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Positive Thinking Masonry|
Grand Masters Annual Address:-
June 20, 2002
Brethren, it is my privilege and pleasure to welcome you all to this One Hundred and Thirty First Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon. To the Past Masters, Worshipful Masters, and Wardens who constitute the membership of this august body: remember this is your Grand Lodge Communication, which I hope you will enjoy and participate in. Please give due regard to the decision-making responsibilities you carry, a privilege I trust you will always safeguard.
On your behalf it is an honour for me to extend a special welcome to the goodly number of distinguished visitors from other Grand jurisdictions as well as those Master Masons of our own jurisdiction visiting for the first time. The hand of friendship is extended to you all and we thank you for coming.
At this time each year we reflect upon those of our brethren who have answered the call of the Great Architect of the Universe. This year the toll has been heavy including Past Grand Master William Carter and Grand Steward Edward Chernoff among the many whom, in their time, filled outstanding and eminent rolls in our beloved Craft.
At this time our thoughts must also be drawn to our American brethren who, following the act of violence on September 11th, paid the ultimate price, in the belief there was a better chance of saving the lives of those trapped than in losing their own. May all these brethren ever be in our thoughts
Till we all meet together in that Grand Lodge Above
Positive Thinking Masonry The theme and the challenge.
1) Let us establish the publics understanding of Freemasonry rather than leave it to our critics.
2) Let us act more like freemasons in our dealings with each other.
3) Let us encourage knowledge-based leadership.
I have been asked several times how I would like my year as Grand Master to be remembered. My wish is for the brethren of the future to say, "the brethren in 2001-02 accomplished quite a lot, didn't they? Who was the Grand Master that year?"
One of the greatest experiences for any freemason is to travel and meet with brethren of other lodges, districts and jurisdictions. Travelling is a great learning experience. You have heard me say many times there is no prescribed course of training for Grand Masters. The best way is to travel with your peers, before your election, after your election and as far as possible to meet with Grand Masters from other jurisdictions during your term of office.
I was privileged to continue this journey commencing on the Monday following my installation, by attending the International Meeting of Daylight Lodges hosted by Daylight Lodge No. 232 in Seattle, accompanied by the Grand Director of Ceremonies and a goodly number of brethren from Meridian Lodge No. 108. The Grand Master of Washington, MW Bro. Bob van Zee, was in attendance, together with many brethren from daylight lodges throughout the world, This was of particular interest to me because the first International Daylight Meeting was hosted by Meridian Lodge No. 108 assisted by the lodges in District 20 when I was the District Deputy for that district in our Expo year 1986.
The next event was on June 30th in the form of a celebration to mark MW Bro Claude Greens 75 years in Freemasonry. I attended this very special event in Duncan accompanied by my principal officers a wonderful celebration to honour a remarkable freemason. The Shrine Imperial Sessions in Las Vegas on July 7th to 13th was a notable occasion when I met with forty visiting Grand Masters to see our brother Kenneth Smith installed as Imperial Potentate. The event was memorable for me when the Imperial Sir honoured our jurisdiction by presenting me with a distinctive fez to mark the occasion. I am sure we all wish him well in his end-of-term celebration during the week ahead.
The Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Canada in Ontario took place in Toronto on July 17th to 19th. The Grand Master serves for two years in Ontario and that Communication marked the completion of MW Bro. Bob McKibbons term. Ontario is the largest jurisdiction in Canada and the attendance at their Annual Communication certainly reflects this. The business of the Communication is very formal and brisk, differing from ours in that their Board of General Purposes is an elected decision making body rather than advisory one such as we have. At the banquet, with some 1,500 brethren in attendance, we were privileged to hear a very informative address given by RW Bro. James Daniels the then Grand Secretary of the United Grand Lodge of England.
The August 3rd Open Air meeting at Granite Falls was unique in that three Grand Masters representing British Columbia and Yukon, Washington State and Prince Hall Washington and Jurisdiction, were in attendance. The Master Mason degree was conferred by the BC Fraser Valley Scottish Degree Team using Ancient Scottish Ritual in an exemplary manner and I was very proud of their performance. As ever there was the odd comment from the jealous that the team were perceived word perfect because they were the only ones that could understand what was being said. A debate which as Grand Master I did not wish to become involved.
