Grand Superintendent’s Address- 7th September 2017
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 - and I cannot believe that I have now completed two years as Grand Superintendent and Provincial Grand Master. It has indeed been another memorable, exciting and busy year – how time flies when you are enjoying yourself – and this of course is Freemasonry’s Tercentenary year. I have already welcomed our Official guests from other Provinces, from the Metropolitan Grand Chapter and from Supreme 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. [You should make a careful note that next year we shall be changing the date of this Annual Meeting from the first Thursday in September to the third Thursday.]
Thank you also for the many congratulatory messages which you sent on my being awarded the OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
I offer my 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. The Members of the Executive have, as I advised last year, been emphasising the importance of membership recruitment and retention throughout the Province and I am delighted to report that we are now seeing a rising membership in the Royal Arch for the first time for many years – it now behoves us all to redouble our efforts to achieve this in the Craft too.
May I thank most sincerely E. Comp 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 has been invaluable both to me personally and to the Province as a whole. I also pay a warm tribute to E.Comps Clive Rees and Phil Campbell for their conscientious and diligent work as Second and Third Provincial Grand Principal respectively (the latter taking over from Nick Franklin at Essex First Principals Chapter last April) and, indeed to the four Assistants to the PGPs in the persons of E.Comps Eric Broadbent, David Branch, Ian Simpson and Chas Ager. Eric and David are by rotation stepping down and I have appointed E.Comps Elliott Chevin and Arthur Lucas to succeed them.
I should also like to pay a warm tribute to Andrew Bishop who sadly died just six weeks ago at the tender age of 59 and who had suffered from ill health for the past few years. Andrew gave outstanding service to this Province as Deputy Provincial Grand Secretary/ScribeE for 11 years and then as Provincial Grand Secretary/Scribe E for 13 years. He stepped down as Provincial Grand Secretary for the Craft last March and was scheduled to retire as Provincial Grand Scribe E at this meeting. We shall greatly miss his knowledge of Freemasonry in general and Essex in particular.
May I thank most sincerely the Acting (and now newly appointed) 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.
One year ago, at this meeting, we officially launched the Essex 2022 Festival with a target of £5 million. There were also well attended local launches/workshops at Upminster, Southend, Chingford, Braintree and Colchester over the ensuing weeks. I am delighted to be able to report that good progress is being made after this first full year of the appeal and it is very encouraging that Chapters, as always, are making contributions as well as Lodges and individuals. Essex freemasons are indeed renowned for their charitable giving.
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 was my especial pleasure, apart from attending Combined Chapter meetings in Essex, to be present and to officiate at Patriotic Chapter’s banner dedication – a banner dedication for a Chapter is a rare event as evinced, for example, by the fact that Patriotic Chapter No 51 has existed for 210 years without one. It was a most enjoyable and momentous event which I would encourage others to emulate.
As you are aware, we held a Tercentenary Civic Service of Thanksgiving at Chelmsford Cathedral on the afternoon of Sunday 25th June and a Proms Event here on the afternoon and evening of 8th July. These were very well supported as are our forthcoming dinner events at 3 venues on 4th November. Can I also say how impressed I am by two developments. First, the new book – the sister volume to the Master’s Chair – which chronicles the history of Royal Arch Masonry in Essex. I am truly grateful to Glyn Jarrett and Brian Wright and their team for managing to get it completed and published in this Tercentenary year. Secondly, our new dedicated website for the Royal Arch in Essex, which is a major innovation, is now up and running. These two Royal Arch initiatives are indeed worthy contributions for us to celebrate in this Tercentenary year.
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