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Be the change you want to see|
Grand Masters Annual Address:-
June 20, 2014
Brethren, it is my pleasure to welcome you to 143rd Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon. To our dignitaries: I greet you with a firm handshake of fellowship and brotherly love, and thank you for joining us this weekend. A very special "thank you" to all Grand Lodge officers for your efforts throughout the year. You have truly made the difference we all hope to see. To the committees: thank you for your continued efforts, in developing and growing all of our crafts endeavours. Thank you to the brethren of this jurisdiction for attending your Grand Lodge Communication. Remember, my brothers, this is your Grand Lodge and our future depends upon your input and your decision-making.
As I reflect upon my personal masonic journey, I realize that all I ever wanted to be was a Master Mason, nothing more and nothing less. However, when things needed to be accomplished, like the conferring of a degree or assisting at the festive board and someone asks you for help or assistance, what do you do? Say no? Make an excuse? Or do you assist your brethren and Immediate Past Master of my lodge a Past District Deputy Grand Master told me, "now the real work in Freemasonry starts." It made me wonder what he meant. That thought has never left me and I always share that with other IPMs whenever I get the chance. I have always felt that I have duties and responsibilities in accordance with my obligations and within the length of my cable-tow. I just did what needed to be done, with respect to the Craft, lodge by-laws, our Constitution and the landmarks of the order. A journey that began with my election to the Grand South four years ago will end with the closure of this 143rd Grand Lodge Communication. In reflection, one of the more difficult challenges I faced in starting this journey was to find a theme that resonated with me, as well as with the Craft. That theme has been a living part of my experience throughout the year, and you have all helped me, to be the change I hoped to see!
When Worshipful Masters travel within and outside of their districts they learn from other lodges and their Worshipful Masters. So it is true of Grand Masters who travel. From the Conference of Grand Masters, All Canada Conference, Western Canada Conference, to the Grand Lodges of Nevada, Alaska, Oregon, Washington, Grand Lodge of Canada, Alberta and Manitoba. When your eyes, ears and mind are open, you learn new things. The great thing about Grand Masters from other jurisdictions is that they are all willing to share, willing to give to you anything and everything that will assist the Craft in your jurisdiction. The strategy is simple, let them know what works and doesn't work. Keep them posted on the outcome. It's just that simple. They also share tips and traps that you may encounter along your journey valuable tools for any craftsman's toolbox.
Grand Lodge Officers
To the Grand lodge officers, I thank you for your support during this masonic year.
Now I have a question for you. Did we raise the bar? Did we make a difference? What are your thoughts?
Think of a masonic buffet for our minds comprised of dishes containing: tongue of good report, or faith, hope and charity, or prayer, labour, reflection and sleep or temperance, fortitude, prudence and justice, or virtue, honour and mercy, or brotherly love, relief and truth, or the practice of every moral and social virtue, or secrecy, fidelity and obedience, or the ancient landmarks of the order, or the sacred dictates of truth, of honour and of virtue.
Which buffet did we dine at? The one to satisfy the cravings of our mind and soul, or the other that only satisfies our bodily hunger? I let you decide your answer....
From the DDGMs reports, I have gleaned a greater understanding of district and lodge concerns. External influences happen. Employment disappears as companies close. This has a ripple effect. Things happen beyond our control and this effects districts, lodges and memberships. It just happens and we have no control over it.
Yet, you do have control over the direction of your lodges, member and resources. You, the members, have to decide where to take your lodge: keep it functioning through changes, or close, or amalgamate or...? The decision is your. There are tools available that can assist you at this time of contemplation.
Take for instance the Five Pillar Plan (or a shorter version). Your lodge can shorten it, to a three or four pillar plan, depending on your needs or vision. There are successful lodges out there that have done just that. In the business world you would not necessary reinvent the wheel. You might adopt the ideas that worked for others and enhance them to fit your unique application or lodge plan. Copying is a form of flattery, is it not?
