Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Fall Session of Academy of Masonic Knowledge 10/15

The Fall session of Pennsylvania's Academy of Masonic Knowledge will be held October 15, 2016, in the Deike Auditorium of the Freemasons Cultural Center on the campus of the Masonic Village in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania. 

Registration will open at 8:30 a.m. with the program beginning at 9:30 a.m. 

Announced speakers for this session are:
John Hairston is a member of Harmony Lodge No. 2 under the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Washington, and is the author of the new groundbreaking book, Landmarks of Our Fathers: The Critical Analysis of the Start and Origin of African Lodge No. 1.
Heather Calloway is Archivist & Special Collections Librarian and an Assistant Professor at George Washington College in Maryland. She served at the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite - Southern Jurisdiction as Director of Programming, Museum Curator, and Digital Media Director at the House of the Temple in Washington, DC.
Christopher Murphy is the Charter Junior Warden of Fibonacci Lodge No. 112, the first Observant Lodge chartered by the Grand Lodge of Vermont. He is a member of Vermont Lodge of Research No. 110, and of the Philalethes Society. He will present his paper, “The Tavern Myth." 
A lunch (requested contribution of $10) will be served at noon and the program will be completed by 3:00 p.m. All Masons are welcome to attend. Dress is coat and tie.

Pre-registration is required.
To pre-register, please send your name, address, Lodge number and telephone by e-mail to: AMKSecretary@pagrandlodge.org

Monday, August 29, 2016

January Milwaukee Masonic Terror Plotter Update

On January 27th, a Milwaukee, WI man was arrested for plotting with two others (who turned out to be FBI informants) to launch a terrorist attack on the Humphrey Masonic Center in Milwaukee, hoping to kill at least 30 Freemasons inside. The case against Samy Mohamed Hamzeh is now slowly winding its way through the court system.

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel this morning:

A man suspected of plotting to attack a Masonic center in Milwaukee remains behind bars as his attorney pores over the government's evidence against him, including several hundred hours of conversations between him and informants who were working with the FBI.
In federal court Friday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Kanter said he has turned over 116 CDs of evidence to the defense and will be preparing an order to protect classified information that is included in the evidence against Samy Mohamed Hamzeh.
Defense attorney Craig Albee asked for eight weeks to further review the evidence and prepare pretrial motions, including a bail motion. Albee has held off on making an argument for why Hamzeh should be let out on bail until he reviews the months of recordings that were translated from Arabic to English.
Hamzeh was in court Friday but was not asked any questions and did not speak. His next hearing was set for Oct. 28 by Magistrate Judge William Duffin.
Hamzeh, 24, was charged in January with five counts of illegally possessing two machine guns and a silencer, which he bought from undercover FBI agents. He is not facing terrorism-related counts, which experts said is not unusual.
Hamzeh plotted to launch the attack on a Masonic center in downtown Milwaukee, the criminal complaint says. In preparation, Hamzeh toured the Masonic center, practiced shooting at a range and spoke extensively about how the attack would unfold.
He said the attack was to defend Islam by going after Masons, "who are the ones who need to be killed," and he hoped to kill at least 30 people.

For more background on this story see HERE and HERE and HERE.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Grand Lodge of Arkansas' Yezhovshchina

The Soviets called it the Yezhovshchina. 

The Great Purge. Named after and personified by the photo of Nikolai Yezhov, the head of the Soviet secret police, who was suddenly erased from the public record when he and his fellow Bolsheviks fell out of favor with Stalin.

The ongoing drama within the Grand Lodge of Arkansas continues unabated. This is one of those "inside baseball" stories, and one could be forgiven for thinking that it was a discussion of backstabbing within a Middle School debating club, instead of the world's oldest gentlemen's fraternity dedicated to meeting and acting upon the level.

The widely circulated rumor is true, that former Deputy Grand Master, Patrick Carr has indeed been suspended for a period of 25 years, and Past Grand Master Jarrod Adkisson has as well, for 30 years. My understanding is that by giving them definite sentences instead of expelling them outright, they are precluded under Arkansas' Constitutions from appealing their sentences before the delegates at the annual communication. The assembled members of grand lodge merely are to vote up or down on the entire sentence, with no presentation by or on behalf of the accused.

