In November 2015, the Grand Superintendent invited me to take on the role of Royal Arch Provincial Mentor. Although the position had existed for several years we decided to re-evaluate it and decide what was needed in these times of falling numbers in both the Craft and the Royal Arch. What we came up with may briefly described as the ‘3 R’s’ – Recruitment, Retention and Re-engagement. In effect I am the Membership Officer for the Royal Arch. The purpose of this series of articles is to give you all an insight into what we are trying to do in the Royal Arch. So let us start with …..
ROYAL ARCH RECRUITMENT
According to the UGLE membership system, Adelphi, there are currently 5270 members of the Craft in the Province of Hertfordshire, but only 1953 (37%) members of the Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch. Those that have not joined are missing out on an important part of their Masonic education, as the Royal Arch is the final step on the journey of self-discovery that every Mason starts at his initiation.
WHY SHOULD A MASTER MASON JOIN THE ROYAL ARCH?
For many years, the Royal Arch was simplistically described as the completion of the Master Mason’s degree. You will recall that when a Brother is raised to the third degree he is informed that, because of the death of Hiram Abif, certain substituted secrets were adopted “… until time or circumstances should restore the genuine”. These are symbolically regained during the Royal Arch ceremony. The true secrets of Masonry have a much more profound import for the discerning Freemason and can only be found within himself. They are the inner spiritual meaning of his existence, the true knowledge of himself. They are as old as time, but are difficult to attain as they are just beyond the threshold of our general awareness and consciousness. They premise the existence of a Supreme Being and support the view that a consideration of the Deity should be included in all human endeavours.
They encompass those spiritual values that act as a bridge between our worldly existence and eternity, and in Masonic terms can only be attained by exaltation into the Royal Arch degree.
To achieve excellence each one of us must look to incorporate these great truths into our lives. They should be seen as a beacon enticing us towards the light and the reason why those Brethren still in the darkness of their third degree should take the supreme, final step in Pure Antient Freemasonry by joining the Royal Arch.
In short, the Royal Arch provides a spiritual dimension to Freemasonry, considers the teachings of the Craft in the light of eternity and is the culmination of the making of a complete Mason.
To assist Brethren in their quest for further knowledge a Royal Arch Representative has been or will be appointed in each of the Craft Lodges in the Province. While some Lodges have an associated Chapter, which many of their members will naturally wish to join, the Representatives have been tasked with promoting the Royal Arch in general rather than a specific Chapter. Prospective candidates will be provided with information about the Order and the various Chapters meeting in their area, and encouraged to join the one that best suits their circumstances. Most of the Representatives’ work will be undertaken behind the scenes, but it is hoped that Worshipful Masters will allow time, at least once a year, for them to outline in Open Lodge the values of Royal Arch Masonry and its important place in a Brother’s Masonic progression. It is also hoped that their name will appear on the Lodge Summons. It is my job to facilitate this and provide them with the necessary Royal Arch information to allow them to have a higher and more relevant profile. If you wish to know more, talk to the Royal Arch Representative in your Craft Lodge. If one is yet to be appointed, speak to your Lodge Secretary who will be able to point you in the right direction.
WHEN SHOULD A MASTER MASON JOIN THE ROYAL ARCH?
It is not possible to give a definitive answer to this question, as the decision will depend on many factors.
It is possible to be “exalted” (the equivalent of initiation) just 28 days after being raised, but for many this may be too soon. Some “traditionalists” say that a Brother should wait until after he has progressed through his Craft Chair. However, while it is never too late to join the Royal Arch, such advice is unnecessarily postponing what should be one of the great joys in Freemasonry.
The essential qualifications for exaltation are that a Brother should have come to terms with the lessons and teaching of the Craft, be at ease with the meaning of its allegories and can give time to the study of this new phase of his Masonic progression. Two to three years after initiation would seem to be a sensible compromise. I do sincerely believe that joining the Royal Arch is the next logical step for all (‘old’ and new) Master Masons. However, at the end of the day the decision is theirs and theirs alone!
Incidentally it is my firm belief, that the Craft will be stronger the more of its members take this important step to complete their journey through Pure Antient Freemasonry.
E Comp Tim Coles, PAGDC, PProv3rdGP
Royal Arch Provincial Mentor