Grand Lodge of Washington: 2016 Lodge Leadership Retreat Keynote Address

WB Owen Shieh delivered the following keynote address at our Lodge Leaders Retreat on March 19th. WB Owen is the current Worshipful Master of Honolulu Lodge.

Grand Lodge Officers, fellow Worshipful Masters, Wardens, Deacons, Brethren, and Ladies… Thank you for your hospitality here in Washington and for inviting me here to speak and enjoy fellowship with you all. On behalf of the brethren of Honolulu Lodge, I say, “Aloha!”

Owen Shieh, Worshipful Master Honolulu Lodge, F.&A.M.

Owen Shieh, Worshipful Master Honolulu Lodge, F.&A.M.

I’d like to speak with you this evening about something we all care deeply about… something that I know strikes a positive chord in all of us deep down, because we wouldn’t be here this weekend were it not for this shared experience. I would like to talk about Freemasonry as a journey – a journey not only through our fraternity as an organization, but one of finding personal growth and meaning in an otherwise complex world.

We can spend countless hours discussing the logistics of running a lodge, debating how best to address membership retention, talking about the history and purpose of our fraternity… but the
only guarantee for the future success of our fraternity rests with one word: inspiration. The one thing that must underlie everything that we do as leaders of our respective lodges is to inspire future generations of Masons to contribute their talents to our fraternity. One way to ignite such inspiration among our brethren is to actively consider Masonry as a journey.

Perhaps Brother Antoine de Saint-Exupery captured this idea best when he said the following: “If you want to build a ship, don’t herd people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather, teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”

I think our brethren and ladies here in this room who are teachers can relate to this easily… Students who want to learn end up learning much more than students who feel forced to do so.

In many ways, this is why Masons in general have the rule of not recruiting, in the hopes that those who knock on our doors are motivated by a higher purpose. BUT, that can’t just be it! Effective lodge leadership requires that we actively inspire our brethren to care about the journey or voyage ahead, to “long for the endless immensity of the sea” of Masonic knowledge and fellowship. Once we do that, then everything else, including membership retention, education, charity, and all other activities will happen much more naturally.

So, what is a journey? Simply put, a journey is an activity where you go from one place to another. Journeys can be physical, or they can be more abstract and philosophical. Masonry is both. It is a journey to the East within the officer’s line, but more importantly, it is a journey of self-improvement, of fellowship, and toward the attainment of wisdom or as it is sometimes called: enlightenment.

If you think about the greatest journeys of all time… Whether it is Odysseus’ long voyage home after the Trojan War, or Brothers Lewis and Clark’s expedition across the American West, or Brother Buzz Aldrin’s trip to the moon …or Luke Skywalker’s quest to save the Jedi… They all have the same components:

1) First, the main character meets an abrupt change or transformation that forces him outside his comfort zone. He may have an expectation of what is to come, but he is also ready for surprises along the way.

2) Second, he meets many difficult challenges over a period of time that tests his mental and physical limits.

3) Third, he endures, perseveres, and overcomes those challenges and becomes a “hero.” He learns about the people and places along the way as well as his own responses to each of the unique challenges. As a result, he learns about himself.

4) Finally, he reaches his destination, but the final scene is often a surprise that is unexpected. Yet the journey was fulfilling. It was rewarding in some way.

Without going into the details of our ritual, think about all of our degrees as a whole. Taken together, don’t they all have these four aspects of a journey? Every candidate, before he turns in a petition to join your lodge, has an idea or expectation for what Masonry is or should be. We all know that Masons first become Masons in our hearts, so how well we as lodge leaders can identify and fulfill the expectations of our incoming brethren will determine the future success of our lodges. So pull your candidates aside and ask, “What inspired you to become a Mason?” Everyone has a story. Effective mentoring of a brother cannot begin until the mentor understands the story of his mentee. If our new members are to cross the vast sea of Masonic wisdom, then mentorship is that boat that enables the candidate to find his way.

So, how did I start my journey?

Well, unlike many other Masons, I had no family history in our fraternity. I first heard about Freemasonry from my best friend in college, Brother Daniel Herr of Truckee Lodge No. 200 in California. Back in college, we would often suffer through our calculus problem sets together. And during those late nights, we would often find ourselves lost in philosophical conversation. Years later, when Dan became a Mason, he started hinting at how I would enjoy being a part of this fraternity as well. I didn’t pay too much attention to it at first, since I didn’t know anything about Freemasonry except through the limited discussion we had about it in my high school history class. But there was one event in my life that inspired me to dig a little deeper…

Back when I lived in Oklahoma before moving to Hawaii, Dan came to visit me for a few days to go storm chasing (that’s what meteorologists do for fun in Oklahoma). A lull in the storms implied fair weather and relative boredom in the southern plains. So during one of those “rest” days, Dan suggested that we go on a bike ride through my low-key town of Norman. Norman was a college town – home of the Sooners – but compared to the mountains of northern California where Dan was from, it was devoid of any major form of outdoor recreation much beyond hunting and fishing. I was a bit surprised by Dan’s request to go cycling. “Where do you want to go?” I asked.

“So what? Does it matter?” Dan responded, looking at me with a slight hint of consternation.

“Well, then where do you want to go?” I asked again, not finding it worthwhile to go anywhere in Norman without a purpose.

“I don’t know,” he said casually, not seeming to care about my concern.

“So, do you want to pack a lunch or something? Maybe do a picnic at a nearby park? Or maybe we can check out the area by the small airport on the north side of town?” I suggested, trying to come up with some purpose for the bike ride.

Dan simply turned and walked out with a bicycle in the garage. “You coming or not?” he asked.

Well, considering he was the guest, it would have been totally unbecoming of me as the host not to have at least tried my best to entertain, so I dropped my doubts and decided to tag along. “Alright, fine,” I accepted reluctantly.

