"To preserve the reputation of the Fraternity unsullied must be your constant care."


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

W:.B:. Sidney Gilbert Turns 106

Happy 106th Birthday to W:.B:. Sidney Gilbert from Lakeland, Florida. Bro. Gilbert is a 33° Scottish Rite Mason, a Shriner, and a Brother for over 80 years!

Born in Krupki, Russia on June 30th, 1904, Gilbert immigrated with his family to New York City in 1911. He stayed there until 1946, when he moved to Lakeland, where he went into business with his father-in-law. Over the years, Gilbert owned orange groves and sold tractors, trucks and refrigerators for Franzblau Gilbert Equipment Co. He was married for 42 years to Clara Gilbert, who died in 1976. He was married to Ingrid Katz for 24 years, who also died. He has four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

For the record, he is also the oldest member of Kiwanis International.

Author and Brother Tony Pope Honored

Respected Australian author, W:.B:. Tony Pope was invested with the Grand Master's Order of Service to Freemasonry, for special service to Freemasonry, at the meeting of South Australian Lodge of Research No. 216 held last Friday evening, 25 June, by MWBro. Rob Casson PGM on behalf of the MW Grand Master of South Australia and Northern Territory. This honor is rarely conferred.

Bravos, huzzahs and congratulations to Brother Pope for this singular and well-deserved honor.

The citation reads, in part:

CITATION for Bro. Anthony (Tony) Ronald Francis Pope - Award of Grand Master's Order of Service to Freemasonry, for rendering Special Service to the Craft, Grand Lodge of South Australia and Northern Territory:

Tony Pope was initiated into Freemasonry in South Australian Lodge of Research No.216 on 19 Jan 1979, Passed 18/5/79 and Raised in that lodge 17/8/79. He was Installed as WM of South Australian Lodge of Research (SALoR) on 9 Nov 1990.

Born in England, Tony served in the British Army with overseas postings including East Africa, before coming to South Australia (SA) where he joined the South Australian Police Force and was posted to the country. Eventually he worked in SA Police prosecutions, including serving as editor of publications of the Police prosecutions division.

After his retirement, in mid 1990's Tony moved to Murrayville, Victoria, as his wife, a nurse, had secured a position there. From 1999 he served two terms as Master of the Murrayville Lodge, UGL of Victoria, and was Master when that Lodge closed in 2001. Subsequently, on the retirement of his wife from nursing, they moved to Tailem Bend where he joined Lodge of Fortitude in about 2000. He served as Treasurer of SALoR for 3 years from October 2000 and one year as Secretary of the Lodge of Fortitude from May 2004.

Around 2000 he was appointed Representative at the Grand Lodge of South Australia of the MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Ohio, resigning that position when he left to live in Queanbeyan (near Canberra).

Tony Pope is an outstanding and distinguished researcher into Freemasonry, with high and rigorous standards as an editor of Masonic publications. He was editor of four volumes of the Transactions of SA Lodge of Research. In 1992 Tony Pope was one of the founding officers of what is now the Australian and New Zealand Masonic Research Council (ANZMRC), an association of the Masonic research bodies and lodges of Australia and New Zealand and with associate members in Europe, Africa, the Americas, India and SE Asia. Tony edited all ANZMRC books from 1993 until 2008, and conceived and continues to edit "Harashim", the quarterly Masonic newsletter of ANZMRC, now in its 14th year.

Tony has written extensively about Freemasonry, including papers on Modern English Masonic exposures, Irish Masonry in Tasmania, Regularity and Recognition, French Freemasonry (considerably aided by his command of French), Liberal and Adogmatic Grand Lodges, and Prince Hall Freemasonry.

Tony is a world authority on the early history of (African American) Prince Hall Freemasonry, for which he was appointed a Kellerman Lecturer by ANZMRC, and given a literary award by the Prince Hall Masonic research body, the Phylaxis Society. The Phylaxis Society also awarded him the title, "Man of the Year" for his research into the history of Prince Hall.

Tony Pope was co author with Kent Henderson of the two volume publication "Masonry Universal: a new Masonic world guide" which appeared 1998-2000 (in succession to the 1984 publication "Masonic World Guide" written by Kent Henderson).

In recent years Tony has undertaken two overseas trips during which he met with Masonic researchers in France, England and the USA. More recently, in October 2009 W.Bro Pope was one of four overseas speakers at a symposium conducted in Ankara for the centenary celebrations of the Grand Lodge of Turkey. The symposium topic was `Freemasonry and Brotherhood'. Tony Pope's paper `Brothers under the skin' was about racial segregation in North American Freemasonry. His paper outlined the defects of the current system of recognition between Prince Hall and mainstream grand lodges, and pointed to actions by Grand Lodges in Australia and New Zealand which have rejected notions of territoriality and recognition imposed by other Grand Lodges, thus asserting their own sovereignty, namely: the admission of Prince Hall Masons regardless of whether the Grand Lodge is `recognised'; the recognition of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Georgia by some Australian Grand Lodges, despite the fact that PHA Georgia lacks USA mainstream Grand Lodge recognition; the adoption by South Australia of the `when in Rome' rule, allowing its members to visit `recognised' lodges which have `unrecognised' visitors; and the recognition by South Australia of both the Grand Orient of
Italy and the Regular Grand Lodge of Italy (which do not recognise each other).

Thanks to Richard Num for posting this information.

New Books from Cornerstone

Brother Michael Poll's Cornerstone Book Publishers in Louisiana continues to be an incredible resource for new works on Freemasonry and other esoteric subjects, along with releasing classics and little-known works. Consider the list of new releases this week:

The Cross and the Square, edited by Michael R. Poll.
A collection of Christian sermons delivered by Freemasons, some Christian ministers, in Christian churches. It spans the 1700's to 1900's

Organization of the Grand Lodge of England by Albert Mackey

The Secret Doctrine of the Rosicrucians, by Magus Incognito (William Walker Atkinson). A 1918 work that includes: "The Soul of the World"; "The Planes of Consciousness"; "The Seven Cosmic Principles"; "The Aura and Auric Colors" and more.

Esoteric Teachings: the Writings of Annie Besant. Besant worked with Blavatsky and Leadbeater, and became president of the Theosophical Society in 1908. Includes: The Laws of Higher Life; The Seven Principles of Man; The Path of Discipleship; and more.

Invisible Helpers, C. W. Leadbeater's theories about the "unseen" forces who gently guide mankind.

Michael is the current president of The Masonic Society, and I would be remiss if I didn't point out that TMS members receive a substantial discount on Cornerstone's offerings. Just one more reason to join!

