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Charting your Masonic Course|
Grand Masters Installation Address:-
June 19, 2010
I am truly overwhelmed by all of this today. I am but a simple man, who has tried hard to walk the walk as a freemason for most of my life. Like a lot of you, I want to give back to my fraternity whatever I can, and will work diligently to that end through what will surely be the most memorable year of my life.
Before I get into the meat of my address, I wish to acknowledge a few people, without whose encouragement and assistance, I would not be your new Grand Master. First, my wonderful wife Moya. She has been my constant support and sounding board and without her assistance, this journey would have not have been possible. I like to tell the story that in 1972, I was initiated in March, passed in April and raised a Master Mason in May. In June I met and fell in love with Moya. It was quite the year!
I wish to thank W. Bro. Lynn Watson of Nanaimo Lodge No. 110, a fine wood worker and a friend of mine for several years. Two weeks ago he presented me with a gavel in anticipation of this installation. The wood used is all native to Vancouver Island, including arbutus, black walnut, red oak and maple. Unfortunately W. Bro. Watson couldn't be with us today. He is a true freemason, and wonderful man! Thank you Lynn.
A few years ago I was extremely pleased to be appointed the Grand Representative for the Grand Lodge of New Zealand. In this röle, I established relations with our Grand Representative. Two years ago, I received an email from an excited brother, telling me that we should fly to Christchurch to see him installed as Grand Master. We were so pleased to do so, having always wanted to go to New Zealand. Moya and I flew down, and not only enjoyed the company of brethren, but also had a great holiday over both the North and South Islands. We were blown away at the Grand Installation at the Town Hall Convention Centre in Christchurch, and most pleased at being recognized by the new Grand Master. Later in the trip I was fortunate to attend a Master Mason degree at Queenstown at the famous Lake Lodge of Ophir No. 85.
Today, my counterpart has paid me a great honour, as he and a group of brethren from the Grand Lodge of New Zealand are here with us. I wish to also acknowledge the other brethren who have travelled over the vast Pacific to be with us here in Kamloops. District Grand Master VW Bro. Graham Wrigley, Grand Registrar VW Bro. Michael Scott, Junior Grand Warden RW Bro. John Worsfold and Past District Grand Master VW Bro. Jack Price.
During MW Bro. Stephen Godfrey's year as Grand Master, the Grand Line discussed creating a new DVD. During MW Bro. Allen's year work was begun, and with the blessing of MW Bro. Tuckey most of the work is already completed. MW Bro. Godfrey was the team leader, and got the ball rolling so to speak.
We are living in age infused with media messages. The techniques for communicating change by the day. As freemasons, how are we communicating? How are we relating our love for the Craft in ways that many can understand?
Our new DVD, entitled Freemasonry "The Journey Begins" , is directed specifically at those seeking information about Freemasonry in our jurisdiction. It replaces a video prepared by our Grand Lodge in 1996. When the committee first met more than two years ago, to undertake this project, one thing became very clear from the outset: the need for quality. The new DVD had to be professional, of broadcast quality, and targeted especially to the man of today and his family. Fortunately, the committee brought together freemasons who included professional broadcasters, film makers and others connected with the motion picture industry, as well as skilled and experienced Brethren. The finished DVD will be about twenty minutes long, and will be available to all lodges and Brethren. Remember, this production was not developed simply to please ourselves. The video does, however, reveal heartfelt stories and testimonials told by our very own brethren within our jurisdiction.
As some of you might know, the budget approved yesterday provides only $5000 for a Grand Master's project. Realizing that the costs to create a DVD would far exceed this, I contacted several lodges and building societies to request financial assistance. My sincere thanks to those who have generously provided funding for this initiative. The cost will approach $30,000 and without your support, would have been impossible. I wish to thank Concord Lodge in Parksville, Kamloops Masonic Temple Association, Richmond Lodge, The Pioneers from Victoria and Mountain Lodge in Golden for their generous support. I realize that you recognized that this is a worthwhile project and thank you so much for putting your faith in me in having it carried out.
Our hope is that if this DVD spurs some men to seek us out and join our fraternity then it will have been well worth the effort. We had one side effect, which we were not expecting. Our primary cameraman was a non-mason, chosen for his skills and abilities to assist us by our producer. This man was so impressed with the brethren he met during the interview process, he petitioned, was accepted and is now Bro. Gary Turcotte, an Entered Apprentice freemason from Vancouver & Quadra No. 2. Amazing!
As well, kudos to MW Bro. Godfrey and his committee, including Bro. John Almond, Bro. Keith Beardwood, RW Bro. Doug Franklin and some non-masons who greatly assisted in this project.
Five Pillar Plan
Your Grand Lodge has a Five Pillar Plan which continues to be a living document. We sincerely hope that by using this tool that our Grand Lodge will prosper for many years to come. We arranged that the plan would be the responsibility of the Senior Grand Warden. This year I am appointing a sub-committee to the Board of General Purposes styled the Strategic Planning Committee, with the Senior Grand Warden as its Chairman. I will shortly be appointing three of your Grand Lodge Regional Representatives to assist him.
Charting your masonic course
My theme this year is: "Charting your Masonic Course". I have struck a pin with the "compass rose" surmounted by the "square and compasses". Its message is planning. Not just planning, but strategic and long term planning. We have undertaken this at the Grand Lodge level over the past few years, and now it is time that all lodges, from Victoria to Dawson City, get involved. My thanks to MW Bro. Santy Loscano, the Grand Master of Washington, who assisted greatly in the creation of this pin.