And so, we started our bike ride to… nowhere in particular. We followed a road north through town, sped through several puddles left by the rain shower earlier in the day, and took turns in the lead. We made it to the northern outskirts of town near a municipal airport and tested our skills in tackling mud puddles on our mountain bikes. We explored unfamiliar roads and parts of town to which I had never been. I was fascinated by the various convenience stores, small businesses, churches, and unfamiliar schools that were tucked away in the humble corners of town. Dan and I shared the details of our lives since we graduated from college, stories from childhood, and our hopes for the future.

After over two hours of riding around town, we returned to my house and cleaned up. Between the new sights, the good conversation, and the cool breeze on my face, I had completely forgotten about why we went on the bike ride in the first place! And yet, I enjoyed every moment of it. I soaked in all the nuances of sight and sound. I learned things about the City of Norman that I did not know before. Although we were already good friends, through our conversation during the bike ride, I learned even more about who Dan was as a person and how that fit with his life goals. But most importantly, I learned about myself. I learned about my habits. I learned about my usual mindset. I learned about my reactions to new places and new ideas. I learned to challenge myself, not physically, but mentally – all within the space of two hours during a random bike ride around town.

The next day, we had lunch before I had to take Dan to the airport to catch his return flight. During a pause in conversation, Dan looked at me and said, “Because you didn’t know where you were supposed to go, you never would have gone on that bike ride, huh?” That comment completely caught me by surprise. I thought about it… then let out a sigh, grinned, and gave a slight nod.

On our way to the Oklahoma City airport, I finally began to realize some of what I had learned through the bike ride, although the significance of those lessons would not hit me until years later. “People are so strongly attached to their goals in life that they completely miss out on the journey,” Dan said to me in the car. “Goals are good to have and all, but when we sacrifice so much just so that we can get something, when we don’t even know if that thing is really what we need or want in life, then what are we doing? We’re living for a dream but not really living.” As I drove into the airport departures area, Dan summarized his message with these words:

“If, instead of concerning yourself with the score of the game, you concentrate your whole-hearted efforts on doing the best that you possibly can in your role that moment, regardless of your task – living in that moment, that minute, that second – when it comes to the end of the game, you will have achieved more and scored more than you previously thought possible.”

~ Daniel Herr

This quote hit me hard. I did not know what to say but “thank you,” as I dropped Dan off at the curb. He pointed at my head and responded, “It’s all you!” as if to say, “It’s all in your head.” He turned and left. Usually, when we hear “it’s all in your head,” we assume it’s “false” or “opinion,” but in reality, as we discussed in our earlier class about Masonic symbolism, impressions are indeed reality. What’s in someone’s head manifests as reality for that person, whether we like it or not! I may not have known it at the time, but through the bike ride, Dan had taught me the meaning of symbolism! And he was right… He didn’t actually teach me anything; he simply set up the conditions properly so that I could learn a valuable lesson for myself. It really was in my head! And is what mattered. I took that bike ride as a symbol for my life without knowing it, and all Dan did was indirectly point that out to me.

With that epiphany, I decided to petition Norman Lodge No. 38 for membership, and the rest is history. What Dan did, without being aware of it at the time, was inspire me to not only join Freemasonry, but to realize that everything around us – even something as simple and as mundane as a bike ride through town – can be used as a symbol to teach us the most important lessons in life. So imagine the possibilities if we can truly master the art and the science of applying Masonic symbolism to our daily lives! By applying this methodology to symbols of our three degrees, we can similarly inspire a new brother to apply the lessons of his Masonic journey to his daily life. When he masters that, then I promise you, you will have a Mason for life and retention will never be an issue with that brother!

So the goal of a mentor is to inspire his mentee to understand his Masonic journey. I remember one night when I was a Fellow Craft, while sitting in a car with my mentor in Oklahoma in the lodge parking lot, I asked him excitedly, “What do I get to do when I’m a Master Mason?!” He thought about it, then responded, “Well, you get to vote… you get to listen to the bills… you get to listen to meeting minutes getting read…” So basically, nothing too horribly exciting. But then it hit me – Masonry is all about the journey of becoming a Master Mason! There are plenty of organizations out there that you can join for community service, for social networking, and other benefits, but Masonry is the only organization of its kind centered upon the long process of initiation! The act of becoming a Master Mason is the purpose of Masonry! So given the importance of facilitating our candidates’ journeys through the Craft, through much trial and error, I have found that the best way to mentor and inspire our new brothers is to do the following:

1) Match candidates with compatible mentors. A good way to start is to either give the candidate a choice in who should serve as his mentor, or to give preference to the Master Mason who officially signs and recommends the candidate on his petition. This ensures that the candidate is not only learning about Masonry, but is also making a friend.

2) Meet once a week outside of lodge for at least an hour. This enables the mentor to build a relationship and a deeper friendship with the candidate outside of a lodge setting. This becomes a space where the candidate is comfortable asking questions and working through his own challenges in life with the guidance of his mentor. If done properly, a candidate should be inspired and enthusiastic to return to lodge with renewed vigor each week and with a clear understand of why he decided to become a Mason!

3) Review proficiency work, then leave with a question. During a typical mentoring session, I start by working through a few lines of memorization in the proficiency, then discussing with the candidate some ideas for applying those ideas and symbolisms to his daily life. At the end of our meeting, I leave the candidate with a philosophical question to ponder, which he is required to consider throughout the week and to which he should jot down his answers in a pocket notebook. The next time we meet, we work through that question and continue on. This form of mentorship through questioning is effective because rather than teaching the candidate knowledge, the mentor inspires the candidate to come up with his own answers. Only then does he effectively internalize the Masonic symbols and lessons.

