I was in Canada for the Alberta Masonic Spring Workshop, and I was unable to participate in Levant Preceptory's first opportunity to confer the Templar Order in full medieval garb. I understand it was cold, but it has been described by those who were there as the most incredible experience they have had at a Masonic Templar event.
Sir Knights participated from the following Commanderies from all across Indiana:
Raper No. 1
Baldwin No. 2
Muncie No. 18
Crawfordsville No. 25
Anderson No. 32
Greenfield No. 39
Hammond No. 41
Trinity No. 62
H.E. Lackey No. 67
More info as I get it. But the photo above (click to enlarge) tells a big part of the story.
More photos on Eminent Grand Commander Andrew Jackson's Myspace page.
From a forum posting by Sir Knight Jim Dillman (Prelate, 2nd from left in the photo above):
What an incredible and rewarding day. Talk about running the entire gamut of human emotions- I don't think I managed to skip more than a handful over the course of the day. I got up this morning feeling much as I suspect someone would feel the day after running a marathon. I was both physically and mentally exhausted and I've spent virtually the entire day horizontal. But enough about me.
There are so many people to thank. Let me start with our hosts at the Indiana Masonic Home. CEO (and now also Sir Knight) John Rose, food services manager Steve Treadway, the IMH staff, and the residents who volunteered set a standard for hospitality that very few will ever measure up to. I have never been associated with more accomodating individuals anytime anywhere. It's not difficult to understand why the Indiana Masonic Home is one of the finest facilities of it's kind in the entire country. The feast was simply amazing. I should add that John Rose was the exemplar in the Order of the Temple. He was a good sport about having to wear sandals for two hours in temperatures not far from freezing and I hope his feet have thawed out.
Eminent Grand Commander Andy Jackson and Grand Recorder Larry Kaminsky were with us from the very beginning. They have both provided not only an immense amount of moral support, but have also opened up their wallets to help us along the way. Grand Prelate Ed Sebring has been one of our biggest fans and he dedicated a lot of space in the Indiana Supplement to Templar Magazine to promoting Levant Preceptory. Many other current and past Grand Commandery officers have offered encouragement, advice, and kind words and it has all been very much appreciated. Sir Knight Mike Ritter did a magnificent job handling the RSVP's and registration of candidates.
Special thanks go to Sir Knights George Kivett, John Gray, and Jason Sawin for lending us a hand with the candidates and setting up the conferral of the Order. I wish I could tell you the name of the Sir Knight from Fort Wayne Commandery who saved me a great deal of embarrassment by donating a box of candles. I somehow managed to misplace a new box of candles and didn't realize it until mere minutes before the conferral of the Order was to begin, the discovery of which resulted in several minutes of pure horror. Several other Sir Knights were kind enough to help out with various tasks over the course of the day and I apologize to them for being unable to list them by name. Much of yesterday is still a big blur.
I unfortunately wasn't able to take the time to watch, but I understand that H.E. Lackey Commandery and Fort Wayne Commandery both did an outstanding job of conferring the Illustrious Order of the Red Cross and the Order of Malta respectively. Congratulations to both.
To all of those who braved the nasty weather, including the candidates, thank you very much. I hope you had an enjoyable day in spite of the lousy conditions.
Finally, to all of my fellow members of Levant Preceptory, I can't adequately express in words how proud I am of all of you and how lucky I feel to have been a part of all of this. You invested an enormous amount of time, money, and effort into making yesterday a huge success. To a man, you have all stepped up in one way or another apart from simply playing a part in the conferral of the Order of the Temple. As SK Roger Van Gorden mentioned to me yesterday, considering that this was the first time out for a group that has never worked together before with most of the members doing parts they have never done before, it could not have gone any better. We have a few minor wrinkles to work out, but I thought it was very impressive. I should note that the only time we have had the entire group together at one time was on Friday night at our dress rehearsal. I'm deeply indebted to all of you and you have my undying admiration.
. . . I don't want to get overly caught up in all of the pageantry surrounding Levant Preceptory's conferral of the Order of the Temple. He was quite right to note that the message of the Order should be our primary concern. The Order of the Temple is a decidedly Christian Order, but the message is universal to the point that men of many faiths have taken the vows of the Masonic Knights Templar without compromising their personal religious beliefs. Christians do not hold an exclusive patent on faith, loyalty, charity, sacrifice, truth, or any of the other chivalric virtues inculcated in the Commandery Orders in general and the Order of the Temple in particular. I hope that Levant Preceptory effectively conveyed the message of this beautiful and inspiring Order.
From a message posted by Sir Knight Robert Coleman (dressed as a monk, 3rd from right in the photo):
Yesterday was one of the most profound experiences in Masonry I've ever enjoyed. I'm especially pleased, because Levant Preceptory is our gift to Templary. But I want to point out that what we did yesterday is only a highlight to the profound truths taught to Templar Masons for over a hundred years. The important thing here is taking the message taught in the conferral back to our home commanderies, and impressing this message on our new Sir Knights--a message I think got through loud and clear.
And to echo Sir Knight Smith, I'll give that message whether I'm wearing short coat, long coat or maille coat.