Grand Lodge Messenger – Grand Master’s Special Edition (4th Quarter)

YOU HAVE A JOB TO DO

Our Annual Communication is just around the corner. This will be your opportunity to exercise your responsibility to set the future direction of our Craft. 

We have three Resolutions that have been carried over from last year’s Annual Communication. Lodges have put forth seven Resolutions for your consideration, two of which have been deemed out of order. In addition, I am making six recommendations.

Grand Master’s Recommendation No. 1 (2017-8): To eliminate the usage of the Masonic Retirement Center auditorium for any purpose.

As the facility is presently on the market for sale, this precludes the availability of the auditorium.

Grand Master’s Recommendation No. 2 (2017-9): To permit the use of video recording during a Grand Lodge Trial.

Video recording would result in instant availability of the record of trial proceedings and would be a valuable tool, in conjunction with the written transcripts and audio records, to permit rapid response to appeals.

Grand Master’s Recommendation No. 3 (2017-10): To clarify the Grand Lodge Trial Committee’s duties and to eliminate a conflict regarding who imposes the penalty after a verdict of guilty in a Masonic Trial.

It needs to be clear that the job of the Trial Committee is to investigate, consider, conduct, report, and make a recommendation to the Grand Master. It is then the Grand Master’s duty to take the appropriate action.

Grand Master’s Recommendation No. 4 (2017-11): To redefine the name and purpose of the Military Recognition Committee.

The general idea behind this Resolution is to shift this committee from one that doles out plaques to one that works with Washington Masonic Charities to provide assistance and support to our veterans. I think it was best put by VW Jim Tourtillotte: We need to make sure that we don’t forget the kid who went to Iraq, came back messed up, and disappeared to the family farm in Washtucna never to be seen again.

Grand Master’s Recommendation No. 5 (2017-12): To bring uniformity in the Cornerstone Ceremony.

When the Alternate Cornerstone Ceremony was developed, the part of the Master Architect was eliminated. I believe that this part is vital to the ceremony, and should be reintroduced.

Grand Master’s Recommendation No. 6 (2017-13): To provide the Grand Master the option of appointing a Deputy of the Grand Master for a third consecutive term.

When I joined the Fraternity some 20 years ago, there were more than 30,000 members. Today, there are around 12,000. Over the years it has become increasingly difficult to find Brethren willing and able to serve as Deputy of the Grand Master. The demands of this job have become numerous and extremely weighty, and we must not get into the habit of appointing a man just because it is “his turn”. This recommendation will allow present Deputies the ability to identify and train those Brethren who are not quite ready, but may benefit from a year of training vs. being thrown into the fray. Several Jurisdictions already place no term limit on the position of Deputy (or its equivalent). This resolution is about giving our Grand Lodge the ability to develop future leaders.

Ask questions. Listen carefully to the answers. Look well to your ballot, and vote for the good of Masonry.

 

CAN YOU WIN THE GAME IN THE 4TH QUARTER? 

It may be human nature to ease up as one approaches the end of a journey, but the old track athlete in me needs to just plow forward, lower my head, and push my hardest through the finish line. I was coached to run through the tape, so I have and so I shall.

One of the great highlights of this 4th Quarter was being received as Grand Master at the recent DeMolay Conclave. It was an overwhelming and emotional experience. As I stood at the altar being presented and introduced to the young men of DeMolay and their advisors, I found myself flooded with memories of my time as a DeMolay.

I remembered falling in love with the idea of being part of an organization that had a goal of making me a better son, a better brother, a better friend. I recalled with great fondness the camaraderie that DeMolay offered. I harkened back to the ritualistic ceremonies and the lessons they imparted. I married a Job’s Daughter, consider a Rainbow Girl to be my oldest and dearest friend, and am a charter initiate of a Masonic Lodge named after the founder of DeMolay. The Masonic Youth experience in many ways defines who I am.

This is why the “One More” initiative was introduced. Each of us has a responsibility to “Be the Difference” in the lives of our Masonic Youth. It is well to remember that our youth may someday be the future leaders of not only our Fraternity but potentially of our corporate or government sectors. We owe it to them and ourselves to provide the mentorship and guiding example that will allow them to reach their fullest potential so that they can Be the Difference in their little corner of the world. Just ask MW Carl Smith if it was worth his time to be a DeMolay advisor.

Every Grand Master will tell you that he looks forward to his District’s Meeting during his term of office. The Brethren are particularly excited to welcome one of their own, and the Grand Master is filled with the entire gamut of emotions. Such was the case at the District No. 13 Meeting.

At the District No. 13 Meeting I found myself in the presence of one of my DeMolay advisors, the Past Grand Master who signed my high school diploma and gave me the gift of Masonic curiosity, the founding father of my home Lodge, and the Past Grand Master who has always been there with guidance & counsel. I am proud to call District No. 13 home. We may be loud, but that’s how we proudly roll.

I had occasion to speak with the folks at Puget Sound Honor Flight to see if they might carve out some time at an upcoming arrival so that I might present another check from the sale of my lapel pins. They were very accommodating, but little did I know that I was being set up.

To be sure, a check presentation was made, but only after they presented our Grand Lodge with a plaque recognizing not only our contributions of money but also of our time. Over this year, I have asked for your money, but I have also asked for your time. I’ve asked you to attend the flight departures and flight arrivals. You have done so, and have hopefully felt the same life-affirming experience that I have. I’ve heard it said that our support of the Honor Flight program has been one of the best things our Grand Lodge has done. I am hard pressed to disagree.

