The Provincial Grand Orator for the Province of Warwickshire is Stephen Townsend
Firstly I wish to forward my heartfelt thanks to my predecessors W Bro Trevor H Sturt the first Provincial Grand Orator 2008 until 2011 and W Bro Keith Marchington 2011 until 2015 .
What is an Orator?
In very simple terms he delivers a short oration approved by UGLE and afterward stimulates discussion on the content of that Oration. All Orations should be short, lasting no more than 15 to 20 minutes, and should focus on the deeper meaning of the ritual and its symbolism. The difference between an oration and a lecture is that the focus of learning should arise out of the debate, which should provide the stimulus for Brethren to research further into the subject and to reflect on their own views.
I am a firm believer that orations are a valuable part of the fabric of Freemasonry offering Lodges the opportunity to listen to a short oration and afterwards join in as mentioned a debate on the content of that oration thereby stimulating learning and a better understanding of the Craft and Freemasonry in general.
The emphasis on retention has been the focus of the Mentoring Scheme and the Orators’ Scheme compliments this by providing a focus on our rituals. So many candidates go through the three Degrees without knowing the meaning of those Degrees or receiving an explanation they do receive a booklet of that degree but there are very few opportunities for Brethren to be exposed to and explore the lessons found in the ritual. The role of the Provincial Grand Orator, supported by his team, will be to actively develop this aspect of Freemasonry
In essence, the Provincial Oration scheme is designed to provide members, and possibly non-Masonic guests, with an opportunity to listen to talks on interesting Masonic topics and also to provide a relaxed forum in which discussion can take place; after all, there is more to Freemasonry than just rituals and ceremonies.
Retaining our members is becoming more and more important as we lose far too many due to pressure of everyday life or a perceived lack in Masonic knowledge. It is generally felt that we do not explain enough about the Craft within our own lodges and its so-called mysteries. The future wellbeing of the Craft critically depends on its ability to recruit new members and, even more importantly, to retain them. Experience shows, however, that he often remains in the darkness of ignorance simply because nobody has taken the time to explain what it all means as he passes through the three degrees.
That is why the Provincial Grand Master with his team have recognised this ongoing problem and where the Provincial Oration scheme will help and positively enlighten those who possess a healthy curiosity about our ancient and honourable institution.
All Orations, which may only be delivered by designated Orators, consist of many papers, lectures and presentations which will undoubtedly enhance the enjoyment of all of our members. These include a wide variety of subjects related to all aspects of Freemasonry, and we have been very grateful for the contribution made by all fellow Masonic authors for their support.
In addition to the papers already available, we would be delighted to consider any additional ones written by our members. Also, if any members have in their possession any other papers (not written or researched by them) which might be of interest, please also send these to me directly. This will need the permission of the author if still extant, and each such paper will be read (as needed) in order to designate whether 1st, 2nd or 3rd degree.
The 2016/2017 Competition
The deadline for the 2016 Masonic Paper Competition has been extended to give brethren the opportunity to complete and submit their papers. In order to give all writers the best opportunity, the deadline for submission is now 1st May 2017. We strongly encourage all brethren to have a go at conducting a little research, the work does not need to be onerous as there is a wealth of information available in print and on the Internet. Papers are particularly encouraged from brethren below the chair as you often bring a different perspective with your research which brings an interesting counterpoint to papers from more experienced brethren.
The winners will be announced by the Provincial Grand Master at the Provincial Grand Lodge meeting in 2017 being held at Great Queens Street as part of the tri-centenary celebrations.There are two cups available to the winners, one to keep and the other to return after 1 year. There are two categories also, one below the Chair and the other for W Bros. New papers should be sent to W Bro Keith Marchington, PAGDC in the first instance to collate, index and create the database. Keith would therefore welcome any submissions you may have whether these are old or new.
Tips on writing Masonic papers
- Think about a title that sums up the theme of your piece and stimulates interest.
- Think about your audience. Will they include EAs, FCs or MMs? This will determine which level the Lodge will need to open in. If you deliver a paper to an audience consisting of all MMs you can still deliver this in the first degree.
- Write in the third person singular or plural.
- Do not exceed 30 minutes for any paper, otherwise people will fall asleep!
- Précis your paper after completion to make it punchier.
- Try to make it general, not specific to a lodge or province. This will enable it to be used in a wider Masonic audience.
- Use the internet. For example if you put in “Hiram,King of Tyre” it will ask you which of the 1.3 million articles you would like to read first! When you have read the first dozen or so you will probably have enough information for your paper! However, be cautious and always cross check information obtained from the internet, and be wary of breaching copyright.
- Use a spell checker to help you correct any typographical errors (English – UK, not English – USA!)
- Read it aloud slowly, and time it to ensure you will know how long it takes. DCs will want to know this to plan the evening, particularly the time for the festive board.
W Bro Stephen Townsend PAGDC
Past Provincial Senior Grand Warden
The Provincial Grand Orator