Grand Superintendent’s Address- 20th September 2018
istinguished Guests and Companions. It is a great honour and a great privilege for me to address you again as Grand Superintendent in and over the Royal Arch Province of Essex at this Annual Essex Convocation – it is now three years since I was installed as your Grand Superintendent and Provincial Grand Master and I have enjoyed every minute in those roles. I have already welcomed our Official guests from other Provinces and from the Metropolitan Grand Chapter – may I now extend a warm welcome to all the Companions here today and I thank you all for supporting our Annual Meeting here in the Grand Temple.
Warmest congratulations to those Companions whom I have had the privilege of investing today. This is your day and I hope it will be a happy and memorable one for you. Provincial honours are, of course, in part a reward for past efforts but they also reflect an expectation of future service for your Chapter, your Masonic Centre or the Province itself. May I thank most sincerely Cliff Thoms for continuing his excellent work for the Royal Arch as Deputy Grand Superintendent. His experience and wise counsel both in the Royal Arch and in Craft masonry continues to be invaluable both to me personally and to the Province as a whole. I also pay a warm tribute to Clive Rees and Phil Campbell for their continuing conscientious and diligent work as Second and Third Provincial Grand Principals respectively.
The Assistants to the PGPs in the persons of Chas Ager, Ian Simpson, Elliott Chevin and Arthur Lucas have also done an excellent job. Chas Ager is stepping down today as an APGP.
I thank him for his hard work in that role and his continuing involvement with the RA website is very much appreciated.
It has pleased the ME First Grand Principal to authorise me to appoint an additional APGP – John Crudgington in his capacity as Membership Officer – and I have also appointed Andrew McLeod as APGP to succeed Chas Ager.
May I also extend my grateful thanks to the Provincial Scribe E, Phil Lovelock and the Provincial Grand DC Geoff Turpin and each of their teams for all their hard work and effort in ensuring that today’s meeting proceeded smoothly – as well as the outstanding support they give me throughout the year.
I commend to all of you the new Essex Royal Arch tie, which is available exclusively from Essex Mason and which may be worn at any Essex Chapter or when representing Essex or an Essex Chapter in a Chapter at another Province.
The Royal Arch Executive has continued to develop, borrow and produce many innovative initiatives around the Province, primarily designed to recruit new Exaltees and to provide a better understanding of The Royal Arch. With the help of The Stewards Chapter and the ever-improving network of Lodge Royal Arch Reps, this has very pleasingly resulted in a growth in our membership, albeit modest given the size of the Province. I see no reason why this trend should not continue, but what is still worrying is the number who are resigning from our Chapters and those who are not attending many, if any, Chapter Meetings. Under the leadership of John Crudgington and his Membership Team, we now intend to devote more attention to what can be done to address these serious issues.
In other Provinces, I am aware that the role of the Chapter Almoner in this regard has been recognised as pivotal.
Indeed, there is quite a debate going on across Provinces about the true nature of the Almoner’s role. There is a consensus that it’s clearly the wrong name for the job envisaged, as it instinctively tends to be thought of as being the same as that of the Craft Almoner. The Chapter Almoner’s role is in fact a hybrid combining the duties of Craft Almoner, Mentor and Membership Officer and, as such, is hugely important to the strength and well-being of a Chapter. I want it to be clear that the Chapter Almoner’s main task is looking after the welfare of his Chapter; establishing who is missing and encouraging their attendance; not letting them drift into the habit of not attending; letting them know they are missed. A simple phone call, text, email or letter will keep them involved. Other Members, especially Proposers and Seconders, can assist him in this effort. If there is a Companion who is in need of help, then it is the Craft Almoner who has the tools at his disposal to deal with matters swiftly, discreetly and effectively, who should be informed. (I appreciate that this Almoner can be the same person). It is, of course, quite in order for the Chapter Almoner to briefly report that Companion X was absent tonight through sickness and our thoughts should be with him. I am sure some Chapter Almoners are performing their role in the way that I have suggested and I hope that the remainder will now have a clearer understanding of what is needed. The Provincial Grand Almoner and his Team support this initiative and will continue to provide assistance and guidance to Chapter Almoners.
It may be that we need to change the job title to reflect the role, and my Deputy tells me that he has discussed this with Supreme Grand Chapter who appear to be “relaxed” about titles if it facilitates the desired results. Companions, you will all hear more about this in the coming year.
In the long run, the overall strength of The Royal Arch depends upon the vitality of the Craft. The new Membership Pathway document currently being adopted by the Craft, highlights, from the very beginning, the natural progression of Core Masonry from Entered Apprentice through to Royal Arch Companion. The Craft overall is very supportive of The Royal Arch and as this Province has the same Head of both organisations, it should come as no surprise that this link is being continually reinforced in Essex!
I wish to encourage you all to use the Royal Arch website at www.essexroyalarch.org
. Not only is this a news and events platform for you to consult and contribute to, but, crucially, we continue to expand its range of materials, lectures and guidelines which we hope will enable Chapters to function more smoothly and provide entertainment and learning opportunities for the advantage of their members. It will certainly help if you can find a space on your Chapter Summons to remind members of the site. Companions, we also need your feedback to make sure it is delivering what you want from it.
I know that all the Members of the Executive appreciate the support and encouragement we receive from Chapters all across the Province and their generous hospitality whenever we make an official visit.
It will be my especial pleasure and privilege later this month to assume the role of First Principal of Essex First Principals Chapter No. 3256.
Thank you once again for listening to me and may God Bless you all and indeed this Royal Arch Province of Essex. As I say at the conclusion of each of these addresses, let us go forward together and walk worthily in the light which shines around. Rodney Lister Bass, OBE