ICHF 2011 Deadline for Submissions is Today

Just a reminder -
today is the deadline for submissions for papers!

The third bi-annual International Conference on the History of Freemasonry will take place May 26-30, 2011 at the George Washington Masonic Memorial in Alexandria, Virginia. The first Call For Papers can be downloaded here.

The first two ICHFs took place in 2007 and 2009 in Edinburgh, Scotland, at the Grand Lodge of Scotland. These were among the largest gatherings of academic and Masonic researchers and presenters on the subject of the fraternity in the world. The 2011 Conference will be in the United States for the first time.

To quote from the Call For Papers:

Alexandria and its environs is a place where Scots played an important part in the early development of the region, as indeed they did in many other areas of America. It has been suggested therefore that one theme of the 2011 conference might be ‘Early Scottish Freemasons in North America’ and proposals for papers on that topic will be especially welcome.

Following the huge success of the first two conferences,this, the third International Conference, will see the conference achieve a level of maturity that was hoped for by the organisers and is indicative of the tremendous amount of interest in the subject of Freemasonry, in all its aspects. This is the only International Conference at which academics, members of the public and of course Freemasons, gather together to discuss this much under-estimated social phenomenon.

The main purpose of the ICHF is:
• to promote Freemasonry as a subject for academic study.
• to present and debate relevant contributions in this area of research.
• to create a forum for interactions between researchers, experts and a wider audience.
• to encourage individuals to take an interest and participate in an active exchange of knowledge in the area.

The rules for paper propsals are as follows:

www.northernnetworking.co.uk/ichf2011.php by 30th June 2010. Late proposals will not be accepted. All proposals will be subject to anonymous peer review. The outcome of the review of all the proposals will be announced by 17th September 2010.

Submissions must contain:
• Author’s name, institution, postal and email addresses, telephone number
• Co-author’s names if applicable
• Title of paper or panel session
• Name of chair for a panel session
• Three to five suggested key words for indexing papers
• 300 word abstract of each paper (with an additional 200 word justification for a panel session)
• Please state the category to which you are submitting:
• Paper or
• Panel Session

Please submit your proposal to the Conference Organisers to: www.northernnetworking.co.uk/ichf2011.php no later than 30th June 2010.
Receipt of your proposal will be acknowledged within 5 working days. Outcome advised by 17th September 2010.

The ICHF has set up a blog to keep interest parties informed about plans, programming and deadlines for the conference.

The Public Announcement can be read here.

The ICHF is a non-profit making, privately owned event and brand, sponsored by Supersonic Events Ltd. with no formal affiliation to any masonic or academic body. On each occasion a leading academic is appointed to convene a specialist committee responsible for the selection of suitable presentations. Any surplus generated by the ICHF will go to support young researchers and academics pursuing research in the topic and other relevent masonic projects.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Masonic Restoration Foundation Symposium 8/28-29 in Colorado

The first Masonic Restoration Foundation national symposium will be held August 28th and 29th in Colorado Springs, CO.

The focus of the two day event will be Masonic Restoration with a primary focus on identifying a set of best practices that can be regionalized and implemented in those lodges seeking to increase the fulfillment of its members. The conference is not a standard Masonic training workshop or educational call for papers. They are taking a mixed approach of both the corporate integrated learning and team building and combining it with a Traditional Observance lodge experience so that the ideas that might be addressed have been experienced and are not purely conceptual.

Enlightenment Lodge 198 will host a tyled meeting highlighting the Traditional Observance model. The focus will be to demonstrate an educational and philosophical meeting with nationally renowned author and speaker Timothy Freke, NY Times bestselling author of The Jesus Mysteries: Was The Original Jesus A Pagan God?. Saturday's program will be at the Colorado Springs Masonic Center, 1150 Panorama Drive. Sunday will be at the Center For Creative Leadership, 850 Leader Way. Sunday evening will feature closing festivities at 15C Club, Martini and Cigar Bar 15 East Bijou, with a whiskey master and cigar roller on site.

Full agenda is available at www.traditionalobservance.com .

Seating is limited to 120, so if you plan on attending you should register as it is not even July and they are half full. Registration costs start at $110 for the Symposium alone, and vary according to activities.

The MRF provides education and training to individuals, lodges and grand lodges on ways to establish quality programs, academic excellence and social relevance in their Masonic communities.

Masonic Belts from a Texas Brother

Koyote Logo Belt Company, run by Brother Koyle Kape down in Boerne, Texas has created a beautiful belt for Freemasons and/or Shriners. I can attest to its craftsmanship and rugged construction, as I wear mine every day.

There are options for blue lodge, Texas Masonry, and the Shrine, with a brass or chrome panel in the back that can be customized with your lodge name, or message of your choosing. The basic version starts at $39.95.

My only gripe is that I'm dropping pounds so fast that I'll have to order a smaller one soon.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Freemasonry. Be Legendary.

If we're going to advertise, here's my suggestion.

Of course, it presupposes that we as Masons and our lodges live up to the legend, as well. If not, why aren't we?

R:.W:. John "Bo" Cline New Masonic Society Vice President

Myself and RW John "Bo" Cline at the Grand Lodge of Alaska last year.

This announcement was made officially today by Michael Poll, president of the Masonic Society:

I would like to introduce our new 2nd Vice President, MWBro. John R. "Bo" Cline. MWBro. Cline is a Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Alaska and comes to us with an energy, skill and dedication that perfectly fits the bill for TMS. In a world where electronic communication is key, Bro. Bo, is right on the mark with the vision of TMS and our programs. He is already joining in the party with helping in our planning and organizational development.

A sincere thank you also goes to our retiring 2nd Vice President, WBro. Fred Kleyn. Bro. Kleyn provided a great service to TMS with his work last year on our by-laws and providing exposure for TMS in California. Bro. Kleyn submitted his resignation this past Saturday due to prior commitments and duties which did not provide him enough time for the duties of a TMS VP. We deeply thank Bro. Kleyn for his service and wish him all the best in his future endeavors.

The Masonic Society continues to grow and evolve in a decisive and positive manner. The other day I was at a Masonic gathering and was talking with someone about TMS. The brother asked how many years we have been around. When I told him that we are a little over 2 years old, his eyes opened almost as wide as plates. He said that he had no idea, that he thought we were one of those "classic old societies" that have been around forever. We have become known. We have become the standard by which others are judged. But, this did not happen by the action or inaction of others. It has been by the hard work, dedication, foresight and determination of TMS. No one should doubt the resolve we have in making TMS into the best that it can be. No one should doubt that we will continue to evolve, define and refine ourselves.

