September 25, 2015
I would like to thank R.W. Bro. David Hodgins for that introduction. It was so nice I though he was talking about someone else…..
Brethren….I would like to sincerely thank each and every one of you for your attendance here this evening. It is very much appreciated.
It is without doubt a profound honour and privilege to serve as District Deputy Grand Master for the Sudbury-Manitoulin District. And I’d like to thank all of you for your support as I take on this position; I cannot do it without you.
I’d like to take a couple of minutes to talk about what my theme or direction is this year.
My main focus will be on membership and why we are Masons. I think that while this is a fairly basic concept, it is fundamentally important that we succeed on this level; for if we do not, we will cease to exist as a viable concern.
We need to examine such things as:
o Participation…getting our brethren involved to the level of their comfort
§ Allowing/encouraging them to be part of the team
§ This is a basic human desire….to belong, to be part of something
o The needs of new members and established members (and I am talking about experience not age)
o Making people feel welcome
o What does it all mean…symbolical aspects…there is a wealth of interesting and entertaining information on this subject and tapping into it will make us better Masons, but will in addition I believe improve membership.
The aspects of membership are far broader, but the aforementioned will give you some idea of what I am thinking of…..
As we proceed through the year my official visit talks will cover the topics in more detail, but this evening I just want to touch briefly on one of the building blocks of membership, that being attendance.
Think.....we have just seen a long and difficult piece of ritual delivered in lodge….it was well done and added greatly to the message conveyed to the candidate. I think you will agree that the ATTENDANCE of this ritualist is valuable. But let us examine another aspect....How does this value compare to the “side-bencher”?
The term “side-bencher” sometimes has a negative connotation, but this is simply not the case…..I would propose that this person’s attendance and participation, also has great value.
We could look it in terms of a sports team….we are stronger with all the players on the ice at a time ….if a player is serving a penalty, the team is playing short and this greatly affects their ability to compete and win….
This analogy can be compared to the lodge….apart from a good program and excellent ritual delivery, one of the things that makes for a successful evening is a full house. What if the seats are empty?....what if a mason stays home because he will not be missed, or there is nothing there for him?....the masonic team is “short” and it is much harder to meet the goals or purpose of the evening. Yes we had a candidate, yes the ritual was well delivered, but due to lack of “support”….i.e. the brethren in attendance…..the overall experience was not what it could or should have been.
Milton wrote…”they also serve who only stand and wait” and while there are many interpretations of the exact meaning of this….I quote it here to illustrate that there is value to the lodge no matter what your role on the evening may be.
I will not go into any more detail here but I will revisit this concept later in subsequent talks, but the bottom line here is that we must recognise the value of attendance in the lodge and take measures to improve it.
This applies not only in a broad sense to the lodge, but more importantly to each of us individually and the message is that if you do not attend lodge and other masonic events, then you are letting the team down and reducing the success of our craft. Each one of you, no matter what your role is… ….ritualist or attendee…your presence has great value.
Changing my direction a little....
I also want to mention that each and every one of you should be proud to be members of the Sudbury-Manitoulin District. Masonry is alive and well in our District….can we improve?...of course….but by the actions of those here tonight and many brethren who could not be here or who have gone before us…Masonry in our District has much to be proud of.
I would also like to mention the Grand Masters Charitable Project for the next two years, which is also our District Project this year....Project Hope which aims to find a cure for Prostate Cancer. Information and donations can be obtained by talking to W.Bro. Junkala, the District Masonic Foundations Chairman.
I would like to thank all those who have taken on District Chairmen positions….your commitment is an example of why our district is healthy…
Before I close I would like to acknowledge the presence of Your District Chairmen.......I would ask that you stand and stay standing...brethren please hold you applause until I have named them all.
I would also like to thank the Masters and Warden’s Association in the persons of the President... W.Bro. Jason Ashley and the Secretary...W.Bro. Lipic... for their efforts in coordinating tonight’s event…
In closing I would like again to thank you for your attendance this evening and for your attention during my presentation.
R.W. Bro. Clive D. Stephenson
District Deputy Grand Master 2015-16
Sudbury – Manitoulin District