Rededication of the 1778 Trinity Lodge Charter

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Travis Simpkins


The Grand Lodge of Massachusetts dates back to 1733 and Masons in the Bay State are rightfully proud of their nearly-300-year history. Historical interests played a large part in me submitting a petition to Morning Star Lodge in 2015, and it was evident from the beginning that history was very important to others there as well. Just after being initiated, I was proudly told by a Brother that our Lodge, chartered in 1793, was the oldest of the seven Lodges in the 23rdDistrict. I had heard that statement before and I had noted that some of the other local Lodges had been chartered in the 19thCentury, so I just accepted the fact at face value.

That same week, I acquired a very old book pertaining to the history of Morning Star Lodge. I was surprised to see within the first few pages that Morning Star Lodge had actually been formed out of another pre-existing one, Trinity Lodge, which is still operating in the district today. The book listed Trinity Lodge as dating to 1778, yet their website displayed the year 1858. I casually mentioned the discrepancy to the District Deputy Grand Master at the time (and Past Master of Trinity Lodge), R.W. Gregory Stahl. He was well aware of the earlier 1778 date and it was something he had long been battling to restore.

Like most other stories of a Lodge with two charters, the crux of the Trinity Lodge saga was the period of darkness in the wake of the Anti-Masonic sentiments in the 1820's. Trinity Lodge had indeed been formed on January 30, 1778 under the authority of M.W. Joseph Webb and their original charter even bore the signature of Paul Revere, who was Junior Grand Warden at the time. The Lodge flourished for over four decades. Then, like so many others, they went dark in 1826 following the fervor of the Morgan Affair. 32 years later, Trinity Lodge re-formed and was granted a new charter on September 8, 1858. Morning Star Lodge, which had resumed in 1842, could produce their original 18th Century charter and was later re-granted their original 1793 date. The Trinity Lodge charter however, could not be located and the 1858 date stuck.

Fast forward 150 years... In 2008, the Grand Master visited Trinity Lodge for the Sesquicentennial anniversary of the 1858 charter. R.W. Gregory Stahl pointed out a Master's Carpet dating to 1784, evidencing the true age of the Lodge. The Grand Master stated that if the original charter could be located, then Grand Lodge would be supportive of restoring the 1778 date. The hopeful search for the document continued. In 2016, with the diligent help of the Grand Historian, R.W. Walter Hunt, the original 18th Century Trinity Lodge charter (damaged, but still very legible) was located in the Grand Secretary's vault in Boston.

Of all the Masonic events I have attended, the Trinity Lodge rededication ceremony held on January 30, 2018 was one of the most unique and memorable. It's something that doesn't happen often, and I'm not likely to witness anything quite like it ever again. The direct connection with history was palpable. The highly anticipated event was scheduled on the 240th Anniversary of the 1778 charter. The original fragile document, still clearly showing the signature of Paul Revere, was placed on display for all to see. A crowd of a hundred or so came out to the event, organized by Wor. Micheal Leonard, Past Master of Trinity Lodge, and the local news media took note. I personally enjoy attending the “public” events because I can bring my wife along, and she took the photo of the ceremony shown above, which was widely shared all over social media the following day. 

The Chaplain of Trinity Lodge conveyed a heartfelt history to the audience, which was further emphasized by R.W. Walter Hunt, who had played the integral role of finding the actual document. R.W. Gregory Stahl, who had since moved to Ohio, returned for the special event and current DDGM R.W. John F. Sullivan presented him with the Robert W. Johnson Service Award for all of his dedicated efforts in making that day possible. It was an inspirational experience all around, and I was happy to see Trinity Lodge given it's proper and long overdue recognition as the Mother Lodge of the 23rd District in Massachusetts. The Grand Master, M.W. Paul F. Gleason, presided over the well-composed ceremony. He made it official and concluded by saying, “To the Brethren of Trinity Lodge, congratulations on finally getting your birthday back.”

-TS

Travis Simpkins is a freelance artist with clients throughout the United States and Europe. He currently works on projects for the Supreme Council, 33°, NMJ in Lexington, Massachusetts. He also serves as a portrait artist for the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, Grand Lodge of New Jersey and other jurisdictions across North America. His artwork is in many esteemed collections, including the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum in Independence, Missouri.