There will be more announcements in the near future as I am absolutely determined to keep the progressive momentum going. We will continue to provide the very best for our membership and be the type of society envisioned when TMS was created.

My Brothers, wonderful things are happening!

Brother Robert C. Byrd, Dead at 92

Brother Robert Carlyle Byrd died this morning at 3 AM. Brother Byrd was a United States Senator (D) from West Virginia, from January 3, 1959, until his death, and was the longest-serving Senator as well as the longest-serving member in U.S. Congressional history. He was also the oldest member of Congress at the time of his death, and the first senator to serve uninterrupted for half a century.

Byrd was a member of Mountain Lodge No. 156 in Coal City, West Virginia, as well as the West Virginia Valley of the Scottish Rite (SJ), and the Beni Kedem Shrine in Charleston.

"In the grave all ranks are leveled, all distinctions vanish. While we drop a sympathetic tear in remembrance of our departed Brother, let us cast around his foibles, whatever they may have been, the broad mantle of Masonic charity; and pay to his memory the commendation that his virtues deserve."

Born November 20, 1917, died June 28, 2010.


"Old Masters Scotch" Coming Soon To the U.S.

Richard Lombard-Chibnall, director of Lombard Brands, informed me last month that they will soon be shipping approximately 280 cases (12 bottles per case), a total of 3,360 bottles, of Old Masters' Scotch Whisky to the U.S.

That's fine for me, but it won't leave much for anyone else...

I am on a mailing list for the US distributer, so I will pass along the dates when they will be available, as soon as I know them.

From their website description:

Old Masters is a rich blend originally created for the Freemasons and has been carefully chosen from selected grain whiskies and specific Highland and Speyside malts. This is the perfect Masonic Gift for a Mason, Brother, Master or Past Master. If you are a mason to any degree you will appreciate the fantastic picture label on this bottle. This wonderful item would create a fabulous talking point before and after any Lodge meeting or diner. It would also make a great prize for a Masonic raffle or initiation ceremony. This item is totally unique and original.

This item is not available in any shops and is in limited supply, making it very rare and collectable. This item is now supplied online in a Lombard's Card Gift Box.

Tasting Notes:

"The perfect nose to experience blindfolded (how else...?) as the depth of the fruit and grain - and their happy intermingling - is astonishing. A few under-ripe gooseberries here. Light, graceful arrival with the early emphasis on a Speyside malt theme before some grain and oak kicks in. Pretty long with touches of cocoa though the fresh malt lingers. A high quality blend that doesn't stint on the malt. The nose, in particular, is sublime.
- 92 points."
Jim Murray - Whisky Bible 2008

UPDATE from Brother Jared Card, the US Distributor in Delaware:

Friends and Brothers,

I have good news for all. The Old Masters Whisky has gone into production and bottling. The scheduled arrival date into the USA is sometime in early September. For the first bottling, there are only around 2500 bottles coming into the country. There will be more after that, but we need to gauge the demand for Old Masters so we will use this shipment as a trial to determine how much is needed to keep a consistent supply available. Please forward this email to any interested parties and have them send a reply so we can add them to our mailing list. The whisky should be retailing for around $29.99. This price is not set in stone but should be used as a general approximation of cost. I have attached a picture of the label as approved by the federal government so you all can see what the bottle and label will look like. Please don't hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns you may have. If you know how many bottles you would like you may send in a tentative order to this email and we will be sure that you get your bottles. First come first serve so don't wait until it gets here. All orders will be confirmed when the whisky arrives, and we will let you know where to go and get it. Thanks for all your patience and support. Hope to hear from you all soon. I have copied below a review of the Old Masters written by Jim Murray. If you don't know, he is the world's leading whisky critic and does the Whisky Bible every year. The Whisky Bible is a book that rates and scores thousands of whiskies each year. It is one of the most respected whisky references there is. His review reads:

"Old Masters “Freemason Whisky”(92 points)
nose: The perfect nose to experience blindfolded (how else ….?) as the depth of the fruit and grain – and their happy intermingling – is astonishing. A few under-ripe gooseberries here;
taste: Light, graceful arrival with the early emphasis on a Speyside malt theme before some grain and oak kicks in;
finish: pretty long with touches of cocoa though the fresh malt lingers;
balance: a high quality blend that doesn’t stint on the malt. The nose, in particular, is sublime.

Jared Card
Lombard Scotch Whisky Company

Jared tells me all sales in the US will be handled by mail order, so contact him by phone or email. In states that direct liquor shipments can't be made to your home, he can arrange to ship them to a local liquor store for you.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

14 brethren Raised at Joint Degree in Indianapolis

This message came today from my friend and brother Carson Smith:

Dear Brethren:
Century Lodge No. 764 F&AM, which meets at Indiana Freemasons' Hall, participates in the Annual Ecumenical Breakfast with Prince Hall, the Knights of Peter Claver and the Knights of Columbus, and has always welcomed our Prince Hall Brethren to attend our degree conferrals and social events, but I had never been in the Prince Hall Masonic Temple, at 2201 N. Cenral Avenue, until Saturday morning. It was good to renew my acquaintances with the Brethren of Meridian Lodge No. 33, and Sumner A. Furniss Lodge No. 61 and, in particular, Sir Knight Walter Lee, Eminent Commander of Gethsemane Commandery No. 33, who has been an honored Guest at Raper Commandery No. 1. I want to thank the Brethren for extending to me every courtesy, for allowing me to witness their conferral of the Master Mason Degree and going so far as to allow me to serve as one of the Walking Craft, and assisting in the raising of no fewer than fourteen (14) Master Masons. But for me, the highlight of this experience was the privilege of serving as a faithful Giblemite to Past Master, Past High Priest and Past Potentate Miller, who witnessed the raising of his grandson, Keith Miller, to the Sublime Degree of a Master Mason.

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." (Matthew 5:16 KJV)

Grand Master of Serbia in Playboy Interview

Dr. Čedomir Vukić, Grand Master of the Regular Grand Lodge of Serbia, was interviewed in March by the Serbian edition of Playboy Magazine. And I'll bet you never knew there was a Serbian edition of Playboy.

From the article by Perica Gunjić:

"Most of all it is a great adrenalin rush. You know, the ritual, when you are blindfolded for about an hour and a half and you are faced with yourself the whole time. When you go through that kind of enlightenment it helps you advance both as a human being, an individual and a selfless member of the community. Everyone who goes through initiation feels similar excitement, When you are faced with all the symbols when you realize that everything is in the earth, air and water, the Master of Ceremony, who guides you through initiation, presents a brotherly hand that leads you to your goal."


