Grand Master's Address to Grand Court 2018

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Brethren now I have the honour to address Grand Court.

I would like to start on a personal note by thanking you for the trust you have placed in me by my re-election as your Grand Master.

This Order has been part of my daily life for 12 years now and I will continue the good works we have started together knowing that your fullest confidence is behind me. Brethren, as always we have some exciting times ahead of us over the next few years.

We have had a busy morning, certainly. Today has in many ways provided a splendid culmination to a momentous year for our Order, and in my formal address to you all, I would like to summarise and comment on some of our key achievements this year.

I don’t have enough time to mention so many of the individual initiatives and successes that our Order has achieved over the year, and the contributions that our members continually make to Athelstan freemasonry and indeed our community.

Perhaps the most significant is surely the successful implementation of the programme to realign our domestic Provincial boundaries.

Announced last year after close scrutiny and long discussion, these changes to some of our Provinces have involved a measure of disruption for some of you: some new Provinces have been established and with that some Courts have been migrated between Provinces.

I am now pleased to report that the process is now complete, and we are beginning to reap the benefits of all your efforts and hard work as these new structures ‘bed in’ Indeed new Courts have been formed as a result bringing Athelstan masonry to those who may not have previously had the opportunity.

I would also stress that no further changes to the domestic structure are planned at this time.
We must also celebrate the successful inauguration of the Province of Greece this year, and the enthusiasm of its members, a great many of whom have ‘crossed the wine-dark sea’ as Homer stated; to join us today.

It is most important to acknowledge the great support that we have enjoyed from the rulers of the Craft in Greece in establishing Athelstan masonry there.

This also serves to remind us of the importance of securing and maintaining our relationship with the Craft and Holy Royal Arch more generally, as well as the wider Masonic world.

Another jewel in our crown this year has been the formal ‘transfer of sovereignty’ of our former Provinces in India to a new, independent Masonic body, self-governing in its own right.

Today’s formation of the new Grand Court of India, and the concordat signed between us, proves that although our Order is young, it is well capable of mature judgement, and we are proud to see the ground prepared in our early years bear such fine fruit.

Echoing this theme, I can confirm that a similar route is being taken in Australia, and we expect that this will come to pass in April next year.

That is not all the news from overseas: our Order continues to expand in Spain, three new courts are in the process of formation there. We are also exploring potential developments elsewhere in Europe as our Order continues to shine.

Similarly, our brethren in North America continue to expand at an impressive rate due to the amazing enthusiasm of its members and the impeccable leadership that they are blessed with. A Court in Florida will be consecrated in the first week of January thus brining our unique light to the ‘Sunshine State’.

But growth is not always the paramount issue, there must be substance to underpin our Order, not just mere numbers.
You have just heard a splendid and inspirational address from Barbara Pollard as to the efforts that her community in Malmesbury are making to set up a fitting memorial to King Athelstan, our Glorious founder.

Brethren, what an opportunity this presents for our Order!

We are already part of the ‘real’ King Athelstan story with our support of the Coronation Stone initiative and now we have the chance to create a new future for the glories of our dear old King.

I would now like to follow up her presentation by urging all of us to get behind this admirable project in every way that we can.

And that brethren is not only financial!

We as an Order have already assisted in several ways with our experience and time. Following recent and unanimous approbation by our Provincial Grand Masters we will soon be highlighting our Malmesbury Monument plans.

The Appendant Order of the Scarlet Mantle has traditionally recognised those in the Masonic Order of Athelstan who have demonstrably 'gone the extra mile' in their support for our Order.

Membership is now approaching 200, and has been drawn from members of the Masonic Order of Athelstan at any level, there being no other qualification for nomination than meritorious service.

During our early years, it was comparatively easy to recognise those falling into that category and we trust all such brethren have been and continue to be recognised.

We have recently introduced the Certificate of Merit to recognise the contribution of those members whose input into the Masonic Order of Athelstan will impact for years to come. The launch of that initiative provided a unique opportunity to reconsider the ethos and remit of the Appendant Order and I am pleased to say that the Grand High Chancellor has risen to the challenge!

Over the last year or so at my behest he has been developing proposals for modifications to the nature of the Appendant Order and its qualifications for admission. This included a new series of distinct and restricted rituals for the grades of membership, which focus the ethos of the Appendant Order on the role of Alfred the Great in preparing the way for King Athelstan.

The first such ritual for the KSM ceremonial was worked last year, and repeated yesterday with great success. We intend to complete the process by working the new rituals for the remaining grades in the early part of 2019.

In addition it is our intention to define revised and broadened admission criteria that will allow a clearer and attainable, albeit still merit-based, path for entry into the Appendant Order by suitably qualified members of the Masonic Order of Athelstan.

These changes being so fundamental, we believe it will be appropriate to transition the old "Scarlet Mantle" into a new "Ancient Masonic Order of Alfred the Great", with current Scarlet Mantle members of this constitution transferring to corresponding grades in the new Order. We anticipate a formalisation, consecration and launch of the Ancient Masonic Order of Alfred the Great during 2019.

It is also my intention to combine the roles of Grand Prior (Masonic Order of Athelstan) and Grand High Chancellor (Scarlet Mantle) in one individual; RW Bro. Chris Ansell whose focus will also include the oversight and development of the esoteric aspects of our Anglo-Saxon masonic heritage - part of which you saw in action earlier today.

I am sure you will be eagerly looking forward to the development of these new aspects of the Athelstan experience in the coming months and years and I am sure the Grand High Chancellor will appreciate your feedback and comments.

Brethren, I would like to say more, much more, but the drinks are warming, and the food is cooling. However before we go from Labour to Refreshment there are two further matters that I must bring to your attention.

Brethren during the past 12 months the active Grand Officers of the year have discharged their respective duties with diligence, dignity and aplomb. I thank each and every one of you. I hope that you have enjoyed the last year as much as I have. It has been a Team effort and there is no I in Team. For those Grand Officers who’s tour of duty comes to an end today I know that you will continue to work well and diligently for the Order, your Provinces and your Courts.

We may, of course, work with each other again at some future time; it is something that I would look forward to. To those Grand Officers who today have been Appointed to Grand Rank, Promoted in Grand Rank or have attained a First Appointment I offer you my congratulations. Your awards are for your past services; and I know that you will continue to work diligently for the Order.

Finally Brethren I must pass comment on the support that I have received from the Order not only over the last 12 months but since Monday in particular. Brethren on Monday at an Especial Meeting of Grand Court over 100 Brethren were present; yesterday at our meeting of the Scarlet Mantle over 100 Brethren were present. Today well over 200 Brethren are present. With such support the future bodes well. Never more has that wonderful expression ‘Oh you wonderful Masons’ been more appropriate.

Brethren in conclusion I thank each and every one and now is the time to move speedily from Labour to Refreshment.