An excellent attendance at Britannia Lodge of Mark Master Masons No. 53 one of the founding Lodges of the Province, on Thursday, 21st June to witness the dedication of the new Provincial Banner, and the retirement of its predecessor. This all took place at Tapton Hall and the Lodge was opened in due form by the Worshipful Master, Worshipful Brother Richard Foster.
Opening formalities, including the reading of the Dispensation, out of the way, upon a report, the Deputy Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, Worshipful Brother Andrew Brown, also now one of the Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies, entered and began the process of bringing honoured guests to the party. First, Past Rulers comprising Past Provincial Grand Masters, Right Worshipful Brethren Brian Batty and James Truswell. Past Deputy Provincial Grand Masters Very Worshipful Brethren Bob Corfield and Richard Puttrell and last, but by no means least, Past Assistant Provincial Grand Master, Worshipful Brother Dr. Rod Taylor. Then the most important element in proceedings, the Provincial Grand Master, Right Worshipful Brother James Steggles, G.M.R.A.C. accompanied by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, Worshipful Brother Alan Oldfield, the Assistant Provincial Grand Master, Worshipful Brother Trevor Bolton and an escort of Provincial Grand Lodge Officers of the year.
W.Bro, Richard offered the gavel which, on this occasion, was accepted by R.W.Bro. Jim with the comment, ‘I think I thank you’. Officers of the year then took post and R.W.Bro. Jim confirmed that the purpose of the meeting was to retire the present Banner which during its time has seen fifteen Provincial Grand Masters and dedicate its successor. The original banner had been presented to the Province by our first Standard Bearer in February 1872, at the first Provincial meeting held after the Province was formed in August 1871. At one point it went missing, but it was eventually found in 1974, after being concealed under the rubbish for many years. To mark the centenary of the Province, it was framed and hung in Tapton Hall, where it remains today. The banner which was retired was not the original but one which was bought by the Province in 1957. This was not obviously apparent from the records at the time, and was only discovered after the present ceremony had taken place. We need to keep clearer records of important Provincial events!
The old banner was paraded around the Lodge for all to acknowledge and with due thanks, retired by the P.G.M. The Escorting Officers then brought forward the new banner for the Provincial Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons of West Yorkshire, which was accepted by R.W.Bro. Jim. The Provincial Grand Chaplain Edward Patnick then delivered a stimulating oration, following which the new banner was paraded around the Lodge for all to witness before being Dedicated and received on behalf of the Province by the P.G.M. and placed in its proper position. The whole ceremony was conducted with dignity and style, under the guidance of Provincial Deputy D.C. Andy Brown.
An Oration was then delivered by one of the finest exponents of the art, the Provincial Grand Chaplain, Very Worshipful Brother Edward Patnick. He began by talking about a Rabbi, a regular opening gambit, who talked about Space Rockets travelling at 1800 miles an hour to reach outer space and then orbiting the Solar system for decades. Someone asked the rocket controller what was the most important part of the Rocket, could it be the engine? the controller replied, “No every screw or washer was just as important because if one small part failed the mission would end in disaster”. This applies to our wonderful Mark Province of West Yorkshire, every person from the Provincial Grand Master to the newest Mark Master Mason and all its equipment are equal. Thus our new Banner is an essential feature and helps our Mark family to have its assembly point under which every member can gather and identify with it when displayed. Yes, the Province is our parent body and just like mankind, no two parents are the same.
Mark Masons have to believe in a Divine Creator, most of us should, therefore keep the Ten Commandments. These Commandments were giving to the Jewish people by God through Moses on Mount Sinai and have been adopted by most religions. The first two Commandments were actually heard directly from God but the people were so overwhelmed that they asked Moses to hear the rest and relate them. However before the Jewish people received them they were offered to three other tribes who, having been given an example such as “Thou shalt not kill”, declined to have them. Finally he offered them to the Jewish people, who asked, “How much they would it cost”? To which the reply was nothing. So they said, “Fine we will have ten”!
Rabbi Mirvis, the Chief Rabbi, gave an unusual interpretation of The Ten Commandments. They were given on two Tablets, the first tablet had Five Commandments which deal with our duty to our Maker and the second teaches our connection to our fellow human beings; if read horizontally instead of vertically they complement each other. The book of Ethics says “Who is a wealthy man? He who is happy with his lot”, we must strive to be happy and healthy family units, whether private or Masonic. It is Important to the Province, and your own Lodges, to bring in new candidates but they must be the right people, those who meet the high standards of Freemasonry.
The analogy of the Province being akin to a tree was then introduced, some people come into your life and they are like leaves on a tree, only there for a season, you can’t depend on them and like leaves, they take what they need and as soon as it gets cold or a wind blows they are gone. Some come into your life and are like branches on a tree. stronger than leaves, they will sck around but if you go through a storm or two you could lose them.