I am humbled by the trust you have placed in me to serve as your Grand High Priest. The last eight years in the Grand Line traveling around the jurisdiction, I have met many new Companions and have learned a great deal. The most important lesson I have learned is that even though the profane world is full of hate, violence, prejudice, and despair, Royal Arch is a place of love, understanding, charity and peace.
There are many that I must thank for this opportunity. First and foremost, all the Grand Hight Priests that have come this way before me and shared their wisdom and experiences especially M∴E∴ Jeffery Williamson who had enough confidence in me to appoint me Grand Master of the First Veil. I have served 8 Grand High Priests, all of them men of direction with intense love of the craft.
The 2018 Grand Line has really stepped up to the plate to make DDGHP & AGL Training a tremendous success. You have the most dedicated and industrious Grand Line ever. They are ready to help where ever and whenever needed.
There is an individual who is not here today who has been a driving force from the beginning, the late R∴E∴Aldo Ghirarduzzi. It is hard to imagine standing in the Grand East without Aldo by my side. Everyone knows Aldo as an old curmudgeon but behind the scenes he was supportive and always ready to lend a hand.
And finally, Lady Jean who has shared 45 years with me and has kept me on the straight and narrow. She has always been there with me through thick and thin.
My motto this year is “Building 4 Tomorrow”. The program consists of 4 major building blocks that make up the foundation of Royal Arch Masonry: Membership, Education, Charity and Ritual.
These building blocks encompass and expand on the original “11 Points”.
Two major goals and objectives in 2018 include a new Zerubbabel Society member in each Chapter, and a 10% increase in membership in each Chapter. These goals may sound lofty, however it’s all a matter of presentation. You’ve seen on television the many ads where you can donate to a charity every month and you become a member. Some of these programs include animal rescue or veteran assistance. You notice that the donation amount is always $19. They don’t tell you that you will be donating $240 a year to the cause. The same applies to our Zerubbabel Society. When we say it’s a $1,000 commitment it discourages some from participating. However, the $1,000 over 10 years translates into less than $2 a week. $2 is less than the cost of a gallon of gas or a coffee at any of the popular establishments. I could go through a litany of things that can’t be bought for $2. It’s all a matter of presentation.
There are so many tools on our website to help gain and retain membership. Hopefully, you had the opportunity to see the Sixth District perform the Peculiar Stone. There are 2 other programs available, equally impressive and just as effective, both on the website, Fervency & Zeal and the RAM PowerPoint Presentation. I can tell you from personal experience that the RAM PowerPoint Presentation is a powerful tool and you don’t have to be a computer whiz to use it. There are also numerous awards or recognition that are available that will encourage members to participate.
I’ve been speaking about the education programs for several years. Years ago, when I asked a wise, old Mason the meaning of Masonry, his response was as follows. Some join because they want to make friends. Yes, you do meet new people and make many friends when you join but that is not the reason. Some join because the want to participate in the charitable work we do in the community. Yes, the Masons do enormous amounts of charitable and philanthropic work, but that’s not the reason to join. And some join because they want to help youth by sponsoring youth organization and giving out scholarships. Yes, Masons are very involved with youth but that’s not the reason to join. So, what is Masonry? Masonry is an educational institution. If you don’t understand that and participate in the educational opportunities available to you, you will never be happy. These companions that are never introduced to the rich history and lessons taught in Capitular Masonry will in likelihood drop off the radar in a few years. If you want to keep your members you must keep them engaged. On a positive note, both CDC and Capstone Courses are being held all around the jurisdiction with some good result.
Charity is one of the best things we do as Royal Arch Masons. There are so many programs available to raise money for Royal Arch Charities. I’m pleased to see Table Chapters springing up all around the jurisdiction. In fact, we’re traveling to Geneva for one in a couple of weeks. This is a fun way to help the charities.
Ritual is an important tradition in our institution. In the past few years, much has been done to improve the quality of the ritual and we will continue that path. For those of you who had the opportunity to attend training in December, you know that it was quite different from previous years. Training this year was job specific where one group concentrated on Education and Ritual, and the other concentrated on Membership and Charity. Rather than producing volumes of training manuals, we provided all the necessary files on the “Key To Success” Flash Drives. This drive that’s shaped like a key contains all the files a District Deputy or Assistant Grand Lecturer might need during the year.
This year I plan on visiting all 17 districts in the jurisdiction. This is not a “pep rally” type visit but more a town hall approach. We will exchange information and thoughts to determine how we can best help each other. In my view, the Grand High Priest is not a “dictator” but rather a sponge that collects and shares information and ideas to expedite success.
Finally, we have a mechanism to share information, events, photos and good tidings. This mechanism is called NYRAM News and it is for every Chapter and District. Everything your Chapter does, degrees, Table Chapter, picnics, family events, visitations, education, should be mentioned in NYRAM News. Your DDGHP has been instructed to carry a camera everywhere he goes to document these events. You should make it your priority to do the same. It is important to share these events with other companions throughout the jurisdiction. As I travel around to the various districts I will be documenting my visits on NYRAM News.
Some of the NYRAM articles migrate to the Royal Arch quarterly magazine. If you are not receiving this magazine, please contact your Chapter Secretary so that can be corrected.
A couple of dates to keep in mind, August 11th we are working in conjunction with the Order of Eastern Star to commemorate the Battle of Oriskany. And on October 13th, during my reception weekend, we will hold the first ever, Grand High Priest DeMolay Degree class.
Companions, we are at a crossroads. We can seize the opportunity and make Royal Arch Masonry better than it is or we can just stand by and watch the parade pass us by. This choice is ours to make.
May the Great I AM watch over you and protect you.
I will see you all soon.
ME Allan M. Bryant
Grand High Priest 2018