Take for example one lodge and Worshipful Master that uses the 3-5-7 concept. The Worshipful Master has a monthly plan consisting of 3-5-7-9 months for himself and his year. The lodge plan happens in a similar way of 3-5-7: three years for the WM, SW, JW, plus two equals five years for the SD and JD, plus two equals seven years for the IG and SS. Here is the key, it is not written in stone! It is a living document, flexible, fluid and adaptable to work for the lodge and its membership.
There are SME's (subject matter experts) within our Craft to assist you. All you have to do is ask. Start by asking our Grand Secretary. He will assist you to find the support and resources you need to make informed and constructive decisions. Remember if you don't ask, we can't help. Then it may be to late.
Successful lodges succeed by putting many ideas on the table and use only the good and great ones. Through comprehensive discussions come positive results. Many observations have taken place during my travels. The majority are positive, however others cause me concern. To move forward in a new time without loosing sight of roads previously traveled and the lessons learned along the way is important. For to succeed in future endeavours one must learn from the past. Every new member brings with him new ideas that cause us to reflect or reject. It's how we handle the rejection side of a brother's ideas that will either raise up, or bring down the feeling of that new member toward the Craft. For in that instance we either have a long-term member or one that does not stay around.... It is a significant responsibility how we choose to respond to new members. I will leave this in the lodge's domain for your consideration.
The strength of a lodge is more than a handshake at the porch way. It's a card on your birthday or when you are sick, it's an email, a phone call, or meeting for a coffee. Remember, life is a conversation. We all stay within due bounds of our compasses, like a tree grows within its own space, yet overlaps with its branches and leaves, and makes contact with others. So must we, by letting ourselves overlap and assist, being of service to others.
If you have any doubts about the Craft, go back and reread your ritual book, along with the charges and addresses. Read it as a story. The message is there, it's hidden between the lines, but it's there for you to find.
When I think about our beloved Craft, I try to use the following quotes to assist me:
"We're not in the business of selling you newspapers, we're in the business of buying your time."
- former editor of the Vancouver Sun newspaper
"strengthening our country through education"
- Public Broadcasting System / PBS
"building a stronger tomorrow"
- docudramas by Ken Burns
How can you and I bring these ideas into our lodges, our districts and jurisdiction?
My brothers, to all of you I say thank you for allowing me to serve as your Grand Master for the past twelve months. We have the greatest fraternity that empowers each and every one of us. On the occasions of the Grand Master's Official or Special visits, it has been our pleasure, honour and privilege to meet the members and their ladies, and to also meet those special ladies whose husbands are no longer with us. It was a great pleasure sharing time with you.
My northern tour: Wow! It was the best of times. You showed us the sense of pride you have in your districts. What a treat, what warmth you opened your homes, your lodges, and your hearts to all of us. A thank you, a handshake and a hug does not seem to be enough. You made a difference in that trip and it will be remembered for a long time by all of us.
To all the members of this jurisdiction of British Columbia and Yukon, Kathy and I thank you for your best efforts in all your endeavours this year. I am so proud to be a part of each and every lodge this masonic year. Stand tall, your efforts are acknowledged and the true reward is knowing that you are a better person for the efforts accomplished. To the Grand Lodge officers: thank you for the undying wherewithal and determination you have shown this year to support our beloved and noble Craft. To the principal officers, I wish you the same support in your year as Grand Master as you have given to me in this year. No one walks alone and you being there made the work of the office a wonderful experience. To our Grand Secretary, I thank you for all your advice and good counsel throughout the year. It was always beneficial. To my good friend and brother, RW Bro. Philip Durell, Grand Master-elect I say, "have a great year, enjoy it as much as I have." I will especially miss the car rides, conversations, discussions, fellowship and laughs we have had these past years.
To my wife, Kathy: your support in all my endeavours has been something one can only dream about. You were there with me, side by side, checking to make sure I was prepared. Thank you and love you always.
Remember, Freemasonry has a lot of good things going for it, let us accentuate the positive in all cases and move forward in a proactive manner for we must constantly, remind ourselves of what it takes to make a real difference in the world outside of our lodge rooms and within ourselves.
MW Bro. Donald E. Stutt, |
Grand Master 2013-2014