Most Worshipful Past Grand Masters, Distinguished Guests, Right Worshipfuls, Worshipfuls, Wardens and Brethren all.
I stand before you today filled with all of the feelings we have been blessed to feel by our almighty god. I am honored that you have placed the trust in me to serve as your Grand Master for the coming year. I pledge in return that I will, in all instances, strive to adhere to my obligation to rule and govern with the regularity prescribed therein.
I am excited today, my brethren. I am excited to have the opportunity to lead the greatest fraternity in the world in the great state of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. I am excited to have the opportunity to serve and work with what I consider to be the strongest line of officers I could ever have hoped. I am excited to have the opportunity to lead this fraternity into a period filled with challenges, hope, and boundless fulfillment for all of us.
Our Most Worshipful Brother Robert B. Yates must be commended for focusing, during his term of office, on making us aware of the many dynamics surrounding and pervading our fraternity today. These concerns are real, my brethren, and I congratulate him in having the courage and fortitude to bring these into focus for us. It is now time for us, though, to move forward, ever focusing on the future that we want to be.
In order to travel with confidence into the future, my brethren, we need two things. First, we need continuity and consistency within our Craft, and more specifically, within the Grand Lodge line of officers. Right Worshipfuls Pothier, Allen, Brearley and Barco, la loi Pinel en 2020 would you please stand. Do you commit yourselves to being actively involved in the decisions which effect this Grand jurisdiction and to adhere to the principles of continuity and consistency? My Brethren, in any situation where input is engendered from others in making a decision, it is only appropriate that those people also be consulted in modifying the impact of that decision. These brethren, your future leaders, have now, publicly, committed themselves to that principle.
The second item required for success is a plan. In business today there is a new old saying "Fail to Plan and Plan to Fail". This year, my brethren, we will concentrate on establishing a five year plan for the future of this Grand jurisdiction. This plan will be broken down into three parts, a one-year short term plan, a two to three year medium term plan and a four to five year long range plan. This plan will be produced by a committee of brethren representing a complete cross-section of our grand jurisdiction. In other words, brethren, you will devise and implement this plan.
Our late President of the United States, John F. Kennedy once said, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country." This statement has never been more appropriate if applied to our beloved fraternity today. Changes are coming, my brethren. Changes which will require special and extraordinary effort from all of us. These changes are not problems, but opportunities to make a new and profound impact on our communities and the world we live in and will leave to our children. I would, at this time, like to coin a new phrase. "I have met the solution and it is us." We must always remember that the past and our traditions and history must be the foundation of our future, that cornerstone that gives us purpose and perspective. We must at the same time, however, be willing to accept and recognize that which must be done to perpetuate our craft in the world today and in the future.
You, my brethren, hold all of the answers. You, my brethren possess all that is necessary to propel our fraternity into the future, a future where what we have to offer mankind will be needed more than ever before in history. A thought occurred to me as I was listening to Most Worshipful Brother Dan Fredricks of Washington, D.C. as he was giving his Grand Master's report. It is the theme that I will take during the coming year. "It is only through challenging the future that one fully understands the fullness of life." Let's take the challenge, my brethren. Let's move our craft forward into the future with confidence and fortitude.
God bless you, my brethren, and thank you
Benjamin A. Phillips