Grand Superintendent's address at 2016 Convocation
John Reid addresses Companions at Melksham
Companions, I welcome you all here this morning and thank you for giving up your precious time to support our Annual Convocation. I have already welcomed our distinguished guests many of whom have travelled long distances to be with us, once again this truly shows the continued support we have for one another and the enjoyment achieved through the Companionship of the Holy Royal Arch.
On behalf of the Wiltshire Executive I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those Province’s represented here today for their most generous hospitality when we have attended their Annual Convocations, we trust your visit to Wiltshire today will be equally enjoyable and memorable.
Companions my first year in office has exceeded all my expectations, exchanging fraternal visits with Buckinghamshire, then Gloucestershire & Herefordshire, and the excellently organised Quadripartite meeting at Portland hosted by Dorset, and my great pleasure in presenting a 50 year certificate to Excellent Companion Allan Russell of Methuen Chapter.
The next Quadripartite meeting falls to our Province, it is with grateful thanks to the Lansdowne Chapter of Unity who have kindly agreed to host this special event which is planned for 29th March 2017, an occasion not to be missed, I am sure Companions you will give it your full support.
Companions this is always a very special day for our Province, more so for those Companions that I have just had the immense pleasure to appoint to and promote in Provincial Grand Rank, each one of you are deserving of the office you now hold. I am sure you do not need reminding that the Provincial honour you have received today is not given lightly or by right. You have earned that accolade for the contribution and commitment to your Chapters. However, it does not stop there, it carries an expectation that you will continue to support your Chapters and the Province in promoting Royal Arch Masonry in your Craft Lodges whilst encouraging Master Masons to consider completing their journey in Pure Ancient Freemasonry.
To the acting Provincial Officers there is an added responsibility to support the Provincial Executive when and where you can. This Province has for many years been exceptionally well represented at Chapter Installations, inter Provincial visits and many other special occasions, I can assure you your attendance will be very much appreciated and extremely well received by all the Companions.
I also congratulate those Companions who were appointed or promoted in Grand Chapter rank, in particular Excellent Companion Byron Carron a respected Past Provincial Grand Master, appointed Past Assistant Grand Sojourner, and Excellent Companion Colin Cheshire promoted to Past Grand Sword Bearer both richly deserved honours.
There are also a number of other Companions with us this afternoon who received first appointments and promotions, too many to mention, but all members of the Chapter of Rectitude meeting in this Province, I congratulate them all.
Companions as you do, I found myself trawling the internet and stumbled across a short sentence, of which I have played with the odd word, so it would now read “Worry not about the empty seat in your Chapter, worry about the empty experience that led to it”.
Companions we have good membership numbers in our Chapters but we have a number of members we have not seen for a considerable time. Having visited all the Chapters in the Province during this last year I am delighted to say your Chapters are in good heart and I congratulate you on the standard of ceremony and ritual being delivered to our Exaltees, in particular the manner in which the work is being shared, allowing as much participation from your attendees as possible. The enjoyment shown in your ceremonies is becoming infectious; now, is the time to contact those members who we have not seen for some time and encourage them to attend once again to enjoy the ceremonies and the Companionship of our Order. So Companions let us all make the effort to contact them and encourage them to return and enable them once again to share the Royal Arch experience we all so very much enjoy.
Companions the Provincial Executive in conjunction with the Working Group is working hard to help improve our knowledge to make our meetings more meaningful and interesting. First we introduced the Janitor’s card followed by the Sojourners’ readings, both I am pleased to say have been received extremely well in those Chapters that have had the opportunity to deliver them. For those Chapters that have yet to introduce the readings I strongly recommend you consider their introduction.
In addition we have just completed a commentary on the Royal Arch Ceremony which will be available to your Chapters and again is intended to increase the knowledge and understanding of our ceremonies.
The introduction of Talking Heads has proved successful, on each of the three outings we have attracted new Candidates and here Companions it is worth noting we averaged two Exaltees per Chapter last year, a slight increase from previous years. Since the beginning of this year Convocations without an Exaltee have been the exception, this tells me Companions the Holy Royal Arch in Wiltshire is becoming an attractive Order in which to belong.
