The centenary is nearly there for the Sure and Stedfast Chapter of Temperance and Felicity No 9326, as it advances towards the milestone of 100 years since the issue of its charter in 1919. Their recent meeting held in Liverpool Masonic Hall, was opened with John Bruffell first principal, his son Chris Bruffell second principal, and Graham Edwards third principal, with the chapter being absolutely ecstatic in having the Deputy Grand Superintendent Paul Renton as the principal guest for the evening. The companions were equally delighted to welcome Mark Barton, who as Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies, accompanied Paul on this occasion.
This being the meeting prior to the installation ceremony in January, a number of elections took place during the general business of the chapter. As a result of these, Chris Bruffell was voted as first principal elect, Graham Edwards second principal elect, with his father Joe Edwards third principal elect, Syd Needham treasurer and Geoffrey Cuthill as janitor. On conclusion of chapter business, Paul and Mark were welcomed into the chapter, with Paul briefly accepting the sceptre and graciously returning it to the first principal. This allowed Paul to take to the centre and give a brief explanation of the reason of the visit, which had a dual purpose.
Firstly, since taking office as Deputy Superintendent, he wanted to visit chapters across the Province, including those of a more historic, unusual or modest nature. The strength of a chapter is not measured by volume of membership alone, it must include affability, comradeship, mutual assistance and full inclusion. These are just a few of the reasons that Sure and Stedfast is judged as being an extremely strong chapter.
From this, Paul moved on to his next item of business, which was an illustrated presentation of the three lectures; the historic, symbolic and mystical. Each lecture was dealt with in order, with the previously designated readers telling their part, while Paul called up the illustrations, projected onto a screen to coincide with each part being spoken. A simple method, but one which brought an instant enlightenment at each stage and helping in a greater understanding of the lectures themselves. On the conclusion of the show, the appreciation of the slideshow was demonstrated by spontaneous applause by those in attendance.
Following the ceremonial part of the evening’s proceedings, the companions entered the dining room to share in a very convivial festive board. With Sure and Stedfast Chapter remaining strictly temperance, both Paul and Mark must have wondered how the usual toasts would be accommodated. This was soon revealed, when they were requested to ‘take liquid refreshment’ with the companions, from a choice of orange or blackcurrant. Of course, at the forthcoming installation ceremony, the choice on offer will be much wider and could include such delights as cream soda, sarsaparilla and dandelion and burdock.
In responding to the toast to the health of the grand officers, Paul paid tribute to the members of the chapter who had maintained the ideals of the ‘founders’, for what will soon be one hundred years. It was a privilege to attend such a warm hearted and friendly chapter, with the strength and commitment of the companions so much to the fore. The welcome given to both Mark and himself had been outstanding from the moment they arrived and gratefully received. In speaking with the first principal John Bruffell earlier in the evening, he had been fully informed of the future plans for the chapter at this time, including the centenary meeting to be held next year, which would be invitational only.
In addressing the assembled companions, Paul stressed the importance of encouraging Masons to complete their journey by joining the Royal Arch. In making his point, Paul made reference to the historical links between the Craft and the Royal Arch and suggested that discussing that connection would perhaps be a good way of opening a conversation with potential exaltees. It certainly gave the listeners plenty of food for thought. The evening flew past and it was soon time for janitor Geoff Cuthill to lead the companions through the traditional last toast of the evening.