Saturday, October 31, 2009

Sibley Lodge Fall Dinner

Last night marked Sibley Lodge's Fall dinner. This is my home lodge, and it was very nice to have only a short trip!

Traditionally, our lodge honors our Masonic widows at this event. This year, unfortunately, two more ladies joined the group - Cameron Rucks' wife Pam and Norville Stuber's wife Donna.

We had a lovely evening, and folks hung around after the dinner and program just to visit. That is what Masonry is about, after all.

Happy Halloween!

Greetings to you on this traditional Irish holiday!

Actually, it is! The predecessor to Halloween is the Celtic holiday of Samhain (pronounced "sow-en"). This holiday marked the end of summer, the end of harvest and the beginning of the dark time of the year. It is said to have been a time when the boundary between the physical world and the spirit world was paper thin, allowing spirits to return to earth for the night.

At the Sibley Lodge Fall dinner last night, I told the story of how Jack the Tinker tricked the devil. The story is too long for this blog, but when Jack finally died, he was not allowed into heaven, and the devil wouldn't let him in hell, either. So Jack's ghost was forced to wander the length and breadth of Ireland. St. Peter felt sorry for Jack, and not wanting him to fall into a pit at night, gave him a hollowed-out gourd with a candle to light his way.

Jack's ghost still wanders the byways of Ireland. But now, he's called "Jack O'Lantern."

Friday, October 30, 2009

Masonic Cancer Center Video to be Played at U of M Football Games

PGM and current CEO of Masonic Charities, Eric Neetenbeek, forwarded the link to this very nice video, produced by Grand Chaplain Steve Johnson. It will be played pre-game tomorrow, and most certainly several times thereafter.

It is a very nice testimonial to the commitment that Minnesota Masons have given to the University of Minnesota with the goal to cure cancer within 15 years.

Click here to enjoy the video!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Anoka Lodge Celebrates 150 Years!

For a century and a half, brotherly love, relief and truth has been brought to the people of Anoka Minnesota by the brothers of Anoka Lodge No. 30. They celebrated this milestone with a table lodge featuring sparkling cider, a dessert plate and many, many members of the fraternal families.

Worshipful Master Wayne LaMusga and his officers (and, no doubt, their wives!) did a great job putting together an interesting and fun afternoon. I learned that the lodge hall, along with much of downtown Anoka, was lost to a fire in the late 1800's. The brothers rebuilt the lodge and it has been a landmark there since.

Congratulations to Anoka Lodge No. 30! Let's go another century or two, OK?

Perham 125th Anniversary

The officers and brothers of Perham Lodge put on a wonderful event Saturday night, celebrating 125 years of Masonry in their community as well as honoring three 50-year members and a Hiram winner.

I had a chance to tour their relatively new lodge room. The lodge had been without a home until one of the brothers, Mike Wasche and his wife Beth offered to fashion a lodge room from a storage room upstairs in their machine shop. It is a very cozy room, but very adequate for most lodge meeting I have attended this year throughout the state. It is also decorated VERY nicely! They do degree work there, except for the third degree.

Brother Mike also fashioned a time capsule out of stainless steel - it is a work of art! The brothers plan to open the capsule on their 150th anniversary!

Congratulations to Worshipful Master Wayne Johnson and the brothers of Perham Lodge No. 157! Thanks for all you do for Masonry in Northwest Minnesota!

University of Minnesota Cornerstone

That is the ONLY word that could describe the cornerstone ceremony at the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital on Saturday. I'm told that I conservatively estimate the number of participating Minnesota Masons at 250. Marching two abreast for two blocks!

The massed bagpipes and drums, led by Jerry Oliver, was the vangard of the procession, followed by the Knights Templar Honor Guard. Then came the Masons, and they came, and they came! From lodges in the Twin Cities and lodges across Minnesota they came! On and on they came! WOW!

Finally the Grand Lodge officers brought up the rear, including at least a dozen Past Grand Masters.
Every Mason in Minnesota can and should be proud of this dedication ceremony. Thanks to all who came out on a chilly Saturday morning to be a part of a truly historic event.

