Most Worshipful Grand Master James H. Kendall

Good evening Brethren, ladies, gentlemen, and honored guests! The ceremony just completed marks the beginning of a new Masonic year, with a new Grand Lodge team in place to conduct the business and labors of our great fraternity. I would like to share some thoughts with you as this new year begins, about what it means to be a Mason, and what we as the Masonic Fraternity have accomplished and hope to accomplish. The past, present, and future of our gentle craft are a continuum of accomplishment and moral rectitude.

I have chosen the motif illustrated on my Grand Master’s coin, tie, and pin as a reflection of my background and training in the US Navy, but more especially for the symbolism it contains.

My motto of “Illuminari Quarendis” translates directly to “Light to Those Who Seek It.” How very appropriate is that motto. Do we not say “to be one ask one”? One must seek membership in our craft; it is not given. We offer light to those who seek it.

A lighthouse, to a seafaring man, historically has served two distinct purposes. The first is obvious; as a warning of danger to the mariner and his ship. The lighthouse marks shoals and other hazards to navigation. The second purpose that perhaps only someone familiar with the sea would know, is that a lighthouse also serves as a landmark which aids the navigator to find the position of his ship, to keep him safe and welcome him home.

The anchor and the ark have Masonic significance in that they are emblems of a well-spent life and a well-grounded hope. They are emblematical of that Divine Ark which safely wafts us over a tempestuous sea of troubles, and of that anchor which will safely moor us in a peaceful harbor, where the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest.

Light, an emblem and symbol of good throughout the ages. Light, a symbol of knowledge and learning, as to be enlightened. Light, a symbol of spiritual purity of the soul. Light, driving away darkness. Light, shining a light to bring clarity and focus.

Masonic Light. We pray to the great Architect that he “Illuminate our minds that we may walk in the light of thy countenance.” The Three Great Lights of Masonry are seen by aid of the Three Lesser Lights. Faith, Hope, and Charity, Brotherly love and affection. The theme of Light runs throughout our history, our rituals and our symbology.

The Masonic Families encompass arguably the largest charitable works in the world. The Shriners Hospitals are possibly the most visible charity and yet the other related bodies also have charitable programs. But, we are not a charity. Masons revere the “Great Architect of the Universe,” yet we are not a religion. We are not perfect beings and don’t claim that we are. We are builders. We build character. We build lifelong friendships. We build communities. We build hospitals, and we even built a state, The State of Washington.

We are the builders of Nations. The founding fathers included many prominent Masons. George Washington was a Virginia Mason and Past Master. Benjamin Franklin was a Past Grand Master. Also among the famous and important Masons were President Andrew Jackson, Grand Master of Tennessee, and President Harry S. Truman, Grand Master of Missouri. Our first elected Governor was a Past Grand Master of Washington. The first elected Secretary of State was a Past Grand Master. Yet, over time we let that connection slip away.

This coming year we will greatly increase the focus of the Legislative Task force. It is my goal to have each Deputy of the Grand Master identify a new member of the Task force. Working with the Deputy and coordinating with the Committee Chairman, we will reach out to our elected and appointed officials to re-introduce who we are and what we represent. In September we will take part in the rededication of the Corner Stone of the Governor’s Mansion in Olympia. The Grand Lodge originally dedicated that cornerstone 103 years ago.

Each Grand Master has selected a theme or motto. They are as individual as the Grand Masters are individual. Each theme calls out to us as Masons to take an active part. No amount of sloganeering or happy talk will make a jot or tittle of difference. It is only when we as individuals take up the challenges these themes evoke that our great fraternity will prosper.

Communicate to Educate. Be the Difference. Walk the Talk. Building Bridges. Learn and Change. These are not just empty words. They are, or at least should be, a personal challenge to each of us.

If you have not already done so, I encourage you to read the annual report of the Long Range Planning Committee submitted by VWB David Colbeth. He provides an excellent summary of the goals of the Grand Lodge and tools that have been developed to aid the Lodges and individual Masons. We have at our disposal enormous amounts of information and tools to help us on our journey from rough ashlar to perfect ashlar (a state we can never truly attain as the imperfect humans that we are).

