Grand Superintendent's address for 2020 Convocation
John Reid's address for Companions at Melksham.
Companions I greet you all well. Today, as I am sure many of you know, was to have been our Annual Provincial Grand Chapter Convocation at Melksham where we as members of this Province we would have welcomed our friends and distinguished guests from the surrounding Provinces.
Unfortunately due to the unprecedented, difficult and challenging circumstances, we are currently faced with Covid-19 virus causing the suspension of all masonic activities. I am sure like me you are missing the camaraderie and companionship we all enjoy as members of the Royal Arch.
As our convocations have been suspended we have immediately turned to social media to keep in contact with one another. Information technology has provided the conduit for our daily advancement in masonic knowledge, and while this may be a dormant period for us, it provides an excellent opportunity to enhance our knowledge in all things masonic, even brushing up or learning a new piece of ritual.
Here I acknowledge the commitment of two Companions - Excellent Companions Michael Lee Past Deputy Grand Superintendent and Mark Fuller the Provincial Grand Registrar and Communications/Information Officer who have both contributed greatly in providing us with copious amounts of interesting masonic facts, and thought provoking material. Excellent Companion Michael’s “Fred and Charlie” papers now have a large following, these can be viewed via Solomon (which can be accessed through the UGLE website) and at www.pglwilts.com both sites are a must view for both Craft and Royal Arch referencing.
Excellent Companion Mark has provided us and his followers across Twitter with numerous enlightening Royal Arch articles, editing and producing our very informative quarterly newsletter. Continuing through the year to cover and report on all of our important events within our Chapters, charitable presentations and social events, a huge undertaking and keeping the Royal Arch at the forefront of our minds.
In mentioning charity, over the last 12 months we have supported - Victim Support Wiltshire, Springboard Pre-School at Chippenham and Wylye Valley Disabled Children’s Charity. Companions I cannot thank you enough for your continued generosity enabling the Province to support these deserving charities which are child and young adult biased. We shall continue to support such charities again this year, especially through our Children at Christmas initiative.
Not being able to hold our Annual Provincial Convocation I cannot express how disappointed I am at not being able to personally invest the newly appointed Provincial Grand Officers together with those receiving well-deserved promotions but we must all look forward to the day the suspension is lifted and we can return to our Chapters and move forward.
In the meantime it is important that we continue to stay in contact with the each other providing support and assistance where needed, Excellent Companion John Deane and his team at Corsham (delivering food parcels etc.) are a true example of how we as an organisation portray ourselves, caring for our fellow beings. I know there are many other members contributing in many valuable and appreciative ways. However please let’s not forget those members who have not attended our meetings for some time, it’s so important they are not forgotten, who knows they may be in desperate need of our assistance. By communicating with them now in these uncertain times by just having that conversation or an offer of assistance may just be the catalyst that brings them back to enjoy the Companionship of the Order, but most importantly we need to know they are safe and well.
As always it’s these difficult times that bring people together, but Companions for us that should never be the case, so I ask each Chapter to focus on re-engagement, to implement a strategy that best suits your members to maintain contact with our non-attendees, as we know the longer a member is absent from our meetings the harder it is for them to return.
So now is a good time to plan for the future, and it is most pleasing to know there are a number of candidates waiting to be exalted. Our ceremonies when well performed are rewarding and invigorating, whilst ensuring a most memorable evening for both candidates and members. I am heartened to see much of the ritual is now being shared not only by the Companions on the floor but in some Chapters by the Three Principals, on each occasion I have had the pleasure to witness this, the ritual has been exceptional and brings another dimension to our meetings. Companions, quality has to be central to the Province’s future, we are the custodians of our Chapters, we are the foundation and building blocks for the future, so the standards we establish today will be the standards our new members will live up to in the future.
As this should have been our Annual Convocation I congratulate all those who were to be appointed and promoted in Provincial Grand Chapter and remind you there is the expectation as ambassadors of the Royal Arch that you will continue to support and encourage the newer members to take part in our ceremonies whilst guiding them to, and through the Principals Chairs, not forgetting where ever possible to promote the Holy Royal Arch within your Craft Lodges.
To the newly appointed active Provincial Officers when we are able to resume our meetings I encourage you to fully embrace the year of your appointment by supporting the Provincial Executive at Installations, Fraternal Visits and Special Convocations, only then will you fully appreciate and enjoy the honour you have received.
I acknowledge the loyalty and support that I have received from the outgoing team of Provincial Officers, whether it be standing in whenever called upon to support our chapters, assisting the Province in ceremonies of exaltation, lectures, Talking Heads, Your Chapter in Camera, the list goes on Companions, but I am truly grateful for their commitment, as are the individual Chapters on nights of Installation.
Companions the Province continues to run smoothly due to the tireless work undertaken by the Provincial Executive, much of their work goes un-noticed as does the work of the Chapter Scribes, Treasurers, Directors of Ceremonies, Almoners and Charity Stewards, these are important offices which bring with them huge responsibilities in the administration, welfare and ceremonial aspects of our order. As Companions let us lighten their burden – respond to the summons, send an apology where necessary, commit to the office you have accepted by attending all rehearsals and meetings, ensure dues are paid in a timely fashions, let the Almoner know of those who may be requiring assistance. Companions I am sure you will agree, as Freemasons and Companions this is just common decency, respect and commitment not only for each other, but more importantly, for those Companions who hold these important offices who ensure the Chapters run in conformity with the Regulations and By-laws ensuring our continued enjoyment of the Royal Arch.
Our enjoyment should have been shared more recently with those Companions and Brethren receiving Grand Honours, alas both Supreme Grand Chapter and Grand Lodge succumbed to the suspension, but on a much happier not I am sure you will join with me in congratulating Excellent Mark Lovell our 3rd Provincial Grand Principal on his appointment in Grand Chapter to Past Grand Standard Bearer and I couple this with Excellent Companion Colin Cheshire our Deputy Grand Superintendent who in Grand Lodge was promoted to Past Junior Grand Deacon both richly deserved honours.
It cannot go without mentioning the continued support we receive from the Craft, as always I acknowledge my grateful thanks to the Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master in support of Royal Arch and the continued collaboration with the Craft Executive in promoting the Holy Royal Arch as we are the natural complement to the Craft, that in-dissolvable link that binds both Craft and Royal Arch together.
Finally Companions I thank each and every one of you for your support over the past year and as always look forward to meeting you all when safe to do so, in the knowledge that the Holy Royal Arch in Wiltshire is a most appealing Order in which to belong. I thank you all for your Companionship and trust the TTALGMH will keep you safe and be with you all.