Royal Arch Freemasonry in South Africa
By MEC William (Bill) Prentzler, Past Grand First Principal
Published in the 2016 GLSA Southern Division Spring Ball Magazine
The first Royal Arch Chapter was formed in Holland during 1949 following a request by the Grand East of the Netherlands (GEN) to the Grand Royal Arch Chapter in London to do so. Royal Arch Chapters under the English and Scottish Constitutions already existed in South Africa by such date. Certain members of the Lodge Mutual in the Western Cape, which fell under the jurisdiction of the GEN, requested the Provincial Grand Lodge (Southern Division) to submit a request to the GEN during 1950 to form a Royal Arch Chapter in Cape Town.
In 1951 the GEN duly granted permission for the formation of Royal Arch Chapters in South Africa under the Supreme Grand Royal Arch Chapter of the Netherlands. The members of Lodge Mutual resolved to form Chapter Mutual and proposed Wor Bros HL Sumner, FV Ryan and J Dommisse as the first MEZ, EH and EJ respectively. A petition to form Chapter Mutual was thereafter prepared and signed by RW Bro JG Rose (Deputy Grand Master), RW Bro CG Botha (Provincial Grand Master – Southern Division) and Wor Bros TA Murray, P Clouts, HL Sumner, FV Ryan, AS Hooper, FH Kenneth–Watts, LH Croxford, JHS Hofmeyer, SD Shargey and HW Gibson. As the Royal Arch Netherlandic rituals were still in the process of being translated, it was resolved that Chapter Mutual would use the rituals of the Scottish Constitution and a request was made to Chapter Southern Cross to borrow their regalia and other equipment until Chapter Mutual could acquire their own.
On 28 May 1953 Chapter Mutual was duly consecrated in the de Goede Hoop temple and Wor Bro HL Sumner was installed as the first MEZ. The ceremony of consecration was performed by MEC JG Rose (Deputy Grand First Principal), assisted by MEC CG Botha (Deputy Grand Second Principal) and other high ranking Royal Arch Freemasons. Chapter Mutual commenced working in the Suburban temple in Rondebosch and soon thereafter Chapter Bellville was formed in the newly consecrated temple in Bellville. Chapter Unie (Bloemfontein) was formed in 1958.
The Grand Lodge of Southern Africa was consecrated in 1961and as a result of discussions between MW Bro CG Botha (Grand Master) and the GEN, Chapters Mutual, Bellville and Unie were eventually removed from the roll of the Supreme Grand Royal Arch Chapter of the Netherlands on 30 June 1967 and placed under the jurisdiction of the new Grand Lodge. On 31 August 1968 the members of the Grand Lodge approved the proposal that the degrees of Mark Master and Excellent Master would be incorporated as preliminary degrees to that of the Royal Arch.
On 30 August 1969 the Supreme Grand Royal Arch Chapter of South Africa was consecrated in the de Goede Hoop temple. The consecrating officer was MEC JEA Salem, the District Grand Superintendent of the District Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Rhodesia. MW Bro E Conradie (Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Southern Africa) was installed as the Grand First Principal and he duly invested RW Bro H Dalebout (Provincial Grand Master - Southern Division) as the Pro Grand First Principal.
During the next 5 years several new Chapters were consecrated, being Orange (Rustenberg – 1969), Dromedaris (Durban – 1970), Johannes Truter (Worcester – 1970), Eendrag Maak Mag (Johannesburg – 1970), Koh-I-Nor (Pretoria – 1970), Fiat Lux (Port Elizabeth – 1971), De Broederband (Pretoria – 1971), Royal Protea (East London – 1972), Horeb (Krugersdorp – 1972), Witbank (Witbank – 1973), Fidelity (Johannesburg – 1973) and de Goede Kaap (Cape Town – 1973). Two Provincial Grand Royal Arch Chapters were later constituted, being the Southern and the Northern Division.
The attendant Orders of the Royal Arc Mariners and the Cryptic Council were later incorporated and are also subject to the jurisdiction of the Supreme Grand Royal Arch Chapter of South Africa.