Freemasons of Washington will be recognized as a relevant and respected Fraternity, committed to attracting and retaining all men of high quality who strive for self improvement and the opportunity to make a positive difference in their community.
My dear friends and Brethren all … My beloved Lorraine, visiting honored Masonic guests, Most Worshipfuls, Right Worshipfuls, Very Worshipfuls, Worshipful Brothers, and every other Brother in this room tonight. I stand before you, humbled by the tremendous honor you’ve given me. I thank you all for your trust and confidence and I pledge to every one of you that I will work diligently to earn that trust every single day.
I could never have arrived at this moment without the love and support of my sweetheart of 18 years, Lorraine. I am fortunate to have the support of many close and dear friends both Masonic and non-Masonic. I had the great privilege of working with Most Worshipful Brother Jim Kendall these past several years. I cannot thank you enough, Jim, for your brotherly love and friendship these past years. You had so many challenges and came through them all with strength, resolve, wisdom, humor and purpose.
Where do we go together from here? I have spent the past several years thinking about that very thing. First things first, we will not fix things that aren’t broken. Each of the Brothers that has preceded me has invested heart, soul and mind in this position. Each has left our beloved craft in a little better place for their efforts.
What I do know is that there are several things that are always works in progress, and we will tackle those things together in our quest to constantly serve our Fraternity and every community in our Grand Jurisdiction; to keep the cardinal virtues of faith, hope and charity. We have a bright light to shine and to share in the places we live, work and play. As every Mason knows, we have our 24-inch gauge which teaches us to properly divide our time among work, charitable relief and rest and recreation, and we use that tool to help guide our efforts in every aspect of our lives.
So, what are the challenges we must continue to face and improve every day? I see several and will need your help. The challenges ahead include: trends in membership, changing budgets, visibility in the communities we serve, constantly improving our long-range plan to meet our needs, developing our newest members, and working together as one strong brotherhood to achieve our common goals.
I would like to offer up a few challenges for the coming year and I consider these to be achievable and measurable. My plan is to report the success of these challenges in my closing remarks at our next Annual Communication to be held at the Great Wolf Lodge in Grand Mound, WA.
The first challenge is to raise $40,000 to support the following Washington Masonic Charities programs:
- Distressed Worthy Master Masons, Widows and Orphans,
- A Youth Program to keep children in school and not on the streets, and
- The Honor Flight Program. Thank you MWB Jim Mendoza for getting this program started.
I have made the decision not to sell coins, pins or ties. Instead I challenge each Mason to write a check for $40.00. That’s what it would have cost you to buy these 3 items in the past. Send your checks and cash directly to Washington Masonic Charities. Ken Gibson will track donations and give me a monthly dollar value on which I will report using the Masonic messenger.
The second challenge is to reduce the number of annual demits that we experienced last year by one third.
The third challenge is to reduce the number of non- payment of dues (NPD) that we experienced last year by one third.
The fourth challenge is to reduce the total number of entered apprentices and fellowcrafts waiting for degree work by one third.
The second through fourth challenges are all achievable and measurable. By going to the Grand View membership portal, each Lodge can look up the numbers that I am challenging each member to reduce this coming year.
The fifth challenge is to improve the outward appearance of our Masonic buildings. There are currently 117 building associations in our Grand Jurisdiction. I would like to see at least 23 Temple Boards take up this challenge. This would go a long way toward improving how the public views our Fraternity. First impressions make a long-standing impression on potential members and will influence how the general public views Masonry. I would ask that each Lodge and Temple Board take a picture of its property before and after improvements and send it to Grand Lodge and to me.
The final challenge is to improve Lodge ritual throughout the Jurisdiction. To accomplish this challenge, we will be implementing both team competitions and individual competitions. The team competitions will consist of a 3-person (Worshipful Master, Senior Warden and Junior Warden) team for opening and closing the Lodge. Team membership is open to any Master Mason from the same Lodge. There will be 8 regionals competitions and a 50% participation rate would be considered a successful start. Individual competition rules will be forthcoming. Thank you VWB Steve Martin, Grand Lecturer, for your leadership in getting this program started. Please see Steve Martin further information and guidelines.
How will we get these things done? Frankly, it will be through a lot of dedicated effort by every Brother in every Lodge, as well as by this great team we have. My officers, my Deputies, and my committees have all received my guidance and will have my support. They’ve been instructed to work with you as diligently as I will. I thank each appointed officer and all committee members for accepting their appointments and their willingness to serve our great Fraternity.
Our Grand Lodge team is as much another working tool for the Lodges as it is for me. Reach out to them. Capitalize on their experience and let them serve Freemasonry to make it an ever-better organization.
One of the major parts of our 24-inch gauge is our time for refreshment and rest. No organization can thrive focused only on its hard work. My Brothers, as Most Worshipful Jim Kendall told us all this past year … have fun. I agree wholeheartedly. There’s a time for devotion to the Almighty, there’s a time for our regular and our Masonic labors, and there’s a time for fun, too.
During my term, I hope that every Lodge I get to visit will be able to celebrate and share those things that make each one unique.
My last thoughts, if you’ll allow me a personal insight for a moment, please. Brothers, sisters, sons, daughters and guests, remember that our gentle craft believes in service; to our communities, our Lodges, one another, and to every human being who may have a claim upon your kind offices.
Ladies, gentlemen, guests, and Brethren all, it is my true and great honor to be your Grand Master. I ask you to help me carry out this office with your prayers and counsel.
I would close by saying that this year is not about me but about “we”. If you take the “m” in me, turn it upside down, the word will now be we. We have the know-how, the will power and the strength to get things accomplished. Ask not what Masonry can do for you but what can you do for Masonry, the greatest Fraternity the Supreme Architect of the Universe ever created.
God bless and keep each one of you, and our beloved Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons.
Thank you all for coming!
Very Worshipful Brother Grand Chaplain, would you offer our thanks to the Great Architect?
M⸫W⸫ Charles E. Wood