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Building through participation|
Grand Masters Installation Address:-
June 23, 2000
Brethren, when I stood before you for the first time three years ago, my strongest feelings were those of appreciation and humility. Now I stand before you today as your Grand Master, and realize that my feelings then were only half as strong as they are at this moment. You have placed your trust in me and I return the compliment by pledging my support for continuing growth in our fraternity.
So my address this afternoon will be about three things. It will be about improvement, it will be about working together; and, with luck, it will be about ten minutes.
This Annual Communication of Grand Lodge is a celebration of Freemasonry, symbolizing an end as well as a beginning, signifying continuance as well as renewal. Grand Masters before me have laboured long and hard to build upon our ancient foundations, knowing full well that the building is not yet complete. Last year our Grand Master stressed the basics, something every organization needs to do periodically to appreciate its purpose. This year we will continue that approach, but our emphasis will be on growth and participation as we tackle new challenges and search for fresh solutions to old problems.
What basic principles are fundamental to this focus? There are four.
Firstly, knowledge. As Freemasons we can be better when we deepen our knowledge about our history and our mission and when we use this knowledge to confidently and enthusiastically present ourselves to the world.
Secondly, improvement. We can lessen the drift away from our Craft when we work hard on lodge improvement; when we have specific goals to strive for - goals that are written down for all to know; and when we have an on-going process of doing things, measuring the results, adjusting and moving on
Thirdly, support. We can make a difference when we become guides and role models for new members and when we support each other with mentorship initiatives in our lodges.
And finally, attitude. As Freemasons we can benefit from a positive attitude towards meaningful change. We can create environments that encourage discussion of new ideas ; we can actively welcome the voices of all Master Masons in our lodges and in this Grand Lodge Communication, and we can emphasize one of the basic building blocks of our order - namely the involvement of the many.
Four key principles of our focus then -
MW Bro. Jack T. Harper, |
Grand Master 2000-2001
Now Brethren, here are ten strategies to put these principles to work.
We can begin, by listening and talking to each other. In a world where the speed of change outside our Craft is greater than it is within, and where our membership is declining at an increasingly rapid rate, it is imperative to initiate a dialogue about our future. Therefore, we will establish a travelling Masonic Commission to conduct improvement workshops throughout this jurisdiction to focus on your ideas about what is important to our future. We will listen to your concerns and suggestions. We will act on the recommendations of the Masonic Commission. And we will build a common agenda for our future. I believe that the process used in these regional meetings, one that encourages enlightened discussion, may prove to be as valuable in bringing our fraternity together as the information gathered.
Next, we can create goals. Your Grand Lodge Officers have been involved in developing the following six broad goals for the next three years, with plans to be acted upon by me and my successors:
I) Participation, We will actively promote an attitude of individual responsibility towards meaningful participation in the affairs of this fraternity.
2) Leadership. We will continue to focus on strengthening the leadership function in our lodges and Grand Lodge,
3) Communication. We will consciously work at improving our communication methods between Grand Lodge and our lodges and with each other,
4) Improvement. We will make improvement an on-going focus in all areas of Masonic endeavour.
5) The Masonic Family. We will strengthen the bond between the Craft and members of the Masonic Family
6) Image. We will encourage our Brethren to be creative about ways in which we can heighten community awareness.
If we are to be successful, every one of these goals involves every one of us. So my challenge to all of us, Brethren, is to roll up our sleeves and get started.
A third strategy centres on leadership. Because of their huge success, we will continue the leadership seminars. However, expanding this concept is vital to our development. Therefore, in addition to the Committees planned workshops in Whitehorse and Vancouver, a pilot leadership program, open to all Master Masons, will be presented in Salmon Arm by a leadership team from the Interior
There is a story about a Brother who, after his wife died, went to live with his daughter in another state. When he passed on, his daughter asked the Master of a lodge to come and collect his Masonic things- She told him that she was aware that her father was a Mason - and nothing more. When the Master examined his things, he was amazed to find the regalia of a Past Grand Master. And, you guessed it, his daughter didn't even know it!
This leads as to strategy number four - education. It has been said that Freemasonry is a University of Life, with the improvement of the mind an important principle, and it is certainly true that we all need to become more informed. The role of the new Education Committee then, will be to stimulate individual growth in Masonic knowledge, to encourage dialogue with our families and non-masons, and to address the critical issue of mentorship.
Five, research. Being a progressive science, Freemasonrys search for ways to improve is never-ending. With this in mind, a new Research Committee "I search out successful initiatives in other jurisdictions and share their findings with our committees and our lodges.
Six, improvement. It is a given, that if our lodges become committed to growth, we can only stand to gain. Therefore, I encourage every Worshipful Master, working in concert with his lodge members, to submit to his DDGM by February 1st, 2001, a working plan for his lodge, complete with goals, action steps and timelines. The intention is to report successes to the Annual Communication in June, 200 1.
Seven, participation. When a brother feels involved in a meaningful way, he will naturally feel more connected to his lodge and Grand Lodge. To increase and diversify this involvement, eight regions have been assigned a major Grand Lodge committee, and the Board of General Purposes will go on the road to bring the business of Grand Lodge closer to you.
Another avenue of implementation is founded on the idea that organizations that grow are those that provide opportunities for their members to think creatively. To foster this concept, the above mentioned core program committees and the Masonic Commission have been charged with the task of brainstorming useful ideas. This group will become a Think Tank for presenting suggestions to your Principal Officers for study.
Number nine ( we're almost there, Brethren! ) It has become clear that the Annual Grand Lodge Communication does not lend itself comfortably to adequate discussion of items of business. Therefore, we will have an Emergent Communication of Grand Lodge in Freemasons' Hall in Vancouver, on Saturday, Dec. 9th, 2000, to receive and discuss interim reports. The purpose is to create more opportunities to discuss issues and for all of us to be more informed.
The measure of the worth of any institution is the effect it has upon the individual and society. And therefore, we should always be prepared to ask ourselves, "If Freemasonry were to disappear from our civilization, would it be missed?" The answer to that question is absolutely fundamental to our future.
Without a doubt, new challenges await us in the years ahead, ones that will test our ability to hold fast to our basic principles while adapting to a rapidly changing world. Let us then re-examine our attitudes towards constructive change as individuals and as members of this Grand Lodge. Let us be the beacons for the 2 1 1st century.
In conclusion Brethren, let me say that united, and with the help of the Great Architect of the Universe, there is little we cannot do, if we act together. But your efforts more than mine will ultimately determine our future success. Freemasonry has always been a work in progress and much of what is proposed here today will not be finished this year or next or even in the near future. Nevertheless, let us begin.
For me, I look forward to a fraternity that focuses on high standards and the building of character. I look forward to a fraternity that commands respect in every community, not only for its strength, but for its commitment to human development. I look forward to a fraternity that our sons and grandsons will be proud to be a part of
For all of us, may the best be yet to come. And let us never forget, "Theres Fun to be had in Freemasonry!"
And Lastly, a Statement of Direction for the year:
||BUILDING THROUGH PARTICIPATION
OUR IDEAL: ||A GRAND LODGE: ||That provides quality service to our lodges and our members.
LODGES: ||Which are Committed to Masonic Growth.
FREEMASONS: ||Who are Inspired by the Mission of Masonry.
OUR FOCUS: ||IMPROVEMENT: ||So that our Struggling Lodges can get going; Our Good Lodges can get Better; and Our Better Lodges can become Beacons.