Most Worshipful Grand Master Robert B, Ellston's article in The Freemason, September 2021.
"How good and how pleasant it is for Brethren to dwell together in unity."
Isn’t it fantastic that we are able to come together, face to face in lodge? To extend the hand of friendship and be embraced by the arm of Brotherhood as we greet each other upon the Level in our respective lodges and begin the second quarter of this 2021-2022 Masonic year. My brothers, let us reflect on what we have so often taken for granted and what we were so unfortunately deprived of during the last several months. May the coming months continue to improve and offer us more opportunities for fellowship upon the Level.
I trust that you were able to find enjoyment and relaxation over the preceding summer months while in pursuit of your favorite pastimes. Perhaps some of you were able to enjoy a family vacation to one of the many destination theme parks or to one of our nation’s magnificent federal parklands. Maybe you just went to the beach (between rainstorms) or fishing or hiking in the mountains, whatever the case, I hope that you were able to find that much needed outlet from all the pent-up frustrations, emotions and desires that accumulated during the Covid-19 crisis.
While many of us have thankfully received our "Covid Shots", we must remain vigilant in our efforts to rein-in the potential for the variants that are continuing to spread at a fairly rapid rate among the general population at home and worldwide. I will continue to remind you, my brothers, of the need to wear a mask – not only in the lodge, but also in public – if you are unvaccinated or if you yourself find it more comfortable to do so when in a large gathering. Please, continue to maintain and practice a reasonable and appropriate state of hygiene by washing your hands frequently and covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing. Please, pay attention to and follow all CDC and RIDOH regulations and guidelines as they apply the various strains of the "Covid Virus". In other words, brethren, please be careful of your own health, and offer a healthy sign of respect toward others in all your actions.
Moving on, during this Masonic quarter, there are a number of lodge annual communications and District Deputy Grand Master Visitations, as well as my own Official Visitation to the Northern Masonic District at Roger Williams Lodge No. 32 scheduled. I strongly implore you – as you are able - to make an effort to attend as many of these events as you possibly can. By your attendance at these functions, you not only support your lodge brothers, the District Deputy Grand Masters and the "new" Worshipful Masters, but you also reacquaint yourselves with "old friends" that you have not seen for a while. You may make new acquaintances who will become "old friends" as well. Don’t be concerned about crossing district or jurisdictional "boundaries" – in fact make it a point to do so. Who knows, you may even find you recognize that guy across the room as someone you’ve seen somewhere before but just can’t place where – lo and behold, he’s a brother – who kneW∴ Take every opportunity you can to get out and visit any and all of the 25 lodges within our jurisdiction. These include the COLLEGIVM LVMINOSVM and our newest lodge – under dispensation – Logia Libertad - which meets at the Grand Lodge Building in East Providence on the first Saturday of each month. Make sure to bring your "Masonic Passport" wherever you travel. Don’t forget to have it signed, stamped and dated. When it’s full, return it to the Grand Secretary to reap your reward for having traveled within and without this jurisdiction.
Over the course of the summer, numerous brethren have come together in committee here at Grand Lodge to formulate thoughts and ideas into viable concepts and programs for the benefit of all the craft. This quarter will see some of these concepts and programs begin to be implemented. It is hoped that through the implementation of these concepts, programs and projects we will be the better enabled to discern an increase in active participation on all fronts within the lodges of this "gentle" craft. To be sure, there are lodges that already demonstrate "a reason" for a brother to "want to go to the Lodge meeting tonight" but there are those lodges that just don’t offer "a reason" to the brethren. My brothers, it is time – NO IT IS PAST TIME – for us as a fraternity to MOTIVATE ourselves! To that end, the Masonic Education Committee, the Leadership Committee, the Public Relations Committee, Youth Committee and the Charities Board of Managers have all endeavored to bring forth "new" ideas while reinforcing our existing protocols to enhance "our individual and fraternal Masonic growth". We need to actively engage not only the "Line Officers" of the individual lodges, but the brethren on the sidelines as well.
I have often heard it said that the new initiate in the lodge comes to the fraternity seeking men of common interests and an opportunity to develop meaningful friendships/relationships. This coupled with a desire to improve oneself – morally, spiritually and intellectually are or should be considered laudable endeavors that we should all strive for in our lives. It is incumbent on us as Masons to work diligently toward that end.
While it is possible for each of us to undertake that journey individually, it is to the benefit of all if we are the better enabled to gain further insight by coming together in the embrace of our fellow Masons within the fraternal setting of the lodge. If you haven’t been "in lodge" for a while, please make the effort to come and join with your brothers – we have missed you and we need you!
Brethren, as I draw this missive to a conclusion, I find it somewhat difficult to believe just how quickly this year is moving. Only a short time ago we were slowly beginning to reopen our lodges on a very restrictive and limited basis. Almost overnight, we held our Grand Lodge Annual Communication in mid-May and now we are preparing to undertake the Grand Lodge Semi-Annual Communication, which is scheduled to be held on Saturday, November 20 at 1:00 p.m. This year, due in part to (Covid-19) scheduling issues, we will not be celebrating the "Fall Festival" on the same day as the Semi-Annual Communication. Instead, we are moving the date of the "Fall Festival" to Friday, December 3. We have secured, for your dining pleasure – Rhodes-on-the-Pawtuxet – to host this event. As this venue is quite spacious, we should be able to accommodate a large number of attendees and we look forward to welcoming one and all to an enjoyable and entertaining event on that evening.
Brethren, I look forward to greeting each and every one of you in lodge. May the Grand Architect of the Universe guide and protect you and yours daily. Always remember to contribute to the relief of those less fortunate if you are able without injury to yourself.
Robert B. Ellston