Most Excellent Grand High Priest of Illinois, Sean McBride holding old Homer Royal Arch sign
In the UK, the Royal Arch degree is seen as an essential and direct adjunct to the Master Mason degree, and it was once conferred in the same lodge. That same attitude was not transported to the U.S., and what we call the York Rite here is not really known in other countries.
The York Rite in America is in serious trouble. When the Shrine removed their former requirement that men had to not only be Masons, but also had to go through the degrees of the Scottish or York Rites before then qualifying for Shrine membership, both of those organizations got a swift kick in the pants. The Scottish Rite dealt with this in different ways. The AASR in the Southern Jurisdiction concentrated on creating stacks of new and revived research and study material available for their members, and clung to Pike. The Northern Masonic Jurisdiction feverishly rewrote degrees, and has resorted to presenting more and more on video.
But the York Rite did little to respond to the situation over the last dozen or so years. Part of this is simply because of their decentralized, three-body state-wide, AND national, governance system. There is no single organization that directs the York Rite as a whole, which prevents any sort of combined direction or large scale cooperation. In addition, many states have slowly realized that there are just, plain and simple, too many scattered Chapters, Councils, and Commanderies anymore for the number of new members they are getting and keeping. Those individual groups have experienced an even more alarming plummet in active (or even just paying) members than the Blue Lodges have, and only the most dedicated candidates for degrees come back and participate after their experiences. If Blue Lodges have trouble filling their seven-member primary officer lines, Chapters, Councils, and Commanderies are often struggling even worse, partially because they have so many officer stations required, and also because of the increased memory work needed for degrees.
I once asked a national office holder in the General Grand Chapter why a Mason should join the York Rite. He didn't tell me about the beautiful degrees or their historic part in the larger picture of Masonry, or even how they affected him personally. He answered, "Well, there's only ONE opportunity to become an officer and Worshipful Master in a Blue Lodge. But there are THREE in the York Rite bodies!"
Nobody EVER became a Freemason because they wanted to be a lodge officer. I promise.
The degrees of the York Rite are extremely moving. (I happen to think the Order of the Temple conferred by the Knights Templar is the drop-dead, coolest degree in all of Masonry. But maybe that's just me.) They are more personal, in that they are conferred in a more intimate lodge-type setting than the Scottish Rite degrees, and they specifically continue the story thread of Solomon's Temple first encountered in the Craft Lodge. It is a degree system well worth continuing and preventing its extinction.
So, Admiration Chapter is taking the tack of making sure business meetings are streamlined, but more important, that they are providing some kind of education or research material at their gatherings. They are trying to make their Chapter more interesting, more memorable, more special, and more enjoyable than what they have seen elsewhere, besides just conferring degrees on men who don't come back. They are stressing quality over quantity. I wish them all the best, and hope they succeed.