Handing over, from the 13th. To the 14th. Administration of the District Grand Lodge of Sierra Leone and the Gambia, Scottish Constitution on 10th June 2020
RWDGM designate, office bearers of both 13th and 14th administration, I welcome you to this unusual meeting at this unusual time and place.
On behalf of all brethren present and the district in general, let me congratulate you Bro Chrispin Bishop Deigh on your appointment as DGM. We wish you a successful tenure in office. Congratulations also to all the newly commissioned office bearers. I wish you well in your various duties.
Brethren, we find ourselves in a situation in which we cannot meet as a lodge because of the COVID 19 virus and the attendant precautions. The newly appointed DGM can therefore not be installed until such time that circumstances will permit. The administration of the district has to be continuous and therefore it is necessary that some form of handing over be done to enable the new administration perform its duties.
The DGS, DGT and premises manager, have given their reports and I believe this can serve as a basis for the continuation of the administration of the district. It only now remains for me to give a valedictory statement to complete this handing over process. This should have been done during our annual communication in May 2020, but circumstances did not permit that meeting to take place.
Brethren, after assuming office in June 2015, my immediate concern was the administration of the district. I did set up an administrative committee, comprising all commissioned office bearers, the assistant secretaries, the treasurer and the temple manager. From time to time, we co-opted other brethren for specific meetings as the occasion demanded. We met once a month and it proved very useful and had a positive effect on the district. I did promise in my first address during communication that we will endeavor to be transparent with our funds. We made every effort to do that and I believe won the confidence of brethren to financially support the district.
We were also concerned about the quality of ritual work in the daughter lodges. We organized demonstration workings on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd degrees using different rituals. This I believe gave some direction to brethren and did help to improve the quality of work.
Lectures were also organized by the district to deal with various topics in Freemasonry. These include, seminar for secretaries and treasurers of lodges, discipline, masonic etiquette, master masons and other relevant topics.
The 60th anniversary of the district occurred during the tenure of this administration. A series of activities was organized to mark it. These included, a thanksgiving service, a football match between us and the English district, a picnic and others. At the anniversary convocation, on the 24th of May 2018, a historical sketch of the district was given by Bro I.C.A Gordon HON. GDC. Commemoration ties, T-shirts, caps and pens were also launched.
During the tenure of this administration, we continued with the charity work of the district by regular support to the Dr. Willoughby memorial trust fund and the Old People’s Home at Jui. We continued the tradition of making donation to the Gambian Organization for The Visually Impaired. We made a donation to the District Grand Lodge of Bahamas after the country was devastated by hurricane Dorian. We also initiated an annual treat for children of deprived background within the vicinity of the temple at Christmas. It has been a worthy cause. We also assisted a few brethren who were in need from our benevolent fund. In collaboration with the English and Irish constitution, we made a donation to The Hope for Ebola Orphanage foundation at Hamilton and recently, to assist during the lockdown, in the fight against the COVID 19 virus, donated food and other items to families in the King Jimmy community.
During the tenure of this administration, two temples were consecrated. The second temple at Georgarcland, was consecrated in February 2016. It was an epoch making event when the Wusum building was opened and the temple consecrated in Makeni on the July 2016. This expanded the geographical spread of the district and made it possible for the district to hold a communication out of the confines of Freetown for the very first time in November 2019. I must thank the Primus of lodge Wusum, Bro. Dr Samura Kamara HSDGM and brethren of Lodge Wusum, for making this possible.
We were able to give thanks to TGAOTU after each year in office by holding thanksgiving services. The first was held at St. Edwards Church, Kent in June 2016, the 2nd at St Micheal and all Angels, Waterloo in June 2017, the 3rd at Holy Trinity Church, Makeni in June 2018 and the 4th at Emmanuel Church, Hamilton in June 2019. Unfortunately, we were not able to hold the last thanksgiving service due to the COVID 19 pandemic. In all these services, 50% of the takings were given to the church and 50% to some charity.
In our endeavour to maintain a strong link with The Grand Lodge of Scotland and other districts, we continued the tradition of attending the installation of the Grand Master Mason, and the festival of St. Andrews. We are pleased to report that we were able to attend these meetings with a reasonably sized delegation every year.
I led a delegation to the 3rd International Masonic conference in The Bahamas in May 2019. This was the first time this district has been represented in such conferences. It was beneficial and would recommend our continued participation in such conferences.
