Masonic Civility in South Dakota
By Jason D Swindler, Junior Grand Deacon
I think we can all agree that we are living in troubled times. It is disheartening to turn on the news and hear about current events. But can we, as Freemasons, do anything to change our current course? I believe the answer is a resounding “YES!” We are taught in our Degrees the lessons of the Square, the Level and the Plumb. We learn how to conduct ourselves, and, perhaps even more importantly, how to treat our Brothers (and all human beings for that matter). In my humble opinion, meeting upon the Level should be the first thing we think about when we enter the Lodge. We all have different opinions and ideas, and come from a variety of backgrounds. This is a GOOD thing! My idea of what is right or wrong might differ greatly from the Brother sitting in the chair next to me. The challenge, however, lies in being able to have a civil conversation in spite of our differences.
We first have to humbly admit just because we hold a certain opinion, doesn’t mean it is a fact, or even correct. I personally think diversity is essential in our Lodges and our lives. We don’t have to agree with what another Brother thinks but we must validate that their beliefs have come from their own unique journey. Life in general, and our Masonic life in particular, is going to be experienced differently for each one of us. It’s easy to unfriend someone on social media when we don’t want to hear or read their thoughts on controversial subjects. Instead of clinking that button, it might be better to hear what they have to say. It might provide insight or another way to look at a situation. We don’t have to agree, and we certainly don’t have to try and change their mind; because chances are that is not going to happen.
I believe that even with our differences we can all come together as Masons and get things done for the good of our Craft and mankind because it’s in our Work. The same Work that our Brother George Washington and many of our Founding Fathers were taught and lived by. We can be ambassadors of civility in our Lodges and in our communities. We must lead by example, and remember when people see the Square and Compass on a ring or on a car, they are watching and wondering what Freemasons are all about.
In South Dakota we have an opportunity to make Masonic Civility another great project to hang our hats on. WB David Meltz and I, as state Civility Ambassadors, will be working with our Grand Master and the elected line to define our path moving forward. Last year Grand Lodge recognized two high schools with civility awards. We are looking at a few other possibilities. So if you see something that might deserve our attention or if you have ideas on how to promote this project, please let one of us know. Thank you for all you do for Freemasonry in South Dakota! I look forward to moving this project forward with each and every one of you.
D. C. Booth Commemorated
On Wednesday, October 11, the Grand Lodge of South Dakota performed a dedication ceremony on behalf of Spearfish Lodge #18, commemorating a sign honoring Dewitt C. Booth, and his involvement with the Federal Fish Hatchery bearing his name, and the Lodge in Spearfish.
DC Booth was the superintendent of the Fish Hatchery in Spearfish from 1899 until his retirement in 1933, except for two years spent at the hatchery in Homer, Minnesota. Worshipful Brother Booth was mas a Master Mason in New York in 1897, affiliated with Spearfish Lodge in 1904 and served as Master of that Lodge in 1906.
GM and employees of the hatchery and from the Spearfish Chamber of Commerce
Wessington Open Air Lodge
Wessington Masonic Lodge #107 hosted its annual Open Air Lodge on September 23. Due to the much needed rain, the meeting was held in the Lodge Hall at Wessington.
Huron Lodge #26 opened Lodge at 1:30. Seven candidates were raised to the degree of Master Mason. There were four from Wessington Lodge #107, two from Huron Lodge #26 and one from Zenith Lodge #202.
Masonic Lodges from Mitchell, Tulare, Redfield, Wessington Springs, Huron, and Wessington were represented by 40 Brothers.
Grand Master of South Dakota, Yancey Smith, was also in attendance.
It was an enjoyable day of degree work and fellowship. Supper was served at the end of the day by Wessington Lodge.
Larry Greff and Dustin Hunt; (standing): Grand Master Yancey Smith, Ricky Sammons, Garret Masat, Tyler Volesky, Callan Parnell, and James Waldrop
MMSAP: Save a Child!
Greetings from YOUR “Save a Child” program!
This has been a year of rebuilding and reorganizing for the Masons who make the best opportunity for educators to ensure the youth of this state have chances and advantages which are essential for our town’s future daughters and sons to succeed!
It is important that you and I have a little time together for me to tell you about a serious problem. Since returning to this Masonic effort several months ago, we have experienced an explosion of interest and “demand” for the gift you give to our children. Remember, without you the Masonic Model Student Assistance Program just would not exist! Your dollars make sense for the youth in our troubled times.