"Being initiated into the brotherhood and truly being and living like a freemason are completely different things. Brotherhood is sometimes naïve in its innocence; it opens up to you honestly and completely and sometimes it happens that a man, led by his own ambition and opportunism defames the reputation of the brotherhood. Then it takes time and effort to restore this reputation, leaving a scar that never heals in the heart of every brother. But brotherhood is stronger than evil-thinkers and their actions."


"Freemasonry has also adjusted and tries to approach people with the intention to explain how it is possible, without any conspiracy, for two people who might not have met otherwise to become friends and perhaps brothers. This interview is one of the ways. Someone could say: “What brings together freemasons and Playboy.” But it is very easy to find the connection, because Playboy used to be a magazine which was publicly crucified by many “well-meaning” people just because it erased borders created by not so well intending people, showing the natural beauty of a woman and breaking taboos, fighting for human freedoms, right to personal beliefs, right to participate in the cultural life, right to education, freedom of expression, which are all written in the declaration of UN and which are ideas that freemasonry fights for."

There really are men who read Playboy for the articles. [Please insert your own punchline here.] In any case, what better venue to reach a virtually all-male audience to tell the true story of Freemasonry? Or am I crazy?

Read the whole article here.

Where Are Our Military Lodges?

My friend and brother from San Antonio, Richard Vickery, has been cycled back to Afghanistan. Have a look at his blog post from today in which Vick brings up an issue that has been bothering me for years.

Military lodges spread the fraternity around the globe almost since its London beginnings. If you know nothing about this phenomena, have a look at Jessica Harland-Jacobs' excellent book, Builders of Empire: Freemasonry and British Imperialism, 1717-1927. Jacob makes the strong case that Irish regimental military lodges, in particular, expanded the influence of Freemasonry farther and faster across the British Empire than any other force for almost hundred years.

Prince Hall Freemasons have long embraced military lodges, and in many cases, servicemen who are not Masons first encounter Freemasonry in active duty overseas through a contact with Prince Hall Masonry. Many servicemen are initiated in PHA military lodges overseas, where no one is dithering about regularity, recognition, or more important, race. Yet, mainstream US grand lodges, with very few exceptions, have overwhelmingly rejected military lodges since WWI. So, there's no chance to become a Mason, as many early Americans did, in a military lodge, unless it is in a Prince Hall one. Then those same servicemen, and new Masons, go home and are told after their years of service and their excited interest in their new fraternity, "Yikes! You're CLANDESTINE! You're not a mason! You joined the wrong lodge!" Nor is there any opportunity for sojourning Masons in Iraq or Afghanistan to take a couple of hours and enjoy lodge with brethren, without breaking their obligation, if their mother GL does not recognize the Prince Hall grand lodge sponsoring the military lodge they find.

So, why can't mainstream US GLs come to an agreement, to either sponsor military lodges overseas themselves, or to recognize PHA GLs across the board, so that our servicemen can enjoy the diversion and benefits of Masonic fellowship. without what should rightly be regarded as petty administrational squabbles back home? Racial divides fell a long time ago in the military, so they shouldn't be finding it in lodges and grand lodges of a fraternity that espouses universal brotherhood. And there is a gaping hole in serving our existing members in combat and deployment areas, as well as bringing new initiates to Masonic light. Yes, I understand the problems of long-distance administrivia of secretarial paperwork, as well as the vicissitudes of lodge officers being cycled around by their military scheduling and movements. But all of that can be worked out—it has been by others in the past. What is different now?

Canadians have had several of these lodges for quite a long time, and they have managed it. In these days of email, records can be sent instantly. Require all military lodge officers to be PMs, so they can fill in anywhere. All of these problems could be solved. And should be.

At the very least, there should be a strong move in mainstream and PHA GLs that have already recognized their counterparts within their own territories to expand recognition to all regular jurisdictions of both obediences. It is madness that an Indiana mainstream Mason cannot sit in a California PHA lodge, because California PHA and the GL of Indiana F&AM haven't exchanged the proper paperwork, even though each have recognized their counterparts within their own states. Perhaps the Conference of Grand Masters of North America could encourage this, and find a way to streamline the process of 100+ GLs having to contact each other to accomplish this. And it would be most helpful if PHA GLs would find a way to collectively assist in this matter. It would be to the benefit of all brethren.

Friday, June 25, 2010

UGLE's New PR Firm: "There are no secrets in Freemasonry"

Far-called, our navies melt away;
On dune and headland sinks the fire:
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget -- lest we forget!

Brother Rudyard Kipling
"Recessional," 1897
I think American Masonry can stop apologizing to our English brethren for billboard campaigns and one day classes now.

Earlier this week, the United Grand Lodge of England's Grand Secretary, Nigel Brown, told a reporter from the Times, "It would be intolerable for any Mason to say, ‘I’m sorry I can’t tell you that’.”

Now, the UGLE has hired a public relations firm to improve its public image in the United Kingdom. And the message they are spreading to the English community? "There are no secrets in Freemasonry ."

From today's PR Week by Gemma O'Reilly:

Since its inception in the 18th century, the practice of Freemasonry has been well known for allegedly using secret handshakes and other obscure rituals.

But the United Grand Lodge of England is keen to shed more light on its shadowy practices as the organisation approaches its 300th birthday in 2017.

The Lodge, which governs Freemasonry in England, Wales and the Channel Islands, has appointed Bondy Consulting as a retained consultancy to build greater awareness of Freemasonry and ensure the practice’s long-term future.

Grand secretary of the United Grand Lodge Nigel Brown said: ‘Freemasonry is now run as a modern business and it is important our communication reflects this. Freemasonry plays a unique role in society today and it is vital we encourage people to talk openly about it and dispel the many unfounded myths associated with it.’

Freemasonry has 250,000 members, including 30,000 overseas. It is one of the world’s largest non-religious, non-political, fraternal and charitable organisations.

Bondy founder Jessica Bondy said: ‘We have been appointed to combat common misconceptions including those of secrecy. There are no secrets in Freemasonry and we need to encourage people to talk openly about it. Information is totally accessible for anyone that wants it and anyone can come into Freemasons’ Hall.’

Bondy, a former MD at Ketchum, also said: ‘There is no secret handshake – this is one of the myths.’ As part of the PR drive, the agency will also promote Freemasons’ Hall, which has featured in a number of Hollywood blockbuster movies.

Bondy was selected after a competitive agency pitch.

Ironically, both Bondy and the United Grand Lodge were tight-lipped about the Freemasons’ previous PR support.

My head is about to explode. Where does one start with this...

So, Masonry is a modern business now. No secrets of any kind. Handshakes? Bah. Nought but a myth. All that piffle about secrecy. Silly, really. Nothing of any interest to see here. Move along.

