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Be a Builder|
Grand Masters Installation Address:-
June 18, 2011
I am deeply honoured and extremely grateful for the trust you have seen fit to bestow in me and the opportunity you have given me to serve you as your Grand Master. The Grand Master's responsibilities can be segmented into two parts; the first being his functions as a manager and secondly, his role as a Superintendent of the Craft. With respect to the former I note the following:
An ongoing commitment to the Five-Pillar Plan administered through the Board of General Purposes. This commitment includes continuance of the Ad Hoc Committee on Organizational Analysis chaired by MW Bro. Stephen Godfrey. The committee will be active again this year and consider additional topics relating to the administration of our organization such as the size and number of districts and compilation of a database of best practices for lodges. We have requested that they again attend the regions of this jurisdiction to solicit feedback directly from the brethren on these and other topics. They will be hosted by the respective District Deputy Grand Masters and work closely with the Regional Representatives who will be asked to assist in facilitating the meetings.
Last year, with the blessing of our Grand Master, I approached the Grand Lodge Committee on Constitutions to begin a review of the Constitutions, Regulations, Rulings and Edicts. This work will be continued by the Ad Hoc Committee chaired by RW Bro. Bill Headen of Victoria. The purpose of the committee's work will be to:
• Identify and correct any errors or omissions.
• Where applicable, propose revisions to make the Constitutions more easily readable, understood and accessible to the brethren (including complete indexing of the document).
• Identify sections which might be more appropriately moved from the Constitutions into the Regulations or from any part of the Constitutions, Regulations, Edicts and Rulings to another section of to the Forms and Ceremonies or a manual of guidelines to be maintained by the Grand Secretary.
I have also asked that the committee propose and carry out a process or processes for effectively communicating with the brethren well in advance of any Grand Lodge Communication at which recommendations of the committee will be brought forward for a vote. The intent is that the brethren have ample opportunity to review and comment on the committee's recommendations and the committee consider the brethren's feedback and make suitable revisions (if appropriate) prior to voting on them if necessary at a Grand Lodge communication.
I must emphasise that the review is NOT intended to change the overall principles, practices, purpose or intent defined or reflected in the content of the current Book of Constitutions and Regulations but to make the document more easily read, understood and utilized by all brethren.
The mandate defined above may change and evolve as the committee's work progresses and it is expected that this undertaking, with the blessing of my successors, will extend over several years. The composition of the committee as formed has been reported on in the Advance Proceedings.
In May 2012 we will hold a workshop with the Grand Lodge Committees of Education, Leadership, Research, Ashlar College and other brethren with an interest in defining a long term plan for masonic education and development. This is not intended to interfere with any initiatives which may currently be underway such as district and regional Grand Masonic Days and masonic leadership seminars, but rather to leverage these opportunities and encourage more similar events on a regular and consistent basis. Definition and provision of required standardized resources will also be considered.
On a related note, our Senior Grand Warden, RW Bro. Donald E. Stutt has a particular passion which he will pursue this year to ensure diligent follow up on the actions arising from and responding to priorities identified in the Master Mason's Survey conducted in MW Bro. Tuckey's year. As a result we have agreed he will become the primary steward moving forward initiatives arising from the long term planning workshop I previously mentioned.
Our Deputy Grand Master, RW Bro. G. Murray Webster, will be undertaking several initiatives this year; the first being to consider possible applications of various electronic technologies and software along with social media such as Twitter and other similar communication forums.
He will also begin an exploration for materials and opportunities to provide and encourage musical harmony in lodges who do not currently have that benefit or possess the necessary resources.
I will now address the Grand Master's other, arguably most important mandate, the Craft, and a consideration of my theme for the coming year. I have often felt that we don't spend enough time considering the many lessons to be learned from our ritual. Every lecture and address is ripe with significant commentary and direct or implied standards of performance for our moral and ethical conduct and personal development and deportment. We have only to give them due consideration and apply them in our lives to gain the benefits available to us as members of the Craft.
My theme evolved for me from just such pondering and is based on the lessons to be learned from Hiram Abiff. In the final charge in the Master Mason's Degree we are told to, "...imitate the example of that celebrated artist whom you have this evening represented." So what does this really mean? At first blush the story is a lesson in fidelity to one's word and to the brevity of life. But, are there other lessons that might be learned on further consideration?
According to the legend, Hiram Abiff was a Master Mason and a master of his craft; honoured and respected as a leader and a teacher of the workmen. A master of the working tools which we are taught to apply figuratively to our morals, our development and our deportment. Hiram Abiff was a builder, and we are urged to follow his example and master the lessons of Freemasonry building ourselves, our lodges and our community.
So what does a Builder do? Specifically, a Builder:
• Undertakes personal learning and development.
• Demonstrates high moral and ethical values.
• Plans for his future and the future of his Lodge.
• Coaches, mentors, educates, trains and develops others.
• Promotes peace, harmony and Brotherly love.
