Volume LVMay 2008Number 2

Stephen Gardner
R.W. Grand Master

Brethren:

The first few months of serving as Grand Master of Masons in Pennsylvania have truly been an experience of a lifetime. The Grand Lodge Officers and our ladies have been made welcome everywhere we have traveled. Even with how well I thought of our Craft already, the depth of my own personal appreciation for the work that Pennsylvania Freemasons do, and the dedication of our membership for a better fraternity tomorrow, only continues to grow.

Checks are coming in every day for the Change for the Troops program. It is obvious that the membership has really embraced this initiative, and as a veteran, I am extremely grateful and proud of your support of our armed forces. Throughout my travels, it is one of the most immediate topics of discussion, as brethren share countless heartwarming accounts of this opportunity to thank our service men and women. The manner in which not only the lodges, but also other Masonic bodies, have joined this effort is way beyond what I expected we would achieve.

The batch calling system also has been embraced as lodge leaders realize the many benefits of this easy and cost-effective means of communicating with our brethren. If you haven't received a call yet, contact your Worshipful Master and your Lodge Secretary and ask them why!

Our lodges also are responding to the statewide minimum ritualistic standard initiative. We have already significantly closed the gap due to brethren stepping up and learning, or beginning to learn, the degree work. A significant number of brethren have commented favorably on this. As expected, we have made good progress. Ability is not the question - the skill and ability have always been there - it is a culture change that must occur for us, as Pennsylvania Masons, to Earn it Again.

On p. 9, you will see the schedule for the upcoming visits of the Unity Box and Gavel. I encourage you to attend your lodge, or as a visitor at another lodge, when it comes to your area. During my travels across the state, I have already caught up with it three times! Every brother has the chance to experience the same sense of unity, camaraderie and pride when he has the opportunity to hold and pass it along.

Congratulations to those brethren whose names are listed on pp. 6-8 on their 60, 70, 75, and 80 years of service to Pennsylvania Freemasonry! In the August issue, we will recognize those brethren who have earned their 50-Year Service Awards.

A few weeks ago, I had the once-in-a-lifetime privilege of standing on top of our majestic Masonic Temple in Philadelphia. It was the most amazing feeling you could imagine - being able to see up-close and physically touch the areas of the building that have become damaged over the past 133 years by wear and tear, weather and pollution. Without a doubt, it strengthened my conviction that this masterpiece requires our immediate attention to preserve its remarkable craftsmanship and the Masonic heritage it represents.

The feature article in this issue was inspired by a special report aired on Channel 6 News, Philadelphia, in February. Likely spurred by the release of the movie "National Treasure II," the series on Freemasonry being shown on the History and Discovery channels and Dan Brown's upcoming book, "The Solomon Key," the questions posed caused me to reflect on how Hollywood and the media in general interpret (or at times, misinterpret) our great fraternity. If we are going to Protect Our Heritage for Future Generations, it is up to each and every one of us to educate our friends, family, neighbors and co-workers about what it truly means to be a Freemason.

Sincerely and fraternally,

R.W. Grand Master

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