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Grand Master’s Annual Address:-
June 18, 2004

[C. William Ferguson]
MW Bro. C. William Ferguson,
Grand Master 2003-2004

What a year this has been! One cannot help but be impressed with the dedication shown and the hard work done by the Freemasons of British Columbia and Yukon. We are indeed turning the corner concerning our membership. I am impressed by the number of young members we are initiating into our lodges. Let’s keep them coming and let’s ensure that what they find in Freemasonry meets their needs. We must be relevant! This is what we have been working on this year and what we must continue to strive for in future years.
Continuity from year to year is essential to meaningful growth. The leadership role of the District Deputy Grand Masters, and many of the initiatives that have been started this year, will need to be continued or brought into effect or refined in future years. Let us take a positive view at what is being proposed at this Communication and vote rationally with the view to improve our gentle Craft.
The two plans for improvement which I outlined for you last year at Dawson Creek have been, I feel, very effective. Plan 1 involved a Seven Step Programme. It provided a leadership role for the District Deputy Grand Master in his District. This was a sincere effort to improve our Fraternity. He was to encourage and undertake to do the following:
District Meetings: these were to be held for the Brethren to coordinate activities and share resources.
Lodge Meetings: these were to be held for the Brethren to evaluate their Lodge and plan for improvements.
Leadership Training: to assess the needs of the District and call upon a Leadership team to help train Lodge Officers if needed.
Mentorship: to have each Lodge utilize this program to educate new members in Freemasonry and thereby retain their membership.
Social and Sports Events: to promote friendship and fellowship within the Lodge and District by promoting social and sports events.
Education: working with the Education Officers, to increase the understanding of our work, our ritual and the true meaning of Freemasonry.
The Masonic Family: to see that the Brethren have a positive and respectful view of all our concordant bodies.
Plan 2 involved an Initiative Program which promoted ideas for advancement which were suggested by the Masonic Commission of two years ago, and had general agreement of the Brethren, plus others. The members who have dealt with these initiatives have worked very hard to formulate them and present them. Their work has been very impressive and I thank them for their hard work and W. Bro. John Shandalla for his efforts as facilitator in helping those working on the Initiatives. Some of these Initiatives will be brought forward to you to decide on at this Grand Communication. Others only need application and some need continued study and perhaps future application if approved by you.
The sole aim of these Initiatives is to let you decide what is to be done in this jurisdiction.
Grand Lodge Board of General Purposes: The first initiative involved putting into effect the amendment to the Constitution passed in Victoria in 2002 concerning elected members, up to nine, for the Grand Board of General Purposes. This was handed over to RW Bro. Philip Durell, Chairman of the Committee on Warranted Lodges and Lodges Under Dispensation. His report formed the basis for the election of nine regional representatives. Time was short, but this was accomplished with seven elected and two appointments. Moreover, these guidelines will help to elect three members each year in the future, thus fulfilling the requirements of our Book of Constitutions and Regulations.
District Deputy Grand Masters: The second Initiative, Chaired by RW Bro. Mike Sharpe, involved guidelines for District Deputy Grand Masters. Four aspects were looked at and reports on each were submitted:
Guidelines for selection of District Deputy Grand Masters.
Leadership role of District Deputy Grand Masters.
Improved report forms for District Deputy Grand Masters, and
A pilot project for four Districts.
On the first three items suggestions have been made that we hope will be followed in the future. The Pilot Project involved the early announcement of next year’s District Deputy Grand Master, so that he would have time to prepare for his role and, by working with the present District Deputy Grand Master, develop a program that has continuity in its aims and objectives and method of approach. The reports from the four Districts involved have been very positive, and I recommend an early announcement of these officers to my Grand Line successors. It works.
Fund Raising: The third initiative was to set up a Grand Lodge fund raising committee, whose ultimate aim was to help reduce our per capita costs. This has been done as a sub-committee of the Finance Committee, with W Bro. Ben Kaye in charge. We wish him and his sub-committee well in the future.
