An Open Letter To The Third Principal

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Dear Companion Third Principal:

You have just been installed in the Third Principal’s chair, may I offer my congratulations. This is the first elective office in a Constituent Chapter, and the honour bestowed on you by your brethren must be very pleasing to you. The office of course, while it is an honour, also carries with it many responsibilities, not the least of which is assistance to the First Principal, in the well ruling and governing of the Chapter. This will require a regular and punctual attendance by yourself at all meetings.

If you have not done so previously, it is imperative that you become completely familiar with the Ritual, the Chapter By‑laws, and with the Constitution; pay particular attention to Sections 145 - 264 of the latter. This section will answer most questions that arise in the normal Chapter meeting.

In this jurisdiction, it is usual for the Third Principal to preside at the refreshment period. In my opinion, the refreshment period is a part of; or a continuation of the meeting; thus it provides scope for an imaginative and enthusiastic Third Principal to contribute much to the meetings, that is of an instructive and informative nature.

My brother, this part of the meeting requires planning, and should be done in advance. Food, Fellowship, Entertainment, Education must all be considered. While food is important, it is not necessary to nave a lot of it. If you are having a special occasion, food may be a very important consideration. Remember, however, that all communications should be followed by a “refreshment period,” even if the medium be just a social cup of coffee. The program should be short, so that the members may return home at a reasonable hour. Visitors should not be called on for a speech without warning, however, you must assure that your visitors are welcomed. You may decide to have one visitor speak on behalf of all visitors.

One word of caution, do not allow the telling of off‑colour stories, this is not the place for them.

You may arrange to have speakers or some form of entertainment at your refreshment period. These items should be arranged for well in advance, so that the names and topics, or the form of entertainment can be included in the notice calling the meeting. Be sure to provide variety between speakers and entertainment, so that the interest of the brethren is stimulated. This hour provides a wonderful opportunity for fellowship and fraternizing with our brethren, and should not be left to chance.

Above all, do not forget to discuss your plans for the refreshment period with the First Principal, obtain his approval, after all the conduct of the Chapter in all its aspects remains his responsibility.

There are many other responsibilities for the Third Principal, however, since you have had some considerable experience in the other offices leading to your present position, I expect that you are quite familiar with them.

I shall now discuss a duty which I feel you may not have given much thought to. Having been elected to the office of Third Principal, you must seriously consider the fact, that in all probability you will, in two years be installed in the chair of Zerrubable and all that this implies. I am convinced that the process of laying the ground work for a year as First Principal must be started when one is in the Third Principal’s chair. It is not, in my opinion, presumptuous of you at this point in time to be looking ahead. It is a responsibility you owe to yourself and to your Chapter.

It seems to me, that the first decision to make is that of selecting an aim or objective for your contemplated year in the East. Then, begin to plan how you hope to attain your objective. As ideas come to you commit them to paper, then add and delete as your ideas develop. Do not be afraid to discuss your ideas with the Secretary and future Principals, their ideas can be very helpful . You will find that the making of a plan is a difficult job, however, it is vital, and when completed, the largest part of the work by any aspiring First Principal has been done. It is not sufficient for you to simply imitate your predecessors, you are an individual and your ideas and objectives should be your own. This does not, however, mean that you cannot use good ideas of others, if they fit into your plan.

One important consideration in planning is to keep it flexible, do not allow yourself to become too rigid. Many plans have failed because there was no flexibility built into them.

Next decide what committees you will require. Much thought must go into the selection of committee members, some people are better at one job than they are at another. During this year and the next, observe the Companions of your Chapter with the aim in view of your committee selection. Have a clear idea in your own mind just exactly what it is you wish to accomplish. Then, when the time comes to make the appointments, you can tell them of your aims and objectives, and what their role is to be in assisting you with your plan.

My brother, the way to the First Principal’s chair is not an easy one, it is demanding and filled with hard work and dedication. However, if you have selected an aim that is sufficiently high, if you follow your plan carefully and with determination, then you will be able to lay down the gavel at the end of your term, knowing full well that you have done your best. Royal Arch Masonry and your Chapter will be well served and your brethren will appreciate a job well done. I must re‑emphasize the fact that you must meet the challenge, start your planning now while in the chair of Josuah.

Yours Sincerely and Fraternally,

A. O. Aspeslet. P.G.Z. AB.