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


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Alexandria-Washington 22 Developments

In April, I reported that one of the nation's most famous lodges,  Alexandria-Washington Lodge 22 in Alexandria, Virginia, suddenly had its charter removed with no warning by that state's Grand Master, Vernon S. Cook. His reasons have remained unexpressed to the lodge's members at large.

After more than two months of silent unease, a letter was received last week by the members of AW 22, informing them of the subsequent actions of the GM and the officers, and their current situation. The letter dated June 19th was signed by Michael P. Bible PM, the new Worshipful Master Designate of Alexandria-Washington Lodge 22. It reads in part:

"I would like to update you concerning the status of our Lodge charter and some information, as I know it. I share your frustration with regards to the lack of communication with our membership throughout this process.
"On April 13, 2017, the Grand Master of Masons in Virginia arrested our Lodge Charter. The Grand Master directed the Worshipful Master to contact the Grand Lodge Office for a meeting to discuss getting the charter restored.
"On April 21, 2017, the Worshipful Master, 8 days later, contacted the Grand Lodge for an appointment date with the Grand Master.
"On May 10, 2017, the officers of the Lodge, with the exception of the Senior Warden, met with the Grand Master in Richmond, Virginia. During that meeting the Grand Master requested the Worshipful Master and the Secretary to write and send letters to him, explaining how the lodge plans to address and correct the issues for which the charter was arrested.
"We believe the Grand Lodge received the requested letters sometime during later part of May.
"On June 2, 2017, the Grand Master sent letters to the Worshipful Master, the Senior Warden, the Treasurer, and the Secretary, removing them from their officer responsibilities. After a personal meeting between the Grand Master and the Treasurer, the Grand Master rescinded removing the Treasurer from office.

"The Grand Master has made the following decisions; I have been selected to serve as Worshipful Master, RW Mark Underwood, DDGM, will serve as Senior Warden, and RW Jack Canard, PDDGM, will serve as Secretary. The charter will be returned and the new officers will be installed at our Stated Communication July 13, 2017. The Grand Master will also address the lodge at that time.
"Brethren, the last few months have been an emotional and challenging time for all of us. We, who make up the membership of Alexandria-Washington Lodge No. 22, at this particular moment in history, are the caretakers of our lodge and will determine its path forward from this fragile time in the life of our lodge. Together we will restore our lodge and her great traditions and fraternal relationships. I ask for your participation and support, but more importantly your prayers. I ask prayers for relationships to be healed and prayers for our lodge and our great fraternally. I hope to see all of you at our July 13, 2017 stated meeting."
There is much that I can't and won't comment on right now, however nothing good will come out of any of this, I'm afraid. 

The dust has not entirely settled and there isn't even a charter back on their wall yet. If you have been planning an upcoming visit to a meeting of AW22, which is located inside the George Washington National Masonic Memorial, you are still unable to do that at this time

Also, if you have an upcoming event scheduled with author WB Andrew Hammer who is a very popular speaker, I suggest you contact him PRIVATELY and NOT through the lodge's appointed interim Secretary, nor via the generic lodge email link to AW22's Secretary you might have had from the lodge website. That link will NOT reach him anymore.

As I posted before about this, all Virginia Masons are duly admonished to be aware of, and fully comply with, the Grand Lodge of Virginia's extraordinarily draconian rules regarding online communications. Take notice and govern yourselves accordingly. 

Sadly, grand lodges that enact such rules only create a sense of bolder defiance when un-Masonic activity or overreach happens, and the result is never good for anybody. Politicians, entertainers, and corporate executives have all demonstrated there's no such thing as 'keeping it all quiet' anymore. Masons haven't figured it out yet, I'm afraid. Masonic secrecy was always about honor, and never about covering up less than honorable behavior.

At least, that's what it's supposed to be about.

Masonic Society Conference in Lexington, KY September 7-10, 2017

After months of planning, the Masonic Society has announced the full details for its 2017 Conference on September 7-10th in Lexington, Kentucky. This promises to be one of the best of these the Society has hosted, and the organizers have done an outstanding job. An amazing list of speakers, panelists, and presenters will be on hand for an intensive program.

PLEASE NOTE: You do NOT have to be a Masonic Society member to attend this event. We'd love for you to join TMS, but anyone may sign up for the Conference regardless.

