Monday, August 31, 2009
Yesterday, I and other Grand Lodge officers had the privilege of constituting a new lodge in Minnesota. Sir Winston Churchill Lodge No. 351 was formed to practice and present emulation degrees in the British tradition. Additionally, the inaugural officers of SWC 351 were duly installed.
After the ceremonies at Excelsior Lodge, the pipes and drums led the way to the end of the block, and Jake O'Connor's Irish Pub, where a very nice festive board was held. The toasts were given in a slightly different manner than we are used to in our table lodges here in Minnesota.
Visiting dignitaries included MWB Akram Elias, Past Grand Master of the District of Columbia, RWB Alan Tibbits, Deputy District Grand Master of Ontario, Canada, and WB Joseph Howell of Ben Franklin Lodge No. 83, Madison Wisconsin, who was pleased to report that the number of emulation lodges in the Upper Midwest had just doubled in number! (Ben Franklin No. 83 being the other one.)
Congratulations to Worshipful Master John Gann and the members of Sir Winston Churchill Lodge No. 351, and especially to MWB Thomas Jackson, who had much to do with the formation of this lodge when he was Grand Master last year.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
A blue, tri-fold that can open a new experience for a seeker of truth and light. But, he needs a friend, afterwards to become a brother, who can put that blue tri-fold in his hand, answer questions about the journey and remind him that every man in that lodge room has traveled the same path as he.
I had the extreme good fortune to strike up a conversation with a young man at work who noticed my ring. Over the course of several weeks, we had several conversations about Masonry. I put a copy of Freemasons for Dummies in his hands on Saturday, and when I saw him again on Tuesday, he was on page 220 (but he skipped the pages that said “Don’t read this if you plan to become a Mason”).
This week, he attended a cookout at the home of PGM Steve Johnson, and left the blue tri-fold, completed, behind. I have the privilege of being his top line signer.
A blue, tri-fold. How many times have I missed the opportunity to strike up a conversation with a man who only needed a few questions answered to take that step and fill out the petition?
I’m going to pledge to take the time, notice the interest and see if I can put another blue tri-fold in the hands of another good man, seeking to become better.
Will you, too?
Friday, August 28, 2009
Last evening, the Grand Lodge officers and members of Delta Lodge in Marshall were privileged to ceremonially lay a cornerstone at the Lyon County Jail. This remodeled and expanded jail facility will increase the capacity of the facility as well as make it safer and more functional. It is an impressive facility.
And the cornerstone ceremony is an impressive one, as well. After proceeding to the site in formal procession, the stone is symbolically tested by the working tools of a Mason: the plumb, level, square and gavel. Corn, wine and oil are then poured on the stone, denoting nourishment, refreshment and joy. An oration was given by Grand Orator Bill Callister, followed by comments from the Chair of the Lyon County Board and the ceremony was closed with prayer.
If you have never witnessed a cornerstone dedication ceremony, I encourage you to do so. There will be another most impressive ceremony when the Grand Lodge dedicates the new Amplatz Children's Hospital at the University of Minnesota Riverside Campus October 24 at 11:00 a.m. Watch the Minnesota Mason and the Grand Lodge website for details, and plan to attend if you can.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Masonic Charities has several "Legacy Programs" that have been traditionally funded. Elder services (the Masonic Homes in Bloomington and Northridge), the Masonic Cancer Center at the University of Minnesota, and our two scholarship programs (matching local lodge and chapter scholarship funds and the Signature and Legacy Scholarship programs) account for perhaps 3/4 of the grants made each year. In addition, MMC routinely matches funds for lodges and chapters to enhance their fundraising and community service projects. For more information on the programs, click on Minnesota Masonic Charities.
The major planning decision Tuesday was to continue and to promote and expand the matching program with local lodges and chapters to fund their local projects. Not only does this program contribute to improving local communities, it can be a source of news and promotion of the lodge in the lodge's communities.
We also voted to make a contribution to the Scottish Rite speech therapy clinics in Elk River and Duluth. This is a terrific program to help children overcome speech handicaps. More information at Rite Care Clinic.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
We had no agenda, just a chance to get to know each other a little better. The Grand Lodge of Minnesota and the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Minnesota have recognized each other since an historic resolution was adopted by these bodies in 1992.
