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Grand Master's Acceptance Speech

 

 

 

  GRAND MASTERS ADDRESS FOR THE 152nd ANNUAL

COMMUNICATION OF GRAND LODGE 2-3 JUNE, 2017

Most Worshipful Immediate Past Grand Master of Masons in Nova Scotia, Most Wor. Bro. George O’leary;

Past Grand Masters;
Our visitors in our most distinguished east;
Brethren all;
Ladies and gentlemen.

INTRODUCTORY REMARKS

As I look around the room this afternoon, I see numerous people who have supported this day for quite some time. At the outset of these remarks I want to particularly thank five individuals for the quantity, and particularly the quality of work done on our behalf:

Our Most Worshipful Brother Grand Secretary, Most Wor. Bro. Dan Campbell;
Our Most Worshipful Brother Grand Treasurer, Most Wor. Bro. Harold Crosby; and
Our Grand Lodge Staff: Pat Richards and Sonya Beeler.

In the three years that I have been a line officer I have discovered that the behind the scenes work that you all perform is absolutely vital to our success as an organization. And that your work is of the highest quality and accuracy, and I applaud you all for that.

And of course how could I forget my wife Jackie. She’s a person who hates getting dinner early to accommodate my schedule. And I can hear her most evenings when I’m heading out to yet another meeting after an early bite to eat: that her headstone had better read ”she was a good masonic wife”.    So I would ask you all to join me in acknowledging these five who are so very much a part of our success, and certainly my life.

I would also be remiss if I did not take a moment to thank the Grand Masters I have had the absolute pleasure of working with over the last three years. They set the bar very high indeed: Most Worshipful Brothers Paul Frank, Peter Ponsford and George O’leary. They have all been very helpful in getting me to understand the big picture of Masonic endeavour in this province, which is so important to our overall success. I have been schooled very well indeed, and I shall try to live up to the examples that were set for me by these fine gentlemen.  

MY MASONIC JOURNEY

So, where did my personal masonic journey begin? My dad was a Mason in Toronto. He was a fine gentleman and set a great example for me to follow. He never spoke to me of freemasonry, but I somehow knew that it must have played a large part in his life. When I called him several years after I had left the house on my own journey, I knew how overjoyed he was with my decision to become a Mason. I also recall the sheer joy on his face that we now had something truly magical to share.

I well recall a few years back when the then Deputy Grand Master of Masons in Nova Scotia, Most Wor. Bro. Reo Matthews and I met in the vestibule at Freemasons Hall in Halifax, as we were waiting for an installation to begin. He asked me a question that I had never been asked before: “why aren’t you in Grand Lodge”? 

I recall that I said to him: “nobody has ever asked me that before”.  It just so happened that it was my lodges’ turn to supply the DDGM for Halifax District 1 which was coming up that year. So when I was asked by my lodge to consider it, after some thought I accepted the challenge.

Up until that point in time I had been very involved in my military career and with the pipe band that I managed at Citadel Hill, and that this level of involvement in Masonry had never been an option for me before. But I took the plunge that year, accepting the challenge of the DDGM’s office, and along with my friend and director of ceremonies Don Evans, we both decided that we liked what we were doing. That there was a sense of satisfaction that we derived from it, and so I offered for the line and the rest is now history.

I came to meet many Masons across our jurisdiction. Every one of them decent men who were pursuing their passion for freemasonry. And along the way I also discovered that masonry in the so called “country lodges” is practiced slightly differently than it is in Halifax.  Some of you have heard me say this during my visits to your lodges outside of Halifax this year:

That masonry in the country Lodges seems to be a true community endeavour;
Where every Lodge supports every other Lodge in their District;
Their meetings are ones of a group of old friends where everyone seems comfortable with the Lodges they are visiting and the work that is being done.

This is something which in my view you just don’t get in the city. Ritual becomes an easy thing for them, as it is practiced the same in every Lodge, and it seems to me there is a continual learning process going on. I could not get it out of my head that these are the men who have it right:

They truly like each other’s company;
The ritual becomes an old friend and is something that binds them all together; and
There seems to be more of a realization that work well done, whether it’s installations; degree work; or the proper reception of visitors and the occasional visit from a Grand Lodge Officer or two; and that these things become the ties that bind. To which I add this: ritual work well done is in itself a form of Masonic education.

MASONIC FORMAL EDUCATION

Let me address the formal education piece for a moment. There is some very interesting education taking place in many of our Lodges around the province. For the most part Lodges seem to be following the guidelines set out by the Grand Lodge, as posted on the Grand Lodge website. And I can tell you that Grand Lodge is highly supportive of you taking this approach, as this is in part responsible for raising our standards across the board, and turning out better Masons.

But to my mind at least, formal education programs make up the other part of Masonic education. So by all means, continue with the education programs that are established in your Lodges. But never forget the vital importance of regular work well done. Openings, closings, crisp and short business meetings and degree work executed well are the backbone of bringing our new members along.

