Message from RW Bro Walter H. Scott
Address to Communication of District Grand Lodge of Jamaica and The Cayman Islands
on July 25, 2015
It is with unfeigned pleasure that I extend a very warm welcome to this the July Communication of your District. My delight is magnified by the fact that after far too many years we are finally having another Half-Yearly Communication outside of Kingston and in this instance, in Montego Bay. I am particularly thrilled to see so many of you who have journeyed from the Corporate Area to be here. The time, effort, expense and effort are sure signs of your continued commitment to the Craft in this District, and it is truly appreciated.
As a District, we continue to be honoured and privileged to have as our special guests:
V.W. Bro. Rear Admiral Hardley Lewin a Past Provincial Senior Grand Warden of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Jamaica and his delegation, and
Bro. Col. Lemuel Lindo, the Right Worshipful District Grand Master of Jamaica and his deputation.
I also offer a very special welcome to R.W. Bro. Afeef Lazarus, who despite his retirement from active duty over 6 years ago, continues to give yeoman service to the District.
Brethren, each year at this time we seek to recognise and celebrate the masonic life and work of one or two of our brethren who have made outstanding contributions to our District. Last year, through unfortunate circumstances an award was not made. This year it is with very great pleasure that I announce that W. Bro. Alvaro Alonso Casserly and W. Bro. Earle Barrington Beckford are the recipients of the District’s Certificate of Merit to Freemasonry.
W. Bro. Casserly was initiated on the 12th day of January, 1961. He was first installed as the Worshipful Master of Lodge Collegium Fabrorum on the 12th day of June 1969. He has been a wonderful, active, diligent and hardworking servant of English Freemasonry for well over 50 years. He has served on nearly every board or organ of District Grand Lodge, at all times with great distinction and humility. In 1979 he was awarded the rank of PGSGW.
W. Bro. Barry Beckford is one of my heroes. He was one of those very brave young men who answered the call of duty to serve King and country during the Second World War. As a teenager! He was initiated on the 12th day of October 1972. He was installed as the Worshipful Master of Lodge Collegium Fabrorum on the 11th day of June, 1980. A brother of quiet demeanour but steely resolve, he has served the craft well and faithfully for over thirty years. He too is a PDSGW, having been awarded that rank in 1999.
Let us use their wonderful lives, both civil & masonic as patterns for both emulation and imitation for ourselves.
Brethren, as you are all too well aware, the July Communication of the District is our business meeting.
As is usual, you have read, received and adopted 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
Let us not take for granted the hard and diligent work, voluntarily and gratuitously given by the Chairmen and the members of the several Boards and Companies in the service of English Freemasonry in this District. To them, we owe 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.
On the Tuesday before Annual Investiture in April each year the Pro Grand Master hosts a series of business meetings for District & Provincial Grand Masters and Grand Superintendents. Over the years these working meetings have come to reflect the extremely business- like manner in which Grand Lodge is operated. Grand Lodge is operated very much in the nature of a multi-national corporation with regional managers all across England & Wales (Provincial Grand Masters) and overseas (District Grand Masters & Grand Inspectors). We are all required each year to submit detailed reports and we are briefed on and introduced to new developments. This year in the afternoon of Tuesday 28 April, we experienced a three and a half hour meeting complete with very detailed power-point presentations. A SWOT analysis was conducted of where we are as an organisation and coming out of these meetings strategies and plans were agreed for action in the ensuing months.
All of this dovetails very nicely and in fact quite seamlessly with the implementation of our Five Year strategic plans.
There were briefings and discussions on:
- Retention & Retrieval.
- Leadership & Education.
- Image & Branding.
- The new Adelphi 2 data system in particular and our electronic systems in general.
- The Accounts, and
- The Tercentenary Celebrations and the branding associated with it.
In this regard, there is a special Mark that has been designed for the Tercentenary Celebrations. It is to be used on all letters, documents and material associated with the Tercentenary celebrations. Brethren may view it on the website of The United Grand Lodge of England.
