Over 50 members and visitors were in attendance at Preston Masonic Hall as the Setantia Chapter of Installed First Principals No 7755 gave a demonstration of the suggested enhancement of the exaltation ceremony.
Prior to the demonstration, the first principal Ian Cuerden gave a short résumé of the background to the suggested enhancements and the development of the associated ritual about to be demonstrated. He began by saying the demonstration was the result of an initial suggestion by Second Grand Principal George Pipon Francis, that the Royal Arch exaltation ceremony, although naturally quite colourful and dramatic in itself, could be improved by incorporating even more dramatic elements to the benefit of the candidates understanding.
Ian went on to say that the Province thoroughly supports this initiative and the Past Deputy Grand Superintendent, Steven Reid, together with the present Deputy and the Assistants to the Provincial Grand Principals have produced a preliminary booklet, yet to be finalised, to guide chapters regarding its suggestions.
He informed the companions that the enhancements were not in any way obligatory but it was hoped it would be interesting to watch, providing food for thought to allow chapters to use those portions they wished or all if they deemed it appropriate. It also provided an opportunity to further extend the recommended practice of sharing the work; a practice that most companions found advantageous.
Ian hoped that although the Royal Arch ritual had in fairly recent memory been subject to much change, this exercise would introduce very little actual innovation to the ritual but merely seeks to enhance it. He concluded by asking those present to be open hearted in viewing what was to follow and not to forget that chapters vary enormously in their current existing workings.
The demonstration commenced with Mike Threlfall as narrator, setting the scene announcing that volunteer, David Barlow, was a candidate for exaltation. As all those present were familiar with the full exaltation ceremony, as explained by the narrator at various points in the demonstration, only the sections where the enhancements played a part were actually demonstrated. These centred mainly on the areas concerned with sojourners preparation of the ground for the Most Holy Place, the resulting ‘discovery of importance’ and the relating of this discovery to those sat in council. The enhancements introduced visual actions and physical movement of the companions round the chapter that supplemented and added meaning to the words traditionally spoken. They also served to provide an opportunity to further share the work of the ceremony amongst the participants.
At its conclusion the team were congratulated and warmly applauded for their obvious hard work in preparing for the demonstration; a demonstration that was delivered to a very high standard by all concerned and certainly provided those attending with plenty of food for thought and contemplation.
The meeting rounded off with the retiring chapter scribe Ian Taylor, being thanked for all the work he had done for the chapter in the past, especially whilst facing continuing health problems. Much to Ian’s surprise a ballot was then taken to make him an honorary member of the chapter; a ballot that, to the delight of the companions present and to Ian in particular, proved in favour.