This past year MW Bro. Tuckey formed an ad hoc committee on Insurance. This year I am asking that this committee continue and investigate the possibility of having a group insurance policy available for all lodges, building societies and companies. Firstly, to see if we can save money, but secondly to perhaps to standardize the coverage we need and want. This I understand has been done in the Grand Lodge of Quebec with good success.
MW Bro. Tuckey also formed the Committee on Organizational Analysis under the chairmanship of MW Bro. Stephen Godfrey. I am most pleased to continue with this initiative, and am confident that next year at this time there will be a report and some recommendations for improvement in your Grand Lodge. Thank you MW Bro. Godfrey for all your hard work!
This year our Board of General Purposes under the Chairmanship of Deputy Grand Master RW Bro. Bill Cave will meet in various locations around our jurisdiction. Meetings will be held in July at Quesnel; October at Kamloops, January at Victoria and May at Vancouver. I invite all brethren to come, be an observer and see what your Grand Lodge does the rest of the year.
I have some initiatives for this year, which hopefully will be continued for the next couple of years. I have worked with our new Deputy Grand Master and Senior Grand Warden to put forth some ideas which will continue the work initiated by our Immediate Past Grand Master, and others before him.
Membership is absolutely critical for continued success in our fraternity. I am concerned that even though we need to appear to be more approachable by those outside the fraternity we must be vigilant in "guarding the west gate" ensuring that we are only admitting men of quality. In this regard our Grand Secretary has just completed a review of our standard petition form. I now wish to ensure that all lodges are utilizing it, and as such I am directing him to do this. It is essential that every candidate for membership be interviewed in his home and hopefully with his partner present. We must be pro-active and follow procedures!
To aid lodges in bringing back members who have been dropped from our rolls for non payment of dues, I am proclaiming an amnesty programme for one year and having our Grand Secretary drop reinstatement fees for this period. I also ask that any unpaid dues owed will be overlooked by each lodge. On a similar note, go through your records and see if you can bring back in demitted men. If this will spur getting lapsed members back into the Craft it will be worth it! I don't believe it is easy, so I ask each lodge to either form a committee or ask their secretary to spearhead this. Write a letter, make a phone call, knock on a door. Please try to do your part. But one side comment to this. If you bring a brother back into your lodge, don't leave him alone to become bored and leave again, get him involved in Freemasonry and in turn he will be rewarded tenfold. I will be asking our newly installed Junior Grand Warden to focus on membership this year, and ask him to report to the Board of General Purposes of our successes and failures. Likewise he will report to Grand Lodge at Langley next June.
I am looking for some good, able men to revamp our Community Relations Committee and assist us in letting the world at large know of our great fraternity.
The students of today are our future. We have a great Bursary Fund, which might just be another of our hidden mysteries. I have appointed a new chairman and trustees, and we encourage you to be more in touch with what they do. We hope that our DDGMs or other officers will be able to assist in the presentation of these awards around the jurisdiction, and get some media attention in the process. I firmly believe that this is one of the most important things we can do. While I will be looking at other charitable projects this year, my main focus will be our Bursary Fund. We need to build it up, and use the funds wisely.
Some time ago I came across the phrase "no more secrets" I thought it catchy, especially when we are considered by many to be a secret society. We know that we are but a fraternity, not just a fraternity but the world's biggest and best but one of our primary secrets is that a lot of men have no clue about us. Now I'm not encouraging our Craft to open the doors to our lodges to all comers, but to get the word out to the general public that we are the world's best fraternity, and encourage men of all faiths to come and learn about us. And if they find something they like, to petition for membership. One other secret I find in ours and other jurisdictions is the secrecy of where our lodge buildings are and when the lodges meet. We need to be proactive in providing signage, and putting the welcome mat out for our brethren.
In my travels down under I discovered something called "rebranding" At the present time we are known by our formal name of the Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of British Columbia and Yukon. Consider using "FREEMASONS OF BRITISH COLUMBIA AND YUKON" It is simpler and to the point and fits in easier in telling who we are. You will note that my pin has this embossed on it.
On my visits around this jurisdiction, I look forward to meeting with as many members as possible. In every case, where a visit takes place on an evening, I hope to have coffee and conversation on the level the morning after, to discuss whatever is on your mind in an informal atmosphere.
On a very serious note, your Grand Lodge executive, through legal counsel, has continued to deal with our Past Grand Master, who commenced legal action several years ago against a number of named brethren, as well as the Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon itself. This is a fact. We are named as defendants. We continue to hope that this action will be either withdrawn or dismissed. We are not so naïve to believe that this will be easily done. In this regard, until this legal action has been resolved, I hereby continue the suspension from Freemasonry of MW Bro. William Unrau.
I also give fair warning to all concerned that malicious emails or letters will not be tolerated. Remember our foundations: brotherly love, relief and truth. As well, remember your obligations concerning defending a brother's good name in his absence as well as in his presence.
Brethren, it has been a wonderful experience here in Kamloops. I look forward to meeting with as many brethren possible throughout the year in as many locations as possible.
MW Bro. J. Alan Cross, |
Grand Master 2010-2011