Many Chapters are awaiting the printing of the new alternative form by the Ritual Associations before deciding how to proceed, but I am encouraged by reports from Grand Superintendents throughout the country that the new ritual is being accepted widely by Chapters, and that sharing the work among many more Companions is being adopted with enthusiasm.
Retention of our members, especially those who have been exalted recently, is vital to our future wellbeing, especially as the paper of business before you today shows that last year we issued just over 30 per cent fewer certificates than we did 10 years ago.
In his address to Grand Lodge yesterday, the Grand Master said that we must ensure that the learning curve of our newly initiated brethren is neither too steep nor too daunting. This principle applies in equal measure to the Royal Arch.
Far too often the newly exalted Companion is left in his Chapter with little or nothing to do until the time comes for him to start his climb through the offices. At that point he is presented with large quantities of ritual to learn in a relatively short period of time. For many this proves too much, leading either to immediate departure or a period of non–attendance and subsequent resignation.
Companions, in this modern age we must not be afraid to adapt our practices while ensuring that the principles which underpin them remain unaltered. Inclusion of our newer Companions and the encouragement of their participation in our ritual will make them feel both welcome and valued.
Companions, in the next two or three weeks we shall be launching a Supreme Grand Chapter website. It will be well worth a visit, and you will be able to reach it by a link directly from the Grand Lodge website.
I wish to thank the Grand Director of Ceremonies and his Deputies for the efficient manner in which they have conducted the ceremonial today; the Grand Scribe E and his staff for their help in organising this important event; and finally I thank all of you for attending in such large numbers today and making this such a special event.