The second Provincial service of celebration and thanksgiving of 300 years since the formation of Grand Lodge was held at St Elphin’s Parish Church, Warrington. Even though the weather was very inclement it didn’t deter 100’s from attending, which saw the church almost full to capacity.
The Provincial team were supported by many of the Warrington Group members with allocated duties, including stewards, choir members, organist and partakers within the service
The Provincial team formed the procession and entered with all dignity, reverence and humility led by Tony Harrison, Provincial Grand Master accompanied by a collection of Assistant Provincial Grand Masters, many of which were attending with their ladies.
Lee Marsh welcomed everyone saying how pleased he was to see so many brethren and their families attending the service of thanksgiving. The processional hymn was sung, which was ‘Praise my soul the King of Heaven’.
Richard Clatworthy, a Fellowcraft Freemason from Warrington Lodge of Concord No 1250 delivered the first reading which detailed the prayer by King Solomon at the building of the Temple.
The second reading concerning the story of the ‘Good Samaritan’ was given by Clive Smith, an Entered Apprentice from Hardshaw Lodge No 8722. This subject was reflected in the Oration.
Tony Bent delivered a thought provoking presentation regarding the work of Freemasonry within the community. He ended by suggesting that although it was tempting and indeed understandable that we could reflect with pride on the past 300 years, it was equally important that we looked to the future and renewed our commitment to maintaining and promulgating the principals of Freemasonry.
The Provincial Grand Chaplain Rev Canon Godfrey Hirst delivered his oration from the pulpit, concentrating mainly on the parable of the ‘Good Samaritan’ and the very human need to ever seek the ‘truth’, Godfrey delivered a resounding and uplifting sermon in his usual style.
Godfrey used many examples which highlighted the ‘principles and tenets’ of Freemasonry and reminded everyone that although the ‘Volume of the Sacred Law, would guide us to all truth’, we as ‘children of our Creator’ had a responsibility to ‘be diligent in determining fact from fake’ and implored that, ‘may the search for truth be the focus of our further endeavours’.
Stewards assisted with the collection whilst the congregation sang ‘For all the Saints, who from their labours rest’, followed by prayers of thanksgiving led by Godfrey and culminating with the singing of that quintessential celebratory hymn ‘Jerusalem’ accompanied by further stirring and profoundly moving accompaniment from Steven Derringer PrGOrg. The collection which raised over £750 was donated to St Elphin’s Church.
The final hymn of the service was ‘Now the evenings shadows closing’ followed by ‘The National Anthem’, prior to the recession led by the Provincial team and followed by the clergy.
Speaking after the service Tony Harrison expressed his gratitude and thanks to the magnificent support shown by the brethren and their families. Tony said “It has been a wonderful and historic occasion and I am really grateful to the brethren for their support this afternoon.” He also acknowledged the time and effort employed in organising such a successful celebration that had been undertaken by Tony Bent and his team.
John McIntyre Warrington Group Secretary, forwarded a message for all who assisted saying, on behalf of the Group Executive I have been requested by the Group Chairman to send to you our grateful thanks for volunteering (in the numbers that you did) as Stewards today and for the excellent service you provided at the event.
He continued by saying, true to the Warrington Group attitude, once it became clear what was required you took control and delivered a high quality of service to all those attending. Everyone received a warm welcome and was offered any assistance they required
The collection was swiftly organised and carried out efficiently and with dignity.
Finally, thank you all for sending a positive message to all those attending of the high standards and quality of the Freemasons in the Warrington Group. I also add my personal thanks to you all for your patience and calm throughout.
In conclusion, everyone seemed to have had an enjoyable and uplifting service.
Article by John Starkey with pictures by Mark Holloway and John Starkey.