Deputy Grand Master Cook and I will be attending the annual communication of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge in September. I look forward to continued and expanded opportunities to extend the hands of fellowship between our two organizations.
Shown in the photo seated are the Grand Secretaries, RW Charles Snargrass and RW Douglas Campbell. Standing from the left are Grand Masters MW Keith Johnson and yours truly, and Deputy Grand Masters RW Alex Horne and RW John Cook.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
The following is a description of Ramadan from Holidays.net:
Observed by more than one billion Muslims around the world, Ramadan is a time for spiritual purification achieved through fasting, self-sacrifice and prayers.Celebrated during the ninth month of Islamic calendar, the fast is observed each day from sunrise to sunset. Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five Pillars of Islam. The Islamic belief that requires that Muslims perform five central duties in order to strengthen their faith. While Islam has two major sects, the Sunnis and the Shiites, all Muslims aim to realize these five pillars in their lifetime.
Click here for an explanation of Lent and Yom Kippur.
If one looks, and not even that closely, there are so very many similarities among the world's religions. Tolerance should teach us to appreciate the similarities and respect the differences among the religions, and to give members of faiths different from our own the dignity that they, too, are acting in good faith - pun intended!
Monday, August 24, 2009
On my way to Job’s Daughters Camp Saturday, I passed the sign shown in the photo on Highway 371 north of Brainerd. I had heard that some Masons had purchased land for summer cottages, and made it available for Masons (and Eastern Star members) for purchase. Thus was the start of the Cinosam Club.
The Cinosam Club land, though roads were laid out earlier, was formally platted on October 1, 1925, and the tracts were platted on May 28, 1932. Lots on those plats were originally sold only to Masons (hence the name Cinosam - "Masonic" spelled backward) and Eastern Star members in good standing. This began to be relaxed in the 1930s, and is now open to anyone.
In the Club's earlier years, there were two campgrounds for any Mason or Eastern Star who cared to use them. Prospective buyers tried out both campgrounds to get the feel of the area. As one camper put it, "There's a million kinds of bugs here, and they all bite?" The
Several features of the grounds have been obliterated. One was a rifle range; the famed duck pass. Also, the
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One cannot mention Cinosam without a reference to the website of that name created and managed by Past Grand Master Neil Neddermeyer. It has a wealth of information for Masons and Lodges, as well as some great stories and PowerPoint presentations. Check it out sometime.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
I have been told by Past Grand Masters that attending Job's Daughters Camp is a highlight of the year. I can now add my verification to their assessment.
I spent the afternoon watching various canoe and kayak races at the waterfront, and then went to the awards banquet. The theme for camp was 70's Disco, and the girls, and several adult leaders) really got into the spirit of the weekend. The banquet had a disco ball and lava lamp, and lots and lots of excitement and fun. I was called upon to say a few words, and then, after the obligatory chant ("Sing us a song, Grand Master, sing us a song...), I relented with a couple verses of "Waltzing with Bears", with help from the girls on the chorus.
The evening ended with "Wishes on the Water", a wonderful candlelight ceremony at the waterfront. A shooting star, just as the last candle was extinguished, put an exclamation mark on the day.
The Grand Lodge of Minnesota was recognized at the banquet for its generous contribution to help keep cost of camp down for the campers. It is a great investment for Minnesota Masonry. Helping these girls become self-confident young women is payback enough, but very many of these Job's Daughters will bring new Mason's into the fraternity.
A true win-win.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
I wasn’t able to attend the Ceremonial Thursday afternoon, but I heard from one of the candidates, Deputy Grand Master John Cook, that it was a great time.
I was able to participate in the parade Thursday evening. Noble Jim Judisch was my chauffer in a very nice convertible. (Unfortunately, about halfway through the route, rain made us put the top back up!) There is a random shot of the enthusiastic crowd watching the parade….
After the parade, the MSA hosted an “Oasis” at the Olmsted County Fairgrounds. Lots of good food and good fellowship was had.
