Companions, as usual I extend a warm and hearty welcome to you all and thank you for your support today, I am delighted to see so many of you at our Provincial Convocation.
In addition to our honoured guests I would like to acknowledge the attendance of the Chapter Principals who this year have surpassed last year in number and I am glad that you are ensuring that your Chapters are represented at the Provincial Convocation and I trust that those of you who are now first Principals will go on to join the First Principals Chapter No.4090 to experience further enjoyment in the company of your peers.
Companions, our Provincial Meeting is our opportunity to support and congratulate our members who have today been appointed to and promoted in Provincial Rank and as usual, it is my duty to impress upon them that this honour not only recognises their past performances but more importantly carries an expectation for further efforts in the years to come. The numbers being honoured today is an indication that the Royal Arch in Hertfordshire is in very good health.
As most of you will be aware, the Royal Arch Province of Hertfordshire was approached to assist in the introduction of Royal Arch Masonry into Denmark and after a lengthy and detailed process, we have now transferred two of our Chapters, one to Esbjerg and the other to Copenhagen with a third destined for Odense. Companions, these are still Hertfordshire Chapters and I am still responsible for their continued good work. I am pleased to welcome six Companions who have made the trip from Demark to be with us today and I urge you to meet with them and share the experience of the Annual Convocation. There will of course be supporting visits to these Chapters, so trips will be arranged that you may wish to join.
Over the last three years, I and the executive have introduced various initiatives to encourage an increase in our membership through recruitment, retention and re-engagement and you have been made aware of these as they have become available. My thanks go to E Comp Tim Coles for his continued efforts in co-ordinating these initiatives and if you require any information or talks in your Chapters, then he will be pleased to help and advise. We will also continue to enhance the role of the Royal Arch Representatives in our Craft Lodges as this is a focal point in our recruitment of new members. Most recently you will have noticed the arrival of the ‘Pop-up’ Banners in the various masonic centres showing the four stages required to complete the journey in Pure Ancient Masonry and as it pays to advertise, I hope that they will have a positive effect on our numbers. Last year I informed you that we would be introducing a visiting Chapter Grand Lodge Officer scheme to aid and assist you if required and I am pleased to say that the scheme went active on the first of September. It is early days Companions and I hope that you will take advantage of the opportunities that the scheme offers.
These initiatives will be assessed so that we can quantify their effects and make adjustments, if necessary, as well as introducing enhancements broadly in line with the ‘Members Pathway’ document which was launched during the ‘Rulers Forum’.
Companions, I would like to thank and congratulate you on your formidable donations to Charity, particularly of my ‘Call for Action’ in support of the 2019 Festival Appeal for which you have collectively donated through your Royal Arch Chapters in excess of £100,000 pounds to date and I sincerely hope that you will continue that support up to the end of the Festival in 2019.
Regarding our social activities, may I thank you for your support throughout the year. Our new summer social event was the ‘High Tea’ at Mayflower Place in Hertfordingbury, which was filled to capacity, and a good time was had by all. Please do continue to avail yourselves of these functions during the coming year.
Companions, you may have noticed at the opening procession into Provincial Grand Chapter that we now have two Provincial Standards for the Royal Arch which currently sit behind my chair and I am sure that they will enhance our ceremonial for many years to come. The reason for their acquisition was that I considered it strange to appoint four active Standard Bearers each year with no Standards for them to bear. This anomaly has now been rectified.
The Website continues to evolve and now has the additional feature of a ‘Noticeboard’ where your Chapters can post details of special convocations, social functions or charity fund raising events. Please feel free to use this facility companions, it is another feature designed to boost attendance numbers at your convocations.
Companions, there is always much work to do in enhancing our order and I am confident that with your support and the drive and expertise of a first-class executive that we shall secure the future of Royal Arch Masonry in Hertfordshire for many years to come.
I am sure that you are aware of the many hours of hard work that go into producing today’s Provincial Convocation and my grateful thanks go to my Deputy, E. Comp David Hampton for his continued support during the past twelve months in which he has ensured that our initiatives have been moving along apace and his assistance to me has been invaluable. The Provincial Grand Scribe Ezra, E. Comp John Linley and his team for their tireless work over the past year in instigating those new schemes and the countless hours spent in putting this Convocation together. The Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, E. Comp Robert Asser and his team for their excellent ceremonial and for making it all look so easy and the Provincial Grand Treasurer, E. Comp Tim Huckle for looking after our finances so well during the year.
Companions, as food is an essential part of a balanced diet I look forward to your company at dinner and also to the pleasure of your company next year.
May the True and Living God Most High Bless you all.