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Leading Freemason who sought to dispell myths around Order

Published 02/11/2016

Darwin Templeton
Darwin Templeton

Darwin Templeton, who has died at the age of 94, was a well-known accountant in Northern Ireland and further afield, and also a leading Freemason.

Mr Templeton, whose home was in Broughshane, was involved with a large number of companies and business enterprises including Larne Harbour, of which he was a director.

Mr Templeton, who was born in July 1922, was a long-serving member of the Freemasons.

He was the grand master of the Grand Lodge of Ireland from 1991 to 2002.

He was very aware of the Order's wider role, and in 1994 he produced a lengthy document titled Programme For Change - The Way Forward.

It was approved by the grand lodge on December 5, 1996. The document was later shared with the Freemasonry movement in Zambia.

Mr Templeton claimed that in the half century before 1994, the Masons had a much higher profile. "The normal activity of reporting local events tended to reassure the public and make the Order less secretive. Brethren were confident in their Freemasonry and felt, generally, no embarrassment in their membership," he said.

Since then, however, the situation had changed. By 1994 "the Order has become a more introverted organisation and appears to be moving apart from society. This introversion has been a very slow process, and because of this attitude, the Order has over the years been more and more perceived by the world at large as being very secretive, or a secret society, and in some cases even sinister".

He called for more openness from the leading Freemasons and also the rank-and-file members.

"I want Irish Freemasons to take every opportunity to explain the aims of the Order to their families and friends, also to their workmates and business colleagues," he said.

Mr Templeton believed that the "myths" about Freemasonry should be dispelled by their church-going members.

"Together with our fellow churchmen, who are members of the Order, we must take every opportunity to declare our membership, and I believe non-members will judge the Order on the character and life-style of those they know to be Freemasons," he said.

"The Order is perceived as secretive, Protestant, middle and upper class, looking after our own and that we carry out charitable works.

"No matter how often Grand Lodge repudiates this, the public's perception seems not to change. Such a change will only take place when the Order is seen to be a part of society, and not apart from society."

Mr Templeton is survived by his wife Pat, three children, four grandchildren and three great grandchildren. His funeral is on Friday in West Church, Ballymena, at noon.

Belfast Telegraph

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