Indiana's Grand Lodge Communication is now history, and it was a surprisingly enjoyable couple of days.
First off, congratulations to MWBro. Jeffrey P. Zaring (left), our newly elected Grand Master for 2008-2009. Along with many thanks to outgoing GM Duane Vaught for his year in the Grand East.
While I was personally disappointed that certain legislation was deemed "not in proper form," it was heartening that the proposal to allow wine at Masonic feasts only lost by a very close 20 votes. With some education in the coming year, perhaps this archaic and frankly illogical episode of Masonic prohibition will at last end. What part of "started in taverns" do our brethren not understand? Our JWs are to see that we do not convert the purposes of refreshment into intemperance or excess, not engage in a Masonic crusade to restore the Volstead Act. Perhaps they will understand next year.
A $1.75 per capita increase passed with a minimum of screaming or shouts of "Fixed income!" from the assembled Masters. Frankly, quite refreshing.
One presentation I won't go into many details on was quite enlightening. PGM Vaught sent out a survey of new Master Masons, and the results were frankly quite startling. I am waiting on a more detailed analysis of the results, but one important finding was that, after a decade of wags declaring that "young men don't have the time or patience to become Masons the old way," the real truth is that men who joined under the age of 30 want to take their time, with more difficult requirements and an individual experience. It was the men in their 40s and up who have no patience and want the one day class experience. There was MUCH more in this study, but once it is more carefully examined, I think it will turn a lot of assumptions Masonic leaders around the country have been making on their ears.
Following the installation of officers on Wednesday, what appeared to be in excess of 200 Masons lined up behind the Templars of Raper Commandery No. 1 and paraded from the Scottish Rite Cathedral across North Street (creating a brief menace to navigation) to the northeast corner of Indiana Freemasons' Hall, where the original 1909 cornerstone was rededicated (see photos by Brother Fred Golgart here). This event kicks off the beginning of the centennial celebration of the headquarters of Indiana Freemasonry, which will culminate next year in some Big Doings™. More as it becomes available.
Myself, Jim Dillman, Roger S. Van Gorden PGM, and Nathan Brindle.
Several of the Founding Fellows of The Masonic Society were on hand. Honestly. When we joined this fraternity, we all weighed 110 pounds.
Wbro. Jim Dillman, along with Wbro. Ken Ruckersfeld, was awarded the Order of Service to Masonry, an honor conferred on brethren for true service and selfless sacrifice to the fraternity in Indiana. This is no mere piece of Masonic bling, or a backpat from cronies in Grand lodge. It is voted upon by a committee, and the vote must be unanimous. It is not awarded every year, and is one of the highest honors any Indiana Mason can achieve. My heartfelt congratulations go out to Ken and Jim. Honestly, when PGM Vaught announced Jim's award at Grand Lodge, I almost cried. I serve with him (and Nathan) on the Indianapolis Masonic Temple Association board. Jim puts 20 hours a week or more in at Indiana Freemasons' Hall, in addition to his full time job. He has been the spark that has resulted in a complete turnaround in the destiny of the building, and in changing the minds of so many naysayers who are now stepping up to help. He's about to get us started on a multi-million dollar fundraising program, and I truly don't know what we'd do without him.
With all of that, he spends what little time he has left traveling central Indiana lodges to help with any aspect of the ritual that is needed. There are literally hundreds of Indiana Masons for whom Jim has played a role in their degree work. And he was instrumental this year in spearheading the formation, practices and performances of Levant Preceptory.
Likewise, Ken Ruckersfeld has been a tireless worker for Freemasonry. He is a member of Pentalpha Lodge in Indianapolis, but he is also one of the driving forces behind Indiana's Bartimaeus Lodge U.D., a special purpose lodge that exists solely to assist lodges in conferring degrees on handicapped candidates.
Bravo to both of these outstanding brethren.