These three principles of mentorship are what we follow at Honolulu Lodge, and the result of our active and youthful membership speaks for itself! Proper mentorship and inspiration takes a lot of effort, but that effort will be paid off through better retention and growth in your lodge. In the words of an anonymous poet:

You came with me on a long arduous journey,

Through many forests and jungles;

The paths confusing and twisted,

Sometimes, I made you miss a turning;

There was no promised pot of gold.

But then my brethren, it is not the gold;

It was the search itself;

The journey and your comradeship,

The jungles we saw

The forests we conquered

The rivers we forded,

And the links we made.

It would not have happened

If it was not for the pot of gold.

The light that we seek is not a destination, but an ongoing process. The journey itself is the pot of gold. At the end of this journey, we find peace of mind – the contentment and fulfillment that comes with becoming not just a Master Mason, but also a Master of ourselves and our understanding of the world in which we live. The philosophies inculcated by Masonry then come naturally to us with little effort, and the joy that results from this peace of mind is something that nobody can take away, because it is grounded on personal experience and practice.

“Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.” ~ Matsuo Basho

So as we continue this wonderful Masonic retreat, I charge every brother here in this room to think about how you can best inspire your fellow brothers, especially your lodge candidates. The planning, logistics, finances, and everything else is important, but all of those things become FAR easier when you have a strong membership base that is grounded on personal inspiration. As a lodge leader, you will know that you have succeeded when you no longer have to push your brothers to do something and instead, you feel that you are all walking the same journey together.

I would like to end with my absolute favorite Masonic poem of all time, one that I’ve printed out and keep handy whenever I myself need inspiration to move forward in Masonic leadership no matter how rough and rugged the road ahead may be. These were the words of Brother Joseph Fort Newton in his book, “The Builders,” published in 1914:

When is a Man a Mason?

“When he can look out over the rivers, the hills, and the far horizon with a profound sense of his own littleness in the vast scheme of things, and yet have faith, hope, and courage – which is the root of every virtue. When he knows that down in his heart every man is as noble, as vile, as divine, as diabolic, and as lonely as himself, and seeks to know, to forgive, and to love his fellow man. When he knows how to sympathize with men in their sorrows, yea, even in their sins – knowing that each man fights a hard fight against many odds. When he has learned how to make friends and to keep them, and above all how to keep friends with himself. When he loves flowers, can hunt birds without a gun, and feels the thrill of an old forgotten joy when he hears the laugh of a little child. When he can be happy and high-minded amid the meaner drudgeries of life. When star-crowned trees, and the glint of sunlight on flowing waters, subdue him like the thought of one much loved and long dead. When no voice of distress reaches his ears in vain, and no hand seeks his aid without response. When he finds good in every faith that helps any man to lay hold of divine things and sees majestic meanings in life, whatever the name of that faith may be. When he can look into a wayside puddle and see something beyond mud, and into the face of the most forlorn fellow mortal and see something beyond sin. When he knows how to pray, how to love, how to hope. When he has kept faith with himself, with his fellow man, and with his God; in his hand a sword for evil, in his heart a bit of a song – glad to live, but not afraid to die! Such a man has found the only real secret of Masonry, and the one which it is trying to give to all the world.”

Thank you for the opportunity to share and fellowship with you all. May your Masonic journeys continue to be the most rewarding, and I wish you fair winds and following seas! If you ever find yourself in Hawaii, please do come visit Honolulu Lodge on Tuesday nights!

Thank you.

Masonry Partners with Rebuilding Together!

Each year, low-income older adults or disabled people, and families with small children struggle to make repairs to their homes due to financial hardship or physical limitations. As a result, their living conditions may be exposed to the elements or become unsafe. Rebuilding Together, a nonprofit 501(c)3, solicits funds and materials, and matches them with volunteers who perform the home repairs.

In 2015, WAMC built a ramp to help an elderly woman stay safely in her own home.

In 2015, WAMC built a ramp to help an elderly woman stay safely in her own home.

Last fall, Washington Masonic Charities worked with the Rebuilding Together South Sound affiliate on their Rampathon event. It was a success! WAMC decided to expand to three locations this year in support of the big annual Rebuilding Together Day. WAMC is rallying Brothers in three areas of the state to volunteer in service of community members in need.

A Brother shakes hands with the recipient of last year's Rebuilding project.

A Brother shakes hands with the recipient of last year’s Rebuilding project.

WAMC is sponsoring the houses, which pays for the materials and supports an organization whose focus is helping low-income seniors live safely and with dignity in their own home.

This is a great opportunity for Brothers to work hand in hand in service of another. Participation also brings wonderful community visibility. Participating Brothers will be fed in the morning and at noon. They will also receive a T-shirt and will meet the homeowner. This is a wonderful opportunity for Brothers to join us in partnership with Rebuilding Together affiliates in the following counties:

Saturday, April 23rd Spokane County

Saturday, April 30th Pierce County

Saturday, April 30th Thurston County

To register to volunteer, call Byron Cregeur, 253-442-2505, Ext. 404.

Washington Masonic Charities’ Masonic Outreach Services, such as this month’s Rebuilding project, are funded through the Grand Lodge, private trusts and foundations, and generous individual donors.

An Update From our Masonic Brothers in Brussels

.Dear Brothers of Washington, This morning I reached out to the Grand Lodge of Brussels, asking if any of our brother Masons or their families were harmed in yesterday’s terrorist attacks, and if the brothers from Washington could assist in any needs.

Both Facebook pages for Chevalier Ramsay Lodge Number 4 (the closest Lodge to the subway bombing), and the Regular Grand Lodge of Belgium are managed by V.W.Bro. Michel Huyghebaert, who was kind enough to write the following update for us.

-Danny Done, PM Queen Anne Lodge 242.

“Dear Bro. Danny,

Here is some information about Lodge Chevalier Ramsay N.4.

