It was a night of celebration and looking forward to a new beginning in Sunderland as two Lodges joined forces to help secure Mark Masonry in their building. On an evening of poignancy, camaraderie and excitement for the future, the well-respected Union Lodge of Mark Masters No.124 and the Ravensworth Lodge of Mark Master Masons No.718 jointly underwent an amalgamation ceremony under the guidance of Provincial Grand Master, R.W.Bro. David Hanson. The unification of the two Lodges now marks the start of what is expected to be a new era for the Order in the Province of Durham.
The decision of two Lodges to amalgamate can sometimes be a difficult one and the decision to do so was certainly not taken lightly. However, the brethren of both Lodges collectively felt that the time was now right to strengthen the bonds between them to ensure the vitality of Mark Masonry in the local area.
The Lodge room was full as the Provincial Grand Master and his assisting officers were given the warmest of welcomes from the brethren of both Lodges, all sitting together already as a show of unity. After opening a Lodge for the purposes of unifying both Lodges into one, much to the delight of the brethren the Assistant Grand Master, R.W.Bro. Professor Denovan Wilson, was then admitted who was desirous of attending this special occasion but in an unofficial capacity.
With the final, separate business matters of each Lodge dealt with, the Provincial Grand Master proceeded with the ceremony, including the reading of the amalgamation warrant for the new Lodge – to be known as the Ravensworth Union Lodge of Mark Masters No.124, maintaining the number and styling of the older of the two Lodges. An oration was delivered by the Provincial Deputy Grand Chaplain on the nature of the shared vision of the new Lodge and the importance of fraternal accord. This was then followed by the necessary ceremonial aspects of the amalgamation in accordance with the traditional customs of the Order.
With the two now bound as one, the new Lodge needed a new Worshipful Master. The honour fell to Bro Michael Gilmore, who was installed as Ravensworth Union Lodge’s first presiding officer. Michael, who has never served as Worshipful Master of the Mark Lodge previously, reported that he was extremely proud to be steering the new Lodge during its formative year. He then proceeded to appoint and invest the remaining officers. At the request of the new Lodge membership, the amalgamation officers from the Province of Durham were then admitted as honorary members of the Lodge; an honour greatly appreciated and accepted on behalf of all by the Provincial Grand Master.
Following the ceremony, the brethren of Ravensworth Union Lodge, their guests and the Provincial team then retired to the festive board that continued to resonate the joy and friendship of the occasion. The Provincial Grand Master paid tribute to the hard work and initiative of the brethren of the new Lodge, recognising that in joining as one, they were helping to revitalise Mark Masonry and that the future boded well for what was now one of the largest Mark Lodges in the Province. He also paid tribute to the Provincial Officers who had assisted at the ceremony, not least of all the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, V.W.Bro. Michael Davis, without whose help and skilful command the amalgamation could not have happened.
As an unexpected surprise, the work of the new Lodge had begun even before their joining together, as both had collectively held a charity race night in support of the Durham 2029 MBF Festival. At the festive board, event organiser W.Bro. Mark Smith was pleased to present the Provincial Grand Master with £1100 towards the Festival’s fundraising efforts, much to the delight of the Festival
Secretary who was in attendance. With this, those present could sense the optimism and enthusiasm in the air as Ravensworth Union Lodge of Mark Masters No.124 embarks on its new journey. The amalgamation is not just a unification of two Lodges but a celebration of Masonic principles and an example of what can be achieved with the right initiative and the right attitude.
The Provincial Grand Master, R.W.Bro David Hanson, said “This marks the start of an exciting new chapter in the story of Mark Masonry here in the Province of Durham. Lodges come into existence and some Lodges close, but the strength of our Order is not with the number of Lodges but with our membership. The brethren of the Union and Ravensworth Lodges have taken action and are forging ahead with a new, stronger vision for our Province. This new Lodge’s future is very bright and should be an example to all in what can be achieved.”
We wish the new Lodge well!
With thanks to Richard Davison and Martin Schoolkate