Speakers and panelists will include:

Thomas W. Jackson
Mark Tabbert
Jordan Yelinek
Dr. Elquemedo Oscar Alleyne
Patrick Craddock
Allan Casalou
Andrew Hammer
Jon T. Ruark
Dr. John Bizzack
Cameron C. Poe
Richard A. Graeter
A certain Dummy

Early check-in begins at noon on Thursday September 7th, with a Welcome Reception at 6PM. The main Conference events kick off at 9AM on Friday with introductions, followed by Tom Jackson's opening presentation of The History of the Future of Freemasonry. Speakers and panels will take place throughout Friday and Saturday, with a closing panel discussion on Sunday morning from 9-11AM.

Lexington is a fascinating city with a very storied history of its own. Included with the Conference fee are optional tours to Kentucky Horse Park and Henry Clay's historic home in nearby Ashland. Please sign up for these on the registration so the organizers know how many people to expect to accommodate. (Note: spouses or friends not attending the Conference itself can sign up for the tours for $20 apiece.)

The Conference website is available HERE.  Registration is $125 for the Conference only, plus $45 per person for the Festive Board on Friday evening (this dinner is for Masons only - back tie or business suit, please). If you happen to be a member of Lexington Lodge 1, there is no charge for the Festive Board, as you are the local hosts.

All events will be held at the Embassy Suites in Lexington. For online reservations using the Masonic Society Conference code, CLICK HERE.

To become a member of TMS, visit the website at http://www.themasonicsociety.com

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Ohio Legislature Commemorates 300 Years of Freemasonry

Last Wednesday, June 21st, the House and Senate of Ohio both adopted Special Resolutions celebrating the 300th anniversary of the formation of the Premiere Grand Lodge of England and modern day Freemasonry. Officers of both the Grand Lodge of Ohio F&AM and the MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Ohio F&AM were on hand at the Statehouse in Columbus for the occasion.

(Click images to enlarge)

A video is available on Facebook (with almost inaudible audio) HERE.

Brad Paisley Talks About Freemasonry

Country music signer-songwriter Brad Paisley is a member of Hiram Lodge 7 in Franklin, Tennessee. He's also a Scottish Rite Mason and a Shriner. In this video, he speaks about Masonry and the importance of tolerance. This clip was actually posted online over a year ago, but I forgot to hit the send button on it back then. Someone over on Reddit reminded me about it today, so here it is.

He's also done promotional work for the Shrine and DeMolay.

Brother Paisley was duly constituted a 32° Scottish Rite Mason in the Southern Jurisdiction on October 28, 2006 at the House of the Temple in Washington D.C. According to an article in the Northern Light Magazine, he was in the Washington-Baltimore area as part of a concert tour. Both Brad and his keyboardist Kendall Marcy joined the Scottish Rite that day:
Joining Brad for this ceremony was his father Doug Paisley, 32°, who works with Brad on his tours as man- ager and bus driver. Sovereign Grand Commander Seale, with help from Inspectors General Hoyt Samples, 33°, of Tennessee, C.B. Hall, 33°, of West Virginia, and Hans Wilhelmsen, 33°, of Maryland, presided over the event. In addition to Paisley and Marcy joining the Scottish Rite, country music legend “Little Jimmie” Dickens was honored. He is known for his work on the TV show Hee Haw and on stage at the Grand Ole Opry.

Unfortunately for the proliferation of Internet errors, there are dozens of web links mis-numbering Paisley's Mother lodge as #4 and even #107. Hiram Lodge 7 is noteworthy on its own, even without the worldwide fame of Brother Brad. Originally built in 1823, it was the tallest building west of the Allegheny Mountains. Their building is the only known meeting site between a sitting President and representatives of a Native American Nation, when President Andrew Jackson met with a delegation from the Chickasaw Indians to sign a treaty in 1826. It's listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.

If anyone knows just when Brad Paisley became a Master Mason there, I'll be happy to update this post. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Students Create Masonic Mural in Myrtle Beach

Do you have a newer, plain, utilitarian looking temple building that people drive past every day and never notice? There's a way to change that. Here is a perfect example of a lodge and community partnership benefitting each other.

The local students in Coastal Carolina University's Arts 499 'Special Topics in Art' class teamed up with Grand Strand Lodge 392 in North Myrtle Beach. Freemasonry and the lodge provided the inspiration and a very big canvas in the form of a large, blank wall, and the students executed a beautiful, traffic-stopping mural depicting Masonic symbolism, George Washington and Benjamin Franklin. (Click the photos to enlarge.)