While I’m on the subject of doing great things, I have a question. Have you ever wondered what motivates your Brethren? How about an invitation to change their little corner world, to “Be the Difference”. When you give your Brethren the opportunity to “Be the Difference”, their lives and membership in the Fraternity take on deeper meaning and significance.

For the past few years, the Brethren of District No. 19 have been a primary sponsor of the Cystic Fibrosis (CF) Great Strides Event. The inspiration behind their sponsorship is Levi Johnson, son of our Grand Standard Bearer WB Gordon Johnson. Levi has struggled and lived with CF, and is a shining example of what happens when one does not let the disease define who they are.

The Brethren of District No. 19 proudly call themselves “Levi’s Uncles”. They host a charity dinner in support of the fight against CF and are the number one fundraising team at the annual Great Strides Event – not to mention that they grill up some tasty hot dogs for the run/walk participants. To the Brethren of District No. 19, CF is not just another charity. It is more of a noble cause, a rallying point that brings them together to improve their little corner of the world – to “Be the Difference”.

In 1980, the Brethren of Thornton F. McElroy Lodge, No. 302 thought enough of my scholarship and community service to award me one of their scholarships. My tenure as an elected Grand Lodge officer has granted me the opportunity to attend several presentations to deserving students throughout our Jurisdiction.

At one such presentation, as part of the application process the students were presented with this query: Name a Mason who has inspired or influenced you. There were predictable responses like George Washington and Ben Franklin, as well as outside the box responses like Joseph Smith and Prince Hall. There was also an unexpected response of Jim Mendoza. The young student who put forth my name got a hold of my biography and stated that she was impressed with my efforts in the fight against breast cancer and with my support of the Honor Flight Network.

As I listened to this young lady, I found myself thinking “folks are paying attention”. Brethren, it is well to remember that when we hold ourselves out as Masons that brings with it Great Expectations to Walk the Talk Every Day in Every Way. I get it. It’s not easy. You stumble along the way, but you persevere. Maybe that’s why we often refer to Freemasonry as work.

Freemasonry is an incredible smorgasbord, filled with numerous avenues of finding the light which we all seek. It has been a great delight to be part of the events hosted by our Concordant and Appendant bodies. Each event was memorable and left a lasting impression upon my heart. One such event was the Reception of the Grand Master hosted by the Seattle Valley of the Scottish Rite.

The Sovereign Grand Inspector General (SGIG) of the Orient of Washington is Ill. and Most Worshipful Brother Al Jorgensen. The Personal Representative of the SGIG in Valley of Seattle is Ill. and Most Worshipful Sat Tashiro. As I sat between these distinguished Brothers, I couldn’t help but think that in many ways they got me started on this journey. I served as Deputy of the Grand Master in District No. 13 under both of these Past Grand Masters. MW Sat has a personal story that inspires one and all to higher thoughts, nobler deeds, and greater achievements. As MW Al was himself a Deputy of the Grand Master in District No. 13 as well as a member of my home Lodge, the idea of holding one’s self to “Great Expectations” takes on a whole new meaning. Most Worshipful Sirs, it is an honor to share in your legacy.

FINAL THOUGHTS

It all started when I was accepted into membership in Frank S Land Lodge, No. 313. To the Brethren of my home Lodge – especially WB Drew Baker and VW Jeffery Brunson – THANK YOU. WB Drew, your vision of creating a Lodge that spoke directly to the younger Mason remains extraordinary. I am so glad to see you going through the line one more time, and it will be my privilege to be in your service. VW Jeff, as the first Worshipful Master of our Lodge you bore the brunt of some unfair criticism from those who may not have understood what we were trying to do, but remained steadfast in your belief that the Masonic experience we were trying to create was the right experience for our membership. I have appreciated your guidance and counsel over the years – particularly these most recent ones. I cherish our friendship, and I am at your call whenever you need me. Drew and Jeff, there is no doubt in my mind that I would not be a Mason today, let alone serve in this office, if it were not for the two of you.

As I close this final Grand Master’s Communicator, I share these words from WB George Washington:

“In reviewing the incidents of my administration, I am unconscious of intentional error, I am nevertheless too sensible of my defects not to think it probable that I may have committed many errors. Whatever they may be, I fervently beseech the Almighty to avert or mitigate the evils to which they may tend. I shall also carry with me the hope, that you, My Brethren, will never cease to view them with indulgence; and that, after these years of my life dedicated to your service with an upright zeal, the faults of incompetent abilities will be consigned to oblivion.”

As the clock winds down on this 4th Quarter I have been often asked how I wish to be remembered. That is a question of legacy. My Brothers, it is well to remember legacy is about planting seeds that you may never see produce fruit; it is about writing songs that may be sung by someone else; it is about plans that may take a different direction that what was originally envisioned. Whatever manner I am remembered, as I stated at the beginning, I hope that my time as your Grand Master has inspired you to nobler deeds, to higher thoughts, and greater achievements that allowed you the opportunity to “Be the Difference”.

Richard A. Birkland Memorial Service

Richard (Dick) A. Birkland

April 2, 1940 – May 12, 2017

Born in Tenino, WA and living in Yelm thru his school years, Richard made lifelong friends from an early age.

A man true to his word and no better partner or friend that one could find or have.

