The formation of the Bahamas Installed Masters Lodge No. 8764

An account of the formation, consecration, and first year, of the Bahamas Installed Masters Lodge No. 8764
By RW DGM Ernest S Larkin, 30th December 1977.

When the Bahamas Installed Masters Lodge was first talked about, it was agreed that its main purpose would be to create a source of Masonic knowledge and experience, which would be shared with the Fraternity in the Bahamas. To achieve this goal, our plans were to have lectures at our meetings; to have an inaugural address given by the WM at his installation; to invite all Masons to our meetings and banquets, which would also be planned with their main aim to be fellowship and knowledge. It was further planned that once a year a booklet would be published which would not only contain a record of the lectures given, but would include a report by the IP Master concerning his year in office, so that they would form, over a period of time, a continuing history of the Lodge. To do this and to make it complete, it is only proper that this, the first booklet published, should contain a brief report of its formative and early days which led to its consecration, and, being the Organizing Founder and Founder master, it has fallen upon me to do this.

The idea of having a Lodge of Installed Masters had been mentioned for quite some time by various P.M.s – especially since there had been an upswing in Masonic enthusiasm and activity in the Bahamas. With this upswing, it was obvious that another Lodge was wanted, yes, and needed, in Nassau, and certain Brethren began to move towards this end. As Lodge of Unity was becoming a fact and as there would be a Consecrating Team coming from England, it was considered to be the right time to suggest and push for the Bahamas Installed Masters Lodge – the Consecrating Team would be here and could possibly consecrate another Lodge – maybe it could be said “two for the price of one”. Anyway, the thought was put to the Grand Secretary, and with his advice and assistance, it was decided that we would make the attempt.

To this end, a meeting was called of all the Installed Masters in the Bahamas, of the English Constitution, the Scottish Constitution and those others Installed Masters who were working here, living her, or just passing through. The idea of an Installed Masters Lodge received tremendous support from all and I was appointed Organising Founder to explore all possibilities. When it was found that it would be feasible, a petition was obtained, a further meeting was held, and the following decisions were made:

  1. That the Lodge would be called the Bahamas Installed Masters Lodge
  2. That the officers would be:
    a. WM Elect – Bro Ernest S Larkin
    b. SW Elect – Bro Donald M Fleming, QC
    c. JW Elect – Bro James A Wildgoose
  3. That the Lodge would meet four times a year
  4. That a committee be formed which would b responsible for the various arrangements, covering:
    a. Bye-Laws
    b. Equipment & Regalia
    c. Consecration
    d. Banquet

The petition was duly submitted to the Grand Lodge and along with that for the proposed Lodge of Unity, was favourably considered, and Charters were issued by the Most Worshipful Grand Master – that for Lodge of Unity being No. 8760 and for the Bahamas Installed Masters Lodge being No. 8764.

Once this was known, further efforts on all items necessary for the formation of a Lodge really got under way, so that when we were advised that the MW Grand Master had appointed a Consecrating Team and arrangements made for them to consecrate these Lodges, all was in order. The Consecrating Team being:

Consecrating Officer:- R W Bro James W Stubbs, PGW
Senior Warden:- V W Bro Charles Mann GI – Bermuda
Junior Warden:- W Bro R G Bennet PGStdB
Chaplain:- W Bro Rev G W N Groves OBE PDGC
Director of Ceremonies:- V W Bro Alan F Ferris GDC
Inner Guard:- Bro Thomas Dubois Godet PAGDC

The team arrived in Nassau on the evening of Friday 10th June 1977 and were met by myself and the WM of Royal Victoria Lodge and taken to their hotel where they were entertained to cocktails by the Trustees and senior members of the Craft. After introductions and talking to the Brethren the Consecrating Officer and his team retired to their rooms.

The following morning, at breakfast, arrangements were finalized for the consecration of Lodge of Unity on the Saturday evening, 11th June 1977, and that of the Bahamas Installed Masters For Monday evening, 13th June 1977.

The ceremony was well attended and worked in an exemplary manner, and its high standard received many congratulations from all present and did much to enhance the reputation of English Masonry.

Following the consecration I was installed as WM by the Grand Secretary, RW Bro James W Stubbs, PGW. This was particularly pleasing to me as I had found Bro Stubbs to be one who was always ready to advise and assist. He had also promised that if we had another Lodge formed in the Bahamas, he would do all possible to consecrate it – thus he had the two Lodges to consecrate.

The Officers were appointed and invested, followed by the business of the Lodge and risings. At the first rising, after the Secretary of the Lodge reported there was no Grand Lodge business, the Grand Secretary stood and announced that the MW Grand Master had formed an Inspectorate to be known as the Bahamas Group of Lodges and that the group would be comprised of:

Royal Victoria Lodge No. 443, Turks Island Forth Lodge No. 647, Lucayan Lodge No. 8188, Lodge of Unity No. 8760, and Bahamas Installed Masters Lodge No. 8764 and, further, that he had appointed Bro Ernest S Larkin as Grand Inspector. It was quite a dramatic announcement and one well received by the Brethren.

The secretaries of all these Lodges being present, the Grand Secretary handed them the documents relating to this move.

As the newly Installed WM, I took the opportunity to thank the Founders for the trust they had placed in me, the Consecrating Officer and his team for the excellent ceremony of consecration and installation, and also the Brethren who attended, pointing out how high a level of the principles of Masonry and brotherly love we had achieved in the Bahamas, in that here was a group of Masons of English, Irish, Scottish, and Canadian Constitutions, of many different creeds, different colours who in a Scottish Masonic Temple on one of the Bahamas islands had been consecrated into an English Lodge, whose three principal officers were an Englishman (initiated in Scotland) a Canadian and a Bahamian (initiated into Scottish Masonry in Jamaica). All this showed indeed the mysterious workings of the G.A.O.T.U.

After the Lodge was closed, the Brethren proceeded to the East Hill Club for the banquet. This was most enjoyable, and was a fitting ending of a most successful day.

The first meeting of the Lodge was held on 29th October 1977, during which we were given a lecture, “The Treasure Chest of Masonry”. This was prepared and delivered by W Bro Ralph D Seligman, and was well received.

It was also the evening specified in our By-Laws for the election of officers. Authority had been given for us to do this before the Lodge was a year old, and resulted in W Bro Donald M Fleming, QC., being elected Master and W Bro Len Thomas being elected Treasurer.

The following meeting held Friday 11th March 1978 was, of course, the installation, and saw the ceremony of installation performed in full form by W Bro Ernest S Larkin, and Bro Fleming being installed in the Chair, invested his officers and gave his inaugural address entitled “The Loyal Toast”. After the lodge was closed, the Installation Banquet was held at East Hill Club.

This ended my short, but happy, period as master of the Bahamas Installed Masters Lodge. I am proud to have had the opportunity to serve the Craft and my Brethren and hope, if it is at all possible to be drawn even closer to those men which Masonry has given me the privilege to call “Brother”.

I would like to consider that I had made it a successful period and that, with the assistance of the Installed Masters who were founders, the WMs and PMs who had joined the Lodge, we were able to build upon the foundation laid by RW Bro James W Stubbs and his team – that this Lodge was beginning to rise and take its place to serve the purpose for which it had come into being – useful to masonry in general and that of the Bahamas in particular.

–Ernest S Larkin
30th December 1977

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