Excellent Companion and Most Worshipful Brother John C. Green, the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of Canada in the Province of Ontario; R Ex. Comp. George A. Napper, Grand Second Principal; R. Ex. Comp. Paraag Suchak, Grand Third Principal; Most Excellent the Past Grand First Principals; Distinguished East and Companions.
M. Ex. Comp. Richard J Jackson I thank you for organising and conducting the Ceremony of Installation and the Investiture of the Grand Chapter Officers in your usual professional manner. Also many thanks to the Past Grand First Principals for participating in this Installation ceremony, to come back year after year and participate shows true dedication and it sets a fine example for all the companions to emulate.
M. Ex. Comp. Richard J. Jackson I also thank you for staying on as the Grand Scribe Ezra, your experience and extensive knowledge will be a major asset to me and to this Grand Chapter.
To M. Ex. Comp. Brian D. Van Sickle, on behalf of the Grand Chapter, I thank you for your leadership the past two years, may you enjoy your time in the back row along with your peers.
R. Ex. Comp. George A. Napper, I welcome you as Grand Second Principal and I look forward to working with you the next two years. We share the same concerns and thoughts about the future of this Grand body and with the new Grand Third on board I am sure we can keep moving Grand Chapter forward into the twenty first century.
I welcome R. Ex. Comp. Paraag Suchak Grand Third Principal, congratulations on your election and I look forward to working with you. As Chairman of the Condition of Capitular Masonry you have a great responsibility and I will give you all the support you will need to get the job done.
To all the other elected and appointed officers, welcome to the team, we have a strong team of committed, well skilled companions and it looks like a good year ahead.
I have fond memories of the companions who started me on this journey, especially R. Ex. Comp David Dainard who suggested that I should consider running for the Grand Executive. To all the Companions in general and District 8 in particular, I thank you all for the tremendous support over the years. My mother chapter was Ulster Chapter # 219 and I have fond memories of the social events and companionship that we shared. Ulster Chapter amalgamated with Lebanon Chapter # 220 with whom we had a close relationship. Lebanon # 220, I thank you for making us feel welcome and at home and also for supporting my endeavours over the years. It has been a long journey to get here and I could not have done it without all of your support. To my wife, Heather who supported my masonic endeavours for 37 years, I thank you for everything. Without your support I never would have made It this far.
Over the next two years I plan on some changes designed to improve the efficiency of Grand Chapter and improve our visibility in the masonic community.
I plan on reducing the number of elected and appointed members of the Grand Executive; the current size is too large and is not necessary in this day and age, hopefully we will have a notice of motion at the next Annual assembly resolving this issue.
In addition to the Grand Chapter Office email address currently in use, the Grand Chapter will have an email address that is to be used for mailing Chapter Summons to the Grand Council, starting September 1st 2016. The current Office email address, the office phone number, fax number and regular mail can still be used as a means of communication.
A few years ago when I was the Public Relations Chairman, a pilot program was launched with great success; it was called a recognition program where a Worshipful Master who is a royal Arch Mason in the year of his rule was recognised at the next Grand Convocation. I would like to see this become an annual event. When this program is implemented, a letter will to be sent to his lodge advising them what happened. This recognition will take place at the Meet and Greet event and his family and friends could be invited to attend. This should help promote our presence in lodges. The Public Relations Committee with the assistance of the Grand Superintendents will be responsible for this event.
I believe that the various York Rite bodies should assist each other; it can only strengthen the bonds between us. So in the spirit of cooperation, I suggest that when there is excess space in a chapter summons, reference to events in other York Rite bodies should be included. Hopefully this will include craft lodge summonses. Also please remember to include a list of your Past Principals; they are an important part of your chapter history.
I will be working closely with the Public Relations Committee to create a capitular presence in as many lodges as possible. The idea is to have a designated person in the lodge passing along chapter information. The Public Relations Committee has many materials and ideas that have to reach lodge membership, as well as chapter membership. Many new masons are not aware of who we are, or are sometimes misinformed about our organization. With the assistance of the Grand Superintendents this should help in overcoming these problems.