Bro. Simpkins is a member of Morning Star Lodge A.F. & A.M. in Worcester, Massachusetts. He is a 32° Mason in the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite- Valleys of Worcester and Boston. He is also a member of Eureka Royal Arch Chapter, Hiram Council of Royal & Select Master Masons and Worcester County Commandery No. 5, Knights Templar.

The Blue & The Orange: Freemasonry & The Orange Order

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
WB Martin O’Brien


The day was overcast and a light drizzle was falling as I made my way through the West Gate of the town of Clonmel, one of the few remaining portions of the old town walls. These walls had held Oliver Cromwell at bay as he laid siege to the town with eight thousand men. For several bloody weeks in 1650 two thousand defenders held the foe at bay inflicting heavy casualties. Cromwell, a name which will forever live in infamy in Ireland, eventually negotiated a surrender with the Mayor John White, agreeing that neither the citizens nor their property would be harmed.

The terms of the surrender were upheld which was in stark contrast to the bloody mayhem typical of Cromwell’s military campaign in Ireland. Forty years later, William of Orange passed these walls unimpeded on his march to Limerick as he put down the Jacobite rebellion after seizing the crown from Catholic King James II. The town of Clonmel was founded in 1209 and it was here that I grew up. I had not been back to my hometown since I had become a Mason and on this overcast day I was making my way through the town to visit a Masonic Lodge I had not even known was there. I had emailed the Grand Lodge of Ireland to learn if there was a lodge close to Clonmel that I might visit during my trip.
   
To my great surprise they had told me there was one right there, in my town and they gave me the name and contact information of the Lodge Secretary. We had emailed back and forth over the preceding months and finally the appointed day had arrived. I turned right onto Nelson street and made my way past the handsome Georgian town homes that marked the character of this area of the town. I had the address and thought I knew where I was going but when I arrived all confidence fled me. There was no sign of a Masonic Lodge to be found. No square and compass anywhere to be seen. No sign indicating that a lodge of Craftsman could be found here. I walked a little further down the street in search of some sign but none being found returned to the address I had written down. I headed up the steps to the bright red door and rang the bell. The small brass plaque to the left of the door told me that it belonged to an accounting firm and as it opened I began running through the apology I would make in my mind.

The door opened and to my great relief there stood Bro. Secretary. He ushered me inside and closed the door directing me to a set of stairs to the left. We took those stairs down to the basement and he explained to me that his Lodge, Donoughmore Lodge # 44, had been constituted in 1845 and had originally owned the old three-story Georgian building we were in. Over time, membership had declined and along with it the financial condition of the Lodge and they had to sell it. It had been purchased by the accounting firm, the name I saw on the brass plaque outside. The accounting firm treated the Lodge well and had allowed them to move their lodge room to the basement of the building.

The Lodge room itself was a small space, the walls covered with the history of these Brothers. One row of wooden benches ran along each of the walls from the West to the East. The room would have been bursting at the seams with twenty Brothers in attendance. We chatted in the Lodge room for well over an hour comparing my experience of Freemasonry in the US to his in Ireland. I asked him why there was no sign outside indicating that a Lodge met at this place. He told me that this was typical of Lodges especially in the south of Ireland. The reason, he went on to say, was that it wasn’t always safe to be a Freemason in the mostly Catholic Republic. This is because of a perception by the general public, not only in Ireland but in the UK as well that Freemasonry is connected with Orangeism.

 In fact, he attributed this, in part, to the change in circumstances for his Lodge. There was a time when the Lodge was able to publicize their good works and announce their charitable activities through the local newspaper. That was until fifteen years or so ago when several of the key papermen had retired and been replaced by staunch Catholics, with the new editor being a Knight of Columbanus. The Knights of Columbanus was founded in Belfast in 1915 and are not to be confused with the Knights of Columbus which was founded in New Haven CT in 1882. Both orders are similar in that they are male only fraternal orders that require members to be Catholics and share a stated aim of propagating the Catholic faith.

