The following new officers of the Masonic Society have been elected, and accepted their positions:
Michael Poll, President
Rex Hutchens, 1st Vice President
Fred Kleyn, 2nd Vice President
Three new directors were elected:
David Naughton-Shires, Member Director
James Hogg, Fellow Director
and our third will be announced when he officially accepts the position.
They join current directors Mark Tabbert, James Dillman, Jay Hochberg and Ron Blaisdell. Nathan Brindle remains as our hard working Executive Secretary/Treasurer. The position of Executive Director has been eliminated. I remain as Editor in Chief of the Journal.
A new and revised set of by-laws were accepted by the officers and directors, and have been posted on the Masonic Society forum, along with being in Issue 8 of the Journal, to be published this spring.
The 2010 semi-annual meeting will be held in late summer or early autumn in New Orleans, home of our new president.
From the very beginning, we have believed that the Society's designation of 'Fellow" should encompass those brethren who have provided outstanding service to the masonic Society, but also to those Masons who labor in the quarries of the fraternity doing work that few other organizations acknowledge. They could be writers, artists, educators, web designers, librarians, administrators, or simply the unsung strong backs who get countless thankless jobs done behind the scenes. With that in mind, sixteen new Fellows of the Masonic Society were named:
John A. Bridegroom
Michael A. Chaplin, M.D.
John R. "Bo" Cline
Gerald C. "Ted" Connally
Glen A. Cook
José O. Díaz
George R. Haynes
Timothy W. Hogan
James W. Hogg
Kevin Noel Olson
Colin A. Peterson
Rashied K. Sharrieff-Al-Bey
Our banquet on Friday evening suffered from the same weather problems as all events this week, with 68 attendees. But bear in mind that was almost exactly the same attendance as last year, and this year we sold over 90 tickets. Because of the weather that cancelled flights and wreaked havoc on the area, the absence of members of our panel discussion meant a little improvisation for our program. The AASR-NJ's William McNaughton and the General Grand High Priest of Royal Arch Masons, Emory Ferguson were kept away by the snow, so we were joined by the General Grand Chapter's Grand Secretary Larry Gray. And Grand Master of Knights Templar in the USA, William H. Koon II was able to make it in for a few minutes at the end of our program, as well. Many thanks to them both.
We had our table and display in the vendor's area, and picked up new members, as well as a handful of brethren who had been dropped for non-payment of their membership, who were reminded to re-up when they actually saw us there. The Society's reputation continues to grow and improve. Our membership continues to grow. In the 21 months since our beginning, we have gone from zero to more than 1,070 members or subscribers. Many thanks to Nathan Brindle for putting in the hours for three days on the membership table, as well as all of his tireless work on organizing the executive committee and director's meetings, conference calls, printed materials, reports, and the gadzillion other things he does behind the scenes that the rest of us never see.
Jim Dillman was our faithful hospitality suite lifeguard. In real life, Jim is a 911 dispatcher for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, so we felt he was uniquely qualified. When all others gave up for the evening, Jim kept the suite cleaned, well-stocked, and hospitable. We were hidden over in the Retreat side of the Hilton this year, at the end of a long, subterranean walk, but many brethren made the arduous trek and were rewarded with fun, friendship and firewater. Next year, it is our hope that the Virginia and Maryland Second Circle members will be able to take over this role.
I add my own special thanks to Roger VanGorden for all he has done as the founding President of the Society. Just two years ago after Masonic Week had ended, after dozens of phone calls and a flurry of emails among a handful of brethren, the Masonic Society was born as an idea. In many ways it has surpassed the dreams of the group of brethren who sought to create something new. But every single member has played an important role in making the Masonic Society a success. The longtime participants of the Masonic Week festivities who have seen TMS grow from zero to over a thousand members in just two years, and have seen us bring new participants in for our banquet who would otherwise not have taken part, are more than a little awestruck by our rapid growth. That is thanks to all of our members and their confidence in the Society. But it was Roger's vision and calm leadership that has planted a firm foundation for the Society to grow and flourish. He was my first contact when I sought to become a Freemason in 1998. Over the years, I have served as his Senior Warden, worked with him on committees, looked up to him as my Grand Master, and cried in a few beers with him. He is one of the very few men in this world I would follow into battle, anytime, anywhere. I am proud to say the rest of them also serve as officers of the Society.
I look forward to working with our new President, Michael Poll and to visiting New Orleans this year.
Bear in mind, we're not done. We're just getting started. Greater things are coming.