Lodge Chevalier Ramsay N.4, was originally a military Lodge, consecrated by U.S. servicemen, under the Grande Loge Nationale Française in 1964 – when NATO was still located in Paris. In 1967, President De Gaulle invited all foreign forces to leave French territory, NATO moved to Brussels, and so did the Lodge in 1970.

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 2.26.29 PMToday, our Lodge consists mostly of ex-pats working for various European institutions, NATO, lobbies, and businessmen. Our members are now from about 25 different nationalities. On our Altar rests the Holy Bible, the Torah and the Koran. On occasion, we’ve used other Sacred Books to obligate our members.

The Lodge is located on Rue Royale in Brussels, which is a very long avenue that crosses the center of Brussels, from East to West. On it, you can find Our King’s Royal palace, numerous governmental institutions, several churches, a synagogue, the Justice Department, the Museum of Fine Arts and the home of the Regular Grand Lodge of Belgium, where our Lodge meets.

One of yesterday’s terrorist attacks took place at our national airport, called Zaventem. It is, in fact, the main airport in Brussels – and the biggest one in Belgium. The airport is located about 20 minutes away from the Lodge, and most of our members take it at least once a year, several times a month for some of us. The terrorists blew themselves up where everyone comes into the building. I understand one or more Brethren took a plane just before the attacks.

The second terrorist attack took place in a subway station that is right in the heart of the main European institutions. It is also at a crucial intersection between the only two metro lines. That single explosion caused as many casualties as the two bombs in the airport, as the terrorist blew himself up inside a subway car. That subway stop is only 5 minutes away by car to the Lodge building.Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 2.23.58 PM

Last week, a terrorist hideout was discovered by the police, which is only 13 min away from the Lodge by walk. Friday, they arrested one of the terrorists responsible for the Paris attacks, here too, only 10 minutes away. Bomb constructing materials, and several weapons have been found there.

Initially, there had been no report of Brethren or their families being victim of these cowardly acts. In that regard, we are very thankful, and our prayers are with the victims and their families. I’ve also not heard of any reports from the Grand Lodge, the Regular Grand Lodge of Belgium. However, a widow of a victim became known to our Lodge in the days after the attacks, and is in need of financial relief. We have set up a GoFundMe campaign to support her:

Terrorism on this scale is a new thing for us, and we’ve never had to deal with this.

Yours fraternally,

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 2.29.17 PMV.W.Bro. Michel Huyghebaert. Past Master, Lodge Chevalier Ramsay N.4

More information about our Lodge, and its history, can be found at:

We are also on Facebook:

We will follow up as soon as we hear from Bro. Huyghebaert, as to any relief efforts we can contribute on an individual basis.

Dean Heinemann – Q&A

Roger: Good morning, Most Worshipful Brother Dean Heinemann, thanks for joining me. The first question is, why did you become a Mason?

Dean Heinemann: The first reason was family. Grandad and Dad were past Masters of the Lodge in Cheney, and at that time that was the social place in Cheney to go, so I grew up there going to various events. I guess it was predestined that I was going to be a Mason.

Roger: Why do you remain active in the Fraternity?

Dean: It’s still family tradition, but now it’s become so much more than that. Some of it is hard to describe because it’s more of a feeling that you get. It kind of ebbs and flows over the years. I just finished 35 years in the Fraternity, and sometimes I keep going because of the relationships, the people. Not only here in Cheney, but throughout the world. Other times, it’s because of education. Sometimes it’s because I feel that I still have something to offer the next generation of Masons. It kind of ebbs and flows, but it’s about giving back.

I’m under the firm belief that I’ve been given this great gift by those who came before me, the interpretation of what Masonry was to them, and that I have a responsibility to try to bring that out in others.

Roger: In your own words, what would you describe is the purpose of Freemasonry?

Dean: Oh boy. That’s a tough one. Again, it can change, and no two lodges are the same. Which is what I found out spending 5 years traveling around our jurisdiction and the United States. There’s a canned phrase, “To take good men and make them better,” and I guess in a very simplistic way that’s the purpose, but there’s more to it than that. There’s personal growth if you take the opportunity. There’s also the history of Freemasonry, and how it intertwines with the history of our country, the history of our state, even the history of Cheney. To try to come up with a short answer of what the purpose is, that’s tough.

Roger: Being a Mason of 35 years in tenure, if there was a thing you felt Freemasonry could help you improve in your life today, what would that be and how would it matter? In other words, what could Freemasonry still do to accomplish its purpose as it relates to Dean Heinemann?

Dean: I think just the history, and talking with Masons, and discovering. We tend to read the same text, but when you interject your own background into interpreting that text it makes for some very spirited discussions. I think that’s what still mystifies but also intrigues me; how we can read the same text, whether it’s a part of our ritual or a book written by another Mason, and we can come up with different interpretations. They’re similar, but they are distinctly different in some aspects. For me that’s still the thrill, informal discussions, planned discussions on our Lodge Education Night. Yeah, that’s the thrill.

Roger: Do you think the mission of Freemasonry is different today than it was before, and how do you see that mission evolving?

Dean: Evolving. I think the most recent emphasis on civility and the lessons taught by Freemasonry, and how we can, with more than just our actions, teach those lessons to our communities has been the biggest change. I’m still waiting for it to take hold, but maybe it’s up to individual Masons to make it take hold in our communities. I see that as the biggest difference. We still need to continue to do what we have been doing, to instruct, to mentor, to educate the next generation of Masons.

We also have to make time to have fun with other Masons, with families, and our extended families, because that’s an important part of who we are. Through that you can impart lessons of Freemasonry to where people won’t even know that they’re being taught. That’s your own personal actions. That hasn’t changed, but I see this emphasis on civility and how that relates to certain aspects of our ritual as being something that’s really important moving forward.