The consequence of these new appointments was that Donoughmore #44 now found themselves struggling to get their activities and significant charitable endeavors in print. What struck me most about our conversation however was that Freemasonry was somehow conflated with the Orange Order. I had grown up in Ireland and was very aware of the Orange Order and the sectarian violence that often surrounded their activities in the North of the country. I had never considered them the same as Freemasonry but if such a connection existed in the minds of the Irish then it was no surprise that it wasn’t always safe to be a Freemason in the heavily Republican south. To understand why this is so it is necessary to explain the history of the Orange Order.

The Loyal Orange Institution, or Orange Order as it is more commonly known was founded in County Armagh in 1795. At this time the population of Armagh was evenly split between Catholics and Protestants and sectarian violence was commonplace and carried out by gangs organized to promote the interests of both communities. Most of the contention revolved around the leasing of limited farm land, the competition over which was fierce. These gangs eventually coalesced into The Defenders on the Catholic side and The Peep-o-Day Boys on the protestant side. In September of 1795, at a place called Loughgall, these two gangs met at the Diamond crossroads and commenced battle. This skirmish was to become known as The Battle of the Diamond and after fierce fighting the Peep-o-Day boys proved victorious.

Following the fight, the Peep-o-Day boys marched into Loughgall and there founded the Orange Order. Named for the previously mentioned William of Orange, the Dutchman who had wrested the English throne from the Catholic King James, the Orange Order had set itself the aims of defending the Protestant ascendancy, supporting the crown so long as it assured the Protestant ascendancy and more immediately in 1795, driving Catholics out of Armagh. Emboldened by their victory over the defenders they set about this task in earnest and two months later approximately seven thousand Catholics had been violently driven from their homes and their property and lands illegally seized. With a history like this it is no wonder that the Orange Order is viewed with disdain in by the Catholic population in Ireland. But this doesn’t explain how the Orange Order became associated with Freemasonry.

At the Diamond crossroads, the site of the Battle of the Diamond, there was an inn owned by a man named Dan Winters. Dan Winters was a Freemason and had appealed to his lodge for help when his Inn was threatened by the Defenders. The Lodge, adhering to the non-sectarian principles that are one of the crown jewels of the order did not assist and the Defenders attacked and burned the inn to the ground. Angry at the perceived failure of his Masonic Lodge, he withdrew his membership and along with several other men founded the Orange Order.

The Order was modeled, as so many others have been, on Masonic lines. The Orange Order boasts three degrees, the members wear regalia, although instead of the pure and spotless apron of a Mason, Orangemen wear an Orange Sash. The Order is organized into the local Lodges with the associated grips and words. In addition to these outward similarities, K.C. Jack in his article “The Masonic and Orange Orders” appearing in issue 39 of the Ashlar, tells us that the 19th Century in Ireland saw an upswing of anti-Catholic fervor that Masonic Lodges were not immune from. Citing the numerous Papal bulls that condemn Freemasonry and forbid Catholics to become members of the Craft, Jack tells us that these conditions resulted in the Masonic Fraternity taking on a decidedly protestant aspect in the minds of the public. Several mainly Protestant Lodges in the North went so far as to expel Catholic members and thereafter only allow affirmed Protestants to join. These actions were taken at the local lodge level and not endorsed at the Grand Lodge level.

The fact of the matter is that Freemasonry and the Orange Order are no more connected than Freemasonry and the Elks, or the Moose, or the Odd Fellows. These fraternities have followed after the Masonic model as the oldest and most successful paradigm of Fraternalism that exists. Just as men can be members of the Masonic Lodge and an Elk’s Lodge, so too can a man be a Freemason and an Orangeman. But beyond this and the cosmetic similarity discussed earlier, Freemasonry and Orangeism are chalk and cheese. One promotes the universal Brotherhood of man for the betterment of all mankind and advances a beautiful system of morality to achieve that end, while the other promotes militant Loyalism and maintains deep connections with Loyalist paramilitary groups with whom they promote sectarian violence. For proof of this, one need look no further than the Orange Marches which pass unnecessarily through Catholic areas of Northern Ireland. These marches more often than not lead to violence.

I left Donoughmore Lodge that day with a happy heart for there, I found my Brothers in the Craft just as I would here in the US. We shared a common bond, a common purpose. We met on the level and we parted on the square. One a Protestant, the other a Catholic. Both Brothers.

