Grand Lodge Messenger – Grand Master’s Special Edition (3rd Quarter)

IT COMES TO SEATTLE

 Since 1780, Grand Masters from throughout North America have gathered together “to know each other and to learn how others are meeting and handling the problems of the Fraternity in their Jurisdictions.”

The Conference is attended by the Grand Master, Grand Secretary and stationed Grand Line officers of the member Grand Lodges, sister Jurisdictions and associate members, as well as heads of concordant bodies and Masonic organizations, and interested observers from many other affiliated groups.

Currently, the Conference membership consists of the Grand Lodges of the Provinces of Canada; the States of the United States of America, including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico; the State of York, Mexico; and the American-Canadian Grand Lodge of Germany.  These Grand Masters represent some two million Freemasons in North America.

From the very beginning, it was clearly understood that these conferences are a voluntary assembly of Masons, meeting informally, and expressing their individual views on the subjects discussed. No definite action can be taken by such a conference which would in any way commit or bind any participating Grand Lodge. Each conference is a distinct and separate assembly; it has no permanent existence of authority. Its deliberations are never an official declaration of Masonic jurisprudence or philosophy. Each conference expires on its adjournment, except for the machinery it sets up for the next meeting or a voluntary association of Grand Masters to meet, to confer, and to learn from one another.

“What we have long needed, and in recent years have been developing, is a unity of purpose and action growing out of these annual conferences. We have learned that we can do more effective work in our own Jurisdictions if we are in a position to act in the light of as complete knowledge as possible of the aims and experiences of our Brethren from Maine to California.” (Willis J. Bray, GM 1946, Missouri) Knowledge is still one of the chief goals of the Grand Masters Conference.

Beyond the “think tank” atmosphere, the Conference is a venue for sharing of ideas. The Associations/Committees of the Conference include the Child Identification Program (CHIP), Commission on Information for Recognition, George Washington National Masonic Memorial Association, Masonic Renewal Committee, Masonic Service Association of North America, and the National Masonic Foundation for Children. The Conference has been the genesis of several programs that have made their way to our Jurisdiction: Long Range Planning, Bikes for Books, Six Steps to Initiation, and the Masonic Model Student Assistance Program come to mind. Additionally, ideas such as the Lodge Leadership Retreat, Outreach Services, and a photography archive have made their way from our Jurisdiction.

Formerly held strictly in Washington DC, the Conference has worked its way throughout the United States and Canada. At the recently completed Conference in Omaha, it was announced that the 2021 Conference will be held in Seattle. This will be an exciting opportunity for us to show how we practice Freemasonry in Washington. Over the coming years, in my capacity as event chairman, I will be asking Brethren to volunteer to be part of the organizing committee. There will be lots of things to do in the areas of greeting, transportation, hospitality, and concierge services – and that’s just for openers.
As a bonus for volunteering, throughout the Conference, you will have the opportunity to interact with and learn from Masonic leaders throughout the world of Freemasonry. Stay tuned as more information becomes available. I hope that you are as excited to welcome the Brethren to our great state.

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THE POWER OF WORDS

Former Seattle Mariners third base coach Rich Donnelly had a nearly 50-year career in the big leagues. Perhaps the best-known story of Donnelly is his experience coaching the Florida Marlins in the 1997 World Series. His 17-year-old daughter, Amy, died of a brain tumor in 1993. Amy attended a 1992 playoff game in which Rich was coaching. She noticed that he would cup his hands over his mouth while yelling out instructions to runners on second base. After the game, she asked, “Dad, what are you telling them? That the chicken runs at midnight, or what?” Since her death, the Donnelly family would deem that as her catchphrase and serve inspiration for the family.

In 1997, as a member of the Florida Marlins, he met Craig Counsell, a player his son, Tim, nicknamed “Chicken” because of his unique batting stance. In the 11th inning of Game 7, Counsell reached base and was able to advance to third base as the inning progressed. Edgar Rentería then hit a single on which Counsell scored, winning the World Series for the Marlins. Rich’s sons Tim and Mike, who were honorary bat boys that evening, rushed to their father in celebration. Tim pointed out to the stadium clock which read 12:00 midnight, telling his father, “The Chicken ran at midnight, dad.”