Roger: Final question is going to sound a bit convoluted, but you have a very good grasp of the abstract, and so I am confident that you’ll understand where I’m going with this. How could you help a perspective brother whose sole familiarity with our fraternity is either, “I think my grandfather or my uncle was one,” to recognize the relevance and importance of Freemasonry today, and why our Brotherhood is just as relevant to him today as it was to his ancestors years ago?

Dean: Yeah, that is rather convoluted. I’ll try to answer it this way. The Grand Lodge of Washington has adopted the Six Step to Initiation Program, which it takes a perspective candidate through a process where they get to know Masons and get a glimpse into Masonry, and we as Masons get to know them. I would emphasize that Freemasonry is not for every man. In my committee work on the trial committee, I see it every month, that we have taken men into our Fraternity that should not have been made Masons because we didn’t take time to get to know them, to know their background, to know their clocks, their core beliefs. If we would have taken that time we would have understood that they would never be compatible with what I believe Masonry is, what Masonry teaches.

Just because a young man comes to our doors and says that, “My grandfather was a Mason, and I’m interested,” that’s not enough of an investigation to them allowed in to petition our lodges. We need to do a much better job. Even if it means that the population of Masons goes down slightly, that we lose certain lodges through consolidation or turning in their charters, if we concentrate on quality, not quantity, the Fraternity will thrive in the future. Hopefully that answered the question.

Roger: Exactly what I was looking for. Most Worshipful, thank you very much for your time, I appreciate it.

Dean: Yeah, it’s my pleasure, Roger.

Jim Mendoza – Q&A

Roger: Good evening Right Worshipful Brother Jim Mendoza. Well, I’m sure that this is one of many questions you’ve pondered many times over the course of your masonic career, Right Worshipful… Why did you become a Mason?

Jim: Well for me it was a matter of looking at my life and saying to myself, “There’s something missing more than anything”. I came to the DeMolay experience and enjoyed that immensely, enjoyed a lot of the teachings that were there. I met Masons, and got to know Masons through the DeMolay experience and quite frankly grew to dislike Masons through the DeMolay experience. Many years went by and I noticed that certain pieces of my life are missing. One of those was that degree to friendship and paternalism that existed in the DeMolay experience and, as fate would have it, the right lodge opened up for me. The right opportunity opened up for me, I petitioned lodge, and here we are today. That’s kind of how that worked.

Roger: Why do you remain activity in the fraternity?


Jim: I guess we can take it from two different levels. From the lodge experience, I remained active in the fraternity because of the people I was surrounded by. I was surrounded by people that I grew up with, and as a result, people who I knew at more than a superficial level. As new brothers came in to the fraternity again, I was able to know them on more than a superficial level and so at its core that’s the big reason. If you look at it from where I stand now, it’s because I’ve been given the opportunity to do some good work, to make a difference in the fraternity. You combine those two things, that’s why I remain.

Roger: What would you describe is the purpose of our fine craft?

Jim: It’s interesting we hear the phrase that, “Freemasonry makes the good men better” and I kind of find that phrase to be somewhat trite. I tend to look at it this way, that Freemasonry provides a platform for good men to improve themselves in whatever form or fashion they choose to improve themselves, whether it be by taking advantage of the incredible opportunities we have, taking advantage of the internal improvement that we have through the ritualism of our work, or being able to improve themselves intellectually by some of the discussions that can be had by going through the higher degrees – for me primarily Scottish Rite, but also the lessons that are available in York Rite as well.

Roger: Towards that end of establishing a platform, what could Freemasonry do differently to better accomplish that purpose?

Jim: I think the biggest thing that we can do with the craft – more than anything – is to stop being so dogmatic about the way we do things. We have to understand that when we talk about providing a platform for good men, we don’t further define the term good men. We don’t define a specific religion, we don’t define specific politics, we don’t define the specific way that they live their lives privately. I think what ends up happening is, when you start being dogmatic in the way you do things, all of a sudden that turns off a lot of people. It really narrows the focus of who comes through our doors, much to our detriment.

Roger: Right Worshipful, do you think the mission of freemasonry is different today than the mission of when it began? Do you see that mission evolving into the future?

Jim: I think it needs to evolve into the future, quite frankly. It’s interesting, we started off as… I don’t know when the magic time happened, but we started off as basically a craftsman’s lodge, operative Masons keeping their secrets. A lot of it was because of the fact they were able to do things that only aristocrats could do and that was basically read and do mathematics. That skill attracted intellectuals and it attracted futuristic – and I know the term is not considered, it’s almost considered derisive by some people – progressive thinkers. We don’t seem to be attracting that as much as we used to.

Roger: Final question, and it’s no longer a cliché (it really is the stereotypical situation today), where perspective Mason will say, “Well you know, I think my grandfather was one or my uncle was one.” How does Right Worshipful Jim Mendoza convince his prospect that his relationship to Freemasonry is just as relevant today as it was to his ancestors 100 or 200 years ago?

Jim: I try not to focus so much on the people that have come before. While I’ll talk about the people who have come before, I like to talk about the people who are here now and really focusing on people who are active members of the craft. There was a brother who joined my lodge who also came through the DeMolay experience. I came to learn that I was the selling point for him coming in. It was, “Do you remember Jim Mendoza?” “Yes I remember Jim Mendoza.” “He is a member of this lodge. Do you remember the good things that he did when he was coming up?”

I think we can do similar things. We like to talk in glowing terms about the people from our somewhat distant past when we have as many people who are doing great things in more recent history that we can focus on. I think that’s where he saw the connection. That said, there are perspective members who want what their grandfather had. They want that sense of connecting with people from various walks of life and tapping into the knowledge that each of these individuals has. Everyone is looking for a path towards self-improvement, and I think people know that part of that path to self-improvement is talking to people who have gone before, but also talking to people who are closer to their contemporaries as well and connecting with them.