~MO

WB Martin O'Brien is a Past Master of Cuyahoga Falls Lodge #735 now Star Lodge #187 in Cuyahoga Falls Ohio. He is a member of Cuyahoga Falls Chapter #225 Royal Arch Masons, Cuyahoga Falls Council #144 Royal & Select Masters and a 32° Scottish Rite Mason in the Valley of Akron NMJ.

The Power of Positive Freemasonry

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bill Hosler, PM


I have never been a positive person. Some people refer to themselves as a “glass half full” or “glass half empty”. For most of my life I have been a “the glass is empty and broken in shards on the floor” kind of guy. I am working on this, trying to be more positive as part of my life. I have noticed that the right environment helps when you are trying to find positive light in a world of darkness.

Many years ago, Brother Dr. Norman Vincent Peale (Midwood Lodge No. 1062, Brooklyn, N.Y. and served as Grand Chaplain: 1949-51 Grand Lodge of New York), wrote a book entitled The Power of Positive Thinking: 10 Traits for Maximum Results. The book’s Amazon page describes this book as “An international bestseller with over five million copies in print, The Power of Positive Thinking has helped men and women around the world to achieve fulfillment in their lives through Dr. Norman Vincent Peale’s powerful message of faith and inspiration.”

I have not read this book, but I should, and I may in the future. While reading the books description I realized how much of this book, much like the recent book ”It's Business Time: Adapting a Corporate Path for Freemasonry” by Brothers Robert Johnson and Jon Ruark adapted bestselling business and motivational books to running a successful Masonic lodge.

Amazons description of Brother Peale’s book, claims you will learn these skills:

· Believe in yourself and in everything you do

· Build new power and determination

· Develop the power to reach your goals

· Break the worry habit and achieve a relaxed life

· Improve your personal and professional relationships

· Assume control over your circumstances

· Be kind to yourself

I believe many of these can be concerted to the honorable and glorious purposes of fixing Masonry.

1. Believe in yourself and in everything you do

If you are a Freemason, hopefully you believe in the Craft and it’s teachings. You may, like many of us, be discouraged about Freemasonry’s current state, but I also hope you believe that if we continue to work and move forward we can put it back on a solid foundation

2. Build new power and determination

Each one of us who hold a current dues card has a voice and a vote on how we as an organization moves forward. Therefore, I am always saddened when I hear about a Brother who quits his lodge (and the Craft itself). Each one of us who is active in Freemasonry has a voice and a vote and if we stand together as a group we can eventually have the Fraternity we want. Each member we lose makes us weaker and will delay us in our ultimate goal. We need to stay involved and encourage each other to stay (or come back).

3. Develop the power to reach your goals

We as a group (Local lodge level, Grand Lodge level and nationally) need to know what we want the future of Freemasonry to look like and develop a plan in which we can implement as a group as we strive to meet our goals.

4. Break the worry habit and achieve a relaxed life

So many of us have raised our hands in frustration over the years when we are told we can’t change things in our lodges. I’m sure so many of you have heard, “We’ve never done it that way before” or “Grand Lodge won’t allow that” or “Please don’t do that out of the sake of harmony in the lodge”. So, we as a group have sunk back and quietly given up, and allowed what we know will drive members away to happen.

What we have forgotten is that we are playing the long game. We need to quit worrying and continue to try to make reforms. Eventually, they will happen. We are already beginning to see changes, so relax and remember the tortoise, not the hare.

5. Improve your personal and professional relationships

We must continue to strive to achieve our goals in Freemasonry and continue to make friends and “spread the cement” of Brotherly love. One of the things we strive to achieve in making ourselves better is not just in regards to education, but also making lifelong friendships along the way. Kind of like a “support group” when times get tough. We also need to continually interact, discuss and eventually agree on what we believe the future should look like. The more interactions and discussions we have is the only way we can put the designs upon the trestle board for the future.

6. Assume control over your circumstances

I think this point pretty much sums up everything I have written above. WE as a whole, as a group, need to discuss and plan for the future as we want it to be. We as a group or as the many separate jurisdictions in this country (or the world for that matter) won’t agree on every point, I mean we haven’t for three hundred years, but if we can begin to decide as a group what we want Freemasonry to look like we can be ready for the future when we can put our plans into practice.

