Freemasons' 300th anniversary celebration ends on high note

Friday, November 24, 2017

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Jamaica was well represented at the culmination of the United Grand Lodge of England's (UGLE's) Tercentenary celebrations held at Royal Albert Hall in London on October 31 which was attended by more than 3,900 Freemasons from provinces, districts and other grand lodges around the world.

Leading the local delegation to this historic function was Walter H Scott, QC, district grand master of the District Grand Lodge of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. He was accompanied by 18 members of the district of varying ranks.

The celebration marked the 300th year since four lodges met at the Goose and Gridiron Tavern in St Paul's Churchyard, London, England on St John's Day, June 24, 1717, to establish the world's first grand lodge.

“This important milestone has been embraced with services of thanksgiving at cathedrals, car rallies, family fun days, balls and banquets, and music concerts, whilst UGLE gave a film crew unique access to the people and traditions behind Freemasonry to make a five-part documentary,” a news release from the District Grand Lodge of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands stated.

The event at Royal Albert Hall, which was the high point of a year-long programme of varied events held throughout the provinces and districts, was designed to be “an enlightening and uplifting experience, highlighting who Freemasons are and what they have done”.

It featured addresses, processions, professional musicians and performers and a lavish theatrical extravaganza. Attendees included UGLE's Grand Master His Royal Highness Prince Michael The Duke of Kent, His Majesty Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, the 16th Asantehene, traditional ruler of the Kingdom of Ashanti in Ghana since April 26, 1999; and His Excellency John A Kufuor, who was president of Ghana from January 7, 2001 to January 7, 2009.

The event was live-streamed to wider audiences at UGLE's headquarters at Freemasons' Hall in Covent Garden, London, after which approximately 2,000 Freemasons proceeded to Battersea Evolution in Battersea Park for the tercentenary dinner.

A news release before the event quoted UGLE Grand Secretary Brigadier Willie Shackell as saying, “2017 is a year to look forward as well as back. We are honoured that over 140 sovereign grand masters from overseas will be in attendance at the Royal Albert Hall together with representatives of each province and district, as we showcase the values, principles and traditions of Freemasonry”.

“We want everyone to come away feeling proud to be a Freemason and proud of what Freemasons have achieved in the last 300 years. I feel that our role and relevance in society today could not be stronger and we now look forward to our journey through the next 300 years.”

In May this year, Jamaican Freemasonry received a shot in the arm when, as far back as 2014, the District Grand Lodge of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands was granted the privilege of hosting the Caribbean and Western Atlantic Regional Tercentenary celebrations.

In addition to local Freemasons, their brothers from across the Caribbean, South America, and Canada met at Montego Bay Convention Centre over four days, during which time the book Masonic Jamaica and the Cayman Islands (Volume 1) was launched.

The book was commissioned by the district of noted Jamaican author Jackie Ranston.

There are just over six million Freemasons worldwide, more than 200,000 of whom are in the United Kingdom.

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