He started playing trumpet around 10-12 years old, and by age 13 was playing with bands. After graduating from Yelm High School, he went off to the Navy, and played in the Navy Unit Band #187 where he made more great friendships while serving on the Coral Sea and Yorktown carriers. 10 years ago, he reunited with the band and their wives, and began traveling coast to coast annually, always looking forward to the next year’s adventures. He loved Bowling with more great friends and even a few 300 games!

Richard was a very active Mason that he put his heart and soul into for over 46 years, where he made more great friends. He loved all and put in all he had to do the best always.

He will be missed by many!

He is predeceased by his mother Margorie, his father Alf, and his brother Jim. He is survived by his wife Lois, son Johnny, grandson Jacob, Son Denty, granddaughter Alexa, Brother Erling and his wife Debbie, Sister Mariann Birkland Eakes and he husband Bob, Brother Jim’s wife Kathy, and several nieces and nephews.

Richard’s service will be on Monday, May 22, 2017 at 2pm, at the Scottish Rite Temple, 817 South Vassault St., Tacoma, WA. Everyone is Welcome!

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Washington Masonic Charities, P.O. Box 65830, University Place, WA 98464.

Cards or notes to Lois or the family may be mailed to:

1010  101st St. Ct. E

Tacoma, WA 98445-3145

 

Long Range Planning

By VW Brother David Colbeth

If you ask 100 Masons what is their definition of a Long Range Plan, you’ll probably get 100 different answers. There is no one right way to do something. However, we can all agree on a direction or vision of what we’d like things to look like in the future. How can we see the future? Because we absolutely know what we DON’T like about the past. By changing what we don’t like, will help us understand what we DO want for the future of this Fraternity.

Before you can begin to plan, you have to know why you are doing it. The Grand Lodge of Washington has already developed a strong Mission Statement/Purpose which reads: Freemasons of Washington will be recognized as a relevant and respected Fraternity, committed to attracting and retaining all men of high quality who strive for self improvement and the opportunity to make a positive difference in their community.

Would you agree that is a good, strong Mission? I would say it is and submit that our current form of the Long Range Plan is a further descriptor or extension of our Mission statement, or a Vision Statement if you will.

I’ve been asked on several occasions, “How are we going to hold the Grand Lodge accountable to fulfill this Mission and a Long Range Vision?” Haven’t we all taken an obligation to ourselves and to each other? If we can’t fulfill our obligations to each other then why are we part of this Fraternity?

While this Long Range Planning initiative is designed for the Grand Lodge of Washington and all of it’s Committee Chairman & Committeemen to fulfill, the concepts of creating a Plan or Vision for our Lodges are absolutely applicable.

You might know of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Maslow’s theory suggests that the most basic level of needs must be met before the individual will strongly desire (or focus motivation upon) the secondary or higher level needs. Maslow also coined the term “metamotivation” to describe the motivation of people who go beyond the scope of the basic needs and strive for constant betterment.

The human brain is a complex system and has parallel processes running at the same time, thus many different motivations from various levels of Maslow’s hierarchy can occur at the same time. Maslow spoke clearly about these levels and their satisfaction in terms such as “relative”, “general”, and “primarily”.

Instead of stating that the individual focuses on a certain need at any given time, Maslow stated that a certain need “dominates” the human organism. Thus Maslow acknowledged the likelihood that the different levels of motivation could occur at any time in the human mind, but he focused on identifying the basic types of motivation and the order in which they should be met.

Physiological needs

Physiological needs are the physical requirements for human survival. If these requirements are not met, the human body cannot function properly and will ultimately fail. Physiological needs are thought to be the most important; they should be met first.

Air, water, and food are metabolic requirements for survival in all animals, including humans. Clothing and shelter provide necessary protection from the elements.

Safety needs

Once a person’s physiological needs are relatively satisfied, their safety needs take precedence and dominate behavior. In the absence of physical safety – due to war, natural disaster, family violence, childhood abuse, etc. – people may (re-)experience post-traumatic stress disorder or transgenerational trauma. In the absence of economic safety – due to economic crisis and lack of work opportunities – these safety needs manifest themselves in ways such as a preference for job security, grievance procedures for protecting the individual from unilateral authority, savings accounts, insurance policies, disability accommodations, etc. This level is more likely to be found in children as they generally have a greater need to feel safe.

Safety and Security needs include: Personal security, Financial security, Health and well-being and a Safety net against accidents/illness and their adverse impacts

Social belonging

After physiological and safety needs are fulfilled, the third level of human needs is interpersonal and involves feelings of belongingness. This need is especially strong in childhood and it can override the need for safety as witnessed in children who cling to abusive parents. Deficiencies within this level of Maslow’s hierarchy – due to hospitalism, neglect, shunning, ostracism, etc. – can adversely affect the individual’s ability to form and maintain emotionally significant relationships in general, such as: Friendships, Intimacy, and Family.

According to Maslow, humans need to feel a sense of belonging and acceptance among their social groups, regardless whether these groups are large or small. For example, some large social groups may include clubs, co-workers, religious groups, professional organizations, sports teams, and gangs. Some examples of small social connections include family members, intimate partners, mentors, colleagues, and confidants. Humans need to love and be loved – both sexually and non-sexually – by others. Many people become susceptible to loneliness, social anxiety, and clinical depression in the absence of this love or belonging element. This need for belonging may overcome the physiological and security needs, depending on the strength of the peer pressure.