The second weekend in August marked our annual pilgrimage to Barkerville. It commenced in fine style when we broke the journey to meet for supper in Cache Creek with the Grand Master of Washington and forty-three of his brethren and ladies. Barkerville was as usual a well-organised event with the festive program returning once more to the recently renovated Community Center. The Sunday Church Parade and Service was conducted with dignity by the Rev. Cannon Neil Vant and the traditional photo session in front of the lodge hall was interrupted as usual, but on this occasion sadly for the last time, by the humorous antics of the late RW Bro. Slim Pritchard. His untiring efforts in all branches of Freemasonry will indeed be sorely missed.
An Emergent Communication of Grand Lodge was convened on September 8th for the purpose of a Corner Stone Laying for the new Ambulatory Center at the City of Trail Acute Care Hospital. This ancient masonic ceremony performed in public with all its profound symbolism is a joy for those taking part as well as those witnessing the ceremony. The local arrangements committee are to be congratulated on their efforts in bringing about this exercise in dignified public relations to our benefit as well as that of the general public.
In retrospect it is difficult to comprehend how such a harmonious event associated with the well being of humanity could be followed in a few days on September 11th by a senseless act of violence which changed the world. Fortunately the change was not in the fearsome manner the perpetrators had in mind, but in the type of powerful bonding evidenced two days later while attending the 75th Anniversary of Joppa Lodge No. 112 and reinforced again, when despite all the concerns over travel, I had the indescribable pleasure of receiving the Grand Master of Washington MW Bro. Bob van Zee with the members of his Robbie Burns Lodge into our Dunbar Lodge to honour an agreement we both had made a year earlier to be in attendance for Dunbars Annual Installation of Officers on the 15th of September. The emotions were high on that evening and the strong bonds of Freemasonry brought us closer together than ever.
October 18 saw a lively revival of Railway Night in Acacia Lodge where we were entertained and educated on the finer points of railroads. I certainly commend such evenings and wish that more meetings such as this could be revived.
The International Night at Lafayette Lodge in Seattle which has been an annual event since 1921 took place on November 1st. Seven Grand Masters were in attendance representing Alaska, BC and Yukon, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington. Each Grand Master signed the Lafayette Bible, adding theirs to the many distinguished signatures both masonic and non-masonic. This is an event every Mason should experience.
Blighty Night sponsored by Comox Lodge was held on the 4th Tuesday in November with food and music in traditional English flavour and of course the moment I always find very moving which is to hear the Scots and the Irish amongst us singing "There'll always be an England".
Richmond Lodge No. 142 celebrated their 50th anniversary on November 28th with a well thought out programme in a most enjoyable and dignified manner.
The year 2002 commenced masonically on January 1st with a Grand Masters' Levee sponsored by District 16. Certainly a wonderful start to the year for many brethren and their wives to meet informally with the Grand Master and his officers.
Burns Night at Discovery Lodge in Campbell River is certainly an exercise in masonic fellowship at its best. The Northern Lights Degree team performing with great style, both in dialogue and dress. As your Grand Master I was very impressed to be informed that in order to preserve the dignity of the occasion "The Atholl Brost" a white milky drink, would be served at the festive board instead of hard liquor.
A meeting of remembrance for the Battle of Vimy Ridge, that sad but victorious occasion credited by many with marking the coming to age of Canada, was celebrated in dignified ceremony appropriately in Vimy Lodge No. 97. It is important that we have these remembrances, not to glorify war but to answer those of this shallow world who jest at scars yet never felt themselves a wound. The evening concluded with a 50yr presentation to RW Bro Jim Perkins a stalwart of Vimy lodge.
Chemainus Lodge No. 114 celebrated its 75th well-attended anniversary with Senior Past Grand Master Claude Green in attendance. The banquet was attended by the mayor, the police chief, the fire chief and thirty or more of The Greater Victoria Police Choir in fine voice. Needless to say this was one of the most orderly masonic functions I have been to for quite some time.
The Grand Master of Idaho joined me for the International Day at Creston after which I travelled with him into Idaho to continue the celebrations at the historic Bonners Ferry Lodge Hall. Again an exercise in masonic fellowship every freemason should experience.
Like many urban lodges Keystone Lions Gate is feeling the effect of declining membership however through the dedication of the core members, the annual visit of the Grand Master to Loggers Night always produces a crowded lodge hall. This event is a reminder to us all of the men and resources that made this great province of British Columbia what it is today.