Companions at my installation I encouraged you all to visit one another’s Chapters in an attempt to increase our support to each other. So to further encourage this I shall be introducing a travelling silver Quaich that is to be transferred from Chapter to Chapter and could be used at the after proceedings, the details of which are still to be finalised, but it is hoped that its introduction will be in September of this year.
Why a Quaich? I hear you asking.
Well, the Quaich being a drinking vessel used for sharing with friends or strangers and used to offer a welcome drink at a gathering which incorporates trust between the giver and receiver, I believe is a fitting representation of the Companionship of our order. So Companions there will be more details to follow.
Companions I am concerned that the Royal Arch Representative’s scheme is perhaps not as effective as it might be, it’s an area I feel needs revisiting to give clear guidance and direction to those Companions that represent us in our Craft Lodges. I can inform you that the Working Group will be reviewing the current status of our Representatives and putting forward proposals to assist them in that role.
Companions you are all very aware of the Provinces use of social media, we have a first class web-site which we share with the Craft. At this time I would like publically to thank the Web Editor and the Communication Team for their support and commitment in keeping our Royal Arch pages current, but Companions, to do so, they need your support in providing interesting articles. I am sorry to say that currently this has been left to the same one or two Companions who unfortunately cannot be at every Convocation. I am sure we all have a tale to tell, a few words with a photograph will keep the web-site fresh and interesting, this is our shop window Companions which allows us to showcase the Order of which we are so proud to be members.
Moving on to charitable giving, I am well aware that as individuals our major charitable contribution is via our Craft Lodges but I did ask for your support through your Chapters, where you could, to support the 2017 Festival, the beneficiary being the Masonic Samaritan Fund. As always Companions your support has been well received and I thank all those Chapters that have donated thus far and those that have propositions of donations pending on their agendas. So Companions in continuance of our support to this appeal it was agreed at the General Purpose Committee that the proceeds from the alms collection today will go towards the 2017 Festival.
For those of you who view the website you will of course be aware, but for those of you who don’t, or are not aware, last Christmas we distributed two hundred selection boxes between three charities specifically with children in mind, the Warminster Food Bank, the Women’s Refuge, and the Children’s Hospice Julia’s House, the theme being “Children at Christmas”. The response from these charities Companions was overwhelming, so it is the Executive’s intention to continue this theme by supporting two or three different Children’s Charities. We have yet to decide on the Children’s Charities to support this Christmas, so if there is a specific Children’s Charity you would wish us to consider please let a member of the Executive know.
At this point I express my grateful thanks to the Executive and outgoing Provincial Officers for their support and commitment over the last twelve months, your attendance at Chapter Installations and Provincial functions has not only enhanced these occasions but is very much appreciated by all of the Companions within this Province. Here I make special mention of the outgoing Second Provincial Grand Principal, Excellent Companion Tony Oke who has worked tirelessly for this Province and whose contribution has been greatly appreciated by us all. Companions I am delighted to announce that Excellent Companion Oke has agreed to continue as the co-ordinator of the Talking Heads presentation team so we haven’t got rid of him just yet Companions.
We all know that the success of a day such as our Annual Convocation is not the result of a contribution of a single individual but that of an army of willing helpers. I am so aware of the time, planning and commitment that has been expended by all the Companions involved, to those Companions I thank you most sincerely. Special thanks are extended to the Provincial Grand Scribe Ezra and his Assistant along with the Director of Ceremonies and his team and those Chapters under whose banners we are meeting today; the Wiltshire & Highworth Chapters and the Chapter of Agriculture. Not forgetting those Companions who were up at the crack of dawn transporting the Chapter furniture for our use here today, the Chapter of Concord, St Aldhelm Chapter and St Edmund Chapter.
It would be remiss of me not to mention the continued support and commitment given to me by our Provincial Grand Master, it is greatly valued.
Finally Companions I thank each and every one of you for your support here today and again look forward with great optimism to the year ahead in serving this wonderful Province as your Grand Superintendent and meeting with you all in your own Chapters during the coming year. Companions, I thank you for your attention.