As news-stories about ‘meeting for the first time since before lockdown’ have run their course, some fine accounts are emerging of Essex Companions whose enjoyment and enthusiasm for Royal Arch Masonry has gained momentum. They give inspiration and remind us how special the Royal Arch is with over 40% of Craft Freemasons being members. Most Excellent Zerubbabel (MEZ) Keith Wood of Monkhams Chapter No. 4161, which meets at Harlow Masonic Hall, merits special attention.
Firstly, when Keith was Installed as MEZ in October 2019 by Excellent Companion (E Comp) Tim Holland, Keith demonstrated to all present that he was going to be a remarkable First Principal. He invested his Officers in an exemplary manner, each one was given encouragement with a rarely seen and well delivered explanation of the duties of their Office.
Secondly, one of the benefits Keith likes about being a Royal Arch Mason is that Companions are welcome to attend Royal Arch convocations around the world. So, next he visited Shannon Chapter No.1, in St John’s Newfoundland, Canada, part of the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of Newfoundland and Labrador, just before the first lockdown.
Being part of bringing two jurisdictions together and discovering similarities as well as differences is a great experience. Keith was warmly welcomed at Mount Pearl Masonic Centre by the Most Excellent High Priest Harlow Snippen (MEHP is their equivalent to our MEZ) and a new inter-continental Royal Arch companionship between Essex and Newfoundland was firmly established.
Thirdly, the Companions of Monkhams Chapter were getting ready for their 75th Anniversary in February 2021 but the celebratory convocation was postponed until April 2022. Nevertheless, Keith wanted to do all he could to make the event a memorable occasion, so he compiled a 31-page ‘Short History of Monkhams Chapter 1946 – 2021’.
In this first-class piece of work, which is an outstanding example to all Chapters of what can be done to commemorate a special anniversary or event, there are three outstanding features:
- It is easy and interesting to read, well researched, clearly referenced and nicely laid out with many good photos and scanned images of people, medals, documents, summonses, items and a feature article from The Essex Mason.
- There is a first-rate account of how the COVID-19 pandemic affected Essex Freemasonry. The contents can be saved by all Chapters and Essex Royal Arch historians to use as a reference or template for future publications and histories covering this period.
- The memory of the loss of E Comp Paul Thomason, a Past Provincial Grand Scribe Nehemiah (PPGSN), is recorded with sadness. The late Paul is the son of Peter, a Past Provincial Grand Registrar (PPGReg), and the father of Ben, the Scribe N of Monkhams Chapter. This conveys one family’s ardour, appreciation and love for the Royal Arch in Essex across three generations.
Finally, MEZ Keith Wood then followed through with a news-story about the 75th Anniversary convocation which was published on the Provincial Grand Chapter News site, Freemasonry Today (FMT) online and social media. FMT also published the link to the book making this yet another Royal Arch ‘First for Essex’. Click to download the PDF.