Joppa Lodge Crab Night continues to be, for the appropriately dressed, one of the finest food evenings in the jurisdiction. For those not so dressed, it is often a surprise to find out how much it costs to get a tuxedo cleaned these days
For the eighth successive year, Prince Charles Lodge held its outdoor meeting in Kelown. One hundred and twenty eight freemasons attended from all parts of the province. After an evening of presentations both the formal kind and by way of entertainment, the ladies who had been touring a winery joined with the brethren for a great family barbecue. Events such as these are surely an excellent deterrent to declining membership
During the year I was fortunate in being able visit all twenty-seven districts and I cannot adequately express my sincere thanks to the very gracious and generous hospitality extended to Sheila and myself on each occasion. To the District Deputy Grand Master and lodges of District 9, I extend my regrets for the circumstances, which caused me to re-schedule my attendance from the date originally, planned. However the presence of the Deputy Grand Master who at short notice graciously deputised for me on the originally scheduled date, enabled you to have a taste of the fun there is to come. I thank you both very much. In addition I wish to acknowledge the due diligence to protocol and ceremony exercised by all District Deputies and for the exemplary manner in which they supported the Grand Master in all their duties. I am grateful to you all.
The many Installations I was able to attend included Dunbar No.118, Henderson No. 84, Victoria Columbia No.1, Vancouver Quadra No. 2, Ionic Kent No. 19, Capilano No.164, and Kamloops No.10. I had the honour of conducting the Board of Installed Masters at Victoria Columbia No. 1 and Capilano No.164 with the assistance of my Grand Officers. This is always an enjoyable experience and demonstrates to the brethren the importance Grand Officers place on the value of ritual performance in our ceremonies. The Vancouver Quadra visit was especially pleasing for me when I was able to mark the 50th anniversary of MW Bro. Jim Hoggs installation into the Oriental Chair of that lodge by presenting him with a specially crafted certificate to mark the occasion.
Appendant and Concordant Bodies
In addition to the foregoing I was able to attend Installations for Daughters of the Nile at Zara Temple in Vancouver and Miriam Temple in Victoria. The Grand Session of the Order of Amaranth in Metrotown and the Grand Sessions of the Order of Jobs Daughters in Victoria.
I attended the Installation of the Potentate of Gizeh Shrine Temple in Burnaby, and the Installation of the Scottish Rite Bodies in Vancouver Valley; also the Red Cross of Constantine Installations in Royal City Conclave at Langley and Pacific Conclave in Vancouver. Talks were also given at Langley and Victoria Shrine Clubs and at the Scottish Rite Master Masons Night
Church Parades and Services
Districts 14 and 13 held a joint Church Parade at the original Japanese Buddhist temple in Richmond. Our hosts were very gracious in receiving us, and after hearing their explanations of the Buddhist teachings the brethren found many similarities to the fundamentals in our masonic beliefs. District 16 held their Church Parade in the East Burnaby United Church and again it was extremely well attended. MW Bro. Clark Gilmore who is a member of the church gave a brief outline of the Craft before presenting the Grand Master and the DDGM. During the year I was also able to attend Easter Services for the Rose Croix in Thompson Valley Kamloops and at the Knights Templar Easter Sunday service in New Westminster.
The Conferences I attended were the Conference of the Four Western Jurisdictions at Canmore, Alberta (Previously as known the Banff Conference) where in addition to providing an excellent platform for leaders' discussion, it also presents an opportunity to hear the paper presented by the Senior Grand Warden of each jurisdiction. Our own Senior Grand Warden, RW Bro. Bill Ferguson, gave an excellent paper entitled "Freemasonry: a Vision of the Future". The concluding banquet at Canmore was a most enjoyable affair with ninety minutes of music and comedy lead by RW Bro. Walls, Deputy Grand Master. This was the 61st annual conference and a proposal was made to make available on compact disc each of the papers presented over the years, some 305 papers in all. The seed money would be raised by each participating jurisdiction agreeing to take an initial twenty-five discs. Additional discs would be available at a nominal cost which on resale would be revenue producing. A worthwhile investment for a brother or a lodge. On the final day at Canmore I had the distinctive honour of being Installed as President of the Conference for 2002.
In March Ist I was privileged to preside over the All Canada Conference of Grand Masters, Deputy Grand Masters and Grand Secretaries held in the Manitoba city of Winnipeg. The leaders of each of the Canadian jurisdictions attend this conference each year to present discussion papers chosen from a pre-determined list of subjects, and also to hear reports from the North American Conference of Grand Masters and Grand Secretaries and the World Conference of Grand Masters and Grand Secretaries. This All Canada Conference proves of great value to the participants in identifying common challenges. Its content may be shared by all brethren through the published proceedings available through the Grand Secretarys Office.
