Red Cross of Constantine - West Midlands Division

Intendent General Address 2018


I have already welcomed our many guests, but I must say again what a pleasure it is to have them with us, amongst whom, as you have noticed, are Heads of Orders and Rulers in the Craft. We trust that once more you all enjoy our work and our hospitality.

Obviously, this is a new chapter in the history of the West Midlands Division, but before I talk about the future, this Division owes a great debt to those who have ruled and guided us in the past.

Firstly, I must pay tribute to my immediate predecessor, Rt. Ill Kt. Colin Verdun Young, who, by convention, cannot attend today. He has devoted huge energy to the Order in general and this Division in particular. Under his leadership we have grown from 13 Conclaves in 2007 to 18 Conclaves today.

To Colin’s predecessor, Most Ill Kt. Richard Victor Wallis, Past Grand Sovereign, who set in motion the process of developing the West Midlands Division.

To V.Ill Kt Dr Charles Morgan Gwynn, who in two stints as Deputy Intendant-General has supported and counselled members of the Division. Charles is always willing to give wise words of advice and I thank him for his guidance and support. He has a wonderful sense of humour, which can bring perspective and proportion to many situations.

To V.Ill Kt Ian James Thorpe, our previous Deputy Intendant-General. Ian’s knowledge of Masonic history and protocol has been invaluable, and I hope his support will continue.

We have been blessed with a number of very dedicated Divisional Viceroys, who have travelled widely within our Division supporting the Intendant-General, they have each made a major contribution to the success of the Division. Most recently, of course V.Ill Kt Richard Ayling, who is now entitled to a well-earned rest.

What of the future?

I congratulate those who have been appointed to Divisional office today. I ask that you each visit and support the Conclaves within the Division. We have a number of Team Visits planned but don’t wait for those, invite yourself to Conclaves. There is a golden opportunity to visit Rose of Sharon Conclave, which, this year, celebrates its centenary. Of course, you can visit Conclaves anywhere in the country, you will always receive a warm welcome.

I have said the Division has expanded by more than a third over the last 10 years. We now need to consolidate that position. We are developing plans to raise the profile of the Order within the six Masonic Provinces covered by this Division, but for the immediate future we must:-

Regain lost members - When people have missed a few meetings, they might feel embarrassed to attend, the longer they stay away the more awkward they become about attending again. Every member of a Conclave has a role to play in encouraging Knight Companions to attend meetings, if they have left they can always re-join.

Recruit - Red Cross seems to be ‘at the back of the queue’ when it comes to Royal Arch Companions choosing which Orders to join after the Holy Royal Arch.  Talk and enthuse about the Order. You can each play a role in raising awareness of Red Cross, I find it very frustrating to hear experienced Masons say, ‘what is Red Cross of Constantine?’. Just talk about it, raise the noise-level, we will back you up with publicity material. I don’t believe in ‘re-inventing the wheel’, so I have ‘borrowed’ ideas from Devon & Cornwall, - well I am CORNISH by decent!!

As well as promoting the Order of the Red Cross of Constantine, remember that the source of our candidates in the Holy Royal Arch. We can help that Order by making sure that members of your Craft Lodges are encouraged to join the Holy Royal Arch. Those who are not members, particularly if they are Past Masters, are missing the opportunity to develop their Masonic knowledge.

Retain - Putting effort into recruitment is wasted if we don’t retain newly Installed Knight Companions. When someone agrees to join our Order, they are making a significant commitment, both in finance and time. I therefore ask that you make every effort to learn the ceremonies, they are beautifully scripted and, properly delivered, will make a positive and lasting impression on Candidates.

Most Conclaves don’t have formal rehearsals, but informal practices can make an enormous difference to the outcome. Give new Candidates the best possible Installation ceremony, so that they immediately gain a good impression of the Order, good ceremonial really is the key to retention. Encourage involvement by all members in the ceremonies. The Appendant Orders offer a wonderful opportunity for people to participate. This Division is fortunate in having a number of ceremonies each year, giving ample opportunity for involvement.

I’m sure that you wouldn’t expect me to close without mentioning the Divisional Sepulchre Guard and to thank them for their continued support throughout the Division, I would like to see one member from each Conclave join the Guard. Membership of the Guard, is an honour and can lead to all sorts of opportunities!!

Now a word on Charity. This Division has a well-deserved reputation for supporting charity and I want this to continue. As a Division, we will continue to support ‘The Grand Sovereign’s Care Fund for Children’ and ‘The Royal British Legion Battle Back’, both charities do sterling work and deserve our support.

Finally, I wish to thank V Ill Kt Desmond Jones for proposing me into the Order and Ill Kt Phil Morgans for seconding me. Desmond said to me one day “we have decided that you’ll enjoy Red Cross of Constantine”, I’m still not sure whether that was an observation or an instruction, but either way he was right, I love this Order and I hope you derive as much pleasure from it as I do.

Thank you for your attention and I wish you a safe journey home.