I wish I could have spent more time in
Thursday, August 20, 2009
No lodge in this state may open without a charter issued by the Grand Lodge of Minnesota. Certain requirements must be met by the individual lodges to keep their charter. While rare, the Grand Lodge has revoked lodge charters.
As I see it, there are two kinds of franchises: One that pretty much tells the franchisee what to do down to the last (or close to last) menu item. All the franchises look alike. The goal is to give the customer the same experience, no matter which franchise location is entered.
The other kind of franchise is exemplified by the credit card company, VISA, as described in The Dance of Change, by Peter Senge, et al. In the VISA organization, the franchisor laid down some very basic, but very broad rules with which the franchisee must comply. As long as those basic rules are upheld, the franchisee can operate its business in any profitable manner it chooses.
I think Masonry in Minnesota fits more the VISA model than the fast food franchise model. The Grand Lodge of Minnesota has established certain rules that the local lodge must abide by: The Charter must be displayed when lodge is opened. Certain officers in certain stations must be present for lodge to be opened. The ritual approved by the Custodians of the work for the Grand Lodge of Minnesota must be followed. Candidates may be received only upon petition, thorough investigation and unanimous ballot by the members of the lodge.
There are lodges where the members are connected by an affinity outside of the fraternity, such as teachers, firemen, meat cutters. There are lodges that are formed for a special purpose, such as our two newest lodges in Minnesota: Sir Winston Churchill Lodge to learn and emulate the British ritual, and Douglas MacArthur Lodge which has been formed to lend support to members of our Armed Forces and veterans.
Our Code and Bylaws are broad enough to welcome all these lodges and make them available to brothers who are intrigued or interested in them.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
I had the pleasure of visiting St. Paul Lodge No. 3 last night. It is a unique experience in Minnesota Masonry. The opening and closing ritual is all there, and very familiar. But, I have never been to another communication that included periods of silence and lovely chamber music. I've seen lodge education programs, but at St. Paul No. 3, two of the brothers presented thought-provoking papers.
After the ritual closing, we adjourned to the basement where a wonderful festive board was held. Good conversation and fellowship made for a late, but eminently enjoyable, evening.
And, my string of communications involving balloting on candidates remains intact! St. Paul No. 3 voted to accept two new candidates for degrees last night!
I would encourage all Masons to consider a visit to SP3 for a different lodge experience. Please call ahead so the lodge officers will know you are coming, and can plan for you at the festive board.
Thanks to Sr. Grand Stewart John Gann, Grand Chaplain Steve Johnson and District Representative Todd Henderson for joining me at the meeting last night.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
So much blood has been shed by the Church because of an omission from the Gospel: "Ye shall be indifferent as to what your neighbor's religion is." Not merely tolerant of it, but indifferent to it. Divinity is claimed for many religions; but no religion is great enough or divine enough to add that new law to its code.
- Mark Twain, a Biography http://www.twainquotes.com/Religion.html
No one can claim that Brother Samuel Clemens was indecisive in his choice of words. I am not sure I can agree completely with Brother Clemens’ quote, but it certainly gives something to consider and challenge one’s own opinions on the subject.
While I am comfortable in my faith and beliefs, I am not willing to subject others to my beliefs. They, as I, have the right to make their own decisions in that most important regard. In that regard, my beliefs and Masonry's are entirely consistent.
Monday, August 17, 2009
He made a fortune in the farm implement business and then travelled the world bringing artifacts back home to Omaha. Some of the artifacts were on display, and I walked up and looked at what appeared to be a setting maul. I picked it up and confirmed it was that. Later, in the lecture, I learned it was a 3,000 year old setting maul!!!
The lecture was fascinating, and a couple of Nebraska Masons are working on brining this Past Grand Master's most interesting life and times to the public. For some brief information, see George Lininger.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Friday, August 14, 2009
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
I had the distinct pleasure of escorting two newly-minted Fellowcraft up a flight of winding stairs at Rushford Lodge last night. You may know that the lodge was inundated in the floods of a couple years ago. The brothers buckled down and completely refurbished the lodge, upstairs as well as down, and it looks marvelous!