There are four committees I am emphasizing to start the year. They are Finance, Legislative Task force, Membership Development, and Military and Veterans Services.

I am directing the Finance Committee to immediately undertake a complete review of the processes and assets available to the Grand Lodge to wisely manage our resources and ensure financial stability in the future. Steps have already been taken under MWB Warren Schoeben, and we will continue and expand those efforts.

As I mentioned earlier, I have tasked our District Deputies with identifying a Mason in their districts who is willing to serve on the Legislative Task force. We will craft a method to report interactions with our elected and appointed officials, in no small part in an effort to “get back into the game”. For too long we have neglected to interact effectively with our communities and especially our government representatives. We emphatically are not politicking, but rather showing our face in the town square once again.

The Membership Development Committee has been tasked to once again emphasize retention of our members, both new and old. The Six Steps program is only one tool in the box, and WB John Vivian as the new Committee Chair has his team ready to go to work.

Finally, the Military and Veterans Services Committee has a set of initiatives I have given them, and VW Tourtillotte has his committee queued up and ready to go. The committee will continue to develop the committee’s programs including visitations, Honor Flight, and teaming with Washington Masonic Charities.

For a sense of the excellent work of these committees, read their extensive reports in this year’s material.

Now to address the elephant in the room – membership. The reports and data are gloomy to be sure, if taken alone. I assure you, the same cries of doom and gloom have been repeated endlessly, going back to the early days of our Fraternity. Membership numbers surge and wane with changing circumstances and historical and demographic trends. No, the Fraternity is not dying. Yes, our numbers dwindle, however we are seeing visible signs of the early days of what I believe is a Renaissance in the Fraternity. Lodges are conferring more degrees and with the advent of the Six Step program, new members exhibit an enthusiasm for our craft not seen in many years. We are making Masons, and not just members of a club.

Let me return to one glaring fact the we all know and yet don’t want to acknowledge, and that is that with the best programs in the world, with the best intentions in the world, we will not achieve the positive results promised unless each of us pulls up his britches, rolls up his sleeves, spits on his hands, and grabs ahold with a firm grip and goes to work. We will work together as a Fraternal Family, with OES, Shrine, Scottish Rite, York Rite, DeMolay, Job’s Daughters, Rainbow Girls, Amaranth, Daughters of the Nile, and all the rest taking a part in our events and sharing our work together as a team.

At recent District Meetings I have at times asked you to look into your hearts. In your heart of hearts, deep in your soul, in those late hours at night as you think about the day and your role in life, do you believe, do you believe, that you are a good person? I do. I believe you are a good person. I did not say perfect, I said good. I firmly believe that in your soul and in your heart you are a good person who wants to do good unto all. The proof is our history and who we are today. We are the builders, not the destroyers. We are the “good people” committed to doing good, not tearing down. You have my deepest admiration, and I promise you my brothers and friends, we can accomplish all this and have a roaring good time while we are at it.

Elected Officers

Grand Master  MW James H. Kendall
Deputy Grand Master  RW Charles E. Wood
Senior Grand Warden  RW Christopher J. Coffman
Junior Grand Warden  RW Cameron M. Bailey
Grand Secretary RW Clinton M. Brown Jr.

Appointed Officers

Grand Chaplain  VW Rudolph “Rudy” N. Schade
Grand Lecturer  VW Clayton M.M. LaVigne
Grand Orator  VW Charles Compton
Grand Historian  VW Richard S. “Bud” Cook
Grand Marshal  VW Michael R. Pursey
Senior Grand Deacon  VW Lawrence “Skip” R. Nielsen
Junior Grand Deacon  W Gary F. Zambor
Grand Standard Bearer  W Stephen K  Hinze
Grand Sword Bearer VW Richard K  Bish
Grand Bible Bearer  W Thomas Crawford
Senior Grand Steward  W Paul A. Casson
Junior Grand Steward  W Michael A. Smitson
Grand Musician  Bro. Charles S. Wetmore
Grand Tyler W Steven R. Morrow
Asst. Grand Secretary  RW Donald J. Campbell