The Historic Meeting Of The Rites: Putting The Focus Back On Our Members

by Midnight Freemasons Founder
Todd E. Creason, 33°

Left to right: Executive Director of the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville (IL) William J. Hussey, Jr. 33° and Excellent High Priest of Admiration Chapter No. 282 Todd E. Creason talk prior to the historic "Meeting of the Rites" event at the Homer Masonic Temple (IL).  Photo by Midnight Freemasons Senior Contributor Gregory J. Knott

We had a very special meeting at Admiration Chapter No. 282 recently.  We held a joint table lodge with the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville—first time I ever recalling anything like that being done.  We called it “The Meeting of the Rites.”  The York Rite and the Scottish Rite got together, and we had a fine meal (pizza) and then a long discussion about servant leadership.  The discussion brought up a lot of ways that Freemasonry could do a better job at serving our members, and it got many of the participants thinking about Freemasonry in a very different way.
But one of the things that one of our Admiration Chapter members said stuck with me, and it was a little off the topic. It was about values. What he said was that before he became a Mason, he often felt very much alone in the world. He felt that way because he didn’t feel as if anybody shared his values anymore. He listed a few. Honesty. Integrity. Honor. Civility. Respect. Of course, he found he wasn’t alone after all. Freemasons strive to improve themselves in those values (and many more).

After the meeting, I spent a long time thinking about that meeting, and what that Mason said. I’ve written about this before, but I’m going to ask it again. Do we really do a good job teaching these values to our members? Other than the lessons learned in the first three degrees, and for some the York Rite and/or Scottish Rite Degrees—do we really teach these morals and ethics? I’d say in many places we don’t. We talked about how Masons stand for these values, but we don’t explain how to apply them. We learn some of these concepts by the examples set by our Masonic mentors, but we don’t sit down and discuss what it means to live by a higher standard than those in the profane world around us.

Lots of great ideas came out of a long discussion about servant leadership and related topics.  In the foreground, perhaps you'll recognize the Midnight Freemasons newest Regular Contributor Brian L. Pettice who is both a former Commander in Chief of the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville and an officer of Admiration Chapter No. 282.

But some of that is starting to change—at least in my corner of the world. That’s because that’s the expectation by those members joining our Fraternity today. They want to improve themselves. They desire that knowledge. They didn’t join for the purposes of social interaction—they were driven to our door by a desire for knowledge and self-improvement. They want to live an illuminated life. They want to learn to be an example for others to follow. Are we ready to teach those values? Are we even up to speed on those topics ourselves?

One of the reasons we had this joint table lodge was the get the Rites together and find better ways to serve our membership. Instead of a bottom up approach where the members serve the Lodge, and the Lodge serves the Grand Lodge—a more top down approach. Where the Lodge serves its members. Where our focus is building better men. Both the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville and Admiration Chapter have seen the value of this shift in focus. More enthusiasm. More participation. More membership retention. So we got together around the table over pizza to try and find out ways we could build on the success we've already witnessed.  And as Masonry has known for centuries, the more good men we build, the more good that radiates out of that Lodge into the world around us.  Our meeting didn't change the world, but we certainly came up with some ideas about how we could continue to change our little piece of it.

In its most basic form, servant leadership is about finding out what our members need, and then providing it. Oddly enough, what our new members are seeking in most cases is exactly what we’re supposed to be about—those traditional morals, ethics, and values we hold in such high regard as Masons.

So this should be a piece of cake, right?


Todd E. Creason, 33° is an award winning author of several books and novels, including the Famous American Freemasons series.  He is the author of the the From Labor To Refreshment blog.  He is a Past Master of Homer Lodge No. 199 and Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL) where he currently serves as Secretary.  He is a a Past Sovereign Master of the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees.  He is a Fellow at the Missouri Lodge of Research (FMLR).  He is a charter member of the a new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter No. 282 and currently serves as EHP.  He serves the Grand Lodge of Illinois A.F.&A.M. as the Eastern Area Education Officer.  You can contact him at:

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