The Grand Representatives communications to other Jurisdictions continues to be a problem with some Representatives not making contact with their counterparts, or if they do, sometimes there is no meaningful correspondence. Other Jurisdictions such as the Supreme Grand Chapter of Queensland who did a study of the Grand Chapter representation and found that only four relationships were found to be fruitful and will be continued. They discontinued the other fifty eight Grand Chapter relationships.
To find out what our situation is and to control it, the Grand Representatives will send a copy of all their correspondence to the chairman of the Fraternal Correspondence Committee, R. Ex. Comp. G. Henry Handsley, who will present a report at the next Grand Executive meeting. The results of the report will decide which Grand Chapter relationships we keep and which ones will be discontinued.
There will be three ad hoc committees, these committees are developed to find a better way of doing business and to plan for the future.
Assistance to Chapters
This committee will assist chapters in difficulty by trying to learn from the past. Unfortunately there will be chapters going dark and amalgamating at an unprecedented rate over the next two years. The first project will study Guelph Chapter; it was situated in a lodge building along with five lodges, in the middle of a large growing urban community and it is hard to understand how the chapter got to the state of going dark. Hopefully there is a possibility of resurrecting capitular masonry in Guelph. The warning signs of a chapter in decline have to be recognised early and acted upon. The committee will also study successful chapters to find what makes them vibrant and getting multiple candidates joining chapter year after year. As the Grand Second Principal suggests in his report, the chapters that are proactive and seek out ways of reaching masons prosper and chapters that only say “We need candidates” will eventually go dark.
As a result of the continuing reduction of chapters in this jurisdiction, there will have to be a realignment of some sort and it will be the duty of this committee to study the situation and come up with a recommendation. Any decision made will only be after considerable deliberation and discussion and that I will ensure that any realignment that happens will accommodate as many companions as possible.
Web site update
The web site needs fine tuning and updating to make it more user friendly and informative. This committee will report back with suggestions and oversee the implementation of the improved site.
To date we have the Keystone/Ancaster Amalgamation set for June 21st 2016. R. Ex. Comp. Sean Fuller is reappointed as trustee and will continue as trustee until June 21st 2016.
R. Ex. Comp. Keith Styles is reappointed as trustee of Durham Chapter # 221 to assist them in their regular duties.
Halton Chapter #234 is looking to amalgamate probably with St. Clair Chapter #75; if and when this happens a trustee will be appointed.
Presqu’ile St. Marks #26 is going to amalgamate with Quinte Friendship Moria Chapter #7 and the process has started. R. Ex. Comp. Kevin Fudge is appointed trustee to oversee the amalgamation.
R. Ex. Comp Gray Waters is reappointed as trustee of Couchiching Chapter # 198 to assist them in their regular duties.
The nomination form for Grand Chapter Office continues to be a problem. To try and eliminate the problem of nominees being unnecessarily rejected, the form will be redesigned with less confusing information.
There could be more nominations for appointments from Past First Principals to Grand Chapter. There must be many deserving excellent companions in your chapter working hard in the background that should be recognised.
The Distinguished Service Award continues to be well supported by the membership. Continue looking for that deserving companion who never have been or never likely to be First Principal, and send in the application form.
Companions all, I thank you for your support and trust over the many years and I will give my all and uphold the good name and respect of this high and important Office. I am looking forward to the next two years working with you all, and together we will continue moving this Grand Chapter into the future.
The 159th Grand Chapter Convocation will be held at the Holiday Inn and Suites, St Catharines, 327 Ontario Street, Ontario L2R 5L3 from April 5 - 8, 2017.
The amalgamation of Ancaster Chapter No. 155 asnd Keystone Chapter No. 224 will take place in Ancaster on June 21st, 2017 at 19h00.