Thursday, October 2, 2008

Masonic Education must be inclusive.

address by M.W. BRO. Emmanuel Anthony, P.S.M.
M.W. Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of Queensland
at the opening of the 5th Conference of
the Australian & New Zealand Masonic Research Council
19 August 2000

Brethren, it is indeed a great pleasure for me to officially open this 5th Australian and New Zealand Masonic Research Council Conference and in doing so to also extend a very warm welcome to our beautiful State of Queensland.

At the December Communications of the United Grand Lodge of England in 1996, the Grand Chaplain had expressed concerns (with which I am sure we would all concur) that, regrettably, there were far too many people who had inaccurate ideas about our wonderful fraternity and not nearly enough Freemasons who were capable, or willing, to put them right.

In other words, Brethren, the Rev.Tydeman was articulating the stark reality that Freemasons were somewhat lacking in their educational and research programs.

Indeed, similar sentiments have also been expressed by His Royal Highness, the Duke of Kent,Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England.

In his address at the Annual Investiture on Wednesday, 26th April, 2000, he said -

"While we cannot claim to have put to silence the ignorance of foolish men, we have rebutted their false accusations nationally and locally as never before.

I believe that by refusing to accept unjustified attacks and unfair discrimination, and by speaking more freely about the virtues and joys of the Craft, we are beginning to move on the front foot......

.......we should feel confident and proud of our Freemasonry."

The openness I spoke about at my Installation as Grand Master, over 2 years ago now, is no longer an option; and failure to acknowledge this reality will continue to create that vacuum of ignorance that provides fertile ground for rumour and speculation and which, ultimately, can only be to our detriment.

Our future prosperity, as an organisation relevant to this millennium, must be predicated on the effectiveness of our educational systems and processes. Lectures per se do not equate to education. We need to develop interactive techniques and strategies that embrace modern technology and adult learning principles; that enable the learner to have considerable input into, and control of, his masonic destiny.

Above all, our masonic education must be inclusive - it must have the capability to share our value systems and beliefs with our families, with youth and with the wider community.

Sir Winston Churchill once said that the only essential ingredients of education are appetite and enthusiasm. As Freemasons, we need be ever conscious of the fact that brethren will only remain enthused if they are encouraged and supported. This, I strongly believe, is at the very core of the philosophy underpinning masonic education.

As I said in my Proclamation Address in 1999, we will only remain viable if we demonstrate a preparedness to market that which we hold so dear; if we continually promote our ideals by making their packaging more attractive. We must always value Freemasonry as a rich heritage that we are holding in trust for future generations.

I have said on numerous occasions that when we accept a man as a brother, we not only acknowledge his intrinsic worth as a human being, but we also have a duty of care to nurture his intellect and to engender confidence and self-esteem.

As R.W. Bro. Michael Walker, the Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Ireland has said :

"Masonry is about self-improvement; not in a material sense, but in an intellectual, moral and philosophical sense."

In March of this year, I asked a young Freemason to address a gathering of new members and their partners. In his summing up he said this:

"Before I became a Freemason, I knew about the concepts of charity, love of family, love of God, respect for other peoples opinions and beliefs and the striving for excellence"

"These concepts were nothing new" he said.

"Admittedly they were presented in profound and beautiful rituals which enabled them to be powerfully impacted on candidates.

But more importantly what the Craft offered me personally was a forum in which to put these concepts into action and an opportunity to interact with like-minded men in the pursuit of fellowship and self-improvement."

Let me conclude with these remarks. They were spoken on 22nd July by the newly installed Master following the consecration of Redcliffe First Settlement Lodge No. 287.

" recent years we have been panicked into thinking that the introduction of candidates and the working of degrees are the most important facets of our masonic calendar."

"This, however, is far from the truth. What is of paramount importance is that we know who we are; what we are about and what we are trying to achieve - as individuals, as a Lodge and within our community.

This understanding can only be achieved through education."

I wholeheartedly endorse and applaud these sentiments.

I wish you well in your deliberations during the next two days and that you enjoy a most fulfilling and productive Conference.

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