ADDRESS BY THE PROVINCIAL GRAND MASTER TO PROVINCIAL GRAND LODGE – 6 MAY 2014
The Provincial Grand Master entering Provincial Grand Lodge
I rise for the second time to address you as Provincial Grand Master.
Having welcomed our distinguished guests earlier, I now extend to you all my warm fraternal welcome to this our Annual Meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge here in the lovely town of Harrogate
As Freemasons, we celebrate and encourage the search for and the acquisition of knowledge and truth. In such a spirit of discovery I would like to advise you that today, the 6th of May according to the Gregorian calendar is St. George’s Day and that is still observed in some parts of the World. (More about this later Brethren).
This is the Province of Yorkshire, West Riding in the great County of Yorkshire, one of two of God’s Chosen Acres. It is truly a Country within a County with a rich history, size, heritage and diversity – and this breadth and depth will be reflected in my address today.
There was a time not so very long ago when this address at Provincial Grand Lodge was the only information provided by the Provincial Grand Master. How things have changed Brethren and are changing in our electronic World of instant communication. Of course the opportunity for me to communicate more frequently throughout the year by different methods does allow me to be briefer in my address than my predecessors of a by-gone era.
I should mention that I have been overwhelmed with requests to sing to you again. Alas! I must disappoint your Brethren. It is not my intention to display vocal talents today. I feel sure that you will recover from the blow.
Now, if there is a sub-title to offer you it is – “My First Hundred Days as Provincial Grand Master. The Roman letter for 100 is “C” and it is no coincidence that the main elements of my Address start with that letter:
I’ll begin with:
Continuity & Challenge
When I was installed as Provincial Grand Master, I said to the Provincial Grand Secretary – Now then! I’m braced and ready. Where is the secret file? You know the nuclear problem one that you usually are given when you take up a new role. Brethren, you will be as pleased as I was to learn that there is no such file as everything that I have inherited is in first class order. I pay tribute to RW Bro. John Kendall Clayton, my predecessor, to VW Bro. Jack Pigott, and to the other Rulers in that Team for handing over to me our Province in such good condition.
In my first 100 days I have been considering options regarding the future and I have a number of items. Oh yes Brethren – I do have a little list – Not “Of Society offenders who never would be missed” – This is not the Mikado! but strategic areas concerning the future and well-being of Freemasonry in this Province as we approach the 300th Anniversary of the erection of the Premier Grand Lodge in 1717.
Let’s start with:
Communication & Consultation
My Deputy is leading a major Project reviewing all elements of Communications within the Province. Nothing is off-limit. The aim is to ensure that we have an integrated and effective approach to communication appropriate for the 21st Century.
At my instruction, a priority is to consult with our members for their views on everything!
Consultation will be a key aspect of my term as Provincial Grand Master. Indeed two of our Areas have conducted local analysis using Lodges as Focus Groups to reflect on all aspects of the practice of Freemasonry. I have been struck by a number of comments and suggestions that require no sanction from me. Meeting times and meals for example are domestic matters for Private Lodges so I would encourage you all to reflect on the question: “Is your Lodge reflecting the needs of your members? If changes are needed and such changes are not at variance with the Book of Constitutions. Do it! (or at least try it as if you do not try then you will never know).
To demonstrate that I mean business when it comes to Consultation this is where your Province needs you as I need you to let me have suggestions for the following:
In 2017 we shall celebrate the 300th Anniversary of the Premier Grand Lodge. I need your suggestions as to how we, as Freemasons in this Province, should mark that special occasion. Write to me or e-mail the Webmaster, as I am sure that 2017 presents the rarest of opportunities to promote Freemasonry within our Communities.
There will be a Church service and a formal Celebration in London and I am told that the negotiations are taking place with both the Royal Mail for a commemorative stamp issue and also the Royal Mint for a commemorative coin. These are just two of thirty activities being considered at Grand Lodge.
That leads me onto another word beginning with “C”:
Evolution (I know that many are concerned by the word “Change”)
As an Order, we must have changed over the last three hundred years to survive!
I cannot see anyone here wearing Masonic clothing traditional in1717 of blue knee breeches, yellow waistcoats or tri-corn hats and I doubt if many have come today on horseback! Society and the World at large has changed and Freemasonry needs to be seen as relevant, enjoyable with membership as a meaningful worthwhile leisure activity.
I attended a Provincial Grand Masters’ Forum Meeting last week and there is a real spirit to introduce appropriate change/evolution/refocus (Please use any word that you feel comfortable with Brethren). We will be pro-active and not reactive. One moment of personal revelation for me was a comment that we allow others to manage our own image, often negatively, and then try to regain ground.
A few thoughts about Change Brethren – Change is not to be feared but must be managed.
Consultation and Communication is at the foundation of Change. We must NEVER allow standards to drop and we must always respect the traditions of our own Lodges for as long as they are relevant.