Esteem

All humans have a need to feel respected; this includes the need to have self-esteem and self-respect. Esteem presents the typical human desire to be accepted and valued by others. People often engage in a profession or hobby to gain recognition. These activities give the person a sense of contribution or value. Low self-esteem or an inferiority complex may result from imbalances during this level in the hierarchy. People with low self-esteem often need respect from others; they may feel the need to seek fame or glory. However, fame or glory will not help the person to build their self-esteem until they accept who they are internally. Psychological imbalances such as depression can hinder the person from obtaining a higher level of self-esteem or self-respect.

Most people have a need for stable self-respect and self-esteem. Maslow noted two versions of esteem needs: a “lower” version and a “higher” version. The “lower” version of esteem is the need for respect from others. This may include a need for status, recognition, fame, prestige, and attention. The “higher” version manifests itself as the need for self-respect. For example, the person may have a need for strength, competence, mastery, self-confidence, independence, and freedom. This “higher” version takes precedence over the “lower” version because it relies on an inner competence established through experience. Deprivation of these needs may lead to an inferiority complex, weakness, and helplessness.

Maslow states that while he originally thought the needs of humans had strict guidelines, the “hierarchies are interrelated rather than sharply separated”. This means that esteem and the subsequent levels are not strictly separated; instead, the levels are closely related.

Self-actualization

“What a man can be, he must be.” This quotation forms the basis of the perceived need for self-actualization. This level of need refers to what a person’s full potential is and the realization of that potential. Maslow describes this level as the desire to accomplish everything that one can, to become the most that one can be. Individuals may perceive or focus on this need very specifically. For example, one individual may have the strong desire to become an ideal parent. In another, the desire may be expressed athletically. For others, it may be expressed in paintings, pictures, or inventions. As previously mentioned, Maslow believed that to understand this level of need, the person must not only achieve the previous needs, but master them.

After reading all of this great information about how the Human Mind works, you are probably asking, “What does this have to do with Long Range Planning?” What if we applied the concepts of Human Needs to our Lodges and Masonic practices? It might look something like this:

1. The most basic need of human existence is physiological/biological needs; air, food, drink, shelter, sleep. If we try to line up the most basic need of the Masonic experience, what would that be? Why do we exist as Masons, as a Chartered Lodge? Isn’t it to make Masons?

If we didn’t want to make new Masons, why would we need to have Charters and Lodges and a Grand Lodge to oversee our work? We wouldn’t!

Because we want to be able to make new Masons under a Chartered Lodge, then we must first obtain a Charter. What does it take to receive a Charter? We can turn to the Washington Masonic Code for the easily defined answer. The requirements of a Lodge to receive their Charter:

You need a place to meet, no debt, By-Laws, 15 members and “…proof of its members’ skill and ability to perform the work, including the conferring of the Three Degrees”. That’s it!

Yet how many of our Lodges today could perform the work, including the conferring of all Three Degrees, with all parts covered by the CURRENT members of our Lodge? This is the basic need.

2. Once we can make new Masons, then we can consider the next level of development. Safety needs; security, law & order, stability as Maslow suggests. How does this translate to Masonry?

What experience are the Members having when the first ask, then go through the Degrees and more especially after the Degrees are finished is there more for these newly minted Men to embrace? This is where the Membership Experience element becomes critical; Engage and retain members and their families through an enhanced, sustaining, and relevant membership experience.

3. If our Members are enjoying a quality Membership Experience, then naturally the next step is to develop a deeper understanding of themselves and their Lodge Brethren. This relates to Maslow’s element of Love & Belonging; friendship, trust & acceptance, affiliation, part of a group. We can enhance this through Masonic education; Educate members and communities about the fraternity’s intriguing and enduring history, values, practical application of our principles, and relevance to society today.

4. Once our Members are educated, what is the next logical step? Maslow suggests that it is Esteem needs; independence, status, dominance, prestige, self-respect, respect from others. Our Lodge officer experience is perfectly suited for this element. But what if a man does not want to be an officer? That man can be provided with other opportunities to show his leadership abilities through mentoring, giving training sessions, and outreach to the Community. This would certainly satisfy the LRP plan element of Leadership & Management; Strengthen our leaders and cultivate new ones; strengthen management and governance effectiveness at all levels.

5. While we spend a lifetime developing ourselves and hoping to attain that perfect ashler status, it alludes us until the GAOTU calls us home. While we are still here on Earth, Maslow suggests that Self actualization is our next highest ability; self-fulfillment, personal growth, achievement, mastery. Again our Fraternity provides many interesting opportunities to fulfill this Human need.

The LRP provides at least 2 elements that can help in this area including Beyond the Lodge; Instill a wider Masonic perspective, inside and outside the fraternity, by deepening the connection between members, lodges, the worldwide body of Freemasonry, concordant organizations, and the Public at large. And, through Philanthropy; Focus our philanthropic efforts through Washington Masonic Charities.

You will be voting to implement the Long Range Plan at the next Annual Communication. This plan is for the future. In the words our Grand Master, “while the words have been written today, the song will be sung after his term has concluded”.

One of the stumbling blocks of Long Range Plans in the past is that successive Elected Grand Lodge officers have not supported the Plan. I can assure you, your Deputy GM has agreed to support this Plan. Your Sr. Grand Warden has agreed to support this Plan. Your Jr. Grand Warden has agreed to support this Plan and all 3 Candidates for the Grand South have agreed to support the future of this Long Range Plan. Please take time to familiarize yourself with the current Plan or Vision statement as it is currently written. http://6supports.weebly.com

 

Fraternally submitted,

VW David W. Colbeth, Chairman

Long Range Planning Committee & Task Force on Long Range Planning
Featured photo source: Pixabay.com

When the Muse Fell Silent

By WB Mike Priddy

Writers go through periods when the muse is simply silent, and the words do not come. Last year, during the last weeks leading up to the presidential election, I began to feel my voice diminish until it finally fell silent. Only in the last few days has it returned, and so here I am.