Now this past week, the Grand Senior Warden, Aaron South, has been removed from his office and has been charged with violating his Masonic obligations on two counts, without specificity as to just what those violations were (thereby severely hamstringing any possible hope of defending himself intelligently in his Masonic trial).

Both Carr's and South's photographs have been purged from the GL officer's webpage.

In Arkansas, the concept of being forbidden to communicate "Masonically" to a suspended or expelled (or clandestine) Mason extends to any and all subjects concerning one's membership status in the fraternity - or anything else about it. Their Jurisprudence philosophy is very different from most other jurisdictions, where the concept is generally taken to forbid Masons merely from discussing ritual information, or at most, private lodge business.

In addition, Arkansas has an extraordinarily strict policy about electronic communications, and the situation has gotten so petty that their members are monitored for their comments and even "likes" on Facebook, and noting whether they are daring to comment on the Facebook accounts of suspended or expelled Masons. The policy was put into place by MW Ronnie Hedge, current Grand Treasurer, who was the Grand Master of Arkansas when the infamous license plate flap erupted in 2010 (which ultimately resulted in the entire grand lodge website being removed and shuttered for at least two years, making Arkansas effectively invisible to the online world). Online comparisons with Asia's "Hermit Kingdom" have abounded all week.

The current situation regarding Aaron South has become problematic in the wake of DGM Carr's removal because it was the Grand Master's expressed desire to advance the Grand Junior Warden around South to become the next GM next February. When South balked at the arrangement, a different tactic was apparently needed, and charges were then filed to get the him out of the way.

As a sideline to this episode, South was allegedly told that he would not be allowed to serve as Grand Master because he is also currently sitting as Grand Commander of the Arkansas Grand Commandery. The Grand Master informed his officers earlier in the month that he intended to issue a Recommendation in his report at next February's annual communication, specifically proposing that no presiding Grand York Rite officer could be elected to the office of Grand Master. This would be read and voted on the day before the election for Grand Lodge officers. The recommendation was clearly aimed at South. 

(South would go out of office in the Grand Commandery line about a month after the GL's annual communication - although he could of course simply resign the position. It is perhaps useful to note the precedent of onetime Most Illustrious Grand Master of the Arkansas Grand Council of Cryptic Masons, Sam Lattin, who was serving in that position at the time he was elected and installed as Grand Master of Arkansas last year.)

One bizarre development in this situation is a rumor that was suddenly being widely whispered around the state, that South had an undisclosed felony on his record. Last Saturday, before being informed of any Masonic charges against him, he posted the following message on his Facebook page:
"My only "criminal" record was a speeding ticket in Little Rock in 1979. Brethren, I went directly from high school into the Navy Nuclear Power Program where I became a submarine nuclear operator. Then directly from the Navy into the civilian nuclear industry where I maintained a Senior Reactor Operator license throughout my career. None of this would have been possible with a felony record."
A subsequent criminal background check this week has dispensed with this nonsensical allegation. Nevertheless, he discovered his suspension on Monday somewhat accidentally, as his name appeared on the annual report of expulsions, suspensions, and reinstatements issued to secretaries, before he actually received his official notice on Wednesday.

In most internal situations like this, I usually pass up reporting gory details. I generally feel that it is the business of a grand lodge to conduct its affairs as it sees fit. But this differs a little bit from others that I've passed over in the past. 

First, Arkansas Masons are being intentionally kept in the dark regarding the elected leadership of their own organization and the activities occurring in Little Rock. Two of the top three officers in the grand line who have been properly elected more than once to advance have been purged. As reported last week, the GL Facebook pages have been shut down, not merely converted to "secret," and conversations online are being monitored. Somewhat ironically, if you go to the GL website, there is a prominent button on the home page to "like us on Facebook." Clicking it yields a message informing that the content is not available "right now." 

Second, what is happening in Arkansas is affecting other states.  Neighboring Oklahoma, in particular, is failing to receive letters in good standing from the Grand Secretary of Arkansas when Masons attempt to transfer their memberships into OK lodges. There is a specific reason for that, and it's a disgrace. There is more on that coming.

Third, it cannot fail to be noticed that the Grand Lodge of Arkansas has been the center of controversies for quite some time. Simply an internal search of this blog alone will yield a series of stories from just the last ten years showing a disturbing number of unfortunate episodes involving the grand lodge. 