We also continued with the good relationship that had existed between us, the English and the Irish constitutions. It was taken to another level as we met regularly to discuss matters of mutual interest.
We received a communication from some brethren, intending to petition for the formation of a new lodge named, Lodge Plus Ultra in this District. I summoned them to a meeting in which the DDGM was also present. We discussed the purpose of forming the lodge and we were convinced that they should proceed with the petition. I believe work is now at an advanced stage to meet the requirements for the petition. I wish them success in this endeavour.
Status of the Georgarcland Masonic Temple – This building is owned by the following lodges, St George’s Lodge no 2506 EC, Lodge Academic 1138SC and Lodge Sierra Leone Highland No 997sc. As It became apparent that the owners were having a difficult time in maintaining this building, we offered to lease and take over the administration of the building since the temple was mainly used by Scottish lodges. It was agreed on principal that the building will be leased initially for 20 years and that the district will do an extension of the temple. There has been a lot of to and fros in the drafting of the agreement. A final draft has been agreed on and have been sent to the owner lodges . A request has been sent to the owner lodges to meet with the District to conclude the matter. We are awaiting their response.
Since taking over, my predecessor in office, RW Brother Jonathan Admire Thomas, commenced work on the extension of the structure of the building. A substantial work was done before I came into office and I commend his efforts. During my administration, we were able to complete all aspects of the extension, which included the admin floor, toilets at the basement, the new temple, new changing room and cabinets for lodges at the basement and refurbished the toilet at the top floor. In collaboration with the Harmony bar, the basement of the building was completed as an entertainment bar and is presently a prominent feature in the building. Accommodation for the caretaker was also done at the lower basement.
The banquet hall was also completely refurbished including the kitchen, entrance hall and temple manager’s office. A car park at the east end of the building was recently completed.
We were able to achieve these because of the high level of support and dedication of the brethren. We initiated a fund raising lunch, which has now become an annual event to raise funds for the building. I must commend the brethren of that committee, particularly, Bro. Emmanuel Ajaie Wilson- Taylor SDGM and Bro. Samuel Hasting-Spaine for their untiring efforts in making the lunch a success.
Brethren, amidst all the success we claim, we have to continue to work on lifting the moral standards of our brethren. My parting statement to you is a summary of the charge you were given at your initiation, in which, you were recommended to study the VSL, wherein you were taught the duties you owe to God, to your neighbor and yourself. It inculcates the values of reverence and dependence on God, being kind and respectful to your neighbor and living a well-regulated and disciplined life. I exhort you brethren, to keep this uppermost in your minds at all times, and I am sure that, if you do, the outside world would not only look upon brethren of this district with admiration, but will also help to dispel the negative publicity we seem to be having, and attract good men to our fold.
Brethren, It was a pleasure to serve you as DGM for the past five years. I must say big thanks to my Depute DGM and all of my commissioned office bearers, elected office bearers and brethren all for the tremendous support I received over the past five years. It would have been impossible for the district to make such progress without you.
Brethren, you did, unanimously recommend our newly appointed RWDGM, I do hope you will give him an equal measure or more support during his administration. May brotherly love continue to prevail and let us continue to lift this District up.
Finally, I say thanks to TGAOTU himself, for His guidance in my life and particularly so, in serving you brethren as DGM. We, as a team have not labored in vain nor waste our strength for naught. We believe that our labours have been blessed and we joyfully say “all glory to the Most High”.
I thank you for your attention.
STATEMENT DELIVERED AT THE SYMBOLIC HANDING/TAKING OVER OF THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE DISTRICT GRAND LODGE OF SIERRA LEONE AND THE GAMBIA (SC) AT THE SEASIDE HOTEL, ABERDEEN ON 10th JUNE 2020
Good afternoon IPRWDG. Good afternoon my worthy brethren All, here present and viewing by Zoom.
Today on the seaside, west of Freetown, history is being made again in the District Grand Lodge of Sierra Leone and the Gambia (SC) as we come to the end of one era and the beginning of another.
Today, 10th June 2020, history is in the making as we witness another smooth transmission of authority in our District from the 13th Administration to the 14th Administration.
A remarkable part of the history of the District Grand Lodge today is that for the first time in its annals, we are having a change of administration before the installation of the in-coming office bearers.
Brethren All, although this is unusual it is perfectly legal and endorsed by the Grand Lodge of Scotland.
The Commission of Authority of the incumbent District Grand Master expires tomorrow 11th June. A symbolic administrative handing over to the new administration is therefore necessary for continuity.
