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Make Your Masonic Mark
Grand Masters Installation Address:-
June 20, 2015
Standing here, I realize that this collar is relatively light, but the responsibilities that it brings with it are not. I will do my best to wear it with honour and dignity, and to ensure it does not tarnish under my watch.
There are far too many people to thank individually. They are the ones whose arms are tired and backs are stooped from holding me up and pushing me onward when I became like the Hobbitt staring at the immense mountain in front of him. I do want to thank my dad. He never failed to remind me of what my obligations meant, and how I should live my life. But mostly, I want to thank my wife Sue. She has been my rock for almost 44 years now, and this journey would never have been made without her support.
I stand here ready to build. Not to build the sand castles of my youth, because I learned in the sands not far from here that they are but temporary edifices to be torn apart when the tide ebbs and flows. Nor the indestructible castles on distant shores, which stand the test of time, but now are largely barren and forlorn, bereft of life and joy. I am talking of the castles we build in our minds, structures built by thinking men who build the pillars of the earth with their ideas, their will to make things grow, and the willingness to share a common vision with those around them. This is my challenge to you this year: to see a vision for growth, for talking with each other, and for working on projects that will impact our future together.
My theme this year is Make Your Masonic Mark. We make a mark with everything we do in our daily lives. Let's talk this year about celebrating our strengths, by learning, by being a part of our lodge's activities, by being active in our communities, by looking after our families, by our acts of Brotherly Love, by trying to find new ways of advancing our order. Every one of us has an opportunity to make a masonic mark.
Here are some of the challenges I will consider this year to help us make our masonic mark.
Governance - I have asked the committee chairman to continue the work of this committee for another year, with a view to making recommendations for change, if needed, to Grand Lodge in Kamloops in 2016. It is my belief that it is time to seriously look at whether our current system of governance is running at peak efficiency. For example, things like our Five-Pillar Plan need to become more integrated into how we operate.
Consolidation of districts and lodges - The issue of downsizing will not go away, and must be monitored. But we must be transparent in our actions, and I have asked the chairman of the committee on warranted lodges to continue to monitor growth or decline in our jurisdiction.
Communication - I believe frank and open discussion is often lacking. It is my hope to reach out to every district to get ideas, hold discussions, and listen. But also to challenge districts to make their masonic mark as well. I am making that my personal challenge this yearto listen more and talk less.
Social media - Social media is becoming a major force in our lives. But I have some concerns about the way we are using social media. The challenge for us is to use social media appropriately. The Community Relations Committee will be working with the Grand Secretary's office to determine how social media are handled in other jurisdictions, with a view to ensuring that we provide our brethren with guidelines on how we can best make use of it here. I am asking brethren who have an interest in this area to make themselves known to usto join us in developing a strategy that will work for all.
Information Technology - The Grand Secretary made mention of the need for an IT advisory board to deal with technological issues within Grand Lodge. I will be supporting the Grand Secretary's initiative to ensure we deal appropriately with the rapid change of technology in our Grand Lodge operations.
Civility - Brethren, if you want to make your Masonic mark, you can start with that one word- civility. Lack of civility is the biggest threat to what we do. We seem to have forgotten civility in our dealings with one another. In fact, some of our behaviour is downright bullying. I issue this challenge to all of us, to conduct our lives the way we swore to when we took our obligation
Along with civility comes the issue of ethics. We seem to be facing an increasing number of complaints and grievances from within the Craft. This is taking up a significant portion of the Grand Secretary's time. After discussion with the Grand Secretary and the Governance Committee, I am going to work on implementing an Ethics Committee as soon as feasible.
Identify success stories - Nothing speaks to making your masonic mark like success stories. Document your progress, and let the rest of the jurisdiction know. I am excited when I see a Northern Grand Masonic Day developing to go with the one in the Lower Mainland and those held occasionally in other areas of our jurisdiction. I'm excited about new education modules to give our Officers and Brethren more tools. I'm excited when I hear about book clubs, and guest speakers and lecture series, or a possible mark. Unless you walk off the end of the plank, and take the chance, you don't know what's going to happen. Taking risks is part of growth. Don't be afraid to take the step.
