A Night To Remember, A Preview Of Things To Come?
by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Darin A. Lahners
Brethren and Guests of Homer #199
It started with a conservation between Illus. Bro. Steven Harrison, soon to be Illus. Bro. Greg Knott and myself. Although it was derailed last year due to the pandemic, Steve Harrison has always been kind enough in the past several years to stop in Urbana, Illinois for lunch with Greg Knott, Todd Creason, Brian L. Pettice, and I (along with various other brothers who have shown up over the years) as he winds his way to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Indy 500 from his home in Missouri. This year we were able to have this lunch, and Steve offered to give an educational presentation for us when he made his way through the area the following year. As circumstance would have it, Steve contacted me about two months ago to inform me that he'd be coming through the area as he needed to conduct some research in Michigan.
Initially, I looked at him potentially coming for a stated meeting of my mother lodge, Saint Joseph #970, but as fate would have it, Steve was going to Indianapolis for the Indy, Xfinity, and NASCAR races this past weekend. My plural Lodge, Homer #199, was meeting on August 16, the day after the final race had ended, and Steve would be coming directly by the area. Steve was also needing to have a face-to-face discussion with the Midnight Freemasons co-editor, Robert Johnson; so once Robert was able to commit to being able to travel downstate from his home in Northeastern Illinois for the meeting, the date was selected. Steve asked what presentation we would like to see, and after performing a quick poll of our lodge members, we decided that we would like him to present: "Freemasonry Crosses the Mississippi", based on his book of the same name.
With this, the wheels were set in motion. I started heavily advertising the event on Social Media. I started an Eventbrite event page to try to get a count of how many would be coming in so that I could accurately buy enough food for the pre-meeting dinner. Although, I'm Senior Warden currently, I informed the Junior Warden, Sam Shreeves, that I'd handle the meal for the event. I spoke with Robert, and agreed that he'd stay at my place, Steve would have his RV which he would be able to park in the spacious lot south of our Lodge building in Homer. I will spare you the minutiae of the rest.
The evening came and dinner was served. I was amazed at the number of people that had turned out. We had a total of Twenty Three brothers in attendance. Now maybe that's a normal turnout for a stated meeting for you, but for someone who is attending meetings where we normally are struggling to make a quorum, that is incredible. We opened the meeting on the first degree as we had an Entered Apprentice in attendance, and followed the opening with Steve's presentation which lasted approximately 45 minutes and was followed by a short Question and Answer session. Immediately after the presentation, Our Worshipful Master, Dale Katterhenry, presented Illus. Bro Harrison with our Grandmaster's Pin.
Homer Lodge #199 surprised both Steve and Robert with honorary memberships. I presented the certificates and dues cards to both of them along with our Worshipful Master, Dale Katterhenry, stating that we wanted to honor them for their contributions to Masonic Education, but that from a purely selfish standpoint that I felt it would be so freaking cool to have them as members of a Lodge that Greg Knott, Todd Creason and myself already belong to.
WB Darin Lahners and WB Dale Katterhenry present honorary memberships to Steven (background L) and Robert (foreground L)
To finish the presentations, the Midnight Freemason Blogs Founder, WB Todd Creason, presented Midnight Freemason Senior Contributor, WB Greg Knott, with a gift to commemorate Greg being conferred the 33rd Degree in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite. The gift was an illustration of Greg by the uber-talented Midnight Freemason emeritus contributor and fellow 33rd conferree, Travis Simpkins.
Following the presentations, the lodge business was handled, and after the meeting, we took the fantastic photograph that headlines this article. We also were able to get a picture of the six Midnight Freemasons in attendance. This made Robert jokingly remark that we should change the name of the lodge to the Midnight Freemason lodge.
From L to R: Illus.Bro. Brian L. Pettice, Illus. Bro. Steven L. Harrison, Illus.Bro. Todd E. Creason, RWB Robert Johson, Soon to be Illus. Bro. Greg Knott, WB Darin Lahners
We also had our guests come in from across the state. WB Tim Thomason, (Fifth from the left in the headline picture above), who is the current Worshipful Master of Landmark Lodge #422, drove 128.5 miles from Plainfield, Illinois for the event. One of my fellow Area Education Officers, Bro. Jordan Kelly, drove along with Bros. Andrew Friend and Kyle Koestner drove 110 miles from Springfield Illinois to attend the event. I want to thank them personally for taking the extraordinary effort of doing that. I also want to thank everyone who came out, again from the bottom of my heart. I also want to thank my brethren of Homer #199, especially our secretary, WB Stephen Hooper who jumped through multiple hoops to get the honorary memberships.
Illus. Bro. Steve Harrison, Bros. Jordan Kelly, Kyle Koestner, Andrew Friend
After the event I was texting with Greg Knott and Todd Creason. Greg stated that it was an awesome event and I did a great job. As much as I appreciate the compliment, what made it all worth while is all of my brothers in the headline picture getting together, enjoying fellowship and education. But the funny thing is, it really wasn't that hard to do. Maybe I was lucky because I had connections, but at the end of the day, it's something that can easily be replicated in your lodge.
Here's the very simple recipe:
1. Get your lodges buy-in (if you can). In my case, Homer #199 has prioritized Education, so when I asked, everyone agreed. But if you don't think that your lodge would approve doing an event like this, then you don't really need them to. You just need a space to hold the event. Work with other lodges in your area, and brethren that you know that have a passion for Masonic education. I'm willing to bet that someone will give you the space for it.
2. Arrange a speaker. Browse https://masonicinstruction.com/the-speakers/ and find a speaker that you might want to bring in. Reach out to them.
3. Plan the event. Make the event as simple or complex as you want. The sky is the limit.
4. Hold the event. If you build it, brethren will come. If you don't believe me, look at the above photos.
This is the second event that I've planned, The first being the 2018 Illinois Lodge of Research Spring Symposium. Let me tell you, that event was a lot harder to pull together than this one, but it still wasn't too difficult. It doesn't take an expert level planner to put something like this together. If you need advice about how to do it, my email is in my bio.
In closing, I'd like to think of last night as the first of many. My hope is that you read the article and you get inspired to do something in your own backyard. I'd also like to float the idea of having a Midnight Freemason Con. I'd like to get as many of our contributors (past and present) into one room with a bunch of brothers and just have some fellowship, fun and hopefully learn some things along the way. If you think that'd be a good idea and something that you might try to attend, please comment on Social Media or on the blog below.
WB Darin A. Lahners is our co-managing Editor. He is a Past Master of St. Joseph Lodge No.970 in St. Joseph. He is also a plural member of Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL), where he is also a Past Master. He’s a member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, a charter member of Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter No. 282 and is the current Secretary of the Illini High Twelve Club No. 768 in Champaign – Urbana (IL). You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.