As I was contemplating the deeper meaning of “the chicken runs at midnight”, I was reminded of the power of words. “Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate and to humble.” (Yehuda Berg)

As an active participant in social media, I hope that my posts are encouraging, enlightening, and uplifting. I wish to use words for their greatest good, to help and to heal. Sadly, I am finding that men who hold themselves out as Masons are choosing to use words to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate, and to humble. For example, I recently read a post where a Brother stated that he “had some fun trolling some ‘snowflakes’ this past weekend…” I am forced to wonder, how is choosing to be an Internet troll showing Freemasonry in its best light? Another stated that he simply posted what he saw from other sites, and if he later discovered that it was wrong he simply deleted it. My thoughts here are directed to the lesson of logic as put forth in our Middle Chamber Lecture. Remember stuff on social media never goes away, even if you delete it.

As Masons, we must be forefront in the practice of the teachings of our ritual – to borrow a phrase from a Past Grand Master, everyday in every way. This is particularly important when one considers that any post made on social media extends well beyond your friends list. When we engage in social media, it is well to remember the importance of circumspection – especially in the presence of the uninitiated who read your Facebook page or Twitter feed.

Freemasonry is a wonderful Fraternity. We are all Brothers, even when we may not always agree on all issues – we are still Brothers.

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FREEMASONRY’S DAY ON THE HILL

This state’s first duly elected Governor was Most Worshipful Brother Elisha P. Ferry. This state’s first duly elected Secretary of State was Most Worshipful Brother Thomas M. Reed. One of the original authors of the Revised Code of Washington was Most Worshipful Brother Archibald P. Frater. Notice a theme?

The Grand Lodge of Washington was formed in 1858 – more than 30 years before the Washington territory achieved statehood. The legislature first met in the halls of Olympia Lodge, No. 1. In many ways, Freemasonry gave this state a sense of direction with respect to governance. Then, for whatever reason, we walked away. It is well past time that we return.

Thanks to the vision of Most Worshipful Brother Sam Roberts, a Legislative Liaison in the person of VW Clayton LaVigne was appointed to reintroduce Freemasonry to the Legislature. Along the way, VW Clayton has been instrumental in restoring signs at rest stops informing weary travelers that coffee was available; arranged for an audience with the Department of Revenue to open a dialogue to allow the elected line to discuss the importance of tax abatement for our Lodge buildings; and brought to our attention the opportunity to support and fund the Legislative Page Scholarship Program.

In a continuing effort to Reclaim the Narrative, we will be holding our first (and hopefully annual) Freemasonry’s Day on the Hill. The idea is for Brethren to set up appointments with their legislators to lend a hand to VW Clayton in reintroducing Freemasonry to the legislature by presenting issues that are important to the Fraternity. For this initial effort, we will present the importance of civility in dialogue, express our support of the Legislative Page Scholarship Program, and talk about the work of Washington Masonic Charities.

Freemasonry’s Day on the Hill will be held on Monday, March 20th. We will start with a meeting at noon in the House Rules Room (Room 123 on the 1st floor of the Legislative Building). Following this meeting, you will meet with your legislators to talk about our issues. You will need to contact your legislators in advance of the 20th to set up your meetings. Let them know that you will be in Olympia for Freemasonry’s Day On The Hill, and would appreciate having an opportunity to meet. The plan is for us to be there from 1:00 – 4:00, so be sure to request an appointment sometime in that timeframe. You should expect about a 10 – 15 minute time slot, so it is important that you have the talking points down – hence the group meeting at noon. You can contact your legislators at http://app.leg.wa.gov/DistrictFinder/.

Hope to see many of you for our Day on the Hill.

A Christmas Message from the Grand Master

For me, the Christmas season really begins when I hear Andy Williams singing “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year“. There are two key reasons why I feel this way: One, the Andy Williams Christmas specials were an important part of my childhood. Two, it truly is the most wonderful time of the year.

Masonically speaking, it is the height of the installation season. This is our opportunity as brethren to give thanks to the outgoing Master for all of his hard work, to give best wishes to his successor, and to pledge the support of the Brethren to the new ‘team’. I recall my installation as Master of Frank S. Land Lodge No. 313 as a joyous occasion. The energy in the room was electric. I could feel that no one wanted me to fail. No doubt, others who have made the journey to East feel the same way. What’s not wonderful about that?

This is also a time of religious and moral reflection that inspire many people to reach out to those who are in need. Though Freemasonry is not a charity in the truest sense of the word, charity is an inseparable part of Freemasonry. It is my belief that you cannot be a Freemason if you are not charitable. Being charitable is one way that you can Be the Difference and add to the wonder of the season.

Most importantly, it is a time when those of us of faith – whatever that faith may be – celebrate then the traditions of our faith. For me and my family, that celebration is Christmas. The story of the birth of Christ as related in the Book of Luke, Chapter 2, (most eloquently recited by Linus Van Pelt) is what makes this time of year most wonderful.