Janet Blackmon Morgan at the Sun News has posted 13 photos of the student artists at work on the lodge mural as the project nears completion at myrtlebeachonline.com

The mural was designed by the class' lecturer, Brother Brian "Cat" Taylor. He teaches the class each summer semester, and students learn the history and contemporary use of public art, especially in more urban settings. Each year, they also get the practical experience of working on an actual project like this one. 

Taylor teaches true 'street art,' not paint vandalism 101, and murals designed by him and his students dot the landscape around campus and the surrounding towns that make up South Carolina's Grand Strand beach communities. He seems to have a good working relationship with the nearby town of Conway (where the university is located) and others in the area, and his students have executed murals in the past that have been designed as part of supported community projects. Many cities and chambers of commerce are ecstatic to have serious artists decorate blank cinderblock walls (Naperville, Illinois is very supportive of these projects, for example). A call to your local college with an art program could very well yield a happy result. 

(Just be sure you don't run afoul of local zoning and signage laws before you start painting! If your town is restrictive, as an alternative, see if an art class might decorate your lodge room, instead.)

Grand Strand Lodge 392 is located at 919 6th Avenue in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

H/T Ed Potter

UPDATE 6/22/2017:

I was just sent a link to another project, this one from Greenwood Lodge 253 in Greenwood, Washington. Designed artists Jacob Dixon and James Nielson. (That's a window in the lower right.) According to Dixon's website, it was done in the summer of 2014 and took 50 days to execute.

Then there's this mural of 'Legends of Masons' on the side of Grapevine Lodge 288 in Grapevine, Texas. (I can't find the artist of this one.)

And this one of Prince all on the Prince Hall Public School in Boston, Massachusetts.

The multi-language Masonic wiki website, Friemauer-Wiki has a page dedicated to Masonic  murals and street art HERE.

H/T Christopher Sicurella

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Alberta, Canada's Legislature Declares June 24th as Masonic Day

After my post last week about Arizona's Governor Ducey declaring 'Freemasonry Day,' I got a note from Brother Ilya Raykhlin of Bow River Lodge 1 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. It seems that Calgary's Mayor has declared June 24th annually as 'Freemasons Day' starting back in 2013. Then Edmonton's Mayor followed suit last year. Now, the whole Province of Alberta has jumped in on the idea.

From Brother Raykhlin's e-mail:
This is wonderful news to all of the brethren in the Canadian province of Alberta, and we share in Arizona's delight as our provincial government has also just declared June 24th as Masonic Day in Alberta (see above).
Personally, this recognition of our fraternity’s contributions to society at large and to our communities specifically, is how I plan to help turn the tide on the falling membership and participation levels that have plagued our North American lodges for decades.
I am the founder of Freemasons Day in Calgary, and the Chairman of the Freemasons Day Planning Committee. Back in 2013, I successful lobbied our municipal government to formally recognize June 24th as Freemasons Day, and our Mayor has continued to proclaim this every year since. He also attends and speaks at our annual Open House at Freemasons Hall, and he has become an outspoken supporter of the Craft.
As a result, the Mayor of Edmonton — our provincial capital — became inspired to show his city’s gratitude to our organization, and in 2016 also declared June 24th as the first Masonic Day in Edmonton.
Masons have a long history in Alberta. The first Premier of the Province of Alberta was a Mason. As were the first Mayors of Calgary and Edmonton. And of course, so was the first Prime Minister of Canada.
Consequently, just on time for this year’s celebrations in Calgary and Edmonton — and in recognition of this being the 300th anniversary of the founding for the Grand Lodge of England — our provincial legislature has also formally recognized June 24th as Masonic Day in Alberta (below).

It is my goal to see to it that Freemasonry returns to its former prominence, especially in a day an age where people have become so disconnected and hopeless. This sort of formal recognition of our past is such great publicity, that it serves to promote what we still do and stand for to an audience of young men who otherwise would be too distracted to notice. Here in Calgary, our annual Open House which has served to both celebrate Freemasons Day with our brethren, as well as to build new bridges with the citizens of our city — has led to increases in membership across all participating lodges.
If June 24th became recognized and celebrated in every jurisdiction as Freemasons Day, what would our numbers look like in a decade? Something to think about.
In the meantime, if you would like a quick overview of the history of Freemasonry in Calgary, please visit our website at www.freemasonsday.com, where you will also find our Mayor’s 2017 declaration letter.
 (Click the images above to enlarge them.)

