I am extremely pleased that you have accepted your office and the related responsibilities for the upcoming term.
I look forward to serving the State of Nevada as its Most Excellent Grand High Priest of Royal Arch Masons. In order to achieve progress, we must set attainable goals for our organization ahead of time. As I see it, one of the most important things an organization such as ours has to do is: communicate effectively. By that I mean - ALL aspects of communicating with one another.
I have laid out some of my expectations and methods of accomplishing enhanced communications:
Attainment of enhanced communications (as a goal) was part of the Strategic Planning briefing that was presented in Tonopah in October of 2015 at the annual workshop. The final report on this was finished and posted on the York Rite NV website in 2018 and it is time we begin acting on the “List of Problems” on a step by step basis. Communications (as a goal) is a specific starting point – as without effective communications you simply have chaos.
First - VISITS AND TRAVEL
One of your most important responsibilities - will be for you to attend more official visits than just the official visit of your own Chapter.
Goal: Attend more than just your OV.
I want to emphasize the effectiveness of visiting the meetings of other Chapters and getting to know other members better. You need to share your thoughts with them and understand their concerns. Only by understanding their issues will you be able to effectively relate to their concerns. (Walk a mile in their shoes.) Please plan to attend all of the Official Visits in your area and additional meetings, if at all possible. Our willingness and ability to travel will help strengthen our Royal Arch ties and open the doors for further communications between all of our Chapters throughout our state.
Goal: Talk to others when at OVs and out of town meetings.
We also need to travel to other jurisdictions, whenever possible, to introduce ourselves and to invite others from out of state to visit our Grand Session. This is how things grow. This is how WE grow. By learning from others and through the crosspollination of ideas. We visit them – then they - are far more likely to visit us.
Goal: Visit other jurisdictions.
In a 2015 letter this was listed as a main goal:
Better Use of Our Web Site and Better Tools of Communication
There is no time like the present to begin. Let us actively seek better ways to display our information for our members and our Companions from other States to see. Let us be their example. Let us lead the way and let us be the one to emulate.
Goal: Effective use of our website.
Using emails, phone calls, letters, texts, visiting other Chapters, and through word of mouth, whatever it takes to improve our communicating and inform our membership and other jurisdictions is paramount to our success and growth. When an organization stops communicating, it begins a slow spiral to death and extinction. When the work of this organization no longer seems important enough to spend the time to reach out to others, the organization will wither and die. I hope you agree to help and work on this project and help bring back the importance of actively communicating York Rite issues and the solutions to those issues. Share your thoughts and make your solutions known to others. They may just be waiting to hear what you have to say.
Goal: Encourage active communications with others.
As Grand Officers, we must be extra cordial at meetings - by taking the time to go around to shake hands and make ourselves known (and, to know others). Let the members of our York Rite know that we care and that we appreciate their time spent in attendance of York Rite functions. They could be elsewhere and not spending the time with you. Make it worth their while to know you. Figure out a way to “give back”. If they spend the time out of their busy life to be there, you should in some way reciprocate that through your time spent in return. After all, we have a job to do and this seems a sincere and friendly way to go about it. It is obvious that we need MORE PARTICIPATION from the Grand Officers. This is your opportunity to make your presence count. Your attendance and participation in each of the meetings is a huge plus in public relations and in establishing your expressed concern for others.
Goal: Use your presence and participation to show others of your care for the fraternity.
Second - NEW MEMBER PACKETS\MENTORSHIP
“New Member Packets” are being developed and will be handed out as soon as new
members are initiated. This packet will include a lot of information about the York Rite and will help orient the new member. It will also list his current officers and point him to the YorkRiteNV website (including the hidden pages) where he can download his own copy of the Ritual for his personal study. This package will apply to all there (3) bodies of the York Rite and will help us retain our new members. This opening volley of communication is all important in letting our new members know what is available to them, what is expected of them and how the organizations in the York Rite work. These packets will also be available to current members as they may wish to refresh themselves with the information.
Goal: Provide New Members with a New Member Packet of information.
In addition to getting a “New Member Package” they should also be assigned a “Mentor” to help guide the new member through some of the information he has received and to answer any questions the new member might ask. (There are usually many questions that a new member has and by not assigning a Mentor to help him, we are basically saying - that we no longer care about your continued progress.) The name and contact information of the Mentor will be at the front of the new member package along with the encouragement to contact that Mentor for further information. Our Mentor is one of the best ways we can communicate to our new member and provides a one on one opportunity to succeed.
Goal: Assign each new member a Mentor to continue his education.
The main reasons our York Rite bodies in the State of Nevada are in deep trouble is due to a lack of participation and interest. We cannot expect our new members to continue to show interest and participate if we just “dump them” after their degrees are done. We must actively encourage them to be a part of the body and further educate them in York Rite. We must get them actively involved and give them a reason to come to meetings or they will lose interest and stop coming.
Goal: Get our new members actively involved in York Rite.
The worst thing we can do is to ignore them, fail to answer their sincere questions, and spend time doing boring business meetings with mature member bickering amongst themselves. We need to stop making the mistake of alienating new members and instead embrace them as the future of the craft. Because, if you alienate a member by not continuing to nurture him, he will not come back. He will continue to find an excuse not to come and will devote his time to more productive pursuits. We need to find a way to show our new members that York Rite is the most productive pursuit in their life.
