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Trip to Switzerland

  Recollections of an(other) Away Weekend : by Mike Ford PM

A(nother) Wee Trip to Switzerland

Brethren from four Lodges in Fife again made the trip to Switzerland at the invitation of St Andrews Lodge No 83 Basle of Grand Lodge Alpina of Switzerland. This was the third time a team had been invited by the Swiss Lodge due to the Scots connections within the Lodge. On Friday 15th November 2010 led by Bro. Raymond Miller IPM of St Fothads 1049, the gang of Bro Derrick Anderson PM of St Fothads 1049, Fred Robb PM & Derrick Robb SD of Glenrothes 1549, Bro Jim Mack PM Lodge Templehall 1599 and Myself from Lodge 19 boarded the plane for Zurich. The wives of Fred, Jim and Derrick Anderson came with us and they were delightful company through the whole weekend.

On arrival at Zurich Airport we were met by Bro James Miller (brother of Raymond Miller) and his wife who drove us to our hotel in Basle. where we changed into our highland regalia in preparation for our presentation of the 3rd Degree to a Swiss Lodge.

The Right Worshipful Master Jurg(George) Gehrig (Gatrig) and the Brethren of Lodge FREUNDSCHART UND BESTANDIGKEIT ( don’t ask me to pronounce it) No 4 on the roll of the Grand Lodge Alpina of Switzerland gave us a very warm welcome. We were also introduced to Most Worshipful Grand Master Bro Jean-Michel Masherpa, I.P.W.G.M. Bruno Welti and other members of the Grand Lodge Alpina. Lodge No 4, which is a German speaking lodge was opened by the RWM and after welcoming all to the meeting, opened the Lodge to the GL deputation who had demanded entry. The M.W.G.M. was welcomed with Masonic Honours of `11’. The gavel was proffered to the M.W.G.M. who replied with a few well chosen words in French. The business of the meeting took the form a memorial service for their departed brethren. This version of a lodge of sorrow involved all the brethren who were given a white rose, In the delivery of the Masonic Honours each brother paid his respects by laying his rose in formation to form a `helical circle’. The solemn and dignified ceremony was enhanced by poignant and beautiful music and was extremely moving.

At the conclusion of the Lodge of Sorrow, Bro Raymond Miller was invited to take the chair to work the demonstration 3rd degree. He acknowledged the effort that had been made by the GL Alpina of Switzerland and the GL of Scotland in allowing the team to present the degree. The candidate for the evening was Bro John Wayne (EC) ( John volunteered willingly while withstanding jokes about being a cowboy) The Positions in the lodge were filled as follows ;-

  • RWM Raymond Miller St Fothads 1059
  • W.S.W. Frederrick Robb Glenrothes 1549
  • W.J.W . Michael Ford Coupar o’Fife 19
  • S.D. Derrick Robb Glenrothes 1549
  • J.D. James Mack Templhall No 1599
  • I.G. Mark Miller St Fothads No 1059 ( a Swiss resident and member of Lodge St Andrew 83 CH)
  • D.O.C. Derrick Anderson St Fothads 1059

The Brethren worked various parts under the excellent leadership of Bro. Raymond and I was privileged to be able to invest the candidate with the apron and give the following lecture along with the lecture on the working tools. I had to adapt to the ceremony as worked by St Fothads which posed a difficulty but this paled into insignificance compared with the effort of Bro Derrick Robb who had just been appointed Senior Deacon in his own Lodge and had not worked a third degree before and gave an excellent delivery of the First Part of the traditional History or the Retrospect. Derrick was a credit to himself, his Lodge and Scottish Masonry. I enjoyed being part of a team which put on a good degree for the assembled brethren, most of whom had never witnessed the working of a Scottish Working of the 3rd Degree. The Degree was well received by the brethren who expressed their appreciation with many favourable comments to us.

Bro. Miller presented Bro Wayne with a copy of the 100 years history of Lodge St Fothads for acting as candidate and a `Prism’ to Lodge No 4 on behalf of the Scottish Brethren.

The M.W.G.M. Bro. Mascherpa was so impressed with the coordination and high standard to which we worked, that he invited Bro Miller to take a `team’ to Geneva in the middle of next year to do the same for the `French speaking’ Lodges there. After the meeting we were entertained at the festive board when we received more accolades which was very pleasing.

While we were at the meeting the ladies who accompanied us were entertained by Mrs Yolanda Miller ( wife of James ) and I understand that they enjoyed shopping and sight seeing.

Saturday 16th

After breakfast we attended the Lodge room for the purpose of practicing and coordinating the Installation ceremony with the rules and wishes of GL Alpina of Switzerland. We all had lunch in the refectory of the Lodge rooms prepared by Bro James Miller. In addition to his normal job in the banking industry, he is a highly qualified cook and an enthusiastic wood turner James gave us all a mason’s mallet and plinth which he had turned himself. The gift turned out to be a talking point as the `Mallet’ was in fact a cleverly designed pepper mill. We are all very grateful for this gift from James as well as the Chilli Concarne and delicious sweet. We then charged back to the hotel to change for the ceremony which started at 2.30pm.

