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Be inspired by the quality within|
Grand Masters Annual Address:-
June 19, 2015
One year ago you elected me to serve as your Grand Master and all I can say is "Wow!" for there is nothing that could have prepared me for the experience of a lifetime. Not just for me but also for my wife Paulette without whom this journey would not have been possible thank you Paulette.
Our theme for the year was "Be Inspired by the Quality Within" and brother was I inspired! Inspired by each and every one of you as you epitomized our theme through your dedication to Freemasonry and the overwhelming support and encouragement that you gave to Paulette and myself.
Thank you to all the Grand Lodge officers, committee members and brethren who made this a memorable year. Special thanks to the Grand Secretary, RW Bro. George Moore, and his staff for their dedication to Freemasonry, invaluable experience and knowledge no Grand Master can thrive without it.
I will now update you on the several initiatives and actions that I outlined last year
New Member Pathway - this committee suffered from the resignation of its chair and one other member, both of whom had contributed extensively but usual avocations got in the way. The remaining members became a subcommittee of Education and Leadership. Progress is being made as you will see from the Education and Leadership report.
Review of Governance and Board of General Purposes - I'm very pleased with the progress made by RW Bro. John Teleske and his team. This is a monumental task encompassing everything from the Five Pillar Plan, composition of the Board of General Purposes and its relationship to the Grand Master and Grand Line officers. The committee has made considerable progress on the audit and review of the Five Pillar Plan and has made several recommendations for its improved effectiveness. This is a two year mandate and we can look forward to the committee's main recommendations next year.
Struggling lodges and district consolidations - I've coupled these two separate initiatives because they are the result of the same phenomena, a gradual decline in membership over some forty years from around 27,000 to 7,100 today. The result is an infrastructure lodge buildings, districts and lodges - built for three or four times the members we have today. It is emotionally painful to give up our lodge, lodge hall or district built by so many celebrated brethren and men who we admired greatly, but it is necessary for the good of the future of Freemasonry. For over thirty years we have tried increasing membership by a quantity-driven approach, and it hasn't worked as we simply haven't held the interest of the majority of members we have initiated, passed and raised. I believe that the only way forward is quality and part of that process is fitting our infrastructure to our membership, not the other way round. Consolidation is one way to give districts and lodges the membership resources to thrive.
This year we have constituted, consecrated and installed the officers in four lodges, three as a result of lodge consolidations and one brand new lodge. We also instituted one new lodge under dispensation. It was my honour to preside over each of these ceremonies and I thank the Grand Lodge officers and others that assisted.
Dimasalang Lodge No. 196 was constituted on 12 July 2014.
Qualicum Lodge U.D. was instituted on 6 September 2014.
Grandview Lodge No. 96 and Trinity Lodge No. 98 consolidated and were constituted as Grandview-Trinity Lodge No. 96 on 16 April 2015.
Cranbrook Lodge No. 34 and Selkirk Lodge No. 55 consolidated and were constituted as Fisher Peak Lodge No. 34 on 27 April 2015.
Maple Leaf Park Lodge No. 63 and Mt. Lebanon Lodge No. 72 consolidated and were constituted as Heritage Lodge No. 63 on 25 May 2015.
To the members of the consolidated Lodges: I know how you feel as Heritage Lodge is now my mother Lodge and to all of the newly constituted and instituted Lodges I applaud your courage and foresight. With enthusiasm, commitment and some planning I'm sure that you'll make a major contribution to Freemasonry in your community and in our jurisdiction.
Last June we announced the intention to consolidate a number of districts in the Lower Mainland, Victoria and the Kootenays. After considerable discussion it was decided to go ahead with consolidations only in the Lower Mainland. Accordingly districts 13 and 26 will be consolidated as district 13, districts 14 and 16 as district 16 and districts 17 and 24 as district 17. I strongly believe that the consolidated districts will strengthen Freemasonry in the Lower Mainland and make it easier to consider consolidation of Lodges within the new districts and crucially all existing Lodge relationships are maintained. I thank all brethren who contributed to the discussions and facilitated these changes, particularly RW Bro. Mosher and his committee on Warranted Lodges and Lodges Under Dispensation, the Deputy Grand Master, RW Bro. Collins, and the Junior Grand Warden, RW Bro. Ron Yates.
