Volume LIIIAugust 2006Number 3

A Message from the Grand Master

Brethren:

As I have traveled to both formal and informal lodge meetings across our jurisdiction, the membership's response to the Temple Initiative appeal for the Masonic Temple in Philadelphia has been excellent! So far, more than 7,000 donors have contributed over $120,000, which will be put to good use in restoring and preserving our treasure in Philadelphia. Those who wish to contribute to the cause may still receive the Masons Helping Masons Medallion Pocket Watch or the Grand Master's Lapel Pin gifts offered in return for their generosity. If you are interested, please send your check to the "Masonic Temple Initiative," One North Broad St., Philadelphia, PA 19107-2598.

I am pleased to report that the front doors to our Masonic Temple have been opened - just one more physical sign that our fraternity is welcoming with open arms our friends and visitors wishing to learn more about our heritage. The Committee on Temple has developed a plan to modernize the building, which is being executed in steps to maintain its integrity. For example, we have installed air conditioning for the comfort of members and guests, which unfortunately does not control considerable spikes in humidity levels, resulting in major problems with the building's paint and plaster. Following a thorough engineering study, the Committee has secured a contract that guarantees the resolution of the heating and cooling problem by the end of the year. The Committee's efforts will preserve our magnificent Temple, as well as the invaluable artwork and volumes and volumes of books, while providing for the comfort of employees, members attending lodge meetings, visitors coming for tours and outside groups holding functions within our building.

Our new Executive Director of The Masonic Library and Museum, Andrew Zellers-Frederick, already has infused great enthusiasm into our goals for the Masonic Temple. He has initiated and implemented many excellent ideas on ways we can foster continued growth and exposure for our fraternity and your Grand Lodge.

We celebrated our Grand Lodge's 275th Anniversary in true Masonic style during the June Quarterly Communication at the Masonic Village at Elizabethtown. Within the past six months, I have had the privilege of visiting every Grand Lodge from Maryland north to Maine, with the exception of Massachusetts, which has not met this year, and 14 other jurisdictions reciprocated by demonstrating their brotherly love and support of our Grand Lodge by sharing in this celebration. The evening concluded with a terrific performance by 12-year-old country star Aaron Kelly, who received treatment at one of our Shriners' Hospitals several years ago, and a fantastic fireworks display!

The success of this event made me wonder: if our brethren across the country and around the world can take the time to travel to Pennsylvania, should we not be willing to travel a few minutes or a few hours to visit our brethren within our own jurisdiction? This should be happening in many lodges and districts across the state, and I encourage all of our brethren to make the extra effort to build a greater fraternalism within our Family of Freemasonry. I assure you that as you do, your pride in our fraternity and love for your brethren will grow. I recently had the pleasure of attending the Tall Cedars of Lebanon Convention, the Grand Commandery of Pennsylvania's Annual Conclave, the Valley of Allentown as its honoree, Imperial Shrine Session, the Job's Daughters Pageant and Annual Session and Freedom Chapter of DeMolay's Officers' Installation, and I truly enjoyed spending quality time with the leadership and members of these Masonic bodies and their ladies. The experience reminded me that, while each appendant body has its own focus, ritual and charity, what makes us different is really just a matter of preference, much like whether we prefer to order salmon or filet. If we instead concentrate on what we have in common and how our efforts complement each other, we realize that, when each arm of our Family of Freemasonry is successful, we are stronger as a whole.

I have been pleased to receive letters and e-mails from Brethren and even some wives and widows, sharing how they have embraced and/or benefited from the fraternity implementing my vision of Masons Helping Masons. It has also lent itself well to explaining the strength of our Craft to those whose curiosity about the fraternity have risen either through seeing our participation in the Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary events or from the recent releases of the popular "Da Vinci Code" movie.

We received a lot of positive media coverage and comments from community members on the Masonic memorial service we conducted in memory of the late Bro. Franklin in Philadelphia, much of which is due to the excellent job the Committee on Franklin Memorial did in planning and organizing the event, and the support demonstrated by the Grand Lodge officers and members who participated in great numbers. We also have had the opportunity to respond to various media requests for reaction to the depiction of Freemasons in the "Da Vinci Code," which allowed us to enlighten many about the Craft and, hopefully, will interest good men in wanting to learn more about the many benefits of membership.

You may not have started your holiday shopping yet, but you should remember to mark your calendar to attend one of the Grand Lodge Galas - either the Grand Gala in Philadelphia on Nov. 3 to benefit the Masonic Temple Initiative or the Pittsburgh Jingle and Mingle Gala on Dec. 15 to benefit the Masonic Charities. You and your lady will have a marvelous time while enjoying fellowship and raising needed funds for these worthwhile charities.

Sincerely and fraternally,

Ronald A. Aungst, Sr.

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