Grand Master’s Message – March 2024

     I recently had the privilege to help represent you at the Conference of Grand Masters of North America along with many of the other Wisconsin Officers. There were delegates from all over the world, many from Central and South America as well as Eastern Europe. In many of these countries Masonry is booming. Countries like Brazil Freemasonry and appendant bodies are growing at an extraordinary rate. However, this is not necessarily the case for many of the North American Grand Lodges.

    I was asked many times to what we attribute the success Wisconsin is having. What was the magic elixir that sparked our growth and revival? We had shut down during COVID like most of them had. We faced the same tasks of getting restarted? Our decline like theirs had been many decades old. So, what happened?

     An easy answer was programs. We offered FST’s and other equipment to Wisconsin’s Fire and Law Enforcement. We began online advertising. We had a fresh and relevant web page. In my many years as a Grand Lodge officer and Mason I have seen many worthwhile programs wither and die on the vine because you the craft had not bought into these programs. So, what changed? Why buy into these programs?

      A few years ago, I was sitting in a lodge with an elderly brother who was bemoaning the state of Freemasonry. I asked him if he knew anyone who might be interested in joining. Fresh blood for the old lodge. His response, “My grandson would love to join but, I keep telling him not to waste his time Masonry will be dead in a few years.” I told him with that attitude he was probably right. For many in the craft Freemasonry was on Hospice just waiting to fade away. So, what changed?

     You did. Your lodges and the craft did. I genuinely feel that during COVID many men sat at home missing lodge. Many men came to realize how much those other men meant to him. Many men came to realize how much his town, state, and nation needed Masonry. In short we stopped trying to sell tickets to the Titanic and started selling tickets to a Viking or Carnival Cruise.

     For years when someone asked about Masonry, we told them about the twice monthly meetings complete with boiled ham sandwiches, weak coffee, and our annual Bingo night. Today a Brother is going to work or talking with friends and telling them about axe throwing, nights at the ball field, speakers brought in, race track events, active shooter training, Nerf battles, and Native American dance. I can also tell you that the food has gotten better. Many lodges are going back to full meals with good food served either before or after the meeting.

     The craft is gathering outside of lodge with the formation of book clubs, study groups, dinner or breakfast clubs. Many of these outings are for the entire family. Maybe it is a cigar and Bourbon night held at a local pub or a popcorn and movie night held at the lodge. For many years a successful lodge was one that had a booth at a community event. Today our lodges are the main sponsor for a community event or the lodge has taken over management of a community festival. Today when we talk about Masonry the topics are almost inexhaustible. The programs and other things provided by the Grand Lodge certainly are valuable. The FST program certainly provided the spark but it was you my Brothers that provide the fuel. There is no longer a question of having fun, or being relevant, or being active in our communities. I am pleased to report that Masonry is off of Hospice and is doing just fine. Growing stronger every day.

     I do not believe Masonry will ever die or fade away. If there remain but three good men, they will search out each other’s company and the tenets of Freemasonry shall live on. Proud of you and all that is happening around our state. On Wisconsin Freemasonry!