I also enjoy the secular traditions of the season – shopping, decorating the house, looking at neighborhood light displays, holiday specials, preparing the meal, and the look of joy on a loved one’s face when a present is opened. Lest I forget, I still visit Santa and get my picture taken.

As I wrap up my Christmas message, I share these words from “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”:

How can they talk about Santa Claus when there is so much unhappiness in the world? Poor, misguided folks. They missed the whole point. Lot’s of unhappiness? Maybe so. But doesn’t Santa take a little bit of that unhappiness away? Doesn’t a smile on Christmas morning scratch out a tear cried on a sadder day? Not much maybe. But what would happen if we all tried to be like Santa and learned to give as only he can give: of ourselves, our talents, our love and our hearts? Maybe we could all learn Santa’s beautiful lesson and maybe there would finally be peace on Earth and good will toward men.

A Very Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and the Best of the Holiday Season to one and all – God Bless Us, Everyone!

Details for Upcoming Puget Sound Honor Flight

Here are the details for the departure and arrival for the upcoming Puget Sound Honor Flight.

 

Departure from SeaTac: 9/24, Alaska 718, 8:15AM

For the sendoff, please be at upper level of the airport terminal, Door #25/Alaska Airlines area, located near Skybridge #4. Our heroes have been asked to arrive no later than 6:00AM.

 

Arrival at SeaTac 9/26 – Alaska 761, 8:15PM

The Welcome Celebration will be held on Monday the 26th in the Atrium of SeaTac Airport (located on the baggage claim level, south most end of the airport). Families are expected to start filling up the area around 7:00PM. Signs & balloons are highly encouraged.

 

Time to rally the troops! Let’s be there to send them off and to welcome them home!

*In addition, we will be hosting a small reception at the Grand Lodge Office on the 20th of September at noon to present the collected donations and thank you cards made by Job’s daughters International and International Order of Rainbow for girls Washington and Idaho.

A Speech on Unity, From WB Natural Allah

First and foremost, as the Worshipful Master of, and on behalf of Steilacoom Lodge #2, I’d like to thank all of you for being here today. This is a historic moment, a moment that we will share together for all of eternity. Many have asked the question: “If you are all Masons, why do you need a Unity March? Why do you need this dialogue amongst yourselves?” The answer is simple…with all of the atrocities that we see happening in our current world and various machinations devising plans to divide and separate among gender, class, political affiliation and skin color, in the midst of my Brothers…I am home. Home is a place where we can discard the masks we oftentimes find ourselves wearing; where we can be free to express ourselves without judgment or the feeling of inferiority; where our views and opinions are no more or less valid than anyone else’s and a place where we can genuinely laugh and feel safe.

Twenty five years ago our Brothers recognized the value of Unity when they set out to create what we have right now. More importantly they saw the value in each and every one of us and laid the foundation upon which we should then build our moral and Masonic edifices, together. Just as the Church is an assemblage of believers in Christ, so too is the Masonic Lodge for it too is an assemblage of Free and Accepted Masons duly congregated. But I dare say that the Church and the Lodge are so much more. They have become our safety nets, our lifelines, our places of refuge, the incubators of revolutionary thought and ideas. And although time may ravage both the walls of the Church and the Lodge, we must come into the realization that we have not only an obligation to one another, but those outside the Church and outside the Lodge because these generous principles extend further in that every human being has a claim upon your kind office.

We all stand as a shining example of what and who we can become when we work together. But I charge each and every one of you to beware of complacency and comfortability for they are the enemies of change and Unity. We have created dialogue, we have created an exchange of information and have broken bread together…But always remember to continually ask yourselves: What more can I do to solidify our Unity? Because in the next 25 years the faces in the pews may change, so what will be said about us and the foundation that we are laying here today? I long for the day that we as Masons can be members of any Lodge of our choosing; where we can sit in any Lodge at any time among any of our Brethren and feel the way I feel at this very moment…at home. I urge you all to cultivate our Unity; to allow it to permeate the very fabric of your daily lives and to make it a part of your Masonic and Spiritual journey, for in doing so, our lives and the Craft will be an ever mindful example of the sacrifices that have been made for us and because of us and invariably allowing us to… “Be the Difference!”

