On St Andrew’s Day our Provincial Communications Manager, Robin Evans, took another step in his Masonic journey by becoming Worshipful Commander of Wigmore’s St Peter’s Lodge of Royal Ark Mariners.
Robin is usually the interviewer and wordsmith behind the stories that you read on this website, but as we couldn’t ask him to write a story about himself fellow marketing professional and Assistant Provincial Grand Master, Trevor Sharpe recently took much pleasure, possibly a little too much, in turning the tables on Robin.
TS: Robin, you had been a Mark Master Mason for approaching 15 years before your Elevation as a Royal Ark Mariner, what was the ultimate attraction?
RE: I guess that there were two main reasons. Firstly, as a result of my roles within the Province I was spending an increasing amount of time in the company of positive and passionate members of what they continually told me was a beautiful degree.
Secondly, as you also know from our work together on the Provincial Membership Committee, I’m a bit of a nerd when it comes to statistics. In Kent around 60% of Mark Masons progress to become Royal Ark Mariners – yet the Degrees have no ceremonial connection. Whereas the “transfer rate” from the Craft to the Royal Arch – rightly considered the completion of a Freemason’s journey in Pure Antient Masonry – is circa 40%. My curiosity got the better of me and I had to find out why.
TS: What have you enjoyed most about your time in the Order?
RE: Quite simply the extended camaraderie. Although I have been a regular visitor to the Howard Hall over my two decades in Freemasonry, this is the first time that I have become a member of a unit there. Add this to the allegory and uniqueness of the Order (all my others are Solomonic) and it’s a winner all round.
TS: What would you say to any Brother contemplating becoming a Royal Ark Mariner?
RE: Whilst being ever mindful of those two important lessons we were all taught at our Initiation, namely “without detriment to ourselves or connexions” and “[Masonry] requires a perfect freedom of inclination in every Candidate for its mysteries”, I would recommend joining.
Despite being worked under the banner of the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons, Royal Ark Masonry has no connection with the Mark Degree, except that to join one must be a subscribing Mark Master Mason. Yet in spite of standing alone and being entirely unrelated to any other Masonic Degree, it is an inspiring, and indeed beautiful, Degree with its own unique moral story.
TS: And what would you say to those who dismiss it?
RE: Never say never. It is no secret that when I was considering which path to take after joining Chapter and Mark, I discounted R.A.M. in favour of Royal & Select, because R.A.M. didn’t fit in with the other Solomonic Degrees. At the time when the R.A.M. Degree is set, the Sacred Writings were not in existence. However, without giving too much away, during the ceremony important analogies are drawn between the dangers of the flood and the dangers of life and how we should strive to reach the “Ark”, the haven of rest, just as Noah and his family did.
TS: Should you have been Elevated sooner?
RE: Although hindsight is a perfect science, probably not. As I mentioned in my previous answer the time has to be right, otherwise we can bring undue pressures upon ourselves and these can easily take away the enjoyment.
TS: You’ve now spent some time studying the Degree, what have you found that particularly appeals to you?
RE: Whilst the experience is most definitely Masonic, there are some special moments, not least in the Inner Workings of the Installation.
TS: Apart from that what else have you enjoyed most about your time in the Order?
RE: The opportunity to develop myself further. Freemasonry is a continual journey and being a Royal Ark Mariner has certainly helped me to grow.
TS: You live in Whitstable and your Mother Craft and Mark Lodges meet in Faversham, what was behind your decision to join the Royal Ark Mariner degree in Wigmore?
RE: I am a member of two Craft Lodges, my Mother Mark Lodge, Kent Installed Mark Masters, the Royal Arch and Royal & Select Masters so finding the right balance was important to me and my family. I carried out my research via the “Red Book” and discovered that St Peter’s meet only 3 times a year and on a fifth Wednesday, meaning that diary clashes were minimal. They also meet separate to their moored Mark Lodge, so the slightly later start time is more convenient to me. By simply not turning right at Brenley Corner, it only takes 10 minutes longer to get from Whitstable to the Howard Hall than it does to the Old Grammar School in Faversham. There were also a number of Masons in St Peter’s whom I already knew, so it was a natural fit.
TS: So, bearing in mind that the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons took possession of the rights to the Grand Lodge of Royal Ark Mariner on 10 June 1884 for just £25. What do you think of your investment, so far?
RE: In one of my previous answers I conveniently omitted the phrase about Masonry being free! I know that I have spent more than Morton Edwards received for surrendering his authority in 1884, but thankfully nowhere near the figure adjusted for inflation over the past 138 years. That said, as a marketer I would agree that the ROI has been beneficial for all parties involved.