The October Emmessay Notes arrived today with the following message:
For the past three years, I have had the pleasure of working at the greatest job in the world. The friendships my wife and I have made throughout the country have been truly fulfilling. The work of the MSA Representatives and volunteers at Veterans homes and hospitals is inspiring. The dedication I have seen by Grand Secretaries and many Masons is reassuring.
When I made the commitment to serve as Executive Secretary for three years, I anticipated the position would continue for a longer period. MSA’s commissioners are working to reorganize the Association, and after 100 years, one of these changes may be the elimination of an Executive Secretary. Despite my presentation to them in February that would turn a deficit into a surplus, they have chosen a different path with an uncertain future.
I hope what has made MSA so important continues—disaster relief, education, and comforting veterans, but I am not so sure it will. But I will continue to help these programs as long as I can. - Simon R. LaPlaceThe assorted past grand masters who comprise the MSA's Commissioners have decided in their infinite wisdom to eliminate the position of Executive Secretary completely - thereby robbing the internationally known organization of its public face, most visible cheerleader, and central ringleader. Apparently, the Commissioners will now divvy up the roles that Simon and his long line of high-profile, storied predecessors have fulfilled since the 1920s.
The Executive Secretary has played a vital role in being the personal contact between grand lodge officers who know little or nothing about it and the range of services MSA provides. I know just from my own observation that Simon has overseen major updating and streamlining of the MSA since he arrived three years ago.
Under his leadership the MSA cooperated with the Amity software folks to integrate information and Short Talk Bulletins with their phone app, making it more useful to all Masons. The entire library of over 1,000 previous STBs were indexed, reformatted, and republished in easily referenced hardback editions, making almost a full century of collected wisdom accessible once again to a whole new audience of Masons and researchers. MSA finally began accepting online credit card donations, which dramatically increased the Disaster Appeal fundraising efforts. Even the most recent dead tree version of the STB arriving in the mail today represents a major change in the printing format and vendor. To say nothing of his work for the many Disaster Relief Appeals he has shepherded and the ongoing Veteran's visitation programs that make up the backbone of MSA's services since before World War II.
Simon's nearly non-stop travel to grand lodges throughout North America have kept the story of the MSA in front of Masons everywhere, just as his predecessors did over the years. Apparently, it's been decided that's no longer needed.
The old advertising man in me is screaming that this is a terrible idea.
In addition, the central office for MSA will soon be moving from Maryland to the bustling community of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. By my own dull-witted 30 second calculation, the current office sits less than a six hour drive from at least fourteen different US grand lodges, and even closer to at least five major international hub airports with easy, direct flights to quite literally anywhere commercial aircraft fly today. This isn't a hit on Iowa, but let's just say Cedar Rapids does not.
I don't believe that any of this is a good development for the MSA, and I hope the Commissioners take big deep breath before they jump off this cliff.
Many thanks to Simon and his lovely bride Deborah for their hard work, leadership and devotion. They will both be sorely missed as the MSA's most visible ambassadors.