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Make Your Masonic Mark
Grand Master’s Annual Address:-
June 17, 2016

[Douglas C. Collins]
MW Bro. Douglas C. Collins,
Grand Master 2015-2016

The rocket ride that began a short year ago has ended. Time to turn a new page. Such is the nature of the journey through the Grand East. A rocket ride, a journey that begins with a liftoff, and ends with either a smooth return to the launch pad, or an explosion in mid-air as we crash and burn.
Or as I prefer to look at it, a ride on a mighty steed, tilting at windmills and trying to do what he can to change the face of things around him, searching for his Dulcinea.
We have tilted at many windmills this year, my brothers. We have journeyed through a vast countryside, trying to do what we can to 'Make our Masonic Mark.' Only time will tell what impact our ride has accomplished.
First of all, let me say what a wonderful experience this has been. I have been given the opportunity to serve with a tremendous team of Grand Lodge officers. Their hard work and dedication to the Craft has been an inspiration to me all year long.
I would be nowhere without the support of my wife Sue, who has been by my side throughout, my Dulcinea, who has kept me focused at times when I have wandered through an emotional quagmire and found it hard to get out. She and my family have been there when I needed them most, and my masonic family, you — have been there as well. It is hard to grasp the enormity of that outreach of brotherly love. It is truly what Freemasonry is about.
And although he in no way resembles Dulcinea, I would be nowhere without the help of my close friend, the Grand Secretary. He is the rock of our Craft, and I thank him so much for his guidance and friendship.
So where has our journey taken us this past year? From the outdoor degrees on Vancouver Island right after the Annual Communication, to the outdoor meeting earlier this week in Oyama, we have travelled this broad jurisdiction. Growing up in a small town, it was fitting that my first official visit was back to that small town in Prince Rupert, and my last official visit was in another small town, Tumbler Ridge. In between we went to Whitehorse, to the Kootenays, the Cariboo, and Vancouver Island, and of course many trips to the big city. We enjoyed the opportunity of meeting each and every one of you. There is no greater gift for a Grand Master than to travel and meet the members of the Craft. I thank all of you for that gift to Sue and me this year.
I was privileged to be at the constitution of Qualicum Lodge No. 197 in August with many of our Grand Line officers. It was especially enjoyable because the secretary of that lodge was my Grand Master as I started this four year journey through the Grand Line.
We celebrated twenty years of amity between ourselves and the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Washington and Jurisdiction. An honour indeed to stand with the Prince Hall Grand Master and cherish a special moment with three of our Past Grand Masters, two of whom were there when the original celebration took place. We celebrated centennial events at Concord Lodge on Vancouver Island, and St. James Lodge in White Rock. Sadly, we weren't able to be there for the 100th Anniversary of Triune Lodge in Powell River, but our District Deputy Grand Master, RW Brother Alphonse Quenneville, represented me well.
Many members of our masonic family have known the pain of loss this year, and I am deeply encouraged by the support shown in helping them through their difficult times. I have talked this year about making your Masonic Mark in your heart, and within your community, and I am proud of the way we have taken that responsibility seriously when we are called upon to serve others in their time of need.
We have come to grips with a number of items, and I am particularly happy that we have made some significant progress in many areas. Let me list just a few.
1. GOVERNANCE- The Committee on Governance continued to work hard this past year. As part of this work, the Five Pillar Plan, our strategic planning document, has been revamped and committee expectations brought into line with the plan, so it is now aligned with the committees and will be much more useful. They have dealt with a number of other items as well which will be debated over the course of these proceedings. My thanks to RW Bro. John G. Teleske and his group for a great job.
2. FINANCE- Worshipful Brother Churlish and his committee have kept good control of our financial operations in a difficult economy and along with the Grand Treasurer have worked together to ensure that every penny is spent wisely, and that we are prepared for any eventualities. You will see that we will be raising the per capita this year. With the passing by the Brethren of the motion last year deleting the registration fee for Grand Lodge, the money to run a Grand Lodge Proceeding must obviously then be paid for by the general membership, you and I. Thus the per capita will rise to cover those costs.
3. COMMUNITY RELATIONS- After being stagnant for some time, the Community Relations Committee came to life this past year with a new chair and a revitalized membership. How we present ourselves in our community is critical in this day and age, and this committee's work will become even more important in the years to come.
4. LODGE BUILDINGS- This committee has been dealing with a number of issues, including the subject of lowering insurance costs for our lodges. They will have some definitive plans in the next few months which hopefully will save many lodges substantial amounts of money in their insurance premiums each year.
5. WARRANTED LODGES- This is an area where we need to continue our vigilance. There are many lodges considering consolidation and surrendering their warrants because they simply can no longer survive as a viable entity. This is part of the evolution of the Craft. It won't come to an end soon, and it's not necessarily a bad thing. As people move around, as industries ebb and flow, so too do lodges, and where some die, others spring up in their place. Change is not a bad thing when it happens for the right reason. We have a significant percentage of our lodges with fewer than fifty members, so this problem will not go away. And we have some districts that could well need consolidation in the next couple of years. We obviously cannot continue to do everything as we used to because dynamics are changing quickly. I do see, in my journeys around the jurisdiction, a greater willingness to at least discuss potential changes, and that is a good start. So this committee will need to continue its work by acting as a resource to Lodges who need assistance in charting their future course.
