I look back over the last few years, and what has been accomplished at Homer Lodge No. 199 is remarkable. We've rebuilt our Lodge--with a lot of hard work and sweat we've restored it to its former glory. We've created a museum that celebrates not only Freemasonry, but tells the history of our Lodge and its decades long service to the community. We've established Admiration Chapter, a new chapter of the Royal Arch dedicated to service and education which will soon receive its charter. We had several excellent education meetings now, and a truly remarkable group discussion on civility. One of the best meetings I've attended in my decade as a Master Mason.
The Grand Chapter of Illinois has taken notice of what we're doing in Admiration Chapter, and I have no doubt the model we've established in providing education and instruction for our members will inspire other Chapters of the Royal Arch to do the same thing--improve the member experience. And we've opened our doors to the community so they share in our history, as well as gotten out from behind the walls of the Lodge Room ourselves and gone out into the community again to continue our long history of service to the community. We've even made the newspaper with our restoration efforts. We recently spent a day out on Main Street during the town's annual Soda Festival pouring samples of old fashioned handcrafted sodas in a tent while the rain poured down. One thing I didn't hear this year I'd heard in the two previous years--I didn't know the Lodge was still active. The town knows we're still there, and we've come out from behind the walls of the Lodge again.
But the hard work is still ahead. We've rebuilt the Lodge building and put it back into use, but now it is time to rebuild the Lodge membership. We have just enough active members to fill our chairs, and only two of those active members are true Homer Lodge members. Most of those chairs are filled with dual members from neighboring Ogden Lodge No. 754 and St. Joseph Lodge No. 970. It is our goal to fill that Lodge with Homer Masons--to raise and train a new generation of Master Masons and one day hand the keys back to them and let them continue the legacy of serving their community as generations before them have.
Our Grand Master Tony Cracco and the officers of the Grand Lodge of Illinois A.F. & A.M. are coming to Homer Lodge No. 199 in September to rededicate our Lodge. We plan to open the doors and let the entire community in to celebrate that momentous occasion. I believe it will begin a brand new chapter in our Lodge's long history.
I've tried to tell a story here over the last few weeks. Don't let that light go out. The world has never been in more need of men of good character than it is today--and the more places men can go to learn those values the better. There are probably few people who have spent more time than I have studying the lives of famous Freemasons over the last decade--it's my thing. All of them were good men when they joined, but many became great men after they became involved with our Fraternity. There is something about our Craft, when it is taught properly, that propels men to accomplish things they didn't know they were capable of. It's not just something you see with famous Freemasons either--you'll see it amongst the less famous as well. There are one or two Masons like that in every Lodge I've attended. We need a lot more than that to make a difference.
Todd E. Creason
Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL)
Todd E. Creason, 33°, FMLR is the Founder of the Midnight Freemasons blog and is a regular contributor. He is the award winning author of several books and novels, including the Famous American Freemasons series. He is the author of the From Labor to Refreshment blog. He is a Past Master of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL), and currently serves as the Secretary. He currently serves as Worshipful Master of Homer Lodge No. 199 and serves as Sovereign Master of the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees. He is a member the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, the York Rite Bodies of Champaign/Urbana (IL), Ansar Shrine (IL), and Charter President of the Illini High Twelve in Champaign-Urbana (IL). In 2015 he was honored by the Missouri Lodge of Research and named a Fellow (FMLR). He is a charter member of a new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter U.D. Todd is the father of two daughters, and recently became a grandfather. You can contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org