Bro. Chairman. W. Bro. Steven Martin, Worshipful Master, Chinguacousy Lodge, M.W. Bro, Ronald Groshaw, Past Grand Master, R.W. Bro. Thomas Hogeboom, Deputy Grand Master, R.W. Bro. John McLaughlin, District Deputy Grand Master, Toronto West District, Newly Elected and appointed Members of Grand Lodge, and all brethren.
Brother Senior Warden Matthew Regina, members of Chinguacousy Lodge, permit me this opportunity to thank you for your kind invitation to be your Guest Speaker this evening and share in the extraordinary fellowship that we are witness to on this very special occasion in your Masonic Year.
To the newly elected and appointed brethren who received Grand Honours at the Annual Communication of our Grand Lodge, permit to share with you a quotation from Thomas Carlyle, a very famous Scottish philosopher:
“Become all that you were created capable of being ……expand your full growth, and show yourself at length in your own shape and stature” ……As you move forward in your respective offices, you have my good wishes for every success in all your future endeavors.
Six weeks ago this evening, tens of thousands were in downtown Toronto celebrating the success of the Toronto Raptors, in capturing the NBA Championship. Through the media of television, we were witness to people “standing up” to support with a sense of pride the outstanding triumphs of their favorite team.
21 Days ago, sixteen thousand people in our nation’s capital shared in the revelry, and festivities taking place across this magnificent country in celebration of our one hundred and fifty-second year of Confederation. People from every walk of life, representative of the diversity of our outstanding nation, “standing up” with their sense of pride in being a Canadian.
Approximately 100 hours ago, we as members of the distinguished Grand Lodge A.F. & A.M. of Canada in the Province of Ontario, the oldest and largest Grand Lodge in Canada were witness to the Installation of the Grand Master, M.W. Bro. David Cameron and the Investiture of the Grand Lodge Officers at the one hundred and fifty-sixth proceedings of our Grand Lodge.
“Standing Up” to acknowledge, to applaud, to recognize their achievements and success, is a glowing reminder of their commitment and dedication to our organization.
A few weeks ago, I welcomed the opportunity and accepted an invitation to witness a Candidate receiving his Entered Apprentice Degree.
We are all familiar with that part of The Ceremony of initiation when the candidate is asked “What at the present moment is the predominant wish of your heart?”
We all know the “expected” answer. Many of us have certainly heard a variety of “different” answers. On this particular occasion, I heard a “different” answer.
The candidate had proceeded in the normal fashion to the completion of his Obligation.
He was probably nervous and may have been in an uncomfortable position as he knelt at the altar.
When asked the question, his answer was: “TO STAND UP”
Immediately some mild laughter could be heard in the Lodge Room, most found amusement in his “different answer. Some even found occasion to comment following the Degree. Many in the room will remember his “different answer,” For me personally, his response to the question immediately resonated and struck a chord.
We, as Masons, may do well to take note and heed his “different” answer. HE WANTED TO “STAND UP ” Should not we, as Masons, also want to “STAND UP,” not to stretch our legs, not to relieve an uncomfortable posit io n, not to relieve nervousness. Permit me to submit it is time that we, as Masons, took the courage to “STAND UP” as Masons.
To ” STAND UP” for what we believe in
To ” STAND UP” up for what Masonry teaches
Maybe it’s time you and I really too a good look at ourselves. Do we ” STAND UP ” for Masonry???
How often have we been asked ” What do Masons do Vis i bly” What are your answers? Can you handle this one?
Do we mumble about our fraternity?
Or do we use it as a chance to make good business contacts?
Or do we, without violating our honour, or our secrecy, explain what we learn and teach in Masonry, The brotherhood of Man, under the fatherhood of God.
Do we communicate within our social circle, .our neighborhoods, the great visible benefits our Masonic Foundation has administered to needy students in schools and universities in Ontario?