Imagine my surprise when I walked into the lodge room and had to take the only chair in the room that was open! Over 40 brothers from all across southeast Minnesota were in attendance. Wow! District Representative Paul Himmler likes to brag (with good reason) that the ten lodges in District 29 act like one lodge in supporting each other. We sure saw that last night.
Worshipful Brother Clarence Russell, past District Representative of District 29, showed up from Winona driving a completely refurbished trolley and brought about 10 brothers along. If I am not mistaken, every lodge in District 29 was represented last night. (I noticed a similar sharing of fellowship at the strawberry night at Evergreen Lodge in Clyde a couple months ago.) I have been at several lodges that have shown excitement and commitment to Masonry over the past months, but I don't recall seeing a district, or a group of lodges, that collectively have such communal dedication. Please let me know of others in the state! I'd want to come and congratulate them, too!!
This was probably the longest mid-week travel I've undertaken as Grand Master. However, I met Area Deputy James McNeely and Grand Chaplain Steve Johnson at Owatonna, and we carpooled from there. I had intended on sleeping from Rushford to Owatonna, but the conversation was just too good! I can catch up on sleep tonight, right?
It was a homecoming, literally, for Steve Johnson. He was born within two blocks of the lodge hall and grew up in the area. He pointed to the pictures of the Past Masters on the wall and showed me his great-uncle. And when Worshipful Master Daryl Thompson told Steve, "Welcome home," I could feel the emotion of the moment myself.
This year is just one unforgettable moment after another....
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Monday night I was the guest for dinner and stated communication at Templar Lodge in St. Louis Park. It was another terrific time with some great men and brothers.
Before dinner, Lodge Education Officer (and Past Grand Master) Jack Benson led a spirited discussion on why Masonry had such a jump in membership after the World Wars, but hasn't seemed to be able to duplicate that after Korea and Viet Nam. MWB Jack leads similar discussions before most communications. He chooses a general topic and the discussion is wide-ranging, often off topic but always enlightening.
Dinner was definitely NOT rubber chicken! Brother Chef Nicco Rocque served steak prepared to perfection, with all the fixin's!
At the communication, a brother was approved for affiliation and a candidate for degrees. I think this must be the fourth or fifth meeting in a row that I have attended that included balloting on candidates. In the summer! Things are cooking in Minnesota Masonry!
Worshipful Master Alan Betker presented me with a commemorative gavel and a coffee mug, the latter of which I will put to good use this morning! W.B. Dean Dorholt, District Representative, recognized Templar Lodge for the Lodge Recognition Program. All in all, it was a memorable evening. Thank you, brothers of Templar Lodge!
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Harry Truman is one of my favorite Presidents, Americans and Masons. He live the Masonic tenets in his entire life, not just in Lodge.
From time to time in this blog, I’ll write one of the quotes and maybe add a few words about applying his thoughts to Masonry in
Most Worshipful Brother Truman wrote to his mother, “Nearly every crisis seems to be the worst one, but after it’s over, it isn’t so bad.”
The Grand Master has to make decisions, often that affect the lives of individual brothers or the future of individual lodges. Some decisions are easy, others tear you up inside.
I have learned that Brother Truman’s thoughts on crises are true. I’ve come up with my “six-week rule” - it’s a big deal for six weeks, then things get back to normal. If a problem lasts more than six weeks, it is a real problem. That doesn’t mean that you can ignore problems and they’ll go away in six weeks. You have to address them. But, you don’t have to drive yourself nuts over them.
And, the knowledge that we’re all working toward a common good for our fraternity and our world, makes it all worth while.
Friday, August 7, 2009
It is such an honor to meet our scholarship winners. These young people are so very talented and dedicated. It is exciting to be a part of sending them off on their educational careers!
The photo shows the scholarship winners along with the officers of Garnet Lodge, Ken White and me.
Worshipful Master Joe Tebbe proudly told me that there are six brothers waiting to take their Fellowcraft Degree, and there are at least three more petitions for degrees pending. Congratulations, Garnet Lodge!