I look at people like Al Jorgenson, who was a colonel in the Air Force and yet he’s not afraid to pop on an apron and bus a table. That resonates with the younger person, when the younger person can see something like that. There are so many other stories like that. Zane McKuen liked to talk about when he and Valerie brought their daughter into the world and he wanted to join the Masons because of the fact that neither one of them had their father still in their life, and wouldn’t it be great if their daughter could have an older individual to talk to provide perspective? I think there are great opportunities for that.

Like I said, yeah, it’s nice to talk about the people in our past with great romanticism but I think we also need to talk more about the people who are more in our recent past and also our contemporaries. I think that’s where you show your connection and your relevance.

Roger: Wonderful. Thank you so much Jim.


Jim: Thank you Roger. I appreciate your efforts.

Doug Tucker – Q&A

Speaker 1: Most Worshipful Brother Doug Tucker, I’ve got a couple of quick questions we’re using in a research project. The first question is, why did you become a Mason?

Doug Tucker: Probably the most compelling reason for me to become a Mason was because my dad was one. I saw the men that he was associated with through The Craft and they were all really impressive men, both morally and business-wise … They had integrity and they were just the kind of people I wanted to be associated with.

Speaker 1: Why do you stay active in the fraternity?

Doug: Once you become a Grand Master, you’re in it for life. As far as why I’m still doing it, I choose to hope that I can be a good mentor for other people coming into the Craft.

Speaker 1: In your own words, what would you say is the purpose of Freemasonry?

Doug: Well they say that Freemasonry takes good men and makes them better. That’s one of the reasons. Another reason is to hopefully improve the community around us.

Speaker 1: If there was a thing in 2015 or 2016 that Freemasonry could do to help Doug Tucker improve in his life, still, after all these years, what would that thing be? In other words what else can Freemasonry continue to do to accomplish it’s purpose with Doug Tucker?

Doug: Basically the way I look at it is, we have rules to live by, especially in the Craft. I would feel extremely good if the brethren would decide that they need to follow these rules because of all the problems we’ve been having with various places around the State. In essence what I’m saying is, we’ve got people out there who think they don’t need to follow the rules of the craft. They can go out and do their own thing and it’s time we got back to being the leaders that the Craft has been down through the years.

Speaker 1: Do you think the mission of Freemasonry is different today then it was in the past, and continuing on that, how do you see the mission of Freemasonry evolving in the future?

Doug: Well, they say that the only constant in life is change and so I do see the Craft changing. I see the Craft changing in the fact that we’re losing a lot of the brothers that became Masons shortly after World War II, we’re losing those men to the tune of about 1,200 a day, through out the country. For those of us that have been or are in the Craft for a while, it’s incumbent upon us to truly mentor these younger men who are coming into the Craft nowadays. They’re young men looking for something and we need to be able to show them the way that the Craft was initially laid out.

Speaker 1: This last question, and I find it very convoluted, but I think you’re going to understand the meaning of it, because I think you have a good grasp of the abstract. How do you talk to a perspective Mason who’s only touch with our fraternity is either his grandfather was one, or his uncle was one? How do you convey to him that Freemasonry is just as relevant to him today as it was to his forefathers decades ago?

Doug: Wow that’s one to ponder here. Because things have changed so much, the way young men today look at how they want the society to be … Their forefather looked at it the same way. Things are different, but I believe that in talking to a young man, I could be an influence for him to look at. Trying to improve the community is no different then the way that his grandfather or uncle looked at trying to improve life in the community back in the days they became Masons.

Speaker 1: Thank you Most Worshipful.

Sam Roberts – Q&A

Speaker 1: Thank you Most Worshiful Brother Sam Roberts. Thanks for joining me.

Sam: Good morning.

Speaker 1: I have got a couple of questions for you. First one, why did you become a Mason?

Sam: Because of my grandfather. That’s a partial explanation, but my grandfather was a remarkable man who did not let lack of education, nor lack of social standing keep him from being one of the most respected men in his community. The question, the kind of base question of, “Was he a good man because he was a Mason, or because he was a Mason did he become a good man?” That I don’t have an answer to and I don’t know if it really matters.

Speaker 1: Why did you remain active in the fraternity?

Sam: For a number of reasons. One, I am committed to making the world a better place. So are most of the Masons that I know. By doing so and joining other people, other like minded people, I think we can give back. Sometimes that mountain is a little bit steep but it’s worth the climb.

Speaker 1: In your own words, what is the purpose of our fraternity?

Sam: To show the world that there is a way to live that brings happiness to you and others. How is that for a statement? I just made that up. I like it. I may use that again.

Speaker 1: I know that in the past one of our slogans (for lack of a better definition) has been Freemasons help make good men better. If there was a thing you felt that Masonry could help Sam Roberts improve, what would that be and how would it matter in your life? In other words, what else can the fraternity do going forward to help accomplish it’s purpose specific to you?

Sam: That’s an interesting question that is going to require some thought. The answer I believe is going to be … If we examine our history, we will find that Masonry a number of years ago was a fraternity of men but it involved not only our families but also their communities. We were well respected, well regarded, and appreciated.

Somewhere along the line over the last 50 or 60 years, we have gotten more interested in numbers than we have in benefits, if you will. I would like to see us maybe become smaller but a lot more active with our families, with our communities, with the projects, and see if we can’t recoup some of the things that we have lost. By doing so, it is my belief that Masonry will be more effective toward what I think we should be doing and that’s just making sure the world is a nicer, happier place on a daily basis. In other words… can I just coin a phrase? Freemasonry, everyday, everyday.

