MEGS Address, Annual Convocation 2021
Companions, it is my very great pleasure and delight to address Provincial Grand Chapter for the first time as your Grand Superintendent. It does feel somewhat surreal, considering I have been in post for 18 months, and this is the third attempt to hold this meeting; I am so delighted we have finally made it.
I have already welcomed our honoured guests. This is my opportunity to express just how much we value our relationship with those visiting Provinces, and with the other orders of Freemasonry in Buckinghamshire. I can only thank you personally for attending and making this such a special day.
I would, in particular, like to mention the Craft Executive, under the leadership of our Provincial Grand Master Right Worshipful Brother John Clark, with whom we as the Royal Arch and I personally enjoy an outstanding and productive relationship. I know just how hard the Craft Executive work for the good of freemasonry and this is my opportunity to wish them well for next Sunday the 12th September, when they hold their BIG event. Companions, next Sunday 100 new initiates are joining Buckinghamshire in one day at Grand Lodge, in London, a massive congratulations to them for arranging this. I for one, am looking forward to the day and being part of something so special. I am also mindful that 100 new members in the craft will be potentially 100 new exaltees for the RA in a few years. Thank you to everyone involved in the BIG event. Our relationship in the Province is key to both the craft and the Royal Arch in ensuring we both continue to grow our memberships and ensure our members enjoy their masonry to the full.
Today is very much about the Companions I have had the pleasure of appointing and promoting in Provincial Grand Chapter: Companions, I congratulate you on your preferment – your honours have rightly been earned by your commitment to your Chapters and of course, to this Province. THIS IS YOUR DAY – Enjoy it; you have earned it. It is tinged with sadness that many acting officers had their service cut short by the COVID crisis. I thank all of you for your work and understanding, it in no way diminishes the importance of the Offices you have held.
As I was unable to hold a meeting last year, I never got the chance to publicly thank our Past Third Grand Principal Richard Reano, who served this Province with such distinction over so many years and stepped down last year. Richard, you set an example of service to the Province that others can only hope to follow; thank you. Also, to our outgoing Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals Mike Phillips, who is unable to be with us today, having served 3 years in that role, he deserves a rest, and last but least, our outgoing Provincial Grand Scribe N Harry Hunter who was outstanding in that role.
I urge those appointed to acting rank this year to take advantage of the offer to join the Principals when we attend both Installation and Exaltation meetings. The Asst Provincial Grand Scribe E Andrew Ludlow will contact you regularly to inform you of meetings and to ask you to commit to attendance – we welcome your company as do the Chapters concerned. You learn more about the Province and broaden your knowledge of the Royal Arch. I ask you to respond to Andrew when he sends you the list – even if it's only to say NO. This offer is also extended to those who have just finished their shortened tenure in active Office, as it was not possible to visit Chapters during your time in Office.
Now on to the 'state of the nation' as it were, numbers are down from last year, but it is to be expected. We had many members pass to the Grand Lodge above and members also moving away and suffering ill health. I am always one to look at positives, and what I am pleased to say is that we have over 50 exaltees now waiting to join Chapters in the Province. Thank you to all of you who have worked so hard during the past 18 months in continuing to encourage craft members to continue their personal masonic journey by agreeing to join Chapter. We are all ambassadors for the Royal Arch and we all have an obligation to encourage our lodge members to develop their masonic knowledge and be part of something special (the Royal Arch).
During the past 18 months, we have been working on a number of new initiatives. The Royal Arch Vision Club (RAVC) is a club which has been set up to help new and old members of the Royal Arch in Buckinghamshire to gain a better understanding of the Royal Arch, meet new people and share their interest in developing their knowledge with other companions. I would like to thank E Comp Nick Wilson for his diligent work in setting this up, and we are all looking forward to its first meeting in November when Nick has persuaded us to have a "meet the Executive morning" at Bletchley Masonic Centre. So, companions if you want to know about my career in Panto, that's the meeting to attend. (Listening E Comp Ray Reed "Oh no its not!") The RAVC will also be a platform for attracting new members and ensuring that everyone has access to information, knowledge and the ability to meet new companions. With the help on Solomon and our past Scribe N, E.Comp Stephen Knight, the RAVC have been very busy on Facebook and now have close to 200 members. Thank you again, and we look forward to the future.
