As from its introduction in 1957 the number of Craft British Lodges in Germany steadily grew it perhaps follows that the desire for the brethren to extend their masonic knowledge to the completion of the Third Degree by the introduction of Royal Arch Chapters increased proportionately. However, in those earlier days there were a number of obstacles to overcome, not least the problem of combining widely spread apart Lodges able to support a Royal Arch Chapter and perhaps the biggest of all that there already existed an American sponsored Grand Chapter of Germany. Whilst a welcome to found Chapters within the Grand Chapter of Germany was given this did not find favour amongst those whose vision was of Chapters working to English style ritual and principles, rather than the combined Mark and Royal Arch system adopted by the Americans.
Matters were further complicated by the fact that there only existed a Provincial Grand Lodge of British Freemasons in Germany, which did not have the necessary authority to create Chapters. However, this was overcome in 1971 when following lengthy discussion with the United Grand Lodges of Germany it was elevated to the status of a Grand Land Lodge and as such an equal and self-governing partner. As to the introduction of Royal Arch Masonry advice was sought from RW Bro James Stubbs who was both Grand Secretary of the United Grand Lodge of England and Grand Scribe E of the Supreme Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of England. He advised that the Grand Land Lodge should claim authority to create Chapters, issue Charters and eventually establish a Grand Chapter. As a result of the hitherto mentioned constitutional changes the Grand Master of the United Grand Lodges of Germany MW Bro Hans Gemünd issued an Instrument of Authority to proceed.
The Consecration of the first Royal Arch Chapter Rheinland No 1 took place at the Logenhaus in Düsseldorf on the 11th November 1972, the events of that momentous day being recorded elsewhere. This was quickly followed on the 6th October 1973 by the United Services Royal Arch Chapter No 2 and Keys and Pillars Royal Arch Chapter No 3 on the 29th June 1974. Of particular interest was the international involvement in the Consecrations in that they were carried out by the Supreme Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons in England, The Grand Chapter of the Netherlands and The Grand Chapter of Belgium respectively. However, these first Chapters were constituted under the authority of an Instrument of Authority issued by the Land Grand Lodge and it was not until the 1st January 1976 that the Grand Chapter of British Royal Arch Masons in Germany came into being. Some years were to then pass before the consecration of Niedersachsen Royal Arch Chapter on the 21st April 1979 and Teutoburgerwald Royal Arch Chapter No 5 on the 22nd June 1984. It was to be another seventeen years before the brethren in the north expressed a keen desire for their own Chapter and as a result Anglo-Hanseatic Royal Arch Chapter No 6 was consecrated on the 19th February 2001. This then completed the spread of British Royal Arch Masonry across the area occupied by its Craft Lodges. On the 8th 2008 Szekely Chapter No. 7 was consecrated in order to help forming the Symbolic Grand Chapter of Hungary ( there now Szekely Chapter No. 3). In 2011 it took us ‘abroad’ again in consecrating Southern Star Chapter No. 8 in Munich on the 27th August.
I have deliberately not confused the above by the inclusion of everybody involved in the founding and promotion of Royal Arch Masonry over the years. However, mention must be made of a few of the more prominent of them namely, ME Comp. LJ Sharp, ME Comp WDJ Heath-Smith, RE Comp. JG Chapman and RE Comp. C Bendall. Further details of the individual Chapters can be found on the Website.
Most Excellent Companion Philip John Hebel served as First Grand Principal from December 2010 to December 2014, the two terms each of two years which is permitted under our Regulations.
During that time two new Chapters were Consecrated, Southern Star No. 8 in Munich and Danish Star No. 9 in Hamburg. Danish Star works in the English language at the moment but within two years will work in Danish using a translated version of our standard ritual.
That ritual was written by M E Comp John at the request of his predecessor M E Comp Ian Harris, and during his own period of office he completed the associated “Installation Ritual” and also the now standard form of ritual for the Annual Convocation of Grand Chapter.
Within Grand Chapter he introduced the new Grand Office of Grand Supervisor, appointing an experienced and knowledgeable Companion to visit the constituent Chapters to assist in the maintenance of standards and also give advice on the general running of a Chapter if this was asked for. He also converted the appointment of Grand Charity coordinator into the office of Grand Charity Steward.
He visited each of the constituent Chapters at least once in every year, usually for the Installation Convocation of each.
Externally, he has attended Grand Chapter Convocations in Italy, Hungary, Israel, Switzerland, Greece, Belgium The Netherlands, Denmark, Ireland and Scotland and he was invited to address the Vernal Equinox Convocation of the Supreme Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Scotland in 2011 thus demonstrating the close links he has established with the Grand Chapters of most European countries. He was also able to confirm our links with the Danish order of Freemasons and was appointed their Grand Representative near to our Grand Chapter. The final recognition proceedings with the Supreme Grand Chapter of Finland were also completed.
He is an Honorary Second Grand Principal in the Grand Chapters of Hungary, Italy and Greece, for which Grand Chapter he is also the Grand Representative near to this Grand Chapter. He has also been awarded a Certificate of merit by the Supreme Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Israel.