Grand lodges that attempt to screw down the lids on information leaks and chain the exits shut are fighting a losing battle. The current situation in the grand line in Arkansas is motivated almost solely out of fear of their own members who might think differently than themselves. Masons are like any other large group that has an elected governing body. Sooner or later, the group with one point of view will be outnumbered and unelected by the other side. It is the ebb and flow of society. I suspect that if the men at the top of Arkansas' leadership would be brutally honest with themselves, they would admit that they were sitting in a lodge somewhere 20 or 30 years ago muttering the age old chestnut, "What this fraternity needs is a few more Masonic funerals."  And what they fail to understand now is that they have probably become the very men they once felt that way about. 

Transparency is no longer merely an optional management policy these days. Whether anybody likes it or not, it's being forced on organizations from every walk of life. Masonic secrecy is just like everything else we teach in the fraternity - a symbol. It is a symbol of our honor, NOT a mechanism to cover up dishonorable behavior. In the past, Masons who were tossed aside over private, petty piques and grudges were simply expected to walk away and find a new hobby. Now, more and more rank and file members expect better from their elected leaders. And Masonic secrecy is a pretty skinny tree to try to hide an elephant behind.

There's more going on in Arkansas right now than just a childish Machiavellian chess game in the grand officer's line. If it was just a few good Masons being sacrificed on an altar of protecting the status quo, I'd shake my head, offer my sympathy privately, and hit delete. "The politics of personal destruction" that popped up in election politics several years ago as a discussion topic is not new to Masonry, unfortunately. This fraternity has been spitting out good men from its ranks over petty politics for a couple of centuries, and men who have spent dozens of years in dedication to the service of the Craft have had their lives destroyed by events not dissimilar to what is playing out now. But the problems in Arkansas are deeper than just this. 

It should be noted by all that the state motto of Arkansas is, "Regnat populus" - the people rule. 

More is, tragically, yet to come. And I take no pleasure in typing that.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

2016 SRICF Annual Meeting Information Updated

For those in the Societas Rosicruciana in Civitatibus Foederatisupdated information for the Annual High Council Meeting in Louisville, Kentucky November 4 - 6, 2016 is available on the SRICF website HERE. The site includes information about meal and tour packages. And the finalized schedule of events has just been posted this morning.

The meeting will once again will be held at the beautiful Brown Hotel. Hotel reservations may be made HERE.


There will be a meeting of Chief Adepts on Friday Morning at 10:00 AM. This is being planned at the suggestion of several Chief Adepts, and will be a Roundtable discussion. 

Simultaneously, there will also be a training session for Celebrants under the direction of RW Frater Bruce Renner, IX°. 

The Opening of the High Council will begin Friday with the Procession of Officers and the reception of Distinguished Visitors promptly at 1:00 PM. This will be a working Conference beginning at 1:00 PM on Friday, and continuing Saturday morning and afternoon. 

Grades V°, VI° and VII° will be conferred by Colleges from Ohio, Wisconsin and Alabama on Friday afternoon. 

The High Council will convene for Elevations and Elections on Friday Evening at 8:30 PM. Only REGISTERED Third Order Members (VIII° and IX°Grade) will be admitted. 

On Saturday morning, RW Frater Stephen Burkle, IX° will be performing an Alchemy demonstration.

Make your reservations now!

Just in time for our annual event, there is a new, modern translation of the Fama Fraternitatis, Confessio Fraternitatis, and The Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz that is slated to be released this week. 

The official title is Rosicrucian Trilogy: Modern Translations of the Three Founding Documents, translated by Joscelyn GodwinChristopher McIntosh, and Donate Pahnke McIntosh. These foundational texts were first published anonymously between 1607 and 1616, and are essential to anyone with an interest in studying the Rosicrucian tradition.

Orders are being accepted now at amazon.com  Amazon has just sent a note that those who pre-ordered a copy can expect their delivery on or around September 1st. 

Friday, August 26, 2016

GL of NJ Officers To Close NY Stock Exchange Today

The elected line officers of the Grand Lodge of New Jersey F&AM will ring the closing bell of the New York stock exchange today. 

It will be telecast live on CNBC at 4 PM Eastern time. 

They are doing it as representatives of Wreaths Across America, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of that organization.

Issue #33 of the Journal of the Masonic Society

The new issue of the Journal of the Masonic Society heads to the printer this week and will soon be plopping into mailboxes of members. This is the first issue put together by new editor Michael Poll. Given his background and personal interests, and the coincidence that this will be issue No. 33, the cover of the magazine has a whole new look that appropriately announces this new era under Mike's hand. 