As Masons we share many traits but principally the compulsion to become better men. What makes our fraternity so great is that this simple idea expresses itself through so many different personalities. Each personality presents unique challenges to the desire to improve, like different stones present different challenges to the mason as they are worked into perfect ashlars.

During these fallow months I, being an introvert, have explored the landscape of my own personality as if instinctively knowing that I needed to reconnect with something deeply personal before my muse would return. That instinct was, or rather is, correct.

During the furor of the election I felt repulsed by the political conversation. It was angry, base, and worst, for me, of lacking depth. One of the things I found, for myself, is that I am only interested in depth, truth, and meaning. I’m a scientist who rejects the materialism of science and a spiritual person who rejects the blind faith of religion as taught by man. Science can be cold and inhuman without spirit, and religion can be divisive and cruel with out compassion. I crave depth and multiple dimensions in my truths. For me these deep truths are the foundations of a Mason’s “internal castle”, to quote Theresa of Avilla. She saw spiritual advancement as an exploration of an internal castle, and the layers of your soul as a series of concentric walls that surround your true self, your divine spark. To take the analogy farther if the foundation is not true, the castle will fall, no matter how well it’s built. Conversely a modest castle built on a strong foundation might stand for centuries.

So, we are all adults. Our castles are at least partially built. That does not mean we are done with our foundation work. Freemasons have always stood against the forces that would erode or society and we have often been the vanguard of progress. I like to imagine us as a line of defensive castles on the frontier of society, providing a solid defense against the darkness and a forward position from which to launch assaults into that darkness. That said; if we as men are going to take our position on the front line we need to ensure our foundations are strong. We must, from time to time, venture in to the deepest basements of our personality and look for flaws and cracks, in a word weakness.

While this particular approach might be uniquely suited for an introverted man like myself, I think it has value for everyone. Just as I find value in sharing my thoughts with others, and thereby testing them, I think the extraverted brother might find value in taking the time to look within, at those core beliefs and traits that identify us as unique individuals. Look beyond the stories other people have written for you, beyond the chips and cracks that life has made in your foundation and see who you are at your core. These journeys into the hidden parts of our personality can be daunting, but as a Freemason you are fortunate, you are not alone in the journey. You have brethren who have made the journey and can act as guides. Our Craft in all its manifestations, Blue Lodge, Scottish Rite, or York Rite, all offer maps for this journey. In fact the fundamental nature of all the degree systems is this internal journey in search of universal truth and enlightenment. The pattern is a type of solar cycle, as the sun descends into darkness to be reborn each day, so you as a Mason are called to travel into the darkness in search of the Light.

So for me, this time, my muse led me into the dark. She waited until I was deep in the basement of my soul before she spoke. There in the dark she showed me my silence was not inactivity, but rather a time alchemical transformation, digesting my experience of a troubled time into an insight into my own spirit. She was never absent she was just waiting for me in the dark, so that she might guide me to the Light.

Email from Malcolm Bronson

Hi Guys:

Several brethren, myself included, have received an inflammatory email entitled “Masonic request” from a “MWB Malcolm Bronson”. I asked WB Danny Done to check it out, and he was able to do a reverse search on the IP and obtain a lot of info as to the sender. Please be aware that there is no “MWB Malcolm Bronson” and that the email is to be deleted.

 

Thanks, 

Jim Mendoza  

Grand Master

Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Free & Accepted Masons of Washington

Masonic Civility and Personal Opinion in the Age of Social Media

All of us know the importance of civility in our interactions and conversations with our brothers. We have been famously counseled in regard to the discussion of politics and religion among brothers at masonic activities in order to prevent ill will or hurt feelings. We need no reminders that we are to respect one another, and keep our tongue when our words would do more harm than good. These are all just common sense and we all have those unfortunate memories in our minds when that line of courtesy and politeness gets crossed and damage to the craft and individuals results sometimes with unintended consequences.

Certainly our parents, teachers, and society in general spend time teaching us throughout our lives why we need to be kind, courteous and attentive in regard to our communications with one another and provide us a framework of family values and rules. Our workplace has a Human Resource department for these matters, our churches have theological tenets, our schools teach social behaviors to follow such as sportsmanship and our community leaders create civil laws to make certain that we treat one another respectably, regardless of age, creed, color, gender, special needs, etc. So why is this of particular concern to the mason if it’s already being handled? Why it is that “civility” takes a unique role in our masonic world when it seems to be a part of everyone else’s concerns?

As initiates and as brothers, each of us has been set apart and additional expectations have been placed on us both between one another and our sphere of influence to every human being through our masonic obligation that we agreed to when we stood before our great common alter. Our masonic life lived should stand out as man’s ability to love one another regardless of the differences we may have and it is in the ability to find civil agreement between those differences around our alter that causes our unique example to shine through and above the rest. The world needs an example of what it is to work together without tyranny or oppression. To show by our example, how we can disagree and yet remain not only tolerant but affectionate towards one another.

Anyone with a television, radio or newspaper knows that civility in our nation is being challenged. The rules established in many of the categories mentioned have broken down. The divorce rate is up, violence plagues our schools, dogma attacks one another’s sacred beliefs openly, even violently and we all know what has happened to a government divided by opposing values who appears as though it has lost its ability to work with civility at all causing gridlock and then fanned by the news media who thrive on conflict, we are bathed in examples of discord, anger, hostility, and fear. As never before, masonry’s example of civil discipline is needed and its great message of working together civilly is the answer that society needs now above all other examples.

