- Craft Freemasonry
I am old enough to have joined Masonry in the days when there was a waiting list for initiation into almost every lodge. DCs were then able to be somewhat autocratic figures who didn’t hesitate to chastise a brother who didn’t attend a practice or got his words wrong in a ceremony. If any brother took offence at that there were plenty of others waiting to step into his shoes. Circumstances mean that, perhaps thankfully, we need to have a much gentler approach these days. Because of this I feel that the DC’s role and approach have needed to evolve. Whilst the DC should still be a preserver of standards he should no longer achieve this by being a disciplinarian, but rather by being a teacher, mentor and guide.
The DC’s role is a vital one in any lodge. Ideally he should liaise with the Master and Secretary to plan the calendar for the year. He should ensure in good time that all officers are able to make the meeting and arrange substitutes for those who can’t as far ahead as possible. He should oversee the Tyler’s preparation of the Lodge Room and make sure that all items needed for the meeting are in place. For all meetings, but particularly for the Installation, he should plan any necessary processions and salutations. During the meeting he should ensure that proceedings flow and that movement round the Lodge Room is smooth and polished. He should have overall responsibility for the Social Board and ensure that brethren know if they are proposing or responding to a toast. He should oversee training of officers at lodges of instruction even if he delegates some of the running of them to the ADC. He should involve the ADC in as much work as possible to prepare him for any occasion when he needs to deputise for him and possibly in time, to succeed him.
In order for the DC to concentrate on these duties I personally feel that he should not be tied up for days in advance learning the ritual in order to prompt. In my opinion, prompting should be the responsibility of the IPM, ADC or another brother freeing the DC to concentrate on those matters I have outlined above. Although modern lifestyles mean that brethren have less free time to devote to ritual, I fervently believe that officers should learn their words and not use a book, but I don’t see an objection to the prompter using a book discretely if necessary and I do understand that a brother standing in at the very last minute may have to resort to reading. To aid the Master and Officers in learning the ritual DCs and lodges should consider sharing out the workload so that nobody has to learn more than they are comfortable with. I don’t think the old attitude of “We had to learn it all in our day and so should you” has any place in modern Freemasonry.
WBro Norman Cope, Assistant Provincial Grand Master (formaly Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies 2004-2013)
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