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Magical Night at Templar Awards Dinner

Templar Lodge had their first awards night at the Scottish Rite Temple in Minneapolis Friday night. Tyler Erickson provided entertainment. He is a very talented magician and had the crowd amazed and amused. You can see his website here.

We had a great dinner, longevity awards and a Hiram Award to Tom Ewing.

Thank you to Worshipful Master Alan Betker and the brothers of Templar Lodge for a fine evening of good food, entertainment and, most importantly, Masonic fellowship.

KidsID at Kids and Parents Expo - St Cloud

The new KidsID committee, Dave Olson, Jim Christensen, John Gann and Bob Darling, with the help of Assistant Grand Secretary Gary Odegard, have been hard at work getting ready for the initial KidsID program with our new equipment. The first event will be tomorrow, Saturday October 24 in Rushford.

The next event will be held at the St. Could Kids and Parents Expo on November 7. Minnesota Masons are a sponsoring organization, and are mentioned in the television commercial promoting this event. (Click below to see commercial.)

Thanks to PGM Roger Taylor for his assistance in getting us in this premier event. Thanks also to the lodges which will staff the booths and help keep the children of Central Minnesota safer.

Watch for another report when the events are completed.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Successful Open House at Rochester Lodge

On Tuesday, Rochester Lodge held an open house information evening for the public. The event was featured on Rochester Television news. Worshipful Master Tim Callahan has a nice interview clip. Click here for the link.

Past Grand Master Neil Neddermeyer was the featured speaker and reported lots of questions generated by Dan Brown's new book.

Rochester is currently offering degrees to several new candidates!

Guest nights are a proven way to generate interest in our Craft and also petitions for degrees. If your lodge is interested, but is not sure how to proceed, contact me through the Grand Lodge office. We can help!

New Fellowcraft Masons at Oriental Lodge

I really enjoy presenting the Middle Chamber lecture, and W.B. (and Grand Orator) Bill Callister extended an invitation from Oriental Lodge to perform that duty at their Fellowcraft Degree last night.

Oriental Lodge is one of those places where, the minute you walk in the door, you know the brothers, simply put, like each other. They have made serious commitments for the Coats for Kids and local scholarship programs.

The ritual work was excellent. Mrs. Callister's apple dessert was wonderful! I had another great evening.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pleasant Grove Table Lodge

According to Past Grand Master Phil Soderberg, I had the privilege of being the 20th consecutive Grand Master to attend the Pleasant Grove Table Lodge last night. We had a great time, and a great crowd of about 55 brothers and guests.

40, 45 and 60-year pins were awarded. It is such a pleasure to be present when that happens! Even more so when one of the 60-year member's grandson, a newly-initiated Entered Apprentice was seated right next to him!

While the table lodge was held at the golf club at Chatfield, the lodge meets in the oldest lodge hall in continuous use in Minnesota - having been completed in 1868!

Thank you, brothers, for a wonderful evening of good food and better fellowship!

(More photos can be found on my Facebook page: )

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tolerance Awareness Tuesday - Thoughts from Grand LEO

Thoughts on tolerance from our Grand Lodge Education Officer, Edward Halpaus. This is an excerpt from Worshipful Brother Halpaus newsletter, 3 – 5 – 7 dated August 20, 2008:

For many Masons, tolerance means we should be ready to accept the fact that others have a right to their opinions as much as we do, and to understand that while we may deem their opinions to be incorrect, so might ours also be at times.

Remember the old saying ‘I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor – rich is better.’ To paraphrase it for this article; ‘I’ve been tolerant and I’ve been intolerant – being tolerant is better;’ being tolerant is a part of a Mason’s character.

Worshipful Brother Halpaus is a most prolific writer and his publications are used by Masons around the country and world for lodge education. He as also posted a video on qualifications to become a Mason. I've posted a link below, which also links to another great blog, The Millenial Freemason.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Hematite Lodge No. 274 100th Anniversary Dinner

Patty and I had a wonderful time in Chisholm Saturday night where we attended the 100th Anniversary Dinner for Hematite Lodge No. 274. Over 150 people enjoyed a great buffet dinner, toasts, speeches and fellowship to celebrate this milestone.

