Companions may I thank you all for your attendance here this afternoon.
Attendances at recent Convocations of the Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Instruction have been very poor. The exemplification teams put in a lot of hard work and deserve our support and encouragement. It's a great way for us all to learn and see our Ritual and Degree work carried out to the highest standard and to ask questions on anything that requires clarification. The next Convocation is on Saturday 23 rd March in Belsize Road Lisburn at 2:30. I would encourage any Companion who is free that afternoon to attend and I know the Grand Registrar would greatly appreciate your support.
A programme is being put together to raise the standard of ritual throughout the District and Seminars for Directors of Ceremonies are being arranged. They will be held in Newry, Newtownards and Belfast, 2 at the end of September and one at the start of October. All DoC’s or their proxies will be expected to attend and invitations will be issued in due course. If a particular date or location doesn't suit a DOC it is hoped that he will attend one of the alternatives. These Seminars will be led by our District Grand DoC’s and Elected Members of the Grand Chapter of Instruction and will be of great benefit to all, especially those new to the role.
Next years social event will be a Dinner Dance. The District Deputy Grand King and District Assistant Grand King are working out the final details but I'm lead to believe it will be on Friday I st November 2019 in the Millbrook Lodge, Ballynahinch at 7:30pm, cost £25pp. Please keep that date free in your diary, subject to confirmation early next year.
The District Grand Kings Advisory Committee is presently working on updates to our District Chapter ByLaws which were last updated in 2007. The majority of these are minor changes but there will be one significant change I wish to make you aware of. A paragraph will be added to the effect that if a Chapter is fined for not attending District Chapter such Chapter will not be eligible to nominate a Companion for District Office at the next cycle of nominations. I’m sure you would agree that it is only right and proper that those Chapters who do support District be given the opportunity to nominate District Officers. Once approved, each Chapter will receive a copy of the updated By-Laws.
Whilst we have 4 District Grand Chaplains on our books I'm sure you have noticed that there are normally only 2 in attendance at our Convocations and I'm very grateful to both of them for their unstinting support. Unfortunately V.E.Comp Rev. Canon George Little has not been able to attend for some time and I feel there is a need in District for another Chaplain and it gives me the greatest pleasure to announce that to the Office of District Grand Chaplain I have appointed V.E.Comp. James McDowell PK of Portaferry RAC No. 104. I am delighted Jim has accepted the appointment and look forward to investing him as District Grand Chaplain at our next Convocation.
With regard to Galwally House may I confirm that District Chapter fully endorse the project and believe it to be the way forward for Freemasonry within the Province of Down. We wish the team every success. However, I know a number of individuals and Chapters have concerns as to what is happening in their own Halls. Unfortunately District Chapter has no jurisdiction over any halls and is therefore not in a position to address any of these issues. If you have any issues or concerns you must raise them directly with the Hall Committee of the Hall where you sit.
Following on from last years very successful BBQ in Newry this years social event will be a Dinner Dance to be held on Friday 1st November 2019 in the Millbrook Lodge, Ballynahinch at 7:30pm, cost £25pp. This is open to everyone and is an excellent opportunity to thank the ladies for supporting us throughout the year. It should be an excellent evening and I look forward to your support and do bring your friends and family along. Tickets will be available from June.
The District Deputy Grand King, R.E.Comp. Alan Ferris is not with us today and sends his apologies. He received an invitation to attend the annual Supreme Grand Royal Arch Chapter of New York Convocation weekend and as their representative at Supreme Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Ireland felt obliged to go. We wish him well and hope its not snowing too hard in New York. I myself am the representative for Florida.
On a personal note: my father-in-law passed away last Saturday and on behalf of myself and especially my wife Donna may I thank everyone for the phone calls, texts, messages, cards, emails etc and all those attended the funeral. Your expressions of sympathy and support and your help during this sad and difficult time have been a great strength to us and very much appreciated.
Companions thank you for your attention and I look forward to seeing you all in Lisburn on Tuesday 4th June. Have a safe journey home.