Companions, on Monday, it will be 100 days since we met in this beautiful Temple; for my Installation at the hands of the Most Excellent The Third Grand Principal. It has been a very busy and hugely enjoyable 14 weeks since that memorable day, including the Consecration of Cwm Rhondda Chapter here on 19th April and our Gala Dinner in Bridgend on 26th May and I must thank everyone who has made me and the Provincial representation so very welcome, throughout our wonderful Province and indeed when visiting our Kindred Provinces; when I have enjoyed the honour of representing South Wales and it is very pleasing to see so many friends here today; who have all made the journey to support us here today, in Cardiff.
The Craft Tercentenary provided us with a wonderful platform to show to the popular and uninstructed World what we are all about and the 426 Initiates we welcomed into our Lodges, in South Wales, provides us with interested and worthy Brethren, whom I sincerely hope will wish to extend their researches into the Royal Arch. Indeed, in 2017, our total number of memberships increased by 24, which was the first increase in real terms since 2007. You will be pleased to know that the figures for 2018 are also encouraging, with both memberships and actual companions showing increases over 2017. You, everyone here today, are the best advertisement for the Royal Arch so please keep asking our friends to consider joining or indeed rejoining our ranks.
To maintain this momentum, it is essential that the Craft Royal Arch Representatives have an opportunity to speak at our Lodge meetings, and I am grateful to the Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master for his full support and leadership in this aim.
Royal Arch membership is a very special addition to our Masonic journey, Companions. It is something to be hugely proud of and is the gateway to many other Orders & Degrees. We, as one of the larger Provinces in the Constitution enjoy a particular sense of history. Companions, the original Provincial Grand Lodge of South Wales was Consecrated in 1727 and subsequently divided into 2 Provinces (Eastern and Western Division) in 1848. This year we celebrate 10 years since we were renamed as South Wales and as our first Joint Provincial Grand Master and Grand Superintendent, Theodore Mansel Talbot, would no doubt have said in 1848 – “look forward with pride and purpose”.
Your generosity as Companions of the Royal Arch is truly staggering. As well as so generously donating to the 2021 Festival individually (through your membership of the Craft), all our Chapters have also donated to the Festival. To which end, Companion Deputy President (E.Comp Roy) and Chairman (E.Comp Sir Paul), I am delighted to announce that earlier this month, the Provincial Grand Treasurer transferred from Provincial Grand Chapter to the 2021 Festival a sum of £15,000. This brings our Royal Arch total contribution to date to “in excess” of £51,000. A total of which all of you Companions ought to be justly proud.”
As I said in my inaugural address, the current provision of Mandated Grand Officers has been reviewed and the Deputy Grand Superintendent will be in touch with the Officers of Supreme Grand Chapter, after the recess. Your input and invaluable experience will be essential in ensuring that we reward and inspire Companions to fully participate in our future.
I have a simple message; I want no Chapters to close. If you are in difficulty, for whatever reason, please contact the Deputy Grand Superintendent via the Provincial Office and we will do everything in our power to support you. Please do not wait until it may be too late. My colleague, E.Comp David Suter, the Past Provincial 2nd Grand Principal will head up a Team to attend and support Chapters who require support with their ritual. Full contact details will be populated on the Provincial Website.
Quite a few Companions have intimated to me that they would like new Chapters to be consecrated. Again, we will discuss the merits and any pitfalls with you to engender an open and honest conversation. I am certainly not averse to listening to your views. I would also recommend to all of you Installed First Principals to consider joining Hendre and Lord Swansea Chapters, where you will be most welcome.
To improve greater understanding of our joint Masonic direction of travel, we will hold a Joint Executive with the Craft Executive on Monday 02nd July. We have already met as the Executive Appointed today, agreed areas of responsibility and assigned leadership roles to named Officers.
We have today Invested a new Provincial Grand Almoner and Provincial Grand Charity Steward. Both these Officers will shortly also be Invested in the same office in Provincial Grand Lodge, together with the Provincial Grand Scribe E, Director of Ceremonies and Janitor.
The Almoner role has not been used as it was designed in our Chapters. Indeed, the Masonic Charitable Foundation would like queries and petitions to be made by whatever means at our disposal. The Chapter Almoner can help our Companions and families with that contact and also to care and enquire after Companions, if not attending; as they do in some of our Chapters, but not all.
Likewise, the Provincial Grand Charity Steward will liaise with you all to ensure that we are maximising our charitable efforts and being “smarter” with what we collect and give to so many charitable causes, all of which we appreciate and who contribute to the lives of those less fortunate than ourselves. Today, once again, you will no doubt generously contribute to charity via Gift Aid envelopes and I would once again urge you to please go back to your Chapters and consider using Gift Aid envelopes at all of your Convocations and I emphasise the benefit of gift aid and the need to tick the gift aid box on the envelope, if you are a Tax payer.
You will no doubt note from the report of the General Purposes Committee, printed in the “Red Book” that should Elected Principals be unable to attend their Regular Installations, the Executive will not automatically expect to return a delegation to the subsequent convocation. However, should the Chapter concerned wish an Active Officer of Province to attend, please do contact the Provincial Grand Scribe Ezra.
The quality of the design of the Red Book is in readiness to be populated on line, in the future – so that all of our membership can keep informed and up to date. That said, I am mindful that some of our membership, who are not fully engaged in electronic media, can sometimes feel left behind or disenfranchised. It is vital that we ensure that we communicate with all of our membership in the most appropriate form.
Finally Companions, I offer my personal congratulations to all Companions appointed and promoted today and congratulate all the retiring acting Officers who have been such wonderful Ambassadors for the Royal Arch. I cannot tell you what a great honour I deem it to be the one investing you today, on behalf of the Province.
I offer my personal thanks and gratitude to all those who have made today such a huge and enjoyable success and in particular, the Provincial Grand Scribe E, the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremony, Provincial Officers on duty, the Office Team, Cardiff Masonic Hall Management & Staff and the “Set up Team” and for those who will so kindly pack away after we close this Convocation and for the “often unseen guiding hands” of those helping deliver their particular support. You know who you are!
Feel proud Companions, for I am very proud of you!