John Bridegroom has completely redesigned the cover format, at last breathing new life into my original template, which was born out of both panic and a steep software learning curve eight years ago when we started. John proves once again that he is the best graphic artist in the business, and we are damned lucky to have him as part of the creative team at the Society.

Travis Simpkins  has provided the illustration of Albert Pike with his usual outstanding, signature flair for detail that has rapidly become very well known throughout the Masonic community. (Note the number of Masons all over the country who use his illustrations of themselves as their personal avatars on Facebook.)

If you have a possible article that you think deserves wider circulation - that isn't book-length - please forward it to the Submissions Coordinator, Jay Hochberg, at articles@themasonicsociety.com.  Also, if you are an artist or photographer with Masonic subjects in your collection that you think would be of interest, please send them to Jay as well.

To contact Michael Poll directly, send to editor@themasonicsociety.com

The submission guidelines may be found HERE, including notes developed out of the Quarry Project on proper formatting and referencing of Masonic topics.

And if you're not a member or subscriber, please visit the TMS website here for more information. 

UK Report: Still Nothing Found In Ongoing Masonic Witch Hunt, But Will Continue

The never-ending British pearl-clutching over Masonic membership among English police officers continues unabated. No matter how many times this topic has been raised, and no matter how many government investigations, time and time again, have uncovered absolutely no evidence of presumably "dodgy" Masonic cops and judges engaging in untoward behavior of any kind, the accusation and distrust persists.

Case in point: A coroner's inquest case in England was decided back in April by a jury, some 27 years after 96  football fans were crushed to death during the FA Cup semi-final match at Sheffield Wednesday stadium in Hillsborough on April 15th, 1989. 

The inquest is believed to have been the longest in that country's history, lasting more than 300 days, and held in a specially built courtroom. The terrible tragedy has been investigated several times over the years, and the verdict finally and officially put the blame for the disaster largely on the local police and ambulance services.

But as a result of the continued, unfounded insistence of the family members of the victims, since 2013 an Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has been investigating whether the purported Masonic membership of police officers involved at the time - almost 30 years ago - had anything to do with a supposed coverup of internal activities in the local police department associated with the Hillsborough events. 

From the Guardian on Thursday:
Hillsborough disaster: IPCC investigates potential Freemason link
Police watchdog is investigating whether Freemason membership influenced decision-making over 1989 disaster
The police watchdog is pursuing a “further line of inquiry” over whether Freemason membership influenced decision-making over the Hillsborough disaster.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), as part of its overall investigation into alleged criminality and misconduct, has been examining concerns from the families of the 96 victims over Freemason membership.
The United Grand Lodge of England has already provided information including historical attendance records of meetings.
In her latest update on its criminal investigation, the IPCC deputy chair, Rachel Cerfontyne, said: “We are pursuing a further line of inquiry on Freemasons. We are currently liaising with the United Grand Lodge of England, and they are assisting us by checking whether certain individuals involved in Hillsborough were Freemason members.”
The overall match commander, Ch Supt David Duckenfield, told the fresh inquests into the 96 deaths that he had been a Freemason since 1975 and became a worshipful master – head of his local lodge – the year after the 1989 disaster.
He said he did not know if his promotion within South Yorkshire police in the weeks before the tragedy was influenced by his membership of the “secret society” but added: “I would hope not.”
His predecessor, Brian Mole, now dead, had also been a member of the same lodge, jurors were told.
The hearings in Warrington also heard evidence from a police constable who said he heard “a substantial meeting” of senior officers took place in the days after the disaster and it was rumoured most of those attending were Masons.
The coroner, Sir John Goldring, later warned the jury there was “not a shred of evidence” that such a meeting ever took place or that all of those named were Freemasons, and advised them to treat it as “gossip”.
In April, the inquest’s jury concluded the 96 Liverpool fans were unlawfully killed and that blunders by South Yorkshire police “caused or contributed to” the disaster at Sheffield Wednesday FC’s stadium.
The IPCC is looking at whether offences such as conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and perverting the course of justice were committed in the aftermath of the disaster.

