Quarterly Communication By MW Bro Les Hicks, Grand Master
13 November 23
Quarterly Communication By MW Bro Les Hicks, Grand Master
Grand Masters, brethren – it’s a big day for us today with our Grand Proclamation being held immediately following this Grand Communication, an important time no doubt as we set the scene for a new and exciting masonic term.
I thank all those that have put their hand up to support the Craft and I look forward to working with you all as we continue to nurture the present and create the future.
I especially congratulate and thank those that are moving on from roles of great responsibility. I particularly thank RW Brothers Bill Whitby PDGM and Richard Collins PDGM who between them have served this Grand Lodge for many, many years. I also thank our Grand Director of Ceremonies RW Bro Troy Gara, our Senior Grand Warden RW Bro Arnel Landicho and our Junior Grand Warden RW Bro Christian Tejada. The selfless service and dedication that all our retiring officers have applied to their roles has no doubt ensured that this
Grand Lodge and Freemasonry throughout our Jurisdiction will flourish into the future. On behalf of all NSW and ACT Freemasons I thank all those brethren that have finished their terms of office and wish you well for the future.
Brethren, over the past two years I have made it my business to support our lodges when and where I possibly could. This year, just like the last, has been incredibly busy with Installations, centenaries, consecrations, and block-laying ceremonies requiring our ceremonial team, (ably led by our Grand Director of Ceremonies RW Bro Troy Gara), to travel extensively throughout the state, and I thank them all for the dedication and commitment that they have shown week in, week out, to your lodges and your local communities.
Recently my wife Narelle’s health was suffering, and I made the decision to rearrange my schedule and appointments to be at home for a short time while she recuperated. I would like to thank those lodges and orders that were affected by my absence during this time, for their support. Both Narelle and I would also like to say ‘thank you’ to all those that sent us well wishes. We really appreciated the kindness, generosity, and support that we received.
Brethren, our Grand Secretary has also been out of action and was admitted to hospital for a very serious operation, I welcome Stephen back as he continues his recovery and I thank him for the support he provided the organisation from his hospital bed when he really should have had the phone turned off. Stephen, your dedication and love for our Craft is well apparent and I thank RW Bro Garry Sayer, Melanie and the Administration Staff for all that they achieved during what must have been a very difficult time.
Brethren, I am very pleased to report that the trials have been completed and our new website and membership management system is ready to launch. I thank all those involved in the testing, and although I recognise that no matter how much testing is done there may still be some slight changes or tweaks to be made, we are confident that the system will serve us well. I send special thanks to RW Bros Randall Wilson, Garry Sayer, Darren Allatt and to Melanie Scott for all they have done in preparing the system during what has been a very busy and difficult time up there in our level five administration department.
Back in 2019 the original system was at the end of its life span. Out of necessity we were forced to make an initial upgrade. This was a struggle for everyone but it allowed time for the exploration of more innovative integrated business technology – a technology designed to provide the organisation with a much more effective, purpose-built membership management system that will support us well into the future.
Technology is an essential part of everyday life, and membership organisations need to provide their members with the tools and time-saving initiatives that they enjoy elsewhere. We want our members to stay, learn and lead the Craft into the future, and this can only be achieved if our structure plays its part in helping our members balance their work, play and masonic obligations.
Over the past 18 months or so we received both professional advice and members’ advice about the functionality of the old system. Quite simply the original system, despite its upgrade, just wasn’t cutting it. When the membership speaks: We act. The important issues you raised were addressed and your valuable advice was heard. The feedback was absorbed and your suggestions were incorporated into what will now be an irreplaceable addition to our masonic lives.
Our Content Management System (CMS) system could not have been created without your help. Thanks to your feedback our system will now be easier to use, much cheaper to maintain and simpler to navigate. On Monday morning we will launch a completely new membership interface that will: grow and evolve, and it will be as accurate as we could possibly get it with the information that we had available. This is your own fit-for-purpose masonic website, data base and CMS. Gone are the ongoing expensive licencing fees and the annoying contract fees that we have had to pay for many years. This is our system. We built it and we own it!
Of course, any system is only as good as the information entered into it, so I ask our Lodge Secretaries, District Grand Inspectors of Workings, RBOs and RGCs to work the system and to continue to provide constructive feedback for future improvements, which I might add can now be made in real time. No longer will we wait for months to have things fixed.
Likewise, Lodge Secretaries are urged to explore the new system, discover the joys of paperless administration, and take advantage of a revised and simplified membership admission process. If you have not already done so, please make sure your lodge’s 2023/24 capitation information is accurate. This is imperative if we are going to help you. Your information will ensure that our system is as accurate as possible when we launch it.
The system has many advantages, and has in place many functions that we can use in the future if you decide that you want to further employ the technology. From online donations, to lodges being able to use the events module for their lodge’s souths and special events. Monthly card activated periodic payments that could see a brother pay just a few dollars each month instead of having to find a lump sum at the end of each year. Brethren this is all possible at a future time if YOU decide that it’s what you want. There is no limit now to what we can provide to you moving forward, so your input is always welcome and it will help create the way we do business within our lodges in the future.
Of course, with new technology providing us with the ability to change future practices, we may, from time to time require some constitutional or regulation changes or tweaks. At a suitable time, our Board of Management and Executive Council will meet to discuss any constitutional reform that may be required in the future. If changes are needed, be assured that any such proposals will be brought back here for you to endorse.
Brethren, please log on to the website and follow the prompts to create your new account with the CMS (another thing that will be much easier to do than it was in the past). In order to provide support to those that may need it we will have three volunteers at the SMC and two volunteers working from home on September 18,19 and 20. They will be happy to take calls and assist with any questions you may have. With regard to the website itself the content is still somewhat limited, but there will be exciting things added over the next few weeks and I thank RW Brothers Darren Allatt and Owen Sandry for their time and efforts in providing this.
Of particular interest for the near future is the professional voiceover of all our charges, addresses and examinations in the three degrees. Members will only be able to access ritual relative to their current rank, and I am sure that this will greatly assist our candidates with their examinations as they progress through the three degrees. These are exciting times brethren, and your website will continue to expand over the next few months. This has been a mammoth undertaking that will definitely benefit the Craft, and I hope you enjoy what will soon be on offer.
Brethren, the recent fire out at Ambarvale has brought to our attention the necessity to have back-up information in case disaster strikes. We ask that you take photos of the important things like your Lodge’s Charter and any other historical records or photos that need to be preserved. This will allow for them to be accurately re-created if there is a catastrophic fire or flood that destroys everything. I ask that you please store these electronic images in a safe place or hand them on to the Grand Secretariat to be stored safely in your lodge’s name.
Don’t forget that our December Grand Communication will be held out at Dubbo and registrations will soon be available online.
OUR NEXT COMMUNICATION
The next Grand Lodge Quarterly Communication and dinner will be held in Dubbo on SATURDAY 9 December 2023 at 7:30pm.
The Communication is open to all members of Grand Lodge, which includes all Master Masons. Other brethren are invited to attend as observers.