Having said all of this, it is an important reminder that we have been set apart for this great work of creating a perfect society, a temple built without hands and that through our example, we will lead the world to its golden potential. We must examine ourselves in this day of Twitter, Facebook, email and text and be conscious of the fact that not only the words we share mouth to ear need to be filtered through our grand obligation but that every hashtag, Facebook post, email forward, or text associated with us requires our attention and scrutiny. When we wear the square and compass as a part of our identity we take on a larger persona than just that of our own personal opinion. We represent a philosophic empire that spreads across the globe. Each of us are obliged to one another and to the craft that we represent to communicate with respect, the highest degree of integrity, and the deepest concern for the feelings and welfare of others.

Certainly each brother is welcome to his own personal opinions and sharing those publically and clearly is the right of every free man but the manner in which the opinion is expressed is where civility needs to be checked. We must ask, are we being reasonable, kind, intelligent and beneficial? Are we allowing comedy, sensationalism, or cleverness to supplant our concerns not to be divisive, cruel, or mean spirited? Are we more concerned about respect for our personal views than we are about the views of others?

Masonry is an ancient a beautiful craft whose higher standards have the opportunity through each of our mindful efforts to be the guiding example in our social media world that is in great need of our philosophic teachings and inclusiveness, especially today when even our leaders have not been the examples of civility we would like. It makes it ever more important to be the higher example to others that masonry calls us to be and is something we can do every day to create the world we all know we all want and need and as masons, have been charged to create. Let’s all pause and examine how we express our opinions in the maelstrom of social media and ensure our rhetoric is something we are all proud of for our craft and others to imitate.

May the Great Architect give us wisdom and strength to be the light and example for others to follow.

Most fraternally,

W. B. John Lawson

Grand Chaplain,

Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Washington

Featured photo source: Flickr.com

Levi’s Uncles – Freemasons supporting the search for a cure to Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is a genetic disease that primarily affects the lungs and digestive system of about 30,000 children and adults in the United States (70,000 worldwide). A defective gene and its protein product cause the body to produce unusually thick, sticky mucus that clogs the lungs and leads to life-threatening lung infections; and obstructs the pancreas and stops natural enzymes from helping the body break down and absorb food. An additional 10 million people — about one in every 31 Americans — are symptomless carriers of the defective CF gene.

When the Brothers of Washington Lodge No. 4 became aware that my son, Levi, has CF, and of the annual Cystic Fibrosis Foundation GREAT STRIDES fundraiser, one Brother suggested gathering Masonic support of the worthy cause within District 19 for their Masonic “nephew”. Quickly thereafter, it was suggested that Freemasons participating in the event be identified as “Levi’s Uncles”.

Since 2011, Freemasons under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Washington, Grand Lodge of Oregon, and Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Washington and Jurisdiction have participated in the event.

This year’s event will take place at Esther Short Park in Vancouver, WA on Saturday, May 13th. The event is on the Grand Master’s calendar, and we hope to see Masons from around the state in Vancouver this year.

The 5K walk follows a pleasant route beginning at the park and running along the waterfront of the Columbia River. Participants can walk all or part of the route, or simply enjoy the pleasant park environment.

If you are able to attend this family friendly event, you are encouraged to register as part of Levi’s Team at http://fightcf.cff.org/goto/Levis_Team_2017.

NOTE: There is no registration fee, nor is one required to fundraise to participate in the event.

You can learn more about CF and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation at https://www.cff.org/

Our Best Un-Tapped Asset

It was some time in November of 2009 when I got an email while at work in reply to a message I’d frankly forgotten I’d sent a few months before. The email was from Eric Vogt, who was the secretary at Queen Anne Lodge.

A few months before, I decided to reach out Grand Lodge to see if there were any lodges in my area. At the time, I had no idea that there was a lodge building just 3 blocks away from my house.

For a lot of younger members, showing up to a stated meeting is very intimidating… So, getting an invite to meet a few members for just a casual dinner felt far more comfortable for my 22-year-old self.

When I first showed up, I met three brothers who were all cooking and having a glass of wine. They were just there for dinner with each other, as if it were all of their home. Eric often stayed late in the city for work, Zane and “Mighty” both had recently gone through divorces… It was as if this was their second home.

At that time in my masonic journey, the Lodge building itself wasn’t used much for rentals, but when it was, they were much smaller private events brokered by the brothers who were within driving distance of the lodge in order to keep the lights on.

We talked for years about making the place nicer. At the time I didn’t have all that much work in the summer, and being who I am, wanted to see how I could contribute. So, I spent a few weeks building a proposal for the Temple Board to redesign our entry way in a more planned out classical style.

If your Temple Board is anything like ours was, all of the focus is generally on SAVING money, so the idea of spending any money at all, let alone taking on a risky project at the hands of the newest, youngest member was a bit of a risk. Let’s just say there were parts of that meeting that were not peaceful or harmonious. That being said, those virtues did prevail and we approved a few thousand dollars for the project.

Granted, I did a lot of the work myself… But from beginning to end of the renovation, which was extended to makeover the whole main dining room, we had over 500 volunteer hours of work on the building together. Members of every age, about a dozen young brothers interested in joining, and even their friends and family all helped out. Neighbors would stop in to see the progress and explore “that old creepy building across from the library”.

