I still can’t believe my travels in the progressive Grand Lodge line has led me to be installed as Grand Master already. When MWPGM Dennis Siewert appointed me as Junior Grand Steward, I just thought it would be forever to get through the line. Boy was I wrong! The lessons you learn from your precedingGrand Masters and the background you get being involved with all the various committees and liaison positions really does prepare you for this eventuality, if you pay attention and work diligently.
Thank you again, my Brothers, for having voted for me and reaffirming your trust in me. Literally hundreds of you have approached me in person or by email offering assistance in any way. You wouldn’t believe how welcoming that is.
My Saturday morning AC talk is printed in this edition of the Masonic Journal, so I won’t repeat any goals or programs, but only emphasize that they are not unrelated to current ones, but meant to fill gaps, solve known issues and make your journey as a Mason more fulfilling. I really do live and breathe the servant-based leadership model. It’s important for all of us as leaders to serve our Brothers and make them successful and appreciate that they became Masons. Do me a favor and when you see a Masonic leader in our lodges or any appendant body not acting in this way, please whisper good counsel in their ear.
As I write this column, I am in my 12thday as your Grand Master. I still need to share my vision with many of our committees, teams and Grand Lodge Officers in order for our programs to get started on a solid footing and to be able to launch into planning and execution. We’ve got our annual Strategic Planning session with the Grand Lodge officers in a few days where we’ll discuss the current plan and any potential changes in it to better align with the needs of our Brothers in Wisconsin.
If you didn’t make it to AC, you missed our 175thAnniversary celebration! With our historical perspective by MWPGM Craig Campbell, our re-consecration ceremony, our Madison Masonic Center replica built by WBro. Jerry McDonald housing time capsules, a challenge coin given to all attendees and a rousing rendition from all Masons on the floor of “I’m proud to be a Freemason”, it was an energizing experience for all. The remaining challenge coins are available for purchase on the Grand Lodge website from the Grand Lodge Square Store.
I went straight from our Annual Communication into another with our Prince Hall Brothers here in Wisconsin. Their officers and the other Midwest Grand Masters made me feel welcome and we discussed many issues common among all of us. Their matching resolution to ours working towards full recognition between our jurisdictions was tabled until next year so that they could better frame further language on plurality in lodges, something not allowed in the Wisconsin Prince Hall Lodges. We’ll have to hold off on our celebrations until next year, but at least the unanimous approval of our Resolution 4-2019 is helping to put everything in motion. Thank you Brethren for your support!
I also attended the Grand Commandery annual meeting in Oshkosh, which had not been attended by a sitting Grand Master in a while. It was nice to attend an annual meeting where I was not involved in the numerous hours of planning and could just enjoy the fellowship. The leadership in these York Rite bodies is as fully dedicated to the success of their members as our Grand Lodge is to all of you Brethren. The experiences in the appendant bodies are not something that our blue lodges should fear. Every group must strive to show value on their own, so every Brother will want to share his time (a valuable commodity) among all the lodges and appendant bodies that he wants to participate in.
A few of the Brothers have been asking me if we’ll be continuing the first responder pin. My answer is “of course!”. From my perspective, this was not a Grand Master program, but one of the Grand Lodge, vetted during the strategic planning process of previous sessions. I’ve personally seen many smiling faces as they have received their pins. MWPGM Scott Pedley, great idea! Some other news you’ve been waiting for, we’ll be having a couple of Masonic Day of Light events this fall, in Tomah on October 19 and in Sheboygan on November 2. Look for dates soon for next spring in Eau Claire and Racine.
Please remember my challenge to all the Brethren in Wisconsin when introducing my pin with the Forget-me-not as its center piece and try something new (or something not done in a long while) among our many varied experiences in Freemasonry and take a new Mason along for the ride!
I’m proud to be a Freemason! I hope you are too.