I am also delighted to inform you that we also have a new website, which will allow us to enjoy in the future many of the functions which the Buckinghamshire Craft website has, i.e., Online payment. You will have seen a film on the screens in the anterooms and bars showing what it now looks like and also the start of our engagement videos designed to encourage new members. The website address is the same, so please go and have a look. I would like to thank E.Comp Paul Brissenden Hemstock, Companion Grae Laws, and E.Comp John King for their hard work in achieving this and Companions Jarrad Lewis and Carlos Sepulveda Mancilla for their input. Also, I must pay tribute to E.Comp John Stribling, who has been such a driving force with our old website and will still be an active part of the website team.
To my Deputy Mike Stephens thank you for being my sanity check during this challenging time, I chose wisely when making you my Deputy, the Province is the better for having you in situ, as am I. It is also lovely to see our Past Grand Superintendent E.Comp John Keeble here today, over the past 18 months he has been constant source of information and guidance. He will be the first to tell you, he has had the easiest year in purdah that anyone could ever had enjoyed. It is so good to see him back where he belongs in a Buckinghamshire Royal Arch Chapter.
The Province of Buckinghamshire was the first Province to launch a festival for the Masonic Charitable Foundation and it incredible to think that the festival is now coming to an end in the next few months. The Royal Arch has always been a strong supporter of the Craft festivals and indeed all the charitable activities within the Province. I would therefore be grateful if our Provincial Grand Master R.W. Bro. John Clark, could join me briefly as I have a small cheque to present, which is another £5000 for the festival.
A very special thank you to the ENGINE ROOM of the Province – Mel Shah our Scribe E so well supported by Andrew Ludlow as Asst Scribe E and Simon Iley as Registrar they do a fantastic job, without their dedication, I don't know how we would function. I want to send a message to all of the Scribes E's of our Chapters – thank you one and all. I have so enjoyed joining you on Mel's zoom meetings and hearing what is going on, you have been and continue to be the cornerstone of Province. To Ray Harrison our Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies who with his team and the working Stewards make the mechanics of the day work so well – a heartfelt thank you. Ray I know I can be awkward as we adapted the day to accommodate the continuing covid crisis; never once did you moan and groan, for that I am deeply grateful. Companions, I save my thank you to all of the members of the Buckinghamshire Royal Arch for attending today. Your support for the province and for each other is incredible. We have lived and continue to live through challenging times, which have affected us all. I do not believe there has never been a time when the world has needed Masonry more.
The work not only our Province carried out and continues to carry out in the community helping those less fortunate is a wonderful reminder of what we as Masons stand for and something we should all be very proud of. Companions, please do not worry for I am coming to the end, so anyone who has money on the timing of my address you can now start to get excited. Earlier I spoke about membership and the work that has already been done. However, I attended a Chapter meeting the other day where the Chapter was given a challenge by its new First Principal, he challenged all of the members to bring in a new exaltee to the Chapter in the next five years. As I believe that plagiarism if the finest form of flattery, I did ask permission to pinch this idea. I would like to announce the introduction of the Buckinghamshire Royal Arch Challenge and invite every member of the Province to bring a new exaltee into their Chapter in the next 3 years. Imagine what your chapters would be like if we achieved this goal! Double the numbers, double the fun. We will all be on this journey, and every journey needs to start with a first step; today, companions this is that first step. Full details of this initiative will be sent to all companions in the coming weeks. Let's take a tip from Buckinghamshire Craft and do something different. You are all the cornerstones on which the Buckinghamshire Holy Royal Arch is built; long may you all continue to support and encourage others to be part of something so very special. I know there is much to do in the Province; however, I know with your help all our goals and objectives can and will be met. May the True and Living God most high be with you all – God bless.