing and delivering a suitable PowerPoint presentation, and producing a range of promotional materials – such as pop-up banners, posters, and a printed A5 version of the Archway User Guide for wider distribution.

The presentations were very well received, but just launching Archway successfully is not enough. Our continuing task is to ensure Archway becomes fully embedded and bears fruit. Achieving this involves strong leadership, clear direction and support, a team approach, and some joined-up thinking. Our hard work starts here!

Essex: 289 Lodges, 115 Chapters

With our own Deputy Provincial Grand Superintendent sitting on the Membership and Communications Working Party, brief details of the Archway initiative were communicated to members of the Provincial Executive early in 2023. This culminated in a Zoom meeting in October 2023, which produced a programme of rollout actions to take place after the official launch and beyond. Also in October, a letter sent to Craft Lodge RA Reps by the Deputy Grand Superintendent included an introduction to Archway and the benefits it will bring.

Following the launch in November, each of the Province’s five Assistants to the Provincial Grand Principals contacted the Scribes E of the Chapters in their Group, introducing them to Archway, encouraging them to familiarise themselves with the new tool and recommending that they share it with each of the Companions in the Chapter. In addition, it was suggested that each Chapter should form a small committee to identify their needs and where Archway could help them best. The committee would then report back with a view to implement their findings. Scribes E were also encouraged to include a QR code on their future Chapters Summons.

We are inviting feedback from our Chapters in order to assess their views and involvement to date and will then assist each Chapter with their specific needs. Archway is enthusiastically included by APGPs in Festive Board messages. A double-sided business type card has been produced with ‘Visit Archway’ and a QR link to the app on one side, and the key four Archway Stone headers on the reverse. These are currently being distributed on an ad hoc basis. Finally, the Provincial Executive has hosted a series of quarterly engagement calls via Zoom, inviting Companions to air their views on a variety of topics, including Archway. These have proved particularly successful.

Lincolnshire: 76 Lodges, 33 Chapters

Under the leadership of the incoming Third Provincial Grand Principal, Lincolnshire has assembled a group of six members with the skills and experience to roll out and support Archway across the Province. As an integral part of the Province’s Membership Challenge, the group has been tasked with delivering Archway in a manner that will enable each and every Royal Arch Chapter to take responsibility for shaping its own future.

During the initial planning stage, the group has identified the following key strategic components: to develop an effective, Province-wide communications strategy, including a ‘catchy Archway strapline’ for Lincolnshire; to identify and include stakeholders at all levels. For example, Visiting Officers, active Chapter Officers, and RA Reps to assist individual Chapters in getting the best from Archway; to produce an effective, informative, and interesting way of presenting Archway. One of the main hurdles to overcome will be the geographical size of the Province; and to identify a means of measuring the overall success of the project.

Within this framework, each component is the responsibility of an individual member. Work on this initial stage is well on schedule for completion by the end of August, in readiness for the roll-out to begin in earnest after the summer recess. In the meantime, each of the group members is introducing Archway to their own Chapters in order to gauge the response and to identify current best practices, already in place, that can be shared. To date, the response from those members who have seen the Archway initiative has been positive and the group is looking forward to seeing the project gain momentum as each of the Province’s 33 Chapters comes onboard.

Yorkshire, West Riding: 171 Lodges, 69 Chapters

Since the installation of James Newman as Provincial Grand Master and Grand Superintendent, the Province has adopted and embraced the single organisation ‘One Province’ approach, which aligns with the ‘One Journey, One Organisation’ strategy for Freemasonry in general. Craft and Royal Arch Rulers meet quarterly to plan and implement this Provincial strategy. Heads of functions for both Craft and Royal Arch work together, not in silos, across both the Craft and Royal Arch activities. Royal Arch now has a much higher profile within the Province, demonstrating the benefits of the One Province strategy.

The launch of the Discover More booklet and the message of ‘continuing the journey’ was well received as being more inviting and easier to convey. We plan to personalise the booklets to our Province. Every Master Mason receiving their Grand Lodge Certificate will be presented with this booklet by their Lodge Royal Arch Representative.

We have recently appointed a Provincial Chapter Membership Officer to drive through the launch of Archway. All major Officers in each Chapter and all Lodge RA Representatives received an email with a link to the Archway User Guide and a survey. The survey feedback will be used to determine any further learning and training needs; initial feedback has been really positive. A pilot ‘Archway Awareness’ presentation has been trialled, with plans for a comprehensive roll-out over the coming months.

Excellent Companion Andrew Robinson, Assistant Provincial Grand Master and responsible for the roll-out of Archway in the Province, said,

‘Archway has come at the right time to support our Chapters in navigating their challenges. It serves as a toolkit and guide, offering our Chapters practical solutions, and will play a major role in addressing our Royal Arch Membership Challenge.’

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