The first Royal Arch installation ceremony after the summer break was that of Saint John of Jerusalem No 203, which was held in the Egyptian suite of Liverpool’s magnificent Masonic hall on Hope Street.
The chapter was opened by the three principals, Mike Whitlock, Steve Dovaston and Dave Ullathorne, who, after concluding their standard business agenda, were pleased to admit and welcome three joining members, Kevin Dempster, Mark Royden and Terry Willis. Honorary membership was also granted to Stuart Herbert, soon to complete 50 years’ service since his exaltation into Saint John of Jerusalem.
The chapter was honoured with the presence of the Second Provincial Grand Principal Chris Butterfield, accompanied by David Kemp, vice-chair of the Liverpool group. Led in by chapter DC Geoff Cuthill and ADC Howard Youdan, the procession, under the control of Mark Barton Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies, also contained Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals Sam Robinson and Dave Southward acting Provincial grand officer.
Mike Whitlock gave a warm welcome and proffering the sceptre to Chris, who following acceptance returned it after saying a few words. The ceremony of installation began with the first principal requesting Ian Black to occupy the position of Nehemiah. The ceremony was of an unusual nature due to all three principals vacating their chair and not progressing. This was to enable joining members from the Temple Chapter to carry on with their line of progression and therefore assist in their full assimilation into Saint John of Jerusalem.
The three new principals installed were first principal Stewart Hyde, second principal Thomas Grimes and third principal Stephen Callow. Other companions invested as taking on a new role within the chapter being the three Sojourners, Dave Ullathorne, Chris Walls and Steve Dovaston, with Mark Royden invested as assistant secretary and Mark Youdan as janitor. On completion Chris Butterfield was delighted to communicate the best wishes and congratulations of the Grand Superintendent Tony Harrison, further adding that it was Tony’s sincerest wish that all three principals and members of the chapter should be blessed with good health to enjoy a happy and fruitful year. The chapter was formally closed with the companions taking station at the respective banners.
On adjournment to the banqueting suite a wholesome menu of spring roll with sweet chilli and side salad, a main course of chicken breast wrapped in Parma ham, accompanied by seasonal vegetables, followed by a delicious creme brûlée, aided the further enjoyment of the evening. In his response to the toast to his health and that of the other grand officers and following expression of his own good wishes to the newly installed principals, Chris Butterfield had a number of messages that he wished to pass on from the Grand Superintendent. The three “R’s’ of recruitment, retention and retrieval were expanded upon, the role of the membership officer and the importance for us all to see this as a duty. Regarding the MCF 2021 Festival, it should be a matter of great pride that this, the Province of West Lancashire, was chosen as the premier province to launch the event. The Masonic Charities Foundation has become the ‘one stop shop’ for all our needs and the benefits would be much enhanced by the use of the gift aid envelopes.
Chris next expressed how pleased he was to be amongst the companions of this historic chapter and remarked how heartwarming it was to see the companions going out of their way, not only in welcoming joining members but ensuring they became fully integrated with Saint John of Jerusalem. It meant that everybody had a future within 203. Chris also noted that special thanks go to Geoff Cuthill and Graham Hamilton Taylor who had worked so hard on the smooth transition of the chapter for the future. He added that it would be amiss not to thank other companions of Saint John of Jerusalem present this evening; Dave Southward who is coming to the end of his year as an acting Provincial grand officer and who has carried out his role diligently throughout; Sam Robinson, a member of Supreme Grand Chapter as well as being on the Royal Arch Cabinet for this Province and fellow grand officer Steve Walls, chapter treasurer, who is enthusiastically building a fund in readiness for the chapter bi-centenary.
Chris finished by saying how delightful it had been on this evening to be accompanied by Provincial Assistant Director of Ceremonies Mark Barton, which was applauded by all.
In response to the toast to the three principals, Stewart Hyde had the great pleasure of presenting a chapter jewel to Mike Whitlock in appreciation of the valuable service he had given in his year of office. Mike was quite taken with this gesture and added that the chapter was going from strength to strength, which boded well for the upcoming bi-centenary in 2024, when the chapter would celebrate the issue of the charter from Supreme Grand Chapter in 1824. Prior to this, the chapter had operated under a lodge warrant issued by Athol (Ancient) Grand Lodge in 1792.
The evening flew by far too fast, and sadly the janitors toast came all too soon and the companions took their leave to head home.