First Principal’s Installation Speech
June 6, 2016
Firstly, I would like to thank those companions of Norwood, who, through your tireless commitment, your steadfast dedication, your positive energy, but mostly, by your vision, rebuilt this Chapter from the proverbial ashes in the vault upward, given it new life and purpose—making it a beacon for Royal Arch Masons in the area to call it a welcomed home. I know it has for me and many of the new companions that were recently exalted or affiliated.
To our newest companions, each of you is an important, if not the most important T in our Triple Tau. The bonds of companionship are already strong and will continue to build as we grow together in learning more about each other and Royal Arch Masonry in particular.
I’m sure many of you agree; for me, Norwood Chapter has become the exact Masonic group many of us have always wanted to be a part of—one that is rich in education and esoterica, performs ritual with meaning and greater effect, conducts meetings in a solemn, darkened atmosphere, has social fellowship and deep conversations that make you want to stay and discuss all night, and a fraternal affection that is genuine.
Building upon those refounders I mentioned, we have accomplished so much as a Chapter together in the past three years.
• moved our meeting date to the first Monday of February, April, June, and October
• are always on budget and have separated and increased chapter dues to better reflect reality, this is a smart approach to volunteer membership
• continually have had emergent meetings for the Mark and Most Excellent Master degrees instead of tearing down the Royal Arch Chapter and setting up a lodge again in the same night
• welcomed over a dozen new companions who regularly attend and are eager to learn
• hosted several Back to the Workshop Nights with good attendance from members and visitors
• hosted Masonic author Cliff Porter and had a well-attended educational presentation and dinner
• improved the lighting of the chapter room to a more solemn atmosphere
• now have “North” wood candle holders for the six lights
• display the Cyrus cylinder and Royal Arch solids
• use music in our degrees
• introduced an innovative way to reveal the Great Discovery down the stairwell
• have brethren prove up at the door as MMs, MMMs and MEMs before their degree
• moved the veils outside the chapter room
• all grew in our knowledge of the three degrees we confer
• provided a Mentoring Package immediately after each degree to each candidate containing information on the degree and educational articles
• present education and boast the most enlightening open discussions one could find in Masonry anywhere
• are growing in quality members and in spirit.
Again, to those companions who were here before me, you built it, and we came. That’s a lot to be proud of. And there are more worthy Masons to join our jolly band of brothers, and there is still more to accomplish.
As I am relatively new to Norwood, I have had the opportunity to perhaps see from an “outsider’s” point of view on the areas that our Chapter is good at and where we need to improve. Norwood is the first organization that I’ve been a part of that has a committee dedicated to continual improvement and that is exciting.
Here are the areas where I believe Norwood does very well:
1. Education – Simply put–the best minds and presentations in Alberta are right here in Norwood Chapter.
2. Fellowship – It really is something special. The friendships are like nothing I’ve seen in Masonry and we should nurture them outside the Chapter room.
3. Social/Events – Less is more. Back To The Workshop and Guest Speaker Events are good. Festive boards are very fun and I always look forward to it. Casual pub nights are in order.
4. Mentoring – We’ve only just begun, but we are on our way there.
5. Administration – Minutes, budget, and other admin are in great shape.
Here are some of the areas that we still need to work on together.
1. Ritual – More of us need to commit to memorizing the ritual with passion and conviction and move away from reading. Let us commit to doing that together.
2. Attendance – I am told this has improved, and regrets are increasing, but we need to ensure our newer members attend regularly. Is our meeting schedule, dates, and time conducive to the best for everyone?
3. Expectations – Potential and new members need to understand what we expect from them, and conversely, we need to know what they expect of the Chapter and Royal Arch Masonry in particular. The Council expects all officers to attend every meeting, practice, and event as far as your cable-tow allows.
4. Historical Archives – We need a committee to focus on this. There should be one individual with a good camera at every meeting and event. Our Chapter History needs much updating to our 100th Anniversary. I’ve begun working on this but need help. I’d like to appoint an Historian as a new officer in the Chapter.
5. Meeting Agenda – We need to send meeting agendas out to the brethren prior to the meeting via email well in advance.
What’s new for this next term?
One of the biggest things missing in Royal Arch Masonry in Alberta is that no chapter that I know of appears to be requiring companions to prove-up in the Royal Arch Degree even though it sits idle in our ritual book. We, therefore, lose an opportunity to become more comfortable with the machinations of the secrets. Several of our newly exalted Royal Arch Masons are already eager to prove-up, and so to ensure there is incentive, RAM certificates will not be presented until that companion has proven up. The door is also open for any companion, whether exalted a year ago or ten years ago, to challenge himself in proving up. I propose that these prove-ups be done in open chapter at a stated meeting as is done with Master Mason prove-ups. Let Norwood set a new standard for Royal Arch Masonry in Alberta on this front.
Short Education Presentations
Within a year of joining, each companion will be required to present a short essay on any aspect or aspects of the three degrees we practice and present at a specified meeting or festive board. At the end of the year, we will compile these essays along with other longer presentations into an archive that is then shared electronically with all the companions.
100th Anniversary and Keynote Speaker
We have $1000 budgeted to subsidize bringing in interesting Masonic speakers. Norwood turned 100 last year and we still have not really had a celebration of that momentous occasion. There is nothing stopping us from acknowledging Norwood’s lasting legacy. I propose we have this in the November timeframe.
And finally, let us Dig Deep in getting to know each other better. To do this, I propose that three companions get together to meet and agree to interview one another for a couple hours and then write a 1-2 page short bio on that companion. Those bios will be compiled into a document that we can share electronically or focus on a couple companions at a festive board, and also publish a nice printed book for the chapter archives so companions 100 years from now at the 200th anniversary will know who we were and that we did Dig Deep.
My Companions, we have an amazing opportunity to build upon the efforts and foundation laid by the original founders of this chapter but more especially by the brave members who toiled in the quarry to reestablish Norwood Chapter as the first European Concept Royal Arch chapter in North America. Let us Dig Deep and continually improve as a Chapter and as companions on our journey in discovering further light in Masonry—together.
In the name of the Great Jehovah, thank you, my companions.
Now let’s get to work!