Companions, we are at a pivotal point in the Royal Arch in our state. Over the last years and even decades, we have dutifully upheld two key principles for our unknowing brethren: The completion of the lessons learned in our Craft Lodges and discovery and communication of the True Master’s Word. These two ideas are the jewels that Royal Arch Freemasonry offers every new Companion, whether encountering the Overseers, learning the lessons of being a leader, helping to complete our Temple, or traveling their path of discovery and improvement.
Just a couple of years ago, your Grand Chapter was in a dire situation. Many of our successful programs were scaled back and even canceled. Our membership was plummeting. Our Chapters were failing, unable to bring in new members and barely able to perform our ceremonies and rituals. The support for our youth groups was dwindling. There was little cooperation between our York Rite Bodies and other Masonic organizations. Overall, a sense of hopelessness ruled the land.
I have seen the turnaround, Companions. Thanks to your generosity and foresight, a much needed per capita increase has allowed us to bring back important programs and services, while others are being created and adapted to the betterment of the Craft. Our Chapters, while some still struggling, are finding more and more successes. We are actively working in cooperation with other Masonic Bodies. Support for our important youth organizations is growing. There is a sense that we are turning the tide. Companions are talking about the future again. There is hope.
That does not mean that we can stop our efforts. It is more critical than ever that we move forward. Our Chapters need to continue growing. Our leaders need to find inspiration and be the good examples we know they can be. Our Companions need to renew their passion and commitment to themselves, their Companions, and their Chapters.
In the new year you will see the Grand Chapter going the extra mile for our Chapters and Companions. We will be visiting your Chapters more than ever, communicating and listening. Helping where we can and when we are asked. And bringing new ideas, new programs, and new services to you. Truly, the Grand Chapter will be taking everything to the next level.
But we need your help, Companions. We need you to tell us where you need help, what we can do to make your Chapters better, how we can enrich your experience with York Rite Freemasonry. We also need to know what is working and where the successes are. Too often we dwell on the problems. So many of our Chapters and Companions are succeeding and being better than we could have ever hoped. Help us to spread the Word of your good work. We can help turn your successes into everyone’s.
Companions, I hope you agree with me that Royal Arch Freemasonry in Illinois is improving. If not, I would like to hear from you. More importantly, I need your help to make what you are seeing better.
Travel well, Companions.
James Tome, Most Excellent Grand High Priest
Grand Royal Arch Chapter of the State of Illinois