June 2011

Avant-Garde 503
June 2011 Newsletter
The most interesting item these past few weeks has to be the report of the Central Division Annual Conference held over in Hastings on Saturday the 14th of May and to my way of thinking it was the best I have attended to date. The venue was excellent at the Hastings Opera House, being able to sit at tables rather than just a chair and having water and nibbles available for all followed by an excellent luncheon. The audio was loud and clear and the speakers could be seen and heard without difficulty. Those brethren who made the effort to attend would not have been disappointed and would have found it very rewarding and worthwhile. Avant-Garde, I believe would have had the most members present of the Lodges represented with our District GM, Graham and myself from Taranaki as well as two from Lion, Bruce and David, who are members of our Lodge.

The day began clear without a cloud in the sky and we had to be inside for most of it was a bit of a shame but the content of the conference made up for any discomfort. It began at 10.00am with registrations and underway at the allotted time of 10.50am with the usual house keeping remarks followed by the Grand Chaplain's offer of a prayer. The first Guest Speaker was Dr Jody Porter a Pediatric Registrar From Christchurch whom has addressed each Divisional Conference and thanked the Freemasons for her Freemason's Scholarship Grant assisting her with research into Diabetes and Coeliac Disease in very young children. She went on to explain some of the difficulties she is facing here in New Zealand and the assistance being provided from Australia to held source materials needed for the research also touching on some early results of the project as it begins to unfold for her.

Rob Angello, the Grand Supt of Works then addressed the meeting on the devastating effects of the earthquake in Christchurch showing a video of the CBD buildings, vehicles and infrastructure caught up in the disaster as well as Lodges badly affected and comparing them with other buildings made of similar materials around the country. These buildings could suffer the same effective damage as those in Christchurch if they have similar earthquakes. There have been 5520 quakes since September and the population of the city environment have suffered tremendous loss both materially as well psychologically. There have been 180 killed, 100 unaccounted for, 70,000 left the area, 10,000 homes to be relocated, 9000 lost jobs and 50,000 on subsidised payments.

The insurance covers that Lodges hold should be re investigated by the Lodge Trustees around the country for the excess payments are based on 2.5% of valuation, this is likely to increase, and there is one Lodge having to find $25,000.00 before any work can begin to repair the damage. If they suffered further damage in the second quake of February this sum could be $50.000.00 and still the work hasn't begun. ( Aren't we glad we don't own a building yet ).

There are only three Lodges able to be used with many being Red Stickered and not available for use both around the city and the outlying Districts. Grand Lodge have formed a team of qualified persons to assist and advise Lodges with the repair and rebuilding and to help with ideas for the future of Freemasonry in the Christchurch area. There could be a consolidation of Lodges into 2-3 buildings instead of each lodge owning their own buildings which will give a more beneficial use of amenities. This address was the most thought provoking and it was commented that one felt a little humbled and could easily have shed a tear or two for the plight of those who have been so badly affected.

The next item on the programme was titled Vision for the Future presented by several brethren including the GL Secretary touching on whose responsible for Freemasonry and the decision making and requiring good Leadership with the most important ASSET of the Lodge being it's members and they require looking after. Understanding that change is taking place all the time and that it must be accepted to be able to keep pace with the community we live in. Lodges are being assessed by the District GM's and forwarded onto Grand Lodge and this comparative information is to made available back to Lodges and action should be taken of it. There is information made available on the GL Web site called the Nugget Library which is made of successful ideas from Lodges whom have introduced it at their Lodge and were satisfied with the results achieved. This is available for you members to investigate and perhaps adopted it in your own lodge to help make changes that maybe required. You can also leave a successful idea that has merit and could be used by others trying to improve their Lodge.

Communicating with members is also a requirement to keep in touch with one another and those who are having difficulties getting members into the lodge room itself could build a Phoning Tree and pool cars to meetings. There was a good suggestion made of one lodge who have photographed the old photos of past members or Masters and contacted family members offering them a photo of their grandfathers or fathers who have been members and which the family may not have had. This allows for the Lodge to develop a relationship and perhaps help increase numbers. This idea has merit and could work for those lodges struggling to attract.

Lunch was then served and it was very good ,well worth the trip over.

