What is it?

For those who are wondering what this lodge is all about, we can think of no better overview than that given by the Deputy Grand Secretary, W.Bro. Ryan Williams, when addressing the Consecration meeting in June 2016, at Mark Masons Hall

“Right Worshipful Brother Consecrating Officer and Brethren.
Most, if not all of us, assembled here today have witnessed the Consecration of a Lodge before and will therefore be familiar with the fact that it is at this point in the proceedings that it is customary for the Consecrating Chaplain to deliver an Oration expounding the virtues of freemasonry, exploring the origins of the Lodge and expressing the hope for a bright future that the Consecration heralds.

This is, of course, a unique Lodge, for what we are consecrating here today is a first for Mark Masonry – the first Lodge in the English Constitution dedicated to the furtherance of the use of the internet and technology within our Order.

One might say that it is a Lodge dedicated to innovation. So with this in mind I was very tempted to say nothing today other than to refer you to your tablets, laptops and phones to view a copy of the text of the Oration which had been emailed to you all simultaneously with me rising to speak to you now.

Whilst that would certainly be in the spirit of innovation, it would undoubtedly detract from the importance of this occasion which marks a milestone for the Order in general and the Province of Monmouthshire in particular.

We are all aware that the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons was formed in 1856 but you may be surprised, Brethren, when I tell you that the first appearance of the word ‘internetted’ pre-dates Grand Lodge. For it was as far back as 1849 that the term first began to be used as an adjective in the English language.

Technology has advanced at an alarming rate since the mid Nineteenth century and it is hard to believe that it was only in 1990 that Tim Berners-Lee would begin writing World Wide Web - the first web browser – something which has led to him being crowned the father of the internet.

Since 1995 the internet has impacted culture and commerce to an extent which none of us could have imagined. It has given rise to near instant communication by email, instant messaging, video calls and, of course, the World Wide Web with discussion forums, blogs, social networking and online shopping sites.

The internet continues to grow, driven by ever greater amounts of information and knowledge, commerce, entertainment and social networking. Back in 1995, only 1% of the world’s population had an internet connection. Today that figure has risen to 40% with over 3.3 billion users worldwide.

The low cost and nearly instantaneous sharing of ideas, knowledge and skills has made collaborative work dramatically easier and there can be no better collaborative activity than freemasonry.

Social networking dominates the way in which so many of us, and especially those of a younger generation, communicate. Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and LinkedIn are among the most used forums to keep in touch with friends, family and business associates. Ask yourselves this Brethren – what is one of the greatest examples of an organisation with a social ethos at its core – the answer is freemasonry.

With that in mind, Brethren, it is easy to see why the Craft Internet Lodge was born and why it has had such great success embracing technology and the internet and exploring how they can be used to the benefit of freemasons. The Consecration of a Mark Internet Lodge is therefore just the natural extension of the Craft activity in this arena.

I have no doubt that when Tim Berners-Lee began his work back in the 1990s, he had no idea what he was creating or how widely used it would become in a relatively short period. What is certain is that he never envisioned Masonic Lodges being consecrated with the sole purpose of leveraging the internet to benefit their members.

So here we are, Brethren, witnessing the birth of a new Mark Lodge with a unique purpose. But let’s reflect for a moment on the journey which has brought us here. But for the experience and enthusiasm of certain Brethren who were active within the Craft Internet Lodge and the encouragement of the Consecrating Officer and his Executive, we would not be here today.
It was their foresight and courage which has brought an idea into reality and they are to be commended for being prepared to dip their toes in uncharted Mark waters.

If I put my secretariat hat on for a moment, I must say that I see a bright future for this Lodge with several very clear objectives.

Firstly, to build bridges – to reach out to Mark Brethren around the world and strengthen the ties that already exist between them.

Secondly, to educate – to explore the opportunities to use the internet and technology to the benefit of Mark Masons.

And thirdly, to act as a forum – this is a progressive Order Brethren, and as Grand Lodge seeks to move with the times and embrace the internet and technology, I see this Lodge as an important forum for discussing our future plans to enhance the way we communicate in England, Wales and Our Districts and Lodges Overseas.

May the Great Overseer of the Universe endue the members of this Lodge with continuing courage and foresight. May their mission to strengthen masonic friendships across Provinces, Districts and international boundaries be fruitful and may their collective efforts contribute to the further development of our wonderful Order.”

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