Saturday 14th January 2017, all roads for Five of Nine Club members and invited guests led to St Pauls Club, in the heart of Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter. The setting was a beautiful Edwardian building home to some of Warwickshire’s Masonic lodges.
The building itself is steeped in history and was an easy choice for the Five of Nine Club to host its very first ‘Beyond the Craft’ educational event. A programme designed to give attendees an invaluable insight into the orders beyond Craft Freemasonry, with lots of opportunities for questions to gain a good level of understanding at the end of each presentation.
Before the main event, the brethren gathered downstairs, this was a fabulous opportunity to meet and chat to other members and brethren from lodges outside of their mother lodge whilst enjoying a good selection of refreshments to keep spirits in good form.
The event commenced in a packed room as we were introduced to E.Comp David Evans, Third Prov Grand Principal of Warwickshire Provincial Grand Chapter in full Royal Arch regalia.
The twenty-minute presentation gave a résumé of the history and antiquity of Royal Arch. The interactive discussion focused on the origins and early development of the chapter, and why the participation of the order is necessary to complete ones understanding of the first three degrees of Craft Freemasonry.
Many of the younger brethren were unaware that historically the ceremony undertaken to become a Fellow Craft had been much longer. And the fact, that aspects which had previously been removed now underpin the order of Mark Master Masons. The Mark degree was discussed and presented in depth by W.Bro Philip Wills Dep Prov Grand Master, and W.Bro Gareth Hughes Prov Grand Sec of Warwickshire Mark Master Masons. After the presentation, our members were in no doubt why this highly social order, which is less formal and ‘…doesn’t have starch in its collars’ is known as the happy degree.
This was followed by a further two excellent presentations by 'the Two Rogers', Rt E Kt Roger Dixon Prov Prior and E Kt Roger Harrison Prov Sub Prior representatives respectively of the Knights Templar and Knights of Malta, here we learnt about the history of the orders and the natural progression between the two, we were amazed at the regalia and the symbolic significance of it. A short break allowed the brethren to finish off the tea and biscuits and continue with enthused conversation.
After refreshment’s, the second part of the event was dedicated to three further presentations; the first from the R Wy Bro Merrill Martin Elliot, Prov Grand Supreme Ruler of the Order of the Secret Monitor, who also discussed the Ancient and Masonic Order of the Scarlet Cord with a real sense of brotherhood and the good works taken on internationally. The penultimate talk was given by Illustrious Companion Peter Welling’s, who really brought together the story of the 'Cryptic Degrees' and used his presentation on the Royal and Select Masters to provide an overview of the interrelated nature of all the masonic orders and how they complement each other. Our final presentation was given by Illustrious Brothers David Williams and Steve Fowler who showed true passion for Rose Croix and explained how this degree takes you all the way up to the 33rd degree should you be so fortunate to make it!
It was a brilliant afternoon and a fantastic opportunity for brethren to get a good understanding of the workings, the entry requirements, the costs and the amount of work to be undertaken - helping brethren to make an informed decision should they wish to enhance their masonic experience and education. A key message that was woven throughout all of the presentations was that it is important not to rush in, it’s important for brethren to take their time and not feel pressured into joining any particular order, and most importantly to make sure look after themselves, family and work first.
After the event, we met our families and friends for a drink in the Actress and Bishop bar where the atmosphere continued to match the day, it gave brethren an opportunity to discuss further the teachings of the event and excitedly plan their next chapter of Freemasonry, it was great that some of the presenters were also able to join us and share some more of their experiences and the benefits of looking beyond the craft.
We would like to record a huge thank you to all who attended the Beyond the Craft event, and especially the representatives of the various orders who entertained and inspired us for most of the day.
By D. Thompson