Grand Lodge now demands a greater level of formality in the manner in which we do business. We are obliged to have detailed written Policies to increase the number of initiates; reduce the number of resignations; reduce the number of exclusions and cessations; recover former members; and to evaluate the reasons for leaving via an exit interview scheme. As a District we are to “provide guidance on best practice”. We are to develop our own booklet for potential initiates. We are required to produce “a published interview guide to help Lodges select and recruit new members”. Finally, we are to broaden the range of training seminars and workshops which we organise to include training not only in leadership but in speechmaking and project work. Recently, the President of the District Board of General Purposes sent out to all of the Masters & Secretaries of the Lodges a document entitled “A :Policy on Membership, Growth and Retention”. This is the first of many formal policy documents that will be developed and sent out to all of the lodges. I urge you all to read it carefully and to implement the Policies in your Lodges.
Last July I reported to you that Freemason’s Trust had been approved as a Registered Charity. Freemasons Association Jamaica (FMAJ) had its application refused. Our legal team comprising W. Bro. Stephen Shelton QC & W. Bro. Noel Levy (The District Grand Registrar) successfully appealed this decision and just last week we were informed that they were successful in the Appeal and that FMAJ will now be a Registered Charity. Registration brings increased regulatory oversight. It also means that we have to give more. We can only give more if we raise more, both from within our own ranks and from fundraising.
The “Evening of Elegance” organised on 12 December 2014 by the District Board of Benevolence was a resounding success. It was a thoroughly enjoyable affair and met its stated objective of raising a minimum of J$2.0 million for the capital of the Fund of Benevolence. It will not be held this year allowing a certain “breathing space” for the brethren and their wives. My charge to the District Board of Benevolence will be to host it every two years.
Brethren, succession planning at all levels is absolutely critical to the continued growth, development and enjoyment of our beloved Craft. R. W. Bro. Dr. Aubrey Jacobs was installed as District Grand Master on 17 February, 1972. He was 54 years old at the time of his Installation. He reigned for 21 years. R. W. Bro. Afeef Lazarus was installed as District Grand Master in July, 1992. He was 42 years old at the time. He reigned for 17 years.
On being appointed as District Grand Master in 2009, the Grand Secretary made it quite clear to me in writing, that the policy of Grand Lodge had changed and that District and Provincial Grand Masters could no longer rule for more than 10 years. Further, by the end of my eight year, a successor had to be identified. This will be done.
This path of succession planning has implications for subordinate offices. No longer will office holders serve for seemingly unending periods. As a matter of policy in this District, an office holder will not serve for more than eight or exceptionally ten years. Over the past three years we have had a new Deputy District Grand Master, two new Assistant District Grand Masters, a new President of the District Board of General Purposes, and a new President of the District Board of Benevolence. New and younger members have been appointed to the District Board of General Purposes. One of the questions formally posed to all the District and Provincial Grand Masters by Grand Lodge this year, was whether there were any Grand Officers under 55 years of age and whether the Deputy or Assistant District Grand Masters were under 55 years of age. This is one area in which we are not up to par. It will be remedied.
Brethren, in April of this year it pleased the Most Worshipful the Grand Master to promote The Deputy District Grand Master, the Rev. Melvin Carey to the rank of P.G. Chap. and W. Bro. Noel Levy to P.J.G.D.. The Grand Master also appointed W. Bros. Stephen Shelton QC and Albert Anderson to the rank of Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies. Let us celebrate with these Brethren on the reward for very hard work on behalf of our District, at the same time reminding them that these appointments are really only an earnest of their future exertions.
Brethren, we owe a debt of gratitude to the Brethren of the Montego Bay in general and of the Friendly Lodge No 383 in particular for all of the very hard work that they have put into ensuring that not only were all the arrangements put in place to host us here in this Temple for the Communication, but for the personal sacrifices, of time, money & effort that so many expended in order to renovate and refurbish this building in order to be gracious hosts to us.
Finally Brethren, please assist me in conveying our sincere gratitude to the District Grand Secretary and his staff for organising this meeting; to the District Grand Director of Ceremonies and his team for our very efficient ceremonies, and to the members of the District Grand Stewards Lodge for their continued hard work in ensuring that a very comfortable and successful meeting has been had.
Walter H. Scott, Q.C.
District Grand Master of Jamaica &
The Cayman Islands
25 July, 2015
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