How many times must this idiotic issue be trotted out and paraded around the public square to the amusement of the children and alarm of the elderly? Of course, there has never been any evidence of any kind that the membership of Freemasons on the force had anything whatsoever to do with departmental decisions, before, during or after the Hillsborough tragedy. The Commission might just as well be attempting to investigate whether they all smoked Dunhills, collected tea cozies, or were all members of a philatelist club. 

Between 1997 and 2009, then Home Secretary Jack Straw and his commission in the Home Office enacted a law forcing cops and members of the judiciary to declare their membership in no other group besides the Freemasons, and wasted a fat wad of the taxpayer's cash and twelve years to come to the same conclusion across the whole country - there was no there there. He was only stopped after the European Union ruled against a similar Italian law in the Court of Human Rights. 

Many years ago, an English Brother said this in the wake of a truly pathetic exposé of a London lodge in the Telegraph:
In the UK, August in the national press is referred to as the "silly season" as normally there is little or no news generated, as all the news generators are off on holiday. Stories such as this come out of the woodwork in August through the need to fill space.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Scottish Rite Bodies and Louisiana Flood Disaster Relief

Your Scottish Rite is pledging more than $1 million in disaster relief to help Freemasons affected by the massive flooding in Louisiana. The crisis is described by the American Red Cross as the "worst natural disaster in the United States since Hurricane Sandy" in 2012. 
"The incomprehensible level of destruction in Louisiana has damaged and destroyed more than 40,000 homes," said Sovereign Grand Commander, John William McNaughton. "Many of our Brother Masons and their families are among the 70,000 persons displaced in this disaster." 
In response to the crisis, the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction immediately issued $100,000 in debit cards that recipients can use for urgent needs such as food and clothing. "During Hurricane Sandy, we learned that accessing cash is a real problem for the displaced," said Commander McNaughton. "Our Brothers in Louisiana who are leading Masonic relief efforts tell us the same is true in this situation. We have Brothers who are without homes, cars, clothes, food, work places, churches, and do not know what today or tomorrow will bring. Many have lost almost everything." 
In addition, a pledge of $1 million for construction assistance has been made from the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction. "This will help Louisiana Freemasons, their widows and their families rebuild," said the Commander. "Recovery is expected to take months, if not years. We will work closely and deliberately with the Southern Jurisdiction to ensure these funds are used to help our Brothers put their lives back together. The vision of our Fraternity remains firmly committed to the most fundamental of our values--caring for one another. "
The Northern Masonic Jurisdiction is also organizing the shipment of bottled water and other supplies to be delivered to the ravaged area, as the need for clean water is great.  
If you would like to donate to the relief effort and help others in this stricken jurisdiction, please send your contribution to:
Louisiana Flood ReliefScottish Rite Almoner's Fund PO Box 519Lexington, MA 02420
You can also donate online at this link. Please indicate "Louisiana Flood Relief " in the additional instructions section on the page.

The Scottish Rite notice went on to describe an even greater need than the financial one. The Louisiana Masonic community is in dire need of help. In addition to immediately needed supplies listed here, the greatest need is for volunteers. This message was relayed from the Southern Jurisdiction:
Cars are destroyed and many Brethren cannot get to stores or to doctor appointments. It is nearly impossible to rent a car, and ATM machines are not working in most areas. Crews are needed to rip out drywall, remove mud and dirt, and push out water. Volunteers are also needed to cook and to check on our Brethren in various neighborhoods. 
If you can give a few days, or even a week or two, please be in touch. You will be fed and housed in a Shrine building with only Masonic Brothers and Sisters. 
The Masons in Louisiana are in great despair. They need hope, and you can help provided that. The generosity of spirit you show in this time of need will bless you in return a thousandfold. 
What to Do if You Have the Time to Deploy
Visit the Southern Jurisdiction website at this link for up to date information on supplies needed, and other details you need before you deploy. 
Who to Contact:
Please call before you leave your home to head out for the disaster relief operation, and  then again when you get to Baton Rouge. 

Joseph Ryan
(717) 623-7578
Carle Jackson
(225) 938-3552
Where to Go: Acacia Shrine Temple
7991 Commerce Ave,
Baton Rouge, LA 70815 

Note that these appeals, programs and funds are all in addition to the separate Disaster Appeal For Louisiana organized by the Masonic service Association. 