Brethren All, we are all aware that this manner of change of Administration has come about in one of the most difficult times of our existence in the whole world when all economic, religious, educational and social activities have been stalled because of the world wide pandemic of COVID -19.
Because of this we are not in our usual home at the GAMT, we are not in our smart dinner suits adorned with our colorful and beautiful regalia. We are not having our ceremonies because Social Distancing is paramount.
Brethren, challenging though it is we cannot be static, we have to be on the move and to plan – To plan at least to hope for the best and to plan for the worst.
It is against this background, that with an enormous sense of pride, with honor and pleasure and in all humility I accept the mantle of this high office of District Grand Master of The District Grand Lodge of Sierra Leone and the Gambia Scottish Constitution, and pledge to dedicate myself to the pursuits of this high office, trusting and relying on the support, cooperation and well wishes of not only my commissioned office bearers but the entire membership of this District and beyond.
Wherever you are, I pledge myself to serve you in humility and love.
Therefore, at this juncture, I want to start by giving thanks to God Almighty, The Great Architect of the Universe for His Grace and Mercies bestowed on us thus far.
To the brethren in ALL the Daughter Lodges, I extend sincere and hearty thanks and appreciation from the bottom of my heart for unanimously responding to me as your nominee for this coveted position and for the confidence repose in me as your leader for the next five years.
I assure you that I will strive and work assiduously to uphold your trust and confidence, God being our Helper.
Brethren it is usually said that “In death nothing changes: In Life nothing stays the same” Change in our world therefore as long as we are alive is inevitable.
So, today as we witness this transformation to a new administration, let me pay tribute to my predecessors in office.
The District Grand Lodge embarked on a transformational change some twenty years ago. My predecessors in office from year 2000 to date, a period spanning twenty years, made significant progress in shaping Scottish Freemasonry and many other aspects of our masonic conditions in Sierra Leone and most notably, the transformation of our place of fellowship, the Georgacland Masonic Temple.
Their administrative achievements have been remarkable and amid all the varied challenges, they succeeded in raising the bar to a formidable height.
The two most recent District Grand Masters have made indelible marks on us all and my immediate predecessor, Right Worshipful Bro. Ing. Leslie Faduma Nicol, in his characteristic unobtrusive demeanor, whose generosity knows no bounds, anchored the vision of his predecessors by ensuring he delivered on their dreams and his own objectives most admirably.
In that regard, I want to thank him, brethren all, on my personal behalf and on behalf of you all for his indefatigable efforts in ensuring that the business of the District was accomplished with the required haste during his term in office.
Furthermore, lest we forget, he was assisted and supported during his term by an equally talented team of hard working and experienced masons whose unflinching and generous support deserves equal accolade. I thank you brethren for your services to our beloved District.
Brethren All, Notwithstanding the many achievements of the past, the District Grand Lodge is still beset with several challenges.
In short it indicates that as we assume authority of the administration today, we cannot rest on our oars and I am sure that with your support, brethren All, we shall identify and pursue these challenges with vigor and relentless pursuit as did our predecessors in office.
Brethren All, in this vein my administration will immediately be giving consideration to a number of issues with the view to focusing our attention and resources on how they can be surmounted, relying on the fact that “These challenges though formidable are not unsurmountable”.
- Implications, effects and constraints Imposed on our activities by the currentCOVID-19 pandemic restrictions. The use of Technology for effective communication during these COVID times
- Finances of the District: Both income generation and recurring and capital expenditure budgets
- Changing the public perception of Freemasonry in Sierra Leone and the Gambia
- Continuation of modernizing the Georgacland Masonic Temple Facilities.
- Investment in infra structure including search for a new home for the District
- Transformation to a True Charitable organization, practicing brotherly love and relief in its truest sense.
- Increasing the membership numbers of daughter Lodges to ensure sustainability and continuity of the Scottish Rites in Sierra Leone over the five-year term.
- More visibility of our charity activities to the public using the press and social media
To this end my administration plans to adopt a structured approach embedded in a fully documented Strategic Plan, which will be delivered within four months from date. The formation of this Plan will involve the entire participation and involvement of members of the District and Daughter Lodges, so that it will become ‘Our Plan’.
Such Strategic Plan will guide our decision-making process on pursuing specific targeted objectives in the next five years.