Speaker 1: In many ways, you just answered my next question, which was how has Free Masonry mission changed and how do you see it evolving, so I’m going to go to the next question. I find it to be very convoluted, but I don’t think you’ll have any problems, especially not the direction. How can Sam Roberts help a prospective member whose sole familiarity with our fraternity may be that his grandfather or his uncle was a Mason to recognize that the fraternity is just as relevant and just as important to him today as it was to his ancestors?

Sam: The question is a little bit convoluted and the answer is going to be multi-part. The first thing is by living the example of what Masonry should be, we should know the world… we show the world what masonry can be. Secondly, you make yourself available to the prospect as well as the new members as a mentor, a coach, a friend and a brother and all the rest of the things that we stand for. Lastly – actually probably most importantly – is making sure that they know you are available for all the things that we stand for. If you are in need or in want of further education, if you are in want of light, we are there for that. When that call comes we are Johnny on the spot.

Now was that a convoluted answer? It was.

Speaker 1: I know. I’m sorry it took us so long to hook up together but I greatly appreciate your time on this project.

Sam: Absolutely. No problem whatsoever.

Don Munks – Q&A

Roger: All right, most Worshipful Brother Don Munks. Thanks for joining me this morning. I have a couple of quick questions for you. First of all, Most Worshipful why did you become a Mason?


Don Munks: Well, my dad was a Mason. My father-in-law was a Mason. I always knew at some point and time I would become a Mason. That never was a problem. I always figured I was too busy to join. I didn’t feel I had the time, which was maybe just a way for me to procrastinate. I really regret that I didn’t join when I was younger, because I’ve only been a Mason for 13 years. I haven’t had all the past experiences that a lot of others have had, which I wish I did.

Roger: Why do you remain active in the fraternity?

Don: Because it’s done so many things for me. First as a man, as a husband, as a father. It is a fraternity that you can walk into and feel extremely comfortable when you’re around your brothers. It’s not like you have to make pretenses. It’s not like you have to pretend to be somebody else. You can be yourself, you can be natural. Everybody there is extremely willing to help you without expecting favors in return.

Roger: In your own words what would you say is the purpose of the Masonic Fraternity?

Don: The old cliché, ‘making good men better’ really isn’t a cliché. It’s something that really happens. We do it in a lot of different ways. It’s from watching what others do. It’s from seeing the activity that others are involved in. It’s that sense of belonging to a group that is really doing something for society. That’s really doing something within your communities for those that are most valuable, the youngest, the oldest. We really stand up for setting the example for being the civil leaders in our community, in our state, in our country. Those are just some of the things that I just feel are so important that come some easy by being a member.

Roger: If there was one thing that you felt that Masons could help you improve in your life what would that be? How would it matter in your life? In other words, what else could Masonry do today to accomplish its purpose with Don Munks?

Don: Masonry helped me better understand who I am. It was our self-teaching. It made me think more about me as an individual and how I react and treat others around me, whether it be in my family, or friends, or community. That was something that was extremely important. It continues to help me grow on a continual basis by seeing so many other individuals and how they act and how they have changed because of their involvement. I guess, it’s kind of a difficult question to answer but it’s just something that has made me better understand who I am, and continues to keep doing that every day. Along with that, it fulfills me as an individual with the philanthropy that we are all involved in.

Roger: Two more questions. One, is the mission of Freemasonry today different than the mission it had before, and how do you see the mission evolving in the future?

Don: Yeah, I think it’s a lot different. The difference being that Masons a hundred years ago or whatever were the Aristocrats, they were the wealthy, they were the ones that did for those that were dis-advantaged in their community. They were who everybody turned to. They set the examples. They had kind of an elitist society at that time.

We’re a little bit different because our membership has drastically changed because we have components of just about every kind of occupation that there is.

Roger: How do you see it evolving into the future?

Don: I see us as setting the example with our stability. We are active and involved in our community, gaining back the distinguished look that our communities had for us generations ago. We’re still going to have to continue with philanthropy. We’re going to have to be more passive and open in society. We tried to keep secret everything we do. We’ve tried to not, I guess you’d say, brag about who we are or what we do. We’ve got to get away from that. We’ve got to get to a point where society starts to understand who were are so we can have an influence on them.

Roger: Final question, and it is fairly convoluted because it’s difficult to articulate. How can you help a perspective Masonic brother whose sole familiarity with our fraternity may be either like, my grandfather was one, or my uncle was one, to recognize the relevance and importance of the fraternity today? Why our brotherhood is just as relevant to him today as it was to his forefathers?

Don: That is a difficult one. I think the best way is to help that young person understand that we’re not a whole lot different than we were when his grandfather was a Mason, although we’ve changed in membership. We have changed some in what we do in our lodges, in our community. We still have the same basic practices that we had when his grandfather was there. However, we are ever evolving with the age of technology. We have an opportunity to see and hear a lot more input from different people about what they perceive to be changes that are occurring.

It’s going to be a lot faster, I keep wanting to say change, but a there is a far faster transition that will happen in the future than what is happening right now. I think that we can offer young people who have respected their grandparents or their dad for being a Mason a betterunderstanding for how important Masonry was to those people that they looked at and respected. Now, we have the opportunity to do a lot more today and in the future than we ever did in the past because of technology.

Roger: Most Worshipful, thank you for time. I hope to talk to you soon and if not, Merry Christmas.

Don: Merry Christmas to you, Roger. I appreciate the phone call.

David Colbeth – Q&A

Roger:Very worshipful brother, David Colbeth, first question is why did you become a Mason?

David Colbeth: Well, you know, for the glory and fame of course. Right? I was intrigued by the ideas of what Freemasonry might be. My only connection to Freemasonry at the time was the movie “National Treasure” and my wife’s gregarious great uncle Jessie, whom I got along with very well. I was a member of VFW and a member of Lions Club and other things and I was looking for something more. So that’s really why I took the first step and asked, “What do I do next?”