Brother Peale lists one more point: “Be kind to yourself”, but for this paper I would like to replace this point with my own, which I feel is more important, “Don’t Quit”

Brother, I know we all get frustrated with the current state of affairs in our Fraternity. Cheap dues, crumbling buildings, boring meetings and in some cases mediocre meals have disappointed a lot of men who were originally excited to become Freemason. When they bring up ideas on how they can make the lodge better they are told to sit down and be quiet until they are Master of the Lodge. (They don’t tell them they will try to torpedo his ideas while he is Master anyway) After a while they begin to feel dejected or disappointed and slowly fade away.

Brother, please remember this. When we lose a member through suspension for non-payment of dues or through a demit we don’t just lose the chance for fellowship, we also lose one vote, one voice, one man who can help make a difference in bringing about the change we are looking for.

The old saying “United we stand, divided we fall” is true Brother. The more of us who stay in the quarries and work toward the future the faster we will be able to rebuild the temple.

~BH

WB Bill Hosler was made a Master Mason in 2002 in Three Rivers Lodge #733 in Indiana. He served as Worshipful Master in 2007 and became a member of the internet committee for Indiana's Grand Lodge. Bill is currently a member of Roff Lodge No. 169 in Roff Oklahoma and Lebanon Lodge No. 837 in Frisco,Texas. Bill is also a member of the Valley of Fort Wayne Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite in Indiana. A typical active Freemason, Bill also served as the High Priest of Fort Wayne's Chapter of the York Rite No. 19 and was commander of of the Fort Wayne Commandery No. 4 of the Knight Templar. During all this he also served as the webmaster and magazine editor for the Mizpah Shrine in Fort Wayne Indiana.

What to Expect When You're Expecting - Epilogue

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Darin Lahners


The very first article I wrote for ‘The Midnight Freemasons’ was called: “What to Expect when You’re Expecting: Worshipful Masters Edition”. I wrote it as I was having trepidation upon going to the East in my home lodge of St. Joseph #970. I ended up setting out 5 things to follow as a guide on my way to the East.

1. Relax and have fun! You’re not going to be perfect, but you’ll be okay.

2. Communicate and be open to listening. Exchange ideas with your lodge.

3. Believe in yourself! Your brothers believe in you.

4. Have a plan. A mission statement is a good way to set out your goals in a few sentences.

5. Most importantly, invoke the blessing of Deity always before undertaking any task as Worshipful Master.

Now that my year is almost at a close, it’s time to reflect back on it. I’m going to address the first three items and then break out my Mission Statement.

1. Relax and have fun! You’re not going to be perfect, but you’ll be okay.

I don’t feel like I had time to relax or have fun during my term in the East. I had several things happen that while not in my direct control, contributed to this feeling. We spent a lot of time and money on the repairs for our stairs. Although the process of getting them repaired began while I was in the west, we went with a recommendation and bid from a contractor recommended by our Building Committee chairman. Unfortunately, once the job was done, the wood that was used began to split on the sides of stairs. When we asked him to replace it, he blamed everything on the age of our lodge. He didn’t take responsibility, so the committee chairman took it upon himself to fire the contractor. He then had to bring in another contractor to fix the stairs that were splitting. Needless to say, the effort took several thousands of dollars.

The brother that was going to serve as Junior Warden informed me shortly after being elected that he had been accepted into a program sponsored by his church that would allow him to continue his education. Unfortunately, his classes met on our Stated Meeting night, so he would only be able to make a few meetings. Around the same time, my Junior Deacon had to go back into the workforce and ended up getting a job which was second shift and would also keep him from the meetings. I was essentially two officers down, which I had to replace every meeting. Luckily my Senior Deacon stepped up to fill the Junior Warden’s station in his absence. I was also able to place one of the younger members of the lodge to the position of Junior Deacon from Junior Steward. All of this along with the items below contributed to a stressful time in the East for me.

