What a summer it has been for Wisconsin Freemasonry. Lodges are doing degree work. Better still many lodges are once again traveling to help with degrees. Lodges are taking part in town festivals many for the first time or are expanding their role. Many lodges are marching or putting floats in local parades. Food stands and information booths at fairs are becoming the norm. Many lodges and districts are attending Northwoods Baseball games or Minor league games as a group. Brothers are meeting to go out for breakfast or are joining Brothers and their wives for a dinner out. One of the cars that is sponsored by the Wisconsin Masonic Foundation finished third at the Slinger Nationals. Top athletes from around the state competed in the WSCA-Masonic All Star Soccer games. Lodges are celebrating with rededications, open houses, and dinners and inviting the press and public in. Motorcycle rides and car shows are taking place every weekend. Brat stands, fish fries, and BBQs are happening all over the state. Milwaukee No. 13 smokes hundreds of pounds of meat for a single dinner. A Brother from Wisconsin, Gerrit Marshall from Madison No. 5, even won the annual Ernest Hemmingway Look-a-like contest in Key West.
Everywhere you look something is happening in Freemasonry. This Summer the Fall River Police department deployed an FST making 14 saves around the state. We have lodges and groups of Brothers going to nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and shut in’s homes for visitations and to open lodges of friendship. With all the negative on social media it is heart warming to see lodges and Brothers posting about the positive things they have done in their communities. We have lodges helping with youth sport camps, take-a-kid fishing days, and bicycle rodeos. A Brother from Eau Claire helped deliver a baby at a bus stop and aid in saving the child’s life. Most weekends there is a Masonic golf outing for charity somewhere in the state.
We are having fun in our lodges with Hawaiian shirt nights and a few Hawaiian shirt degrees. The number of outdoor degrees is increasing. Hillbilly or bibbed overall nights always draw a crowd. The meals being served in many lodges have taken a large step, no longer ham sandwiches and green beans, real meals are once again being served. After the stated meeting more lodges are starting traditions of going somewhere after. Ice Cream at Culvers or pizza and something to drink have the Brothers enjoying Masonry.
What is happening is having a two-fold effect. In an organization that focuses on self-improvement and becoming a better man. We often have forgotten the fraternal side. Not anymore. We have sought out the company of good men, men of like mind and character. Now we are taking the time, making the time to be with them and enjoy their company. In many of our activities we are including our wife and children exposing them to these good men, the best society has to offer. Throughout the state we are evolving from lodge Brothers to friends. Men who truly enjoy each other’s company and seek ways to increase that time together. I was once told by a hostess that, “We love to see the Masons come in not only are they polite but they actually like each other.”
The other effect is that we are getting noticed. Society is once again aware of who we are and what we stand for. Our photos and stories are appearing in papers all over Wisconsin. We are getting air-time on both radio and TV. People are starting to ask questions. It is a great feeling when I tell someone I am a Mason and their response is, “Thank-you for all you guys do.” and not “Are they still around?” You my Brother are making a difference. You are setting the example for other men to follow whether morally and ethically, or in giving of your time and money to charity, or seeking out the company of good men.
Keep up the good work and activity. I am proud of Wisconsin Freemasonry and the men I call my Brothers. You are making a difference. Keep getting caught having fun and doing good.