History of White Ensign Chapter No. 9169
During the White Ensign Lodge “Trafalgar Night” Meeting in 2004 the idea was floated that, to mark the 20 years of the Lodge in 2005, we should consider forming a White Ensign Holy Royal Arch Chapter.
Accordingly, a meeting was called on 6th December, following the Lodge Officers Meeting, and some 14 members attended and it had been already identified some 7 Master Masons of the Lodge wished to be considered as Candidates.
The ground rules were laid down and it was agreed that membership would be restricted to those who had “Served under the Crown” together with those Lodge Reservists (the team of Lodge PIGs) who could lay claim to similar antecedents.
A target date of November 2005 was set and an application was made to the Province and in turn Supreme Grand Chapter with the names required, following the February 2005 Founders Meeting. To our delight, our Application was accepted and the real work began to bring it to fruition.
Founders Meetings were held bi-monthly and it was with some concern that it was learned that the Province could not conduct the Consecration in November, and eventually, a date of Tuesday 20th December 2005 was set. By this time there were now some 19 Founders and the 7 Candidates were still showing a very good interest.
The morning before the Consecration it was identified that Province had not received the required Warrant due to it still needing the required signatures. It was therefore decreed that a fax copy of the Warrant with a covering letter of authority might have to suffice. However, on the morning of Consecration, a motorcycle courier was despatched from London to Bromsgrove with the Regular Warrant to the relief of many.
E.Comp. Henry France-Sargeant, P.G.St.B. and with the full Provincial Team in attendance, the Consecration took place with some 18 Founders, 20 Provincial Officers and some 71 invited Guests meeting in No 1 Lodge Room at Kings Heath, Birmingham. During the meeting the Third Provincial Grand Principal, E.Comp. Michael Taylor, P.G.St.B., gave an excellent oration.
Before the union of the two Grand Lodges, the Ancients and Moderns, in 1813, the Royal Arch formed part of the Craft Ceremonies. After the union, the Royal Arch became a separate order, and craft lodges were given sanction to work the Ceremony. The Royal Arch is therefore recognised by the United Grand Lodge of England, and in the Book of Constitutions we find the declaration that “pure Ancient Masonry consists of three degrees and no more – the Entered Apprentice, the Fellowcraft, and Master Mason including the Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch”.
Thus commences the prescribed ritual for the presentation of a Grand Chapter certificate in the Worcestershire Royal Arch ritual book. The words disguise many years of bitter conflict between the two grand lodges. The Moderns which was the older body practised a 3-degree system whilst the Ancients practised a 4-degree system, with the fourth being the Royal Arch. The compromise required to bring these two bodies together was for there to be three degrees but for those three degrees to include the Royal Arch.
So is this the sole reason for the peculiar relationship between the Craft and the Royal Arch? I think not! For me, the Royal Arch completes my journey through masonry, but not because of the secrets that are disclosed during the ceremony.
Indeed, I question whether the signs and words which we promise not to disclose have anything to do with the real secret of Masonry. To me, the real secret is that incredible sense of satisfaction and enjoyment I get from attending Masonic meetings. It is that feeling that, because it is so intangible, we find it so hard to communicate with others. For you cannot be told it, you can only experience it!
Craft Masonry takes us on a symbolic journey through our mortal life. At your initiation, you are received as at your birth, poor and penniless. You are taught to be considerate to others, to be fair and honest, to give support to those less fortunate and to be an upright citizen. Having been reminded that these qualities underpin the foundation of modern civilisation, we are encouraged at our passing to expand our minds and contemplate the many mysteries of the physical world. At our raising, we are reminded of the need to be honourable at all times and finally, we are led to contemplate the final hour of our mortal existence. Throughout we are reminded that there is a supreme being, the God in whom we must put our trust, and at our raising, we are told that to face the prospect of death and what follows without the support of our God is a bleak prospect.
But it is only in the Royal Arch that we fully consider our relationship with our God for the object of the Order is the glory of God. Thus the Royal Arch continues our journey through our mortal life and onward under the all-seeing eye of our Creator, completing the lesson of our eternal existence that Masonry seeks to teach us.
So today, as we consecrate this White Ensign Chapter No. 9169 we not only bear in mind the solemnity of the occasion, but we rejoice that we open another door for many more craft masons to complete their Masonic lesson. It is for this reason that the link between the Craft and the Royal Arch needs to be so strong. Ever may it continue to be so?
The completion of this journey is undoubtedly a must for all those Masons who sailed under the White Ensign and experienced the unpredictable forces of nature and the risks and responsibility which comes with the defence of the realm. Such experiences when death becomes an immediate prospect inevitably draw one closer to one’s God. And whether or not he took that journey, I know that tonight the Founders will be reminded of Admiral Lord Nelson whose glorious victory at Trafalgar we celebrate every year, for he was a God-fearing man who passionately believed that he was called by God to defend England from tyranny.
The word “companion” originates from the Latin and literally, means “sharer of bread”. At a time of war, it encapsulated the relationship of those whose lives depended on each other in battle and implies the greatest loyalty and trust.
It is therefore wholly fitting that this term should be applied to the crew of this new vessel – White Ensign Chapter No. 9169 – whose members have all shared that companionship with others at sea and now come together once again to share it with each other today.
We congratulate you on taking this step. White Ensign Lodge is very strong and we do not doubt that White Ensign Chapter will be every bit as seaworthy. Nonetheless, we wish you every success in this new voyage.
Finally, I am reminded that the White Ensign displays many of the colours associated with Royal Arch Masonry. White – the emblem of innocence, the colour of the pedestal and particularly appropriate on this day of consecration. Blue and red, are the principal colour of the veils which adorned the Tabernacle of the First or Holy Lodge and which are today the irradiated colours of every Royal Arch sash. But there is one colour which is so important in a Chapter but which is not seen on the White Ensign and which I particularly commend to you – gold – the symbol of purity. May you, the Founders of White Ensign Chapter No. 9169, be pure at heart in all your undertakings.