In many ways the work of the East Lancashire Royal Arch Presentation Team is twofold. A large part of what we do could be described as educational entertainment. We put on a show that gives the Companions of the Chapter that we are visiting a chance to learn more about some aspects of the Royal Arch that they might not otherwise get. This is true of pieces such as “Crafty Companions”. The other aspect of our programme is to work a full ceremony in order to present different approaches to our ritual, or other ways of splitting up the ceremony so that it does not put quite as much strain on those doing the work. This is certainly true of the Ceremony of Exaltation where, if you were to follow the ritual book precisely, the vast majority of the work falls on the shoulders of the First Principal and the Principal Sojourner. That is not to say that there is anything wrong with that approach, if that is what the companions want, but it is our aim to put forward an alternative.
“Here is the newly exalted Comp Gawaine Seel with both First Principals. To the left is EComp Russell Pike ProvGStwd, the “Acting” First Principal of the Presentation Team, and to the right is EComp William Lee PProvGStB, First Principal of Werneth Chapter No 6163”
On Thursday 23rd May the Presentation Team visited Werneth Chapter No 6163 at its meeting in Rochdale Masonic Hall. On this occasion we were privileged not to provide an exemplar, but to actually carry out a real exaltation into the Chapter. Don’t be misled by what I have said, this is not to imply that Werneth Chapter could not have carried out this ceremony themselves, for to me they appear to be a thriving Chapter. However, it is really nice that, from time to time, we get to do a real ceremony, and this exaltation was a great joy for all of us.
The team were introduced by EComp Ed Cheadle PGStB, who is the APGP for the Eastern Area of the Province. We then took our places, temporarily replacing the real officers of the Chapter, and the ceremony got under way. The candidate was WBro Gawaine Seel, the nephew of EComp Fred Seel, who occupied the First Principal’s Chair of the Chapter in 2007. Then, watched by almost 50 companions, we exalted him into membership of Werneth Chapter.
The ritual that we use for the Ceremony of Exaltation has been brought together from a number of different sources. One of the great joys of visiting other Chapters of the Royal Arch is seeing the different forms of ritual used, or the different ways that there are of simply moving around the Chapter. Certainly there are aspects of our ritual that feel very comfortable to me, and other parts that seem more unusual, but all are correct. We also take a pride in the fact that our ceremony is quite evenly divided between all three Principals and all three Sojourners. This doesn’t just present how the ceremony can be broken up, it also gives rein to the different thespian talents of our participants. With one thing and the other I am sure that the members of Werneth Chapter enjoyed our work on the night and I sincerely hope that they made a good stride forwards in their masonic knowledge.
I know one thing, we enjoyed the evening very much, and I hope that the members of the Chapter gained equally from the experience.