L'Union Française Lodge 17 in New York and the 'Cosmopolitan 10th District'

My apologies for the short notice, but I just found out about this coming Tuesday's event over on Jay Hochberg's blog, the Magpie Mason. Way too many of you guys in the northeast part of the U.S. don't know how lucky you are to live within an easy train ride of the greatest variety of Masonic lodges in the country. Take the opportunity to travel, and do it often!

The oldest lodge of the world-famous 10th Manhattan District, L’Union Française No. 17, chartered in 1797,
 will initiate four candidates this Tuesday evening, June 20th. The ritual will be conferred in French, and appropriately in the French Doric Room on the 10th Floor of New York's Grand Lodge building at 71 West 23rd Street in Manhattan.

L’Union Française No. 17 will confer the Entered Apprentice Degree using the 'French Rite' ritual, which features rites of purification elements of Rosicrucian origin kept alive since 1797. UF17's degrees are similar to the ten famed, formerly French lodges in Louisiana that work what are often referred to as 'Scottish Rite Craft degrees' or as 'Red Lodges.' 

L’Union Française 17's Tuesday event details are:

Tuesday, June 20 at 6 p.m.Masonic Hall71 West 23rd Street, ManhattanFrench Doric Room, 10th floor
The degree will begin at 6:45, after which no one will be admitted. 

Arrive EARLY, because the room is NOT large, and these evenings tend to fill up very fast.

Photo ID is required to enter Masonic Hall, and your current membership card is required to work your way into the lodge room. Brethren will retire to a nearby restaurant afterward ($50 per person, cash only).

The French Rite or 'Modern Rite' was originally developed by the Grand Orient of France in the 1780s (back when everybody recognized them). They decided that the hauts grades were quickly swelling up and getting out of hand, so they essentially took the 'Scottish Rite' degree system and limited it to just seven degrees. Also in New York's 10th District, Garibaldi Lodge confers their degrees using similar ritual, derived from the French Rite, but worked in Italian. 

UF17 is the oldest lodge in the 10th Manhattan District. It was chartered back on Christmas Day in 1797, but its origin was an earlier 1773 lodge known simply as "The French Lodge, formed by French Huguenot refugees and French soldiers who came with Rochambeau and Marquis de Lafayette for the American Revolution. Just two years after receiving their charter (originally #14—it's a long story), they were invited to be the first lodge to walk in the procession for George Washington's Masonic funeral service at Mount Vernon on December 30th of 1799.

The lodge had many early members who immigrated to New York from Louisiana and Saint-Domingue (the French name for Hispaniola for about ten minutes until Toussaint Louverture and the slave rebellions threw them all out and created Haiti in 1804). Another early member was Pierre-Napoleon Bonaparte, nephew of Old Boney himself.

It was also John James Joseph Gourgas' lodge. He was actually born in Switzerland in 1777, and went on to become the first Secretary General of the Scottish Rite Northern Masonic Jurisdiction in 1826 and its third Sovereign Grand Commander from 1832 to 1851, during the misery of both the anti-Masonic period and the Cerneau mess. Which is a whole 'nuther story...

There are 16 lodges today in the 10th Manhattan District, and they grew out of the enormous immigrant populations that came to America and settled in the New York City area. The Tenth Manhattan is home to the lodges permitted to work Craft degrees in French, Italian, and Spanish, and more, which differ—often substantially—from the traditional Preston-Webb rituals you find in almost every other state in the U.S. (with the notable exception of Pennsylvania). 

It's not for nothing that this group of lodges refers to themselves as the 'Cosmopolitan Tenth,' which is how you'll find them on Facebook these days: 

    Abravanel, New York
    Alba, New York
    All Seeing Eye, New York
    Anatolia, New York
    Archimede-Roma, Baldwin
    Brazilian, New York
    Columbus-Davinci-Galilei, New York
    France L.C.A.C., New York
    Garibaldi, New York
    Hellenic – Plato, New York
    La Fraternidad, New York
    La Sincerite, New York
    La Universal, New York
    L’Union Francaise, New York
    Mazzini, New York
    Parthenon, Long Island City

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Arizona's Governor Proclaims June 24th, 2017 as 'Freemasonry Day'

Arizona's Governor Douglas Ducey has officially proclaimed June 24th, 2017 as 'Freemasonry Day' all across the Grand Canyon state to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the 1717 founding of the premiere Grand Lodge of England in London. 