 

WB Natural Allah

Shine the Spotlight on Those Who Deserve It

Recently the cast of “Hamilton” paid tribute to the landmark musical “A Chorus Line” on the occasion of its 40th anniversary on Broadway. Part of the tribute included the cast of “Hamilton” performing the signature number from “A Chorus Line”, “What I Did for Love”. As various cast members took their turn at a solo section, I was struck by the fact that none of the principals claimed a solo part, https://youtu.be/h-BB_2L2Dwg. This speaks directly to the spirit of “A Chorus Line” – take the spotlight off the star and shine it upon those who make the show work.

In many ways, your leadership is borrowing this idea from “A Chorus Line”. I think General Colin Powell said it best: “Though important, we will accomplish nothing strictly by organizational chart, strategic plan, or management theory. We will succeed or fail because of the people involved.” So let’s set the future of our Craft by those who make up the Craft, who are our Craft, who are the strength that sustain our Craft, who are our Craft’s future.

At installation, I laid out eight key initiatives: Improve Membership Retention, Increase Use & Awareness of the New Candidate Education Program, Continue to Develop Future Leaders, Leverage Technology to Improve the Quality of the Lodge Experience, “One More”, Reclaim the Narrative, Review the Long Plan, Reshape the Military Recognition Committee. Each of these initiatives is being undertaken by a key committee, and I am proud to report that each of them have developed plans of action – complete with timelines, deliverables, and measurables – to see to the accomplishment of their objectives. In some cases, objectives have already been achieved, and I am looking forward to each committee sharing with you how they are doing.

As I stated in my remarks at installation, any success that is achieved will belong to those who make up these key committees, and they will deserve the accolades and applause. Any shortcoming will be on me for not providing the appropriate guidance, direction, or resources. The Grand Master may be the “star”, but it is the brethren who make it work and who deserve the spotlight.

Featured photo source: YouTube

Oration: The Tragedy of the Character of Hiram Abiff.

MGM – Manlalakbay na Gurong Mason (Traveling Master Mason)

Masonic Family Park

Granite Falls, Wa.

July 2, 2016

Oration:

The Tragedy of the Character of Hiram Abiff.

There is a modicum of uncertainty among less-informed brethren as to whether the tragedy of Hiram Abiff really existed. For every lodge has their own interpretation that calls for some brothers to think that it has become something different from its origin. So animated and so confrontational that it no longer suits the insulated sameness that it is to be… a mock tragedy.

A brother, who showed his shallowness of reason by neglecting the importance of the drama makes him unfit to ever become a member of the craft.

To understand and appreciate the drama to its fullest extent and to absorb the essence of its profound meaning is something that will be with us for quite sometime.

Though it is wrong to consider it as history, the image of the drama always comes across with purity and sacred ritualistic quality.

The catastrophe of our very self is evidently portrayed, regardless of who we are or where we are. It is the reflection of the crisis & fate of that Hiram Abiff in every one of us.

The work he engaged in to beautify and adorn the temple is similar to the cunning workmanship we do as we try to manage and adorn our own daily lives – our own temple so to speak.

The ruffians he encountered symbolize none other than the lusts and passions we men fail to subdue.

And his final destiny to be buried in the rubbish of the temple is an allegorical picture of our great mental distress, a tragic loss of a son, disgrace, or the defeat of our hopes and dreams; this is a common experience in our daily lives.

The manner in which he was raised again is the same manner by which men, with God’s mighty help, will raise us out of the receptacles of defeat, disgrace or even death.

We were asked to take part in the drama this afternoon not only to satisfy the ritual of the SUBLIME DEGREE but to impress deeply upon the mind that it is our drama not our newly raised brother, there being exemplified or being inflicted with pain.

Our participation was intended to be an experience to let us realize that to become a master of our very self we must rise above our own internal enemies.

After all, as they say: “the strongest among us are the ones who smile through silent pain, cry behind closed doors and fight battles nobody knows about.”

Finally, though the path to fulfilling happiness may seem elusive to some of us, with the trials and the inevitable sufferings in life, it is still a great day indeed to be a Mason.

Featured photo source: Wikipedia Commons.

2014 Grand Master's Message

Bruce

Most Worshipful
Bruce E. Vesper
Grand Master

 

As Masons, we are first and foremost builders.  Where once masons built cathedrals and structures of stone, today’s Masons must build structures that connect with others.  We must connect with our families, with our communities, and with our fraternity.  It is not enough to say that we have built something in the past; we must continue to build today and tomorrow.  Our work will never be done.

We must always strive to put the good of the fraternity first.  We must strive to be better Masons than those who have gone before us.  It is a lifelong challenge to which every one of us must dedicate themselves.

Be a Masonic Builder, and build a bridge to others!