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"Building a better Craft"
Grand Master’s Installation Address:-
June 23, 2018

[Barry W.K. Burch]
MW Bro. Barry W. K. Burch,
Grand Master 2018-2019

My worthy brethren, this is a very humbling moment. Thank you for placing your trust in this Grand Master—my commitment to you is to be worthy of that trust. Many of you have offered your congratulations to me; however being elected is one thing, delivering results is another. If by June 2019 our masonic investment this year is achieving returns for you those congratulations will have been justly earned.
We all learn from and are inspired by our brothers. I am grateful for the mentorship of MW Bro. Robert A. Kitchen, and thankful that my other mentor, RW Bro. Alan M. Jones is here today. My thanks as well to the brethren past and present of Duke of Connaught Lodge No. 64 and Burrard Lodge No. 50 where many of the thoughts and ideas put forward today were formulated.
In June 2015 I was given permission from my family to offer myself to the Craft. In the time and energy required to be a Grand Line officer this support has been tested many times. The love and support of my daughters Jessica and Keira and my life partner, Ann, has made this all possible.
Our Masonic Legacy
As Freemasons we have inherited a wonderful masonic legacy or to put it another way we are the recipients of the return on the masonic investment from those brethren that have preceded us. Our Past Grand Masters have made the substantial investment of their leadership in our noble Craft. Our Grand Lodge committee chairmen collectively lead 160 brethren serving on committees to make Freemasonry better. We are blessed to have a dedicated and talented Grand Lodge office staff led by RW Bro. George Moore, assisted by the Clerk of the Office, RW Bro. Trevor W. McKeown, Bro. Alan McLeod and Mrs. Rosemary Bennedetti. Thank you.
I ask that all Master Masons with five years or less in the Craft please rise. My fervent hope is you are receiving a great return on your masonic investment for we will be looking to you to lead us in the future and that will be our return for our masonic investment in you. So, brethren, it is up to us to ensure that there is a masonic lodge in our community for those that follow. To do that we need to internally deliver on our core values and externally we need to modify how we communicate those values to others.
Guiding Principles
To accomplish that we have some work to do. So we propose to undertake that work using the following as guiding principles:
Doing what’s best for Freemasonry in British Columbia and Yukon
Building on strengths. We cannot ignore the challenges in British Columbia and Yukon, however our approach will be to identify and communicate about those lodges and brethren that are achieving masonic success. To that end a Successful and Best Practices section was established on the Grand Lodge website where effective programmes and events will be featured. Please share your successes to inspire others to follow your example
Becoming more strategic in how we deploy our limited resources by employing data-led decision-making. Brethren need to know how their lodge, district and jurisdiction are performing.
I’ll now ask the Deputy Grand Master, Senior Grand Warden and Junior Grand Warden to join me in the east.
Three Year Plan Rationale
The annual change in leadership at Grand Lodge necessitates a mechanism for longer range planning to establish continuity and direction for the jurisdiction. We are fortunate in British Columbia Yukon in that our past leaders have established a coöperative culture between the Grand Line officers. Building on that culture the Senior Grand Warden, Deputy Grand Master and myself believe we should expand beyond the typical one-year focus of an incoming Grand Master. Many great ideas and programmes of the past have not realized their full potential, in part, because they were not sustained long enough to generate results.
So today we are announcing that we three are supporting a three-year plan with this mission: To build Freemasonry into a strong, relevant and well-respected organization that improves the world of our brethren, their families and their communities. I’m all in on this and will actively participate in this plan for the next three years.
The DDGMs and each Grand Lodge committee chairman will be supporting this three-year plan in their work. We are asking each of you to determine how you can contribute. The Senior Grand Warden, Deputy Grand Master, and I hope that the new Junior Grand Warden could add his expertise and potentially expand the plan to four years.
Areas of Focus
In delivering this plan we will focus our attention primarily in two areas:
Raising the profile of Freemasonry in our communities.
Improving the masonic experience by creating a quality lodge environment that attracts, engages and retains our brethren.
Vigilance at the West Gate, as our Grand Secretary regularly reminds us, is a crucial first step.
The Six Steps to Initiation programme has proven to be very successful not just here in British Columbia and Yukon but in other jurisdictions, and we encourage all lodges to apply it. Check out the New Member Pathway as well.
Every masonic survey indicates that the primary motivations to become a Freemason were fellowship and masonic education. Clearly how our lodges are managed needs to address these primary considerations. There is as massive difference between becoming a member and becoming a Freemason—the latter tend to stay.