Kingman Mayor Monica Gates and Kingman 22's Master Ken Chism

Not to be outdone, the Mayor of Kingman, Arizona, Monica Gates, has also declared June 24th as 'Free and Accepted Mason Day.' 

Kingman Lodge 22's Master Ken Chism was on hand for the occasion.

From a Friday story in the Daily Miner newspaper in Kingman, Arizona:

Freemasonry continued to expand over the years to encompass the nation, including the Arizona Territory about 150 years ago.
Kingman’s local Freemasonry lodge, No. 22, came into existence in 1915. The fraternity, including Lodge No. 22, has become well-known throughout the world for their philanthropy and charity work that Mayor Monica Gates has proclaimed June 24, 2017 as Free and Accepted Masons Day in the City of Kingman.
The proclamation of a specific day to honor the Freemasonry fraternity is a big step for an organization that has been in existence for centuries.
“We try to improve not only the individual, but also the community,” said Ken Chism, Kingman lodge’s Worshipable Master. “We make good men better. It’s not a political fraternity. It’s not a religious fraternity.”
June 24 will be the official 300th anniversary of Free and Accepted Masonry.
While the fraternity has been around for much longer than 300 years, the title and recognition of Free and Accepted Masons was not established until 1717.
 The Mayor’s official recognition of the fraternity, as well as the proclamation of “Free and Accepted Masons Day” on June 24 has excited many of the local lodge members.
“It means a strong growth for the fraternity,” said Chism.
Along with Kingman’s dedication of the 300th anniversary, Arizona’s Governor Douglas Ducey also proclaimed June 24 as Freemasons Day.
“On behalf of the Grand Lodge of Arizona, I have requested and received a Proclamation from Governor Douglas Ducey that this day will be proclaimed Freemasonry Day in the State of Arizona,” wrote Scott Thomas, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Arizona in a post on the lodge’s website. “We should as Masons, all be proud of our Fraternity because we will have the benefit of this public recognition in our community to commemorate this anniversary.”
To celebrate this monumental anniversary, the local Kingman lodge will hold an open house event for the community.
Chism said that locals will be welcome to come by and tour the lodge.
The Lodge No. 22 membership will serve refreshments, and attendees will be able to learn a little bit more about the fraternity.
The open house will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 24 at the Kingman Masonic Lodge located at 212 N. Fourth St.
Kingman Lodge is unique, as it was originally built in 1939 as a public WPA project, and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Help Needed! Washington D.C. Brother Seeks Kidney Donor

I very rarely ask for favors like this from brethren and other visitors to this site, but this is important, and I encourage everyone to circulate this appeal. Brother Christopher Stevenson became a Freemason at the age of 20 in Washington D.C. at George Washington University. He is a member of The Colonial Lodge #1821. But he is now in need, and this is NOT something that can be handled by writing a check or passing the hat. 

Christopher is now 26 and is an end-stage renal failure patient in need of a transplant. He is currently in dialysis, and is desperately seeking a potential kidney donor.

From a message sent out by his D.C. area brethren:
Along with his passion for politics, Chris spends most of his time active in volunteer work and working on social issues that impact his community. He is set to start graduate school this August back at the George Washington University to obtain his Masters of Public Administration and his Juris Doctorate.
Although Chris is an ambitious and active young man, he’s unfortunately plagued with kidney disease. Due to this, Chris is often unable to reach his full potential and has to commit himself to the painful and burdensome treatment of dialysis three days a week. As Freemasons, we have the chance to extend the hand of brotherly love and relief in this case.

Chris currently needs healthy candidates to get evaluated for a kidney transplant. Although many of you may believe this is a dangerous procedure, it isn’t. Millions of these surgeries are done every year and living with just one kidney instead of two doesn’t change a person’s quality of life as a single kidney compensates for the absence of the second. Brothers, if any of you are interested in helping Chris or in getting tested to see if you are a potential match please email him directly AT THIS LINK.
Additionally, I have Brother Christopher's cell phone number available if you wish to call him and/or text message him. Please email me at hodapp@aol.com and I will forward it to you privately.

According to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), more than 100,000 people in the U.S. are waiting for kidney transplants at the present time, and more living donors are desperately needed. At least 10 people die every day waiting for a new kidney to come available. And everyone who finds a living donor to help them frees up a kidney from a deceased donor for another suffering patient. It shortens the wait time for both patients.