The Annual Grand Masonic Day got off to a rather late start in March, however it proved to be very successful and worth waiting for. It is a pity there were not more brethren in attendance to benefit from the many excellent papers presented. RW Bro. Ernie Macdonald and his committee are to be congratulated for their hard work.
Other Grand Lodge Communications
Attending the annual communications of other Grand Lodges is always a very worthwhile and educating experience I was fortunate in being able to attend The Grand Lodge of Canada in Ontario, the Grand Lodge of Alaska and the Grand Lodge of Washington. I was represented at the Grand lodge of Manitoba by our Senior Grand Warden and at the Grand Lodges of Oregon and Alberta by our Deputy Grand Master. It is always unfortunate that the Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Saskatchewan so often conflicts with our own, which prevents representation either way. However our thoughts are always with our Saskatchewan brethren and we wish them well.
Fraternal and Surprise Visits
Walk-in visits allow a Grand Master to see a lodge as it truly is, rather than the menu driven routine of an Official District Visit. On each occasion, with one exception, I was very impressed with the courtesy with which I was received and the manner in which the lodge conducted the business of the evening. Landmark Lodge No. 128 was a particularly pleasing visit, following advice from MW Bro. C. Grant Wardlaw that RW Bro. Walter Bavis would be celebrating his 96th birthday on the Friday of Landmarks meeting. A wonderful surprise for a model freemason
The committees as usual have worked very diligently as may be seen from their reports, which I urge you to read. Several of the chairman after many years of service have decided to step down, namely RW Bro. Les Peterson, Constitution; MW Bro. Bob Kitchen, Jurisprudence: R.W Bro. G. Phillipson, Ritual; and RW Bro. Andrew Law, Education. I commend these dedicated brethren for their many hours of work for the betterment of Freemasonry in this jurisdiction and offer my sincere thanks for their efforts.
The Grand Lodge Board of General Purposes
Continuing with Grand Lodge policy of inclusive governance, Board of General Purposes meetings were held in Trail, Vancouver, Kamloops and Dawson Creek. They were well attended and are a great step towards keeping brethren in all parts of the Province informed on the business of Grand Lodge. I thank all who were involved, especially the Grand Masters appointees to the Board for their diligence in attending meetings. Appointee W Bro. Ted Palmer who showed great support until having to undergo major surgery I am pleased to report is back in harness and on the way to a full recovery.
This is one of the very important principles of Freemasonry, which we continue to support in this jurisdiction. However we must remember it is only one aspect of our masonic teachings, We must always be cautious when shouldering a charitable cross, no matter how noble, to avoid it becoming, through declining membership, increasingly heavy to bear. It was with this in mind that your Communities Charities Committee and your Grand Master structured with the Canadian Cancer Society a business plan for the cancer car project to continue, subject to your approval, for a further five years beyond the present term. Details of this and our other great charities will be addressed by the Grand Treasurer and the Committee Chairs.
New York 911 Fund
As I mentioned in the Masonic Bulletin, when tragedy strikes our brotherly love goes out to all who grieve and suffer. Our relief will ever reach those in financial need and truth in our thoughts and actions will always prevail. Brethren, you met those principles when you contributed $14,000.00 CAN to the Grand Lodge of New York 911 fund not to get a tax deductible receipt, not to win a house, an automobile or lottery prize but for the true cause: THERE WAS A NEED. We are told that one of the well-oiled charitable machines collected $500,000,000.00 of which $50,000,000.00 has so far been donated to 911. Our present society has been desensitised to the true meaning of charity. Fortunately Freemasonry still retains a set of true values
When I took office I said that I would agree to the Commission set up by MW Bro Jack Harper continuing its work but with greater focus on items deemed worthy of further review. The membership of the committee was revamped, retaining the Chairman and only two of the original members. For replacements I then selected brethren primarily for their work ethic track record; a tactic which in retrospect proved most valuable. The mandate given to the committee was that it was imperative that they work independently to solicit the opinions and concerns of the brethren at large and that they must not look for direction from Grand Lodge Officers. The events of September slowed matters somewhat and at the end of the month, in order to ensure an opportunity for all brethren to express an opinion and thereby attempt to canvas the collective wisdom of the silent majority, I requested a Survey for the whole of the Jurisdiction. The committee responded positively and suggested that for reasons of economy that the last two pages of the January Bulletin be used for the actual Survey. The resulting response of some 2,800 out of 13,000 brethren was statistically impressive and for this I thank you very much. On reviewing the information gathered from an overall perspective I detected a genuine will among the brethren of this jurisdiction for Freemasonry to advance and succeed, albeit some of the suggestions in the unsigned narrative were, for the want of a better word, rather different. Your participation pleased me very much. The statistical information has been well distributed through the DDGMs, Lodge Secretaries and the Monthly Bulletin. However in addition to this there are many pages of written comment and suggestions. These are now available through a link on the Grand Lodge Web Site and I strongly recommend that brethren review them.