One of Sir Winston Churchill’s excellent sayings ‘A Country that forgets its past has no future’ As a Freemason himself, I’m sure he would forgive me for rephrasing it into, ‘A Lodge which forgets its glorious past has no future’.
Time now to consider:
My view confirms that Charity is an important aspect of Freemasonry being one of the three grand principles. We are however far more than a Charity that wears regalia. We must keep a clear and equal eye on Brotherly Love and Truth. When it comes to Charity, this is a Province that is never found wanting when the call is made. My thought for all is the word “Fun” is in Fund Raising and I would encourage everyone to organise enjoyable events when you focus on your Lodge’s next level of Patronage for the 2017 RMBI Festival. You heard W Bro. John Boyington earlier – let me confirm that our Festival Dinner will be celebrated in style – All attendees and their partners will be absolutely delighted!
This year we will mark a poignant Centenary. We will acknowledge the fact that the Great War started 100 years ago in 1914. Over 3,500 Brethren of the English Constitution gave up their lives for King and Country in that terrible conflict and thousands more have died in subsequent conflicts. I am most keen for Lodges and Brethren, should they so desire, to participate in Remembrance Day activities as further evidence of our involvement in our Communities.
For their tomorrow, they gave their today.
Royal Arch Co-Operation
Brethren, I am delighted that W Bro. Stewart Carley, our Royal Arch Grand Superintendent is here today. So there can be no doubt – We stand as “One” regarding the significance of the Preliminary Declaration of the Book of Constitutions and I pledge myself to providing support for the Royal Arch. Echoing the words of my predecessors – If a Master Mason is looking to extend his Masonic knowledge, I would ask them to consider the Royal Arch as one of the options. The Royal Arch Representative in our Lodges will be delighted to provide appropriate guidance. If the Royal Arch is selected as an appropriate and timely next step then must be a case of free will and the “Right” Chapter for the “Right” Brother at the “Right” time.
As is traditional and correct, I would now like to offer:
Congratulations and Thank-you’s
In the last 100 days I have visited my “Parish” with last year’s team of Provincial Officers.
My thanks to those Brethren who all tell me that they had a splendid and unforgettable year. You may now be Past Provincial Grand Officers but you are far from past Masons! New opportunities beckon for your talents.
Among Brethren standing down from Active Office today is W Bro. Martin Vesely who has discharged the duties of the Office of Provincial Grand Registrar for three years. Such dedication is appreciated and acknowledged.
My congratulations go to all those Brethren who I have had the pleasure to appoint or promote in Provincial Grand Lodge here today I have a thought for you.
“With great power comes great responsibility”. Profound and inimitable words indeed of not a World’s Statesman but the Comic book Hero Spiderman’s Uncle!
You have all entered a level of Masonic activity that allows you more opportunities to diffuse light and lustre. Seize the opportunity!
My especial thanks go to:
- My colleague Rulers for their very hard work, support, guidance and encouragement
- W Bro. Keith Tolan the Provincial Grand Secretary and also his Team of staff at Spring Bank Place for ensuring that this Province works so well and so economically. Brethren, I have invited the two Administrative Assistants to join us for dinner and I would ask you to greet them when you see them at the Hotel later
- W Bro. Robert Bowhill, ProvDC and his Team for their hard work throughout the year and today at Provincial Grand Lodge
- The West Riding Acting Officers’ Lodge for stewarding today
- The Harrogate Masonic Hall and Lodges for allowing us to use their furniture yet again
- West Riding Masonic Charities for “Being There” and being so supportive
Finally let me Celebrate and Communicate Confidence
Brethren, you are looking healthy and resplendent! You are shining beacons of excellence and I appreciate everything that you do to guide your respective Lodges.
Your Provincial Grand Master invites you to your Lodges and inspire your Brethren with your experience and enthusiasm – From the newest Entered Apprentice to the longest serving Brother – Care for them and their loved ones. Be Confident – 2017 will see us celebrate our FIRST 300 years as Freemasons – the future is even brighter! Why? Because we are going to make it so – ALL OF US.
To send you away with a spring in your step and a gleam in your eyes – I mentioned at the start of my Address that today is St. George’s Day according to the Gregorian calendar today. We also celebrate the birthday of William Shakespeare on St. George’s Day so with apologies to the Bard:
“And Brethren of our Royal Art, both within and without this fair Province of Yorkshire, West Riding, now a-bed shall think themselves accurs’d that they were not here, and hold their manhood’s cheap while any speak that met and dined with us today at our Provincial Grand Lodge meeting upon Saint George’s Day”.
Cry ‘God for Harry, England, and Saint George!’
My beloved Brethren – Once again we have met upon the Level and we will part upon the Square.
Thank-you Brethren – may the GAOTU bless you and your loved ones.
Posted in Provincial News on May 9th, 2014 by Kevin Gould