Provincial Prior's 2021 Address
Brother Knights all,
I welcome you all today and thank you for travelling to be with us for what is effectively my first full meeting as the Provincial Prior of this wonderful province of ours.
It is a common theme during this Covid-19 epidemic that we are indeed experiencing unprecedented disruptions to our lives, on all fronts, domestic, workwise and masonically.
We’ve moved online more than ever before, using applications such as Zoom, WhatsApp & Teams for administrative meetings and then Facebook, Twitter & Instagram and other applications to maintain contact.
This has changed our landscape immeasurably. Mark Masons’ Hall adapted very quickly to the regime enforced upon us, and we were able to handle most administrative matters online though obviously the ceremonial aspects have had to take a back seat.
It has its lighter side though; seeing a brother Registrar looking very smart in his jacket and Provincial tie standing up to reach for a document only to realise he is wearing jeans!
However, looking around this room now, there is nothing like being together in the same space and I sincerely hope that we are going to be able to continue to meet in whatever the ‘new normal’ will have in store for us.
However, it is important to realise that no member should feel under any pressure to return to meetings until they feel that the time is right for them, and for the safety of their families. I cannot emphasise enough how crucial it is that our Preceptories keep in touch with their members who are not attending meetings. I am sure your Preceptory Registrars would be able to assist you with a list of their contact details to help ensure everyone is being contacted in turn so nobody is left out.
Now, more than ever, it is so important to stay grounded and connected to the values of Freemasonry.
I am grateful to all my Provincial Officers for the work that goes on in the background – particularly our hard-working Vice-Chancellor and my provincial Sub-Prior who have been immensely supportive to me personally with sound advice and direction. Our Provincial Almoner, E. Kt. Paul Jenkins has also been very busy as has E. Kt. Malcolm Woolgar who runs our Preceptory of Improvement. I am also grateful to all my officers agreeing to stand still for a year so as to, hopefully, enjoy a year of visiting other Preceptories and provinces.
I heartily congratulate E. Kt. Graham Seeman, our Provincial Organist, not only on his Installation as the PGM of Mark Master Masons of Berkshire only 11 days ago but on his continuing as Acting Gt. Std. B. (B.)
I mentioned at our Virtual Provincial Priory meeting last year, that the Jerusalem Eye Hospital has been struggling valiantly of late in the light of a major reduction in their funding and needs our help more than ever. As a province, we brought forward the donation we were going to make in our Sesquicentennial year. You can now see the Swift we received is on the Provincial Vice-Chancellor’s table and I thank all of you whose contributions made that possible.
By way of future development for our province, as well as retaining our existing membership levels, we are very fortunate to count among our membership the Most Excellent Grand Superintendents of each of the three Holy Royal Arch provinces within our Knights Templar Province and are in active discussion with them regarding our recruitment strategy.
I have really been impressed with the way Mark Masons’ Hall has been dealing with the Covid-19 crisis – clear leadership is key to maintaining membership. The existing cohesion & cooperation across the three pillars of our Orders have never been more necessary.
We are all looking forward to working together again in our Preceptories, sharing our Knights Templar values of loyalty, bravery & truth; I am proud to be a member of this wonderful institution and it is an honour to be your Provincial Prior.
Brother Knights, please keep safe and well, and thank you all for listening.
R E Kt Graham McGowan-Smyth
20th September 2021