Finally, in an unrelated situation, the NMJ's Sovereign Grand Commander McNaughton has asked Active Member and Deputy for Indiana Gail N. Kemp to work with the Grand Lodge of Indiana to identify Masons and their families who may need assistance after a large tornado struck in and around Kokomo, Indiana yesterday. A state of emergency was declared in Howard County after the tornado destroyed businesses and dozens of homes there. Please contact the Grand Lodge office in Indianapolis at 877-247-MASON.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

GL of Arkansas Suspends Grand Senior Warden


The Internet is a funny place. The Facebook page for the Grand Lodge of Arkansas  F&AM this morning posted the following quote:
"Peace – harmony – charity – square dealing – mutual respect – limits on my right to criticize or judge. Noble sentiments all! Such words are so often heard that if we are not careful they can become just that – words with no real summons to alter our conduct with their timeless precepts." — Ill. Bro. Ronald A. Seale
Interesting timing, since that coincides with the confirmed news that the Grand Lodge has just suspended their Grand Senior Warden, Aaron South. This will have other effects, as Brother Aaron is also serving as Right Eminant Grand Commander of the Grand Commandery of Arkansas

Also, take note that Arkansas' Grand Lodge Officers Page displays an empty slot in place of where the Deputy Grand Master's photo should be.

At this rate, that grand line is going to be a mighty lonely place by the annual communication in February.

UPDATE 8/24/16

By 7:00PM Wednesday, all of the Grand Lodge of Arkansas' Facebook pages and official groups have disappeared.  However, their Twitter page remains activated for the moment.

In the wake of internal turmoil back in 2010, the Grand Lodge website vanished, and they had no  official online presence for at least two years.

UPDATE 8/25/16

The Grand Senior Warden's photo has just disappeared from the GL officer's page, as well, as he is "suspended, pending trial."

Arkansas brethren are now reduced to speculation about their own grand officer's line.

Mid-Atlantic Convocation of Academic Lodges 9/30-10/2

More and more grand lodge jurisdictions are chartering or otherwise encouraging a growing number of lodges whose members have an affinity with a nearby college or university. Some of these notably include Boston University Lodge and The Harvard Lodge in Massachusetts, The Patriot Lodge No. 1957 at George Mason University in Virginia, and The Colonial Lodge No. 1821 at George Washington University in Washington D.C. In fact, the Grand Lodge of D.C. just granted dispensation to a new one, American University Lodge U.D., in January. And in a slightly different variation, their Fraternity Lodge No. 54 was chartered in 2001 as an affinity lodge to "share the common experience of brotherhood in the college or university Greek-letter fraternity tradition." 

Meanwhile, the United Grand Lodge of England has grown its own "Universities Scheme" that has encouraged lodges in college and university towns to appeal to younger candidates, and also to provide another way for alumni and staff to share their university experience as a common interest.

In support of these ideas, The Patriot Lodge No.1957 in Fairfax, Virginia and The Colonial Lodge No.1821 in Washington DC are co-hosting the first ever Mid-Atlantic Convocation of Academic Lodges on the first weekend of October this year. The gathering is an opportunity for new and seasoned academic lodges to share ideas and lessons learned as they implement ideas such as the UGLE scheme.

A welcome dinner will kick things off Friday, September 30th at Alexandria's famed Gatsby's Tavern. Then, the event itself will take place Saturday, October 1st at the Scottish Rite's House of the Temple in Washington D.C. There will be two tracks of presentations and discussions, so you will have to choose between Academic Lodge Leadership, and Topics in Masonic Education

Wrapping the day up will be a keynote address by WB Edward Lord, Chairman of the UGLE's successful Universities Scheme, and a festive board will follow.

Sunday morning will feature a group tour of the George Washington National Masonic Memorial.

Registration for the Saturday program and Sunday tour is $85, and must be done via Eventbrite HERE. Organizers simply want a head count for Friday's dinner at Gatsby's - that meal is at your own expense. 

For a list of speakers, the agenda, and accommodations available, visit the event's website HERE.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Winslow, AZ Lodge Is Rising From the Ashes

On the night of October 10, 2014, three young men strategically set several fires around the historic temple building of Winslow Lodge No. 13  in Winslow, Arizona. The lodge was not their only target - they also torched two other historic buildings in the area. No one was hurt in the resulting blazes, but as of a result of their acts, the lodge's 1920s building was severely damaged, their original antique furniture lost, along with irreplaceable documents, paraphernalia, regalia, and so much more from their 120 year history.

