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Order some good men

The Methodist Order of Knights tennis team (1936). Don Hutton is keen to know the names of the OKs in the photograph.

Make a weekly prayer diary, skip 40 times forward and 15 times backwards, and be sure to keep your body clean and healthy.

These were some of the requirements of the Fourth Class Test in the Page’s Handbook of the Order of Knights.

The thousands of young boys who participated in this Methodist youth organisation in the first half of last century were also expected to attend 20 out of 26 Sundays at Church or Sunday School while completing their test.

Some have been critical of the Methodist Order of Knights as un-Christian, suggesting links to Freemasonry because of its use of secret hand-shakes and passwords.

For many young men in Queensland it was foundational in their faith development.

Former Director of the Department of Mission and Parish Services and one time Bishop in the Order Rev John Mavor said the OKs was founded in New South Wales in 1914 by Alec Bray, a young Sunday School teacher who later became a minister.

The OKs as they were known had some elements characteristic of a Lodge with door knocks, regalia, fixed orders of worship for the meetings, and a peculiar method of voting (stamping the foot once).

“It was based on the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table but was strongly Christian in character,” Mr Mavor said.

“It proved very popular and involved Junior OKs, Senior OKs and a Court of retired OKs.

“The Girls Comradeship, which had fewer elements of the Lodge tradition in its life, was a popular organisation for girls and young women in the Methodist Church and included a junior branch called Rays,” he said.

Last Knight Grand Commander of the Order Don Hutton from Albany Creek said Alec Bray could sweep you off your feet with his enthusiasm.

“When he spoke of King Arthur and his Knights, you believed he had ridden with them,” he said.

“Through the development and enthusiasm of the leaders and the boys, tasks were created and achieved during activities conducted each week.

These tasks included knot tying, bushcraft, learning basic Australian politics and geography, road safety, identifying Australian flora and fauna, and learning the Lord’s Prayer by heart.

Boys could wear the Knight’s uniform before admission to the Order but could only wear the Knight’s Shield and proficiency badges after their probation was completed.

“You will soon learn to recognise any boy’s position in his court by looking at his uniform,” the Page’s Handbook said.

The first Queensland Court of the OKs was established in Toowoomba in April 1922 and in 1929 the General Conference of the Methodist Church of Australasia recognised the Order as an approved organisation.

During the Second World War many of the senior OKs enlisted, compelling some courts to go into recess. The organisation never fully recovered.

Mr Hutton and other former OKs maintain a list of over 600 members which keeps growing after every reunion.

One of the features of the reunions has been the displays of memorabilia including regalia, gavels, staves, photographs, Minute Books and other records.

To register interest in the next reunion contact Don Hutton at donhutton@powerup.com.au or 07 3264 6241

Photo : The Methodist Order of Knights tennis team (1936). Don Hutton is keen to know the names of the OKs in the photograph.