While transplants involving relatives have proven to be the most successful over time because of the blood relationship between donor and patient, that is not an option in Christopher's case. Donors must be healthy and match the recipient's blood type and antigens, so it requires testing to determine compatibility.

Recipients of living donor kidney transplants enjoy proper kidney function for an average of 12-20 years, much longer than if they receive a deceased donor one. This greatly reduces their need for another future transplant. The overall success rates of living transplants are higher than those from deceased donors, as well.

There are scores of questions that a donor will have answered if they are a match for Christopher, so the first step is to be tested to find out if it is even a possibility before considering going further. Live donation is not a decision to be taken lightly, because it does involve surgery and a recovery period. It's one of the greatest and most selfless gifts anyone can offer to make. Some very general questions can be answered on the UNOS website

But please contact Brother Christopher if you are willing to consider helping this young man.

That Was Fast! New Francken Manuscript Edition Arriving Now


Look what thudded onto my front doorstep this afternoon! This massive, brand, spankin' new facsimile reprint of the 1783 Francken Manuscript published in a glorious color edition by the Scottish Rite Northern Masonic Jurisdiction is a magnificent specimen of the book binding and printer's art. 

If you are interested in the development of Masonic degrees, and especially of the French Écossais degrees that made up the 4° through 25° system that eventually became the Scottish Rite in both Supreme Councils and around the world before they were revised in the mid-1800s, you need to suck it up and invest in this volume. It is the first and only authorized publication of this vital work, and all other cheap reproduction editions are flawed and incomplete. It is transcribed and footnoted on facing pages, and includes important historical background information as part of the foreword, as well.

Please support QUALITY Masonic book publishing, because editions like this are extraordinarily expensive to create. Many thanks to everyone in Lexington who made this happen. The price is $95 with free domestic shipping. Order directly from the Supreme Council-NMJ HERE. 

Thanks to Samuel Gompers-Benjamin Franklin Lodge 45

Many thanks to everyone who came out on Tuesday night for the "Idiot and Dummy" program with Brent Morris and me at Samuel Gompers-Benjamin Franklin Lodge 45 at the Takoma Masonic Center in Washington D.C. We've both wanted to do a joint presentation like this for about a dozen years now, and no one has ever asked before. I hope letting us just answer questions and free associate for 90 minutes or so was as interesting and entertaining for everyone else as it was for us both.

My deepest gratitude to WM Michael Greenwald and all of the brethren and numerous visitors to SG-BF 45. Great food, great friendships, and a great evening all the way around.

This lodge room is absolutely beautiful, and it was magnificently redecorated not that many years ago by an extremely talented and dedicated artist. I had only seen photos of the ceiling when it was partially painted, but the total effect is stunning in person. It is truly amazing the effects accomplished by paint in the hands of a truly skilled master artist. 

Photos by Carlo Merhi

The lodge actually rents their space from Hiram-Takoma Lodge 10, and I am told that it is extremely unusual in that their lodge room and the building itself straddles the dividing line between the District of Columbia and Maryland, despite their D.C. charter.

Monday, June 12, 2017

State and Federal Grants Could Help Your Temple Building

This is for Indiana Masons and Lodges, but if you are in another state, check and see if yours offers similar grant programs. Most do, but you have to look for them. They are usually funded via a federal grant, but each state has their own variations.
Indiana lodges that own their own temple buildings should be aware of several state grant programs that might make money available for projects you are planning or undertaking (or dreading).

These are offered through the Office of Community & Rural Affairs, overseen by the Lt. Governor's Office. http://www.in.gov/ocra/index.htm

The Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs "works with local, state and national partners to provide resources and technical assistance to aid communities in shaping and achieving their vision for economic development."
No promises, because their application processes are usually very narrowly focussed and require precisely following their instructions.