Early Recommendation for 2015-16 DDGMs and Grand Lodge Officers - generally this was successful as it allowed the Deputy Grand Master to consider and appoint his officers earlier and it gave the appointed officers more time to prepare. I feel that the 15 September deadline for submission of recommendations was too early for many districts and of course proposed district consolidations did complicate matters. I would recommend that we consider a permanent change to the date to at least a couple of months earlier than our constitutional 31 December date.
Lodge Leadership Training - this has not been advanced as far as we had hoped but as you will see from the Leadership and Education committee report the process is ongoing and the expectation is that guidelines and materials will be available sometime during the coming year.
Grand Master's Charity: Movember - I thank the 24 teams and 90 MoBros and one MoSista (Paulette) that got right into the spirit of growing moustaches (except Paulette!), raising funds and awareness for men's health. I also thank the brethren, lodges and districts that contributed to raising in excess of $51,000, which puts us in the top twenty networks in Canada! Please don't forget your regular check-up.
2015 Conference of Grand Masters of North America (CGMNA) - was an outstanding success and reflected on the vibrancy of our jurisdiction. Pride may be one of the deadly sins, but as your Grand Master, I was inordinately proud of your efforts in putting on such a brilliant event. The most common remark I heard from our guests was "I have been at several CGMNA conferences and this is by far the best." Thanks to all of our hundred-plus volunteers, brethren and ladies alike, and particular thanks to W Bro. Mike Landsfried and his committee for the years of planning and successful running of the event. Thanks to all the lodges and brethren that contributed funds to make sure our guests were well looked after. Our British Columbia and Yukon Gold Rush Banquet was a standout for me because we had around 150 of our own brethren and their ladies attending and total attendance of over 550 was over 100 more than is usual for the host banquet. The banquet was largely responsible for a significant fund surplus simply because of the strengthening of the US dollar. When we set the US dollar cost of our dinner in 2014 the Loonie was US$ 0.91, by the time we received the funds collected on our behalf by the CGMNA it was closer to $0.80 - a 12% benefit to our budget! The surplus has been split between the Grand Lodge Emergency Relief Fund, Grand Lodge Bursary Fund, Scottish Rite BC Learning Centre and the BC Children's Hospital Foundation. RW Bro. George Moore will attest that the concurrent Conference of Grand Secretaries was also a big success
It was a privilege to welcome our Lieutenant Governor, Her Honour, the Honourable Judith Guichon to the conference and to hear her approval of our efforts to raise the standard of civility in society. The educational presentations and breakout sessions were well received with four presenters from our own jurisdiction. You will be able to hear one of the outstanding keynote presenters, W Bro. Matt Nelson of the Grand Lodge of Utah, in Grand Lodge tomorrow morning.
Masonic Tour of Croatia - in May 16 brethren and 13 ladies accompanied Paulette and I on a tour of Croatia. The country is beautiful and the weather coöperated as the sun shone and temperatures reached between 23 and 28 degrees each day. We started in Zagreb then to Opatija, Split and finished in Dubrovnik, a.k.a. Kings Landing in Game of Thrones. We witnessed a Fellow Craft degree in Croatian in Loge Harmonija in Rijeka and were graciously hosted by the lodge at dinner, with our wives, in a local restaurant. The highlight of the tour for the brethren was our conferral of the Entered Apprentice degree on five Croatian candidates at the invitation of the Most Worshipful Grand Master of Croatia, MW Bro. Marijan Hanzekovic. I'm happy to say that the degree was conferred in exemplary fashion in our Ancient Work. I doubt that the candidates could understand a lot of the Victorian English but all were impressed that our work was from memory as reading is practised in Croatia and in some other European jurisdictions. Thanks to RW Bro. Dan Mosher, Grand Representative, and RW Bro. Bojan Šober, Deputy Grand Master of Croatia and Worshipful Master of Loge Harmonija, for their work in organizing a tour which far exceeded our expectations.
