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.

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

IT COMES TO SEATTLE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

__________________________________

THE POWER OF WORDS

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

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

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

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

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

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

_____________________________

FREEMASONRY’S DAY ON THE HILL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lodge Leadership Retreat Registration Deadline

The registration deadline is fast approaching for the 2017 Lodge Leadership Retreat.

 

All mailed registration forms must be postmarked no later than WEDNESDAY, MARCH 1ST, 2017 to avoid the $50.00 late fee.  If you have already mailed in your registration form, THANK YOU! You should have received a confirmation email from Eventbrite.com.

Registration Form

Online registration will remain open until midnight on March 2nd, 2017.  The link below will take you directly to the online registration page.  There is an additional credit card processing fee for registering online.

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2017-lodge-leadership-retreat-registration-27218067974?aff=ReminderEmail

 

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/

CANCELED – MW Richard A. Mecartea Memorial Service

UPDATE: 

MWBro. Richard Mecartea had requested “no funeral or memorial service” in his will.  Accordingly, the family has canceled the scheduled memorial service for this coming Saturday.  He will be buried at the Tahoma National Cemetery at 11:30am this Friday.

 

2001 richard a mcartea

 

Memorial Scroll

 for 

Richard A. Mecartea

8/9/22 – 1/23/17

 

Most Worshipful Brother Richard A. Mecartea was born in Mt. Vernon on August 9, 1922, to James and Pearl Mecartea. He shared his childhood with four brothers and three sisters. Our distinguished Brother attained his early education in the Mt. Vernon and Marblemount School Systems in Skagit County. He later moved to Seattle where he graduated from Franklin High School. During WWII he served in the U.S. Army Field Artillery and rose to the rank of Gunnery Sergeant. His military experience included serving as an Infantry Artillery Forward Observer in the South Pacific.

Following his honorable discharge from military service, he attended the University of Washington and majored in Civil Engineering. He worked during the summer vacations for a mechanical contractor, and this was the beginning of his life-long vocation in this field. He held positions as Estimator, Project Supervisor, and Project Engineer on some significant construction programs, including military projects in Alaska, the Glen Canyon Dam in Arizona; a natural gas distribution system in Anchorage, Alaska; a five hundred mile pipeline and related pumping stations in Iran; major hospitals in Seattle – Veterans, Swedish, Providence, and University of Washington; the major reconstruction of SeaTac International Airport; and construction of the Boeing Auburn and Everett facilities. Our Brother, upon completing his formal education at Seattle Community College and Purdue University, taught night school for many years at Edison Vocational School, Seattle Community College, and Renton Vocational Technical School.

Our b\Brother’s Masonic career began June 14, 1957, when he joined Elliott Bay Lodge No. 257, in Seattle and was enrolled a Master Mason March 4, 1958. After progressing through the Lodge line, he served two years as Worshipful Master of his Lodge in 1964 and 1965.

His long service in our Grand Lodge began when he was appointed Deputy of the Grand Master for District No. 5 in 1984 by Most Worshipful Brother Matt Martin. He served continuously in appointed positions including Grand Lecturer, Grand Marshal, Junior and Senior Grand Deacons, and numerous Committee positions including Chairman of the Future Planning and By-Laws Committees, until he was elected Junior Grand Warden in June 1997.

During his tenure as Grand Master in 2000-2001 he preached a theme of “Shaping the Future” while at the same time “Improving the Present” by becoming involved in our communities by revealing who we are, what we do, and what we stand for.

Most Worshipful Brother Dick and his wife, Barbara, celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary during his year as our Grand Master. They have been blessed with two daughters, Judith and Patricia, four grandsons, and one granddaughter. Dick and Barbara were very proud of their family. He was active in the International Order of Rainbow for Girls during the time his daughters were involved in this young women’s organization. He served as Rainbow Dad on several occasions, was on the Adult Advisory Board for six years, and Chairman of that Board for three years. In recognition of his dedicated service, he is a recipient of the Rainbow Grand Cross of Color.

Other Masonic organizations in which he was active are Nile Temple of the Shrine, Royal Order of Scotland, Angora Grotto, Order of Eastern Star, Walter F. Meier Lodge of Research No. 281, and Seattle Valley of Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry. He was designated 32° Knight Commander Court of Honor in Scottish Rite, receiving this distinction in 2001 during the celebration of the 200th Anniversary of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Southern Jurisdiction. He is also a member of the National Sojourners and Heroes of ’76.

Our Past Grand Master has always been a true student of Freemasonry. He has consistently lived by our philosophy and worked hard to promote the principles and tenets in his daily life and to others. His years of skill and experience, and his calm and steady demeanor proved most helpful to each Grand Master he served. He has always been there to offer his assistance and expertise when needed, and will be long remembered as a faithful worker and leader in the quarries of Freemasonry.

Our Brother passed to the Celestial Lodge January 23, 2017.  His Lady Barbara pre-deceased him May 1, 2009.  He is survived by his second wife, Ophelia, daughters Judith (Lawrence) and Patricia, 5 grandchildren, great-grandchildren and many relatives.

 

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.

New IRS Form 990-N Electronic Filing Procedure

January 17, 2017

 

To: All Lodge Worshipful Masters, Secretaries, Treasurers and Deputies

 

Re: IRS Form 990-N Electronic Filings

 

Brethren,

 

It has come to our attention that the IRS has new procedures regarding filing your Temple Board and Lodge Form 990-N electronically.  First, there are step by step guidelines on how to file the 990-N which can be found at https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p5248.pdf.  Additionally, you can call (877) 829-5500 if you have further questions.  This is the phone number for the IRS and they can answer questions concerning filings for charities and non-profits.

 

There are several potential issues with the IRS electronic system that have been brought to our attention that we would like to let you know about. As you are going through the steps, please be aware of the following issues:

 

  • Every time you are asked to enter a name, the name should be entered entirely in lower case letters with no middle initial. Furthermore, the name that you enter in Step 1 must match the name entered in Step 10.
  • Step 6-You must select Manage Form 990-N Submissions even if you have filed your 990-N electronically in previous years.
  • Step 7-You should choose Exempt Organization in the “User Type” field.
  • Step 11-You will have to fill out both your Organization’s (your Lodge or Temple Board) legal name and the DBA Name. Unless you have a separate DBA, these should be the same.  At this point another screen will come up and you will have to put in the officers names and other information regarding the Corporation.
  • Step 12- You must click on the word PRINT in the bottom paragraph to print a copy for your records (you can also do a screen print). Once you leave this page, you will NOT be able to return to print your filing.  Make sure BEFORE you print this page that you have refreshed the page and that the filing status changed from pending to accepted (see Step 13).

 

Please note that you will no longer receive an email from the IRS confirming your filing.  You must complete all of the steps and print the confirmation page (see Step 12) to receive your confirmation notification.  This is information that you will need when you file your year-end report and when the District Deputy has his Official Visit to your Lodge.

 

Please feel free to call Sam Roberts or Clint Brown at the Grand Lodge office if you have any questions.

 

 

Fraternally,

 

 

 

VWB Clint Brown

Assistant to the Grand Secretary

 

 

CMB

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