In 1909, M.H. Godfrey, the superintendent for the Oliver Mining Company, suggested that Chisholm be home for a new Masonic Lodge. An organizational meeting was held and dispensation granted to form a lodge. The first meeting was held on October 5, 1909. 28 brothers petitioned to form the new lodge, which was constituted in due form on February 15, 1910.

Since the lodge's inception, there have been 665 members. Currently, the lodge has 67 members, including 36 lifetime members.

Junior Grand Warden Brian Beermann ably served as the Master of Ceremonies for the event, and local and state lodge leaders brought greetings and reminisced about the history of Hematite Lodge, including Area Deputy Rolf Widstrand (shown) who gave a very nice address to the guests. I was privileged to present a plaque to the Master from the Grand Lodge congratulating the brothers of Hematite Lodge for 100 years of Masonry on The Range!

Let us call upon the Great Architect, and our own efforts, to see another 100 years of Masonry in Chisholm, Minnesota!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Albert Pike Lodge Fellowcraft Degree

I had the pleasure of escorting four new Fellowcrafts up a flight of winding stairs last night at Albert Pike Lodge in Hopkins. What a thrill to see the excitement of these new brothers, and to watch some very good degree work by the officers of Albert Pike.

Before the communication, we were served a quarter-chicken dinner. It tasted like (very good!) chicken, but one quarter took up about 2/3 of the plate! Yummy!

Albert Pike Lodge was recognized by Minnesota Masonic Charities last year for its work in community improvement. These brothers have raised, and donated, thousands of dollars to their community over the past years.

Congratulations to the brothers of Albert Pike Lodge!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Lebanon Lodge Visit

Lebanon Lodge, formerly of Eagan and now meeting in Shakopee, has been around for 27 years and 404 stated communications. According to the charter members present last night, I had the very good fortune to be the first sitting Grand Master to visit Lebanon!

District Representative Dayton Berg presented Lebanon Lodge with their Lodge Recognition Program plaque last night. To the best of my recollection, it was the first Gold Lodge recognition that I've witnessed being presented. Congratulations to 2008 Master Joseph Vernet, the officers and members of Lebanon Lodge for this great distinction.

Two petitions were favorably balloted upon. Five new Entered Apprentices will be initiated next Wednesday. Two petitions for the One-Day Class January 16 were read. I guess it shouldn't have surprised me, considering the presentation that DR Dayton made to last year's officers.

Congratulations, Lebanon Lodge! Masonry is alive and well in the south metro area!

John Curlott Named District Representative

There is good news and bad news on the Metro West District Representative front. The bad news: Dayton Berg is moving out of the area (though, thankfully, will still be a resident Minnesota Mason!).

The good news, John Curlott of Lebanon Lodge has answered the call and stepped forward to fill the void.

I had the good pleasure of being at Lebanon Lodge to present WB John with his DR apron and collar last night. While everyone will miss Dayton's good humor and wise counsel, the District is in good hands with Brother John!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tolerance Awareness Tuesday - What Do We Fear?

Often times, we may hide our fear by preaching intolerance. We are intolerant - we fear - what we do not understand. What we are not familiar with.

It reminds me of the story that Brother Chuck Nettestad recently published in his Peace in Alexandria Newsletter. (Write to if you are interested in subscribing to this very interesting weekly think-piece.)

So, next time you feel your intolerance building - as it does in each of us - shine a little light on it.

The Flashlight

Most parents have had some experience with kids waking up with bad dreams at some point or another. If not bad dreams, then surely every parent has had to deal with invisible monsters hiding in the closet or under the bed.

Recently my wife and I had a bout with our oldest son waking us out of the comfort of our warm bed to come into his room and scare off something that was fear itself.

It was three in the morning and even though it can be the sweetest word on earth when you get home from work, it is not so sweet when heard at three in the morning: "Daddy"

I came into my son's room to see what the problem was. The first time it was, "I think I saw something." The second time it was, "I think I heard something." The third time it was, "I'm just scared."