Masonic Legacy of Life Project - I have some very sad news: the initiators of this campaign, VW Bro. Art Berry and W Bro. Jim Phinney, have both passed to the Grand Lodge Above. They both knew their time was coming to an end as both had terminal illnesses yet their passion to make a difference burned within them. They partnered with BC Transplant to send out packages to our lodges on how to register as an organ donor. I hope that many of you signed up and if not, there is still time to do so in memory of Art and Jim. May they rest in peace.
In Memoriam - we lost a number of dear brethren to the Grand Lodge Above including MW Bro. Waldie Manion who served this Grand Lodge as Grand Master in 1992-1993. MW Bro. Manion rose from logger to executive in the forest products industry and his year as Grand Master was notable for many initiatives including the establishment of The Craft Review Committee. He was initiated, passed and raised in Ashlar Lodge No. 3 and was a keen member of several other lodges. We also lost RW Bro. Leslie R. Peterson, a former BC Education Minister, Attorney-General and Chancellor of UBC as well as a dedicated Freemason. RW Bro. Peterson was invested with the Order of Canada in 2000 and was Potentate of Gizeh in 1988. He was initiated, passed and raised in Maple Leaf Park Lodge No. 74 (now part of Heritage Lodge No. 63). The will of God is accomplished.
Civility - The Masonic Civility Task Force, a group of mostly Grand Lodge officers in several North American jurisdictions, has partnered with the US National Civility Center to promote increased civility in society. The Task Force is developing a tool box to help Freemasons accomplish that task. You can see the progress on the www.civilitycenter.org website. To increase awareness of this work and get discussions and action moving May was proclaimed Champion Civility Month. The focus on improving civility in society necessarily shines the spotlight on civility within Freemasonry which unfortunately is sometimes lacking.
Trial Commission New Procedures - the Trial Commission has produced a comprehensive set of guidelines and procedures for laying charges, gathering evidence, hearing trials and appeals process. They are to be congratulated on their excellent work under chairman W Bro. Paul Barclay. All too often it seems that complaints are made to the Grand Secretary's office without any effort to resolve differences as we promised to do in our obligations. And frequently the Five Points of Fellowship are ignored as egos take over. Complaints laid before the Trial Commission should be infrequent and when made, the new procedures make it quite clear that the onus on collecting evidence to substantiate a complaint is on the brother or brethren bringing the complaint. It is not the responsibility of the Grand Lodge office to investigate. However, assistance can be obtained in understanding the procedures and, better still, in resolving issues without going to trial.
Conclusion - I cannot stress enough what a delightful and transformative year this has been for Paulette and me. The experience that you afforded me in electing me as your Grand Master has been life-changing. The experience has given me great confidence in our future and our ability to fulfil the needs of all brethren new and not-so-new, but particularly our ability to guide and mentor newer Freemasons that they can build their lasting friendships as we have done.
To the Grand Line officers, past and present, thank you for your essential guidance, cooperation and support. Without the willingness to share and work together, being Grand Master would be a series of isolated one year projects but with coöperation and teamwork we can make genuine progress. To RW Bros. Barry Burch, Doug Eaton and Russ Morrison I thank-you for putting your names forward for the office of Junior Grand Warden and wish you good luck. One of you is about to start the rocket ride of your life! I have every confidence that my successor as Grand Master, RW Bro. Douglas C. Collins, will have a tremendous year leading our Craft and I wish him and his officers the best for the coming twelve months.
Thank you all for allowing me to serve. May we long inspire each other to greater heights and enjoy every delight that disinterested friendship can afford.
MW Bro. Philip Durell, |
Grand Master 2014-2015