Is Freemasonry in England really this ashamed of its own proud heritage? Is this seriously coming out of the Grand Secretary's office? Or does Ms. Bondy need a few more meetings to understand the nature of her client? I have a book she needs to read. When you hire flacks, the least they can do is get your story right. If your client has a complex story to tell, you don't go out and tell falsehoods, simply because it's too complicated to bother with the facts.

A quick glance at the Bondy Consulting website reveals all four of its partners are women. Did the UGLE go out of its way to hire an all-girl band for this job, obviously with zero knowledge of the fraternity, for politically correct reasons? And if Bondy Consulting's folks are supposed to be professionals at the PR business, how did they make the gaffe that "Freemasonry has 250,000 members?" In any case, the Bondy folks need a trip to the wood shed. If they were selected after a competitive pitch, the mind boggles as to what the others presented.

More to the point, if this is not just a bad case of hoof-in-mouth, and if UGLE's new direction is to completely castrate its own history and image in the hopes of rebranding itself as just another charity, with nothing to offer society but the occasional oversized check for the local ambulance service, they will be lucky to make it to their 300th anniversary.

The English press will never come around to treating Freemasonry as anything but the Ministry of Silly Handshakes and Rolled-Up Trouser Legs. Never. it's a different culture. I admire UGLE for trying to shape the message going out to the street. But they haven't considered what the message needs to be. They seem to have decided, "What we need here is some public relations! Call somebody! Get somebody!" But they are being reactive. "Press says we are secret. Secret bad. Tell them no secrets here. That will fix." Meanwhile, the very men who they need to come and join will be completely repulsed by that message. Brown's book, The Lost Symbol, will bring men to their door. But if they are told, "Really, just a big happy charity here, with some silly rituals and these wacky apron thingies. No big deal," how many will bother to petition?

Why not take the opposite tactic?

"We are legendary. We are mythic. We are extraordinary. Freemasons have changed the world. We have secrets only you can discover. We are looking for a few special men who can live up to the legend. Men of honor. It's not for everybody. It might be for you."

Asheville, NC Masonic Temple Welcomes Theatre Group

At one time, many of our temples were at the center of our communities, especially the ones built with auditoriums. They were once the location of concerts, plays, traveling speakers, political debates, and even swearing-in ceremonies for new citizens. As our incredible Masonic buildings age and require more care, sometimes we need to think outside of the box about ways to better utilize our spaces, instead of rushing to pitch them overboard. And with a little work, they can be important to our communities again.

The Masonic Temple in Asheville, North Carolina has formed a partnership with a local theatre group that will bring new life to its 1915 building. The Montford Park Players will make their home in the Temple's 270-seat auditorium. The announcement was made Friday by John R. Yarnall, president of the Asheville Masonic Temple, and John Russell, the Managing Director of The Montford Park Players.

According to the article at MountainXpress.com:

“This is an intimate space,” Yarnall said. The theatre allows for amazing “interaction between actors, musicians and their audience and the acoustics are phenomenal,” Yarnall said, adding that The Montford Park Players were the temple’s first choice when deciding whom to offer the space to. Russell, in turn, made a pledge on behalf of the company, promising to “be good stewards” to the theatre.

“Our goal is to completely renovate the building,” Yarnall said, describing why, after so many years of privacy, the temple has decided to open its doors to the public and to local entertainers. He described the building on a whole as a time capsule where “little has been done in 60 to 80 years.” Partnerships such as this will help the temple earn revenue to support their ambition renovations plans, which include painting the ceiling of the theatre midnight blue, decorated with constellations from the Zodiac. “We want to do this building justice by reaching out to the community,” Yarnall said. “We want to bring the community into our home.”

There are 48 backdrops, all hand painted by Chicago artists Thomas Gibbs Moses, hanging in the eaves and rafters above the theatre (which haven’t been moved since 1915). The paintings and elaborate six-piece sets were “used for Masonic rituals” by the Scottish Rite, a branch of the masonic order. When walking into the space for today’s announcement, a landscape painting set the scene: Green earth and palm trees run into dark, ominous mountains and the two worlds are separated by a winding river. Yarnall described the backdrop as “Eden fading into less-than-Eden.” These backdrop are visually stunning, and will add to the dimension an quality of the Montford Park Players’ performances.

The groups are incorporating a dinner with the shows, since the Temple features a large banquet hall and commercial kitchen. Under the agreement, the Temple will receive a portion of ticket sales as their rental fee, and all rental fees will be placed in a fund designated solely for the renovation of the Temple.

The building is home to Mount Hermon Lodge No. 118, chartered in 1848, and Asheville Chapter No. 25, Royal Arch Masons, chartered in 1852.

According to a listing from Asheville's registry of National Historic Places, the 1915 Masonic Temple is the only fraternal building in town that still retains its original use. The first floor includes offices, fireproof vaults for lodge records, lodge rooms, banquet hall, massive fireplaces and iron columns, while the second and third floors are used for lodge meetings and the Scottish Rite.

In the years following the completion of the Temple, Mount Hermon Lodge realized Asheville was becoming a health resort, and a committee of doctors suggested that sojourning sick brethren be given attention, which led to the foundation of Asheville's Good Samaritan Mission. The Lodge set an example for the Mission in 1918, during the terrible Spanish influenza that swept through the country, when the members turned over their entire lodge as a hospital for ailing African Americans in Buncombe County.

The Temple's architect was Richard Sharp Smith, a British-born Freemason who was hired to supervise the construction of George Vanderbilt's nearby Biltmore Castle. The basement and first floor includes a reading room and library, secretaries' offices, lobby, dining room and kitchen. (At one time, the basement housed a bowling alley, but today has a a small lodge room where pieces of logs are used for pedestals and saplings for staffs, with wicker furniture believed to be older than the building. The second floor space is for the lodge and York Rite bodies, while the third and fourth floors contain the auditorium for the Scottish Rite.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Historic Montana Masonic site vandalized. Again.

Mullan Pass Historic Lodge No. 1862, near the Continental Divide, was the location of the first meeting of Freemasons in Montana.

A story today in the Billings Gazette reports that the historic site was recently vandalized, for the third time in as many years. According to the article,

The site, in a clearing adjacent to a small spur off Austin Mullan Pass Road, features a podium on an altar and several stone pedestals, lined by plank benches.

Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton said it appeared at least four vehicles were involved in the vandalism. The pedestals were knocked over, and a metal railing around the altar appears to have been chain-sawed and pulled out of place.
“As of right now, we do not have estimates on the cost to repair the site,” he said.

According to Dutton, a caretaker for the site checked it on June 6 and found it fine, with the damage done sometime between that date and his next visit on June 18.