I had to get up early in the morning and go to work. I am a very patient man but my sleepiness was wearing my patience down. The wee hours of the morning had me delirious so I warned him, "If you call me one more time, I'm going to give you something to be afraid of." Two minutes later: "Daddy"

I came into the room and staying true to my promise, even though it hurt my heart to do so, I gave him a tap on the leg; after all, I had to get some sleep. Walking back to my bed like a weary victor of war, I said, "It wasn't easy but that took care of that." Five minutes later.

I lay in bed for a while at my wit's end on what to do, I had given up.
I knew that if I went and slept in his room with him he would want me to do it every night that he felt fear. I laid there basking in a feeling of stripped victory.

In the stillness of the night, a light popped on in my head.

It was a literal light. I saw a picture in my head of a flashlight.
I immediately got out of bed, went to the hall closet, got the flashlight out and took it to my son's room. I handed it to him and told him "Light has a special power to make monsters go away, when you think you see or hear something just cut the light on and shine it in that direction and whatever it is will have to go away."

I went back and got into bed with apprehensiveness against getting to sleep too soundly. I listened for about five minutes then I saw a circle of light shining in my son's room. I waited for that demanding title of "Daddy," but all I heard was the stillness of the night.

This same principle is true in the lives of adults. Many times, we are afraid of that which can really do us no harm.
Our flashlight can be knowledge; most of the time we fear what we don't understand. As we become more enlightened on something that seems scary, peace will come.
The light doesn't really chase away monsters living in the shadows, it just changes our eyesight to see that the room, the business, the school, the marriage, and the assignment is not as scary as it looked without the light on.

Whatever you are afraid of, shine some light on it.

~ James Bronner ~

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Gen. Ed Waldon Scholars

Ten soldiers who were awarded General Ed Waldon Scholarships attended the fundraiser at the St. Paul Masonic Center Sunday as the guests of the Grand Lodge and Masonic Charities. It was a privilege to talk to these patriots who have given their time and talents in the defense of our country. Each has had one or more deployments to the Iraq or Afghanistan theaters.

They were, without exception, most appreciative of the $1000 scholarship that often made the difference between furthering their education or not. There were teachers, a chiropractor, criminal justice and nursing, among other professions.

We are so blessed to be able to recognize and help these brave veterans. The next recognition now scheduled will be in conjunction with the Legion of Honor at the Zurah Shrine Center November 14. If you would like to meet some remarkable young men and women, this would be the place!

Heather's House

Oriental Chapter 187, Order of the Eastern Star and Gen. Douglas MacArthur Lodge No. 352 and Montgomery Lodge No. 258 held a Swiss Steak Dinner fundraiser on Sunday, October 11 to benefit Heather's House - a foundation by Brother Jeff Peterson of Accacia Lodge and his wife in honor of their daughter, Heather. Over $3000 was raised in this fundraiser, which will be matched by Minnsota Masonic Charities.

Thanks to all the brothers, and to Heather and her family for coming to the event Sunday!

Shown in the photo are Mark Dreyer, Master of Montgomery Lodge, Bob Wicke, Master of Gen. Douglas MacArthur Lodge, Mary Loritz, Past Worthy Matron of Oriental Chapter, Jeff Peterson, Heather Peterson, Chris Peterson and yours truly.

What an honor to be with Heather and her family on this terrific occasion!

PGM Don Severson Hiram Award

Past Grand Master Donald Severson was awarded the Hiram Award - the highest honor that a lodge can bestow upon one of its brothers - by Worshipful Master Mark Moriarty of Arcana Lodge No. 187.

Many brothers and friends commented on PGM Severson's service to Arcana Lodge, the Grand Lodge of Minnesota and the Masonic Cancer Center Fund.

One brother present commented that after serving as Grand Master, MWB Severson continued his service to Masonry in many, many capacities. That observation is absolutely correct. As I reflect on my Masonic life after Grand Master, MWB Don's example is one to be emulated.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Corninthian Lodge Rededication

Corinthian Lodge in Farmington celebrated the beautiful remodeling of its lodge hall with an open house, and invited the Grand Lodge to rededicate their lodge.

