My Theme for this year is “Together We Build”. It is not original or new, it was used by ME/MW Stewart C. McCloud Grand Master 1998-2000 and I was one of his Deputies. I feel it is as relevant today as it was back then! My Companions, The goal for this year is to not only grow our Grand Chapter, but all the Concordant Bodies of this Great Fraternity called Free Masonry. Whether your main Love is our Craft or Blue Lodge, Royal Arch, Cryptic Council, Knights Templar, Scottish Rite, Shrine, or one of the other Concordant Bodies. We have to work on our roots and that means getting involved and bringing in qualified Candidates to our Lodges to replace those that have gone before us. Many of our past Grand Masters have reminded us that we should look for our replacements, if we are to continue. I am sure that you know a neighbor or associate that you would like to sit next to in Lodge. We have the ability to seek them out and not wait for them to ask to be a member.

We also have to improve the education of our members, we have found that they are eager to learn more about this Royal Craft and, there are many informative programs that are in place to achieve this goal. We have to stop “Opening”, having no program and going home, instead let’s enlighten our Companions to the mysteries of our Craft and make their trip to the Chapter worthwhile as well as educational. This holds true in our Degrees, We have a wealth of talent in our Past Grand High Priests and they have written a number of useful tools to be used in our work. Between the Royal Arch Degrees are pages written to enlighten our soon to be Companions and you will find them on our Website and I encourage you either recite them between the Degrees or have them printed as handouts to be given to the Candidates.

I am reminding everyone that at any Royal Arch Festival where the Mark Master, Past Master & Most Excellent Master are performed, you are not able to include the Holy Royal Arch Degree as the Constitution clearly states that 7 days should be the separation between these Degrees. I know that it also states that a Dispensation could be granted. I have no intention of granting this unless there is a compelling reason to do so.

Charity begins at home and I believe helping our Youth with Scholarships, helping our Companions with Diseases of the Lungs, and the Medical Research Laboratory is in need of help and would look forward to your working to increase the support we give, by having a Table Chapter or some event to raise money for these causes. If you have not become a Member of the Zerubbabel Society you are missing a worthwhile program and when you sign up you will receive a medal plus a Pin denoting the Donation. A Red or Ruby pin means you are a member and you have 10 years to complete the fulfillment pledge of $100.00 a year for 10 years or you may want to complete your Donation and give $ 1000.00 and that entitles you to a Pin with a diamond in it and if you contribute another $1000.00 you will receive a 2 Diamond Pin. For Your donations you will also be invited to attend a formal cocktail party before the banquet in the hotel in Albany.

I have been informed by the Secretary of my Chapter that the previous Secretary had not been keeping the records up to date and quite a few new members had not signed the book or the date of exaltation had not been recorded. I am instructing all my Deputies that when they make their “Official Visit” to examine the records check to see if the Companions names and signatures were recorded and up to date. I have seen and heard of Chapters using this Royal Craft to fill the rolls of other York Rite Bodies, and the meetings are a prerequisite to the Council or Commandery meeting on either that night in the same room or sharing the year with the other bodies. I am a member of all the York Rite Bodies and have no problem with cost cutting measures as long as Royal Arch is not short changed and left out as we are the Gateway to the York Rite. Look around you… these Companions of the Royal Craft are some of the most dedicated, hard-working men you will ever meet. I have seen you turn around nearly defunct Chapters, labor hard to raise funds for our great causes, to move the proverbial mountains. With Companions such as you (pause for effect), I do not believe there is anything we cannot accomplish when “Together We Build!”

Thank You,
Bruce Testut
Grand High Priest, Royal Arch of the State of New York