Good Morning Brethren ALL!!!
I must, first and foremost, start out by expressing my appreciation for the wonderful experience my Lady Ronda and I had last evening during the Installation Ceremony and the banquet.
We appreciate all of the courtesies and very uplifting conversations you shared with us. It was a great time for family and fellowship.
I recently had the opportunity to go to your library located at the Grand Masonic Center in Dousman. My purpose was to take a look at the Proceedings of the Seventy-fourth Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Wisconsin.
That Annual Communication was held in Milwaukee at the Scottish Rite Cathedral, at the corner of Van Buren and Oneida Streets on June 11, 1918. The address of Grand Master Willard Griswold, made many references to the Great World War I. There were 1 million American soldiers engaged in mortal combat in France and another two million for a total of three million deployed to France before the year was out.
It was noted that the Grand Chaplain, Bro. Philip Linley, who wrote to the Grand Master in August of 1917, that he “felt a higher call to enter the service of his country as a Chaplain in the army and he is now in France”.
Of the many statistics, the Proceedings report there were 34,877 members in Wisconsin and that 2,342 Master Mason degrees were conferred during year 1917.
The point of all of this is to take you back to another time and place 100 years ago to contemplate a small bit of our history and to remind us all that what we do here, is not only important, it truly makes history.
I also wish to point out to you that your library at the Grand Masonic Center, can be a great resource if you are interested. It isn’t large by any means. But it is there and is packed full of Masonic information and it seems to be underutilized.
Now, to the matters before us today:
During this Masonic Year, we will place the Wisconsin Masonic College on the shelf and we will introduce to you, the Wisconsin Masonic Academy, which Grand Orator/Past Grand Master Bill Beetcher will share more details about, shortly. This educational venture will be very Masonic in the education it offers.
We will continue offering the Masonic Day of Light program, which has enjoyed a great deal of success. At this juncture, two sessions are planned. If there is a great demand for more, we will offer more of those sessions.
We will continue with the “Acts of Kindness” program in the manner and form it is now.
The Grand Master’s Appeal for funding will be to support the Children’s Dyslexia Centers. This was an easy decision that my Lady Ronda and I reached years ago when we first learned of the program during Grand Master Wilke’s term in office.
Next, because of my belief in the beauty of our ritual, we will be placing much greater emphasis on the office of District Lecturer. The proposed budget that you will soon consider, allots additional funds to support a more aggressive approach to organize and improve the manner in which we bring our esoteric training to the Lodges.
I believe there is linkage between our ritual work and membership retention and growth. For too long, we have not emphasized enough the importance of our District Lecturers and the importance of the education and training they deliver.
With regard to the budget, we will be closely monitoring and will try daily to eliminate any unnecessary spending. For instance, all out of state trips by any Grand Lodge officer will need to be justified before they occur. If I’m going somewhere and there’s really no purpose other than social, I will pay for the airfare, not you!
The bottom line is, we will attempt to evaluate all expenditures, within reason, with a goal of reducing our overall operational expenses wherever we can. That my Brothers, is a very serious pledge that I am making to you!
My Brothers, you know, Freemasonry is not that easy when you compare us to other organizations which purport to be on our level. I am, in no way, suggesting that we are elitist or anything of that nature. Some may ask why we don’t change in order to attract more members.
I believe membership retention and growth is critical, not because we seek more hands to bear the burden of a heavy load. I believe we should endeavor to pursue our growth and retention efforts for the primary purpose of extending the message of the GREAT Masonic story to the uninformed. To those less fortunate so they may become enlightened as a Mason. And,
And, as I have shared in my remarks on the first day of the Annual Communication, cultivating virtue is one of our obligations to society.
I wish to alarm you to an urgent matter involving a segment of our membership.
Just last evening I had the great opportunity to spend time listening to a younger Brother about his Lodge experience thus far. He told me he was, at one point, thinking about leaving the fraternity because of the actions of some of his Lodge members. His is a Lodge in which the “old guard”, or the “old guys”, aren’t interested in new activities to serve the community. The ideas of the “new guys” are seemingly ignored, and so forth.
Ignoring our millennials is the wrong thing to do. They think and process differently than others. They need a more instant satisfaction when they engage in any of our activities.
My brothers, if you haven’t figured it out, we are likely to lose this age group if we don’t immediately change. We must loosen the reins of control—I don’t mean total control—but we must give them equal consideration of their ideas. If you have millennials in your Lodge, try to be open to their ideas, even if you haven’t done it that way before.
The symbolism in the Grand Master’s pin is a theme of Justice, Humility and Brotherly Love. I think these don’t need a lot of explanation but I chose this theme to remind me, more than you, of the need to adhere to that messaging as a man and as a Mason.
We also have authorized a First Responder pin. As a law enforcement officer, firefighter and Emergency Medical Technician, I greatly appreciate firsthand, the life safety work of this segment of our population. If you have served in public safety as a firefighter, emergency medical responder or as a law enforcement officer, thank you for your service. We have a pin to honor your contribution to serve others.
My contact information and the contact information of each Grand Lodge Officer is inside the front page of each Wisconsin Masonic Journal. Call me on my cell phone at the number listed or email me at the email address listed here. Call me anytime you have a question about any matter relative to the Fraternity that you believe needs my attention, And the same goes for contacting other Grand Lodge Officers.
You, my Brothers, are the sovereign. And, we are the servants.
I believe we are on the forefront of Masonic renewal in this state, nation and in the world. Ours is a bright future.
It is my belief that tomorrow has always been better than today, and it always will be.
I am a Mason!
Thank you and may the Supreme Architect of the Universe shower you and this great fraternity with His Blessings!
Scott E. Pedley