Bruce Vesper – Q&A

Roger Nelson: All right Most Worshipful Brother Bruce Vesper, first question, why did you become a Mason?

Bruce Vesper: It was kind of a follow up after going through the chairs in DeMolay being Master counselor. When I turned 21, it just kind of seemed the natural place to go and the natural place to be.

Roger: But why are you still active in the fraternity?

Bruce: I love this fraternity, it’s just absolutely fantastic. I mean, in my travels I’ve literally been around the world and in almost every place that I’ve been, there have been Masons. Just knowing another individual is a Mason has given me an introduction and an opportunity to meet other people that I wouldn’t have otherwise had the opportunity had it just been me.

Roger: What would you say is the purpose of Freemasonry?

 

Bruce: I think it literally is making a difference in the world. Obviously, I take very seriously the vows, the obligations I’ve made as a Mason. But I think the other thing is, it’s not only making me a better person, it’s me looking at the rest of the world and saying, “What can I do to make this a better place for somebody else? To give someone else an opportunity to pour someone else? To enjoy some of the things that I’ve benefited from in my lifetime?”

Roger: What else could Freemasonry be doing to better accomplish its purpose?

Bruce: I think what we need to do is try to address one of the biggest problems we’ve got in the world today, and that’s civility. I mean, I go to stores, I go to places and it’s almost like people have gotten into being a sourpuss, flying off the handle at nothing. People don’t smile at each other, people don’t wave to each other, even though everyone seems to have a name tag, people don’t take a look at that name tag and call someone by name. I think if we as people can restore some of the civility, restore some of the common sense, restore some of the more gentle manners that used to be, I think we’ll have accomplished something of tremendous worth to the world.

Roger: Do you think our mission has changed from what it was when the fraternity began? How do you see that mission evolving in the future?

Bruce: I think in some ways, our mission is still the same. We’ve always tried to be a charitable activity. We’ve always tried to help people improve themselves, improve the lives of others, so I don’t think our actual mission has changed, but I think given the change in lifestyles, given the change in circumstances, we’ve had to adapt to be better at what we do in order to serve those around us.

Roger: Final question Most Worshipful, how would you best help a prospective Masonic brother understand that our fraternity is just as relevant to him today as it was to his ancestors?

Bruce: It’s always tough to explain because different generations look at things, and I mean I can remember when I was a young man back in the 60’s and 70’s, I was absolutely convinced that the people who came before me didn’t know what they were talking about, didn’t understand life, didn’t see things the way I did. Over the years, I’ve come to the conclusion that no, those guys really knew what they were talking about. They knew what they had to say. Maybe they hadn’t made all the same decisions I might have made, but I think in a lot of ways, it was a relevant institution then, and it remains a relevant institution.

I think the other thing is, it gives everybody an opportunity to talk to people, good people, and hopefully get well considered answers in return. Nobody is trying to tell you, ‘This is what you have to do’, ‘This is what you need to do’, but I think everybody in the fraternity always encourages others to think about your actions, think about the effect your actions will have on others and the rest of the world. Then do what you think is best. I think in doing all of that, a lot of people will come up with the same answers that people have for generations gone by and people will in the future. The circumstances may change, but the basic values, the basic morals, the basic principals stay the same from generation, to generation, to generation.

Roger: Most Worshipful thank you so much for taking the time with me.

Bruce: Not a problem. Thank you, Roger.

Roger: Bye-bye.

James Hamlin – Q&A

Speaker 1: Very Worshipful Brother James Hamlin, thanks for joining me. You’ve had a chance to review these questions and hopefully you didn’t write them out. They’re probably questions you’ve pondered from time-to-time throughout your Masonic career. First and foremost, why did you become a Mason?

James: I come from a family of Masons and so it’s always been in the back of my mind. Then a co-worker, I saw he was a Mason and so it peaked my interest. I decided to be part of something bigger than myself.

Speaker 1: Why do you remain active?

James: Freemasonry for me is fulfilling a need. It heightens my curiosity about the world. It fulfills a social need. The spirituality of Freemasonry is very interesting to me.

Speaker 1: What would you say is the purpose of Freemasonry?

James: As I said, what it should be is to help develop curiosity in its members so they seek out what could be called the mysteries of Freemasonry.

Speaker 1: What could our fraternity improve that would help us better accomplish that stated purpose?

James: We need to get back to what I feel is the original intent of the esoteric side of Masonry. It seems to me we’ve moved to focus on the social or the business side of Masonry and many Lodges have moved away from the education and the esoteric.

