Most Worshipful Grand Master Robert B, Ellston's message to the Brethren at the Semi-Annual Communication, 2021.
Greetings to you, My Brothers;
As I write this, I find myself contemplating the past six months. To be sure, it has been somewhat of a whirlwind of places, times and events.
We have seen the Covid pandemic wane and then re-emerge with a vengeance as the Delta variant appeared. Vaccines having been administered to those who chose to receive them gave us some sense of normalcy in our daily lives only to have "breakthrough" cases enter onto the scene. Will this "evil" never leave us? I ask you to please do all that you are able to keep yourselves and families safe from this pestilence. Hopefully, in time it will be eradicated or at least be brought under better control.
Not only are we besieged by stories centered on the continuing Covid crises, but we are constantly assailed by news reports of violence, hatred, confusion, and turmoil - locally, nationally and internationally. My Brothers, I for one am heartened by the fact that we as Freemasons have within our fraternity the foundation that has seen us through much strife and many setbacks throughout our existence. As Freemasons, we have bonded together to overcome the obstacles that have challenged us on numerous fronts. Be they wars, political upheavals, racial or domestic strife, we have stood firm in our belief in the tenets of this "Gentle Craft."
The brotherly love and affection that permeates our Masonic teachings offers us the opportunity for refuge from the turmoil and despair that tries to assail us from without in this profane world. Where else can be found the solace offered to mankind than within "our peaceful walls." Where else can be found men of different backgrounds, nationalities, creeds, faiths, and persuasions sitting down on a regular basis in peace and harmony to enjoy each other's company and to learn? Brethren, I speak not to you just of our Grand Jurisdiction, but rather of the worldwide Fraternity of Freemasonry. Thanks be to the Great Architect of the Universe that we - as Brothers - can come together in a common place and time of peace and harmony to meet upon the level.
By our following of the tenets of Friendship, Morality, Relief, Truth, and Brotherly Love, this will continue to lead us to live and act as upright Freemasons within society. The principles of this Masonic Fraternity must continue to point out to the profane world that diversity, tolerance, and inclusion can and shall continue to have a place in the world as we know it. Brethren, it is up to us to set the bar high and help bring the rest of the world up to par.
While I may have started this missive off on a somber note, rest assured that all is not "doom and gloom." This year has - so far - been one of excitement and revelation. Excitement, or better yet enthusiasm, that seems to be coming forth from all corners of our Grand Jurisdiction. Enthusiasm bolstered by the re-opening of our lodges. To be sure, in late February of this year, Most Worshipful Kaufman allowed the lodges to re-open with those restrictions that were required by the state. Many lodges took advantage of this "soft opening."
I was fortunate in that the week of my installation as your current Grand Master, the Governor of Rhode Island basically "lifted" all restrictions, thereby allowing me to "fully" open the lodges to return to "work" in true Masonic fashion. Our lodges are bringing in candidates, performing degree work, holding events, such as Table Lodges, picnics, and charity events, and traveling within and without their respective districts. There is a true sense of camaraderie that pervades the landscape as the lodges share fellowship and good times together.
Revelation comes not only in the day-to-day workings of your Grand Lodge, but also in our "new-found" ability to travel to other Grand Jurisdictions "in person," as well as via the "Zoom Platform." Your Grand Master and the Grand Council have once again been afforded the ability to meet "upon the level" with their counterparts from other Grand Jurisdictions and learn of the various undertakings and ideas being generated outside of our "little" state. It is truly amazing just how far ahead of the curve our jurisdiction is in comparison with some of the other jurisdictions in several areas. That is not to say that we don't come back with new thoughts and ideas that will hopefully grow our Craft here at home. Your Grand Lodge - through the Grand Line of Officers and the various Grand Lodge Committees - continues to work at developing programs and providing assistance to the officers and members of the various lodges whether on the lodge level, or to the individual brother. There will be more information forthcoming on some new and updated programs in the very near future. Please, utilize your Grand Lodge as a resource to help you achieve your goals as a lodge or as an individual brother.
I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate R∴W∴Robert A. Palazzo on his being elected to serve as your Grand Master for the 2022-2023 Masonic Year. I would also extend to W∴"Brad" Ripley a hearty congratulations as he becomes the next Grand Marshal. I feel confident that the Craft will be in good hands and that things will continue to move forward in this Grand Jurisdiction.
Congratulations also go out to W∴Mike Cunningham on his appointment to serve as DDGM for the Southern District, along with W∴Merrill I. "Mick" Torgan, Jr. as the GMOC in the Southern District. May you enjoy your upcoming journey.
It is truly an honor and a privilege to serve as the Most Worshipful Grand Master in this Grand Jurisdiction. In my travels over the past several years, I have come to realize just how lucky we are to be a small jurisdiction with a progressive line. While we, as individuals, may visit lodges, we do not necessarily "meet" other brethren, but when you are picked to serve as a DDGM you are put in a special place where you meet and get to know your brethren of the jurisdiction. In this jurisdiction you spend time working with ALL the lodges and their members, unlike the larger jurisdictions that do not offer that progressive opportunity. On my journey to the Grand East, I have met and come to know many brethren within this jurisdiction that I might not have otherwise known as brothers. I can say that this has been a unique experience for myself and my Grand Marshal, Keith. We extend our thanks to each and every one for this wonderful experience and this fantastic journey.
In closing, I wish you all a very Happy Holiday Season and a Prosperous New Year. As always, may the Supreme Architect bless and keep you and yours. Please, my brothers, remember those less fortunate, and do as you are able to comfort them and relieve their distresses.
Robert B. Ellston