Dinner & Silent Auction
There will be a dinner and silent auction to benefit the West River South Dakota Child Identification Program (SDCHIP) from 5:00 until 8:00 PM, on Saturday April 22, at the Hilton Garden Inn, 815 E Mall Drive, Rapid City.
To reserve your seat, call (605) 381-1293 for tickets by April 17. The cost will be $40 for an excellent smoked roast beef dinner with sides.
On March 21, 2017, at the Masonic Center in Rapid City, three Lodges worked together to perform Degree work to raise four new Master Masons. Rapid City Lodge #25 had two candidates, Mount Rushmore Lodge #220 and Custer City Lodge #66 each had one candidate. It is always good to do Degree work with a packed house on the sidelines. The Degree work was superbly done, and the Lectures were impressive. Grand Master Mike Rodman, Deputy Grand Master Yancey Smith, various Grand Lodge Officers, and two Past Grand Masters, Lowell Holmgren and Jack Welker, were in attendance. The meal of homemade beef stew and turkey noodle soup warmed everyone on a freezing, foggy night.
New Brothers raised: Brother Scott Marshovs from Custer City #66, Brother Dustin Willet from Mt Rushmore #220, Brothers Brett Jarmen and Ethan Smith from Rapid City #25
DeMolay Legion of Honor Recipients
On Saturday March 18th, 2017, the South Dakota Chapter of DeMolay International presented their highest honor to Brother George Parmeter and MWB Don Gray in an impressive ceremony at Huron Lodge #26. The ceremony was followed by a banquet full of fellowship and admiration for the accomplishments of the distinguished award recipients.
RWB Harold Ireland, Junior Grand Warden; Bro. George Parmeter, DeMolay Legion of Honor Recipient; MWB Don Gray, PGM and DeMolay Legion of Honor Recipient; MWB Mike Rodman, Grand Master
SDCHIP in Spearfish
On March 4th and 5th, 2017, Spearfish Masonic Lodge Number 18, AF&AM, conducted a Child Identification Program (SDCHIP) as part of the Spearfish Optimists Club’s Home Show and Health Fair, held at the Donald E. Young Center, located on the Black Hills State University campus. During this event members and volunteers processed over 100 children for their child ID kit.
Your Grand Lodge cordially invites you to attend the Centennial Anniversary Celebration of Mt. Moriah Lodge #155, on Main Street in Kadoka, at 10:00 am on March 25, 2017. Following the Rededication Ceremony, lunch will be served by Evergreen Chapter 97, Order of the Eastern Star. Historical information on the construction and membership that enabled this Lodge to be chartered will be available to view. The guest speaker for the event is from the South Dakota Historic Preservation Office and will provide information on what efforts placed this Lodge building on the historical register, and the process to do the same for your historical Lodge buildings. Everyone is welcome to attend this historic event and tour the historic Masonic Lodge building. We hope that you are able to attend.
Wesley “Wes” Sorensen (December 31, 1922 — February 22, 2017)
Wesley D. Sorensen, 94, died on Feb. 22, 2017, in Greenwood Village. He was born Dec. 31, 1922, in Ames, Nebraska.
At an early age the family moved from Ames to central Nebraska, first to Dannebrog and then to Boelus where Wesley graduated from Boelus High School, Class of 1941.
Following graduation, he attended St. Paul, Nebraska Business College for a short time before going to work for the Civil Service in Washington, DC, and North Newark, New Jersey. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II with the 26th Infantry Division in Europe. When the war was over, he joined his family in Grand Island, NE, where they had relocated during the war. He and Gene F. Plambeck were married Sept. 17, 1946. To this union were born three children: Larry, Nancy and Sally.
He was employed by Nash Finch Wholesale Grocery Company his entire career of 42 years, January 1946 until 1988 in Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota and South Dakota. The last 18 years before he retired he was the branch manager of the Rapid City (SD) Distribution Center.
Wes was an active Mason for over 50 years. He was a Past Grand Master, Grand Trustee Emeritus of the Grand Lodge A.F. and A.M. of South Dakota, Past Grand Patron and Grand Treasurer Emeritus of the Grand Chapter of South Dakota Order of Eastern Star, Past Potentate of Naja Shriners, Emeritus Representative to the Imperial Council of the Shrine of North America, Past President of the Rapid City Shrine Club, and Past Director of the Royal Order of Jestors.
Wes lived a rich and full life. He enjoyed his family and loved to spend time with them playing dominoes with the kids and grandkids. He liked the outdoors — camping with family and friends, fishing and pheasant hunting. He liked to cut firewood and he really enjoyed a fire at home. For years, he fed hundreds of ducks and would drive to eastern South Dakota to buy a pickup load of corn. He always looked forward to Masonic gatherings to socialize and after retirement enjoyed coffee and breakfast with his Nash Finch coworkers.
In October 2015, he and Gene moved to Colorado to be close to family. It was a hard decision to make since they had lived in South Dakota most of their working lives.
