What a day this has been! To be installed as the 114th R.W. Grand Master of Masons in Pennsylvania is a very humbling experience. I am honored and take so much pride in serving in this position. I know that the next two years will be rewarding for me, because I would rather serve than be served, and that is what I will seek to do well as your Grand Master.

Brethren, my theme for the first year is "Helping Others Pursue Excellence." In the past, we have said, "Excellence in Leadership." That remains necessary; but I believe by extending that principle we can all help each other reach a new level of achievement. Excellence often begins as a dream, a vision that lacks specific form. We can challenge that dream and individually, with your knowledge and experience, it can take on an identifiable definition of its own. Excellence requires dreams of a better tomorrow. We have a great Masonic past, a great heritage, and we always are seeking more knowledge based on our ancient past.

For us to obtain excellence, we must have growth in our lodges. To do that, we have to believe in ourselves. Toward that end, every member has a purpose ­ and the opportunity is there for you to help. I propose ten action "by" words that all of us can adopt and pursue very easily:
by the sweat of your brow;
by furthering, applying, and sharing your academic knowledge;
by sharing your skills;
by sharing your resources;
by sharing your time;
by setting goals for yourself;
by eliminating incompetence;
by making, or helping to make, lodge meetings rewarding and beneficial;
by just being a friend ­ extend your fellowship;
by accepting a position in the lodge that matches your interest and skills.

Not everyone can be -- or wants to be -- the worshipful master; but for every member there is a job to be done.

Unfortunately, there is always a downside in life, and that's negativity. It gets in the way of progress. How many times have you heard sayings like:

We've never done it that way! How much does it cost? Let's think about it next year. I really don't have time. I'm too old to change. That's my bowling night. It will never fly. And, the beat goes on!

We have to forget those downside cliches and move toward our positive, obtainable goals. Let's go hand-in-hand "on the same page" and "march to the same drumbeat" as a band of brothers.

My vision and main goals for 2002 and 2003 and the areas where I believe we must concentrate are:

Our Blue Lodges: We need to get rid of the idea that we don't have time to help. We need commitments from our lodge members to take on responsibility and to help when called on by the worshipful master.

Membership Growth and Retention: A program formed to get quality new members in the fraternity and to retain our present members is a must -- a goal of having "plus-one" in members for 2002. We will use all of the resources available for Grand Lodge and you to accomplish its mission.

In closing, I am asking all members -- each member, no matter what position he holds -- to band together as the brothers that we profess to be, to propel this jurisdiction to new heights in Freemasonry.

We must all be together and go forward together in the Family of Freemasonry -- all of us, in Blue Lodge, Scottish Rite, York Rite, Shrine, Tall Cedars, High Twelve, youth groups, ladies organizations, just to name some. Our hope is one of confidence that together we will go forward and make Freemasonry work to its fullest in Pennsylvania.

I thank you for your support and encouragement and, until we meet again, may the Great Architect of the Universe watch over you and keep you safe.

So Mote it be!

Marvin A. Cunningham, Sr.,
R.W. Grand Master