Special Meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge – 6th February 2015
1. Brethren I am delighted to welcome you all to this Special Meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge – the 5th such Meeting in as many years albeit this is the first on a stand alone basis. The previous 4 Meetings have been under the banner of our Provincial Grand Stewards Lodge and I wish to thank the Lodge for all that it has done to establish this Meeting as a Major Event in our Provincial Calendar.
2. The burden of organising the Event now falls firmly on the Provincial Office and Provincial GDC but it could not take place without the continuing commitment and dedication of the Provincial Grand Stewards who have worked throughout the day to prepare the Lodge Room and ancillaries; and who will continue to work whilst we are enjoying our selves in the bar as they assist in the preparation of the Dining Area. I thank them all on your behalf.
3. I am also pleased to welcome the Guests of the Province who have already been introduced – the heads of other Masonic Orders whose support I greatly value and I thank them for their continuing commitment to the Craft. We are all working towards a strong Craft which will inevitably benefit the other Masonic Orders and our Annual Heads of Orders Meeting at the Provincial Office has been highly beneficial to us all.
4. I have explained in my Introduction in the Paper of Business the reason why this Special Meeting was introduced and I hope that you will all take the opportunity to read what I have said. It is a great privilege for me to be able to honour these special brethren and I pay tribute to them and all that they have done for the Craft. And I emphasise that although honours are usually awarded as an earnest of future performance, the majority of the brethren honoured this evening have done their bit – the honour is a reward for what they have done; but I have no doubt they will continue to contribute in the future
5. I exclude from these comments of course those brethren who have been promoted as a result of their successfully performing their duties as Visiting Officers. I certainly expect them to continue with their efforts in this increasingly important role within the Province.
6. We are now beginning to reap the benefits of the Area structure which was established after much preparation last July. This was a fundamental change to the management of the Province. Creating a management structure in each Area of the Province was a huge undertaking and I wish to thank all those involved in its implementation – it is gratifying to see the commitment and enthusiasm amongst the brethren without which the restructure could not have been achieved.
7. There will now be a period of Consolidation within the Areas. The data from Grand Lodge which is now readily available and to which I have referred in previous Addresses is now being obtained and reviewed on a regular basis so that each Area can monitor and assess its own progress; and we can learn from each other.
8. It is so good to see the Area teams working together and I wish to thank the Area Officers for the enormous support which they have given to me during my Official Visits.
9. I have also been impressed by the quality of our Masonic Centres – some purpose built but all adapted to serve our brethren in the current environment. During my discussions with those involved in the management of Masonic Centres, it is apparent that there are a number of innovative ideas which have been implemented in some Centres and which have been highly successful. I commend the brethren involved for their initiative but there is no current means by which these initiatives can be shared with others. This is a sad omission as it effectively means that our Masonic Centres will not learn from each other – and on occasions will be re-inventing the wheel which has already been successfully used elsewhere.
10. I have therefore decided that the appointment of Provincial Grand Superintendent of Works will now be a 3 to 5 year appointment, subject of course to annual review. The Provincial Grand Superintendent of Works will form a Committee comprising Area Superintendents of Works so that these matters can be addressed – effectively a pool of talent and information available to all Centres.
11. This will replace the Masonic Centres Advisory Committee and I wish to thank all those brethren who have been involved in that Committee since it was established.
12. Last October I consecrated the Rugby Bastion Lodge; and later this year I will consecrate the Brevity Lodge; and the Chequered Flag Lodge. There is great interest in forming other special interest Lodges and more will follow later this year or in 2016.
13. Happily, we have many Lodges thriving as never before – taking part in all the activities arranged in their Area and reaping the benefits through a supply of Candidates who join and enjoy their Masonic experience. Indeed last year I issued a Dispensation enabling a Lodge to initiate 4 men on the same evening. We have Lodges whose main concern at the moment is managing the number of candidates applying for membership. I would urge all our Lodges to follow the lead of such Lodges and Plan their future. Embrace all that is going on in your Area; get involved in the Social Events, the Light Blues Clubs, and Social Media. It works.
14. All Lodges should recognize that men join Freemasonry, not a Lodge. Those Lodges with a surfeit of candidates should consider whether some of their brethren would be better placed, or directed, to another Lodge with whom it could form a relationship for the benefit of both Lodges, the brethren, the Area, and Freemasonry.
15. Planning is the key. We have a number of Lodges which were in difficulty now seeing a renaissance in their fortunes following their agreeing an Action Plan with the assistance and support of the Area team. The emphasis of such plans is enjoyment, involvement, recruitment, engagement, and retention. Take advantage of the Area Structures which have been established. They will not seek to impose a Plan on a Lodge – the Lodge and its members must have the will to progress and embrace the opportunities offered by the Area structure.
16. I now turn to our Festival Appeal which is entering the final stages. In a couple of meetings from now, some of our Lodges will be closing for the summer recess and when they resume, there will be just 1 year left to maximise their giving for the Festival. So wherever your Lodge is in the overall scheme of things – from bronze to platinum, can it do more for the RMTGB? I ask all Lodges to make a final push over the next 12 months to ensure that we can all be proud of the total raised.
17. There are major changes planned for the Masonic Charities including of course the RMTGB and indeed our present Appeal will be the last Appeal of its kind in which this Province will be involved. The planned changes will be the subject of the RMTGB Annual Court which the Province will be privileged to arrange and which will be at the Novotel on the 5th October next. Details will be promulgated to all Lodge Secretaries and on the Provincial Information Service and attendance is expected from Patrons of the RMTGB across all 47 Provinces. It promises to be a very busy day. Not of course to be confused with our Festival celebration which will be at the Bournemouth International Centre on 22nd October 2016.
18. I now return to the main objective of this Meeting, which is a celebration for those I have appointed and promoted. I trust that they will enjoy the rest of the evening; and all the years to come in their respective offices.
19. I thank the Provincial Grand Stewards Lodge for organising the construction of a Lodge Room from a restaurant, shortly to be a restaurant again, which started at 8 this morning. And of course our Provincial GDC and his Deputies, and the Provincial Secretariat who have work tirelessly to ensure the success of the occasion. And last but certainly not least, our Choir who always add lustre to these occasions.
20. Finally may I thank you all for your attendance today, for supporting this meeting, and making it special for those who have been honoured.
RW Bro. Mike Wilks
Provincial Grand Master