While it is always great to schedule a workshop and I should admit the anticipation I experience is positively “to the moon.” However, the realities of what we are doing, or rather, the reasons for what we are doing are mind numbing! After a workshop I am emotionally drained because of what I see and hear...sometimes the events and the questions and the related experiences nearly make me sick! YOU, my Brothers, are powerfully impacting the girls and boys in our schools today...because you care!
You cared enough that we went out to Pierre in August and presented the “Bully Workshop” for the first time in our 20+ years. Then you turned around and did another FIRST in South Dakota with an all-staff Professional Development presentation for the Miller school district immediately after Labor Day.
If I were to guess, 2018 looks like a continuing demand upon our resources. Why? Why us? Because we are the only show in South Dakota that goes to a school and offers this workshop AND all of the research and techniques and strategies and follow-up and support that is required for a change to work! Yep, “THE ONLY SHOW!”
As this year begins to look like it’s nearing an end, I ask you to join me in considering this Masonic Charity for a gift. As we move forward, your Fraternity will not be able to afford to meet the demand unless you and I give some dollars. In your town and in mine there are kids who are the victims of bullies. There are girls and boys who are being sexually abused at home or in our community. Some little children won’t eat tonight, or any night, because of issues in their home. These are the youngsters your dollars help through the teachers and custodians and bus drivers, and food service staff and principals and counsellors and teacher aides. HOW? We equip their school professionals to develop individual programs/plans to save a child!
Please don’t send a gift because it’s Christmas time. Rather give a gift in thanks for what this program has meant and will mean to the little boy or little girl that you don’t even know about...next door. Make an opportunity for her against all odds. Give him the chance to overcome the challenges in life that occur on the other side of your “neighbor’s” front door. They are only young once. Your gift can make their “young” period of life what you probably enjoyed at that age.
I will give thanks this year in November because of what you started and continue to promote. Won’t you join me in saying “thank you”? It can Save a Child!
George Bauder, Chair, MMSAP
Leadership ability is approximately 30 percent inherited and 70 percent learned. Therefore as we go through life and want to become a leader in our organization we must work at developing our skill set. A good leader will surround themselves with the most talented people available to accomplish the tasks at hand. In some regards we can choose who we have on our team but often it requires us to work and develop those around us.
Five essential things that all good leaders must possess to be effective: Passion, Communication Skills, Commitment to Staff, Team Building, and Decisiveness.
Passion — Good leaders have a passion for the work they do and feel it is important. Sharing that passion and enthusiasm with others can help you motivate others to become more productive. Praising your employees when they do a good job can be a natural extension of passion. Studies show that morale sinks and employees soon hate to come to work without occasional praise.
Communication — Strong leaders know how to communicate effectively with staff at both higher and lower levels in the organization. Understanding how to clearly explain tasks and projects to staff while communicating the importance of your team’s work to administrators is a crucial skill that takes practice. Good communicators keep staff informed when changes or updates to projects occur, are readily available to staff and hold regular meetings to ensure that all team members are aware of the status of projects.
Commitment to Staff — Good leaders understand that success isn’t possible without the help of their employees. Providing ample training opportunities for your staff and expressing your confidence in their work lets them know that you are invested in them. Strong managers avoid the urge to perform every part of a project themselves, but allow employees to make decisions, prioritize tasks and plan projects. Leaders who are committed to their teams try to ensure that all employees are treated equally.
Team Building — Encouraging employees to work together, rather than competitively, can result in higher productivity and improved morale. Encouraging a cooperative atmosphere and group problem solving will help you ensure that your team completes tasks on time without personal conflicts. Asking for input from others regarding team functions and procedures can help them feel that they are an important part of your team.
Decisiveness — Employees rely on leaders to make decisions that are quick, logical and correct. Understanding the scope of the work your employees handle, the concerns of your supervisors, financial constraints and any other relevant factors will enable you to make fast decisions. Entrepreneur recommends using a system to make decisions that is quick, committed, analytical and thoughtful. If you are unaccustomed to making important decisions, developing a spreadsheet to evaluate drawbacks and advantages can help you focus on the issue.
Always keep your team informed of any changes to your tasks and explain how these changes may impact the work they are doing or adjust the goals of the team. If you teach everyone on your team to eventually do your job, then your job will become much easier.
RWB Harold Ireland, Senior Grand Warden