Principals & Past Principals Dinner - Address
posted on 07 February 2017
What did I 'take away'.
Whilst you can read elsewhere of the exciting goings on at the Principals & Past Principals Dinner and the announcements on Senior Provincial appointments, the evening also provided an opportunity for the Most Excellent Grand Superintendent, E.Comp Phil Hall, to reflect upon his first three months in the role and to look into the future - a very useful insight for us all.
First it gave an opportunity to look back on that great day in November last year when he was invested and to pass on the congratulations of the 2nd Grand Principal, ME Comp Russell Race and the Grand Director of Ceremonies E.Comp Oliver Lodge, the latter not being known for his 'easy praise' but describing the work of the Prov GDC as 'very good' and commenting that the 'escort seemed flawless'. Though we know that E.Comp David Shakeshaft is outstanding it was great to pause and pass on that exceptionally good feedback and to thank all involved in organising the day, most especially E.Comp John Handley, E.Comp David Graham and E.Comp Ivan Norris who led the team.
Past Grand Superintendent - E.Comp John Saint
E.Comp Phil was pleased to thank those Chapters and Companions who had contributed to the gift for his predecessor, the Past Grand Superintendent John Saint. About half of the Chapters of the Province have made a contribution and was sure that the other half are in the process of so doing. It is the aim to present a memorable and appropriate gift to E.Comp John at the next meeting of the Warwickshire First Principals Chapter in May.
Exaltation and Membership
Continuing the theme from his address at his investiture and his New Year message E.Comp Phil reiterated both his desire that exaltation into the Royal Arch should be an aspiration for all and his aim that all such exaltations should be attended by either the Most Excellent Grand Superintendent, his Deputy or a Provincial Principal, that attendance being at their own expense. He was also pleased to see that some Chapters are now using explanatory 'Janitors Card' and 'Sojourner's Cards' to set the scene, encouraging use in all Chapters.
All that said E Comp Phil was disappointed to report that there were only 28 exaltations in 2016 and an overall reduction in membership of 35. As a Province we are working hard with the Craft to reverse this trend, but so as they are helping us so should we give all the support we can to the Provincial Grand Master. Our support for the Tercentenary Celebrations, be it at the meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge at Freemasons Hall in May or at the MFest Weekend at Weston Park in June should be 'unequivocal'. All were encouraged to book places as soon as possible.
The Most Excellent Grand Superintendent reflected that the revised arrangements at Installations were working well with the opportunity to involve a greater number of the acting Provincial Officers but that this had necessitated a number of changes including the way in which consideration is given on appointments. He outlined that he looked for Chapters to make a real input to such decisions and had tasked the Deputy Grand Superintendent and Provincial Grand Registrar to develop a strategy whereby Chapters will pass timely and useful information to Province to allow fair decisions to be made. This system will be trialled in the remainder of the season with the aim of rolling it out from the start of the 2017-2018 Masonic year.
Reflecting on the health of individual Chapters E.Comp Phil recounted his own recent experience in his Mother Chapter, Loyal Travellers Chapter where all Companions had decided that the 'most important element of our meetings came from friendly companionship itself' and was 'not about a misplaced loyalty to our Charter or Banner'. As a result the decision had been taken to surrender that Charter in March with all Companions intending to join Athol Chapter, thereby swelling its number to over forty and creating a great opportunity for future prosperity. This might not be a suitable route for all Chapters but a reflection on the need to consider options for the future.
Charity - a more local approach
Charity remains at the core of all we do and the Most Excellent Grand Superintendent was pleased to report upon the recent £10,000 donation made by the Provincial Grand Chapter Benevolent Fund to the Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance and our ongoing support to the Wilson Stuart School in Erdington which will amount to £25,000. But he was also pleased to outline new proposals from the Board of Trustees to broaden the support of the Fund to a wider array of perhaps smaller charities across the Province. The opinions of individual Chapters is being sought.
Future EventsSo we are well on with another busy year, with important events coming up. The church service will take place at Coughton on 26th February, this is a very special event in the calendar and can only be a success if as many as can support do so. Then time will quickly roll around to the Annual Convocation of Provincial Grand Chapter and the Most Excellent Grand Superintendent was pleased to confirm that this will take place on the 8th July, once again at Rugby College.
In conclusion E.Comp Phil thanked all for their support and looked forward to 'seeing you all again, with smiles on your faces, at your Chapters very soon'. It reminded me of his Investiture address when he said 'I read a nice 19th century line the other day – "A Royal Arch mason is not properly dressed unless he is wearing a smile" – a vital piece of our regalia companions, please do not forget to bring it with you'. A good final 'take away'.