Distinguished Guests, Companions all, it is with great pleasure that I welcome you here this morning for this our Annual Convocation. I was delighted earlier to introduce our distinguished guests, many of whom have travelled considerable distances to be with us, and today gives me the opportunity to repay the hospitality that I and members of my Executive have enjoyed at their convocations.
We are also delighted to welcome from within our own Province the Heads of Other Orders.
But I extend a special welcome to the Companions of this Province as today is for you and it is your day. Your numbers at this Annual Convocation remain exceptionally high and your resolute support for the Royal Arch is, once again, exemplified by your presence.
Earlier I congratulated those Companions and Brethren who were honoured in London a few weeks ago in Supreme Grand Chapter and Grand Lodge. During those festivities we were very proud to see our Provincial Grand Master, once again, re-installed as the Third Grand Principal in the Royal Arch. Regrettably he is not able to be with us today, but asked me to pass on his personal best wishes to you all and you will be aware, that by his absence I get to retain my Sceptre.
To those of you who have been appointed, re-appointed or promoted this morning, I congratulate you. Such recognition is well deserved but such preferments are not given lightly and are given in the knowledge that you will continue to promote and support this Supreme Degree with a renewed commitment, and by actively enlightening those Brethren who have yet to complete the fourth and final phase of their Masonic journey. This is the challenge that I again set you, but It is a collective responsibility for us all. Linked to this I also ask that you look after and mentor our newer Companions and help and encourage them to enjoy their involvement in this lovely order.
There are many Acting Officers finishing their duties today and I hope that those of you appointed to Active rank will be as diligent in carrying out your duties as those who have been with us and served us so well over the last twelve months. I was able to thank most of them personally at the Lunch we held recently but I reiterate my sincere thanks here today for a job well done. I cannot name all my Acting Officers individually, as there are too many of them, and they have all been superb in their various roles, but I will mention and thank Jeffrey Walter White and Jeffrey Coates who have completed 2 years in Acting Office and also Michael Coombes on completing four years as one of my Deputy Director of Ceremonies. My thanks to you all.
I must also single out one further Companion for a special mention. I refer to Marc Lewis. Marc you have completed three years as one of my Provincial Grand Principals and before that you were the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies. You have been part of our management team for a long time and throughout this period, at your many attendances at both Installation and domestic meetings, you have carried out your duties in a wonderful warm and friendly manner as befits your character, but also, I am pleased to say, with a sense of enjoyment. You have been a wonderful ambassador for the Royal Arch within this Province and also on your many excursions and visits to other Provinces. I thank you for a job well done and I know you will continue to support our Order and carry your enthusiasm forward into the future and we wish you and your family well.
It has been a very busy but rewarding year, attending such diverse duties as Installation meetings, domestic meetings and dedicating new Ensigns in Maesteg. It is in Maesteg that we will be celebrating the Centenary of the Llynfi Chapter in December of this year. We were also delighted to Consecrate the new Colonnade Chapter here in Cardiff and the future is looking good there, with them already having ten new Exaltees lined up, and five of these being exalted together at their next meeting on the morning of Saturday 15th July in Cardiff. Why not join them at this meeting to give them your support and to view this special event. On behalf of all my Acting Officers and my Executive I extend a big thank you to each and every Chapter in the Province for the warmth of the welcome we have received on all our official and unofficial visits during the last year. Your welcome has meant so much to us all.
Last year, with the appointment of our Provincial Grand Master, as Third Grand Principal I anticipated that it would result in an increase of interest by Craft Masons in the Royal Arch. I am pleased to report that the work of our Membership Forum under the direction of my Deputy Grand Superintendent is being fully supported by the Provincial Grand Master, and our colleagues in Provincial Grand Lodge. During the coming year we will see a revised recruitment regime in place centred around the important role of the Lodge Royal Arch Representative.
The list of existing representatives is being reviewed and strengthened, their job description updated and their visibility enhanced by the inclusion of their names on their Lodge Summons and in their Lodge Year Book Entries. We will also be introducing a Royal Arch Representative lapel pin for easier identification of these representatives in our Lodges. It is intended that the lapel pin will be presented at the Lodge Installation meeting by the Craft Executive in attendance. This is all to emphasise its importance and the link between our Orders.
This link is to be further enhanced by the appointment of a senior member of the Craft Executive to be responsible for liason with the Royal Arch and who will work directly with my Deputy Grand Superintendent to promote recruitment.
You will have observed in the main foyer two large posters emphasising the importance of the “Four steps in Freemasonry. It is intended to supply smaller versions of this poster for display in all Masonic centres across our Province. This will be done only with Masonic Centre Management approval.
Companions you will all be aware of the Craft 2021 Festival on behalf of the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution and I reiterate my total support for this appeal. I confirm my desire that once a Companion has received his Festival Jewel then I would like to see it worn with his Royal Arch Jewel in all my Chapters. You will also be aware that I do not target you as individuals to make donations towards our efforts to support this Craft Festival, but I have challenged and continue to challenge your Chapters, to raise funds by holding raffles and using the income from your Installation Alms collection for this purpose.
I intend that the Alms collection today will, once again, be contributed to this Fund and you will see from the envelopes you each have, that we hope to make use of Gift Aid in an endeavour to boost our funds by also getting the Tax Man to contribute to our efforts.
Deputy Provincial Grand Master, would you please convey to the Provincial Grand Master that I have been advised by my Treasurer that a little over a week ago he arranged the transfer of a further £10,000 from this Royal Arch Province to the 2021 Festival. This will bring our contribution to date to in excess of £33,000, something Companions of this Province you should all be very proud of.
I mentioned earlier about you wearing the Craft Festival Jewel in my Chapters, which I encourage. There is another Jewel which has recently been launched called the Tercentenary Jewel. When it was launched in February this year we were advised and I quote “Although Royal Arch Regulation 84 would allow the Tercentenary Jewel to be worn with Royal Arch regalia, it is suggested that this be discouraged. This suggestion was recently reversed by an announcement at Supreme Grand Chapter where we were advised that it was now in order to wear it at our private Chapter meetings but it must not be worn in Supreme Grand Chapter. Although I cannot direct you I have to advise that I am not in favour of it being worn in my Chapter meetings. However I would reiterate that whatever Jewel or jewels you wear in a Royal Arch meeting, the Royal Arch Jewel must be worn nearest to the centre of the body with any other breast jewels being worn to the left of the Royal Arch Jewel.
In conclusion I look forward to the year ahead and hope to be able to continue to share and enjoy your Company.
I wish you all a safe journey home and a restful and enjoyable summer recess and that we will all meet up again soon.