All throughout this work in progress, the community around the lodge begin to grow as more brothers began treating the building like it was their communal home. We even went so far as to try to build a wine cellar and humidor, which we could NEVER keep stocked.

I know every lodge doesn’t have a lodge building… And for the most part, the focus of the Temple Board is to protect the lodge brothers from liability. However, I think we should return to a foundation of our fraternity by understanding that temple boards are actually entrusted with one of our most useful tools for building community, our buildings.

Whether we like it or not, the most ignored asset that we have have as Freemasons are the buildings we own. However there is a common downfall I’ve observed in many lodge buildings that they get focused on sanctioned events, insurance and liabilities, and forget the fact that our lodge buildings are venues for community to happen organically. In order for this organic community to happen and thrive, we need to give the members of the lodge a sense of ownership. We need to allow for easy, regulated use, make the space available and known in the community for rentals, and build up resources needed by brothers who otherwise lack resources. The result is that people end up actually coming together to work and bond. This is something that happens far too rarely in this digital age.

So, the following are my tips to the temple boards and lodges in order to encourage the growth of the lodge’s non-stated activity, based on what happened in our lodge.

 

  • Give your members a sense of ownership by letting them earn sweat equity in the building.

Our current worshipful master started his involvement in the lodge mowing the lawn and doing general maintenance.

One petitioner gave us the bar that’s the central piece of our dining room.

One of our older brothers found a beautiful piano to add ambiance, and fixtures for our bathrooms.

Time and time again, when people get the chance to work on a building, they get more involved, they’re at lodge more often, and they bring with them their families and communities.

Not every lodge needs to do a total renovation in order to build this. University spent years working on their library, while others build museums. However, my recommendation is that everyone contribute to social spaces or events. Doric doesn’t have much work to do on their building, but every year the brothers like Hotte rally other brothers to put on their beer garden for the Fremont Solstice Parade.

So, while doing general work on the space itself is important, if your lodge doesn’t already feel like a clubhouse in addition to a formal meeting space, I dare you to recruit a skunkworks of brothers willing to swing a hammer and launch into a project similar to our next two endeavors: A ‘man cave’ in our basement and an extending our porch for better BBQing.

I get it, some of you are visual… So here is some inspiration we’ve been using as we daydream these next adventures.

33 awesome man cave ideas.

 

  • Make it easy for regulated, casual use by your membership.

I suppose this is where we got tripped up a little bit… And honestly, I haven’t had the chance to work on our building in a few years since I’ve been busy growing my business. In the process, however, I’ve discovered a few things to solve this very resounding question that every Temple Board is going to care a lot about.

First of all, before you start opening the floodgates of building use by members there have to be rules set and agreed on as to who has both limited and unlimited access, as well a clear way for everyone to reserve the building for use, or see if it has been reserved. I’ve got a few tips for that.

As far as the rules are concerned, we were small enough that we could simply designate all past masters and principal officers with a key to the building. However, some lodges can limit that even further if there are just too many living past masters active in the lodge. In that case, I would recommend delegating use of the building to the temple board, treasurer, secretary and/or principal officers. So long as the rules are written and public so there is a sense of fairness, as well as a clear pecking order and person/people the average member can go to for access.

For security, we use a lockbox with a keycode on the outside of our building in order to also allow renters in. It’s a somewhat outdated solution. Instead, I’d recommend anyone installing a lock system for their members to jump straight into the 21st century and opt for a smart lock system like Kevo, which integrates with the home security camera system Nest. Something like this allows for access not only to lock/unlock directly from any verified smart phone, but also allows direct two-way communication with people on site, control of the door locks, and motion-activated push notifications in case there is anything suspicious.

 

  • Rentals aren’t just for revenue, they’re for community exposure.

Alright, even if you don’t have the sexiest building on earth, most lodges are useable to one degree or another by outside groups. While I do recommend tackling the project of making your lodge as beautiful as possible, buildings of all kinds have their uses.

At first my vision with our renovation was to focus on community organizations using the building, like the chamber of commerce, historical society, and other logical overlaps in order to get the exposure. However, those efforts took a lot of time to cultivate. Let’s face it, even in this town, if you say “free rent”, it still doesn’t mean if you build it they will come.

We never experienced true success in our rentals until we began working with a local event planner, who we let use the space and manage the rentals on a profit share basis. The result was their events would be so well attended that the lodge got much more exposure, simply due to the number of people and diverse purposes people were seeing it used for.

In fact, we ended up building a new brand around the use of the building itself. We had reason to believe the use of the word “Lodge” was confusing because it implied it might be an Inn, bed-and-breakfast or hotel. On the other hand “Temple” seems far too formal and rigid and singular in use. Instead, after talking with the event planning company I hired to manage the rentals, we settled on the name “The Clubhouse”. We felt it would be far more fitting and exciting to potential renters… and it worked.

 

  • Turn your lodge into a valuable resource to make your members’ lives easier and better.

Alright, this one might be the most controversial, and I might get in a little bit of trouble for telling the world about this, but your lodge SHOULD be USEFUL, especially to its younger members.

Here’s the truth, Millennials earn a relative 30% less than their gen x and boomer counterparts did at the same age. Rent is also far more expensive, which means the vast majority of us don’t own our own home. We rent, and that’s especially true in Seattle. Do we want to attract younger members? Just like any institution, we have to provide real, tangible value in addition to the social value to our members. And our lodge buildings are the gift that can keep on giving.