When launching anything new, precautions must always be taken to lessen the suddenness of the impact. For example when launching a ship, restraining or drag chains are employed; Freemasonry is fortunate in having these chains already built in. This is evidenced by comments such as "Why waste all this energy on a survey? You could have just asked me. I could have told you what the brethren want" also "There were only 2800 replies to the survey, what about the remaining 10,000? How would they have voted?" To the last question I think we already know, they are voting with their feet!
I congratulate the members of the Commission and their Chairman RW Bro. Murray Webster on a valuable contribution of great benefit to the Craft and at little cost to this jurisdiction. We have now before us a wealth of information to help in the development of a long range plan for this jurisdiction I feel sure the information gathered will be of great value to our future leaders and I recommend they heed it well.
In my travels around the jurisdiction I have often heard mention of the cost of maintaining officers' cuffs both for lodges and Grand Lodge. On looking further into the matter I find that some jurisdictions have discontinued their use, in fact in the June 1st issue of the UK Hello Magazine The Duke of Kent, Grand Master of the UGLE is pictured in full dress regalia but without cuffs. I have personally found cuffs difficult and uncomfortable to wear and would suggest consideration be given to discontinuing their use
At the last Grand Lodge Communication the question of the title for the Office of Grand Director of Ceremonies was still not clearly stated. I have reviewed this matter and find that the duties of a Grand Director of Ceremonies poorly defined in R4 of the Constitutions and consequently liable to be underestimated by those not familiar with true duties of that office. Every Grand Master is very much aware of the necessity for his GDC to be highly skilled and preferably experienced by having served a previous Grand Lodge Office. Care in this appointment will enable everything to be done decently and in order, so that there is no confusion or mismanagement in the ceremonies or business of Grand Lodge. On ceremonial occasions the GDC is there not to usurp the authority of the DDGM but to work with and advise him on Grand Lodge ceremonial procedures. It is therefore my recommendation for the continued sake of good order and harmony that "Right Worshipful" be the title of the Grand Director of Ceremonies past present and future. Also that for future reference the duties of GDC under R4 be re written and brought into line with the known demands of that office.
Early in the year I requested the Committee on Fraternal Relations to review the role of Grand Representatives, their findings suggest that an in depth study is required to make the role more meaningful both to the representative and the jurisdiction they serve. It is my recommendation that the committee be empowered to do this.
I must at this time recognise RW Bro. Parent, our Grand Secretary, and his staff of Betty and Jeremy, full time and Sheila and Rosemary part time. It has been a steep learning curve this first year for our Grand Secretary with ever increasing information demands which he continuously meets with a firm but friendly manner. We are indeed fortunate to have such a dedicated administrative staff. and I thank them all most sincerely. My thanks also go to our Grand Treasurer RW Bro. Teleske. The things he and the Committee on Finance accomplish with the 45 Cents per week ($21.00 per year) from each of us is quite incredible. Unfortunately John has advised that owing to business pressures he will not be offering himself for re-appointment beyond 2002-2003, so during the year we shall need to seek a replacement.
To my successor RW Bro. William O. Walls, and the other line officers, I hope I did not act like the president whom during his first six months was told by many, he was the best president they had ever had, which of course he modestly denied. During the second six months however he actually started to believe them and became a real pain in the neck. Seriously, for my part, despite healthy differences it has been very harmonious and productive year that I have thoroughly enjoyed and for this I thank you most sincerely.
To my dear wife, Sheila: your unfailing support and loyalty has ever been a source of strength for me, through a love that has stood the test of forty-six years. You have my everlasting love and thanks. To my daughter Julia and son-in-law John, to Joshua my Grandson and this year especially, to my business partner, masonic brother and number one son, Aidan, and his fiancée Jackie. You all make my life so really worth while and for this you earn my eternal gratitude. Thank you all so very much.
MW Bro. James Chalmer Gordon, |
Grand Master 2001-2002