He is survived by his wife, Gene; his son, Larry (Nancy) of Littleton; daughter, Nancy (Paul) Fixen of Brookings, SD; daughter, Sally (Jeff) Tichota of Centennial; a brother, Lazern of Brownsville, TX; seven grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren. Preceding him in death were his parents and a brother, Leo (Lyle) Sorensen.
Visitation will be from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Sunday, February 26, at Osheim & Schmidt Funeral Home, with a Masonic Service at 7:00 p.m.
Services will be at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, February 27, at First United Methodist Church, with Reverend Greg Kroger officiating. Interment will follow at Black Hills National Cemetery near Sturgis, with military honors rendered by the Rushmore VFW Post 1273 and the South Dakota Army National Guard.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to Naja Shrine Travel Fund or First United Methodist Church.
Master Builder and Revised Lodge of the Year Award Program (Posted February 2017)
After several years of varying success with the Lodge of the Year and Mason of the Year programs, Most Worshipful Grand Master Rodman and the Elected line have developed two new programs to encourage better participation from the Lodges and individual Brothers.
Both programs require earning a minimum number of points in mandatory and optional categories, and are designed to allow every Lodge and every Master Mason to earn the award.
The awards are not intended to simply be a checklist of requirements to mark off; they require some effort, but every involved, active Brother, or every healthy, active and functioning Lodge should be able to complete the requirements.
Every Lodge and Master Mason completing the requirements will be recognized at Grand Lodge and there will be a Lodge of the Year and a Mason of the Year chosen from among those completing the awards.
Criteria for each can be found at:
There is no specific form for either award; please use the list of criteria as a guide and award form and each Lodge and Master Mason will utilize the Honor System in completing the award.
Please turn in to the Grand Lodge Office no later than May 15, 2016.
Grand Master attends NAJA Shrine Potentate Installation (Posted February 2017)
Grand Master Mike Rodman congratulates NAJA Potentate Tim Rensch on his installation on January 11th in Deadwood. Ill. Sir Rensch will serve the Nobles of NAJA Shrine through 2017.
News from the Grand Lodge (Posted February 2017)
Grand Master Rodman will host a Grand Master’s Table Lodge on Saturday, February 25, 2017 at the Ramkota in Rapid City. The event will be a fundraiser for South Dakota Masonic Charities. Cost is $60.00 per plate, registration can be found here:
The Grand Lodge of Nebraska will be held in Kearney, February 2-4, 2017. Contact the Grand Lodge office for further information and registration information.
The Grand Lodge quarterly business meeting will be held at the Ramkota Hotel & Conference Center in Pierre on February 10 and 11.
There will be a One-Day Conferral of the Three Degrees of Masonry in Mitchell on Saturday, February 18, at 8:00 am. Contact: Ryan Brech (605) 254-8490; email@example.com
The Conference of Grand Masters of North America will meet in Omaha on February 18-21. This is a great chance to meet Masonic Leaders from around the world and get some great information. It’s also a great way to see what will be happening in February 2019 in Rapid City when the Grand Lodge of South Dakota hosts the Conference. Contact the Grand Lodge for further information if you are interested in attending.
Mark your calendars now: The Oklahoma Indian Masonic Degree Team is coming to South Dakota! Saturday, July 22, 2017, Mitchell Masonic Temple. More details to follow.
Updates to OLP - Our Lodge Page (Posted February 2017)
Good news — after speaking with the folks at Enable Labs (developers of MORI & OLP) they are working on an update to the date/time feature in OLP. Currently when a webmaster creates an event, there has been some difficulty in getting the correct time to display. The developer has been made aware of this issue, has a fix in place that is being tested internally and should go live in roughly the next week.
More good news — the Grand Lodge has a small team of Masons going through every Lodge in the state and updating their addresses, and when needed, GPS coordinates in MORI. As OLP uses the information in MORI to drive much of its data, this will provide for a correct location map in OLP for all of our Lodges. Thank you to Aaron Zahn and Lennie Tucker for working on this.
Membership (Posted February 2017)
Having attended meetings with many organizations, the one thing that stands out most is a decrease in number of active participants at meetings and events. The Masonic Fraternity does not stand alone in this regard. The message is “how do we change” to gain more active members? We must assess what we are doing at our meetings. Do your meetings consist of only business without any fun or education? Do you have something at each meeting that leaves your members longing for more education and light? Take time to accomplish a consent agenda so the business portion of your meetings can be shortened leaving more time for fellowship, fun and knowledge.
We must present more light and knowledge whenever possible to improve our new Brothers and rejuvenate our older members. The Lodge Leadership Planning Guide provided through the last two Leadership Seminars is an excellent place to get ideas to incorporate into your Lodge.
Utilize the webpage (OurLodgePage) that Grand Lodge provides for each Lodge to advertise your upcoming events and tell your Masonic story. Is your Lodge active in community events providing an opportunity to display what Masonry is about and show our support to the community? Does your Lodge have special events for the spouse and family such as Table Lodges, picnics, Open Installation of Officers, etc? Brothers want to have an enjoyable experience when they attend Lodge which keeps them coming back for more. Ensure your Lodge meetings include fellowship, knowledge and fun.