Granted, we took this to another level by building out an apartment in the lodge for brothers in desperate need to stay in for a few months. This has helped no fewer than five of our brothers get back on their feet after losing a job, or a spouse. Just like lodge access, limited access and rules have to be set in place. For us, the Temple Board granted discretionary authority to the Worshipful Master to allow a brother to use it. Once it’s granted, the needs of the brother are assessed every month during the Temple Board meeting.

I will note that, either because the life stages of our members has shifted in the past few years, or the because the economy has simply improved enough, the use of the lodge for that purpose has diminished over the past three years.

On the far less desperate side of the spectrum, Millennial men still lack several things, including a good place to host their friends and family for celebrations, since most of us even lack a suitable back yard and a great many of us also lack a garage. The Queen Anne Lodge has made its old bones useful to many brothers in exactly that way.

In fact, it’s the usefulness that gave me inspiration to write this post.

My marketing business has taken off in the past few years, now with nearly 30 employees, and I recently had to move offices for the first time in three years. In order to save on expenses, my little brother and I ended up doing a lot of the work ourselves in the build out. The problem being that our parents live an hour away, and have most of their tools tucked away in storage because they recently moved themselves. So when we needed things like a skilsaw, power drills, and other normal tools, we were stuck either renting them from Home Depot, or borrowing them on an app like Nextdoor. Then all of a sudden I remembered, “Wait, there’s a fully stocked workshop in the basement of the Lodge!”

What a concept! A masonic lodge making itself useful for it’s members to BUILD stuff. Yes, there are some logistics, like having a good check in and check out system so things don’t get lost or broken and having some form of accountability. But it’s 2017, there are plenty of tools to help with that. The bigger issue is collecting the tools, building a home for them, and regulating access.

However, once something like that is in place, the most obvious thing to do is build up the shared resources of the Lodge. We live in a day and age where even miniature free libraries are popping up on street corners. It behooves the Freemasons to share with each other. Our culture is shifting in this direction with the emergence of the shared economy over the last few years. Freemason Lodges are primed and ready to epitomize all the value of membership and more than what we could get off the app store. After all, we’re brothers.

 

The bottom line for me is that we’re neglecting one of our greatest assets for building fraternity, our venues. We need to stop thinking of our buildings as sacred temples, and start thinking of them as our clubhouses, a practical resource and retreat to improve the lives of its members. If we simply and objectively think of what the modern man would want out of their dream clubhouse, that’s a starting point for progress.

Once we reorient our way of thinking about our lodge buildings and realize they are not museums, and but should be practical venues of both refreshment and labor that fit easily and practically into our modern lifestyles, is when Freemasonry would will become visible in the day to day lives of our communities.

Washington Idaho Rainbow Kickoff to 2017!

Washington Idaho Rainbow is excited for our 2016-2017 Grand Year and the ties that bind us with our Masonic families. We were so excited to see so many of you at our Dream Camp in August when our Grand Worthy Advisor, May Powell, announced our Serve Project, Alzheimer’s AssociationHilarity for Charity, as well as our local community outreach in making a difference with those needing assistance with memory care.

On September 11th, we had a great kick-off for Hilarity for Charity, with our first Color Run, which was in conjunction with Sultan-Monroe Lodge. Approximately 160 people participated in this explosion of color and raised $20,000. Several Masonic Leaders were in attendance including our Grand Worthy Advisor, May Powell; Washington DeMolay’s State Master Councilor, Luke Walker; Worthy Grand Matron of Washington, Peggy Mills; and Most Worshipful Grand Master of Washington, Jim Mendoza. Approximately $17,000 will go to the Hilarity for Charity (www.hilarityforcharity.org) and $3,000 will go to the local education fund for Sultan-Monroe Lodge. Community effort was received from Evergreen Speedway donating water, ZipFizz energy drink for their support and donations of water bottles, color packets and monetary donation, and Monroe PlazaStarbucks for coffee for our volunteers.

In Rainbow, we like to keep busy, and our girls with their many chaperones, have been traveling across Washington/Idaho to Official Visits as well as instituting our new assembly in Twin Falls, Idaho. It’s been amazing to see many of our masonic family on the sidelines during these events supporting our girls, viewing their ritual work and participating in the fun and fellowship.

Fun is not only about the girls – we have adult fun too. At our annual Fundraising Gala in November, many adults joined to raise $17,480.00 in funds not only to help with our annual jurisdictional budget, but also with our Leadership program. Because of those in attendance, over 121 girls will be able to attend Leadership Camp for free, and we will be able to send one of our adults for training in the nationally renowned “Girl Meets World” leadership program. If you’d like to donate toany of our programs, contact, Kris Arnold, Grand Executive CommitteeTreasurer, at win1kristi@aol.com. Thank you to the many leaders in our masonic family for attending the Gala and supporting our cause. Without each of you, there would be no We. Because of your support, Rainbow is alive and well in Washington and Idaho.

In December, we will continue to travel through our Jurisdiction, attending many meetings and initiations, and celebrate the holiday season through service and fun. In the new year, we will continue our travels toreceptions and visiting many of your events as well.

To find out more about upcoming jurisdictional Rainbow events, visit http://nwrainbow.org/events/.

To find a local assembly and meeting date, visit http://nwrainbow.org/about/where-to-find-rainbow/.

Wishing you all a spectacular holiday season and one amazing new year. We look forward to sharing many events along our journey.

Until we write again,

Dot Gosset

Print Media, WA/ID I.O.R.G.

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