Provincial Grand Chapter
The MEGS's Address, Provincial Team & Committee Meeting Minutes
Click on the section headings below to see the various topics.

22nd March 2018   
  Companions 
I spoke last year about the need to focus on recruitment and retention. 2016 had been a good year for Chapter Masonry in Oxfordshire, and I was able to report a small increase in the overall membership of the province at this meeting last year. 2017 has not been quite as good, but overall membership numbers are holding up. There are positives to reflect on – 14 of the 17 working chapters had at least one candidate for exaltation in the last year, and two thirds of the chapters have either increased their membership or held it flat.
The number of resignations has declined since the prior year, but it is still too high. No doubt, each individual resignation is for good reason, but as Chapter, we need to look at each of them and ask ourselves whether we could have prevented it. I have asked the Craft Provincial Mentor to include a review of Chapter resignations to see what can be done.
Companions, my message to you today is a simple one. Focus on recruitment and retention – you know what needs to be done and you know who the pool of candidates is. It is not as if you need to scour the outside world for candidates, as they are there in your own lodges. The Provincial Scribe E has already written to all Chapters highlighting ways of making your meetings more vibrant and welcoming to new members. We continue to push through the Craft with pamphlets and other literature and advertising, as well as the Ambassador scheme. But none of these is a substitute for the personal touch of you asking someone to be a candidate.
It is possible, and one chapter at least has done this. Alfred Chapter spotted an opportunity with the creation of our second University Lodge and have been actively targeting them with a degree of success with 4 exaltations in the last year, as well as two joiners and more in the pipeline.
And it was the same motivation that has driven the members of Semper Paratus Lodge to petition for a new Chapter. I am very hopeful that Supreme Grand Chapter will approve this at the April meeting and the new Chapter will be consecrated later this year.
As well as a Chapter consecration, I am also looking forward to dedicating a new banner for Culham College Chapter in October. The Scribe E's report lays out the detail of the visits carried out by the Provincial team this year and more are planned for the coming year. I hope that the new provincial team will match the enthusiasm and commitment of the outgoing team in their attendance at these visits. I thank the outgoing team for their hard work, and encourage them to continue to visit around the province. I congratulate the new team as well – all the appointments and promotions are well deserved, but I remind you that it is also a call to further service, not an invitation to rest on your laurels. And to both, I remind them that the Installed First Principals Chapter is also available to you to continue the friendships made during your year in office.
Congratulations also to the four companions who are to be honoured by the ME First Grand Principal in April – Les Steward and Philip Purves both promoted to PGSwdB, Malcolm Geater promoted to PAGSoj, and Chris Carter on his appointment as PGStdB.
Particular thanks to Richard Forster who steps down as DC after nearly six years in office. His successor needs no introduction!
And final thanks go all of you for your support here today. I and the rest of the executive really appreciate it. And thank you to our guests from other provinces, not just for turning up today, but also for the hospitality and warm welcome you have afforded to me and my executive when we visit you.
I thank you for your attention, and pray that the TALGMH will keep you, your families and friends under his protection.
 James R.G. Hilditch, MEGS
 
 
 
Chapter of the Year
Companions, we now come to the award of Chapter of the Year. The criteria for the award have not changed this year – an important factor continues to be how the chapter grows itself, not just through exaltations, but also joiners to ensure that it has a strong foundation for the future, as well as retaining their existing members. There are other important considerations – the encouragement of visiting, various aspects of the ritual, and mentoring and integration of newer members.
I said last year that the choice was hard, if anything it has been even harder this year and has engendered some good discussion among the executive.
The winning chapter this year has met all the criteria – it has exalted a couple of candidates, has had many visitors to its meeting and importantly has not lost any members to resignation or cessation.
PrGDC, please bring to me the MEZ of Windrush Chapter
 James R.G. Hilditch, MEGS