Michael Walker, Grand Secretary, Grand Lodge of Ireland
Address of the Pro Grand Master,
the Marquess of Northampton|
I want to say something about one of our
oldest and closest friends, RW Bro Michael
Walker, Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge
of Ireland, who is due to retire shortly and is
therefore making his last visit to our Grand
Lodge in his official capacity – although I
hope he will continue to visit us in future.
Bro Michael is probably the most senior
Grand Secretary in the world, having held
that office for some 24 years since 1981. He
is certainly one of the best known and most
respected, and we in the United Grand
Lodge of England will be sorry not to have
the benefit of his wise counsel, kindness and
wit in our official meetings with the Grand
Lodge of Ireland.
I have invited him to address a few words
to our Grand Lodge. Before I do so, however,
I would like to present him with a gift, on
behalf of this Grand Lodge, as a token of our
respect and appreciation for all he has done for
Freemasonry during his long Masonic career.
It is largely thanks to him that we have
always enjoyed good relations with our sister
Constitution. It is a spirit decanter, Brethren,
and I know that he will be particularly
pleased that it also comes with a bottle
of his favourite spirit.
Address of RW Bro Michael Walker
I feel no stranger amongst you. I have been
visiting your Grand Lodge, and to represent
my own, for over 23 years.
Because Freemasonry is a subjective entity
it makes its own special contribution to each
individual, and it is therefore very difficult
to provide an exact definition for an outsider.
Truth, one of our three main principles
and precepts does not change. Truth, in a
Masonic connotation, may be expanded
into, or interpreted as, public and private
morality, the knowledge and fear of God
and, following on from that, respect for,
and love of, our neighbour.
This respect includes toleration of his
personal viewpoint, his religious beliefs and
his political opinions. If we pursue the aims
of Freemasonry, our search should widen, yet
focus our vision, while ever making us more
deeply aware of, and closer to, the Great
Architect of the Universe, heightening our
spirituality and deepening our insight into that
which we may never hope to fully understand.
The purpose of Masonry is “self improvement”
– not in the material
sense, but in the intellectual, moral and
philosophic sense of developing the whole
persona and psyche so as, in the beautiful
and emotive language of the ritual, “to fit
ourselves to take our places, as living stones,
in that great spiritual building, not made
by hands, eternal in the Heavens.”
In marketing terms we must view
Freemasonry as a product. This is what
we are “selling”, or otherwise providing,
for uptake by members and potential
members. To increase our sales, we must
either improve the product or make the
packaging more attractive.
Freemasonry principles and precepts have
stood the test of time and are as valid today
as ever. We cannot change the product and
remain in the same business; and we must be
true to ourselves in this.
If we want change to the extent of getting
into a new line of business it must be accepted
and recognised that this is exactly what we are
doing, and will it perhaps not be long before
somebody decides that the new product is
not quite right and needs further adjustment
to meet the current demands of society.
This is not an option which is open to
us. What we have and what we stand for
will always be right, even if its acceptance
rises or falls on the scales of time.
What we can do is upgrade the packaging,
and make it look more attractive to potential
customers, while also actually making it
more palatable to current consumers.
I am entirely against the “go out into
the highways and by-ways and compel them
to come in” attitude as is currently being
adopted and practised by some North
American Grand Lodges.
Our principles, sometimes referred to
as “Ancient Landmarks”, must stand firm,
upright and visible, like the pillars of stone
and brick raised by Enoch in the Land of
Siriad, and which were still standing in the
time of Josephus, lest the Arts and Sciences –
in our case the whole body of Freemasonry
– should slip from the knowledge of men.
Grand Master’s appointments
W Bro Barrie Leonard Parsons PGStB as
Grand Inspector, Malta Group of Lodges;
VW Bro Paul James Ernest Rink PGSwdB
to be Provincial Grand Master for and
Grand Superintendent in and over East
Lancashire, in succession to RW Bro Peter
Walthall; VW Bro William Barrington Hall
PGSwdB to be Provincial Grand Master for
Northamptonshire and Huntingdonshire in
succession to RW Bro Nicolas Hart.