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The Training and Education Programme of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Worcestershire has one prime aim – to help masons understand, enjoy and be confident in their masonry, and by this to retain them in the Craft.

A glance at the events run over the last ten years by successive Assistant Provincial Grand Masters charged with organising the Training and Education programme will show an emphasis on helping brethren understand, perform and be comfortable in the various offices and roles in which they will find themselves in their progression towards the chair. This is not to suggest for one moment that skill in ritual is the most important thing in masonry – far from it, for many find ritual and the associated learning difficult and they can often be the most dedicated and committed masons. But, someone who is nervous, uncomfortable and unsure is not going to enjoy his masonry and is certainly not going to convey any enjoyment to others.

Thus one will find Seminars entitled “Towards the Master’s Chair, “The Role and Work of the Junior Officers”, “The Director of Ceremonies” as well as training sessions for Treasurers, Secretaries, Almoners etc. It is so easy to ignore the importance of such mundane, bread and butter education or training, but how many Junior Deacons looking forward with some apprehension to their first work on the floor want to wrestle with the philosophical implications of the Ancient Charges? And so much of the training programme in Worcestershire starts with that premise.

The Province has not forgotten the importance of the philosophical element of Freemasonry and, with an historian as Provincial Grand Master, could not forget the importance of one knowing one’s history and background. As the possessor of what is said to be the finest Masonic Museum outside of Grand Lodge the Province regularly arranges Sunday luncheons for Masons and their wives or partners to have guided tours of the museum and see the many precious artefacts, jewels and books, which are always on show and, in some cases, available for Lodges to hold evenings dedicated to the history and background of the Craft rather than ritual. In addition the Curator of the Museum, W.Bro.J.Hart, issues every year a list of speakers and topics to Lodges which are regularly used to “instruct” and “educate” brethren in the philosophy and history of the Craft and, in some cases, esoteric and arcane ritual rarely heard about or discussed.

With this in mind, the Province, well aware that not all Lodges will be holding formal ceremonies every Lodge evening and conscious that a continuous stream of Initiation, Passing and Raising does not represent the heart and soul of Freemasonry has charged the Worcestershire Provincial Grand Stewards Lodge, 9142 to “tour” the Province with a series of presentations that are intended to stimulate discussion about the content of our ritual, the allegorical implications of the furnishings, tracing boards and jewels. Such evenings are always well attended and do pose serious questions for Brethren to consider and without doubt they do alert those who attend to a deeper and more fully understood appreciation of Freemasonry.

A most important innovation and one practised by many Lodges throughout the country is to charge a senior member of the Lodge to be Mentor for newly initiated brethren, what is called, in some Lodges a Master of Novices. His job is to accompany junior brethren when they have to leave the Lodge Room for some ceremonies or parts of ceremonies, to talk to them about the work going on, prepare them for their next ceremony and help them come to an understanding of the background and meaning of Masonry. It is a most important and onerous post and the Training and Education group has actively encouraged mentoring by organising a seminar on Mentors two years ago and then hosting a follow-up audit of the practice. In addition the Province has produced a series of booklets for mentors and is currently arranging workshops in a variety of different meeting places to advise mentors and provide a forum for the exchange of views and good practice.

Future plans include mounting a series of practical workshops on developing a website and the use of the internet and electronic communication this really in response to comments made by brethren during meetings arranged by the Worcestershire Provincial Grand Stewards Lodge entitled “Securing the Future” which, as its title implies, looked at the future development of masonry ion the Province.

In such ways the Provincial Grand Lodge of Worcestershire is trying to balance both education and training. Training, in the narrowest sense, being the preparation of the Brethren for the duties they hold or will hold in the Lodge so that when those offices are entered the Mason will feel that he has the knowledge and skill to perform to the best of his ability and thus be comfortable with himself. 

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