Grand Master Harker’s June Address

M.W. Joseph B. Harker - Grand Master

The Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge Free and Accepted Masons of Wisconsin will convene at the Madison Masonic Center on Friday, June 10, 2011. All Wisconsin Lodges are expected to have their representatives (Master, Senior and Junior Wardens or Proxies) present for the entire communication. Any Lodge unable to attend must receive prior written permission from the Grand Master well in advance of the start of the Communication.

My Brothers and friends we all owe a great deal to our former and current service men and women. The Honor Flights to our country’s Capitol to see the War Memorials in Washington, DC, are a great way to show these veterans the respect they so richly deserve. I know many of these veterans are members of our fraternity. I want to congratulate all of our members who have taken, or will be taking this trip. Two of our members, Brothers Charles S. Crouse and Owen W. Williams, have recently returned from DC. Please thank and congratulate all of our Brothers who have made this trip.

I congratulate all lodges who participated in the Fellowcraft Degree competition in Madison on Saturday, April 29.

It has been a very busy month for your Grand Lodge Officers. My Lady and I traveled to Indiana’s Annual Communication and your Junior Grand Warden Daniel Slavik and his Lady traveled to Michigan to attend their Annual Communication. We are proud to represent all of the Brothers of Wisconsin at these sister jurisdictions.

It has also been a very busy month for Lodges. Within the pages of your Masonic Journal, you will find many stories and photos of what has been happening this past month. Please go to the online version to view additional pages including many more pictures.

As this is my last Grand Master’s Message to you, I want to thank each and every Brother for their tremendous support and encouragement provided to my Lady and I during the year.

This year was approached as “OUR” year. It is not what I alone may do that moves our fraternity forward but rather what we all do as a team. Masonry’s core values will never change but we must accept change in the way we do business. Please do not say “that’s the way we always do it”.  Do not be afraid to change it up and do some additional events that may be of more interest to your newer members. Be sure to request dispensation, if required, well in advance of an event. Remember that a dispensation is only valid for the event for which it was requested and that all dispensations end at the conclusion of the Annual Communication.

Last June when you elected me as your Grand Master, I was both humbled and honored, I remain that way today. I have learned a lot. I must first thank my Lady and family for their understanding and support these last few years as I (we) missed or rescheduled family events. Your Grand Lodge Office staff (Alicia, Cheryl, Jan, John, and Mike), your Wisconsin Masonic Foundation Staff (Bill and Erika) and also your Wisconsin Masonic Journal staff (Diane and Richard) have been an exceptional help not only to me but to all Wisconsin Masonic family members; thank you.  Additionally, I wish to thank all members of Grand Lodge (Elected Officers, Appointed Officers, Area Administrators, District Lecturers, District Chaplains, Masters, Senior Wardens, Junior Wardens, and Permanent members) and the Lodges for your continued support. I offer congratulations, encouragement and prayers to all who will take an office in the upcoming Grand Lodge year and to those Brethren serving as officers in their individual lodges.

I am very proud of all lodges that took my advice to review your lodge’s bylaws. I believe that we have a record for bylaw changes in a single year. Some of your bylaws were totally rewritten, replacing bylaws that were more than 40 or 50 years old. My brothers our society has changed greatly since many of the bylaws were adopted. It is time you appoint a committee to totally review your bylaws to make sure they are relevant in today’s society. While you are doing this, give serious consideration to holding at least one stated communication each and every month of the year.

I have visited several Lodges that have taken great pride in their building and have completed significant upgrades to their appearance. I just visited Clear Lake and Henry L. Palmer Lodges where the members have greatly improved the interiors of their facilities. I also hear reports from officers of other repairs around the state.

You called upon me as Grand Master and other Grand Lodge Officers this past year to come to your lodge to assist in the presentation of Anniversary Service Awards, to perform the installation of officers ceremonies, rededicate your lodge, or help with other events. It is a joy for us to attend and participate in these activities.

Our Wisconsin Masonic Home’s new Hickory Suites Rehabilitation and Wellness Connection addition was completed with the cornerstone dedication preformed by the Grand Lodge officers August 1, 2010.  The Rehab Center opened to inpatients December 1, 2010 and the Wellness Connection followed in January 2011.

We enjoyed activities with our Prince Hall Brothers who are lead by MWGM Earl Thomas III. He and I have met on several occasions this past year to discuss things of mutual importance to our respective fraternities.

As I conclude this message, I would ask you to be true to your family, be true to your religion, be true to your Lodge, be true to your Brothers and most of all be true to yourself. Never ever forget the obligations you took at the Altar of Freemasonry and the Charges that were given to you at the conclusion of each of your degrees. If you do this you can not help but be a better person and thus much happier with yourself.

How do we MEET, act, and part my Brothers?

“On the Level”