Various Initiatives: The fourth initiative was to proceed with recommendations made in the 2001 Masonic Survey and Masonic Commission of 2000-01. RW Bro Bill Headen dealt with this issue. His report gave a clear picture of what has been done, is being done and what is needed to be done. You will be considering some of these issues at this Grand Communication.
Grand Representatives: RW Bro. David Kerridge, Chairman of the Committee on Fraternal Relations, and the Grand Lodge Office staff, have been working very hard on this problem area. The list of our Grand Representatives was not up-to-date and had many vacancies. The list is now up-to-date and I have appointed sixteen brethren to be our Grand Representatives. A pamphlet has been prepared for the guidance of the Grand Representatives. However, as situations change, this is an ongoing concern.
Leadership Training: In order to emphasize the importance of leadership training, I appointed five Brethren to look after four teams for the various areas of our jurisdiction: for the Cariboo North: Bro. Bill Cave; for Okanagan-Kootenay : W Bro. Rick Birnie; for the Lower Mainland: W Bro. Michael Yule; for Vancouver Island: RW Bro. Stephen Godfrey and VW Bro. Art Scott. They are ready and willing to give a workshop when asked.
Long Term Goals: RW Bro. Bill Unrau, Deputy Grand Master, was put in charge of this endeavour with the Line Officers and VW Bro. Jon H. Broadberry as a resource person. We hoped that this would bring better continuity to Grand Lodge, and we strongly recommend continuance of these efforts.
Grand Line Officers: An excellent report by RW Bro. Stephen Godfrey was submitted, giving suggested guidelines for the election of the Grand Line Officers and the possible terms to be served by them. This needs careful study before any recommendations can be made. I strongly suggest that this be done during the ensuing year.
Communities Charities Fund: VW Bro. Richard Auty was appointed to strengthen the leadership of the Cancer Car Project. His tireless efforts have indeed paid off and we are now considering an increase in our coverage for cancer patients. However, more research is needed in this area. RW Bro. Michael Sharpe has again led the We Can Help Program to a successful year. I was very pleased to take part in an awards ceremony at a Vancouver elementary school involving this programme. Also, I was pleased, through the Grand Master’s special fund, to help finance the video that his committee has prepared.
Books of Constitutions and Regulations: I have for some time worked closely with the Committee on Constitution and, with the support of RW Bro. Ray T. Bryant, Chairman, have seen the Book of Constitutions and Regulations much improved. Indeed, it is now much more user-friendly. Much more can still be done, and you will be dealing with some items at this Grand Communication.
Degree Penalties: This was referred to the Committee on Ritual, MW Bro. James C. Gordon, Chairman, to consider in the light of TRUTH in Freemasonry.
Past Grand Master’s Dress Apron: An amendment will be proposed at this Grand Communication regarding the regalia worn by Past Grand Masters.
Junior Grand Warden: An excellent report was submitted by RW Bro. James Moreshead and his Committee. It is hoped that this report will be put to good use in the future. RW Bro. Isaac Brower-Berkhoven has prepared a pamphlet to assist candidates for the Junior Grand Warden’s office.
Master Mason’s Vote: This will be proposed as an amendment to the Constitutions and Regulations to enable Master Masons voting privileges in Grand Lodge Communications.
Place of Meeting Committee: VW Bro. Murray Moxley, Chairman, will propose a change of name and a re-definition of the role of this committee. A manual for local committees to assist in the operation of Grand Lodge Communications has been prepared.