Ellestad said several Masonic groups in the area got together and built the stone fixtures, which are laid out to replicate what would be found in a Masonic lodge. He said the site is used for a meeting once a year, with this year’s event scheduled for late July.

According to Ellen Baumler of the Montana Historical Society, lore has it that three men with the first Fisk Expedition, charged with seeking a northern route across the Great Plains, held the first ever Masonic meeting in the state of Montana at the site near what became known as Mullan Pass on the Continental Divide. The date was Sept. 23, 1862 — more than a quarter-century before Montana became a state.

“Nathaniel Langford was one of them, and he took a walk up there, and there were two others in the group that happened to be Masons,” Baumler said. “That became a pivotal event.”

Baumler said the three men who constituted the beginning of Masonry in Montana were immortalized in the famous and mysterious “3-7-77” that at one time are believed to have symbolized vigilante justice in Montana. The numbers, painted on doors and fences, warned ne’er-do-wells away from the area. Today the numbers appear on the patch of the Montana Highway Patrol and the Montana Air National Guard.

Dutton said anyone with information on the crime can call 447-8245.

Read the story of Montana's Mullen Pass Historic Lodge No. 1862 here.

As for the curious number "3-7-77" that appears on Montana's Highway Patrol badges and its connection with the early vigilante movement and Montana's Masons, see Tim Bryce's article MONTANA 3-7-77 – How Freemasonry tamed a territory.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Monday, June 21, 2010

UGLE's Grand Secretary, Nigel Brown

Ah, the English press never disappoints. In a perfectly pleasant article about the United Grand Lodge of England's Grand Secretary, they just can't help themselves. They get the term "funny handshakes" right in the title. And they drag Roberto Calvi and the P2 scandal in from left field, even though Calvi's murder was never linked by actual evidence to Freemasonry. But I digress...

"Inside the Ministry of Funny Handshakes" by Martin Waller

Everything you thought about the Masons is wrong, says the man out to change their image

The first thing you notice is the handshake — firm, dry and apparently, orthodox. No odd grips, sliding thumbs or other obvious digital manipulation. Nigel Brown laughs. “One of my jobs is to get rid of these misconceptions,” he says. He is the new public face of Freemasonry, since his appointment as Grand Secretary, United Grand Lodge of England, in 2007.

Indeed, he is probably its first public face — there have been prominent Masons in its near 300-year history, such as the Duke of Kent, Grand Master and overall head of the Lodge, with 43 years in the role. But no one before has been charged with explaining the inner workings of the movement to a largely uncomprehending world.

The Grand Lodge is at Freemasons’ Hall, off Kingsway, Central London. Millions of Londoners and tourists will have walked past the white walls of this gigantic Art Deco landmark, which contains 11.5 acres of corridors, with little idea of what happens within.

Brown has offered to show me around and debunk some of the misconceptions. For one, this is not some hermetic temple. “It’s always been open to the public — we have managed tours.”

Alternatively, you could catch it on screen. One of the top ten film locations in London, it has featured as the HQ in Spooks on TV, in the latest Sherlock Holmes film and as one of Saddam Hussein’s palaces in The Green Zone, which, it must be admitted, required only one of the less imposing meeting halls.

Among the other misconceptions: Masons do not collude with each other to gain advancement in business. They do not use hidden signs, the “grips” or “tokens”, as they are known, to do this. It is not inimical to women. It is not a religion or an order. But yes, women cannot join men’s lodges, and yes, they do wear the relevant clothing — “regalia” — for ceremonies.

For other, more outré theories, see the wilder fringes of the internet.

Freemasonry has, in its three centuries, attracted the hatred of the Roman Catholic Church, Hitler and most communist regimes. It is still seen by some as a vast, multi-tentacled conspiracy aimed at world domination.

Brown, 62, is the 13th Grand Secretary since 1813, when the movement in England and Wales was reunited after a half century of schism. He was brought up the son of a district commissioner in Northern Rhodesia, now Zambia, educated in South Africa, went to Sandhurst and became a captain in the Grenadier Guards. He went into business and became a Mason in 1985 — his father was not one, but an uncle, an Army officer, was. “A good friend who was a Mason asked if I had thought about it,” Brown says. “I said, ‘No, but tell me more’. What he told me was absolutely aligned with my thinking — the camaraderie, the rest of it.”

He found he enjoyed the ritual, and the three evenings a year Masonic events took up. In 2007, as he was winding down his consultancy business and approaching 60, he went through a month of vetting and interviews at the Lodge for the Grand Secretary’s job, the organisation’s chief executive.

“They wanted somebody who would run it as a business and open Freemasonry up so that people would realise what it was all about rather than what they thought it would be about.”

Brown insists that Masons will become more apparent in the future. “It’s absolutely vital we encourage people to talk openly about their Freemasonry. We have to get rid of all the discrimination that arose over the years because people haven’t talked about it. It’s important that it gets opened up. It would be intolerable for any Mason to say, ‘I’m sorry I can’t tell you that’.”

The discrimination, he says, is the requirement, on application to join a number of public sector jobs in the Civil Service and in local government, for any Mason to declare his membership, a disclosure that would not extend to a golf club or other social network. This was challenged by Italian Freemasons and deemed contrary to the European Convention of Human Rights, and has been written out of applications to join the Ministry of Justice and one large London council, Lambeth.

Other legal battles will follow elsewhere. “We’re going to continue with any organisation that discriminates like that,” Brown says. “We uphold the law and what we don’t do is have any allegiance or obligation to any other Freemason.”

I ask if, during his time in business, he came across, and gained advantage from, any fellow Masons. “There would be no way I would know if they were Masons. One thing to clarify is the feeling that there is a way a Mason knows who a Mason is. That isn’t so.”

There was a huge surge in Freemasonry after both world wars: at its post-Second World War height significantly larger numbers than today owed their allegiance to the Grand Lodge. This reflected the desire of returning servicemen to maintain a network that tied them together.

The more sinister side of Masonic life was inadvertently exposed in 1982, when Roberto Calvi was found hanged under Blackfriars Bridge in London, his pockets weighted down with masonry. The bridge was supposedly chosen for its symbolism.

He was a member of the Italian P2 lodge, which has no links with the Grand Lodge in London, and acted as financial adviser to the Vatican. It was, implausibly, suggested that he had committed suicide. The Roman Catholic Church is, however, opposed to Freemasonry as irreconcilable with its beliefs. Before he became Pope Benedict XV1, Cardinal Ratzinger said: “The Church’s negative judgment in regard to Masonic association remains unchanged since their principles have always been considered irreconcilable with the doctrine of the Church and therefore membership in them remains forbidden. The faithful who enrol in Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion.”