6. RITUAL- Several items were referred to the Ritual Committee this year. The most significant was the establishment of a Protocol subcommittee under the Chairmanship of MW Bro. Bill Cave. This Committee still has much work to do, but it has done much behind the scenes this past year, and I am confident the results of their labours will bear fruit in the next year or two as they continue forward.
7. GRAND MASTER'S CHARITY- It was an honour for me this year to present over $24,000 to the Scottish Rite Learning Centre, my charity of choice this year. I was privileged to be at the Learning Centre Graduation in May to see first hand the Centre's work, and meet both students and tutors. The smiles told the entire story. I was also able to donate funds to a number of other projects, including our youth groups, DeMolay and Job's Daughters. Our youth is critical to our future, and I believe we have to do even more to support their efforts.
8. EDUCATION AND LEADERSHIP- We are on our way to establishing a speakers list and education modules to help provide leadership training throughout the jurisdiction. I am hopeful we will be able to roll these out by this autumn. I am pleased with the education and discussion that has already gone on in various parts of the jurisdiction. We had 140 attend at Grand Masonic Day in Vancouver, we had a great turnout at our Northern Grand Masonic Day, we have had district and regional sessions on Vancouver Island and in the Kootenays, not to mention other presentations on a smaller scale throughout the Jurisdiction. This was absolutely great to see.
By mentioning these specific committees, I would be remiss if I did not also praise the work of the other committees of Grand Lodge. They have worked diligently to further the Craft and I thank them for their efforts. Their hard work is contained in the annals of the Annual Proceedings and you will be able to attest to their accomplishments as we go through the next two days.
There are two more things I want to comment on — Civility and Social Media. We started talking about civility a few years ago when MW Bro. Don Stutt and MW Bro. Philip Durell became aware of a North American-wide movement to bring civility back into our society. This was an opportunity for Freemasons to lead the way in an effort to treat each other with respect and dignity. I read stories every day that tell me our progress is slow, and much is left to be done. But as the Man of La Mancha, we remain undaunted and ready to step forward as examples of what brotherly love and relief are really about. MW Bro. Stutt is leading the way in our jurisdiction as our Civility Ambassador and he will talk about our efforts during this Grand Lodge.
That well-known medical examiner Dr. "Ducky" Mallard said recently "Social media is a cesspool of questionable human behavior." And he is absolutely right. One of the foremost communication tools of our day is also one that can create many problems. Many of us use Facebook® and Twitter®, and we use it well. But there are some who post material that is totally inappropriate. There are others who actually hide behind aliases to post their material, as if that would cover their behavior. We must educate our brethren in the proper way to use this valuable tool. It should be a working tool to educate, inform and provide support to our work. We are not there yet. It is a work in progress, and we hope some of you will step forward to help make it a positive and not a negative.
Last year I said I wanted to move forward somewhat boldly and with a vision of what lies ahead. Sometimes we were able to roll along at breakneck speed, and at other times, we needed to recharge and regroup. Such is the nature of the journey. I cannot help but think back when this year started. Sue and I had just lost our son. We didn't know how we would do. But we were able to carry on thanks to the help of our family and friends, and this year became such an exciting one because of all of you. I had the privilege of raising my son Morgan earlier this month. He sits in Grand Lodge today, a proud member of Mount Hermon Lodge No. 7. Our Brother Peter is no doubt looking down from the Grand Lodge above today.
I am proud of what our Fraternity stands for. I am proud that in the Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon, we stand for equality. That no matter what is on the surface, it is what is in the heart that makes us who we are. How we make our Masonic Mark is not predicated on whether we're old or young, thin or not so thin, that outside of a belief in a Supreme Being, we accept people of all religions. That if you are a man of good character, we do not care whether you are a man of colour, from another country, and we don't care whether you are gay or heterosexual. It is what is here, inside, that guides our actions in the world around us. I am proud that our Freemasonry truly stands for Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth.
When I was installed last year, I was told that this year would be like a rocket ride: fast and furious. And it has been. But in the past couple of months, and I'm sure my friends from the prairies can relate, it has seemed more like a buffalo jump. And as I ride furiously toward the end, I wonder what will come next. I am but hours away from hitting that jump and finding out.
I have been honoured to have had the privilege of serving you this past year. You have blessed me with your friendship, you have been tolerant of my foibles. There are more windmills to tilt at and I am looking forward to seeing what the future holds. I know this — the friendships I have made this year will last a lifetime. Thank you for Making Your Masonic Mark. Continue to do so, in whatever way you can. To serve one another is the greatest gift we have. Use it to the fullest.
Thank you.


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