The Lodge was opened by Bro Bill Simon A/RWM (85 years ), who had travelled from Alderney in the Channel Islands, and welcomed all present. The M.W.G.M.Mascherpa and his deputation was welcomed with Honours `11’. The gavel was proffered to the M.W.G.M. who installed R.W.M. Mathias Woringer, his Substitute Master and Wardens according to the GL Alpina constitution and Laws. Bro James Miller was appointed as `Deputy Master’ by the Lodge and GL and was invested in the bright Red and White regalia of GL Alpina. He is the direct link to GL and reports on the state of freemasonry in the area. We were all impressed by the way the retiring master left office. This was done by extinguishing his lights which had previously been entrusted to him. When all three lights had been extinguished the Holy Flame of GL Alpina was escorted into the temple and once placed on the RWM’s Dias The Office bearers were then obligated under the Swiss Constitution. The New Master then lit a taper and under the direction of GL Alpina from the `Holy Flame’ and then lit his own candle and those of his wardens.

The Gavel was then passed to Bro Raymond Miller to carryout the installation of the RWM and His Office Bearers as practiced in Scotland. Bro Miller acknowledged the honour we had been given to carry out this ceremony by The GL Alpina. Bro Raymond Miller then appointed his Board of Installed Masters to assist him in the ceremony

  • I.M. Bro Derrick Anderson,
  • I.M. Bro James Mack.
  • I.S.W. Bro Freddie Robb,
  • I.J.W Bro Michael Ford
  • I.S.D Bro John Wayne Past Grand Officer in G.L. England
  • I.J.D. Bro. Allan Hutchison. Past Grand Officer of G.L. Alpina
  • I.I.G. Bro James Miller - Depute Master St. Andrews No 83 Basle.

The Installation was carried out in a very dignified manner by the team due to the excellent leadership of Bro Raymond Miller and the commitment of the Scottish Brethren who were conscious that they were representing Scottish Masonry. I had the honour of giving the presentation lecture on the Volume of the Scared Law and on the conclusion of the lecture I presented the newly installed Master with his own Masonic Bible as a gift from all the visiting Scottish Brethren. The Bible flyleaf was inscribed with the names of the Scottish Brethren and RWM Mathias Woringer acknowledged the gift with sensitive gratitude. The Team retired from the Lodge proceeded by the GL Alpina of Switzerland Office Bearers and were then treated to a wonderful dinner to which the wives and partners of all the Brethren were invited. I renewed my friendship with Bro Jurg Keilwerth and his wife and we had a wonderful time. ( Jurg Keilwerth visited Lodge 19 on the 15th September 2010) Jurg and his wife Ann-Claire translated the German and French speakers for me which made the experience much more interesting for me. Prior to the dinner there was a cocktail reception and after grace had been said Bro Raymond Miller presented the lodge with Dining Jewels for the RWM and his two wardens. These jewels made with the Lodge Logo on them will be worn at the festive board by these Office Bearers. Bro Miller also presented a Quaich to the Lodge and after explaining the purpose and the method of using it he then filled the Quaich with a very good single malt whisky. This was so well received that the Quaich went round three times which was the cause of many sore heads the next day as our Swiss brethren were mixing the `grape and the grain‘. The festive Board concluded at 11.00pm with the singing of `Auld Lang Syne’ ( in Scots and German) but the company was so good we did not manage to return to our hotel until some two or more hours later.

Sunday

On Sunday after an early breakfast we visited Strasburg to sight see and Bro James Miller and His wife took us to visit the Notre Dam Cathedral. This building, which had been damaged by bombing during WW11, was a very impressive example of the operative mason’s skills. The intricate carvings and designs are beautiful and the `Computer Ecclesiastical’ (church clock) had many Masonic symbols and the movements of the clock were fascinating. On our return to Basle we entertained Bro James Miller and his wife Yolanda to dinner in a Swiss restaurant called `Restaurant Lowenzorn’ which was the place used by the brethren of St Andrews to make the arrangements for starting Lodge No 83. Many Swiss delicacies were sampled and thoroughly enjoyed.

Monday

We left Basle to return home via Zurich and while there we were again given the opportunity to visit `The Lindenhof’ the main Masonic temple in Zurich. This richly decorated building is crammed full of Masonic memorabilia dating back before the Reformation. While the building is old the most modern facilities are available to the brethren who meet there, fantastic kitchens, the latest audio equipment for music during ceremonies, modern bar facilities and comfortable furniture. However, all too soon we had to depart Switzerland and return home tired and weary but I was grateful and pleased to be part of a great team of Masonic Brothers who all had a wonderful experience.

Michael |S Ford PM Lodge Coupar O’Fife No 19