Sat, Oct 22, 2016 - Page 4 News List

Masons meet in rare conference

By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff reporter

The first Asia-Pacific Masonic Confederation Conference in six years concluded yesterday at Taipei’s Sunworld Dynasty Hotel, bringing together representatives from nine nations for a day of meetings and networking.

After reading a joint declaration outlining shared views of Masonic principles, members stood and put their hands over their hearts for a solemn prayer thanking God for guiding the conference and asking for help in achieving objectives of their order.

They had met for a day of speeches and discussion about attracting new members, particularly through social media and other promotional tools.

“What is most important is that we have assembled different grand lodges from the Asia-Pacific region to discuss, exchange and inspire each other about the tenets of Freemasonry,” Grand Lodge of China grand master Philip Liang (梁志堅) said.

The nation’s lodge can be traced back to lodges founded in China in the 1930s by foreigners and Chinese who were admitted to Masonic lodges abroad. After being banned in China by the Chinese Communist Party, the lodge eventually relocated to Taiwan after a brief stint in Hong Kong.

“Fraternities are not allowed under Chinese law,” Liang said, adding that the application process to host yesterday’s conference had been “very smooth” and the meeting had received the “blessing” of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which provided financial aid.

“We do not know when the next meeting will be,” he said, adding that the last such conference was held in Tahiti in 2010.

Grand masters who attended the conference represented 12 grand lodge jurisdictions in France, India, Japan, Russia, Australia, the Philippines, Chile and the US.

Deputy grand master Dennis Liao (廖正方) said the Grand Lodge of China also participated in a yearly global work conference, while maintaining close relations with sister lodges in the Philippines and Japan.

“In Taiwan, we are still very internationalized, because foreigners who come to Taiwan find ways to connect if they were involved with Masonic lodges abroad,” he said, adding that foreigners make up between 20 and 30 percent of the grand lodge’s about 600 members.

Only two of the nation’s 11 local lodges conduct meetings in Mandarin Chinese, with the rest holding their meetings in English or French, he added.

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