2. Communicate and be open to listening. Exchange ideas with your lodge.

It’s difficult to communicate and exchange ideas with your lodge when nobody is showing up for a stated meeting. Of course, missing two members that regularly attended lodge meant that we were scrambling for quorum every meeting. There was actually one meeting where I had the bare minimum to open. While we were able to open every meeting, there were members that had missed meetings where we had discussed items and they had been voted on. Members would then occasionally show up for a meeting and question the items that had been voted on in previous meetings. This came to a head last meeting where I felt the choice of our scholarship winner was questioned. To be frank, I lost my temper when it was questioned. I blew up at the brother asking about it. In the not most gentle way possible, with probably not the gentlest of words, I told him that I felt that if he had made the meetings where we had discussed and voted on this, that he could have brought up his objections then. I felt that he was criticizing the decision and took it personally even though he was just trying to point out the original objective for the scholarship. My point is, it’s hard to communicate when there’s very few people to communicate to.

3. Believe in yourself! Your brothers believe in you.

I worked very hard with some other members of the lodge last year when I was Senior Warden to receive the Grandmaster’s Award of Excellence. At our Grand Lodge session as the Master of St. Joseph Lodge last October, we did it. Not only did we receive it, we also were awarded second place in the state for lodges under 80 members. In order to receive the award, there are a number of things that the lodge must do. These items always involve having at least 3 elected officers and a total of 5 to seven members doing them [the GMAE tasks]. For whatever reason this past year, very few members of my lodge were willing or able to make these events. It got to a point where I signed in as a member of another lodge to which I belong so that they would get the credit. While some of these events took place on dates where members couldn’t go because of family commitments or work, I feel that there is little to no desire by the membership to attend any lodge activities, especially ones needed to qualify for the award. It’s hard to believe in yourself and to believe that your brothers believe in you if you don’t share the same commitment to the lodge.

4. Have a plan. A mission statement is a good way to set out your goals in a few sentences.

In order to begin, I want to look back upon my Mission Statement. It was as follows:

I want to make Saint Joseph Lodge a better place. A place for brothers and their families to spend time, and a better asset to the community. A place that men in my community want to join. I want to educate the brethren not only using traditional education, but also teach some of the esoteric meanings of the ritual as well. Lastly, I want to raise some funds by having fun.

So, let’s see if I achieved any of what I set out to do.

I will begin with: “I want to make Saint Joseph Lodge a better place.” It’s a pretty broad statement. There’s two ways to answer it. What is a lodge really? Is it the building or room where you hold your degree work and stated meetings? Or is it the members that gather for the degree work or stated meetings? Every Mason should know it’s both. What did I do to make the Lodge a better place? From the building standpoint, several improvements were instituted. The very first thing we did was we improved the lodge room itself. We had our old degree trestle boards framed to keep them from deteriorating. We installed the internet, a wireless network and mounted a Flat Screen television on the wall so that we could cast the Degree slides from our phones instead of needing to have someone bring a computer and projector into the lodge. Our stairs were in dire need of repair so we had them fixed. We had some boiler repairs that needed to occur also. Finally, I took an old lodge computer and converted into a Chromebook, so that we would have another device to cast from if needed.

The second line of my mission statement covers the Lodge from the member perspective: A place for brothers and their families to spend time, and a better asset to the community. I tried very hard to make our lodge better. I tried to have two separate movie nights for the members and community. On the couple of occasions when I did this, I was able to get a total of 4 members combined at both events including myself. We did have moderate success at holding a trunk or treat event for the local food pantry. The idea that was communicated to our community, was to have them show up and bring items for the food pantry and get candy. I had a total of 6 members including myself show up and help me hand out candy while we collected items for the food pantry. We collected a decent amount for a donation. We also held a chili dinner that we participated with Ogden and Homer lodges. This event brought out a good number of brethren and their families from across the area. We had a good meal and good fellowship as well. I have one more event planned before my time in the East is at a close. We’re having a dinner to recognize the veterans and first responders in the Lodge prior to our stated meeting in June. As of right now, I have one RSVP, but the mail just went out, so I’m hoping that I get more responses.

The next line of the mission statement is the big one: “ A place that men in my community want to join.” During my year as Master, we have had three petitions to join our lodge. We also have one candidate that is an EA but is a college student and has trouble scheduling his next degrees. Of the three petitions, two are now Fellowcrafts and one is getting his EA degree this coming Thursday. I think that getting any new members is doing a decent job, I’m a member of a few lodges where they’re lucky to get a new petition a year.

