East Kent Provincial 2013 News

Thanet Chapter No 429 – Cluster Meeting


For their March 2013 Convocation at the Ramsgate Masonic Hall, Thanet Chapter No 429 invited other Chapters in the Thanet area to participate in a Cluster Meeting to consider and discuss membership, recruitment and retention ideas with members of the Provincial Executive. This was the seventh in a series of Cluster meetings taking place across the Province.

The Deputy Grand Superintendent, EComp Trevor Climpson, introduced the proceedings and stressed the importance of Chapter Almoners and of Chapter Liaison Officers in Lodges which feed into Chapters. It was noted that the Strategy Paper published four years ago had shown the way ahead but it was felt there were still some senior Lodge members not wholly supportive of the Holy Royal Arch. Chapter members therefore needed to be louder in conveying their message to the Craft of the importance of the Holy Royal Arch.

The Provincial Grand Chapter Almoner, EComp Martin Ransom, described some of the ideas suggested at previous Cluster meetings. These included:

    • More Provincial Executive ‘Chain’ visits.
    • Attendance at Lodge meetings by Chapter Principals wearing their robes and explaining their roles.
    • Follow-up by the Chapter Almoner with Companions not regularly attending Chapter meetings, involving Lodge Chapter Liaison Officers and their Almoners as necessary.
    • Stimulate interest by involving Chapter members in delivering lectures on the Ensigns or the Platonic Bodies, which, might be read so as to not deter those taking part with a requirement for more learning.
    • Later Convocation start times to assist those at work, and the length of the evening reduced by dispensing with a full Festive Board and by holding a buffet instead. This would also allow the members to circulate and encourage discussion.

The Third Grand Principal, EComp David Kershaw, then circulated among the members and invited them to take participate in discussion. Resulting points included:

    • Several years ago the message from Supreme Grand Chapter was that the Royal Arch was not the completion of the 3rd Degree but rather a separate order. This had confused members. Some had perceived it to be second to the Mark Degree with the Royal Arch not sufficiently projecting itself as not being a separate but an extension of the Craft.
    • Freemasonry should be shown not to be in a vacuum, but part of society.
    • It would be advantageous to display adverts at Masonic Centres, including the suggestion of the merits of being a member of a Lodge at one Centre and of a Chapter at another.
    • The best time to join the Royal Arch after being Raised should be tailored to the individual and not to a set time.
    • Get the message across that the Royal Arch is the extension of the 3rd Degree, a beautiful Ceremony and requiring possibly no more involvement than up to four meetings a year.
    • Promote the method of entering with a Proposer and Seconder, who along with senior members would mentor the new member.
    • Warn of the risk of joining too many Orders at once, leading to a duplication of duties in office and, although the cost individually may not be great, could become restrictive.
    • Subscriptions could be made easier by allowing standing orders, or paying by instalments.
    • Interest could be enhanced through use of the Provincial Website and Facebook.
    • Chapter Liaison Officers should not be partisan, but direct candidates to Chapters that suit them best. Ensure they join with friends and consider that maybe a Saturday Chapter, or one meeting in the morning, might be preferable.

The discussion was closed by the Deputy Grand Superintendent with a few salient points:

    • It was hoped that Chapter Liaison Officers would report on Chapter proceedings in the Lodge third Rising.
    • During the first interview of Lodge candidates, the prospective Initiate should be advised of the existence of the Royal Arch as an extension of the Craft.
    • We should expect the Chapter Almoner to contact members missing meetings and try to encourage them, without pressurisation, to return and so reduce the unacceptably high level leaving within five years of joining.
    • The booklet ‘The Guide to the Holy Royal Arch’ should be given to every Exaltee on the evening of his Exaltation.
    • Consider arranging a ‘Red Table Meeting’ to encourage new members.
    • The Kent Museum and Library would be holding a special Holy Royal Arch display to coincide with the 200th Anniversary, also to be celebrated by a Service at Canterbury Cathedral on the 21st September 2013.
    • Membership was improving slowly from a third of Craft membership up to about 38%, which is a move in the right direction.

The Grand Superintendent, MEComp Geoffrey Dearing, thanked the Thanet Chapter No 429 for facilitating the Cluster Meeting at their Regular Convocation and for the hospitality extended to the Provincial Executive team.