A DOUBLE "UNIQUITY"!
The reoponement of Lodge Masjid-i-Suleman (No. 1324) in May 1974 in the historic rooms of Lodge Canongate Kilwinning, No.2, was unique in the annals of Scottish Freemasonry. It was the first transfer reponement of an overseas lodge and an occasion enhanced by the fact that during the ceremony the original charter, regalia, paraphernalia and record books were used-thanks to the devoted and courageous work of the secretary at the time of the sudden dormancy of the Lodge, Brother R. L. Cunningham.
Little was it expected that a second unique ceremony would take place in April 1976. It happened in this way:
After the 1939-45 war the relationship between the state of Persia and the Craft had become so strained and difficult that, immediately after the meeting of the Lodge Masjid-i-Suleman in March 1951, Masonic activities were abandoned. That last meeting was the occasion of the initiation of Mr Sidney McCoy into Freemasonry but his progress was cut short very dramatically after taking his first steps. The Master and Secretary, however, supplied Brother Sidney McCoy with a letter which ran as follows:-
Abadan 14th June 1951
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN
This is to certify that Brother Sidney McCoy, Engineer, was initiated into Freemasonry at the 211th Regular Meeting of the above Lodge held on Thursday, 1st March 1951.
Owing to circumstances beyond our control no Meetings have been held since that time.
Should any request be received from this Brother for Passing and Raising we would be obliged if it were treated sympathetically and all assistance afforded to him.
Any further information required can be obtained from Grand Secretary, Grand Lodge of Scotland, 96 George Street, Edinburgh, 2.
Signed E. Burns, R.W.M.
Signed R. L. CUNNINGHAM, Secretary
Eventually Brother McCoy found himself in Milton, New Zealand, where, through the good offices of Lodge St John, No. 461, he was, on presentation of the letter already mentioned, passed and raised.
However, Brother McCoy's troubles were not over because fortune directed his steps away from Milton. Conditions for travelling were difficult - so difficult, in fact, that his Master Mason's Diploma was not presented to him in New Zealand.
Now for the second unique ceremony which took place in Canongate Kilwinning Lodge-room in May 1976 when, twenty-five years after his initiation, a Master Mason Diploma was handed over. There, in his mother lodge consecrated (17th April 1926) in Persia and reponed in Edinburgh (2nd May 1974) Brother Sidney McCoy, in the presence of the original warrant and surrounded by the original paraphernalia and regalia of Masjid-i-Suleman and supported by numerous brethren who had been present at his initiation, received his Master Mason Diploma.
It was fitting that the first Master of the reoponed Lodge, Brother Wilfred Pate, who was in Persia when Brother McCoy was initiated, should make the presentation. In doing so he used words which had been heard on many former occasions in Abadan. He said:-
"In my hand is this small piece of paper-a little ornate and decorative perhaps-yet still a piece of paper only. It has no monetary value for it is not a bond to be handed to a dealer in exchange for money-neither is it a cheque to be cashed in a Bank-or even a credit note stating that on presentation on a given date it will be honoured with cash.
"Yet, when I pass it into your hands it will become to you a priceless possession, for it is your Membership Card in this Masonic Lodge. It is your Passport into Universal Freemasonry. It tells you that you have been received into the spiritual and material kinship of those in this room who practise Charity. It tells you that those nearest and dearest to you are under the protection of every member of the Fraternity. It also tells you that, should adversity overtake you, the hands of many will be stretched out to assist you.
"And finally, it tells you that when you make your last exit from this earthly sojourn, your friends and brothers will assemble in this Lodge-room to mourn your passing. They will recall your virtues, no matter how small, forgive and forget your faults which could be many, and pray that you may be received into the peace and sanctuary of the Grand Lodge Above."
Brother McCoy suitably and briefly replied.
It was a moving, emotional and historic occasion and one which brought home to one and all the fact that Freemasonry is a Noble Art on which the sun never sets.