Improvise, adapt and overcome
Grand Master’s Installation Address:- June 19, 2020
MW Bro. Donald W. MacKenzie,
Grand Master 2020-2021
Today I stand before you extremely humbled, and proud, to serve you as the 146th Grand Master of British Columbia and Yukon, in the 149th year of our Grand Lodge. While preparing this address I did the customary research such as reading the previous Grand Masters' addresses over the past number of years, but what kept coming back, was me as a young boy of twelve or thirteen years old sitting on the steps of Prince David Lodge, wondering what my Grandfather, Father, and Uncle were doing in that building. I knew that whatever it was, it must be very special, being all dressed up in a tux, carrying a black case, but especially by their excitement to attend those meetings, and never dreaming of myself standing before you here today.Brethren, your Grand Master comes from very humble beginnings. The way my family lived and treated people with kindness, honesty, respect, and never placing themselves above anyone else, were lessons I learned at a young age, not realizing then that it was the masonic influence they followed. I grew up in a seventh generation masonic family. It has had such a profound influence on who I am today. Looking back, I have followed these same principles in business and in my personal life, even before I became a Freemason.
Thank you for this opportunity to serve as your Grand Master, and an opportunity to further chip off some of the edges on my rough ashlar along the way. This year, with the outbreak of the coronavirus COVID-19, cancelling our annual communication and eliminating lodge meetings, things are not quite as they have been in the previous 149 years of our Grand Lodge! We do have some challenges ahead of us, which we will overcome. How long this worldwide pandemic remains with us, determines when we can get back to our business of making Freemasons. We are indeed in uncharted territory!
As you can imagine planning our year has been extremely challenging. Your Grand Master and your Grand Line officers are ready to hit the ground running to make this a fantastic year for our jurisdiction. I feel extremely fortunate to have a team of such dedicated and committed officers. Their flexibility will enable us to accomplish our goals even in these extraordinary times. Since the outbreak of the coronavirus COVID-19, your principal officers have been taking advantage of some of the modern methods of communicating with our brethren. This effort started with the leadership of MW Bro. Franklin communicating on Youtube with the brethren of the jurisdiction. He explained that although at this time we cannot have regular meetings, Grand Lodge is working diligently, behind the scenes, to prepare us for when we can.
One of the first hurdles I encountered was that we had to cancel the DDGM training session that was scheduled for mid-April. With the assistance of the brethren that were going to be presenting at the training session, we decided to organize an online two weekend course that would enable us to deliver the basic information to prepare our DDGMs for their year. This course was very well received, and greatly enhanced by the Technology Committee, and may be a useful tool for communicating with our DDGMs in the future. Another project that we sponsored were two workshops for the incoming DoCs and Marshals as well as those of the next three years to build continuity. They are now working as a coherent team, ready to teach protocol within our lodges.
I have also been very encouraged by those brethren who have taken the initiative to hold untiled educational meetings using Zoom videoconferencing, which I believe has been a real asset in keeping our brethren engaged, and involved, until we can meet again. Although technology cannot replace the masonic experience in a lodge, it is a fantastic tool to use in a time where meeting in person is not recommended.
My brothers, one of my wishes is to carry on with the multi-year plan which was initiated at our Grand Lodge in 2018 by MW Bro. Burch. Improving the Freemasonry that we all receive and improving the face of Freemasonry in the communities in which we live is part of that plan. Your current Grand Line would like to concentrate on this for an additional two years. "Improving the face of Freemasonry in the communities in which we live" will be a good message for our 150th anniversary celebrations.
This year our DDGMs will take an active part in promoting our 150th year celebration in their lodges and districts. We are also working on a travelling history to be shared with their communities at open houses in various lodges about the jurisdiction. There will also be an exhibition highlighting Freemasonry's contribution to our jurisdiction, focusing on some of our past leaders of the Craft. This exhibition will be held at the Royal British Columbia Museum prior to and after our Grand Lodge Communication in June 2021.
I have been asked many times in the past months "what will your theme be?" Going back to the launch of the multi-year plan, all of us in the Grand Line agreed not to have a theme, but some catch phrases, to inspire the brethren. I have chosen a phrase that I believe sums up what is ahead for Freemasonry in the coming year. Improvise, Adapt and Overcome. We have been working on Improvising and Adapting these past few months. For the third, Overcome, I am counting on your help, brethren, as together we will Overcome! During these last couple of years your Grand Line has been concentrating on maintaining continuity with our objectives. With the outbreak of the recent pandemic, our Grand Master had his term shortened, so it is my intention to continue work towards completing many of these important objectives.
At our Grand Lodge last year, our Senior Grand Warden, RW Bro. Ken Overy, spoke to our goal of strengthening our bond with our concordant bodies. Through visiting, communication, and social events like the Masonic Ball in Nanaimo, I believe we have done an admirable job uniting us into one strong masonic family. We will continue these activities as there is still more to accomplish.
Last year, the Grand Master asked me to speak to another one of our goals, streamlining the committee structure of Grand Lodge. Our committee structure was formed when we had four times the number of brethren in our jurisdiction. Your principal officers have proposed a smaller structure, which would include less committees and several teams supporting each committee. The objective is to simplify our governance, to be nimble in our decision making, and realize cost savings. This task was given to our very capable ad hoc Committee on Governance last year, and they continue to explore options. Any proposed changes to these committees will need your approval by vote at Grand Lodge.
I have not picked The Grand Master's charity at this time but will have this done when we resume in September.
I would also like to acknowledge a few people who have given me guidance as well as support on this amazing journey to the Grand East. To my Grand Line officers who have always been there to take my calls, and give their opinions freely, and honestly. To MW Bro. Franklin for his many words of good council these past few years. He has demonstrated the very principles of Freemasonry and I consider him a friend. To the many Past Grand Masters who have offered their unconditional support and for their offer to "just call me".I would like to thank our Grand Secretary RW Bro. George Moore for always being the voice of reason. I am extremely honoured and would be remiss not to mention some of the people that have influenced me along the way in my masonic journey: my father, RW Bro. Donald MacKenzie, whom I never had the privilege to sit with in lodge; my uncle, Wilson, who was my coach and mentor and who was a true Freemason and taught me so much. RW Bro. Al Adams for your words of encouragement. My brother, RW Bro Rod MacKenzie, our Grand Pursuivant, who means the world to me. RW Bro. Joe Freeman who I first met when the investigating committee came to my home. Joe will be our Senior Grand Deacon. To my wife, Rita for her patience, and support, and encouraging me to pursue this journey.
I would also like to thank the committee that worked tirelessly to adapt this installation ceremony maintaining its solemnity and dignity. To my brethren in attendance, I would like to say thank you, for sharing this special day with me. I will remember this day for the rest of my life.
Stay safe, and may God bless you and your family.