On Friday evening June 1st, 2012 M.W. Brother Dennis Valentine Siewert was installed as the Grand Master of Masons in Wisconsin. The following are the comments he delivered on June 2nd at the Madison Masonic Center.
Past Grand Master, Davey L. White Jr., Past Grand Masters, Brethren All;
Some Past Grand Masters have said being a Grand Master is somewhat like owing a Boat. The two best days of ownership is when you buy it and when you sell it. However, the memories last a life time.
- I stand here – humble and proud.
- I stand here – not wanting to ramble
- I stand here – wanting to help this Fraternity go forward
- I stand here – wanting to find quality men for membership
- I stand here – wanting to see us take care of each other.
- I stand here – sad seeing Society dumbing everything down
- I stand here – wanting to see this Great Fraternity raise its standards
- I stand here – wanting to make us that prestigious organization of leaders.
- And personally I’m just happy to be standing here.
This year, there are no new programs or the First Annual Whatever’s. The Strategic Planning Committee, formerly the PLO (Progressive Line Officers) and your Executive Committee are committed to bring improved and continuing service to the Craft. One goal is to keep improving the Annual Communication to an event that every Lodge wants to attend, rather than has to attend.
During this Annual Communication we have tried some different things and we will evaluate them. I have heard many comments. My favorite is, “We’ve never done it that way before”. Sound familiar.
Here are a few suggestions I have for our Lodges;
ü Celebrate Masonic anniversaries in the lodges (25, 50, 60 years, and up). Ask that District Deputy to make a special presentation, especially at some public event sponsored by your Lodge.
ü Proper Protocol should be used at all times within the Lodge as in rising to speak, voting Etc. It’s all in the Cipher and if you need help call on your District Lecturer. Protocol says that if you have questions or problems they should be directed to the District Deputy. Questions for the Grand Master or members of the Executive Committee should go through the Grand Secretary AND THAT WOULD BE EXTENDSION??? 807
ü Let’s dress for success. Jeans, Shorts, flip flops, T-shirts Come on, I don’t think so! Every Lodge member should at least wear a shirt and tie to Lodge. It would be my suggestion that tuxedos be worn for Degree Work. A used tux is often less expensive that a new sport coat. The type of wrapping on the outside of a box is a good indication of the value of what’s in it. Proper attire makes a good impression on the Candidate that we are an upscale organization. That reality of an elitist organization, I was going to say perception, but it is a reality, will also build the character of your new member.
ü Celebrate our Diversity and being a multi-generational fraternity. It seems lately we hear more about adversity or conflict within a Lodge
ü Use the updated Wisconsin Masonic Handbook to build small event committees so more Brothers become involved in Lodge activities. The Handbook and many items are available, including a larger version of the Wisconsin Masonic Journal, on the Grand Lodge website. Try it you’ll like it.
ü Our ritual makes us different from many other organizations. It tells the new member who and what we are. The Ritual also part of the impression that the Candidate receives while taking the degrees of Freemasonry. Books should not be open during Lodge. All Degree Work should be done from memory never read. If a Lodge needs help with degree work consult with your District Lecturer.
ü Encourage members to become proficient in our ritual and enter the Grand Lodge Degree Competition. Our Worshipful Grand Lecturer, Ken Gorgen, has informed me that the Degree Competition will be May 11, 2013 at a place to be determined based on the entries.
ü Each Lodge should celebrate its Diversity. Harmony being the strength and support of all institutions more especially ours. Outside interests will never destroy this Fraternity. If it were to fall; it would be from internal strife among the Brothers. As Lodge Officers keep your Brothers ever mindful of their duties and obligations to each other.
ü For the Lodge Officers: (The Lodge check list / audit)
- Many government agencies are looking for new tax revenue. We don’t want to see Lodges lose their tax exempt status because of some oversight or filing a wrong form. It’s happening right here in Wisconsin to some of our Lodges.
- Lodge Sec./Assist. Sec. need to upload Petition information into MORI once the Petition has been voted upon. Complete those member profiles.
- Masonic Memorial Services and Installation of Officers are Special Communications and must have formal minutes.
ü Lodges need to review and update their By-Laws. Back to those Legal issues.
ü Membership Retention, I have talked about it and will continue to do so. As Masons we are great builders of these Masonic Temples and we build moral edifices in our members. But you know what? We’re not very good maintainers, look at some of our buildings, and look at the number of resignations or suspensions for non-payment of dues. If there are Brethren in arrears on dues, diligence must be done by the Lodge Membership Committee, not the Secretary, with a face-to-face meeting or phone call to the brother to check on his well-being. Before any Brother is suspended for nonpayment of dues a report from the Lodge Membership Committee must be spread on the minutes of the Lodge. A report of the Membership Committee’s findings should be sent to the District Deputy to sign off on and see that the suspension is recorded on MORI.
- I HAVE A CHALLENGE FOR WISCONSIN FREEMASONRY! Figures show that over the last five years, if we had learned to care for our Brothers and had half of the annual suspensions, resignations and the average number of new Master Masons, Wisconsin Freemasonry could have had five years of positive gains in membership. Remember no Brother should ever be suspended because he can’t afford the dues.
ü The Lodge Charity Committee, the Master and the Wardens, are the first point of contact and must be the first to provide help to a Brother. If further help is needed, the Grand Lodge Service & Assistance Fund can be contacted. They will determine if an individual qualifies for help after the proper application has been made and reviewed by the Committee. MWPGM Br. Keith Chamberlain is the key contact for the Service & Assistance Fund.
The Grand Lodge Pin this year consists of a top hat, a square and Compasses, and the words Diversity – Freemasons – Wisconsin. This pin symbolizes that the Freemasons of Wisconsin are very diverse. In Freemasonry think about all the different hats that are worn that signifies Diversity. We all wear many hats throughout the day and during our lifetime. We should all celebrate and embrace that DIVERSITY.
Each Grand Master makes some edicts during his term in office. Many of which are standard. One that will be made this year is that “When the current Grand Lodge of Wisconsin lapel pin is worn, it will be the only pin worn.” Why? I believe our lapel pins are not campaign ribbons. When many pins are worn people say, “What are those”. When one pin is worn people ask, “What does that pin mean or represent.” A more definitive answer can be given. What are the consequences for not following the edict? Probably nothing, however protocol says that we should do it out of respect for the office. Think about it!
Thank you my Brothers for your confidence in me by electing me as your Grand Master or in the business world, the C.E.O. of the Grand Lodge of Free & Accepted Masons of Wisconsin. The C.E.O. is elected to govern, set the craft at work and give them proper instruction. I will do that to the best of my ability, with the help of the Grand Lodge Officers and more especially with support from the local Lodges. Thank you and may the Grand Architect of The universe bless each and every one of you.