As events unfolded, police located and arrested three suspects, Chad Lapointe, 20, Erik Nelson, 20, and Steven Gonzales, 18, all Winslow residents.  Early reports indicated that the men set the fires, "simply out of boredom."

The Arizona Journal reported five days later:

Ken Evans, Senior Steward of Winslow Masonic Lodge No. 13, noted that the lodge is nearly a total loss and said a conservative estimate would be that actual damages will run about $3.5 million, but many of the items lost had a value beyond monetary. The building was the third location for the Winslow Masons, who first formed the lodge in 1896 and gathered at the Palace Hotel, then in the upstairs rooms of the Elks Lodge before building their own lodge in 1923. The lodge contained valuable antiques built by the M.C. Lilly & Company, which at the time cost $1,200. “These were very ornate Masonic furnishings with Middle East designs and Masonic symbolism referencing King Solomon’s Temple from the 1896 World Fair. We lost an altar, two pillars and three chairs, as well as a wood and marble station. We also lost our regalia from the 1800s, as well as the regalia from the Order of the Eastern Star and Commandery of Knights Templar,” stated Evans.
“The Joseph City, Holbrook and Winslow fire departments all worked together like a fabulous machine, and helped to protect the neighborhoods and prevent the fires from spreading. While doing that they managed to save our archives and records from the first floor, and pulled photos from the walls, as well as an entire display of first edition Bibles. These items were wet, but they were able to keep them from being super soaked,” added Evans, who works at Homolovi State Park, where he utilized an emergency freezer so that the documents could be frozen before developing mold. Despite the massive loss, Evans was positive that the lodge will be rebuilt and that the programs conducted by the lodge will continue uninterrupted.

I have no idea how I missed reporting this story almost two years ago, but I did. 

In an ironic return to their own history, the nearby Winslow Elks Lodge graciously provided a temporary new home for not only the displaced Winslow Lodge No. 13, but their York Rite and Eastern Star bodies as well, in their own beautiful building.

Rebuilding Winslow Lodge

True to their word, the brethren of Winslow Lodge indeed got to work rebuilding their temple. As word spread throughout the country, Masons everywhere offered donations of money, aprons, furnishings, and other necessary items to the lodge as well as the York Rite.

I received a message this morning from Brother Edward G. McKeowan who attended a degree in Flagstaff over the weekend reporting that Winslow Lodge has slowly risen from the ashes. I searched the Facebook page for the lodge and saw this photo of construction on July 6th of this year, so they obviously still have a way to go yet.

As for the three arsonists, while stories abound online announcing their rapid apprehension and detention immediately after the fires, there is no public record I can find of their ultimate sentencing.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Growing Atheist Population May Affect Future Freemasonry

The Grand Lodge of Scotland is looking into the future about a subject that rarely occurs to most of us within the fraternity - the decreasing population of men who actually believe in a Supreme Being. And the numbers don't look good in the UK, at least, and Scotland in particular.

From the Herald Scotland website Friday:
Scotland's Freemasons have admitted that their future may be under threat because of the rise of atheism.
Senior figures in the organisation have reportedly expressed concern over the number of people turning their backs on religion, with about half the country now saying they do not attend church.
Individuals can only be initiated into the Grand Lodge of Scotland if they state their belief in a "supreme being", something at odds with an increasingly Godless society.
The lodge posted a chart based on the 2011 census on its official Facebook page, showing that people living north of the border are most likely to declare they follow no particular faith.
The page stated: "This graphic fortells of a looming problem and it is one that will be upon us sooner or later." The Grand Lodge declined to comment further, but key figures within the organisation are believed to consider the census findings a long-term problem.
Last year the male-only organisation revealed that its number of new recruits had fallen to around 2,000 today from a high of 45,000 a century ago.
The [United] Grand Lodge of England acknowledged the concerns of its sister organisation, but said that it was more upbeat about its own future.
Mike Baker, its director of communications, said: "Our present experience is that whilst formal religious observance is on the delcine, most people still have some form of personal faith or belief system."

The actual article referenced on the GL of Scotland's Facebook page reads:

Freemasons are not all that good at planning, at least not long term planning. That is one reason why, despite the insistence of the conspiracy theorists, we don't rule the world! We couldn't even if we wanted to!!
This graphic foretells of a looming problem and is one that will be upon us sooner rather than later. The younger generations of Freemasons will be the ones who will have to deal with the problem - unless some thought is given to it now.
To avoid prejudicing the debate we make no comment at this time but please have a look at the graphic and let us know that you think the future of Regular Freemasonry will be...