Goal: Make sure our new member’s questions are answered and their concerns addressed.
Our inability to get a quorum is often a problem. This is a direct consequence of the above. We are at fault. We are our own worst enemy. (As Pogo once said – “I have seen the enemy and he is us.”) We need to start “getting smart” about this and work towards getting our members to be active, our Mentors to be Mentors, and our new members to be educated and trained in the craft.
Goal: Actively educate and train our new members after their Degrees & Orders.
We MUST improve our educational programs in order to eliminate apathy. Remember – a valid educational program for EVERY meeting – not just something you decided at the last minute to bring to the meeting and read to everyone. (That – is just embarrassing.)
Goal: Provide a meaningful education program at every regular meeting.
Third - FAMILY, FRIENDS, SOCIALIZING, PUBLIC RELATIONS
The participation of the family is an effective way to improve attendance at York Rite events. By having your wives socialize and get better acquainted with other member’s wives, whenever possible, the growth in such friendships will create a beneficial synergy for all. Have your friends and family join us for dinner before our meetings or at other organized social events. Make your family (and your extended family) a part of the overall York Rite experience. Share with them what York Rite is all about and the overall benefit of York Rite to society in general. Educate them on the beneficial effects that York Rite provides to our community. Let them know that we are not a “secret society”. Indeed, we are a society that benefits the world we live in daily. Learn of the charities that we support and what they do. Share it with them. Let them know that Masons, and Masonic appendant bodies, contribute over $3 million a day to charity (over a Billion dollars a year). We need more (and better) mixed social events to help secure better communications and understanding of what Masonry and the York Rite is about. When is the last time you talked to your family about the benefits you get from being a part of York Rite? How good is your “elevator speech”?
Goal: Involve your family and others by sharing your York Rite experience.
Our social events can be combined with fundraisers for our charities that can have far reaching positive benefits in public relations. Make sure your next fundraising event, and the effects of that event, are publicized in your local paper. Let your community know what you are doing and how your presence in the community is benefiting them and their families. Tell them what you are doing and when. Let them know you exist for the betterment of family and society, not just for the benefit of yourselves.
Goal: Publish your activities in the local paper. Let your community know you are there and that you care.
Working closely with the Blue Lodges can be helpful. Do the members of your Blue Lodge even know about York Rite or how much of their education they are missing? Do they know they are missing “the rest of the story” (the part that was left out of the Blue Lodge Degrees)? Do they know what charities we support and what those charities do?
Goal: Visit Blue Lodges and let them know about York Rite.
When is the last time you went to a Blue Lodge as a York Rite Mason and explained it to them? We need to spread the word about York Rite and why it is not only good for us but, it is good for them! It is not only our responsibility, it is a wonderful opportunity to let our Blue Lodge brethren know what they are missing. Most of the Master Masons of Blue Lodge don’t even know that they are not truly a Master Mason until they know “the master’s word”. Their education is incomplete. We need to encourage them to not only complete their education but to be a part of “the bigger picture” that is York Rite.
Goal: Encourage others to join and be a part of the York Rite.
Fourth – AMONGST ONE ANOTHER
As more and more methods of communication are available, it seems we communicate less. We have the phone call, email, texting, all sorts of apps, and of course, social media (that can eat up your time like nothing else). So why are we failing to communicate?
Goal: Communicate with other York Rite members.
One reason is the disparity between communications. One person may prefer the phone call. Another thinks it takes to much time or doesn’t answer the phone because he gets too many sales pitches. Some don’t check their email for weeks. Some don’t have the capability to text or even know what texting is. Some have never heard of Facebook or don’t have a Facebook or Twitter account. Where does it leave us? It leaves us without an effective means of communicating.
Goal: Take the time necessary to ensure lines of communication are established.
So, as a standard, we need to select a unified method of communication. My preferred method of communication is via email. I expect my officers (and committee members) to periodically monitor their email and respond to any queries I might make of you. And, periodically, I may actually call you on the phone. This is my second preferred method of communication. Please communicate with me in either of these two methods only. This needs to be the standard for all York Rite communications in Nevada.
Goal: Make the standard for communications for York Rite to be via email & phone.
Now that we all know, don’t be afraid to “communicate”. Questions, problems, updates, issues or concerns can be communicated to me. I will try my best to field any questions and provide a prompt response. My email and phone number can be found on the York Rite NV website. Please use that website for a reference tool for all of our key documents. And don’t forget to use the “hidden pages” for the Ritual, Proceedings, Constitution and other important operations documents.
Goal: Use your website and its hidden pages. Communicate with your Grand Officers.
I encourage a free flow of communications between all York Rite Masons in Nevada and I am even looking into the possibility of a joint\mass email system for York Rite Masonry in Nevada like we once had for the Blue Lodge of Nevada. Stay tuned on that one.
Goal: Establish a mass email system for York Rite in Nevada.
The key is: communicate! Communicate to your fellow Masons, your fellow Companions, your fellow Sir Knights, as a Mentor to others, to your family, your friends, and your community. Make York Rite be known for the good it does (not the eyebrows it raises). Speak positively of York Rite wherever you might go and let all you meet know why YOU are a part of such a great organization.
James D. Phelps
M.E. Grand High Priest