Brethren All, you will agree with me that we need a guiding Plan on how to keep our Lodges afloat, how to project the image of District Grand Lodge and Freemasonry in general, how to ensure financial sustainability, A Plan for growing our membership, A Plan for ensuring sustainable Charity, A Plan for taking Freemasonry to the next level of Technology and A Plan for developing and expanding our Assets and more.
Brethren All, we need a Plan with an accompanying theme and a good Plan at that, because “A good Plan can help to make a good business or Organization credible, understandable and attractive to someone who is unfamiliar with the business or Organization. A good Plan cannot guarantee success, but it can go a long way toward reducing failure.”
To pursue this necessary first step, my administration has constituted the District Grand Lodge Strategic Plan Technical Committee. I am pleased to announce that the following brethren have been appointed to serve in this committee:
Bro. Alhassan Kanu (Chairman)
Bro. J Abiose Thomas
Bro. E A Wilson-Taylor
Bro. V C Spain
Bro. Dr. Samura M W Kamara
Bro. Centus Macauley
Bro. Chrispin Kaikai
This committee has been granted powers to coopt as it deems appropriate and will receive the formal mandate to operate by 15th June.
Brethren All, the businesses of our Lodges must continue, even with the current COVID restrictions.
These Lodges are usually placed under the guidance and supervision of the Substitute District Grand Masters. I have to inform you that the Lodges have accordingly been assigned to the responsibility of my substitute District Grand Masters with one Lodge, the only Lodge in the District outside Sierra Leone assigned to the Depute District Grand Master as follows:
Bro. N C Browne-Marke PM, Depute District Grand Master
Lodge St. Mary No. 1711, Banjul, The Gambia
Bro. George Idowu Kawaley PM, SDGM
Lodge Tranquility No. 1446
Lodge Harmony No. 1448
Lodge The Earl of Eglinton and Winton No. 1650
Lodge Sierra No. 1743
Lodge Cotton Tree No. 1799
Lodge Excelsior No. 1807
Bro. Dr. Samura M W Kamara PM, SDGM
Lodge Sierra Leone Highland No. 997
Lodge Travellers No. 1455
Lodge Delco No.1624
Lodge Leona No. 1644
Lodge Regentonia No. 1752
Lodge Albert Academy 1797
Bro. Magnus Adeyemi Decker PM, SDGM
Lodge Academic No. 1138
Lodge Mount Aureol No 1612
Lodge Sapiens No.1620
Lodge Blue Diamond No. 1687
Lodge Veritatis No. 1786
Lodge Wusum No. 1839
In addition, I am pleased to advise that honorary Substitute District Grand Masters will now be granted a role. Honorary Substitute District Grand Masters will be appointed as Assistant Supervisors to assist the Substitute District Grand Masters with their supervisory roles over the Lodges. This I believe and I hope will go a long way in improving the desired attention over these Lodges.
My Commissioned Office Bearers, let me at this point invoke your memory to the several charges and regulations you have undertaken in the course of your several masonic journeys and to say I need not recapitulate or dilate on any of them to remind you of the sacred trust that now lay in your hands but to rather thank you for agreeing to serve with me. I note with appreciation that you accepted my invitation to serve with sincerity and promised commitment. I have no doubt that together we will succeed.
Elected serving office bearers and all members of the District, Past District Grand Masters, Past Depute District Grand Masters, Past Substitute District Grand Masters, Past serving office bearers, I have the honor to thank you for your services to this great District and for accepting me to serve you as District Grand Master for the ensuing five years. I look forward to your support and cooperation during this period.
Reigning Masters and brethren in the Daughter Lodges I thank you for belonging to this Great District. This is your mother and we will always count on your loyalty, support and cooperation in pursuing our strategic objectives over the next five years. A progressive Mother District would breed exceptional daughters.
Finally, it is our bounden duty to uphold and solidify our very amicable relationship with Districts of our sister constitutions even as we too look up to them for reciprocal cooperation.
This I pledge to them during my term. I extend fraternal greetings to the District Grand Master of the District Grand Lodge of Sierra Leone and the Gambia EC and the Grand Inspector of the Inspectorate of Sierra Leone Irish Constitution whom I believed are with us through Zoom.
In conclusion, let me acknowledge the Grand Superintendent of The District Grand Chapter of Sierra Leone, whom I also believed is connected through Zoom and to assure him of my cooperation in ensuring that Craft Masons are sufficiently informed of the importance and connection with the Royal Arch.
I thank you IPDGM and brethren All for your attention.
Delivered by C B Deigh, PM, DGM
10th June 2020