Rank in Freemasonry

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Rank in Freemasonry

Postby asabovesobelow » Mon Oct 05, 2009 6:46 am

The topic of Rank in Freemasonry is an item on "Letters to the Editor' page of the latest issue of Freemasonry Today - http://www.freemasonrytoday.com/50/p19.php

Below are excerpts from three of the letters. Will this whole matter be the next thing to change?

"I attended, some time ago, a seminar for Visiting Officers. A good 60% of the time was spent discussing the best way to get promotion to, and advancement within Grand Rank for Brethren in the Lodges they looked after."

"The system of masonic honours needs reviewing urgently and perhaps parts of it abolishing. Many Brethren feel that it would be more appropriate if those appointed to Past Provincial rank all received the same honour."

"It is my humble opinion that the whole promotion system should be radically altered. The current system is divisive and creates ill-feeling among Brethren."
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Re: Rank in Freemasonry

Postby Martin S » Mon Oct 05, 2009 10:56 am

I must admit that this IS a problem.

Brethren that know the right people can get rank, even past rank, when those who have devoted their life to masonry get passed over...

This happened to a friend of mine. The system does need looking at to try and prevent the ill will it can and does create.
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Re: Rank in Freemasonry

Postby Chestnut » Mon Oct 05, 2009 11:33 am

I read with interest the letter and am planning to write a response to Freemasonry Today.

I am afraid any system will always be manipulated or abused by some. It is also a fact that some will fall through the net and not get what they are percieved to deserve.

I have always been told that an honour is for the person and the Lodge. But felt that the numbers of those with honours was vastly outweighing those who did not. Surely this should not be the case. I had a look at the honours given firstly in 1961 and 2007 to see any difference.

Now in 1961 in my Province there was 227 Lodges capable of initiating candidates. Of those there were 16081 members, giving an average membershiop of 70.84.

In 2007 there were 329 Lodges with 12139 members at an average of 36.90.

Immediately we see an increase in Lodges but a decrease in membership over the 46 years.

In 1961 there were 83 Acting Prov Officers appointed, 53 promotions and 86 first appointments. Thereby 1 honour per 115 members other than active ranks.

In 2007 the story is vastly different. Active ranks are still 83 but promotions are 182 and first appointment 183. Thereby 1 honour per 33 members other than active ranks.

These figures do not take into account those ineligible such as current Masters, those not entitled to an honour whilst on the circuit, those awaiting the 6 years after the chair to be put up and multiple membership. So in reality the figures would be even lower.

No wonder the dark blue outweigh the light blue! For me the system devalues any honour as quite honostly any PM will get an honour at some time no matter who they are.

Past ranks are not worth anything. Why does FM need this system of reward? Is that what Modern FM is about, the badge on the apron? If so then it not the organisation I wish to be a member of.
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Re: Rank in Freemasonry

Postby asabovesobelow » Mon Oct 05, 2009 3:37 pm

The above is a very good example of what has taken place in just one province. I suspect this information could be the 'model' for all provinces. How did this vast expansion of the honours system start? I realize that some provinces were in a hurry to create new lodges thus enabling them to gain an AsstGM or even another AGM. It seems that there are just far too many past provincial ranks. If a PM has been out of the chair for say 6 years and taken no active part in the lodge then why appoint him to any rank or why not start with the first rank (eg PAGStdBr) and then any progress from then on would be strictly on merit alone. Or even do a way with all the provincial ranks except active ones. Why does a PM need any past provincial rank? What is wrong with wearing the light blue PMs apron, collar and jewel on a permanent basis if one is not active? With lodges becoming smaller due to a shrinking membership the number of dark blue aprons will continue to grow and out number the light blue. This fact alone might be a good reason for the honours system to be revised for 21st century Freemasonry.

Does Ireland and Scotland have a provincial rank system or something similar in the form of honours?

In December 1907, the MW Brother Duke of Connaught (or more precisely, the 1st Duke of Connaught and Strathern) as Grand Master, announced the creation of London Rank (now known as London Grand Rank) which provided London masons with an honours system, comparable with that already existing in the provinces, which could be used to reward long and meritorious service. In 1978 Senior London Grand Rank was introduced.
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Re: Rank in Freemasonry

Postby mindmagic » Tue Oct 06, 2009 10:36 am

Up to about 15 years ago, London Grand Rank was awarded more or less automatically; the lodge simply worked down the list of PMs. Now it's much harder and I know at least one worthy brother who has been passed over because the "points" system doesn't take any account of progressive offices (including WM); only many years of service in non-progressive offices seems to count. SLGR is very, very hard to get, and SLGRs are now used as Visiting Officers.

