Looking back over forty years to when I first became a Mason, I never would have dreamed that I would today, be writing an article as Grand Master. It has been a journey like no other, and I thank you for showing your confidence in me by electing me to this position.
In a recent reading, I ran across a speech given by Albert Pike on being elected Commander-in-Chief of the AASR for Louisiana, April 21, 1857.
“I can bring to your service, little more than good intentions, kind feelings, and a zealous devotion to the interest of Masonry of all Rites.
When you find me deficient, I entreat of you in advance, lenient judgment upon my short-comings, and that you will kindly aid me with your sympathy, support and advice.
For I must be ever embarrassed by the reflection that I have been by your too favorable judgment preferred to many eminent and distinguished Brethren, whose longer service and greater familiarity with the work, gave them far higher claims than any I could have preferred to the post of honor and command.
I am encouraged to hope that I may in some degree aid in attaining the result which you all desire, and that your just expectations may not be disappointed.”
I could not express myself as eloquently as Brother Pike, but his words fit my feelings exactly.
I am humbled that I have this amazing opportunity with so many qualified and devoted Masons in Ohio.
I vow that I will work hard and do my best to serve this Grand Lodge and you, my brethren, to improve our Great Fraternity and keep it strong.
I understand that no one wants to discuss membership because it comes up so often. However, it is one of the biggest challenges that we face in our Fraternity. When I became a Mason, Ohio had over 200,000 members. Today we are at under 80,000 and statistics show that the decline will continue into the foreseeable future. In ten years, we could be close to half of our current numbers. As Grand Master, I feel it my responsibility to address this issue. We will have a number of initiatives this year which address our membership shortfall and I hope that everyone will embrace these opportunities and work with me to build membership.
Linda and I thank you for this amazing opportunity and for all of the love and support that everyone has shown us over the past 7 years as we have traveled this great State and met so many wonderful Masons and Ladies. We look forward to another year of serving you and our Grand Lodge.