Grand Master's Consolidated Inaugural Address

January 7, 2017

Darkness cannot drive out Darkness only Light can do that Hate cannot drive out Hate, only Love can do that.

To: The Very Effective Master of Ceremonies, Antwane V. Johnson Right Worshipful Deputy Grand Master Quincy G. Gant, Most Worshipful Grand Masters, Right Worshipful and Worshipful Brethren, Worshipful Masters, Past Masters, and Wardens, Brethren of the Warranted Lodges, Grand Worthy Matron, Patricia L. Young, Grand Worthy Patron, Ricardo A. Montague, Past Grand Worthy Matrons and Patrons, Grand Chapter Officers, Past and Present, Worthy Matron and Patrons, Members of the Subordinate Chapters, Heads of Allied, Appendant, Concordant, and Special Bodies, Morgan State Alumni, Friends, and Officials, University of the District of Columbia Alumni, Friends, and Officials, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Officials, Brothers and Sisters of the Divine Nine, Visitors, Family, and Friends,

Good Morning.

It is customer in this ancient and honorable institution that we always invoke the aid of Deity before any great or important undertaking, let us pray.

Lord let me first thank you for the many blessings you have bestowed on me over my lifetime. I thank you for watching over me in my time of need, want, and desire. Thank you for taking care of my family during this long journey to the Grand East and allowing me to reach the mountain top of this jurisdiction. Continue to bless me especially over this next year and grant me the wisdom, insight, foresight, and more importantly, the perseverance to do an outstanding job for this Jurisdiction. When times become hard and decisions will be tough, please direct me in the right way to make the correct decision for the betterment of this Jurisdiction. Continue to bless The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge and all that meet at 1000 U Street while we take this journey to a place we have never ventured before. All these blessings I ask in your Son’s name, Amen.

State of the Nation:
In approximately 13 days we will inaugurate the next President of the United States, Donald J. Trump leaving behind the legacy of the 44th President of the United States Barack Husain Obama. President Elect Trump constantly alienated many ethnic groups and women while on the campaign trail but still won the election. I’m not sure what that says about America, but if we as a nation do not come together as one, we will be doomed and regarded in history as the generation that just could not get it right. With what appears to be the apparent disregard for many in the minority community, we must continue to fight bigotry and hatred when confronted and not let a handful of individuals divide us. I will continue to pray for our nation and hope everyone under the sound of my voice will do the same.

Ritualistic Transformation:
The Jurisdiction of the District of Columbia is widely looked upon as the leader in the Prince Hall Sodality. With that honor comes much responsibility in ritualistic work and community outreach. For many years I have seen some decline in the ritualistic excellence of the male York Rite body, but now the time has come to change. To move in a different direction, I have established a ritualistic representative for each male York Rite body.
At the Lodge level, the Grand Lecturer Steven McKenzie will train, monitor, and test all lecturers before assigning them to a Lodge. Before taking office, all Worshipful Masters (WM), Senior Warden (SW), and Junior Wardens (JW) must prove proficiency in the opening, closing, degrees, balloting, and most importantly their funeral work because the last sad rites are sacred and honorable and must be done in impeccable manner with no exceptions.

Inspection Redirection:
As a follow-up to the Grand Lecturers, the Grand Inspectors, led by Grand Inspector Larry Hughes, will redirect their resources to work as a more cohesive unit in the Grand Lodge. To that end, the Inspectors will develop a handbook which will include updated guidelines and procedures and ensure they are proficient in the discharge of their duties. They will develop a hands-on seminar and simulation of Lodge opening, closing, balloting, and other degree work which will afford the inspectors the opportunity to observe and then the correct the way that task will and must be executed. Lastly, the Inspectors will develop an Inspector’s workshop. This workshop will include inside and outside speakers with advanced knowledge in the roles and responsibilities of inspection and to discuss Masonic education topics, policies, and procedures.

Community Affirmation:
Working for Progress. Working in the Community is my slogan. Community Service is the cornerstone of what we as Masons do in and for the community. In 2017, the Grand lodge will expand the current programs like the Masonic Classic and Senior Luncheon and develop new and innovative programs that can and will sustain us in the future. We will start with the Masonic Classic led by Thomas Coleman. The team will increase scholarship donations to 15K, create an endowment to be used for future scholarship recipients, and become more visible to the Howard University community. Under the direction of Willie Bennett, the Community Service team will enhance our involvement and presence in the public. The team will establish some clear guidelines for the entire Jurisdiction to follow and enhance the ability for local organizations to work better together to serve the community. One of the major projects the unit will support is the District of Columbia’s Emancipation Proclamation Day Parade. This parade will enhance our visibility in the city and community and better identify the Jurisdiction now and for future endeavors. We will lend support to the Central Union Mission Men’s Shelter. We will participate in the daily operations of the facility and look at ways to expand our support to this worthwhile operation. We will also continue to help restore the Woodlawn Cemetery. This cemetery, which sits on 22.5 acres, contains the graves of more than 36,000 African Americans and sits off Benning Road & C. Street, S.E. Because the cemetery is not Government owned, the city has not maintained the location like other cemeteries.