(Click chart to enlarge.)

Friday, August 19, 2016

Habemus Papam! AASR-NMJ Announces Next Sovereign Grand Commander

The Supreme Council of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite - Northern Masonic Jurisdiction  has officially announced the next Sovereign Grand Commander who will succeed Illustrious John W. McNaughton when he retires next year: Illus. David A. Glattly, 33° of New Jersey.

From the Supreme Council's website today:

Scottish Rite Sovereign Grand Commander John William McNaughton has the pleasure to announce to the membership today that Active Member, David A. Glattly, 33°, will succeed him as leader of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction upon his retirement in August 2017. 
“To our valued members and Brothers,” said Commander McNaughton, “I could not be more pleased to inform you that the Supreme Council’s nominating committee has named David Glattly as your next Sovereign Grand Commander. Brother Glattly has been an active and honored Freemason for more than 40 years, and a member of the Scottish Rite for nearly three decades. Our fraternity will be led by a good man who serves from his heart. He will shoulder great responsibility with intelligence, experience, dedication, and grace.” 
The appointment of Brother Glattly marks the first time a new Scottish Rite leader has been announced a year prior to taking office. “These are challenging times for Freemasonry,” said Commander McNaughton. “Your Scottish Rite leadership and I feel it is important to have a thorough and seamless transition for our Fraternity.” Commander McNaughton and Brother Glattly will consult together over the next 12 months to continue the work “we began a decade ago—shifting the priorities of Northern Masonic Jurisdiction back to caring for our members, and bringing compassion to the forefront of our Fraternity,” he said. 
Said Brother Glattly, “I am extremely proud and humbled to be nominated as the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction’s new Sovereign Grand Commander. It is truly the honor of my lifetime. From my time as a young man in DeMolay, the ideals and ageless standards of our Craft have been central to my life. I can vow to all members that I will work to my highest abilities to serve you, and champion the future of this vibrant, historic, and vital organization.” 
Brother Glattly began his Masonic career by joining Clifton Chapter, Order of DeMolay in 1970, eventually serving as State Master Councilor of New Jersey. He was raised a Master Mason in Clifton Lodge #203, Clifton, New Jersey in 1975. He served as Worshipful Master in 1995, and as the Grand Marshal of the Grand Lodge of New Jersey in 1998. He became an Active Member of the DeMolay Supreme Council in 1994 and served as Executive Officer in New Jersey from 1999-2004. In New Jersey Freemasonry, he was awarded the prestigious Daniel Coxe Medal for distinguished service to the Craft. 
Glattly completed the degrees of the Scottish Rite in 1987. He was created a Sovereign Grand Inspector General, 33°, Honorary Member of the Supreme Council in 2000 at Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. He was crowned an Active Member at Boston, Massachusetts in 2002. He is also a member of Salaam Temple, AAONMS; Hugh DePaynes Commandery #1, St. Joseph Conclave, Red Cross of Constantine, among numerous other Masonic organizations. 
He and his wife Monica live in Hawthorne, New Jersey. They have two children, son Matthew and daughter Jessica.

This is simply the decision of the nominating committee. The actual official election for the position will take place next year at the  2017 Annual Meeting in Rochester, New York. 

MSA Establishes Disaster Relief Fund for Louisiana

The Masonic Service Association has established a Disaster Relief Fund for Louisiana, following drenching rainstorms and massive flooding. Thousands of homes and buildings have been damaged or destroyed, with 70,000 persons reportedly displaced.
The magnitude of the storm was described by the America Red Cross as the “worst natural disaster in the United States” since Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Recovery is expected to take months, and the lack of communication in flooded areas continues to cause issues in finding information and victims. 

The Grand Lodge of Louisiana reported that two Lodge buildings have been heavily flooded, and the building of the Scottish Rite Valley of Baton Rouge, which houses three additional Lodges, incurred significant amounts of flooding and damage. Many Masons and Masonic families are among the 70,000 displaced. 

More information and details to send in donations are on their webpage, and donations may be made on the webpage with the use of a credit card. This allows funds to reach their destination faster.