In London, anyway, LGR still has value, but I agree it's divisive; brethren who are overlooked, apparently for no good reason, are liable to resign.

There are no Past Metropolitan Grand Officers, by the way; after serving as an active MetGO you get either SLGR or LGR.
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Re: Rank in Freemasonry

Postby Chestnut » Tue Oct 06, 2009 12:38 pm

Its a shame when someone puts such value on a badge within FM.

It should never be a resigning matter.

There are many reasons as to why an award may not have been given. But as long as he is active within FM or his Lodge and is a valued member then thats all that counts. Being active may just be supporting at the meetings.
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Re: Rank in Freemasonry

Postby Richard » Tue Oct 06, 2009 8:15 pm

A number of thoughts occur to me on this subject...

Firstly, isn't this the case of "those who matter don't mind and those who mind don't matter"? Those brethren who care about such things are likely to get uptight, write to magazines and forums, etc. Those who are just happy in their freemasonry don't seem to mind in the slightest.

Those people who do get uptight and see masonry as a sort of grown-up cub scouts where the mission is to get as many badges as possible will exist in any system. They will continue to work the system in order to get any kind of honour that is going, and, as is the nature of these things, they will be more prevalent amongst the 'senior' ranks.

Those who just enjoy their freemasonry - attend lodges regularly, meet friends and embrace brotherly love, relief and truth - will be content with whatever they get and will take an honour as a 'spur' to further involvement rather than as their right having been out of the chair for 7 years (or however long).

The current system, although flawed, seems to me, to be a reasonable way of organising things. Given that we have to have a grand lodge and provinces then we obviously need officers of those lodges and, given that provinces are generally very large (apart from Herefordshire (27) ) it makes sense that past ranks are given out as rewards for service rendered and to encourage further involvement. What I have an issue with is the automatic promotion of a past master to a past rank after so many years after leaving the chair - I would much rather see those who deserve get something sooner and those who don't; later.

Anyway, what do I know?
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Re: Rank in Freemasonry

Postby admin » Tue Oct 06, 2009 9:02 pm

Well Richard you know as much as I do and I am really stupid.

The question is, as it always is , is it important to you ?

You are the only person that has control over what you think and how you feel.

My old Mentor used to say, freemasonry is a great equaliser, it is just that some are more equal than others. Thus the world has always been. It seems that the schemers always outsmart the dreamers.

But us dreamers are much more fun.
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Re: Rank in Freemasonry

Postby Chestnut » Wed Oct 07, 2009 8:12 am

Bro Richard,

I agree with you and you have highlighted the major problem the 'still breathing after 6 years since WM' appointment.

I dont thing anyone would have an issue over a system based on merit. However everyones conception of merit is different.

However this imbalance should matter as those who strive badges and get them, end up ruling over those who may be more suited.
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Re: Rank in Freemasonry

Postby Richard » Wed Oct 07, 2009 10:51 am

Chestnut wrote:Bro Richard,

I agree with you and you have highlighted the major problem the 'still breathing after 6 years since WM' appointment.

I dont thing anyone would have an issue over a system based on merit. However everyones conception of merit is different.

However this imbalance should matter as those who strive badges and get them, end up ruling over those who may be more suited.


Didn't Douglas Adams say something about the worst people to rule being those people who really wanted to rule?
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Re: Rank in Freemasonry

Postby Anubis99 » Wed Oct 07, 2009 4:18 pm

What amazes me is when as a 'younger' Freemason I am exhorted by people to join Chapter as it will entitle me to get Provincial honours faster...
I appreciate the politics and that UGLE like to nudge new MM's in the direction of Chapter as the next logical step after the 3rd. I still fail to see why it should or how it would benefit anyone.
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Re: Rank in Freemasonry

Postby Chestnut » Wed Oct 07, 2009 4:46 pm

How sad. The reason fir joining Chapter has nothing to do with honours or anything else. The reason for joining should be a MM's desire to finish, complete, enhance, discover, (whatever adjective suits) what he may or may not percieve to be his next step.