Speaker 1: Do you think the mission of our fraternity is different today than it was when it was founded? Do you see that mission evolving in the future?

James: The mission of Freemasonry I think has remained the same, it’s just we’ve lost sight of the mission. Hopefully we continue to evolve, so while the mission stays the same, the purpose stays the same, we get back to focusing on that mission and we evolve to match the needs of perspective members to the true purpose of Freemasonry.

Speaker 1: How would you best help or steer or counsel a prospective Masonic Brother to understand or recognize that the relevance of our fraternity is just as great and just as important as it was to his ancestors?

James: I think one of the best ways is to live our lives as Masons so the tenets of Masonry are reflected, are visible to everybody, not just within the Lodge meeting but 24 hours a day, we’re Masons. We need to set the example so people have something to emulate.

Speaker 1: Very Worshipful Brother Hamlin, thank you for your time, a very gracious extension of your day. I look forward to seeing you in the future.

James: Well, thank you and good luck with your endeavors.

Speaker 1: All right, thanks again. Bye bye.

James: Thank you. Bye.

Danny Done

I suppose my first encounter with Freemasonry was in seeing the sign on the Lodge in North Bend, WA where I grew up. Years later I became facilitated by the history of the english 1600s and the english enlightenment, as well as the role Freemasonry played in that time and the formation of the United States. I first inquired by emailing the Grand Lodge, and was referred to Eric at Queen Anne Lodge who invited me for dinner one evening is 2009.

I was nervous the first time I went, not knowing what to expect. I’m sure my imagination was tainted by the media, but taking the action to explore what facilitated me was exciting. The first people I met were Eric, Zane and Justin. At the time Zane was going through a divorce, Justin was transitioning jobs, and Eric was living apart from his family for work. So they often opened up the lodge on days other than stated meetings for casual dinners and conversation to pass the evenings in good company. It was one of those cozy small dinners that I walked into. It was clear that Freemasonry is a family.

I expected secrets guarded in ceremonies, but what I found were brothers. Men that I could connect with and relate to, and friendships that have spanned years and thousands of miles.

I went in with gusto, being raised to a Master Mason within 6 months, and immediately volunteered to take the position of Junior Deacon in the sparsely populated Lodge. I wanted to help more though, so I also volunteered to build a new website for the Lodge, which lead me to study the history and culture of Craft in in great detail in order to write much of the original content. The intended result was expanded visibility in search and education of other like minded men about Freemasonry, which is exactly what happened. The Lodge, which I’m told was nearly dead in the early 2000s, began to spark to life with energetic and motivated millennials like me, and more friendships and Freemasons were born.

During the thick of the recession many of my our members were between jobs including myself, so we set to work improving the venue of our community, the Lodge. The brothers had talked for years about removing the drop panel ceilings to expose the original raised ceilings in our building, which was once the PNW telephone exchange. So I put together a proposal to begin by remodeling and redecorating the entry way. In the process we discovered that hidden behind faux 1970s wood panels was a beautiful brick that had been preserved in the 100 year old building. So we threw a work party where dozens of brothers, their families and men interested in joining showed up to expose the brick, replace the interior walls with a beautiful mahogany wood, and the furniture with leather chesterfields, creating the look and feel we all imagined in our minds eye a Freemasons Lodge should look like.

The renovation of the entry way was such a success that we immediately began the year long project of transforming the dining room as well in the same style. Now our lodge building hosts not only our brothers but dozens of events every year put on by people who want to celebrate surrounded by old world charm.

Through a series being short of hands in my early days at Queen Anne Lodge, and some turn over in upper level leadership. I found myself in the position of being moved directly to the position of Senior Warden, after my 2nd year as an officer, and the Worshipful Master in just my 4th year as a Freemason, when I was 26, making me the youngest Worshipful Master in Washington, which was an amazing honor.

I had the opportunity to travel to England in 2014, and arranged a visit to the Lodge in my family’s ancestral home town, Tarporley. When I arrived I was doubly welcomed by the brothers there as if I had actually grown up in the town, and had been a close family member visiting after a long absence. This has been my experience with all travel I have taken part of as a Freemason. I came to the craft for mysteries and knowledge; but time and time again, I realize those only serve to cement the bonds of friendship that open doors across the world, but more especially here at home.

(Danny is CEO of Marketeering Group, and current Co-Chair of the Technology Committee. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin or his Personal Blog.)