On this point I would like to offer an aside:
One of the most common concerns encountered by the officers of your Grand Lodge is complaints regarding instances of conflict and disharmony arising between brethren in some of our lodges. I would like to draw attention to the fact that we are each informed from the very first degree we take in Freemasonry that this is unacceptable and that such conduct is clearly un-masonic. We each have an obligation to resolve these issues if we are individually involved or to ensure as a lodge that these conflicts are not allowed to persist. The over-riding principle must be to solve the problem while building and maintaining relationships for the betterment of all involved.
Returning to the attributes of a Builder I note that he:
• Travels and visits,
• Cares for those in need and,
• Contributes to his community.
Copying this example then, my theme is, Be a Builder - a builder of Self, Lodge and Community.
SELF With respect to ourselves, I urge that we encourage personal contemplation along with education, development and mentorship in our lodges. To that end, following one of the strong recommendations emerging from the Master Mason's Survey, we asked the Grand Lodge Committee on Education to develop a job description for the District Education Officers which clearly defines the qualifications and expectations for the role. On Thursday, prior to this Grand Communication, we held the first development workshop for our District Education Officers to provide them with education and training in presentation skills along with an introduction to available resources to assist them in successfully fulfilling their mandate. Specifically, to themselves deliver and or to assist Lodge Education Officers to develop and provide quality masonic education for the brethren.
LODGE As stated by VW Bro. Alden Sarmiento, the Grand Lecturer of the Grand Lodge of Washington in his recent address, I believe we must strive to be, "An organization that members want, not an organization that wants members." The most important aspect of delivering on that objective is captured in one word, "Quality"; quality in our membership, our degree work, our meetings and our leadership.
To this end we will follow through on the commitment defined in our Five Pillar Plan and hold a Masonic Leadership and Ladies' Conference in Penticton on 13-15 April 2012 to assist lodges in building the strong, competent leadership they require to deliver on the rest of the equation. I urge all lodges to encourage their members to be present at this event and give particular consideration to supporting the participation of their new and developing lodge leaders by perhaps underwriting a portion of their costs to attend. You will note a subtle re-focusing of this conference to be inclusive of any and all freemasons; those who might be in or progressing towards leadership roles within their lodges, Past Masters and other brethren in unofficial or influencing roles in their lodges. No brother should feel excluded from this invitation.
Lodge planning is also critical to the ongoing success of our lodges. I envision, this year, a continuation of the principle of "Charting Our Masonic Course," espoused by our Immediate Past Grand Master, MW Bro. J. Alan Cross. I will expect that all the District Deputies receive a presentation from each of their lodges defining their long range lodge plan. Where lodges have yet to embark upon this initiative, we will offer some support. This past year the Grand Lodge Committee on Research, under the chairmanship of RW Bro. Aidan C. Gordon, redesigned the Lodge Excellence and Award Program (which I view as a compilation of "best practices" for lodges) to conform to the five pillars of our Five Pillar Plan. By utilizing this instrument lodges can simply review their current status relative to each element of the checklist included in the program survey and then choose just two or three items to work on for improvement. These choices by the brethren will form the basis of a plan to move forward and experience overall improvement in their lodge over time. Participation in the "Awards" component of the program is entirely optional and at the discretion of the lodge.
COMMUNITY I encourage the involvement of our lodges in appropriate activities within their communities. There was a time when freemasons were identifiable as the leaders in their individual communities and our society overall. We often cite the names of famous politicians, philosophers, business leaders, musicians, artists and other visionaries who were freemasons. But, who do we point to today when we define that list? I believe we have opportunities to step forward and be a part of significant undertakings not only locally but on the world stage. At the All Canada Conference of Canadian jurisdictions in Winnipeg this year I had the opportunity to view an extremely moving presentation regarding human rights and tour the construction site for the Canadian Museum of Human Rights, an initiative of which we as Canadians can be proud. This is not a discussion of religion or politics but one of brotherly love, relief and truth. Considering our stated belief as freemasons in the principle of charity and the virtue of justice to all I suggest that supporting the Canadian Museum of Human Rights through the Just a Buck Program is such an opportunity.
I am not going to challenge you to make a decision en mass today but to take the time to individually consider the possibility of making such a pledge. I will be requesting that in each lodge brethren identify their individual willingness to participate on a one-time basis and, if agreed, lodges forward a cheque to Grand Lodge for "Just a Buck" on behalf of each of its members willing to participate. I will be proud to take those donations to the next All Canada Conference in Winnipeg on behalf of the brethren of this jurisdiction to signify our commitment to this significant international initiative so that we as freemasons can be counted as being supportive of the world's, "journey from darkness to light" with respect to individual and collective human rights.
Finally, to increase involvement in our local communities, with a portion of the funds normally disbursed by the Grand Master from the Benevolent Fund, I intend to match up to $1,000 donations earmarked for a local registered charity of the district's choice. The default charities of my choosing will be the Grand Lodge Bursary Fund and the Learning Centre as I believe some of the most valuable gifts we can provide to our youth and ultimately our communities are those of literacy and higher education.
In closing, I thank you for the confidence you have reposed in me and urge you each to, Be a Builder and enjoy your Freemasonry! I look forward to visiting with each and every one of you in the coming masonic year.
MW Bro. William R. Cave, |
Grand Master 2011-2012