These all have VERY specific deadlines, so don't dawdle or dither with committee meetings and waiting for stateds to talk it to death! But check out their programs and see if they might apply to you. Go to their home page, and check the left-hand column for the list of programs. These are the ones that jumped out at me:

1. Main Street Revitalization Program (MSRP) Read the material on this one, because it seems to be the one with the widest mission.
2. Blight Clearance Program (BCP) If you have an older building in need of demolishing that you can't afford to get done.
3. Public Facilities Program (PFP) Funds libraries, museums, community centers, performance spaces, and occasionally historic preservation.
4. Stormwater Improvements Program (SIP) If you have constant flooding problems or sewer backups, this might help. Worth checking into.
5. Historic Renovation Grant Program (HRGP) This has VERY SPECIFIC guidelines, so read the instructions carefully to be sure your building applies (must be 50+ years old, and in a designated community, AND be at least in the process or accepted on the list of Indiana Historic Site & Structures). Usually for downtown areas, but I haven't read the details. Deadline is June 30th this year, so get to work immediately on proposal letters of intent!
6. Downtown Enhancement Grant (DEG) This one is sort of a catch-all. I'll just quote from their description, and you make of it what you will: "The Downtown Enhancement Grant (DEG) program is designed to foster innovative approaches to activities, which support and promote community based planning, pre-development, and research initiatives. The goal of these projects is to improve the quality of life and opportunities for increasing private investment and employment in Indiana Main Street (IMS) communities."
Also, be sure to check out the page of programs for the Indiana Main Street initiative, which is actually part of a nationwide program through the National Trust for Historic Preservation to revitalize smaller communities. Keep an eye on their upcoming events and get on their mailing list. 

You never know when these grant opportunities will pop up. They usually aren't enormous, but you never know what they can lead to, or who they might lead you to. We all need to think more creatively about our historic spaces and how we can protect them from the wrecking ball, and still find a way to keep them in use—or find someone else who wants to. In many cases, there's a way to stay in them AND find a partner to help both parties involved.

Friday, June 09, 2017

History of Freemasonry in Indiana: A Favor

I have been tasked with writing a new history of the Grand Lodge of Indiana F&AM, concentrating especially on our last 50 years. So, I continue to ask a great favor of Freemasons throughout the state of Indiana, but I am intentionally casting a wider net than just posting on the appropriate Facebook pages or a blurb in our magazine. 

The late, esteemed Masonic author, Dwight L. Smith, who served as our Grand Secretary for over four decades, wrote the definitive chronicle of the Grand Lodge, Goodly Heritage, for our 150th anniversary in 1968. While my book will certainly encompass that first century and a half, I have no intention or desire to reinvent the wheel of Dwight's making. He spent two decades exhaustively researching and 12 years writing it while he edited the then-monthly Indiana Freemason Magazine, and I would be fooling myself to believe I could similarly cover this even longer period in the kind of detail he did.

In addition, an earlier work, A History of Freemasonry in Indiana from 1806 to 1898, was written by Daniel McDonald, and it too provides great detail of earlier years. 

So, my principal task is to tell the story of the fraternity in Indiana between 1968 and today. And this is where my favor comes in. If your lodge has had a history compiled for a major anniversary or building dedication or other such event, I would very much appreciate a copy. If your lodge has been through what your members considered a time or event of great change or upheaval or improvement or innovation or catastrophe, especially in the last half century, I would like to have that information. Even if you are an individual Indiana Mason and you believed you experienced something that would be important enough to include in the book, feel free to pass that along, as well. 

All of that goes for appendant bodies in Indiana, as well. While the book will primarily be about Craft Freemasonry in our state, I would also like to include references to appendant groups that didn't make it into Dwight's book. The other bodies have influenced and affected Masonry in and out of the state, and they were mostly ignored in the two previous major works.

Likewise, if you or your lodge or appendant organization are NOT in Indiana, but took part in an event that happened in Indiana or that involved Indiana Masons specifically, and you believe it might be of interest to readers or future researchers, please send that to me, as well.

I've been waist deep in research for well over a year and a half already, but these types of histories and anecdotes are difficult to come by, outside of what I have personally collected myself, or what we have in the Masonic Library & Museum of Indiana. So, I would deeply appreciate any contribution anyone would care to provide. 


I have been making this request non-stop for a year now, and to date i have received just six messages in return.

I need to completely finish the entire project by the beginning of September in order to get it prepared for the printer to have it printed, bound, boxed, shipped, and ready for Founders' Day on January 13th, 2018. So, if you believe you have something for me, please forward it to me RIGHT NOW while you're thinking about it, or forever hold your peace. 

My email address is hodapp@aol.com and do me a favor by putting "HISTORY" in the email header so I can easily spot it.