There are a number of British Columbia and Yukon lodges, and examples from other jurisdictions, that have been successful in establishing and maintaining quality in their lodges. Aside from exemplary fellowship and meaningful masonic education, what are the common components?
A plan with a horizon significantly longer than the time to the next meeting;
Adequate care and attention for new Freemasons far beyond learning lodge protocols and assisting in their memory work—it’s called mentorship;
Raising the quality considerably above the “well, we managed to get through that” standard.
So what has been done to assist lodges to build such quality?
The Leadership Committee will be providing a roadmap for the development of the next generation of masonic leaders;
The Lodge Buildings Committee has made it easier to gain financing to improve your lodge buildings;
The Membership Development Committee will be providing assistance to lodges;
The Grand Lodge Education Committee has outlined their three-year plan to enhance masonic learning—look for MED talks.
All of these resources are available for you to use to build on the quality of the Freemasonry you experience. Having created a strong and vibrant lodge, we then have something worth sharing.
Raising the profile of Freemasonry in our communities
There are thousands of men looking for what we offer... but have no idea we exist. The best-kept secret about Freemasonry is that we are a best-kept secret. Our non-existent masonic brand can be developed.
The best way to portray Freemasonry to the public is by exemplifying out of the lodge those excellent precepts that are ever inculcated in it. Living our lives as Freemasons and being seen as living as Freemasons is the best promotion we can get.
Recent research out of the Grand Lodge of Oregon on effective approaches to the attraction of new brothers to the Craft indicates that one-on-one contact works best, supported by other communication approaches.
Take every opportunity to explain to family, friends, neighbours and work mates how Freemasonry adds value to your life. Have the square and compasses emblem visible. Display a masonic car decal. It might even make you a better driver. Performing a cornerstone ceremony is a great service that only we can perform and is highly newsworthy as well. Let your DDGM know if there are any opportunities for us to display our work.
A revamped and reënergized Community Relations Committee will provide leadership and a plan for our jurisdiction-wide strategy to increase our relevance to our communities. A number of our lodges have established a local profile. We can learn from them.
Next steps
All of this will result in some adaptations or maybe even change. That can pose some challenges. Success ultimately starts at the lodge level. To better facilitate action by the brethren a lot of work has been undertaken to create ways for you to move forward in building the kind of Freemasonry we all want.
Lodge health assessment
Each lodge needs to determine what is most important to their brethren and how that lodge is performing. A made in British Columbia and Yukon process has been developed to assist lodges in undertaking that course of action.
Performance on key components or competencies determines the ultimate success of a lodge. To that end, I have been working with a dedicated group of brethren over the past 17 months on creating a way for brethren to make those assessments.
We are requesting that lodges undertake the online British Columbia and Yukon Lodge Health Assessment early this autumn. This will enable each brother to assess his lodge and establish a baseline, identifying strengths and opportunities for improvement. The resulting report summarizing the brethren’s input on each of the lodge competencies is provided to the Worshipful Master.
Each lodge’s results can then be aggregated anonymously at the district level so that it will be possible to determine a district and jurisdiction wide baseline. Lodges can assess their progress semi-annually for at least the next three years.
Your District Deputy Grand Master will be sharing the details of how this works with the Worshipful Masters over the summer. My thanks to Bros. Andy Parkins, Royston Colebourne, Wilson Becket, John Harbick, Ata Basaran and Richard Armstrong for their great work and their commitment to support this process for the next three years.
Lodge strategic planning process
Top performing lodges have at least a three-year plan, and have identified a strategy for improving their masonic experience.
I’m grateful to another group of brethren who, with me, have devoted the past 18 months to create a Lodge Strategic Planning process. Using the outcomes of the Lodge Health Assessment this process leads the lodge in creating their plan to build on their strengths and work to improve their weaknesses. My thanks to Bros. Shaun Turner, Alan Jones and Wes Regan.
Charitable Focus
Delivered by the Senior Grand Warden
Freemasonry is not a charity, but our Craft develops a charitable spirit in our brethren. This masonic year the Grand Master opted to not have a designated charity. Instead the DDGMs have been asked to find a suitable charity or charities in their district where brethren can make a financial contribution and also volunteer their support where possible. To that end the Grand Master will match district financial contributions up to $1,000. Many lodges already contribute time and money to local charities—please continue to do so. It is requested that you seek public recognition for those contributions to demonstrate how Freemasonry contributes to our communities.
What can each brother do?
