Brethren, it is very good to see so many of you here today, notwithstanding the other attractions available on a very fine summer’s day!
I always think of this Quarterly Communication as something of a transitional moment in the rhythm of the Masonic year. This is the first Communication after the Annual Investiture and is the first occasion when the new Grand Officers of the Year, under the careful tutelage and watchful eye of the Grand Director of Ceremonies and his team of Deputies, discharge their duties in Grand Lodge. I think we can all agree Brethren, it has been a very encouraging start and bodes well for the rest of their term of duty.
This Communication, however, also sees most of us think of the end of the current Masonic year where many Lodges and Chapters have a break over the hot months of the summer, although I am aware there are a number of Provinces where this does not occur and Lodges and Chapters are as busy as ever. It is, therefore, I think a moment for reflection for all of us.
It is nine months since I was installed as Pro Grand Master and six months since we launched the Strategy for Freemasonry, 2022 and beyond and it has been a busy time for everyone in Grand Lodge and in all the Provinces and Districts. I am very grateful Brethren for all the support I have received from you and my fellow rulers in my new role.
I am grateful to Provincial Rulers and their teams for the tremendous amount of work that has been, and is being, put into articulating the Membership Challenge for each Province and engaging with their Lodges and Chapters to make it real for our members. We have seen some excellent addresses recently at Provincial meetings where this has been the core message with a high level of encouragement for members to take the lead in their own Lodges and Chapters.
These Addresses are being shared amongst Provincial Rulers, both as examples of very good practice others can use, and to demonstrate this is a team effort at all levels. In order to deliver the Strategy and tackle the Membership Challenge, every single Member has a part to play, and it is the responsibility of Provinces, Districts and Grand Lodge and Grand Chapter to give our Members the tools to succeed.
You will now be very familiar with the Royal Arch being an integral part of the Strategy’s approach and I hope many of you will have seen the “Discover More” booklet. There is more to come from the Committee of General Purposes with the planned launch of Archway in the autumn. In the interim, I would like to say something about the Royal Arch Representatives in Craft Lodges.
I think it should be clear that to ensure the success of the Strategy an effective Royal Arch Representative in almost every Lodge is now even more important. This is a role which is critical to the Strategy for helping to increase Royal Arch membership. Since this post was first introduced different Provinces and Districts have developed their own ways of handling these appointments and I firmly believe that it is not for us “in the centre” to interfere too much where a successful scheme has already evolved or can be worked out locally. However, given the importance of this role in representing the Order within a Lodge, I do believe that any Companion nominated to be a Royal Arch Representative should ultimately meet the approval and receive the support of his Provincial or District Grand Master (and of course his relevant Grand Superintendent) in order for him to be able to enjoy the appropriate status of the role and to carry the responsibilities that go with it.
I am assured that further guidance to support Royal Arch Representatives in their tasks, along with examples of good practice, will be available on Archway when it is released later this year.
Brethren, you will know that the September Quarterly Communication will be held in Monmouthshire, exactly one hundred years since this first happened when the Communication in September 1923 was held in Liverpool. I will say more about this in September, but I hope it is clear the Rulers and Grand Lodge really do believe in seeing if we can get things to work that are a little different to the established norms, building on an excellent base, with small incremental steps. I very much hope it will be a success, but as The Grand Master himself said, “We will not know unless we try”.
Brethren, I am enthusiastic about our prospects, I am encouraged by the way you are responding to the challenge, and I have no doubt we can succeed if we all work together to ensure we continue to thrive.
Thank you very much Brethren and I wish you all a pleasant and relaxing summer.