THE TEXT OF THE ADDRESS:
Brethren, we all know why this Annual Assembly of Grand Court is being held virtually; let us get straight to the proverbial ‘elephant’ in this Virtual room.
The year 2020 will soon end and is the year that the world was crippled by ‘transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water’.
With infinite complacency, men went to and fro over this globe about their little affairs, serene in their assurance of their empire over matter.
Many will recognise these as the words of HG Wells in 1898, prophetic, yet not so, as sadly this was a disaster just waiting to happen.
I am not going to discuss the effect the global pandemic has had on our daily way of life. I am not going to repeat the phrases trundled out by our various governments. Nor will I make mention of the crippling financial hardships ahead.
We are living with these things, we are all fed up, worried, scared, and frustrated. We are all trying to cope with this craziness the best we can.
Just as we needed these horrible little germs to defeat a fictional superior enemy in HG Well’s classic War of the Worlds, the entire human race will unite and defeat this microscopic pestilence.
Brethren, we humans have quite a decent track record of surviving.
Each member will have read and indeed viewed my communications to the Order in March, April, and June. Please take the time to revisit the messages conveyed in these communications as they remain valid today.
With the support of the Grand Witan, I was able to deliver decisive leadership and we took immediate decisions to protect the health and welfare of our members and their families. This is not just well-constructed rhetoric Brethren; then as is now, is not the time to worry about putting on our amazing Athelstan regalia and delivering perfect ritual!
I repeat my words of June.
“This temporary suspension is painful, but it is just that; temporary! I have no doubt that we will soon return to our Courts with a renewed vigour and with greater inspiration. Our Order will survive this pandemic and it will continue to flourish; it is, after all, built on the solid foundation of your dedication.”
The Masonic Order of Athelstan, now, as is in then, is practising what Freemasons often preach and long may remain true.
Let us now focus on happier and more positive aspects.
In January I led a delegation to Rio de Janeiro to Consecrate the first Court in Brazil. This was an amazing journey for many different reasons, and I thank all our brethren from Bolivia who travelled in numbers to assist. Due in the main to the hard work and dedication of W. Bro. Alexander Mazolli, a further 2 Courts are currently being formed and it is hoped that we will Constitute the new Province in August 2021.
Also, in January, it was a great pleasure to Install RW Bro. Keith Waters as Provincial Grand Master for Wessex. A fabulous day at Malmesbury, which is fast becoming a focal point of our Order.
During the virtual meeting of the Grant Witan on 16th October 2020, I had the privilege to install RW Bro. Charles Johnathan Aspinell as Assistant Grand Master. The positions that Charles has held and currently holds within Freemasonry are a testament to his skill and ability. We are lucky that his knowledge and experience will greatly assist us in the future development of our Order.
Many congratulations to those who have received Grand honours today, your special day has been stolen from you, and I hope that our virtual meeting following Grand Court will at least offer some lasting memory.
To those standing down from active Grand Rank; thank you very much for your dedication and service to your Order.
As mentioned at our last Annual Assembly, the Chevalier Ramsey Lecture Award has been reformatted and the 2020 Lecture entitled ‘“An Esoteric Pilgrimage from Jerusalem to London via Rome and York” by W. Bro. Eddie Kalogeropoulos, will set a new benchmark in one of the ‘jewels-in-the-crown’ of our Order.
Brethren do not miss the opportunity to see-hear-view this fantastic Lecture and further details on how to will be released soon.
The Order’s YouTube Channel is now fully operational. We trust that all who have viewed the videos to-date; have found them informative and entertaining. If you have not checked out our channel, then you are missing out!
The Masonic Order of Athelstan Historical Recovery Project is being led by the Grand Historian, W Bro. Ray Hudson with the assistance of RW Bro. Tony Burke. Brethren, the early story of the formation of our Order is fading fast.
We all have a story to tell of how we joined the Order and for the brethren involved in 2005 and 2006, W. Bro. Ray would love to learn your story so that he can record it for future generations.
