First, my Companions, I thank you for electing me as Grand High Priest of the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons, State of New York.
I am humbled by your faith in me. And you know, even after seven years in the Grand Line, this Election and Installation still manages to be somewhat of a surprise to me. But I promise you that I will do my best to improve our Grand Chapter and promote it within and without Masonry.
I look forward to working with all of you to institute education at almost every meeting and to find ways to grow Royal Arch by attracting more Masons to join; and find ways to limit those who see no value in Royal Arch and demit, or simply walk away and stop paying dues.
Now, I call on you to help me promote Royal Arch Masonry and Masonry in general. As we look to share the light. On my pin and coin, I have an Ancient searching with a lantern with an upturned basket at his feet. We are not to hide the Light of Royal Arch Masonry under the basket, nor are we to hide each of our own rights of friendship and brotherly love. We are to search for those who would benefit from increased Light and Masonry by having additional friends and Companions. We are to search for those in the profane world who would welcome the benefit of Masonic Light, and the real friendship and brotherly love. Now, unlike Diogenes, I expect that we will find a multitude of Blue Lodge Brothers who would welcome finishing the journey and many in the outside world who would benefit and except Masonic life and real friendship and brotherly love.
For me, the key for growth for Royal Arch is twofold. First, we must maintain our membership by always giving them a reason to be active in Royal Arch, providing them something for personal growth at each meeting, even when there aren’t enough to actually open the Chapter. You give them education at every meeting, so that they will leave the meeting with a positive feeling of camaraderie and having learned something about themselves as well. And they will continue to come to those meetings, and they will tell everyone that wasn’t there what they missed, and why they should have been there and should show up at the next meeting.
I ask everyone to utilize all the educational tools. There are programs on our website, and there are programs in every one of our books. You, in every Chapter somewhere, has between what’s on the website and what’s in our training books a decade’s worth of educational material, so there never should be: “Oh, gee, I don’t know what to say. I have nothing with which to educate.” It’s all there for your use.
Second, we need to reach out to our Masons who only belong to Blue Lodges and help them realize that they have not completed their initial journey in Masonry, and should join Royal Arch to complete that journey, and widen their circle of true friends and Brothers. I call on each Chapter to identify every functional Lodge in their area – and even out of their area if there are no other Chapters in that direction – approach them for a Royal Arch presentation, be it ‘Fervency and Zeal’; be it ‘A Peculiar Stone’; be it the Slideshow that we have on the website; be it just what you know, on your own. There’s plenty out there for you to us.
And we know from history, especially this past year, with Most Excellent Bryant, that very seldom do you go into a Lodge and make a Presentation that you don’t come out with petitions from that Lodge to join the Royal Arch. Now, if there are Lodges that go: “We don’t want to hear from you”, and they don’t have York Rite nights, and they don’t have Concordant Body nights: have something on a weekend! Have a breakfast, invite the members of those Lodges that are pushing back, and give them what we have.
Now historically in New York, only 10% of Blue Lodge Masons come on to be Royal Arch. I don’t believe that historical trend is applicable. Because in this time, we have a larger percentage of men coming to the Masonic Fraternity to grow, to learn. And Royal Arch is that next step in the learning curve for them. So, we should not be at 10%; we should not be at 15%; we should be almost to 20% at least. So, while Most Excellent Bryant put forth an idea of a growth of 10%, which may happen soon, I think we should be looking at a growth of 25 to 50% over the next couple of years, because that is what we have for them, and that is what they need. We just have to make sure they know what they need!
And there’s the Scottish Rite also. We’re not in competition with Scottish Rite. I was at the Scottish Rite Council of Deliberation last year. And I’m looking out and I see representing their various Valleys Past Grand High Priests, Past Grand Commanders, members of every line in the York Rite, and more than just a few of Royal Arch DDs, and AGLs. So, I expect to also be reaching out to Scottish Rite because they’ve already made a step further, and to remind those that haven’t also gone to York Rite that there are two paths to learning. And as part of that, there will be a Royal Arch presentation in the Valley of New York City of the 7th Scottish Rite Degree which, gee, has to do with the Cornerstone. So, it seems like a very appropriate Degree for Royal Arch to do for Scottish Rite. And we will see what that commitment does.
Now, we also need to look to the profane world for those, if they understood their needs would welcome Masonic Light and true friendship. Statistics shows us that, since the 60s, membership in fraternal organizations and civic organizations has been on the decline, you know, at the same time, it shows that each succeeding generation is lonelier than the generation before. Each succeeding generation has more suicides the generation before. Each succeeding generation has more issues with drugs than the generation before. I don’t know about all of you, but I see a link. Joining organizations like this gives them things to improve themselves and gives them a base of true friends.
How many people at the youngest generation have thousands of ‘friends’ on here (holds up a smart phone), but have never had a half-hour conversation in person with one of them? If all of your friends are all on here, you have no friends. Come to organizations so you have friends and can improve yourself. I will say that, not quite in that vein, but I have a friend who came to Masonry late because all of his friends from youth had died or moved away: and he did not understand how people that met twice a month were so glad to see each other, and could talk to each other, and have just a rip roaring good time. It didn’t take him long to understand why. And that’s what we need to show to everyone: what they are missing.
Now, I expect to visit every corner of New York during my year; and to the Districts and to the Chapters in particular, if you have an outward-facing event, let me know and I will do my best to attend. If I cannot, I will make sure that there is a Grand Line presence there. I expect to be very active, also representing New York in sister jurisdictions. But I promise you that if I have a conflict, I will be in New York. My job is to do everything I can to assist our Chapters, and our Districts, and our Grand Chapter to prosper and grow. I simply call on every Chapter – and every District to help the Chapters – to have that educational program ready every meeting. You retain your members that way. (Also) to have that outreach and to do good ritual. You do those three things, and each Chapter, each new High Priest will deliver a better Chapter to their successor then they started with, and my goal here is to deliver a better Grand Chapter to my successor that I started with. And I just need all of your help to do that.
So, I look forward to working with all of you, and all I have to say is just: let’s do this!
ME Paul G. Huck
Grand High Priest 2019 – 2020
Grand Chapter, State of New York Royal Arch Masons