In this he was following the accepted doctrine, and the declaration was approved by the Pope in 1983.

The Church’s opposition is, it says, because Freemasonry claims to be above all religions and this goes against Catholic teaching. Some lodges of continental origin are anti-Catholic; others do not deny the existence of God. For this reason some Catholics have claimed it is possible to belong to such lodges. But the Vatican denies local bishops the right to say that Freemasonry is acceptable.

Many public sector bodies have restrictions on Freemasonry. The police, however, do not. In 1999 a former officer was jailed for attempting to abuse his Masonic connections within the Metropolitan Police, and there have been frequent allegations of conspiracies within the force involving Freemasonry.

There have been little take up across the police forces of a voluntary code of registration for Masons. The Met’s policy, which is followed across other forces, is not to require individuals to declare membership.

To bring Masonry above the surface, Nigel Brown wrestles with several dichotomies. If not overtly religious, it is still a patchwork of religious symbolism, much of it pre or non-Christian. The chief officer at any ceremony sits at the east, for example, to represent the rising of the Sun. The all-seeing eye on a triangle and the six-pointed star are everywhere. The whole thing was seemingly cobbled together in the 17th century drawing on influences and symbols from the medieval guild of Masons, though some in the membership believe its history is longer.

It hopes to operate as a 21st-century organisation but is deeply hierarchical — the Grand Master has a veto on the creation of new lodges and what initiatives are put before the membership.

And there is the issue of women. There are about 50,000 members of the Women’s Order of Freemasonry, which celebrates its centenary this year. “They are happy to remain independent. We acknowledge them,” Brown says. You can join a lodge only by invitation, so it’s hard to see how anyone lacking a Y chromosome could infiltrate the male side. Matching organisations means sex discrimination laws do not apply.

There are three requirements for a Mason, he believes. “Thespian” — you must enjoy the ritual. “Sociable” — there is a dinner after each meeting. And “mindful of the needs of others” — governed by a “higher self” rather than pure self-interest.

We take a turn around some of the 11.5 acres of corridor. Two huge brass doors depicting the building of Solomon’s Temple open on to the main meeting hall. The inside looks like a luxurious council chamber, but vaulted with a muralled ceiling of cerulean blue that would suit a Byzantine basilica.

The building is also home to several UK lodges, each with its own meeting room. The Indian room is decked with stone brought back from the subcontinent. Outside is what looks like a rack of billiard cues, but each is topped with a brass ferrule depicting carved figures such as an eagle. These are wands, each with their appropriate ceremonial use.

We walk past another arcane object, a dark wood frame that supports a blue wrought-iron undulating lattice, apparently designed to accommodate a series of upright objects in parallel.

What is the function of that, I ask? Brown looks at me oddly. “It’s an umbrella stand.”

How they function

The structure of freemasonry is complex, reflecting its piecemeal growth since 1717, the year of the foundation of the Grand Lodge. This has control over masonry in England and Wales, through the Metropolitan Lodge and 47 more in the provinces. There are another 33 “districts”.

Scotland and Ireland have their own networks. Unaffiliated movements overseas include a huge one in the US. There is some overlap with the Grand Lodge; the latter has four districts in India.

It is is hard to judge the number of Masons worldwide, though some put it at six million. There are 250,000 on a new database at Great Queen Street, 30,000 of them overseas, the rest in England and Wales.

At Great Queen Street, 1,000 are employed by its four charities based there — the Lodge is the second biggest charitable donor outside the National Lottery, handing out more than £20 million a year. Some of the charity goes to support Masons and their dependants, some to the usual causes — £100,000 went out to the victims of the 2004 Asian tsunami.

Another 1,000 staff work directly for the Lodge itself administering the network. About a third, the most senior, are themselves masons.

Unfortunately, the Grand Secretary seems to be taking openness much too far the other direction. For him to actually declare, "It would be intolerable for any Mason to say, ‘I’m sorry I can’t tell you that’,” cuts the very heart out of the core beliefs of Freemasonry. EVERY Mason should be perfectly comfortable saying to a non-Mason, "I'm sorry, there are things I can't tell you. I gave my word. And if I told you, my word would be meaningless."

Friday, June 18, 2010

Freemasons and the International Peace Garden

A few months ago I posted information about a unique building in Brazil, Casa do Maçom, built in the shape of a square and compasses. The Grand Lodge of North Dakota's Grand Secretary, M:.W:. Curtiss Mundahl, PGM, alerted me last week to another such building, a little closer to home.

The International Peace Garden is a 2,300 acre botanical park straddling the U.S. and Canadian border between North Dakota and Manitoba. Opened in 1932, the Garden is a non-profit organization which is supported by several groups and fraternal organizations, including the Freemasons, Order of Eastern Star, American and Canadian Junior Red Cross, the Women’s Federated Institute of Canada, Odd Fellows, Rebekahs, Daughters of the British Empire (IODE), and the Knights of Columbus.

The distinctively shaped Masonic Auditorium was built in 1981, and sponsored by the Grand Lodge of North Dakota AF&AM and the Grand Lodge of Manitoba AF&AM. The combined 20,000 Masons of the two grand lodges at that time initiated the $775,000 project for concerts and practice sessions for the young people of the International Music Camp. The Masonic Auditorium is one of the many shared projects in the International Peace Garden that encourages friendship between people of the United States and Canada.

The International Peace Garden Lodge of Freemasons was formed in 1993 with Warrants granted by the Grand Lodges of Manitoba, North Dakota and Minnesota. The Grand Lodge Of Saskatchewan became a chartering grand lodge in 2000. Its purpose is "to promote and enhance fraternal relations among Freemasons of North America and to assist in the expansion and maintenance of the International Peace Garden." It meets once a year. Membership in the International Peace Garden Lodge of Freemasons is open to any Master Mason for a onetime fee of $50.00.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Thanks to Brethren in Vermont and North Dakota

Killington Grand Summit Resort

I had a fantastic experience last week, traveling to address the brethren at the Grand Lodge of Vermont F&AM at their annual communication in the mountain resort town of Killington on Wednesday. Then Thursday, I flew to Grand Forks, North Dakota to speak to the Masonic College of the Grand Lodge of North Dakota AF&AM on Friday.

Grand Forks Masonic Center

I also had the opportunity to attend the ritual competition in Grand Forks on Friday at the beautiful Grand Forks Masonic Temple. The competition was narrowly won by Goose River Lodge No. 19, in Mayville, as both teams were equally excellent.