With the guidance of RW Bro. Tony Burke, our membership database has been updated and enhanced and the administration will soon see the benefits of this.
2020 was to be a year of celebration, our 15th Birthday, and boy were we going to celebrate!
In my Address to Grand Court last year I outlined some of the events.
June was to see us celebrate the unveiling of the King Athelstan Sword at the Athelstan Museum in Malmesbury. For obvious reasons, this has been put on hold. However, we have had the opportunity to revisit and enhance the whole Project. Earlier this month I was involved in some filming on behalf of the Order at Malmesbury Abbey as part of these enhancements.
Rest assured that as soon as we can safely find a 2021date we will have an appropriate unveiling celebration.
The 4th September 2020 was to be a major birthday celebration at our spiritual home of All Saints Church at Kingston-upon-Thames. Coinciding with the 1095th Anniversary of the coronation of King Athelstan the Glorious.
This was to be the grand unveiling of the King Athelstan Tapestry with full pomp.
This incredible embroidery has been commissioned by our Order and will hang in the East of the church. A fitting memorial to Athelstan made possible by you Brethren. It will hang there for hundreds of years to come and our Order will be forever linked with the legacy of our great King.
I direct your attention to a video on our YouTube channel which gives a sneak preview of the design as well as other interesting information.
Again, this historic event is merely postponed until we can fix a 2021 date.
To assist in the completion of these 2 wonderful initiatives and to consider further worthy Projects, we have formed the King Athelstan Memorial Foundation, chaired by RW Bro. Lionel Mee and reporting directly to the Grand Witan.
It is the aim of the Athelstan Memorial Foundation to assist the Masonic Order of Athelstan in memorialising the historical achievements of King Athelstan the Glorious.
Supporting such initiatives for the future betterment of the brethren of the Masonic Order of Athelstan through the masonic legacy created in 926 AD.
In a few short months, we have seen donations of over £4,000 from Provinces, Courts, and individual members, with more pledged.
Thank you very much.
This is your Foundation Brethren, all donations made will allow it to flourish. I know that there are a couple of other exciting projects being considered that will make you proud.
Imagine visiting Malmesbury and Kingston with your family, your friends, and fellow masons and pointing to the Sword and the Tapestry and proudly telling them – I did that!
I often joke that it was wonderful to see Freemasonry discard the quill for the ballpoint pen in the late 20th Century. Now in the second decade of the 21st Century and by pure serendipity, we have been forced to learn the use of modern forms of communication.
In the 12 months since our last Annual Assembly, we have had many video conferences mostly over Zoom.
We have embraced YouTube and here we are enjoying a virtual meeting of Grand Court complete with a pre-recorded message by the Grand Master to boot!
Let us look upon this as advancement. A happy balance will be found no doubt. Our Order has and will continue to embrace Social Media and video conference calls, but these will never replace the experience of meeting your fellows in love and unity within our Masonic Halls.
I must now take the opportunity to thank W Bro Andy Tong and Bro Scott Dunn for their valuable assistance in the administration and running of these Zoom meetings. To RW & Em Bro Chris Ansell for his impressive work on our updated website, as well to the Grand Secretary and his team.
It would be very remiss of me not to mention W & Em. Brother Dennis Slights, our Grand High Almoner for his amazing work. To all the Court and Provincial Almoners, you know your duty!
You have set a very high standard of pastoral care; our brethren are relying on you. You are needed more than ever before, please do not let that standard drop, thank you for your efforts.
The Masonic Order of Athelstan continues to prosper and we as masons have shown that we can adapt to very unusual circumstances.
We all hope that 2021 will see us return to Light and the Grand Witan and myself will be reviewing the situation monthly to continue to guide the Order with a common-sense approach.
Brethren, thank you for your kind attention, please remain safe, enjoy the time you have with your families especially through the various restrictions imposed on us all.
I end with HG Wells once again.
“We must not allow the clock and the calendar to blind us to the fact that each moment of life is a miracle and mystery.”