Grand Master's Address on June 11, 2022
Strengthening the foundations of Freemasonry in Alberta
I am extremely humbled and very honoured to stand before you as your Grand Master. I appreciate the high honour and I shall carry out the duties of my office with the humility, compassion and dignity that is expected of every Mason. The trust and support you have already given me is amazing and for that I am eternally grateful.
Freemasonry is a deeply personal pursuit with a different meaning for each individual which can change over time. The practice of Freemasonry is the commitment we make to ourselves for the betterment of our mind, our body and our soul. This commitment is what allows us to reach our full potential and to become better men in society, in our families and in our communities.
I would like to take a moment to reflect on my Masonic Journey and what Masonry means to me personally. I joined Freemasonry in October of 1996 in large part due to the high regard that I held for my grandfather, my uncles, and the men with which they surrounded themselves. I wanted to emulate them in every way and become the type of man they were.
The evening of my Initiation into Freemasonry in Patricia Lodge was one of the most profound events of my life. After that evening I could not have anticipated how much Masonry would positively affect my life, or the influence it would have in making me the person I am today. From the very beginning of my Masonic journey, it was instilled in me the belief that Freemasons should be the moral pillars of our communities and that we should always strive to conduct ourselves as such. From that day forward I have tried to live up to that ideal not only inside the lodge but more importantly outside the lodge during my daily interactions with society at large.
While I have not always been able to fully live up to these ideals, it is the principals that I have been taught through Freemasonry that enabled me to correct my course where needed. The more active I became in Freemasonry, the more I saw the values, morals, kindness and brotherly love of my grandfather and uncles in myself. My progression through the various offices in the lodge, visitation and the genuine fraternal connections I have made in Freemasonry, has built in me the strong principals and self-confidence I admired in the great Masons I met along the way.
While masonry has been a personal journey, it has been and always will be my sincere desire to serve the craft and help strengthen the foundations of this great fraternity to ensure our Fraternity remains strong and vibrant for generations to come.
Modern civilization may give us unimaginable wealth, prosperity and an easy life but it has also deprived us of that invaluable sense of community and interdependence that we have enjoyed in the past. Throughout history, we have always lived in small, tight-knit communities and relied on these communities for our survival. Historically when we have faced tragedy such as great wars or pandemics, we relied on society and its connections to offer a sense of community and relief. This is what Freemasonry offers: a community, a place of belonging, a place for connections and interdependence among its members, and a place to find our identities.
Freemasonry is first and foremost a fraternity and we are taught that Freemasonry is the oldest, and by far, the largest fraternal order in the world. Fraternity means an association of brothers, and that is exactly what Freemasonry is – a society of friends and brothers. As we emerge from the uncertainty of the last few years, it is clear that society needed Freemasonry and what it had to offer. It is imperative that we shore up the foundations of Freemasonry within this Grand Jurisdiction and strengthen the fraternal ties that bind us together as Masons. We need to prepare our brethren, our Lodges and this Grand Jurisdiction for growth and prosperity in the coming years.
Without a strong foundation, the superstructure that is Freemasonry will most certainly erode, crack and crumble. We must take a step back, inspect our foundations and make the necessary repairs that will enable us to once again become that great fraternity. We need to start by strengthening our own personal masonic foundations.
When we became masons, we were charged to make a daily advancement in Masonic education and I challenge every mason to continually strive to improve their personal convictions though that daily advancement and to further educate yourself on the value of Freemasonry. What we need most as Freemasons is a better and clearer understanding, not only of the structure of Masonry, its history and traditions, but a greater devotion on the part of each one of us in maintaining and conserving those traditions, lest they be lost to us by neglect and misuse.
As Masons, it is critical for us to continually engage in Freemasonry. We need to forever remember the obligations which we entered into and follow the lessons imparted to us. As each degree represents an advancement in moral and spiritual education, and a progression of self-knowledge, we should take more time to study and reflect upon the lectures and charges within our ritual. Therein is contained the moral instructions that guide us on how to act as Masons.
As our personal foundations become stronger, we can focus on the foundations of our Lodges. The chief concern of the Lodge is with the welfare, the happiness, and the Masonic development of its members. I refer to an article published in the Wenatchee Masonic News many years ago which states that “The Primary function of a masonic lodge, indeed the primary function of our craft, is to train its members to an understanding of the truths of which its rituals and its ceremonies are calculated to inculcate, to develop its members as benevolent men, to cultivate the social virtues among men, and to propagate the knowledge of the art.”
