Volume LVIIIMay 2011Number 2

The Grand Master's Q & A

Question:

During your term, you appear to have been more inclusive of women. Why do you feel this is an important element of the 21st Century Masonic Renaissance?

Answer:

We ask our brethren to spend quality time in lodge and doing lodge activities. Officers invest an even greater commitment to complete their responsibilities. In the process, their ladies make a great sacrifice, whether it be less family time, taking on more household chores or assisting in various capacities. Therefore, I believe we owe it to them to be as inclusive and transparent as possible so they may understand and support the work, charity and goodwill their husbands do in the name of Freemasonry.

In fact, I feel our ladies are such an important aspect of our 21st Century Masonic Renaissance that they deserve to be recognized on the cover of our magazine. The wives of the Grand Lodge officers pictured represent the many thousands of ladies who volunteer behind the scenes by assisting in lodge kitchens, with fundraisers, youth groups, or helping to plan and organize events. As your Grand Master, I've spent about 250-300 nights a year away from home; I'm not ashamed to show recognition to my wife for her support.

The month of May often makes me think of Mother's Day and those women, some mothers and some not, who mean the most to me. Many of us have supportive ladies who nurture our children, put the love in our homes, support us in our careers and even champion our efforts in Freemasonry. Let's remember to honor them not only today, but always.

Question:

Why are we planning regional One Day Masonic Journey events this year? Are we over-exposing/making entrance into the fraternity too easy?

Answer:

I am very proud of what I consider to be a very successful One Day Masonic Journey last year, which played a big part in yielding our first membership increase in 50 years. We have received some excellent feedback and have heard from members "old" and "new" that this convenient option is both appreciated and rewarding.

We must keep our doors open to men who work nights, or who have tremendous family, work, church or community commitments. If you know of a quality man who fits one or more of these descriptions, I encourage you to invite him to join either traditionally or through a regional One Day Masonic Journey. Please refer to p. 7 to see the schedule in progress for these classes.

I continue to be a strong believer in regional degree conferrals performed by all-star degree teams. The most important thing we can do for a new candidate in this fraternity is to honor him with the very best ritual possible.

Finally, it is vital that we continue to build our membership in our fraternity to ensure and sustain our fraternal and financial obligations. For example, my home lodge, Oakdale Lodge No. 669, gained 39 members last year, so no increase in dues was necessary. This goes to show that an increase in membership makes the lodge more financially stable and more affordable for members, while at the same time welcoming new men, new ideas and new energy into the fraternity.

Question:

Is it fair to say more men are learning the ritual since we've printed it?

Answer:

I have had quite a few brethren personally thank me for making it easier to learn the ritual, and many have told me they would never have tried to learn it otherwise, because previously it appeared overwhelming.

Bro. Larry Buzzard, Director of Ritualistic Work, has affirmed my expectations. "Yes, there have been more brethren learning the work since the manual was issued," he said. He obtains this information from the sectional meetings of the Schools of Instruction's Principal Instructors in each region of the state.

"I have not heard comments about it being easier to learn, but there have been comments about it taking less time because of the flexibility they now have to learn at their own pace," Bro. Buzzard said. "Just this past weekend at the Harrisburg Sectional School, a brother exemplified a degree on the floor who had learned it from the manual in less than six months, and I might add he only had one mistake in the dialogue.

"The manual is very beneficial to members in the northern part of the state, who sometimes would need to travel long distances to find someone to teach them the work," Bro. Buzzard continued. "I have also heard, and been told personally, that some of those who already know the degrees are requesting the use of the manuals to make sure they have the work correctly.

"Unfortunately, there is no sure way to know the exact number of brethren it has benefited to this day. In my opinion, the manual is working the way it was intended and is a benefit to the fraternity," he concluded.

I consider that a successful response!


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