This upcoming Tuesday, the 27th of May, 2008, will be a historic day for Freemasonry in Oregon and possible the United States. (Well, maybe I'm being a little too hopeful.) A group of Royal Arch Masons will be gathering in Roseburg, Oregon for the purpose of forming a European Concept Royal Arch Chapter, to be named Meridian Chapter. The business of the evening will include an explanation of the Concept, the conducting of an interest survey the answers of which will be passed along to the proposed High Priest once nominated, the actual nomination of the three Principal Officers for the Chapter, and the signing of a petition to request dispensation from The Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of Oregon to form our Chapter. There will also be a musical performance and a lecture on Officialism and the Festive Board drawn from the writings of Dr. Albert Gallatin Mackey.
Here are the principles that are going to be used as the "filter" to find Companions suitable for this endeavor. Any who aren't willing to uphold these principles will not be considered for this particular project.
The Seven Guiding Principles of Meridian Royal Arch Masons:
Arts and Education - The creativity and productivity of each member in the liberal arts and sciences should be earnestly cultivated. Masonic education should be part of every function. If there is not an original presentation available for a particular event, a reading may be taken from the vast array of literature pertaining to Royal Arch Masonry or Freemasonry in general.
Ritual Excellence - In the performance of ritual, nothing short of excellence will be acceptable. The work should not only be memorized, but also be artfully delivered by those performing it. This will take a while to achieve, but sufficient time will be dedicated to work towards the accomplishment of this goal until it is achieved. Members will need to demonstrate their proficiency in the ritual work, and candidates will need to demonstrate their proficiency in the lecture and obligation of each degree before proceeding to the next.
The Festive Board - At every event there should be just as much emphasis placed on the festive board as there is on the business, ritual, and education of our companions. Whether it is a potluck, a banquet, or a visit to a local restaurant, the Festive Board will be conducted with dignity, and members will be expected to attend and participate in the good food and fellowship.
Masonic Relevance - We must ensure that all Chapter functions are relevant to Masonry. There will be no fund raisers except those which provide some legitimate and valuable form of Masonic advancement. Every effort should be directed toward helping individual members improve themselves in Masonry.
Elegance of Dress - Our clothing is an outward symbol and reminder of our devotion to the highest standards of Masonic excellence, and the same amount of care and dignity should be given for our dress in Chapter as for a wedding, funeral, or other significant life event. The red chapter blazer will only be permitted to be worn by visiting District Deputies, Grand Officers, and Past Grand Officers. Everyone else (except current candidates or special guests) will be expected to wear a tuxedo, with a black jacket, red tie, and red vest or red cummerbund. The Sentinel will enforce this dress code under direction of the Excellent High Priest. New members should be directed prior to Exaltation or Affiliation as to where they may obtain these items for a modest price. This standard of dress should be maintained at all Meridian Chapter functions unless otherwise specified by the High Priest.
Ambiance and Initiatic Focus - Ambiance helps open the heart and soul to receive what Masonry has to offer. Just as our dress should be elegant, our meeting locations should also be as pleasant as possible. We may not always have the best locations, but we should do what we can to make them comfortable and enjoyable. Freedom from unnecessary noise and interruption, the provision of music during refreshment, and appropriate candle-light (if permitted by the venue), are examples of good ambiance.
Selectivity and Exclusivity - A European Concept body is a big commitment, and isn't suitable for everyone. We are dedicated to bringing in only those who are amicable towards these principles, and we will cheerfully recommend anyone wishing to become a Royal Arch Mason to a neighboring Chapter if they are not interested in meeting our strict requirements. We are trying to provide a unique, focused experience for those who are interested in it, and at the same time, project a positive image for both Royal Arch Masonry and Freemasonry in general. We are not desperate for membership, and never will be. If there aren't at least 12 Royal Arch Masons committed to these principles, then this Chapter should not exist. Once constituted, we must guard the west gate of this very unique Chapter so that these principles do not get subverted. We are trying to complement the existing programs, not compete with them, and to show this, many of our members will remain active in their existing Chapters.
I'm looking forward to hearing input from my online Brethren about this, and I will be posting a follow up to tell how the meeting went.