Grand Master Strader’s November Address to the Craft.

Greeting Brothers,

Embracing the experience was pretty easy for me this month, how about for you? The diversity of events I was involved with spanned the family of Masonic related organizations from a York Rite Commandery inspection and degrees, the 100th anniversary re-consecration of Barneveld Lodge, a Shrine meeting, Lodge meetings / Table Lodge / Past Master’s dinner / Catfish Fry fundraiser, National Sojourner chapter meetings with Heroes of ’76 degrees and a Lodge of Military Tribute, a DeMolay Honors Day that knighted Right Worshipful Brother Ken Gorgen as an honorary member of the Legion of Honor, a Job’s Daughter Spaghetti Dinner fundraiser, the Amaranth Grand Banquet with a Murder Mystery, and an Annual Communications Session in Ohio . . . a really busy month, but I enjoyed every minute of it. I’ve got to admit, I have a taste for Warren Lodge’s Catfish Fries, but I don’t want to offend other lodges so invite me to yours, I would be happy to try another!

A further update on the Madison Masonic Center . . . we’ve finalized the new board of directors. Even though the legal name change may take a while, we’re going to start referring to the building as the “Wisconsin Masonic Center” to signify its tie to all Masons in the state. We’ve had an interim transition committee that has been busy evaluating the building condition, current rentals and rental/lease opportunities, so that the new board can hit the ground running. We’ll make a few necessary repairs prior to bad weather setting in so smaller problems do not become larger ones. We all truly believe that the outlook is good for establishing a solid plan and financial base for the center.  ’ve just signed the $10 assessment letter that will go out soon to all Masons, regular and perpetual, the first year of two that you approved in the annual communication session of 2018, due on January 1, 2020.

I was unable to attend the Day of Light event in Tomah due to attending the Annual Communications in Ohio and seeing my good friend and Brother, RW Keith Newton, installed as Most Worshipful Grand Master. I’ve heard I missed a grand event that District 5 Deputy Grand Master WBro. Jacob Schultz and his team orchestrated very well, with 17 new Master Masons raised.

Our next Masonic Days of Light for this fall is in Sheboygan on November 2.  Did your lodge sign up candidates and mentors in time? Please remember that the logistics and preparation for these events take time and effort, so please understand and respect the cut-off dates we need to maintain for the Days of light. Remember the dates for the Spring will be on March 7th at Racine/Belle City, and on March 21 in Eau Claire, and proactively prepare to get any candidates registered.  

Here’s this month’s thoughts along the theme of the Forget-me-not . . . what makes us unique as Freemasons?  It’s one of my roving subjects I’ve been using at events and wanted to bring it up in my column.

  • It’s not that we’re a secret society or a society with secrets.  You can find everything about Freemasonry on the internet, even down to signs, grip and words, if you sift through all the stuff about goats. An outsider just can’t hear it from us because we took an obligation not to divulge what we consider secret. It’s not that a new potential member has to wait until he realizes that he has to ask to become a member, we moved back in the late 90’s to allowing our members to approach good men and ask if they would be interested in knowing more.
  • It’s not that we’re a charity, but we are charitable, it’s our nature. But there are plenty of other civic organizations that are charitable as well.
  • It’s not our history that makes us unique, or which history you’re referring to. Operative Masons working on medieval cathedrals, forming lodges to protect their secret skills, accepting speculative Masons as the need for the tradesmen wound down. We talk about the building of King Solomon’s Temple, but that’s a way to teach our lessons. Some talk about the Templars and Scotland. Some talk about our roots being in Egypt. Not so sure about that one, I keep envisioning the comedian Steve Martin and his skit/song on King Tut, and I see the signs and such very differently, with arms outstretched, hands tilted at an angle. Everyone would see us from a mile away, exchanging grips!
  • Brothers, it is our ritual and its memorization, our floor work, our protocols, that truly make us unique. I hear stories of other honorable fraternal organizations that have moved to being co-ed and dropped the need for memorization, just reading degrees from books. This cannot happen to us as Freemasons.  Freemasonry is a lifelong journey, with the goal of continually improving ourselves as men, fathers, brothers. This is why we emphasize no open books in lodge, why we push to have more proficiency men, why we push mentoring so hard. If some don’t care for this, maybe Freemasonry was a bad life choice for them. It was the right choice for me.

Hope to see you at one of my upcoming visits.  I’m proud to be a Freemason!  I hope you are too.  

Faithfully yours,

Bob Strader

Grand Master

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