Message from RW Bro Walter H. Scott
Address to Communication of District Grand Lodge of Jamaica and The Cayman Islands
on July 26, 2014
Please accept my very warm welcome to this the July Communication of our District. I am thrilled to see so many of you here. Your continued commitment to the Craft in this District is truly appreciated.
As a District, we continue to be honoured and privileged to have as our special guests.
- R.W. Bro. Kirk Miller, the Provincial Deputy Grand Master of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Jamaica and the Bahamas and V. W. Bro. Rear admiral Hardley Lewin.
I also offer a very special welcome to R.W. Bro. Afeef Lazarus, our revered and beloved Past District Grand Master.
Brethren, although we have paid the last sad tribute of respect to all of our departed Brethren, I must make very special mention of the sad and lamentable passing of V. W. Bro. The Most Honourable Sir Howard Cooke, Past Grand Sword Bearer.
Let us use his illustrious life as emulation, and a pattern for imitation for our own Masonic lives. Committed, dedicated and faithful to the Craft, its principles, tenets, values and way of life.
Brethren, as you are all too well aware, the July Communication of the District is our business meeting.
You have previously read and have just approved the reports of:
- The District Board of General Purposes
- The District Board of Benevolence
- Freemasons Trust
- Freemasons Association of Jamaica
- The Jamaica Masonic Benevolent Association; and
- The Audited Accounts of District Grand Lodge
These Reports all speak eloquently for themselves and on your behalf I convey to the Chairmen of these Boards and the members of the several Boards and Companies our profound gratitude and appreciation for the tremendous hard work they have put in, continue to put in, and will continue to do in managing the affairs of these very important bodies for us.
We do not live in a static world and the changes are coming at us in a fast and furious manner. For as to survive, and to thrive, we have to be flexible in our ability to adapt to the changing business environment. A Charities Act has been passed by Parliament. There are new Tax Laws with draconian penalties.
Freemason’s Trust has been approved as a Registered Charity. This means that, amongst other things, donations made to it and by it for charitable purposes will obtain all of the tax and other benefits allowed under the Charities Act. I urge and encourage all Lodges to deposit all of their Charity and Benevolence funds with Freemasons Trust. It will act as Trustee for these funds and will disburse them as the Lodges so direct. The failure to do so may very well render the several Lodges liable to the Tax Authorities.
Freemasons Association of Jamaica has not been approved as a Charity. An Appeal has been filed. Freemasons Association of Jamaica is the business arm of the District. It continues to be profitable.
It is the income from Freemasons Association of Jamaica which is used to make charitable donations on behalf of the District Grand Lodge. Last year, out of its income, it distributed J$1,500,000.00 to charities as follows:
- Jamaica National Childrens Home - $500,000.00
- Jamaica Cancer Society - $250,000.00
- The YMCA - $250,000.00
- Womens Resource Outreach Centre - $250,000.00
- The Salvation Army - $250,000.00
The District Board of Benevolence continues to be strapped for cash for disbursement to needy Brethren and their connections. Last year, its entire budget for its financial year which commences on the 1st day of April each year, was exhausted by the end of October.
Lodges and individual Masons are encouraged to make larger and more frequent donations to the Board of Benevolence. I exhort you all to “remember the peculiar moment you were received into Masonry, poor and penniless, and cheerfully embrace the opportunity of practicing that virtue you have professed to admire.” In this case, I mean Benevolence.
In an effort to increase its working capital, the District Board of Benevolence will be organising an “Evening of Elegance” on 12 December 2014 at the Pegasus Hotel. The objective is to raise J$2.0 Million to go directly into the Fund of Benevolence for immediate use by it. It will be a black tie affair with white glove service and excellent cabaret entertainment. The cost will be $10,000.00 per ticket. I will be making a special appeal to Brethren who have influence in Corporate Jamaica to have their companies purchase one (1) table each. If twenty Companies and Firms are able to do this, we will be well on the way to earning the desired target of J$2.0m. I will be leading by example.
Brethren, we simply cannot afford to fail at this. Over the last few years, as the recession has deepened and our membership has aged, the magnitude and volume and value of the calls on the Fund of Benevolence has increased. We are obliged to do better for each other.
Brethren, in 2017 Grand Lodge will be celebrating its Tercentenary as the Mother Grand Lodge of the World. Although United Grand Lodge of England will be holding an Especial Communication of Grand Lodge in the autumn of 2017, it will be extremely limited in the numbers that will be able to attend. In order to ensure the widest possible participation in this most significant event, Grand Lodge has decided to encourage groups of Provinces in England and groups of Districts overseas to hold Regional Celebrations. Grand Lodge will ensure that a High Ruler is present at each of these Regional Celebrations.
Brethren, after years of lobbying, our bid to host the Regional Celebrations for the Americas, was approved last month in Bermuda. The Regional Celebrations will be held over 4 days in June 2017 in Montego Bay. It is estimated that there will be at least 500 Brethren and their wives attending from overseas. We have to not only match that number with Brethren attending from this District, but we have to exceed it. The Americas extends from Canada in the far north to Argentina in the South. It includes 8 Districts and one Grand Inspectorate with 106 Lodges under our Constitution alone.
We will have visitors from 11 Sovereign Grand Lodges in Canada; 82 Sovereign Grand Lodges in the United States of America; 5 Sovereign Grand Lodges in Central America; 6 Sovereign Grand Lodges in the Caribbean; 19 Sovereign Grand Lodges in South America, making a total of 123 Sovereign Grand Lodges in amity with United Grand Lodge of England that will be invited.
Invitations will also be extended to all of the Irish Provinces and Scottish Districts in the Americas.
Brethren, this will be the largest Masonic event ever to be hosted in the Caribbean and I dare say in the region. There is a lot of very hard work ahead of us. We have always been associated in this country and this District of punching above our weight limit. We are up to the task. With your assistance we will not fail.
A committee chaired by W. Bro. Dr. W.B.F Clarke, the President of the District Board of General Purposes has been set up to organise the events. Please give the Committee your unqualified assistance.
Brethren, at the Annual Investiture meeting of Grand Lodge in April of this year it pleased the Most Worshipful the Grand Master to appoint W. Bro. Dr. W.B.F. Clarke to the rank of Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies.
Brethren, please assist me in conveying our sincere gratitude to the District Grand Secretary and his staff for organising this meeting; and to the District Grand Director of Ceremonies and his team for our very efficient ceremonies.
Walter H. Scott, Q.C.
District Grand Master of Jamaica &
The Cayman Islands
26 July, 2014
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