My last foreword to Arena was drafted shortly after I had been invested as one of the three Deputy Metropolitan Grand Masters supporting the Metropolitan Grand Master and London Freemasonry.

Now, just over a year into the role, it is a pleasure to once again draft a foreword to Arena. I am certainly a little bit older, and hopefully a little bit wiser with the experience now gained. 

Broadly, London Freemasonry has re-established itself following the shock of the pandemic and attracts a large number of new initiates. Some of these come via the traditional path of friends and family, but now over a third of our initiates are finding Freemasonry themselves; prompted by what they see Freemasons doing in their communities, and a strong interest in our history, values and traditions. 

The excellent in-person “Discover Freemasonry” events held in October and May are delivered by a team working with John Parry, our director of Metropolitan events. They have been hugely successful in converting a latent interest in freemasonry into actively seeking to join Metropolitan Grand Lodge. These events follow on from successful marketing campaigns directed by our Metropolitan Communications Officer, Omaid Hiwaizi. We will continue to actively market Metropolitan Grand Lodge and run events such as “Discover Freemasonry” to help answer the questions that prospective new candidates have.

Although attracting new members is important for the Craft, we cannot lose sight of the most important of all activities; which is keeping our existing members engaged. The ritual provides a focus for many, and the strong messages which are interwoven in our ritual keep many of us coming to every meeting we can. Additionally, the fellowship and brotherhood which was strengthened through the pandemic binds the membership of a Lodge together and has an appeal for many. Lastly, making the meetings enjoyable, in whatever form that takes, creates a desire for people to attend and make the choice to spend their scarce free time at a Lodge. Ritual, fellowship and fun are the foundations upon which an engaged membership is built; and I encourage all Lodges to look to develop them. 

For all the positive news about London Freemasonry, we also have the current and serious challenges relating to the cost of living. There is no doubt that meeting and dining in London has become significantly more expensive and a challenge for many. Metropolitan Grand Lodge, through the hard work of our Metropolitan Grand Secretary, Matthew Christmas, is working closely with Grand Lodge and the Grand Secretary to provide affordable dining options in Freemasons’ Hall. He shared the positive progress they have made, and the plan moving forward, in the second rising sent out in June. Additionally, within your Lodges, there is much that can be done to help members who may be struggling; the role of the Lodge Almoner is key in these challenging times.

As a new Masonic season starts in September, we look forward to some key events. The London Grand Rank investiture day on 1st November is a great time to come to Freemasons’ Hall and support your friends who have achieved a London honour. Also, the celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the formation of Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Metropolitan Grand Chapter on 13th February 2024 (Note: new date) at Guildhall promises to be an especial event not to be missed. In attendance will be Pro Grand Master MW Bro Jonathan Spence; Past Pro Grand Master, MW Bro Peter Lowndes; and Former Metropolitan Grand Master, MW Bro Russell Race.  I look forward to meeting many of you at those or other events, and also helping your Lodges grow and thrive.

PLEASE NOTE: The Metropolitan Grand Lodge 20th Anniversary Banquet will now take places on 13th February 2024
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This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 52 August 2023 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 52 here.