Woolsack News No.46
News from Woolsack Lodge No 8221
meeting at the Masonic Hall, Ockford Road, Godalming GU7 1RQ
in the County and Masonic Province of Surrey
A lot has changed since the last ‘News' and not just in Freemasonry. But let's start with the normal update on matters Woolsack. In December, a brief meeting was followed by our annual Christmas celebratory dinner. Once again we are indebted to Terry and Rak for their organisational skills, the Godalming Town Band for entertaining us, Terry (again) for allowing himself to be persuaded to exercise his lungs. We were blessed once again with the company of Shannon Court residents and their carers, as well as our partners, family members and friends to share a convivial evening, which always feels like the start of a month of celebrations. If small talk had turned to politics (which, of course, it doesn’t at Masonic gatherings), it would have involved Brexit (remember Brexit?) and the then forthcoming general election. Strange to say, I doubt if anyone present had even heard of Covid19.
At our February meeting, Andrew James was raised to the Sublime Degree of a Master Mason in a ceremony ably conducted by Mark Graham. Andrew has already taken an active role in our ritual as an Acting Deacon, and I look forward to his further participation in our ceremonies.
Fortunately, we were able to hold our Installation meeting before Masonic gatherings were suspended. Hearty congratulations to John Wenden on his installation as Worshipful Master in a delightful ceremony conducted by his father in law, Graham Walder. Best wishes to John for a happy and successful year of office. Let’s hope that we shall be able to meet in October under his leadership.
So far, the suspension has had little effect on Woolsack Lodge as we have no regular meeting scheduled until October, although we have to forgo social activities such as river trips and BBQs. We’ve kept in touch by emails, thanks particularly to the diligence of Mark Graham, Graham Walder, Mike Yalden, Terry Owens and others, who make sure that nobody is forgotten. Most of us are probably experiencing more Mason contact, albeit remote, than is normal during the Summer months. You should all have received communications from Grand Lodge and the Surrey Provincial Office. I have ‘attended’ one of the virtual presentations by Quatuor Coronati Lodge which included a talk from a Swedish professor on 300 years of Freemasonry with contributions from Masons around the world. More international participation than can normally happen at a meeting in Great Queen Street. One of my London Lodges (Unions 256) has had Zoom gatherings including some of our members not seen regularly, from Spain, France and Ireland. Outside Freemasonry. I attended the first ever virtual Freedom of the City of London ceremony for Captain Tom Moore (you may have heard of him) in the presence of the Lord Mayor. On Sunday mornings, Linda and I attend the virtual service from our local parish church, or more accurately from the Vicar’s kitchen. A chance to chat to friends before and afterwards. Indeed all organisations with which we’re connected seem to be in touch regularly by Zoom and telephone. The fine weather gives us endless opportunities for walks on the heath or for gardening. It’s been such a busy time, we are anxious for lockdown to end and have a break.
If you would like to share your anecdotes about this interesting time, be they sad or happy, please email me for the next ‘News’.
Although fully reported by the Almoner, it is worth repeating, and we all extend, our sympathy to Peter Lomax on the loss of Pauline. Her face was often seen at Ockford Road, and she was a great supporter of Woolsack Lodge and of Peter in all that he did. It was sad that her friends could not celebrate her life in the way that they would have wished. Our thoughts remain with Peter, Josh and their family.
On a happier note, if restrictions are removed in time, Brendan hopes to initiate his son, Finch, into the Craft at United Mariners Lodge No 30, of which Brendan is a Past Master. Circumstances permitting, that Lodge will meet at Great Queen Street on 20 October.
As mentioned above, the Provincial Grand Lodge is keeping us well informed during the lockdown. Likewise the Provincial Grand Chapter of Surrey in respect of the Royal Arch. The Provincial special edition No 13 which our Secretary circulated on 25 May, contains a letter from the Deputy Grand Superintendent telling us that whilst the annual meeting was not being held in Freemason’s Hall, those being appointed or promoted would be invited to a special Zoom meeting. The following week’s edition contained much concerning the Royal Arch, so little comment is required on the part of your Royal Arch Representative.
Earlier this year, prior to the lockdown, I was able to attend the Installation Convocation of Libera Fidelis Chapter No 2101, which welcomes new members who wish to continue their Masonic journey at Godalming. As you will note from our Lodge summons, Woolsack is a feeder Lodge for Chapter 2101 which had healthy numbers in the days that it was the only RA Chapter at Ockford Road. Whilst still a healthy Chapter in good heart with well supported and friendly meetings, it now has to compete with two other Chapters on the same premises. Please give it your continued support.
After the above, it is with some shame that I confess that I am now Scribe E (Royal Arch equivalent of Secretary) of Chapter of Temperance in the East No 898. Despite its name, a modest amount of alcohol is consumed and indeed my predecessor ran a pub in the west! This Chapter and its supporting Lodge, until recently both met on weekdays with a declining membership. Both Lodge and Chapter have switched to Saturdays resulting in a flood of new members, whose day jobs deter them from active participation in weekday Freemasonry. In the past, I have avoided Saturday Freemasonry as far as possible in an endeavour to maintain some home life. However, without other distractions, I have found Saturday meetings quite relaxing. The lodge and Chapter meet on Saturday mornings at 11am followed by a convivial lunch, leaving us free to enjoy home life for the rest of the weekend. The moral is by seeking what is available, it is usually possible to find a Masonic home that does not conflict with the priorities of home or business life. There is something out there for everyone.
Pass the crystal ball someone! There is no point in listing the events that are cancelled. Plenty of virtual presentations and remote gatherings to be enjoyed. If Woolsack Lodge is permitted to meet on 7 October, we shall hear from our Secretary.
See also, The Surrey Mason, www.surreymason.org.uk and www.surreypillars.org.uk and www.woolsacklodge.org. UGLE – First Risings, Surrey Second Risings. One day perhaps, the Surrey Events Calendar may return.
The following was sent to me by the Chaplain of another Lodge, at the start of the lockdown, and I share it with you: ‘
We can no longer meet up or gather physically in one place to perform or practise our ritual, to enjoy friendship and fellowship with each other. This does not mean, however, that we cannot continue to be brothers together. It does not mean that we cease to have purpose as part of a worldwide fraternity. As a Masonic family, we want to love, support and encourage each other through the coming weeks. We also want to extend that love, support and encouragement to those around us: our family, friends, neighbours and, particularly, the vulnerable in our society.