Thanks in advance, Brethren.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Norwegian Man Attempts to Blackmail Danish Masons Over Ritual

According a story today on the Ekstra Badet website, a 67-year old Norwegian man has been arrested in Oslo pending extradition to Copenhagen, Denmark and is being held by authorities for attempting to blackmail Danish Freemasons. Details of the case have not been released, but the story reveals that the man secretly videotaped Masonic ritual ceremonies in Denmark and Norway in 2016. In April, he threatened to publish the videos, but attempted to blackmail the Danish fraternity for 33 million kroner (about US$5 million) in return for not making them public.

A closed-door court hearing was held today in Oslo to determine potential charges of extortion. It is not being revealed publicly whether the Masons actually paid the man, nor if he is a current or former member himself. It's unclear from the story whether this involved a single lodge, the Grand Lodge of Denmark, or even Norwegian Masons, as well.

My apologies for any errors in translation and interpretation. Anyone who is able to correct any details, please feel free to contact me.

See "Optog rituelle ceremonier i Frimurerlogen: Sigtet for afpresning for 33 millioner." 

H/T Andreas Önnerfors

UPDATE 6/7/2017:

Today, word has come out of Norway that the man in question was, in fact, a member and a 'trusted officer' of the Norwegian Order of Freemasons (Den Norske Frimurerorden) at the time of his 'alleged' activities. Upon his initial arrest and the allegations coming to light last month, he was immediately expelled. As this story unfolds, it bears a remarkable (and pathetic) resemblance to the plot of Dan Brown's novel, The Lost Symbol

Equivalences to Norway's own Vidkun Quisling have been pretty much irresistible all day long.

Unlike numerous Anglo-Saxon jurisdictions for the last three centuries, those working the Scandinavian Rite have not had their quite distinctive rituals continuously exposed and exploited, which has led to more than one of these incidents in recent history. I am told that there have been at least three high-visibility attempts to expose the ritual in Norway in the last two decades. While non-members continually obsess on this in their misguided misunderstanding of Masonic secrecy and its purpose in the first place, for an officer to do this is the worst sort of tragic betrayal of the most fundamental concept of trust and personal honor. Sadly, since everybody has a video recorder in their pockets these days, I suspect it will only continue to happen. 

There has been an ongoing furore in some U.S. jurisdictions for the last decade or so over whether it is acceptable for members to bring a gun into lodge. Many have recommended a gun safe in the Tyler's Room as a reasonable solution. Perhaps what we all really need going forward now is a phone safe.

Friday, June 02, 2017

"That which was lost..."

At one time, there was an eastern American grand lodge that was arguably one of the strictest Masonic jurisdictions in the country when it came to standing by its strong traditions. Their state has a very, very distinct ritual different from any other jurisdiction in America, based largely on Antients work from the 1700s. As a result, the typical ritual "exposures" that were published throughout the 1800s and later, based on Preston-Webb working—as much to benefit struggling members and officers with their memorization as they were to "reveal" any Masonic secrets—were always useless in their state. They were one of the last grand lodges to print any sort of ritual learning aids of any kind, and their ritual remained strictly transmitted from instructive tongue to attentive ear until the last decade. As any Past Master from there will tell you, the Master is run ragged by their ritual, since he almost never sits during meetings, and does the vast majority of the speaking roles throughout all of the degrees—including almost the entirety of the 2nd Section of the MM. The last time I visited, they also still required all officers to dress in tuxedos, and numerous other demands on their members that other jurisdictions either never did, or no longer do. 

Yet, despite their rigorous reputation as the tough tradition guys on the Masonic block, they have almost always been one of the largest Masonic jurisdictions in the country in terms of both membership statistics and number of lodges. So, their stringent standards, enforced for more than two centuries, certainly didn't scare off potential new members who got spooked by what was required to belong and be active.

Well, times have changed. Their grand lodge began publishing a fully spelled-out ritual several years ago (entirely skipping the single-letter cipher period that most other jurisdictions used for many years), and their long-cherished mentorship between men who spent weeks and even months working with each other to learn their enormous Master's parts, and others, has rapidly faded away as new members simply study on their own, alone, from a book now. Their stodgy, old grand lodge, once a longtime, noble holdout for tradition, sure came into the 21st century, all right.

So, someone sent me a link last night to their newest foray into the modern age as they attempt to dig up new petitioners: a merchandise incentive reward program.

You know, as in, "Sign up a new member, and earn some free STUFF!"

It has come to this. One wonders what their Antient forebears would have said.