With a simple oath and charge we affirm old traditions and make new beginnings. I appreciate the opportunity to serve you in this chair for the up-coming year as President of the Masters, Wardens, and Secretaries Association of the 14th Districts. I am honored and humbled to stand where so many leaders have come before me. I am blessed with prolific leaders to assist me.
We meet here on this day at a unique time. Thirty years ago, if you found yourself in a car equipped with a car phone you would have called all your friends just to let them know because it was so fascinating. Twenty years ago, the Motorola Startac, the first clamshell cell phone, came out and made it possible for you to comfortably place a cellphone in a pocket. A decade ago a device called the iPhone was introduced that allowed you to take pictures, browse the internet, send emails, text message, and if you wanted to, make a phone call.
There are over 7 billion people on this planet and according to the latest report from Wireless Smartphone Strategies Services 44% of them have smartphones. That includes 72% of us in the United States and even those in Tanzania where Stanley allegedly uttered the phrase, “Dr. Livingstone, I presume.”
So here we are, 300 years removed from the founding of modern Freemasonry and 10 years from the introduction of the iPhone. And I have with me some Masonic recruiting literature that suggests in multiple places that we emulate Sears. Let’s not try to be Sears.
Here’s where we are today. The largest taxi service in the world is Uber. It doesn’t own a single vehicle. The largest hotel service in the world is Airbnb. It doesn’t own a single property. A key retailer? Amazon, which made $136 billion in 2016 without a single brick-and-mortar storefront. Software has disrupted and displaced the world of the 20th Century and will continue to disrupt industries in the coming decade. It’s time to move forward. It’s a dirty word, but it’s past time to change.
It our job to respect the landmarks of Freemasonry, while gently and creatively moving forward. One of the main purposes of this Association is “To promote and support educational meetings designed to bring more light to all Master Masons.”
Our programs this year will focus on moving forward. We will present and discuss the best practices in bringing in petitioners, investigating petitioners, and fundraising. There will be a program in February on SEO, SEM, strategy, and basically web-based platforms for exposure to the community. These programs will be educational for all Masons and are not limited to our esteemed members. We will also continue the tradition of meeting the candidates for the Grand South in October, meeting the newly installed DDGMs in January, hosting a Lamar Award Dinner in March, and receiving the Grand Master for an Official Visit to Dallas County in April. Our intent is to serve each of you by affording you an opportunity to learn more about Masonry, improve your lodges, and increase in fellowship. Our programs will seek to creatively move Our Masonry toward the future.
The virtue that is associated with moving creatively toward the future is hope. Hope is very different from optimism. Optimism is having confidence because of who we are—we are getting better and better each and every day—and that can all too easily degenerate into cynicism. We seem to have our fill of cynicism in Masonry today. A Mason by the name of Winston Churchill said, “If a person is not an optimist at age sixteen he doesn’t have a heart. If he’s not a cynic by the age of forty, he doesn’t have a head.” Optimism and cynicism go together as two sides of a coin.
But hope is different. Hope is confidence not because of who we are, but because of who God is, and that is at the heart of it. Belief in the Fatherhood of God is at the heart of Our Masonry. Freemasonry tugs at your soul and implores you to better understand your relationship with yourself and with your God. Because we believe, we have hope. Hope that His guidance will lead us as we travel into this modern age of instant access to information and communication—a place where our prospective members get their news from the internet, from Facebook, from a computer that fits in their pockets as opposed to newspapers and magazines.
Our belief in God also inculcates a desire to serve—to serve your brothers and your lodge. The MWSA helps you to serve. It expands your knowledge. It expands your understanding. It expands your fellowship.
A man would be a fool to think he can lead and serve his lodge on his own. We all need the assistance of our brethren and softly whispered good counsel.
These are new times. Full of new ideas, new technology, new ways of doing business. The Landmarks of Freemasonry will never change. The excellent rules and useful maxims inculcated in every Masonic degree remain the same. The Order continues as it has from time immemorial. But the institution must move forward. The business model must respond and adapt. It must adopt the new and use it to our advantage. Only thereby can we legitimately hope that our small part in this grand play will end in fruition.
So join us the last Wednesday of the month for a trip to a new lodge to learn something more about how to serve your brothers better. Learn about our hope for the future. Our hope for Our Masonry.