Worshipful Brother Denis Brown has enjoyed a full and eventful Masonic journey including being installed into the Master's Chair no less than seven times. We now congratulate W Bro Denis on his appointment as a Metropolitan Grand Officer. Denis has been kind enough to share his story with us and it paints a picture of how fulfilling and wide ranging Freemasonry can be as well as how a decisive plan can bring Lodges back from the brink of closure and re-invigorate them into lively and thriving communities.
"The first Lodge I became Master of was the Fellowship and Peace lodge number 7002, meeting in Croydon. This lodge unfortunately surrendered its warrant some years ago now. At the time I was relatively new to Freemasonry and being a joining member of the Fellowship and Peace lodge I had only been in Freemason for a period of six years. To be given the opportunity to occupy the chair at so an early time in my Masonic career was more of a necessity to be honest. I was the WM for two consecutive years here from 2006 through to 2008.
"Following this the lodge lasted another two years and then numbers were dwindling quickly, and the difficult decision to surrender our warrant was taken. It indeed was an extremely sad and upsetting thing to have to go through.
"I am originally a London Freemason and the majority of the Brethren from the FoP Lodge joined my Mother Lodge, Aretas 4268, holding their meetings at the National Hotel, Russell Square having moved there from Mark Masons Hall well before my time.
"Working in and around London, London freemasonry was indeed for me, but in 2006 I decided to join a more local lodge to myself along with my best friend Bro Rick Jones. We decided to join a Friday evening lodge within the Staffordshire Province, so we joined the Round Table Lodge 8273. On joining I was immediately installed into the Senior Wardens chair as again this lodge was struggling in the same way that the Fellowship and Peace Lodge had before. Due to dwindling numbers and resignations it had reduced its meetings from six a year to five in the hope of survival. The Lodge had no new members coming in, each member had occupied the chair at least twice and the lodge was extremely close in surrendering its warrant. Our joining certainly helped with the finances and cast a lifeline, albeit for a short time, but never the less a lifeline. So, when I was installed into the chair in November 2008, it was suggested that we set out a plan to survive.
"We introduced a three-year plan of what we were all about, who we were, what we were doing but more importantly how to attract new members. We set up a website, to show people how we did things, and advertise what Freemasonry was all about, how it could potentially make a difference in your life. We mentioned the social side, lodge meeting agendas, charity collections and charity contributions. We placed testimonials on our website, we did everything we could to attract attention, but the single most important thing we did was to interview each member individually and see if they were aware of anybody that they felt they could nominate to become a Freemason.
"This brought one new member, the website brought another new member, we then got four joining members. Remember this lodge was close to surrendering its warrant back in 2007/8, to date we have enough work now to last us till 2020, and that is doing one ceremony per meeting. The numbers have grown unbelievably, for the last three years we have had two initiations each year. I did two initiations last year plus a third degree, this year we have three initiations and a second, the lodge is growing at a meteoric pace.
"I went into the chair for the first time in 2008 came out the following year as I went into the chair at my Mother Lodge (2009), I have to say that was indeed the pinnacle of my career, the WM of your Mother Lodge, it has to be the highest honour bestowed onto any freemason...
"Within my Mother Lodge I had been installed into every position along with a spell as the Treasurer. So when the chair did arrive I was extremely excited. Handed the chair over in November 2010 and went straight back into the Round Table Lodge chair in 2010.
"My Mother Lodge was going well, even the Round Table Lodge now had its sights set way in the distance, then unfortunately we had two Brothers sadly pass away. My best friend Bro Rick Jones was extremely ill and needed to slow down but he had promised me he would keep going until I got my Provincial honours, which I did in May 2012. My first appointment was that of Past Provincial Junior Grand Deacon, an honour bestowed on me by the RW Bro Alexander Steward the then PGM (Staffs). In September of 2012 my best friend Bro Rick Jones died, a loss of unbelievable proportion to me. Due to the untimely loss of another brother, W Bro Alan Gough, I stepped in to fill the position of Senior Deacon and then proceeded to go through the chair again in 2015-2016.
"About five years ago, a good friend of mine took me along as a visitor to his lodge which met in Sutton Coldfield. The lodge of Allegiance 6000 meets on a Saturday and is in the Province of Warwickshire. I have performed most offices during my tenure, and having been installed into the Junior Wardens position for two years, I was honoured by being installed into the Chair of King Solomon on Saturday 28th January 2017. We filled the lodge room, and filled the festive board with no less than 28 Brethren on the waiting list, an unbelievable experience and what an honour. I have never had nerves like that before I can tell you, it was an unbelievable experience and an absolute privilege to be a part of something so special.
"In September of 2016 I was promoted to the rank of Past Provincial Grand Superintendent of Works and a Provincial Visiting Officer for the Province of Staffordshire. I was assigned two lodges under my charge, the Chase Lodge and the Prince of Wales Lodge, both have exceptional qualities.
"And of course, in December 2016 I was honoured with the promotion to a Metropolitan Grand Officer, an active rank, something that I could previously have only dreamt of. My investiture was on March 2nd of this year.
"I am also a founder member of the Lodge of Restoration. A lodge within the Worcestershire Province and who practise ritual which is 300 years old, exactly how it used to be done when Freemasonry began. Presently I am only the Inner Guard and the web designer. The website has just been released, here all visitors to the site can get a flavour of what we are all about. (http://www.restoration-9935.masonic-website.org.uk/)
"Also, I am one of the founder members of the "Masonic Travelling Circus", I am positive this will become a tradition that will grow and grow. It is a bunch of freemasons who just hire a mini coach, book in somewhere and go and visit lodges. Members are from all provinces and to date we have visited London twice, and of course the MTC was out at my installation into Allegiance."
W Bro Denis Brown, WM Allegiance 6000
Metropolitan Grand Officer, MetGD
Provincial Visiting Officer (Staffs)