Shortly after the Grand Master suspended Masonic activity on March 17th 2020, I noticed a tweet posted by a Brother that said simply, ‘Now that Masonry has been closed, there has never been a more important time to be a Mason’.
I reflected on this for some time. He was right, we must not only support our families and friends but the wider community in which we live and those groups in our society suffering as a consequence of the pandemic.
At our installation meetings, when addressing the newly installed Master, we ask him to ‘… charge the brethren to practise out of the Lodge those duties they have been taught in it…’. 2020 really was the time for us to match our words with our actions and while the response from London Masons did not surprise me, it has made me so proud.
I have lost count of the conversations I have had and the stories I have read about individual Freemasons helping in the community, the health services and those in need. Meanwhile, MetGL, along with the MCF, worked through a number of phases of charitable giving. This included PPE to over 300 care homes and hospices; over 25,000 meals served through the West London Masonic Centre; and support for food charities, homelessness, unpaid carers and, more recently, children’s mental health.
Not only were our donations generous, but so was the response from London Masons to help with all the planning, the logistics and the overall delivery of the projects.
This team effort and commitment, coupled with our considerable donations, is well illustrated in a short video on our new YouTube channel – London Freemasons when we worked with the Women’s Refuges to provide hundreds of care packages for women and the children in their care. The physical and mental health benefits to the recipients of this donation are humbling. One of the charities held back a considerable number so that they would have something to share on Christmas Day. For the children, this was particularly special. Those involved are too many people to list here, but a special mention must go to the MetGStwds of 2020, who worked tirelessly to make this donation possible. One of them was so moved by the project that he returned at Easter with 500 chocolate eggs in his own time and at his own expense.
We can reflect proudly on all we have contributed to those in need during this difficult period. This has also taken place during a time when the outside world is starting to view us differently.
I could not be more pleased with all the communications being delivered through so many different channels by UGLE, led so ably by our Grand Secretary. There have been some ground-breaking articles in the national press and interviews on television, busting myths and setting the record straight. Our Met Communications Officer, W Bro Omaid Hiwaizi, calls this ‘normalising’ Freemasonry. That is an article for another day, best explained by him, but in short, it means that while our society has changed in so many ways through such a difficult and challenging time, so has the way in which we are perceived. We have materially improved the way we communicate, which is substantiated and proven by our actions about which I believe we should be justifiably proud.
So now we look to the future. We should all engage again with our Lodges and Chapters as much as we can and as much as we feel comfortable. It is time for us to see our friends in a more familiar setting and enjoy ourselves.
This break has made me realise how much our hobby means to me and how much I value the friendships that have endured over many years. I am not sure I ever took what we have for granted, but I know now that I never will.
UGLE, SGC, MetGL&GC have a number of exciting projects and initiatives that I believe will add to our enjoyment and attract new members. More of that on a future occasion.
Brethren, we have over 1,000 men with Form Ms completed who wish to join London Lodges, not to mention all the 2nd and 3rd Degree Ceremonies in our backlog. We have much to do!
This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 45 July 2021 edition.
Arena Magazine is the official magazine of the London Freemasons - Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London.
Read more articles in the Arena Issue 45.