SENSING THE PULSE IN NOVA SCOTIA LODGES

So what am I seeing as we go around the province these days? I am sensing that Lodge secretary’s in particular are seeing a new openness from Grand Lodge, and this I credit for the most part to the staff at the Grand Lodge office. I want you to always remember, that this is your Grand Lodge and I for one certainly hope that all Lodges develop a renewed trust in the work that is done on your behalf by the Grand Lodge. And that you will continue the dialogue with the Grand Secretary, who I have personally placed so much confidence and trust in. 

We have been seeing in many Lodges this year during our travels, that the work is very good to excellent, and for that L applaud you all for keeping your standards up.

However, I have also noticed something else. It is that the new members who are coming to our doors may be a new type of man approaching us for membership. When you speak to them, these new brothers will tell you that Masons have been more visible of late, (perhaps the parades are working) and that one can find out quite a bit by searching through the social media sites that have masonic content. These men seem to be better prepared for the journeys they are about to embark on because of this fact.

USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA

This brings me to a few words about the challenges and rewards of using social media to spread the word about Freemasonry. Some Lodges realized some time ago that social media has been having an effect on the new members who are approaching them, and they have learned how to capitalize on this fact.

Now these effects can be both good and bad for any organization, not just Masonic Lodges. We must remember that social media alone cannot tell the entire story. There is, however, a body of evidence that suggests social media can be very useful to us when used properly. So you ask yourself how?

For one thing it can attract a new type of member to our doors. We will always continue to aspire to attracting young men to our ranks, and so we should. But it is my contention that we should utilize social media as another method of attracting the folks whose kids are up and out of the house finally and who have some time to invest in new interests. These men have been so busy running dad’s taxi for the last 20 or more years that they now find they are looking for something new to take up.

We are beginning to see people of this ilk now coming to our doorsteps and it is working quite well I must say. They seem to be enjoying the ride and are finding that Freemasonry is a perfect fit for them. Who knows exactly why it attracts these men at this time of their lives. It may be our charitable programs that attract these fellows. It may be the social aspects of Freemasonry which keeps many of us busy. Or it may just be a place to go to be in the company of other men that he has had to largely ignore for many years as he has been so involved in the bringing up of his children.

There has simply been no time for other pursuits until they are between the ages of 40 -50 years old. We must do what is necessary to attract them to our doors and to assist them to dispel the old shibboleth’s that say “I am too old to join”.

WHAT ARE LODGES DOING RIGHT?

So what is it that we are doing right? We are making more public appearances these days than we have done in the past. We are being seen. We are using the modern tools that are available to us that were simply not here even 10 years ago. They are called social media.

I will tell you that the power of social media has already been recognized by the Grand Lodge of Nova Scotia. A Committee of the Board of General Purposes is currently at work, and has been laying the groundwork for a comprehensive and instructive policy statement on the use of social media by our Lodges. When done, this will lay out the ground rules for Lodges, providing them guidance for how they may use social media to their advantage in attracting not only new members to their doors, but assisting them to attract the “right kinds of new members”.

The use of social media can be a veritable minefield for organizations who wander blindly into it without having thought it through thoroughly beforehand. This is the work that the PR Committee is currently undertaking. This Committee’s report is due back to the board in October of this year and we hope it will provide you with the do’s and don’ts of the use of social media.

In the meantime I would ask you all to be very careful in your choice of social media sites and their use and to consult the Grand Secretary before you commence your use of it.

CHANGES AT GRAND LODGE

We also have gathered from our travels that you wish to see a responsive and a responsible Grand Lodge. That you wish to see reasonable policies enacted that do not unfavourably affect smaller Lodges away from the cities, and that these policies take into account the differences between the big Lodges in the cities and the smaller Lodges outside these built up areas. Those are reasonable concerns in my view and I promise you I will lead the way in our attempts to get this right.

CLOSING REMARKS

Before I end today I want to thank those of you who accepted my invitation to participate in Grand Lodge this year with me. I look forward to working with you all and I hope that your experience over the next 12 months will be as rewarding as mine has been these last three years. It’s all about the good people that our membership consists of, and I thank you one and all for attending today’s ceremonies.

For those not attending tonight’s Grand Masters banquet may I wish you all safe home. I look forward to seeing you all in your Lodges during the coming year.

Happy have we met     happy may we part     and happy meet again

 

 

 

 

Nova Scotia Freemason Vol. 7 issue 3

Parade of Lights

The Grand Lodge Float will be entered in the Chronicle Herald's Parade of Lights in Halifax being held on Saturday, November 18th, 2017 commencing at 6:00 p.m. All participants are requested to be in the Marshalling area (Upper Water Street) by 4:30 pm and ready to depart in the parade by 5:50 pm.

Quarry Degree

Kings and Annapolis / Digby Districts - Quarry Degree commencing at 10:00 a.m.

August 19th, 2017, Nictaux Rock Quarry

The Masonic Foundation Charitable Works

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Grand Master's Upcoming Events