Its about the lessons learnt.
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Re: Rank in Freemasonry

Postby Janner » Thu Oct 08, 2009 12:54 am

Agreed, I have heard that Chapter counts in the points system, all very good but not my reason for joining.
I think I blew it one night when I mentioned to the Craft Provincial Sec that I was not interested (when the time comes) in an active provincial rank (happy to be PPrGBottleWasher/Sh!tShovelller), I would much prefer an active rank in Prov Chapter. Mainly because I could commit to the time to Chapter but feel that active rank in craft is too demanding and that there are others who are more deserving and want it more than me.
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Re: Rank in Freemasonry

Postby soundman » Thu Oct 08, 2009 6:28 pm

interesting thread, what is the points system and how is it calculated?
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Re: Rank in Freemasonry

Postby rjgs » Thu Oct 08, 2009 7:18 pm

It is a real shame that this happens within Freemasonry. Some Freemasons consider Freemasonry as a "career" and judge their success in the Craft by their promotion to various ranks. These are the dreaded badge collectors!
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Re: Rank in Freemasonry

Postby Mike Martin » Thu Oct 08, 2009 9:58 pm

The answer is that all Provinces should adopt a version of the London system.

2 "honourific" Ranks only: Grand Rank and Senior Grand Rank.

You only get nice ranks to go on your apron once you serve in that Office in Metropolitan Grand Lodge.

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Re: Rank in Freemasonry

Postby BigI » Thu Oct 08, 2009 10:36 pm

Mike Martin wrote:The answer is that all Provinces should adopt a version of the London system.

2 "honourific" Ranks only: Grand Rank and Senior Grand Rank.

You only get nice ranks to go on your apron once you serve in that Office in Metropolitan Grand Lodge.

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2 honorific? you are forgeting London Rank. Not common, i know , but its there.
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Re: Rank in Freemasonry

Postby farmerdan » Fri Oct 09, 2009 8:39 am

BigI wrote:
Mike Martin wrote:The answer is that all Provinces should adopt a version of the London system.

2 "honourific" Ranks only: Grand Rank and Senior Grand Rank.

You only get nice ranks to go on your apron once you serve in that Office in Metropolitan Grand Lodge.

Jumps into dugout screaming "INCOMING" (24) (24) (24)

Mike

2 honorific? you are forgeting London Rank. Not common, i know , but its there.


London Rank, and Past Provincial Rank given to people who havn't been through the chair is a sign that the person has done a lot for Freemasonry and those holders seem to get a large amount of respect in my experience.

I do agree that the Provinces should go down the same route as the MetGL for "honorific" Ranks, if we're going to have them at all. (Any space in that dugout?)
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Re: Rank in Freemasonry

Postby Richard » Fri Oct 09, 2009 9:42 am

farmerdan wrote:
BigI wrote:
Mike Martin wrote:The answer is that all Provinces should adopt a version of the London system.

2 "honourific" Ranks only: Grand Rank and Senior Grand Rank.

You only get nice ranks to go on your apron once you serve in that Office in Metropolitan Grand Lodge.

Jumps into dugout screaming "INCOMING" (24) (24) (24)

Mike

2 honorific? you are forgeting London Rank. Not common, i know , but its there.


London Rank, and Past Provincial Rank given to people who havn't been through the chair is a sign that the person has done a lot for Freemasonry and those holders seem to get a large amount of respect in my experience.

I do agree that the Provinces should go down the same route as the MetGL for "honorific" Ranks, if we're going to have them at all. (Any space in that dugout?)


As I mentioned above, I think that there will be flaws in all systems. The obvious one here is that if past Provincial ranks are only for those who have acted in that rank in PGL the number of past officers will vary province to province due to the massive variation in size of provinces. If a province has 14 lodges, then BoC gives 19 active Provincial officers; for a larger province with 360 lodges then there are only 73 active officers.

I can't help feel that the best bet is to leave it alone and let people enjoy what they enjoy about freemasonry rather than trying to change it.
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Re: Rank in Freemasonry

Postby Multisync » Fri Oct 09, 2009 10:14 am

rjgs wrote:It is a real shame that this happens within Freemasonry. Some Freemasons consider Freemasonry as a "career" and judge their success in the Craft by their promotion to various ranks. These are the dreaded badge collectors!



You are putting the cart before the horse...

I have no problem with badge chasers, if that's what floats their boat them good for them.(and good for UGLE too)

Don't forget, with the chasing comes the payback. Look down on them from the moral highground as much as you like but remember Without these guy's driving the bigknobs around from installation to installation etc our kind of freemasonry would quickly fall to bits.
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