Message from RW Bro Walter H. Scott
Address to Communication of District Grand Lodge of Jamaica and The Cayman Islands
on July 23, 2016
It is with very great pleasure that I welcome you all to this the July Communication of your District. After the delights of Montego Bay last July, we are back at home for this the Business Communication of the District. 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 & the Bahamas, and
Bro. Col. Lemuel Lindo, the Right Worshipful District Grand Master of Jamaica and his deputation, and
Bro. John A. Fraser, a Past Provincial Grand Master from Scotland and his deputation.
I also offer a very special welcome to R.W. Bro. Afeef Lazarus, who despite his retirement from active duty over 7 years ago, continues to give active support by his presence at our Communications and by his work for our beloved District.
Brethren, On Wednesday 13 July, 2016, I had the very great pleasure to attend, on your behalf, at the Jamaica National Children’s Home to deliver our annual contribution to the home. As you are all aware, the Home is the special charity of the District and each year during the month of May, special collections are uplifted for this cause. This year the donation amounted to J$824,575.00 and I wish to specially and specifically thank all of those Lodges and Brethren who so generously contributed to this sum. The Home continues to do a really tremendous job with its residents and we ought to be justifiably proud of the assistance we give to it.
Brethren, the July Communication of the District is our business meeting. Very dry, a little tedious, but very very important.
After your usual careful perusal of the papers sent to you in advance, you have this evening, 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
These reports do not record the very hard work that is carried out by dozens of your Brethren to ensure that the machinery of the business of Freemasonry in this District operates efficiently and smoothly. The work is never at a standstill!
The current Five Year Plan expires at the end of this masonic year. I have already directed the President of the District Board of General Purposes to get his team cranked up, so that the Five Year Plan for the period 2017-2022 will be available for discussion, and hopefully adoption by the July 2017 Communication of the District. We have achieved a lot under this, the initial Five Year Plan. There are tasks not yet completed and these will be continued under the new Plan. Additionally, there is a lot more to do. Particularly, in the area of benevolence.
Last July I reported to you that both Freemason’s Trust and Freemasons Association of Jamaica had been approved as a Registered Charities. In order to maintain our charitable status, both bodies are required to give a substantial portion of their net surplus to public charitable causes. The Board of FMAJ has taken the decision to donate a ventilator to the University Hospital of the West Indies. This is a vital piece of equipment for which there is a shortage at the hospital and which will no doubt assist in saving many lives. It will cost millions of dollars. I am particularly delighted to be able to make the public announcement of this donation this evening when the Chief Medical Officer for Jamaica is present in our gathering.
Independent of the donations made by FMT & FMAJ, last year the several lodges donated J$6,387,765.00 to charitable purposes. As wonderful as this enhanced generosity was, I am obliged to advise that during the same period, only J$2,596,694.00 was contributed to the Fund of Benevolence. You all are only too well aware of the work of the District Board of Benevolence and the vital work it carries out by way of the Fund of Benevolence. There needs to be greater balance and harmony between our charitable and benevolent works. I urge you all to ensure that this balance is achieved by the end of this masonic year.
Brethren, at our Communication last July I begun the conversation with you on the issue of succession planning. In my address then I said "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 44 years old at the time. He reigned for 17 years".
I was 49 years old when I was installed as District Grand Master. On 11 July, 2016, I celebrated my seventh anniversary as your District Grand Master. Happily & fortuitously, I attended a masonic meeting that evening so I was surrounded by my Brethren on that very happy occasion. As long as the GAOTU continues to bless me with good health, I will retire as scheduled in July 2019. As it was with my two immediate predecessors as District Grand Master, a young, able, dedicated and zealous mason will be appointed to succeed me.
The work on our District’s succession planning continues on many levels. Within the course of the last 19 months, I have appointed a number of younger able, dedicated and experienced Past Masters to the District Board of General Purposes. Thus, W. Bros Owen Francis, Robert Drummond, Thomas Smith & Gordon Brown have been appointed to the body which oversees the administrative affairs of the District. The first three are in their 50’s and the latter in his 40’s.
As at 18 July, 2016 the average age of the Brethren in the District was 58.8 years. Last calendar year we had 61 initiations across the District with an average age of initiation at 27 years. The previous year the average age of the initiate was 41. Our Freemasonry needs to continue along this path if we are to ensure that it continues to grow and thrive in this District.
A recent review of the Grand Officers in the District reveals that as at July 2016 there were 38 Grand Officers in the Craft, including myself. Of that number, 71% were over 70 years of age and 23.6 % were between 60 and 70 years old. Simply, 94.6% of all Grand Officers were over 60 years old. There were 2 Grand Officers in their 50’s, W. Bro. Albert Anderson and myself and there were no Grand Officers in their 40’s. This is absolutely no way to plan for the future and in the course of the next few years we will ensure that there are sufficiently younger, experienced, competent, dedicated and committed Masons who are able to give the District credible and meaningful leadership as Grand Officers.
Brethren, in April of this year it pleased the Most Worshipful the Grand Master to appoint W. Bros. Ernest Bodden, Russell Hammond & Carl McDonald respectively to the rank of Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies. The First two brethren are the District’s Assistant Grand Masters and the latter the unofficial “governor” of Portland. 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, as you are all very much aware, during the period 25 to 28 May, 2017, your District will be hosting the Regional Celebrations for the Tercentenary of Grand Lodge in Montego Bay, Jamaica. The preparations for this huge undertaking continues apace. A wonderful and very interesting series of events have been planned for the Celebrations. Additionally, the Annual Conference of District Grand Masters for the Caribbean and the Western Atlantic will be hosted by this District in Montego Bay during that period. The Tercentenary Planning Committee, headed by the President of the District Board of General Purposes anticipates and is planning for hundreds of visiting brethren and their connections from overseas. This event will be a once in a lifetime event. We cannot afford to be outnumbered by our guests. I therefore urge you all to immediately begin making preparations to attend these events. The Tercentenary Committee will shortly be launching a website dedicated to the Celebrations. The registrations and bookings for all of the events will be done solely on-line. Discounted rates at certain select Hotels have been negotiated. We are a people whose major income earning activity is the hosting of visitors. We are naturally friendly and outgoing. This undertaking is something that we can do, and will do very well. It will however, require the effort of us all. Let us all go forward and ensure that we have a hugely successful series of events.
Brethren, each year at this time we seek to recognise and celebrate the masonic life and work of at least one of our Brethren who has made an outstanding contribution to our District, but who, because of age will not be appointed to Grand Rank in the Craft. It is with very great pleasure that I announce that W. Bro. Sylvester LeRoi Lorde is the 2016 recipient of the District Grand Master’s Certificate of Merit to Freemasonry.
W. Bro. Lorde was initiated on the 16th day of November, 1979. He was a Founder of the Francis Haddon Bowen Lodge and became its Master on the 21st day of September, 1991. He was also the Master of the Installed Masters’ Lodge in November 2009. He is a Past First Principal of the University Chapter of the West Indies. He has been a wonderful, active, diligent and hardworking servant of English Freemasonry for well over 37 years. He has served on nearly every board or organ of District Grand Lodge, at all times with great distinction and humility. He is currently the President of the District Committee of General Purposes. In 2007 he was awarded the rank of PDSGW, and in April 2012 he was awarded the rank of Past Grand Standard Bearer in the Supreme Grand Chapter of England.
As a District we have benefited from his hard work and zeal. It remains for us, not to squander this wonderful legacy, but to use his wonderful masonic life as a pattern for both emulation and imitation for ourselves.
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
23 July, 2016
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