(A paper by Donald M Fleming WM, dated 21st November 1978 and published by the Bahamas Installed Masters Lodge No 8764)
It was an electrifying moment when, at the conclusion of the ceremony of Consecration of the Bahamas Installed Masters Lodge No. 8764 EC on the 13th of June 1977, the Grand Secretary of the United Grand Lodge of England, RW Bro J W Stubbs, announced from the East that the Grand Master had been pleased to appoint W Bro Ernest Sidney Larkin to the office of Grand Inspector of the Bahamas Group of Lodges. The announcement was received with the most enthusiastic approval by all present as a highly merited honour to Brother Larkin, as well as the assurance that the important office of Grand Inspector would be in responsible, competent and devoted hands.
The Lodge owes a profound and lasting debt to V W Bro Larkin. It is true that others collaborated with him in the formation of the Lodge, and among the founders were the leading Past Masters in the Bahamas; nevertheless, beyond any question, The Bahamas Installed Masters Lodge is the child of V W Bro Larkin. He was the principal source of the inspiration and drive, which resulted in the creation of the Lodge, and launched it under the most benign auspices on its path of Masonic duty and service on 13th June 1977. Appropriately he was its first Worshipful Master until 10th March 1978. He continues to serve the Lodge, and has left an indelible impress upon it.
Why a Lodge of Installed Masters? Membership in such a Lodge being confined to Installed Masters, it confers no degrees. Apart from the ceremony of Installation, it conducts its business only in the First Degree. What good purpose, then, could such a restrictive Lodge serve? Obviously there must be some adequate substitute offered in the absence of degree work, and it must be sufficiently advanced to command the attention of persons who have held the highest office in the gift of a Masonic Lodge.
The purpose chosen by the Bahamas Installed Masters Lodge is the advancement of Masonic education through serious research on the part of its own members. While many lodges give priority to the conferring of degrees and find that they have insufficient time to devote to education, an Installed Masters Lodge can devote its meetings and its efforts to the pursuit of Masonic education at higher levels. Although it has been in existence for less than a year and a half, and to date has held only five meetings, The Bahamas Installed Masters Lodge has already accomplished as much in the field of education at higher levels as many lodges succeed in doing over a period of years.
Up to the present time four papers, based upon diligent research, have been delivered. On 29th October 1977, W Bro R D Seligman delivered a brilliant paper on the theme “The Treasure Chest of Freemasonry”. Following his installation of 10th March 1978, the present Worshipful Master delivered an inaugural address on the subject “The Queen and the Craft; The Loyal Toast” This was followed at the meeting on 24th June 1978 by a second paper by the Worshipful Master on the large subject, “Sceptre and Gavel, or Freemasonry and the Royal Family.” On 21st November 1978, a very interesting paper entitled “Masonry in the Far East”, was delivered by W Bro R M T Orr.
It would be very short-sighted if the benefit of these papers were confined to the members of the Lodge. Consequently, a very warm invitation has been extended to all members of other Lodges to attend and enjoy the benefit of hearing the papers. It has been emphasised that the invitation is not confined to Master Masons, but includes Entered Apprentices and Fellow Crafts. Likewise, steps have been taken to preserve the papers delivered, and to disseminate them in printed form. The present publication is the first of a series, intended to contain copies of the addresses delivered in the Lodge. In this way, a storehouse of valuable material will be accumulated, and it is hoped that it will be of great benefit in years to come to Freemasons in this area and others who are sufficiently wise and diligent to avail themselves of the opportunities thus made available to them.
The other purpose which the Bahamas Installed Masters’ Lodge pre-eminently serves is to bring together in a close bond the Masters and Past Masters of various Masonic Lodges in the area. There are five of such lodges at present, and they need some strong uniting force. The Bahamas Installed Masters Lodge can help greatly to supply this bond of union. Consequently, high importance is attached to social intercourse at the meetings of the Lodge and at the banquet hour following.
The Lodge is not large in numbers. By its nature it is unlikely that it will ever have a large membership. This may, however, serve to strengthen the individual bonds among the members. The Lodge had twenty-nine Founders; seven additional members have joined since. Happily, it has experienced no loss to date by death, removal or resignation. Its strength stands at thirty-six.
Its thirty-six members have held the office of Worshipful Master in the following Lodges:
Royal Victoria: 18
St Michael’s: 9
Those falling in the last two categories are all members of Royal Victoria Lodge.
The fees of the Lodge have been kept at a modest level. The initiation fee is $125.00, the fee on joining or rejoining is $25.00 and the annual fee is $25.00. The Lodge has been sparing in its expenditure, and its financial position is sound. Through the kindness of the St Michael’s Lodge it has been privileged to use the St Michael’s Temple and Lodge Room, which, though small, have been quite adequate. To date, the Lodge has not acquired any furniture of its own.
The Temple contains no banquet hall or dining facilities. Of the banquets following the five meetings held to date, three have been held at the East Hill Club, one in the private dining room at the Buena Vista Hotel, and one at the Nassau Temple. The cost of the banquets has consequently been somewhat larger than would be the case if the banquet could be held at the Temple, but the banquets have afforded opportunity for every happy fraternisation while rendering due regard to proper formality. Attendance at the meetings has been satisfactory, but continuing efforts will be made to interest visiting Brethren of all degrees in attendance at both the meetings and the banquets.
The Lodge holds three regular meetings per annum. Initially, Saturday was the day appointed in the Bye-Laws for such meetings, but, at its meeting on 24th June 1978, the Bye-Laws were amended to fix the date of the regular meetings on the third Monday in the months of March, June and November.
The Officers of the Lodge are as follows:
Worshipful Master R W Bro Donald M Fleming
Immediate Past Master V Wor Bro E S Larkin
Senior Warden W Bro J A Wildgoose
Junior Warden W Bro Ralph D Seligman
Director of Ceremonies W Bro John D Lambert
Treasurer W Bro James N French
Secretary W Bro Leonard Thomas
Almoner W Bro Arthur N Richardson
Charity Steward W Bro F L (Peter) Cole
Senior Deacon W Bro Cyril F Tynes
Junior Deacon W Bro W John Meadows
Inner Guard W Bro James Robertson
Outer Guard W Bro Mark F Murray
Organist W Bro Ivan A Hanna
Assistant Director of Ceremonies W Bro Roscoe Darville
It is the hope of all who bear responsibility that the Bahamas Installed Masters Lodge No. 8764 EC will make an effective and significant contribution to the health and activities of the Craft in the Bahamas. Its members have enjoyed very high privileges; it will be their aim and purpose to share these with other members of the Craft.
–Donald M Fleming
21st November 1978