Worshipful Master Paul Hardt and the brothers of the lodge, along with the Eastern Star Chapter and the York Rite brothers, have done a remarkable job in restoring the hardwood floors of the lodge room that had been hidden under carpet for possibly decades.

It's not just a more beautiful lodge hall, either. A new Master Mason will be raised shortly, and there are several petitions received or expected for degrees after the first of the year.

Congratulations, brothers of Corninthian Lodge!

State Fair Appreciation Lunch

Over the course of the ten days of the Minnesota State Fair, four Masons and their significant others staffed each of three shifts at the Grand Lodge booth talking to parents and others about the Take 25 program of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. (See related blog this date about recognition from the Center.)

Saturday morning, the officers of the Grand Lodge hosted an appreciation lunch for workers at the Fair. about 20 folks showed up for burger, brats and to give their opinions on how to make State Fair 2010 even better.

Special thanks to Worhshipful Brothers Bruce Clarke and Matt Lundgren for chairing this event.

Senior Grand Steward John Gann explained the new Kids ID program, and how there may be insurmountable problems in bringing the identification program to the fair.

Thanks to Grand Secretary Doug Campbell, and his trusty assistant Senior Grand Deacon Dave Olson, for braving the cold (and snow!) to prepare the delicious lunch!

Dan Patch Masonic Club

I had the pleasure of joining the Dan Patch Masonic Club at the Minnesota Masonic Homes Saturday morning. This organization has been meeting every month for the last two years inviting Masons living at the Home and in the neighborhood.

I thoroughly enjoyed spending a little more than an hour with these fine brothers - and their coffee!

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

The Grand Lodge received a recognition from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children for participating in the Take 25 Program. The certificate was presented for the Grand Lodge booth at the State Fair, where we discussed child safety with about 9000 persons.

The National Center has endorsed our new Kids ID program, as well. We look forward to a long relationship with this great organization to make life safer and more secure for Minnesota children.

Mayo Brother Lecture and Dinner

Rochester Lodge No. 21 hosted a great dinner and lecture on the Mayo Brothers and Masonry in Rochester.

Brother Dave Dunn (right photo) began the lecture with a history of Dr. William Worrall Mayo and his two famous sons, Charles Horace Mayo and William James Mayo. The Mayo Brothers pioneered group medicine practice, nursing services in the hospital and how the Mayo Clinic was born.

Worshipful Brother Ken Allison (left photo) gave the Masonic history of the Mayos, as well as a history of the architecture of the Clinic and lodge buildings (for years, the same building!).

A new fact for me: While Charles Mayo was raised to the sublime degree of a Master Mason in 1890, his brother William did not petition for degrees until 1920. However, William's schedule did not permit him to receive them. The Grand Master offered to make him a Mason at sight, but his brother, Charles remarked that he

On another note, Rochester Lodge is having a great open house for prospects on October 20 at 6:00 p.m
had gone through all three degrees and that his brother should not take any shortcuts. William never did become a Mason..

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Greetings from Dan Brown

At the Grand Commander’s Ball at the Southern Jurisdiction of Scottish Rite Biennial Conference, each of the attendees received a copy of a letter from Dan Brown. I was so impressed with the message that I am reproducing it here in full:

October 6, 2009

Guests of the Southern Jurisdiction,

It is my great honor to be invited to greet you via this letter. I had hoped I might be able to join you in person tonight, but the launch of my novel The Last Symbol has me far from Washington.

In the past few weeks, as you might imagine, I have been repeatedly asked what attracted me to the Masons so strongly as to make it a central point of my new book. My reply is always the same: “In a world where men do battle over whose definition of God is most accurate, I cannot adequately express the deep respect and admiration I feel toward an organization in which men of differing faiths are able to ‘break bread together’ in a bond of brotherhood, friendship, and camaraderie.”

Please accept my humble thanks for the noble example you set for humankind. It is my sincere hope that the Masonic community recognizes The Lost Symbol for w\hat it truly is … an earnest attempt to reverentially explore the history and beauty of Masonic Philosophy.

Yours sincerely,

/s/ Dan Brown

Thank you, Mr. Brown. A Brother could not have expressed it better.