2018 Illustrious Potentate,
William E. Branthoover

Greetings Nobles, Welcome to 2018, a new year
at Syria Shrine. 

Thank you for electing me to serve as your Potentate of Syria Shrine in 2018. I am humbled and appreciate the confidence you have placed in me. There is a lot to be accomplished in the year ahead.

I congratulate our immediate Past Potentate James Rohbeck, Sr. (Jamie) and First Lady Debbie, on a successful year in 2017. Illustrious Sir Jamie stepped out and tried some new ventures last year. He moved our MASA Hotel to the Holiday Inn and Suites-North Beach, Virginia Beach. He introduced an open Ceremonial Picnic for our Nobility and their families held in the Pavilion. Under their leadership, Syria Shrine made a substantial donation to our hospitals and transportation funds in 2017. First Lady Debbie achieved her goal of raising the funds to provide automatic doors at our main entrance. They will be coming soon. We thank you Illustrious Sir Jamie and Lady Debbie for your dedication and leadership. It was a pleasure working with you.

Over the past six years, I have had the extreme pleasure and honor of working with six wonderful Potentates and their Divans. Every year, I have watched a new team of leaders accept the responsibility of working for the welfare of Syria Shrine.

The Past Potentates and your Divan have always shared the common goal of managing the welfare of your Shrine Center and supporting our philanthropic endeavors for the Children we care for in our Shriners Hospitals for Children. I have enjoyed working with each of the Past Potentates. 

Having known and worked with each member of this years Elected and Appointed Divan, I can assure you this common goal remains the same for 2018.

That being said, Syria Shrine’s leadership is just a small handful of Nobles, who share common interests and goals. The greatest lesson that I have learned over the past six years is that the leadership of Syria Temple is nothing, without the continued help, support and commitment we receive from our Nobles and their Ladies. I have never seen any event, thought, plan, or goal which was set forth by your leadership come to fruition, without the diligent efforts of our Nobility. I have often said that you cannot find a better group of Masonic men and their Ladies than here at Syria Shrine. Our Units Caravans, Clubs and Appendant Organizations are made up of amazing and committed Nobles and their Ladies, working together for the good of our temple and the Children we serve in our hospital systems.

My experience over the past several years has taught me that you, the Nobility of Syria Shrine, are our most valuable asset. I encourage those who have supported us in the past, to please continue that support. I ask for others to consider what you might have to offer. This is your temple, Nobles. My desire is for you to realize the important role that each of you plays in our temple government. Attend our Quarterly Meetings. Support our events with your presence. Support our various fundraising efforts.

Syria Shriners potentate and lady and a parrot

I believe that we have a responsibility to offer our Nobility and our guests entertaining and fun events. Creating that kind of atmosphere for those in attendance can only lead to increased interest for our future endeavors.

Our home at Syria Shrine should be an enjoyable place that people want to frequent. With the efforts of our various committees, First Lady Linda and I promise to strive to provide such an atmosphere. Fun, Friendship, and Fellowship, combined with Service is our endeavor. 

So, come out and support our many events and activities. Invite your family and friends to attend.

As we move forward in 2018, I want to emphasize the importance of membership. We have a membership team this year led by Noble Jim Cornwell who has some exciting ideas on ways to increase and improve the membership experience for all of our new nobles and their ladies, as well as their families.

Membership Chairman, Jim Cornwell and Lady Crystel Cornwell, along with the help of my First Lady Linda, will be implementing a Ladies mentoring program. This program will work in correlation with our own mentoring program. In implementing this program, the Ladies and families of our New Nobles and Candidates will be invited to participate in our Ceremonials. There will be a ladies membership team, who will take part in showing the new Ladies what Shriners is all about. We want the new ladies to understand that their gentlemen are joining a wonderful organization.

It is important that the New Nobles and the New Ladies understand that we are family friendly. They need to understand that we allow active involvement from the ladies and that many of our activities are open to family and friends. They will be shown informative videos relating to Shrine Ladies and our Shriners Hospitals for Children. The New Ladies will also be receiving a Ladies Handbook. This will work in correlation with the Ceremonial Booklet their Noble receives.

If any Ladies are interested in assisting on the Ladies Membership team, please contact Noble Jim Cornwell or Lady Crystel at (724) 452-4528 (H) or via Email at wjcnwl(at)gmail.com.

I encourage all Nobles to refer a good man to become a Mason or Shriner through the I AM R U program. Make your referral at www.beashrinernow.com 

I am sure each of us knows one good man that we can recommend become a Mason or Shriner.

Help us to perpetuate our fraternity. Remember, Nobles, we are all part of the membership team. We need you and your Ladies to help us accomplish our goals of retaining and increasing our membership.

I assure you that as your Potentate, I shall always remain cognizant of the huge confidence and trust you have placed in me. I promise to try and never prove unworthy of this trust. It has truly been an inspiration working together with the Nobility throughout the years. I value each and every one of you.

I look forward to Groovin’ with all of you in 2018. May God richly bless us all.