District Meetings, Lodge Anniversaries, and Special Events: I visited all 27 Districts in this jurisdiction; the 50th Anniversaries of Sentinel Lodge No. 146 and Commonwealth Lodge No. 156; an amalgamation of Pythagoras Lodge No.194; installation of Officers at Kootenay Lodge No.15, Ymir Lodge No. 31, and Victoria Columbia Lodge No. 1; the Grand Lodge Communication of the Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario; Scottish Rite Consistory, Vancouver; Royal Arch Grand Communication in Chilliwack; Western Canada Conference at Canmore, Alberta; Daughters of the Nile at Richmond;. Annual General Meeting of the Gizeh Shiners of British Columbia and Yukon, Burnaby; Van Zor Grotto Annual Sessions, Burnaby; and the All Canada Conference in Winnepeg. In the United States of America, I attended the Grand Lodge Communication in Washington State; Imperial Sessions of the Shrine in Minnesota; International Day at Creston Lodge No. 54, BC, and Bonners Ferry, Idaho; Granite Falls Outdoor Degree, Washington; Kettle Falls International Night, Washington; Lyndon Lodge, Washington; and Lafayette Lodge, Washington. In addition, I attended Cariboo Lodge No. 4, Barkerville; Richmond Lodge No.142, Richmond; Comox Lodge No. 188, Comox - Blighty Night; Discovery Lodge No.149, Campbell River - Burns Night; Meridian Lodge No. 108, Vancouver; Scottish Breakfast meeting; Vancouver Lodge of Education and Research; Joppa Lodge No. 112, Whiterock - Crab Night; and many others, with a number of surprise visits.
Bringing Grand Lodge Closer to Our Lodges: This last year, the Grand Lodge Board of General Purposes was held in Williams Lake, Chilliwack, and Vancouver for this reason. (I strongly recommend that, in the future, the Grand Lodge Board of General Purposes be held in different locations throughout our jurisdiction.) Open discussion was encouraged. Any recommendation made was considered by the Executive Committee of Line Officers and reported back to the Board at the next meeting. This is a new step towards accountability, and I recommend it to be continued in future years.
Meeting the Special Needs of the Brethren: During my term of office, I received many requests for special dispensations which a Grand Master is able to give under Section 45 of the Book of Constitutions and Regulations. In most cases this involves a request for a change in time and/or place for meetings. These were easy to grant. Some involved brethren taking part in civic parades and ceremonies wearing regalia. This is a new type of community involvement. It is recommended that great care be taken in organizing such participation. We wish to be seen as part of the community, but seen in the best light as a positive, well organized, part of the community. Assurances that that will be the case are needed from those organizing these events.
Each year there is some dissatisfaction over the way candidates for District Deputy Grand Masters are chosen to be recommended to the Deputy Grand Master. In response to this, I have given dispensation to run a pilot project as well as a study of their selection, role and reports as mentioned already under Initiatives. Based on the Pilot Project results, I would recommend the early announcement of District Deputy Grand Masters. I have also issued an edict concerning this issue.
Another request involved two lodges which met in the same lodge hall. To cement the friendly relationship between the two Lodges, each wished to grant membership to the other’s Worshipful Master for the year that he served as Worshipful Master. However, neither regular nor honorary membership would work. To solve the problem, an associate membership lasting one year was granted. It is hoped that this will help maintain the good relationship that exists between the two lodges.
Some requests for dispensation were denied. For example, there was a request to set up a Masonic Craft Lodge motorcycle club or association. Our Constitutions forbids this. The matter has been referred to the Committee on Jurisprudence. They have asked for further information, which has now been supplied. We look forward to their findings.
The Greatest of These is Charity: During the year, I have been impressed by the many great acts of Charity by the brethren. Fundraising for our Charities has been remarkable. The financial assistance given to fire victims in Kelowna and Barriere was commendable. Individual acts of charity have demonstrated this basic virtue of a true freemason. For example, I received a call from Hudson-Hope regarding a brother who was in the hospital, far from home in North Vancouver. I phoned RW Bro. John Gibson, District Deputy Grand Master, and asked him to investigate and give such assistance as needed. For four months, RW Bro. Gibson did all he could to help the seriously ill Brother and his wife. He raised a fund of $1,470.00 to assist them, and VW Bro. Alan Swan provided accommodation in his own home for the wife. Two brethren doing great acts of Charity!
