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Annual Communication 2015

 

A transcript of the Provincial Grand Master’s, the RW Bro Peter Alan Taylor,  Annual Communication address to the Craft is reproduced below:

 

Cut Out 1Distinguished Guests and Brethren.

It is a great delight for me to see a virtually full house today and I welcome you all to our Annual Communication. We gather in celebration of everything that is good in Masonry within Shropshire.   We are honoured on this occasion to have the support of the Rulers of 13 other Provinces and the Heads of other Orders within Shropshire who, by that support, square the circle of our Masonic family, and I am most grateful to them all.

253k Performance iconOn this day last year I launched our 2019 Festival for the Grand Charity and that is going very well and, as has been reported by my Deputy as Chairman of the Festival earlier today, we already have one third of our members signed up to regular giving and £253,000 in the bank.    However, during the past year I have issued to each of you the important news from Grand Lodge about proposals to consolidate the work of the four central Masonic Charities into one new Charity, the name of which has yet to be announced, and which is intended to be brought into full operation on the 1st April 2016. These proposals for a single over-arching Charity have the support of all of the Provincial Grand Masters and they have received the approval of the Most Worshipful The Grand Master. The purpose of my highlighting this imminent change in our Charity system is to reassure you that during a lengthy introductory period for the new single Charity, there will be no change to our own Festival which will continue to be for the Grand Charity and indeed, all Festival Appeals throughout the land which conclude prior to 2022 will continue as planned.

Picture1Brethren, the last year has witnessed a sea-change in the way in which the Province communicates with you – and you with us. Our state of the art website set up by our webmaster Bro Neil Bevan last year is interactive with the Provincial Twitter account and a restricted FaceBook account opened purely for the purposes of our Festival but not for general Provincial communications. The website is regularly updated and is now linked with our electronic news facility called “Out of the Blue” . This was the brain child of our Newsletter Editor W Bro Kim March and I am most grateful to him because by this means every Member of the Province who has a smart phone, Ipad, tablet or other electronic device can receive, wherever they are in the country, an instant message with the latest news and pictures of what is going on in their Province. This has done much to increase our collective enjoyment of all that is being achieved in the name of Freemasonry.   Similarly, Twitter is going very well for Shropshire and we now have over 900 followers which for the size of our Province is most commendable and demonstrates the increasing and indeed crucial importance of the social media as being part and parcel of Freemasonry for the future.

The major event for the Province within the last year was of course the Consecration of our 34th Lodge in Shropshire, that of The Iron Bridge Lodge No 9897 which took place here in this room on the 24th January.   I was very proud of the Consecration team which, by its performance, reflected the historic importance of the event. The new Lodge is already bringing new members into Shropshire, and as it is a University Scheme Lodge, I am very pleased to report that the first University undergraduate is likely to be initiated in September.   We all wish Lodge No 9897 “God speed” on its journey which we pray will be long and successful.Iron Bridge Banner jpeg

Brethren, the Province is doing well, with our Members engaged in the charity drive for our 2019 Festival, and our membership numbers are holding up reasonably well; however we must do all that we can to reverse the number of resignations which unfortunately continue at an even pace.   The Province has a retention and retrieval policy which is implemented whenever a notification of an impending resignation is received; but in my view when such a notification is received it is usually a symptom of what has gone wrong previously, and I believe that by concentrating our efforts to head off an impending resignation we are perhaps looking at the wrong end of the problem.   The statistics that my MFG group has for England and Wales reveal that 20% of all Initiates and Joiners leave Masonry during their first three years and I believe that in order for us to better manage the expectations of these candidates, much more information should be given by us, and received from them, at the interview stage, perhaps with a “built in” period of preparation giving the candidate time for reflection before embarking upon that which should be a lifelong commitment to Freemasonry.   Too often I notice that Lodge Summonses itemise a ballot for an Initiate followed by his ceremony of Initiation, should the ballot prove in favour.   I appreciate that circumstances can sometimes dictate that this practice is unavoidable, but wherever possible, I would prefer to see the practice adopted where there is a ballot at one meeting with the ceremony to follow at the next. This will give a vital period of reflection for the candidate to speak with his wife or partner to confirm full support and to engage with his proposer into Freemasonry or indeed the Lodge Mentor or other Masonic friend, to have any concerns or queries answered. This I believe would pave the way for a candidate to be more informed, more certain and more likely to be a long term committed member of the Lodge.

Our celebrations today centre around those Brethren who have been appointed to or promoted in Provincial Grand Rank.   To those that have received their first appointment I offer congratulations with the certain hope that you take pride and enjoyment in your forthcoming year as a Provincial Officer, but add the caveat that wherever you are you should remember that the honour conferred means that you are a representative of this Province and the Province looks to you for your support in everything that we are trying to achieve.   I also congratulate those who have received a deserved promotion which will have been for your continued good work for your Lodge or for the Province and I thank you all for your continued support.

My thanks go to three Provincial Officers in particular who have stepped down today; I first of all thank my Wardens, W Bro Jeremy Lund, the Provincial Senior Grand Warden and W Bro Peter Road-Night, the Provincial Junior Grand Warden who have both worked with enthusiasm and dedication on behalf of the Province and they have discharged the duties of their respective offices with great dignity. I now refer to W Bro John Norman who has stood down today as PrGDC after a term of 4 years; make no mistake Brethren, John has shown himself to be a superb DC – his preparation has been meticulous, his authority has been unquestionable and with that lightness of touch and devilish humour, he has secured the affection and respect of us all.   John, I thank you for all that you have done, but please do not go too far away because the Province cannot easily do without men of your proven high calibre. The past year has been a brilliant year of enjoyment for me with the great camararderie of the Provincial team of active Officers, some of whom are retiring today, and I extend to them my gratitude for their support during their term of Office.

To complete our celebrations Brethren, I am pleased to confirm that at the Grand Lodge Investiture on the 29th April, W Bro Brian John Clayton will be promoted to the rank of PJGD as will W Bro Ian Hugh Macbeth, and we congratulate them both and wish them happiness and fulfilment in their new Ranks.

I conclude by giving my thanks to W Bro David Kettle the Provincial Grand Secretary and all those in the Secretariat who have worked with him to make the event today such a success.

Brethren, I thank you and wish you health and happiness for the Masonic year ahead, and a safe return to your home and to those whom you love.