This journey is a very personal one for all of us. We have to find the delicate balance in our meetings that makes the going enjoyable for all. We don't all go for education, we don't all go for the fellowship or the festive board. A balance of all these things is the challenge facing each of our Lodges.
We need to grow. But to do that, we need excited members who are committed to the Craft. We need to continue our vigil at the West Gate. We need to find the quality people, people who want to make a difference, who are inspired, people who aren't afraid to do things, who aren't afraid to step off the plank. Every one of us should have a one-minute elevator talk. Think about what Freemasonry is to you. So when someone asks, you can tell them. And let's get them excited enough to want to ask you more. And when they ask you for more, let's give them more. Let's give them an experience they will want to be part of for the rest of their lives. Keeping members, once we have them, is probably one of our biggest challenges, and one of our greatest opportunities.
When a candidate comes into lodge, we spend a lot of time telling them what the working tools are for. Those tools are for marking, for drawing out plans, for allowing the work to proceed. We have to mark our plans to grow the Craft. What do you see us doing? How do you see us making our masonic mark? Have a "state of the union" meeting for your lodge or district. Talk about ideas, and then make it happen. We need to ask ourselves "Who am I as a Freemason?" "Who are we as a lodge or a district?" "How are we acting as Freemasons in our family and our community?"
Preservation of masonic history - Every lodge should have a copy of the Grand Historian's checklist on putting together a proper lodge history. Concentrate on the people and interesting things- not the dates. At every district meeting I attend, I want the District Education Officer to give me one little item on history a character, an interesting thing about a lodge.
Protocol - Whether it's anything from a Grand Master's visit to special anniversaries, proper protocol is important. I am appointing a Protocol Committee to be chaired by MW Bro. William R. Cave, with four experienced past Grand Directors of Ceremonies and Grand Marshals. They will develop a protocol manual that will be adopted for our future use. Because ritual and protocol often go hand in hand, and because I believe we should avoid new committees when we have existing committees available, this Protocol Committee will be a sub-committee of the Ritual Committee, and their recommendations will be part of the Ritual Committee's annual report to Grand Lodge.
DDGM Appointments - We have tried different ways to appoint successors to our current District Deputies. We have had a trial programme for DDGM-designates. Last year we tried to have current DDGMs put their recommendations in by 15 September. In retrospect, we felt that perhaps it was a bit early. So we are going to experiment a little more, and I am making a ruling that would, for this year, have the recommendations in to the Deputy Grand Master by 31 October. This would seem to be a happy medium. By the end of the year, we will see if this date works. If it does, we will make a recommendation in time for Grand Lodge in 2016 to change to our Constitution.
Masonic charity is part of our personal journey. It is by and large an individual journey, and is determined in part by our personal goals and beliefs. My late son and brother, Peter Collins had a unique gift. Although he had no formal training he had a great gift as a teacher. He reached people through his unflagging cheerfulness, his empathy with others, and his ability to relate on many levels. He had a particular ability to deal with those who had challenges. Some of his greatest success came with students who were dyslexic and autistic. Several of these students overcame great personal difficulty with his help. This year, I have decided to honour that gift by making the Scottish Rite Learning Center in Vancouver my charity of choice. This centre provides tremendous help to dyslexic children, and is in the process of establishing itself as a major resource in our province. I want to help make that happen.
I hope you will find your own causes to support as part of your masonic journey. Our support for our fellow man, in a quiet, unassuming way, is a foundation on which our Fraternity is built.
Let us go into the future boldly. To paraphrase the words of McLuhan, we are hamstrung by looking back at the glory years of Freemasonry. We are driving into the future looking into the rearview mirror. Let us not march backwards into the future. Let's put the rearview mirror away and really look ahead. Let us be resolved to find new ways to make our masonic mark. Let us tilt at windmills and follow our dreams.
I look around me this afternoon, and I see a lot of people I hope are big kids like me. Let's get out and play together. Let's get out and have fun. Let's talk to each other. We'll learn, we'll scrap along the way, then we'll make up and carry on. Let's learn from each other, let's make mistakes, let's make some changes where necessary without changing the integrity of our past. As Dumbledore said to Harry Potter, "Harry, it's not our abilities which define us, it's our choices." Brethren, let's choose to make our masonic mark together.
MW Bro. Douglas C. Collins,
Grand Master 2015-2016