Practising What We Preach: Sometime in our efforts to correct others we do things masonically worse than that we wish to correct. Freemasonry must ultimately be judged on the conduct of its members. Examine yourself. Are you working for concord or discord in your treatment of your brethren? We are extensively involved in charitable works and service in our communities. In our meetings we practise the social virtues of friendship and fellowship. We are taught to be tolerant of ideas and philosophies not our own, to use temperance, fortitude, justice and prudence in our daily lives and live lives morally and spiritually acceptable to the Supreme Being.
Now, let us be certain that we are putting into practise those masonic virtues and principles in dealing with each other. Let not our rank or position in the Craft blind us to the equality of us all as symbolized by the level. Let us not fall into the trap of thinking, as George Orwell’s Animal Farm characters, that "we are all equal but some of us are more equal than others". I have been very discouraged to hear, in so many words, that because "He is of a lower rank in the Craft, I do not want to hear from him, as he is not as wise as I am". When those who are looked upon as leaders of an organization forget their roots, and do not act on the square with Brotherly Love; when past leaders will not let go of the reins of power, we wither. This is the major cause of why brethren quit. Strong lodges become weak! One complaint heard time and again is that new members are stifled and turned off by former leaders who do not realize the leadership qualities of new members and let them lead without interference. Those who have served are there to help when their help is asked for. Brethren, you are past and present leaders in your lodge. I recommend that you examine yourself and your lodge. Is such a thing happening? Work to prevent it!
The Need for Guidance: This term I have issued two edicts to solve ongoing problems: The first edict involved the placement of other sacred books of members, beside the Volume of the Sacred Law, on the altar during regular meetings of the lodge. The Sacred Books on the altar should reflect the beliefs of all members of the lodge at all times.
The second edict involved guidance to the brethren concerning the Deputy Grand Master’s right to appoint those he chooses as best for District Deputy Grand Masters without any objection from any brother or brethren. This was done to eliminate the piques and quarrels that ensue too often, and only damage Freemasonry in general. This clarifies the edict of MW Bro. Jones in 1925. For the good of Freemasonry, these objections must stop!
Appreciation: I have been greatly impressed by the enthusiasm and dedication of so many brothers of this jurisdiction! The hospitality, organization, and warmth of each of the District Deputy Grand Masters and the members I met at their District meetings have been a joy. District Deputy Grand Masters, my thanks go out to you. I am certain you can look back with pride on what you have achieved. To those who attended our District meetings, it has been a great privilege to meet you, to shake your hand and to talk to you.
The appointed officers have done extremely well this year. They have fulfilled their role with true dedication to Freemasonry. My special thanks go out to the Grand Director of Ceremonies, RW Bro. Rick Money, and the Grand Marshal, VW Brother Mike Cockerell. Your aid and assistance to the District Deputy Grand Masters at District meetings, and to your Grand Master at all meetings he attended, is much appreciated. Your untiring efforts to serve this Grand Lodge show true dedication. VW Brother Cockerell, your work and assistance on electronic registration at this and the last two Grand Communications has been tremendous. Thank you!
Committee members and Chairmen: how impressive is the work that you have done! Your reports and advice reflect your interest and love of Freemasonry, and your desire to see that things done in this jurisdiction are done properly and effectively. Thank you!
To those lodges who invited me for special events, and also those whom I surprised — thank you for many memorable times. I treasure your warm friendship.
I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the loyalty, support and assistance of my Deputy Grand Master, RW Bro. Bill Unrau. I wish you a very successful year as Grand Master. My thanks go out to you.
To our Past Grand Masters, thank you for being here. We depend on you during our Installation Ceremony. Some of you have given me great assistance when asked. I appreciate your support.
To those who have organized this Grand Communication: I will be thanking you later — but I cannot help but tell you that everything looks great. All that time and effort that you have given so freely is paying off.
Brethren, bless you all — and now , "Let’s get to Work!"

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