Volume LVSpecial Inaugural Edition January 2008Number 1

Unity Box and Gavel

This box, the Unity Box, is built of wood from trees in each of our Masonic Districts across the entire state of Pennsylvania, as well from England, the home of our Mother Grand Lodge, symbolically reflecting our fraternal heritage and Masonic roots.

Each piece of wood is as unique as each of our districts, with own individual identity, character, strengths and weaknesses. On the top of the box, each district is individually depicted and readily identifiable by the wood from that district. Yet as if part of a jigsaw puzzle, each piece is integral to completing the overall picture of Pennsylvania Freemasonry.

This masterpiece is the work of Brothers Greg Miller and Nick Smith of Slatington Lodge No. 440.

In the foundation of the box is where all individual districts in our great jurisdiction come together in unanimity. Symbolically, this where one brother is bound to another, supporting every brother Master Mason. Here, each individual serves to make the others stronger and to support the whole; their combined strength is greater than that of their individual selves. While each piece of wood retains individuality, it unites to form one box to hold the gavel. Similarly, are each an integral member of the oldest and largest fraternity the world, bringing our own unique strengths to our brotherhood, sharing the responsibility for Protecting Our Heritage for Future Generations.

The box will house the Unity Gavel, identical to the gavel Stephen Gardner, R.W. Grand Master, will use during his term as Grand Master.

The Unity Box and Unity Gavel will travel on a journey throughout the entire state of Pennsylvania. The Unity Gavel was first used by Grand Master Gardner in Philadelphia in Grand Lodge Dec. 27, 2007, and will conclude its travels in Grand Lodge on Dec. 28, 2009, in Pittsburgh. Their Masonic travels will take them to every district, with a goal to be in every one of our 440 Blue Lodges Pennsylvania during the 2008 and 2009 Masonic years. This is extremely ambitious and challenging schedule, which Bro. Ralph Slider, District Deputy Grand Master of District 10, has graciously volunteered to arrange.

The traveling schedule of the Unity Box and Gavel will be advertised both in The Pennsylvania Freemason magazine, as well online on the Grand Lodge Web site, www.pagrandlodge.org. Grand Master Gardner also requests that lodges advertise the arrival of the Unity Gavel and Box their lodge notices as well, so that the brethren make a special effort to attend their lodge for the meeting when they will be visiting. The Unity Gavel is to be used as part of the regular business the lodge, but more especially, to be passed around the lodge room, so that every brother that meeting may have it in his possession, even if it is only for a moment. Each brother will therefore be handling the same gavel shared every lodge across the Commonwealth, as a reminder of our connection and unity.

The physical travels of this gavel and this box will symbolically serve to ever remind us that we, as individual Freemasons, Blue Lodges and Masonic Districts, have a direct connection with every brother, every lodge and every Masonic district across this great jurisdiction and throughout our world.

Physically, the gavel will only be in your hands ever so briefly... symbolically, so is the time very brief that we have to protect our heritage as Masons and Americans for those generations yet to be. We must Earn it Again!

A Gift from the Heart

When your lodge receives the Unity Box and Gavel, you may want to take a second glance at the wood used for District 10, for it was given from the heart.

Ralph H. Slider, Sr., District Deputy Grand Master for District 10, wasn't sure where to get a nice piece of wood to represent his district on the Unity Box. Living in an apartment, he and his wife do not have access to a tree in their backyard from which he could cut a limb. Fortunately, Bro. Ralph's daughter, Kathi S. Dye, and grandson, Eric Michael, live nearby in a home with a large yard. One day, Bro. Ralph and Eric went walking through the yard looking for a nice piece of wood to cut off one of the trees for the Unity Box. Not having much success, Bro. Ralph said, "I don't know what I'm going to do... I guess I'll have to look elsewhere."

Eric replied, "No, wait." He soon returned with his birdhouse and said, "Take this." Bro. Ralph was hesitant to accept such a personal gift from the young boy, but Eric insisted. Perhaps Eric was willing to give up his birdhouse for the fraternity in honor of his father, who had been a member before passing away six years ago when Eric was just 4. Bro. Slider had given his sonin- law, Michael Jamie Christopher Dye, all three degrees almost a year before he succumbed to cancer, making Kathi a young Masonic widow.

Eric is already following in his dad's, his grandfather's and his uncle's footsteps (Bro. Slider's son, Ralph Jr., is also a member of Greenleaf Lodge No. 561, Allentown). On Nov. 5, Greenleaf Lodge celebrated its 125th anniversary during the lodge's annual banquet, which is always held the Monday before Election Day. This year, it just so happened that the date of the annual banquet fell on then- Worshipful Master Brian S. Timms' birthday, which is also Eric's birthday! The brethren, whom included some of the Grand Lodge Officers, sang "Happy Birthday" to both Bro. Timms and to Eric, who attended as a guest of Bro. Slider.

Now, wouldn't his father be proud?

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