Red Cross of Constantine, East Midlands Divisional Meeting, 13th May, 2021

Worthy Knights, what a tremendous attendance this evening: thank you all for your support of the Division of the East Midlands. It is marvellous to see so many attending from our neighbouring and our sister Divisions, but I am particularly pleased with the attendance from our own Conclaves.

Our presence via Zoom is obviously not the same as meeting in person, but it does offer an opportunity to meet and it engenders a feeling of both warmth and friendship. Who on earth knew about Zoom twelve months ago? It has revolutionised our system of communication and has led to a real reduction in spending time travelling and burning fossil fuels. I sincerely hope however that it doesn't become the norm and that face to face meetings will resume before too long.

I must thank the Divisional Executive Team: my Deputy, P. Kt. Chris Mullin, who has served a year already, but has yet to grace one of our Conclaves in that capacity; the Divisional Marshal, Ill. Kt. Tim Almond, who has had a relatively quiet Red Cross of Constantine year and the Divisional Treasurer, Ill. Kt. Mark Bigam, who has kept the books in order and heroically, has managed to set up an on-line banking account for the Division. Please remember that there is an online Alms collection today, the proceeds of which will be donated to the Grand Sovereign's Care for Children Fund. Last, but by no means least of course, our Divisional Recorder, who has again worked tirelessly on our behalf and has, in conjunction with Ill. Kt. Tim Almond hosted today's meeting. Thank you all for your support: I'm delighted that the team has been re-appointed or re-elected.

As an Order, I believe we have been fortunate with the manner in which the secretariat (and of course the rulers) at Mark Masons' Hall have given clear and specific guidance throughout this pandemic and allowed common sense and flexibility to prevail. Following the Line of Duty series and their frequent use of acronyms, we must be particularly grateful that VBMs' have become fairly standard and used by our Conclaves at the appropriate times. Many of the Conclave Recorders have added further strings to their bows by hosting these VBMs and my thanks go to them for their continued enthusiasm.

The Red Cross Herald has been a complete revelation and to date 56 papers; forming the Lockdown Lectures plus a number of other articles have been published for all to see. Some have been a little deep for me but the majority have been truly enlightening and well worth a second reading. Plenty of material for lectures and talks and all are now available on our East Midlands Red Cross of Constantine website. Many congratulations and thanks to R. Ill. Kt. Marc Burton, Intendant-General for Transvaal, Orange Free State and Northern Cape for the initiative and to Mark Masons' Hall for facilitating them.

As a Division, we have been blessed with a number of promotions and appointments to Grand Rank. At the Sussex Divisional meeting on Saturday however, the Grand Sovereign announced that he had decided to postpone Grand Imperial Conclave; originally scheduled for 6 th July until early to mid-October at which V. Ill. Kt. Michael Robinson will receive a promotion to P.G.H.Chancellor; Ill. Kt. David Buxton and Ill. Kt. Terry Roy will both be promoted to P.G.H.Almoner; P.Kt. Phillip Mann will receive a first appointment to P.G.Prefect; P.Kt. Andrew Woodward will receive a first appointment to the active rank of Grand Warden of Regalia and P.Kt. John Reynolds will receive a first appointment to P.G.Warden of Regalia. In addition, Ill. Kt. Tim Almond, our Divisional Marshal, will be re-appointed as Grand Herald.

Last but not by any means least, my predecessor as Intendant-General, R.Ill.Kt. Max Bayes received a very welcome letter from Mark Masons' Hall on the same morning as the other appointees and at the same meeting will receive a promotion to Knight Commander of Constantine. My congratulations, and I'm sure I speak on behalf of all those attending today, to each of the aforementioned.

I look forward to being with you at the re-arranged ceremony and I'm sure you will all thoroughly enjoy the occasion. By early to mid-October, the Grand Sovereign believes that everybody will be fully vaccinated and that we should be able to enjoy the occasion in greater safety. We will make every effort to ensure that those who received appointments or promotions in 2020 and who were unable to attend Grand Imperial Conclave then, will be able to join us in London for this very special occasion.

As many of you will be aware, Byzantine Conclave, No. 44 has recently attained the age of 150 years. The occasion was marked by a well-attended Zoom meeting in March when the Conclave should have been celebrating its sesquicentenary anniversary convocation. Although numbered 44, the Byzantine Conclave is seventh by age in the present Roll of Conclaves. The next regular meeting date of the first Thursday in October (the 7 th ) is the day planned for acknowledging this historic occasion. A double Installation, conducted by our M.P.S. Gordon Richardson, who happens to be an excellent ritualist, will be witnessed by a representative of the Rulers; I hope, our two Past Intendants-General; the team of Divisional Officers; the Sepulchre Guard and, we are hoping, many members of our East Midlands' Conclaves. Invitations will be issued to our sister Divisions, so please make an effort to attend this special occasion.

After a lapse of more than a year, it will be essential to rekindle the enthusiasm of some of our members and if there is a degree of reluctance to attend physical meetings we must accept their hesitancy and not resort to any form of coercion. It will be even more important therefore to think of and successfully recruit suitable candidates for our wonderful Order. The Masonic and Military Order of the Red Cross of Constantine and the Orders of the Holy Sepulchre and of St. John the Evangelist are acknowledged to have some of the most beautiful and impressive ceremonies and ritual in Freemasonry. We are fortunate to have many dedicated and sincere members who thoroughly enjoy the warmth and friendship of our very special Order. Let us impress that fact when we are talking to Royal Arch Freemasons who are thinking of taking a further step on their masonic journey.

I, and I know my Deputy, P. Kt. Chris Mullen, are looking forward with impatience and enthusiasm to visit your Conclaves and we will be present to show our support for you all at the earliest opportunity. Having had well over a year to prepare ritual and its delivery, we are looking forward to some very special ceremonies!

P. Kt. Chris and I thank you all for your attendance this evening and finally, as we are members of this Christian order and as Knights of the Red Cross of Constantine , rejoicing in the Holy Trinity, a nd particularly on this Ascension Day, let us remember the words of the cornerstone of our faith and our advocate in heaven: Let your light so shine before men faith, that they may see your good works unity and zeal, and glorify your Father which is in heaven'.

May God bless you all.

R. Ill. Kt. S. John Manby

Intendant-General East Midlands Division