Roger: Why do you remain active in the fraternity?

David: Deep down, I believe it’s a worthwhile cause. We’re one of the remaining few organizations that men continue to seek to provide a better understanding of themselves and their place in the universe or in this world. Of course, many organizations that we have provide a better understanding of themselves … I’m sorry. Of course, like many organizations, we have our day-to-day operation requirements and, while those aren’t always as self-enlightening as we would like them to be, there are skills to be learned and personal growth to be achieved. The real opportunity for Masonry is the answer to your next question, really.

Roger: What is the purpose of Freemasonry?

David: I think it’s to make Master Masons, isn’t it? I’m kidding. In historic times, Freemasonry was the society that believed in personal development or personal enlightenment. In many respects, it was the only real educational system of its time and encouraged free thinking, along with religious, ritualistic practices. I believe Freemasonry is many things to different men. While there is tendency to make out lodges as social clubs, being social with our brother is not wrong, it just shouldn’t be the only reason we gather together. We should encourage one another to become better, to be better, and to be examples to the world of what a just and upright man should be.

Roger: That being said, Very Worshipful, if there was something you felt that our craft could help you improve, what would that be and how would it matter in your life? In other words, what else could Freemasonry do to accomplish its purpose?

David: You know, I don’t think Freemasonry has cornered the market on self-improvement. There are a lot of other opportunities and organizations that encourage self-improvement but I think Freemasonry has a unique bond of brotherhood together with the ideals of self-improvement. One thing I think we’re missing, at least for me anyway was, when I joined I just assumed there would be some kind of a regular course of education, or some kind of training that would be required to be involved in. I know some lodges have better educational elders, however, you know, what I’ve witnessed really is that majority of lodges don’t provide a regular course of education to their brethren or even to their sustaining members. Maybe it’s more of a need than what Freemasonry currently offers, but I think there is an opportunity there.

Roger: Do you think our mission has changed over the decades, over the centuries and, if so, how do you see that mission evolving in the future?

David: Yeah, I might be contrary to what people some say. I don’t really believe the true mission of Freemasonry has changed. What has changed is our interpretation, maybe, of that mission. I believe if we truly listen to our ritual and study the tenants of who we are, where we came from, we will become more centered and return to what the real mission was and return to the focus of free thinking, higher education, self-improvement, improving those around us, not just social clubs.

Roger: Lastly, it’s a difficult questions and it’s got a lot of tentacles to it, how would you best explain to a prospect that our fraternity is just as relevant to his life today as it was to his ancestors, who may or may not have been members.

David: Yeah, this is something that you could go on and on about but I try to boil it down into one sentence. Basically, I think if a man’s looking for more in life and just can’t seem to find it, we’re probably what he’s looking for.

Roger: Very worshipful, I know you’re a busy man. I greatly appreciate your time and I look forward to see you at a future conclave.

David: Absolutely, Roger, thanks so much. I appreciate the opportunity.

Billy Eberly – Q&A

Roger: Very Worshipful Brother Billy Eberly. I’ve got a few questions for you, several, if not all of them, I’m sure that you’ve contemplated many times over the course of your masonic career. First and foremost, why did you become a Mason?

Billy Eberly: The main reason I became a Mason was because I wanted to be a Shriner and I didn’t know you had to be a Mason first, so I went into Blue Lodge down at Oriental 74, downtown and then into the Shrine. Actually, in fact, Masonry, then Scottish Rite, and then the Shrine, but that’s probably the main reason, was to get into the Shrine. After I found out what Masonry was like, I came back to it after my younger years.

Roger: Why do you remain active in the fraternity?

Billy: That’s really hard to explain … The group of men that get together and they work with each other and they try to make each other better and it’s really hard to explain the camaraderie, even though there’s ritual work and stuff, but it’s just something that really intrigues me.

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

Billy: Freemasonry is to make men better men with each other. We learn from each other. We help each other, and that’s one of the reasons I see. Help each other out and move each other along in life.

Roger: That being said, if there was something you thought that our fraternity could help you improve in your life, what would that be? In other words, what else could our fraternity do to accomplish its stated purpose?

Billy: Good question, there. Right now, I’m a district deputy and I’m trying to work in and get other Masons involved, get them and talk to them about the Grand Master, what the Grand Master’s plan is, what the Great Plan is. Each year, this year, 2015, 2016, I’m just trying to push this agenda to the different lodges that I’m involved with.

Roger: We’ve all heard it so many times, when a prospect will say, “I think my grandfather was one,” or “My uncle was one.” How would you best help a prospect understand that our fraternity is just as relevant and just important to him today as it was to his ancestors, decades ago?

Billy: Back when our grandfathers were Masons, it was very hush-hush. I didn’t even know my grandfather was a Mason until I became a Mason and a Shriner, and my mother brought me some jewelry that my grandfather had. You never know, but now it’s more out in the open. We try to get each other involved to help each other out; you don’t even have to have a relative in there, now. You didn’t even have to then, either, but it’s like a family tradition that young men try to follow in the footsteps of their relatives, their fathers, their forefathers and stuff. I think it’s really neat to see when you’ve got 4 or 5 people out of 1 family that are Masons. I’m a Mason, I have a younger brother that became a Mason, I’ve got 4 other brothers and none of them have ever had the desire to go into it, I guess, but we just took a father and a son out at Spangle lodge into Masonry, but the son was in the same Shrine hospital that I was. He wanted to petition pretty bad too, and because they took care of his son, the father came in too. They’re both in the organization now.

Roger: Very Worshipful Brother Billy Eberly, thank you very much for your time, and I look forward to seeing you soon, my brother.

Billy: Thank you for the call and I hope I gave you some helpful additions to your questions here.

Roger: Oh, I think so.

Billy: Thank you, have a good night, Roger.

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