Do we convey within our communities the funding? Coupled with the commitment of our membership, the Foundation since it ‘ s inception has provided relative to P.A.D, the substance abuse program, The Giant Steps School and Therapy Centre for children with autism, the help2hear cochlear implant program in conjunction with Sick Kid’ s Hospital? What about the $1.3 million dollars raised through our membership for the “Prostrate Hope” campaign?
More than 300.000 children and youth in Ontario have one or more neurodevelopment disorders. Your financial support for Grand Master Todd ‘ s charity of choice which was to provide funding for research into Autism funded three projects in 2018. It is my under stand ing they are looking at additional projects with funds raised this year.
In their own discreet manner, many of our members have a passion for our Masonic charities. We should be very proud of their commitment to support their chosen charities. We are much more about lending a hand, than a secret handshake!
IN EACH INSTANCE, AS MASONSWE HAVE EVERY REASON TO “STAND UP”! FOR THEIR ACHIEVEMENTS.
When was the last time we visited a sick Brother or spent some time with an elderly Brother to be reassured that someone cared?
Or when did we take a flower or fruit basket to a widow?
Or we took the young son of a deceased Brother out to a ball game? Do we believe in Honour, Truth, and Justice? Do we have a sense of pride to ” STAND UP ” for our fraternity?
What does it mean to you now, .and in the future? Our world is changing,.and it is changing FAST!
Today we live in an age with a multitude of challenges. The expectations of work,.. family,.. worship… recreation, and entertainment are all moving at an unprecedented pace……
Freemasonry,..not withstand in g, still survives.
And although our modern era can sometimes be enough to wear the average man down, members of our fraternity are anything but average.
We have accepted a mantle of responsibility that most men are not capable of assuming. Freemasonry is not easy! MASONRY IS A PRIVILEGE!
A PRIVILEGE TO “STAND UP” FOR!
When considering the antiquity of our fraternity, and the challenges of the 21st century I would suggest we should encourage the abolition of negativism.
How about that infamous statement: ” We have never done it that way before”
Should we practice the continual quoting of our declining membership numbers at our meetings, and communications?
Let’s be far more positive regarding “The Masonic Story” and the content of our presentations within and without our fraternity. Freemasonry’ s message is enduring, it connects with men in society at large. We have a compelling message to communicate! We have reason to STAND UP” for Masonry!
There is nothing so constant in our universe as change. Yet, mankind seems to fear and fight change at every turn. For our gentle Craft, things are changing, and the transition will continue as we move forward.
We market an excellent product, we are also in the people business,.do we offer the new applicant with the optimum experience of friendship where he feels important and valued? Do we work at building and maintaining relationships once he has become a member of our fraternity?
Equally as important, Do we take the time to listen to some of the observations or questions he or our members may have?
Author Steven Covey, in bis book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” is.
.” Seek first to understand, then to be understood”… “Listen 70% of the time”
If we take the time to listen to both what is and is n’ t being said, perhaps we could better understand how to provide… enhance.. .. and collectively meet the requirements of our members.
In order to prepare for the future, our Masonic leaders must understand that we have to be focused on our most important commodity and asset our membership.
In a publication that I receive, I had the opportunity to peruse through some of the quotations the late Steve Jobs, former CEO of Apple, expressed in his presentations at the annual shareholders meeting. One of which is and I Quote: ” We must think differently and express that in our products ” End Quote.
Consider for a moment another quotation from Mr. Jobs. “When I hire really senior people, competence is the ante. They have to be really smart, but the real issue for me is whether or not they are going to follow in love with Apple, everything else will take care of itself. They’ll want to do what is best for Apple, not what is best for them” End Quote.
Certainly , the Masonic fraternity is a much different organization than Apple, but do we engage in sincere affection for our fraternity? .. ..do we do what is best for our members? Do we do what is best in the support of our governing body, .. .. .. Do we ” STAND UP” for our fraternity? Or do we think only about ourselves, and our own personal interests and progress?…. Or are we only engrossed in wearing the badge? Or favour some of the infighting within our Lodges? ……Food for thought Brethren!