This type of Masonic training and mentorship used to be the cornerstone of our Lodges, but sadly has declined over the past years. This is due to a decline in membership coupled with the loss of experienced Brethren to the Grand Lodge above. For the long-term success and viability of our Lodges, a revival of a robust and long-term program of training and mentorship is required within our lodges. Therefore, it should be the duty of every Masonic Lodge to put in action, a plan for the education of its members in Masonic history, symbolism, and philosophy, devoting more of its meetings to this much neglected function. Grand Lodge must be there to support the lodges and districts in this endeavor by providing the resources, materials and guidance as required and requested.
To accomplish this, it is my intention to create a permanent Masonic Education, Leadership and Training Committee that will continue and build upon the work started by MW Bro Terry Murray’s special committee on Leadership & Training.
The focus of that Committee shall be the formation and Administration of a “Masonic College” focused on providing online and in-person training in Lodge Officer Training, Lodge Administration Training & Ceremonial and Ritual Training. The administration of a Masonic Educational Program providing an educational calendar complete with monthly educational topics and short papers to be presented by all Constituent Lodges for discussion and reflection by the members and the creation of a “Virtual Masonic Speakers Series” utilizing talented brethren from across this Grand Jurisdiction as presenters to hold bi-monthly or quarterly webinars dedicated to Masonic Education hosted by the members of the Grand Line.
I have also formed a special Grand Masters Committee to explore ways to improve the fraternal experience of our members focused on investigating and providing a blueprint for creating an event similar to the Masonic Spring Workshop. This workshop shall be financially self-sufficient and provide excellent masonic education with a robust social program. The committee will be tasked to look at multiple locations and opportunities for lodge and district involvement. This committee will also be requested to look at ways to improve the fraternal side of our Grand Lodge Communications to encourage greater participation from our membership at large.
Finally, my brethren as an organization we need to ensure there is a better public awareness of who we are and what we do. Traditionally our candidates for Freemasonry have been introduced to our fraternity by a family member or close friend. This is not necessarily the case anymore as many of our candidates are seeking us out through social media and the internet. Once a contact is made in this manner, it is a necessity that the lodges keep in constant contact with that individual to show they are serious about them and their interest in becoming members. We need to ensure that the appropriate image of Freemasonry is always presented. The individual Mason is the best advertising we have and by following the tenants and principals of Freemasonry in our everyday lives, we set the example for men in society. Remember we cannot take good men and make them better if they are unable to find us or know that we exist.
In conclusion, I am charging all members of the craft from the newly initiated up to the Grand Master to work diligently on strengthening the foundation of our fraternity and to reinforce in all brethren the three great principles of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth.
M.W. Bro. Christopher (Chris) John Uchman
11 June 2022
MWBro. Christopher John Uchman Grand Master 2021
Christopher John Uchman was born April 25, 1970 in Edmonton, Alberta and was the second born of Robert and Shirley Uchman. He grew up in Sherwood Park, AB with his three siblings. He now resides with his family in St. Albert, AB. After completing school Chris went into the trades becoming a tile setter and floor covering installer. Bro Uchman, together with his father and older brother started XMG Commercial Floor Coverings in 1992. They have grown the company to be one of the premier Commercial Floor Contractors in the Province with over fifty employees. Chris currently serves as one of the company’s Managing Partners and the Senior Project Manager.
Chris is happily married to Lanie Uchman and they have one son Jienico, whom Chris had the honor of raising to the sublime degree of a Master Mason in May of 2017. Bro Uchman has a very strong masonic tradition within his family. Chris is the third generation of his family to serve as Worshipful Master of Patricia Lodge #91. He is also a proud member of both Capital City Chapter #13 Royal Arch Masons and Al Shamal Shriners.
Bro. Uchman was initiated into Freemasonry in Patricia Lodge #91 on October 22, 1996, passed to the Degree of a Fellowcraft on November 26, 1996 and raised to the Sublime Degree of a Master Mason on January 28, 1997. Chris served as Worshipful Master of Patricia Lodge #91 for the Masonic Year of 2013-2014 and D.D.G.M. for Northern Lights District 2016-2017 and was appointed to the Board of General Purposes for the Masonic Year 2017-2018. Bro Uchman is also proud to be a charter member of this Grand Jurisdiction’s newest Lodge Arkhitekton Lodge #205.
Bro. Uchman started his journey towards the Grand East in June of 2019 when he was elected Junior Grand Warden at the Annual Communications of the Grand Lodge of Alberta held in Calgary, AB. Brother Uchman is honoured and humbled to able to serve the brethren of this Grand Jurisdiction as their Grand Master.