Did I really make the lodge a place the men in my community want to join? I certainly tried. I advertised on social media to have men come and meet us at a local establishment before our meetings. I tried to have community movie nights as well. We held the trunk or treat as a community event. I used the new materials from the Scottish Rite and posted the short video, “Not Just a Man, A Mason” all over social medians well. I’ve also discussed with the lodge using the Invitation to Petition in order to get new members. We’re giving away our yearly scholarship and teacher of the year award at the High School this week, which is another chance for us to get community exposure. My hope is that maybe one man in the audience will be interested in joining us.

I want to educate the brethren not only using traditional education, but also teach some of the esoteric meanings of the ritual. My biggest failure as Master has been in the area of Masonic Education. Quite frankly, compared to Homer where Education is the first and foremost item at every stated meeting, we have a fair amount of business to get through at St. Joseph. I absolutely tried to institute a meeting structure where Education was the first item, followed by the regular meeting, but it ended up being close to a 2-and-a-half-hour affair. Many of the older membership complained about the length of the meetings. Of course, this had nothing really to do with the education which might have added 10 minutes to the meeting. Some of the older members like to hear themselves talk and like to motion for items on the floor for votes. They also like to have me explain items that we are discussing multiple times because they are hard of hearing, even though they are usually at the front of the lodge. By the time we get to where education is on the agenda, most of the older membership will audibly groan or sigh when I mention it. It’s gotten to the point where at the last meeting, I told everyone that I had an education piece that I would give after the meeting if anyone was interested. Of course, the younger members of my lodge were interested, while the older guys just packed up and left.

The last item on my Mission Statement was a personal goal. Lastly, I want to raise some funds by having fun. At St. Joseph, we have a building with retail space downstairs. We have a renter that guarantees us fixed income every month, so we really don’t have to do any fundraising. The idea for my fund raiser was simply to help bring awareness that our lodge is more than a bunch of guys who dress up and wear aprons. The idea was to show us having fun in a relaxed setting. From my time being a Cub Scout Leader, the best event of every year was always the pinewood derby. So, my idea of having an Adult Pinewood Derby was one that I thought would be well received. As we began planning the event last June, the vision took twists and turns. However, I could not be more pleased to be partnering with some adult leaders from local Scouting units to have our lodge sponsor the event. The fundraiser has become an event with a real date, place and time. The fundraiser will donate a majority of the funds to help local scouting programs, while the Masonic Lodge will receive a small portion of the funds for sponsoring, which I plan in asking the lodge to donate to the Venturing Scout Crew that we charter.

5. Most importantly, invoke the blessing of Deity always before undertaking any task as Worshipful Master.

I know that we open and close every meeting with a prayer. I don’t know that I have really taken the time to pray before writing every email to the lodge. I know I haven’t done it as much as I probably should have. Maybe that’s what made the difference. I guess all I can do is hope to do it more during this next year. You see my brethren, I am hoping to be elected as Worshipful Master of Homer Lodge for the next Masonic Year. Which leads me to add a new item to my guide.

6. Never give up.

One of my favorite movie quotes is probably going to surprise you. It’s from Batman Begins. “Why do we fall, sir?” Alfred asks Bruce Wayne in the scene, and Bruce looks at him unable to come up with an answer, so Alfred says “So that we can learn to pick ourselves up.” Yes, I didn’t accomplish everything that I wanted to during my year as Master in St. Joseph. I made some mistakes, some things were out of my control, and some things just aren’t worth worrying about. I have to learn from my mistakes and refocus my efforts for the coming year at Homer. I am not going to let what happened at one lodge take away from my enthusiasm for the coming year. I have to pick myself up. 

~DAL

WB Darin Lahners is the Worshipful Master of St. Joseph Lodge No.970 in St. Joseph and a plural member of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL), and Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL). He’s a member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, a charter member of the new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter U.D. and is the current Secretary of the Illini High Twelve Club No. 768 in Champaign – Urbana (IL). He is also a member of the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees. When he’s not busy enjoying Masonic fellowship, Darin spends his time as a DM for his children’s D&D campaign, reading, golfing, watching movies and listening to music. You can reach him by email at darin.lahners@gmail.com.