The afternoon session was soon underway with the G Supt of Charities addressing the meeting on the Freemasons Charity Fund saying that it is in good heart with $30 million Dollars invested and is attracting good interest rates. There have been 3 major projects highlighted by the Charity, being St Johns Ambulance, the Knitting Project for Premature Babies and Christchurch Recovery. The St Johns Ambulances have been fitted with GPS Navigation units to assist with identifying of addresses, roads and homes which has met with considerable success. The Knitting Project has been suggested by Mrs Jan Cooper and is underway with several Ladies working at knitting different items suitable for premature babies. Wool is available through GL and I have made an application to Sheila Hicking for information on the availability and colours as well as the patterns but have not heard back at time of going to print.

Christchurch was again highlighted as requiring support and the Freemasons Charity came to the assistance of the Linwood Colleges Orchestra who had been fund raising for a trip over to Britain and Europe and had just about raised enough when the first quake hit the area and this stopped all further success at fund raising and the Charity came to their aid providing funding to complete their project. Many will have seen this Orchestra on TV for they performed at the Anzac Ceremonies over in Britain at both Hyde Park as well as at Westminster Abbey and continued their European venture.

Lodges were reminded that it is not only money required in the disaster area but also compassion and understanding and they could help out by offering a caring ear and perhaps a holiday for those needing to get away for a short while or Lodges could adopt a Lodge with supporting assistance that they may require. I suggest Brethren give some serious thought to this request and we could perhaps open a few homes here for people to come and stay or we could offer to go down and help them.
Many of us attending felt we could do more and I'm sure we can.

That was basically the highlights of this Conference and I felt that it was most enjoyable and we all had a good time.

Upon reflection, I believe that Avant – Garde Lodge is showing the way somewhat for we have systems already built that should and could be used more than we do, I mean the Web Site, for there is the forum site that any of you can source and leave messages, there is the calender that has a lot of the meetings featured and we have a newsletter that is quite well read by most and we have a very high percentage of our members sitting in lodge at most meetings. The only real need is more members and this is up to all to attract them. This Web Site is not only a public advert but a tool for it's members to use and use often and it sits right there in homes all around the country so lets get activated and see what may happen if it is accessed more by you members. Over the past few years we have built up a community awareness of our Lodge and many people now know of us and the work we have done so lets keep on working to further our name and improve this awareness for our own benefits. Comments please.

Our Initiation Ceremony is to be on Saturday the 9th of July 2011 as an Emergency Meeting so let's make this a memorable occasion for our new member and show that we can perform it as good or better than the Third Degree just completed a few weeks back. I'm sure there shall be a few visitors present as I know there is interest from Lodges outside of the District who have said they may come along. So let's not disappoint them. If you don't know your working then please contact the Master who has been working out the programme or better still come along to the practice meetings on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 7.30pm at Darnell Street.

How are the Ladies progressing with the knitting to assist Mrs Jan Cooper with her project of supplying knitted garments for premature babies. Winter is now upon us and these should be made available before to long. Would Ladies wishing to assist the Project please contact Sara, Margaret or Bev for further information if required.

Please notify the Lodge Secretary if you are having any Address Changes, as soon as possible so that records are kept up to date and contact able to be maintained.

The Research Lodge of the Taranaki Province is about to hand in it's Charter if it can't find a Master to take over the office next year due to the reduced number of members over this past decade and this would be a terrible shame for it does serve a purpose as an Educational Lodge for the members of this District. If you could assist it by becoming a member and would be able to invigorate it with new ideas of management to ensure that it met the needs of the District and Masonic Members then please contact your Lodge Secretary. Please remember it is Membership not Mastership that is required.

Next Management Meeting is on the 14th of June at W Yateman's, 6 Highfield Place, New Plymouth. 7.30pm

Next Regular Meeting; Tuesday the 7th June at Darnell Street NP . Time of Tyling is 7.00pm.

District Dates :
June 7th Avant-Garde Lodge Grand Lodge visit. 6.30pm.
June 23rd District Meeting at Whangamomona Rooms 7.30pm.
July 2nd Sister Constitutions Meeting Lodge Hinemoa Stratford. Afternoon start. Followed by a Burns Supper.
July 7th Grand Lodge Visit to Whangamomona.
July 9th Emergency Meeting for Initiation of Wayne Samways as candidate.

B.A. B. 28/05/11