Many thanks to Most Worshipful Grand Masters Thomas Johnson, Jr. of Vermont and Michael R. Bakken of North Dakota, and to their officers for their kind invitations, their warm hospitality, and for making this trip work out logistically. Congratulations to both of these fine men for a great year (Tom is starting his second year term in Vermont, while Mike has been succeeded by Most Worshipful Brian Burkett for 2010-11).

Most of all, my deepest gratitude goes to all of the brethren who were so welcoming to me. I remain the luckiest guy in this fraternity to be able to travel and meet so many Masons all over the country, and I appreciate your kindness and friendship.

While I was in Vermont, it was announced that Right Worshipful Brother Cedric Lane Smith, Past Grand Master in 1985-1987, was retiring after spending 19 years of service as Grand Secretary. He and Indiana's Max Carpenter, who retired as Grand Secretary in January after 17 years, are among the longest serving grand secretaries in the country.

Speaking in Bellefontaine, Ohio on June 19th

I'll be speaking at Bellefontaine Lodge No. 209 this Saturday, June 19th, at 3:00PM. The event is open to the public. The lodge is located at 600 North Main, in Bellefontaine, Ohio.

There will also be a Masons-only presentation at 7:00PM.

If you are in the area, come out and spend some time with Ohio brethren!

Soccer's Masonic Birthplace

The World Cup Soccer matches are going on in South Africa this week, but fans don't generally know that the most popular sport in the world has a Masonic connection.

The origins of modern soccer came from English and Scottish villages. Mob football probably started as a way of celebrating a military victory, as early as the Viking period. The game consisted of crowds madly attempting to get an inflated pig's bladder from one goal to the other, and apparently anything shy of actually murdering each other was permitted. The game was eventually outlawed, but it evolved into an only slightly less violent version for another five centuries.

In the 1820s, the game became popular at English boys's schools like Eton, Harrow, Rugby and Westminster, without the murderous intent. Each school developed its own rules, and the game was played in a field with no boundaries.

Association football was born in 1863 at the Freemason's Arms Pub near London's Covent Garden, at 81-82 Long Acre. Six meetings were held at the pub to decide on rules and structure, and the meetings ended with a split between the new Football Association ("soccer" is said to be a truncated version of "association") and the proponents of different rules that became rugby.

The Freemason's Arms pub was built in 1860 and is still open today. It began life as the Freemason's Tavern, which originally stood where the United Grand Lodge of England's New Connaught Rooms are today on Great Queen Street. London's Freemasons' Hall is literally right across the street.

The Switzerland-based FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) has a video on its website that commemorates the meeting.

(Photos by Christopher L. Hodapp)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

No, I didn't send you an email for cheap Viagra

My apologies to everyone I have ever sent an email to since 1994. I was apparently hacked tonight with a Trojan horse or worm or virus that thoughtfully sent about 700 people an ad for cheap Viagra. I'm sure you thought I was just expressing my concern for your emotional and physical well-being, and not besmirching anyone's prowess. Or implying you were a cheapskate.

It was an error. I have changed my passwords and am running scans to try to track down the problem.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Grand Lodge of Oklahoma Establishes Professional Development Institute at University

The Grand Lodge of Oklahoma AF&AM has donated $100,000 to Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant to establish the "Masonic Institute for Professional Development and Lectureship Series." Grand Master Charles R. Belknap made the announcement Thursday.

According to an article in the Durant Daily Democrat, the purposes of the Masonic Institute are:

— To provide professional development programs for school teachers, school administrators and college and university faculty in Southern Oklahoma and North Texas.

— To provide educational professors opportunities to improve their teaching instruction, management and leadership skills.

—To assist the Department of Educational Instruction and Leadership and the Texoma Association for Public School Improvement in the promotion of related events such as the Educational Technology Fair, educational lectures, workshops, and related educational innovative programs.

— To defray the costs of professional speakers’ honorariums and other activities/events associated with the Lectureship Series.

— To assist the Department of Educational Instruction and Leadership (EIL) in its research efforts including publishing activities and other initiatives designed to further the dissemination of knowledge in the educational field.

Maryland Police Officer, Brother Wesley W. Brown, Murdered

WBro. Jeff Ballou is reporting on several discussion groups that Maryland State Trooper and Brother Wesley W. Brown (photo) was murdered Friday morning outside of the Applebee's Restaurant in Forestville, MD. Bro. Wesley was just 24 years old and a 3 1/2 year veteran with the State Police. He was a member of Fairmont Lodge #92 of the MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Maryland. He was just raised last year and had recently proposed to his girlfriend.

In 2007, Brother Brown established a group called Young Men Enlightening Younger Men. His story can be read here. He had been planning to take the group to New York later in the day.

According to an article in the Baltimore Sun, Brother Brown was working as an off-duty security officer at the restaurant, and was shot by a man he had escorted from the building for not paying his bill.

Prince Georges County Police have issued a surveillance camera photo of the suspect. A $50,000 reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction in this case.

Brown's family announced that there will be a public viewing at 4 p.m. June 18 at Abyssinia Baptist Church in Capitol Heights. Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. June 19th at Jericho City of Praise in Landover, followed by a burial at Lincoln Memorial Cemetery in Suitland.

His death is untimely and his brethren mourn.

UPDATE from the Most Worshipful Grand Master of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Maryland:

The Lodge of Sorrow will be called on Thursday, June 17, 2010, 7:30 PM at Fairmount Lodge No. 92, located at 5501 Addison Road, Fairmount Heights, MD 20743

A Wake and public viewing will be on June 18, 2010 at The Abyssinian Baptist Church 4705 Addison Rd, Capitol Heights, MD 20743 from 4:00 PM to 9:00 PM.

Masonic Services will be performed on June 18, 2010 at The Abyssinian Baptist Church at 7:30pm. Brothers are asked to arrive by 6:45 PM.

Funeral Services June 19, 2010 at 10:00 AM, at The Jericho City of Praise, 8501 Jericho City Drive, Landover, MD 20785. Exit 17B off of 495 Beltway - (301) 333-0500


On Monday, June 14, 2010 Cyril Williams and Anthony A. Milton were charged with first-degree murder in the killing of Trooper Wesley Brown. Milton confessed to police that the two men had killed Brother Brown.

12 Dead in Camp Albert Pike, Arkansas

According to the Associated Press, flash floods caused the Caddo and Little Missouri rivers in Arkansas to rise by 20 feet Thursday night, killing at least 12 people in the Camp Albert Pike area, in the Ouachita Mountains. Later estimates rose to 16 people missing or dead.

Camp Albert Pike is indeed named after Confederate General and Masonic author Albert Pike, as is the nearby town of Albert.