Other community service projects we will continue in 2017 include the Seniors Luncheon led by RWJGW Glenn N. Ruffin. We will expand this program to include Ward 8. We will continue the Prostate Cancer walk led by Brother Stephen Jefferson, blood drive also led by Stephen Jefferson with assistance from the 83rd Most Worshipful Past Grand Master John T. Doles, Sr, We will continue the Jurisdictional Scholarship program, led by Worshipful Junior Grand Deacon Marshall Cupe, with the goal to contribute in excess of 100K.

Healthy Living:
In 45 states across the country, insurance companies continue to discriminate against people based on their pre-existing conditions when they try to purchase health insurance directly from insurance companies. A recent national survey estimated that 12.6 million non-elderly adults, 36% of those who tried to purchase health insurance directly from an insurance company in the individual insurance market - were discriminated against because of a pre-existing condition in the previous three years. One in 10 people with cancer said they could not obtain health coverage, and six percent said they lost their coverage because of being diagnosed with the disease. Armed with these statistics, the Grand Lodge team will develop a symposium titled Healthy Living. The symposium, developed by the Health and Wellness team led by Stephen Jefferson, will not only focus on alcoholism and drug abuse, my initial plan; but more importantly how we as African Americans live and how we must change our eating habits; otherwise, we will not be around to see our children and grandchildren grow to adulthood. Thank God for the Affordable Care Act aka, Obama Care, that has helped so many people become insured. The symposium is scheduled for the Center of Performing Arts later in the year.

Temple Basement / Business Group:
The Temple Basement and Business Group committees were started under 84th Most Worshipful Grand Master, Norman L. Campbell. I will continue to work with the Basement committee and commercial realtor to ensure a tenant is secured for the basement. To date the team has vetted and recommended Cher L. Castillo Freeman, Principal Broker for Remax Sky to handle the leasing of the basement space. The business group, led by Olandan Davenport, will also work in this administration. The goal of the group is to identify, select, and work with business owners within the Jurisdiction to help generate additional income for each business.

Youth Empowerment:
The Order of the Knights of Pythagoras and the Phyllis S. Byrd Youth Fraternity are our future, so we must treat our youth as such. We will continue to support our youth and identify areas where they can become more involved in the community. The team will continue to refine their goals and promote their mission, while identifying what our youth should be involved in. More importantly, I will re-establish the State Board of Regents under the direction of Junior Grand Deacon Marshall Cupe.

Orator Speaks:
The Grand Orator team has been an integral part of this Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge. To that end, led by James Bridges, the team will work to increase their presence in the Jurisdiction and return to the team of the past. The team will hold quarterly public speaking symposiums.

Auditor Excellence:
The Grand Auditor’s team will work to increase their involvement with Lodge Secretaries and Treasurers. They will develop a business automation initiative in the form of a workshop which will provide and define standard operating procedures for those Secretaries and Treasurers of the Warranted Lodges. The standard operating procedure will enhance Lodge business functionality and performance by establishing a set of standard repeatable processes that all Lodge fiscal officers can perform and operate by.

Veteran Affairs:
We will continue to acknowledge, pray for, and support our troops here and abroad. It is now time to stop talking and doing more to support our troops. The Veteran Affairs team will be under the leadership of Richard Chandler, who will design a veterans program. They will Focus Activities & Collaborate (FAC). They will focus their attention on the needs of veterans, increase their Activities across the Jurisdiction, and Collaborate with internal and external veteran’s organizations that will benefit veterans.

Governmental Affairs:
The newly created Government Affairs team’s primary focus will be to establish a strong working relationship with the district Government. This starts with sending Mayor Muriel Bowser and Council members a letter officially inviting them to many of our community activities. The plan is to reestablish our status in this city so that when events take place, this Jurisdiction is not only invited but have a seat at the table when decisions and plans are made.
This MWPHGL will become more involved with the Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC).

Fraternal Relations:
In an effort to continue good fraternal relations, the Jurisdiction of the District of Columbia will work with all National Prince Hall organizations to re-establish that commitment to brotherly and sisterly love. We will strengthen our relationship with the United Supreme Council of the District of Columbia and Tennessee and work with the Ancient Egyptian Arabic Noble of the Mystic Shrine to do our part to bring the family together. With the appointment of the new Deputy of the Dessert Daryl S. Dowleyne, that relationship is certainly looking up.

Retention and Attraction:
Lastly, over the years this Jurisdiction has suffered with declining membership due to demits, lack of participation, and overall jurisdictional issues. To tackle this on-going challenge, I have created a new team titled Retention and Attraction. Although we as Masons do not recruit, the team has been given clear direction to identify ways to retain brothers and develop innovative initiatives to bring in new members. This new committee will be led by newly appointed director of retention and attraction, Jeffrey Johnson. Many thanks to those that made this day possible. They include all Most Worshipful Grand Masters who appointed me to the moving line; Prudence Lodge #27 for Raising me from a dead level to a living Perpendicular; committee members that worked diligently over the last few months, ushers, and program participants. A special thank you to my in-laws who supported me immensely over the years when taking care of the girls, extended family, my mother Florence Richards David, and my wife Rosalie and children Amber and Ashley who supported me from day one.

In closing I would like to read a poem that I learned many years ago while pledging my fraternity that sustained me when time were good and when times were not as good:

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever Gods may be,
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Fraternally Submitted,

Honorable Phillip David
85th Most Worshipful Grand Master
Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge
District of Columbia