Delivered by the Deputy Grand Master
Each brother should see his opportunity to contribute to building the Craft. How can we make our investments in Freemasonry count? Think about how you can add value. If you reframe the concept of adding value through the lens of solving problems, you can ask yourself what you’re well placed and equipped to help solve in your lodge. What makes you come alive? Freemasonry and our world need more people to come alive to make their contributions. Initiate discussions among your brethren focused on how you can enhance the masonic experience in your lodge.
Masonic naysayers
There are a few brethren who seem to be continuously at odds with their compatriots, and with Freemasonry. Sadly, we have had to endure some masonic trials in this masonic year and may need to do so in the future. Exemplifying the civility that is prominent in our teachings at the earliest possible moment can often solve such disputes before they escalate. For some brothers our best attempts to help them find meaning in their lodge does not result in any change. Sadly, for them, perhaps it is time to look to other organizations.
Us and them
Some of our brothers have a negative view of Grand Lodge. Freemasonry is not a business but there is a business side to Freemasonry governed by the Constitution and Regulations developed and modified by the will of the brethren. Your Grand Line needs to better communicate to you through an increased level of accountability. All Grand Line officers will submit a report on their actions for each of the four Board of General Purposes meetings this masonic year. The Grand Master will issue a State of Freemasonry report in early January 2019 and again at the Grand Lodge Communication next June.
We hope these approaches provide you with a greater insight into the operation of your Grand Lodge.
Delivered by the Senior Grand Warden
As a part of the Civility Initiative, the team is advocating the use of the Masonic Civility website. As such, we will ask lodges to include a small morsel of civility related education in your lodge summons three times over the next year. This information will be supplied to you. The team’s hope is those civility references will prompt discussion on the principles of civility contained in our ritual.
Opportunities for growth
There are opportunities for us to expand our reach. Our post secondary institutions are ideal places to generate an interest in Freemasonry. I’m looking for brethren with connections to those institutions that are willing to explore those possibilities. Talk to the Grand Secretary.
The view from the east indicates that there are too many brothers who look like me. Let me rephrase that—who wished they looked like me. How wonderful it will be when our Craft is fully representative of the various communities that comprise our jurisdiction.
Every organization can improve on communication, including ours. The Technology Committee has been tasked to find effective and inexpensive ways that technology can improve our ability to connect with all of our brethren in this vast jurisdiction.
Delivered by the Deputy Grand Master
The Senior Grand Warden, Grand Master and I agree that the basis for our success rests with our brethren in their respective lodges and in the quality of the ritual they deliver. We have not seen a successful lodge that did not have a strong ritual to build on. We are, after all, an initiatic order and therefor we need ensure the initiation and subsequent degrees rooted in powerful rituals are well conveyed. This is what sets us apart. Each lodge must be able to open and close as a masonic Lodge. The Grand Master has asked the DDGMs to observe a full opening and closing on their official visit.
Grand Master’s official visits
The DDGMs have been asked to ensure there is a Ladies and Partners programme for each Grand Master’s official visits, to more directly involve them in a joyous masonic event. Also where possible if there is a local theatrical production, notable sporting event or community activity the day before or after, let’s add it to the event. Some districts in close proximity have been asked to combine their official visits. This creates the opportunity to have a gala event for those attending. Some districts have asked to provide a different format to stage the official visit and those options will be reviewed for feasibility and appropriateness. Where possible, the day after the official visit the Grand Master will be in attendance at the host lodge for an open forum discussion on masonic issues and concerns. This is the opportunity for brethren to communicate directly with their Grand Master.
Grand Master’s Tour
Many brethren have suggested that there should be a Grand Master’s tour. To that end and following the recommendation (make that the command) from Ann there will be a tour to Portugal and Spain from 28 April to 10 May 2019. Details are available by emailing Ann. Gate 1 Travel is conducting the tour. This is the agency that conducted the very successful Grand Master’s tour of Croatia in 2015.
Brethren, we hold Freemasonry in trust for those that will follow. In that we must be prudent stewards.
Here is what we believe: in three years time we will have more brethren who see and feel the returns from their masonic investment and are attracting like-minded men to the Craft. We envision sustainable lodges, highly regarded in their communities and those communities understanding what it means to be a Freemason. Grand Lodge officers
To those officers installed this afternoon and before your brethren here assembled—your task has been clearly defined and very soon you will face the challenges in your lodges and districts. How you address those challenges and the outcomes you achieve will determine our success. Brethren, your Grand Lodge officers and this Grand Master are ready to serve you.
If you are prepared to be expert craftsmen by applying our masonic tools, then join us over the next three years to Build a Stronger Craft.


© 1871-2021 Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon A.F. & A.M. Updated: 2018/07/05