The first time I attended the Midwest Conference of Masonic Education (MCME) was in 2019. After a stated meeting, I along with Brothers Scott and Spencer hopped in a car and drove from 10:30 P.M. until 2:00 A.M., attempting to get to Cedar Rapids Iowa. We arrived at the hotel and we all checked in. I think we were passed out by 3:30 A.M.
We got up after a few hours of sleep and made our way to the conference center where the event was being held. A really great time and really great presentations. But there were only about 22 people there. Which I think I wrote about at the time. It was a bummer. Such an event--a regional one should have had more people. Especially considering this was a multi-state, Grand Lodge-funded educational endeavor. Anyway, I digress.
Fast forward to a year later in 2020--we obviously couldn't have the event, so it was canceled outright. Fast forward again to 2021. Well, the MCME 2021 just wrapped up last weekend and I can tell you, even for a digital event, they pulled it off and it was TIGHT.
Our president was our Illinois representative, Scott Dueball. Scott is the former head of the IL committee on Edu. The events this year garnered the attendance of over 60 attendees in a virtual forum that was NOT a webinar. Everyone did great and managed themselves perfectly, e.g. no hot mic issues. The fellowship was strong and so was the education.
Our sessions this year were themed around allowing Masons to get into what matters with education. Making it simple and sending our attendees home with a profound sense of how easy it can be and some tools to make it happen.
Chuck Dunning spoke and answered questions about group facilitation of dialog. We then split into several groups and discussed elements of our Initiations, using the tools Chuck had just given us. What stuck out? What did we remember? We all shared and it was excellent.
Next, we had the state education chair from Ohio, Chad Kopenski give us a talk about "Personalizing Masonry." As usual Chad's talk gave me lightbulb-moments, not unlike the first time I heard him talk in 2019. Then Spencer Hamann (one of our own contributors to this blog) gave a great talk about Logic and its use in Freemasonry today. The focus was really about the cognitive biases we have and how we are under the constant threat of failing Freemasonry and ourselves. (My take away anyway.) It was fantastic.
Then I was able to read the late great Ed Rund's obituary. Ed was a huge part of the MCME for many years. And finally, they elected a new board and officers. All in all, it was an awesome day of Light. So you're asking, “Why didn't I know about this?” Or maybe, "When's the next one?" Well, I can't offer you an answer to the first question other than to say, *some* Grand Lodges find this conference unworthy of their attention, and do not participate or tell their members about it. But the second question-- I have better answers to.
Next year's MCME will be in Kansas City, MO! The date is being chosen currently, but as soon as I hear about it, bet your bottom dollar, I'll let you all know. Congrats to all the attendees, education officers, and members who went home from this conference with a new set of working tools. Cheers to the board and executive officers for an amazing event. Thanks to Chuck Dunning, Spencer Hamann, and Chad Kopenski for your great presentations!
I'll see you all next weekend in Massachusettes for Masonic Con 2020ish 😎
~RHJRWB Johnson is a Co-Managing Editor of the Midnight Freemasons blog. He is a Freemason out of the 2nd N.E. District of Illinois. He currently serves as the Secretary of Spes Novum Lodge No. 1183. He is a Past Master of Waukegan Lodge 78 and a Past District Deputy Grand Master for the 1st N.E. District of Illinois. Brother Johnson currently produces and hosts weekly Podcasts (internet radio programs) Whence Came You? & Masonic Radio Theatre which focuses on topics relating to Freemasonry. He is also a co-host of The Masonic Roundtable, a Masonic talk show. He is a husband and father of four, works full time in the executive medical industry. He is the co-author of "It's Business Time - Adapting a Corporate Path for Freemasonry", “The Master’s Word: A Short Treatise on the Word, the Light, and the Self – Annotated Edition” and author of "How to Charter a Lodge: A No-Nonsense, Unsanctioned Guide. More books are on the way.