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Last night I attended the Accacia Lodge No. 51 family picnic. The weather was just perfect, and I do believe it was the largest crowd I have seen yet at a single-lodge event. What a great time!
Two scholarship winners received their $750 scholarships and door prizes were awarded.
I was very fortunate that my daughter Carrie and her boys, Noah and Blake, could join me for this fun event. My grandsons were very impressed with the lodge room and the history that is there.
Also, I was told that Accacia will soon be presenting the Entered Apprentice degree for three new candidates, one of whom was at the picnic with his family. Nice going!
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Last night, I visited the summer communication/table lodge of Minnesota River Valley Lodge No. 6. It was held at Richter Woods, a county park near Montgomery, MN. It was a lovely night, and great fellowship.
About five or six years ago, I visited MRV#6 and overheard a conversation among some brothers that went someting like this: "We should really get a fire engine! Wouldn't that be cool?!? We could put it in parades and get some real excitement generated for Masonry!"
Well, to be honest, I thought it was just another crazy pipe dream from some really cool brothers. I was wrong. The fire engine showed up at the table lodge last night, having participated in its first parade in Shakopee. Excitement and conversation it certainly produced! What a wonderful, crazy idea! (And, for the record, the brothers at MRV#6 are more than happy to make the firetruck available for other lodges in their parades. Just contact the secretary and he'll point you in the right direction.)
The table lodge took some time, as they conducted their regular meeting during it, including on balloting for one brother to affiliate and another candidate for degrees. I had time during the breaks and while we ate to talk with many of the brothers there.
Have you ever been in a room where the energy just crackles? Where one persons excitement and ideas generate more excitement and ideas from the others in the room? That was what I experienced last night. I wish I knew the formula to get that kind of atmosphere in every lodge in the state, because if it were universal, we wouldn't be talking about declining membership and a stagnant fraternity.
Thanks, MRV#6, for another great evening. Congratulations, and keep up the good work!
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
For me on Saturday, it was the reminder that Fidelity and Tolerance are prime tenets of the DeMolay. The story of Jacques DeMolay, last Grand Master of the Knights Templar, is a great example of the injustice that can occur when tolerance is lost or forgotten.
Philip the Fair, King of France, imprisoned DeMolay and many Knights Templar in 1307. After seven years of imprisonment and torture, DeMolay retracted a confession that was either forged or obtained through torture. For more information on DeMolay, check out JaquesDeMolay.org.
DeMolay's refusal to name his associates, even upon threat of being burned alive at the stake, is a testament to fidelity and loyalty.
Monday, August 3, 2009
The photo show the PGMs and current line officers that were present: Front row, Alyn Dull (1983), Don Severson (1978), Verne Long (1973), Sam Dickinson (1980), Don Sether (1986). Back rows: John Gann (SGS), Chuck Baltos (1991), John Cook (DGM), Gerald Rhoads (2004), Thomas Jackson (2008), Neil Neddermeyer (2003), J.V. Christianson (1997), Roger Taylor (2001), Terry Tilton (2002), Eric Neetenbeek (1996), Tom McCarthy (2009), Steven R. Johnson (2006), Jeffry Lewis (1999), Tom Hendrickson (SGW), Phil Soderberg (2000), Dave Olson (SGD), Bob Darling (JGS), Warren Sonsteby (1989) and Warren Clark (1993). Andy Rice (2005) had to leave before the photo was taken. And Grand Secretary Doug Campbell, who along with DGM Cook, had a major part in making the event happen, was busy taking the photos, so of course, he could not be in one.
It was so very nice seeing the PGMs who hadn't seen each other for years greet one another. And it was so very helpful for me and the current line officers to hear the stories and learn the lessons from the men who helped form this fraternity for the past 40 years.
Saturday, August 1, 2009
I had to admire the fun that the young men (and several Job's Daughters) were having as they were learning this morning. I admire more the men and women who continue to volunteer to keep this great Masonic tradition alive.
I've said that a person learns something new every time he sees the ritual. For me this morning, it was the reference to tolerance, of which I'll have more to say on Tuesday.
Congratulations to the five new DeMolay members who were initiated this morning! For more information on this terrific organization for young men, age 12-21, click here.