Let me begin by expressing my sincerest appreciation to every Brother Mason in Alabama for the privilege you have bestowed upon me to serve you as Grand Master this year. I have been a Master Mason for 33 years and this is by far the most meaningful year I have experienced in our Great Fraternity. I have met so many Brethren during my travels and each of you have made a deep and lasting impression upon me. And while I will always remember this year because of these experiences, 2020 will be a year that none of us will ever forget. From the COVID-19 pandemic to the riots and protests to the hurricanes to the Presidential and Congressional elections; this year has adversely affected our personal and professional lives, and of course, our Fraternal lives as well. As we began this Masonic year together, no one could have predicted what would unfold before us just a few months into this term. Every aspect of our individual and collective worlds have been drastically changed and we continue to remain apprehensive concerning the immediate and long-term future. However, I am confident that by working together with unity and harmony, and renewing our commitment to Masonry; we will persevere all of these adversities and maintain our resilience as this year comes to a close and 2021 opens before us with great promise and opportunity.
I would like to begin my comments by offering every member of the Alabama Masonic Fraternity a deep and heartfelt “Thank You” for all of the encouragement, patience, and support you have provided the Grand Lodge officers this year. As we have navigated the COVID- 19 crisis in Alabama, we have always striven to make the best decisions with our focus on the health and well-being each of you, your families, and your Lodges. We have faced many situations and circumstances where there are no Edicts in our Constitution with which to refer. While we may not have unanimous consent concerning every decision made, rest assured that each of them were made with the protection and preservation of our Fraternity being the primary focus. I would like to personally express my deepest appreciation and admiration to our Grand Lodge Officers for the Professionalism, Friendship, and Brotherly Love demonstrated both to me and to all of the Brethren of Alabama. It has been an Honor to serve with them this year and I am very Thankful for all of the time and effort they have dedicated to Alabama Masonry.
I have been asked questions by several Brethren concerning our future. Specifically, they have asked if there will be changes concerning the Ritual or other Edicts which are directly impacted by the current COVID environment. It is my opinion that we should make no innovations in the body of Masonry as a result of this virus. I truly believe that we will return to some sense of normalcy in 2021 and as such, we will be able to resume the annual schedule and operations that we have experienced during the past several years. 2021 will be a momentous year for Alabama Masonry. In June 2021, we will celebrate the 200th anniversary of Freemasonry in Alabama. The Bicentennial Committee is working hard to plan and execute state-wide events which will properly celebrate this significant milestone and I look forward with great anticipation to being in attendance as we recognize our past, commemorate our present, and prepare for our future.
As everyone has been informed, our annual communication of the Grand Lodge will be vastly different this year. After much thought and deliberation, the decision was made to reduce the duration of our session this year from four days to one. The driving force behind this decision was the protection and welfare of our Brethren; and to patiently submit to the legal authority and conform with cheerfulness to the government of the country in which we live. We have developed our plans and schedule in compliance with the guidance and directives issued by President Trump and Governor Ivey. For the past several years, we have had tremendous attendance at our Grand Lodge sessions. The ballroom we use at the Embassy Suites has an approximate capacity of 600 persons. Each year, we have had to bring in additional chairs and have even had Brethren standing in the back of the room due to a lack of seating. While I was looking forward to another well-attended session, it would not be prudent to have so many Brethren sitting together in such close proximity for multiple days. As such, we decided to cancel the Committee on Work Workshop scheduled for Sunday afternoon and the Committee on Work Exemplification of the Ritual on Monday. This will greatly reduce the opportunity for exposure to all of our attendees this year. The first scheduled event will be the Grand Master’s Banquet on Monday evening. We will adjust our seating plan for the Banquet to the current guidelines concerning social distancing; and preparation and serving of the meal.
The next event will be the actual Grand Lodge session which will be conducted on Tuesday. In order to reduce the footprint of the capacity in the ballroom, I have asked each Lodge to send one delegate to represent them during this session. This delegate will be in addition to all of the Grand Lodge officers, Past Grand Masters, District Lecturers, and all Committeemen who are required to attend and compose the Grand Lodge. I feel that it is important for us to meet and conduct the business of our Fraternity and this is the safest and most effective way to accomplish this with minimal exposure to the majority of our Brethren. Each Lodge has the opportunity, if they choose to do so, to proxy all four of their votes with their designated attendee so that every Lodge has their full representation and voting privileges as we discuss and debate the relevant issues affecting our Grand Lodge this year. Also, we will have the elections for our Grand Lodge officers and it is imperative that each Lodge cast their ballots as they deem appropriate. The quote that is being used often during this Presidential election year is “Elections have consequences”. I would submit that this is directly applicable to our Fraternity as well. When we elect our future Grand Lodge officers, we do not know what events they will face in the years to come. I would dare to say that no one could have predicted the events we have persevered through this year so I would encourage you to always consider this when you cast a vote for our leaders. Let us always consider men who will be prepared to lead during times of peace and tranquility as well as times of conflict, crisis, and confusion.
The final event this year will be the installation of our Grand Lodge officers and it will be conducted Tuesday evening. While we will be together for one full day, we have made every effort to minimize the exposure while maximizing our effectiveness as much as possible. This will be the 200th Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Alabama. While it will not have any resemblance to our original plans concerning this milestone session, I am proud of each person who is working diligently to ensure we can meet and perform the duties and responsibilities that we are charged to carry out.
It has been my highest honor and privilege to serve you as Grand Master. While I have so many memories and experiences from this year, it will be the relationships that I have had the opportunity to develop with so many Outstanding Masons throughout the State which I will reflect upon for the rest of my life. Each of you have made a significant impact on me and I will cherish forever all of the meals we have shared, the degrees we have conferred, and the times of Friendship and Fellowship we have experienced together. I have spent my adult life as an active member of Dolcito Masonic Lodge #596 and as a proud Alabama Mason. As I now return to the Craft, I will continue to work with the same fervency and zeal to support our new Grand Master and our Grand Lodge officers as they lead us into the next 100 years of Masonry in Alabama.
Jon Michael “Mike” Taylor