Church Alley, Liverpool is one of those places that before the advent of smart phones and online maps, would have had one reaching for a well-thumbed, trusty A to Z to find the location. Nestled between the busy thoroughfare of Church Street and the famous Bluecoat Chambers, is the Liverpool Athenaeum, founded in 1797 to provide a meeting place where ideas and information could be exchanged.
It is fitting that the Athenaeum is the home of Chapter of Justice No 6850, and on this special occasion, the library room was the venue for the annual installation meeting and the 165th convocation.
The chapter was opened in solemn form by John McGibbon, who has remained as first principal throughout the COVID period and remained in office for some time, assisted by second principal, Steve Senneck, and third principal, Kieran Senneck, who collectively as a team opened the chapter in very polished fashion.
Principal guest at the ceremony was Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals Ian Sanderson, who was accompanied by Gladstone Group Chairman Paul Storrar, grand officer, Paul Shepherd and Provincial Grand Steward Ian White. Ian Sanderson was formally welcomed to the chapter by John.
The minutes of the last convocation being approved, it was time for the next order of business, the installation of the new principals. Daniel Senneck, acting as director of ceremonies collected third principal, Kieran Senneck and presented him to John. John has an impressive knowledge of the ritual of Royal Arch, which became apparent throughout the installation.
John was exemplary in his direction of the ceremony of the installation and obligation of a second principal, with the scripture readings carried out by Godfrey Freeman. Kieran having been duly obligated, was seated ready for the next part of the ceremony.
Daniel then collected Steve Senneck, as first principal elect and again presented him to John. This is not Steve’s first foray of becoming a first principal, having filled the office on three previous occasions, the first time in 1996. In total number of years, Steve has been a first principal of the chapter for an impressive six years, last being in the chair in 2013.
As Steve is a past first principal, he was then invested with his collar, robe and sceptre and took his rightful place as first principal of the chapter. Having declared a board of installed second principals, it was the turn of Kieran Senneck to be presented to Steve and be installed as a second principal, again being entrusted with his collar, robe and sceptre.
On this occasion, third principal elect Anthony Collins was unable to attend the installation ceremony and it is Steve’s wish to install him at a future date as third principal.
John McGibbon then rose and delivered the scarlet robe address to first principal Steve, and having completed a superb oration, and with hardly pause for breath, indicated that second principal Kieran should rise, and he delivered an equally impressive oration of the purple robe address.
It is unknown whether the Athenaeum’s library room contains a copy of Walter Map’s 20th century manuscript ‘De Nugis Curialium’ in which the phrase, “let no good deed go unpunished”, is attributed. However, during the appointment of officers, John McGibbon was appointed as director of ceremonies, a role no doubt his amazing command of ritual is a reflection of the high esteem he is held by the companions of the chapter in his appointment to that office.
At the conclusion of the installation ceremony, Ian Sanderson rose and congratulated the principals of the chapter, and in particular, John McGibbon for his hard work during the installing ceremony with the applause in the chapter room in recognition of his contribution.
First principal Steve then closed the chapter in solemn form and all retired to the fine dining rooms of the Athenaeum for the festive board. Chapter of Justice is a relaxed chapter, and the conversation flowed easily around the festive board with the companions enjoying the company of everyone present.