As we move forward in this period of evolution we have to recognize our culture is changing Today, an applicant for Masonry is probably better educated,.. living in a digital world,.. enveloped in social media,.. and prepared to challenge what he is being told. .. In his busy everyday schedule,.. time management is a major factor In order for our fraternity to grow and prosper we must endorse innovation.
We might again draw some wisdom from Steve Jobs, and the emphasis on the distinctive worth of each person contemplating membership in our fraternity. and I quote:
” Here’ s to the ones who see differently.” ” They are not fond of rules, You can quote them, disagree with them, but the only thing you can ‘ t do is ignore them because they do in fact change things. “
“They push the human race forward, and while some may see them as absurd, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” They are the future of our fraternity.
The organizations and infrastructures we built in the past to accommodate the large numbers within our fraternity are not relevant with the situation we are living with today. Big is not necessarily beautiful!
We are already witnessing the downsizing of our fraternity through amalgamations, the shuttering of Lodges, the sale of real estate holdings, coupled with the consolidation of our concordant Masonic bodies with residence under one roof.
The foregoing is most unfortunate, however, through innovation this could well be a re-building process to grow and prosper, return to our roots, get back to the basics so to speak, with a vision to cultivate a more committed and stronger fraternity.
We have already been witness to the growth of Daylight Lodges, the introduction, and formation of ‘Traditional Observance’ Lodges. Forward thinking, in each instance meeting the requirements of our long service brethren, and the new breed of Freemasons.
Recently, I learned of the success of a Lodge in the OTA experiencing challenges relative to both attendance and participation. Progressive in their thinking, they launched
“The Saturday Morning Club”.
Being creative in coming up with a solution to their challenge, They hold their meetings on Saturday morning. They serve breakfast prior to their meeting, and lunch is available following the meeting!
Success through innovation! It is my understanding they have a waiting list of candidates and members from other Lodges contemplating membership.
Equally as important, these innovations have proven to be very positive in addressing some of the interesting and worthwhile challenges submitted by our most important asset. the core of our organization, its members.
Times change, our methods of delivery must keep up with those times, we must continue to do a better job in the 21s t century of meeting the needs of our membership through
leadership, innovation, motivation, enthusiasm, objectives, and the resources available to us,while the basic beliefs we hold in our fraternity must remain steadfast.
Brethren, every person in this room is most fortunate to be a member of one of the oldest, respected, and honoured fraternities in the world. Membership in our fraternity should not be something we take for granted. Masonry can, by it’s very nature be a tremendous power for good throughout the world, Masonry is a gift, Masonry is a wonderful life!
Let me share with you a statement given by M.W. Bro. Lou Copeland, Grand Master 1985-1986 in his address delivered at the Annual communication in 1987.
Thirty two years on, it is well worth repeating.
I believe in people, and I especially believe in Masons. I have found in Freemasonry a cause to be championed , A life to be lived, A truth to be shared, and a future bright with promise.
Brethren. we are Masonry.. … We set the example, .. ..
We promote charity,….We practice toleration…
We generate Friendship and Brotherly love
The future is in our hands … yours and mine
The time is now to wake up and smell the roses, working together to strengthen the threads that hold this outstanding fraternity within our Jurisdiction together.
It is time that we as Masons “STAND UP” for Masonry
In a ringing endorsement of our Brother kneeling at the alter who requested ” TO STAND UP” there is a deep need in our society for what Freemasonry brings into the life of a man who chooses to kneel at the altar.
It takes a big man to believe in something bigger than himself. Not just a man, a Mason!
We must proclaim who we are to the world, tell our story authentically, and as we move forward, reflect our timeless core values in modern and engaging ways.
Please join me in ” STANDING UP” for Masonry!!!