- RWB Harold Ireland, Junior Grand Warden
From the East (posted February 2017)
As many of you may know, on November 2, 2016, I sent an edict to 27 lodges in our Jurisdiction summoning them to the next annual communication to discuss missing at least the last two annual communications, currently a violation of our Masonic code. As expected, this has caused some controversy, particularly amongst those affected lodges. My intention is not to see ANY lodge close, but to have these lodges start a frank dialog with their members on their current status, their future and their obligations to their members and the rest of the Grand Lodge membership.
The Grand Lodge code is a series of rules developed, monitored and updated by you, the members of the Grand Lodge. You set the rules and you vote in the Grand Master each year, in part, to govern the rules you have put in place. I take this responsibility very seriously.
We also have the Landmarks that can never be modified or changed. I believe Landmark 12 is also germane to this conversation. It reads: The right of every Mason to be represented in all general meetings of the Craft and to instruct his representatives. Is your lodge giving your members the representation at the Annual Communications (and other meetings) they deserve?
As Master of your lodge, you take the following oath: You promise a regular attendance on the committees and communications of the Grand Lodge, on receiving proper notice, and to pay attention to all the duties of masonry on convenient occasions. The code allows the Master the ability to assign his proxy to another past master if, for some reason, he is unable to attend the annual communication.
It is my hope that struggling lodges put their energy and attention into reaching out to their members to gather the minimum seven members necessary to open their lodges and conduct their business; then have the necessary conversations and planning to insure their future success. It is often said that an organization is only as strong as its weakest link, and I, and your Grand Lodge officers, pledge to provide the assistance necessary to strengthen each lodge, when requested. What a positive impact on the Grand Lodge when every lodge is meeting their minimum obligations.
It is my desire that all of the lodges named in the summons have representation at the annual communication and in so doing; the issue of attendance is resolved so we can all move forward together. As Brothers practicing the tenets of our fraternity, please reach out and give these lodges your support.
God bless each of you and our fraternity,
Mike Rodman, Grand Master
Olsen Brothers Receive 60-Year Pins (Posted February 2017)
On December 17th 2016, at a special dinner celebration, Zenith Lodge #202 and Yelduz Shrine presented 60-Year Pins for Brothers Art and Nels Olsen. Brother Art received his 60-Year Masonic Pin and Brother Nels received his 60-Year Shrine Pin. Approximately 40 Masons and their wives attended the dinner and celebration.
Civility Champion Award (Posted February 2017)
On December 13, 2016, the Grand Lodge of South Dakota presented the first Civility Champion Award to the Sturgis Brown High School football team, coaches, and their families at an award ceremony and chili feed at Olive Branch Lodge #47 in Sturgis. The Sturgis team was selected for their display of outstanding sportsmanship during the Class 11AA state playoffs against Mitchell on October 27, 2016.
Significantly behind in the game, the Mitchell team brought in senior Tayler Reichelt, a player with Down syndrome. According to head coach Chris Koletzky, the team was all in. They made the Mitchell team aware of their plan.
As Tayler ran downfield with the ball, the Sturgis team “dove” at him, as he broke through and scored a touchdown. Tayler, whose nickname is “T-Man”, was mobbed by his teammates as the crowd went wild. Tayler’s mom, Ann, said the Sturgis deed was “beautiful and a class act”.
In accepting the award on behalf of his team, Coach Koletzky said he was so proud of his team and the great job they’ve done on building character and learning positive life lessons. This will be a lifelong memory for the team, something more important than wins and losses.
Civility Champion Award presented to Sturgis Brown High School Scoopers 2016 Football Team
To our Fraternity:
I wanted to share this letter
written in 1890 to the craft from our first Grand Master, MWB George Ayres as he created the Grand Lodge Charity Fund and the Widows and Orphans Fund. It was his incredible vision that now, 127 years later, with these two funds combined into one, his initial investment of fifty dollars has now grown to around 4 million dollars. More importantly, it has helped hundreds of Masons and their families in times of financial need. His vision and passion on carrying out the tenents of our fraternity still inspire today.
Mike Rodman, Grand Master
Pierre One-Day Conferral (Posted February 2017)
On Saturday, January 21, the Pierre Lodges hosted a Masonic 1-Day Festival. The candidates, along with a number of Master Masons met for coffee and socializing prior to the work beginning The Entered Apprentice and Fellow Craft degrees were completed in the morning session. The entire group broke for a fantastic lunch and conversation with our new Fellow Craft Brothers. The Master Mason degree followed lunch, concluding with 6 new Brothers being raised. It was a fantastic day filled with excellent degree work and fraternal comradery. The Grand Lodge would like to thank the Pierre Lodges for their invitation and hospitality, and extend a warm welcome to our new Brothers.
- DaNiel D. Wood, Senior Grand Warden
From the West (posted February 2017)
Social activism vs. social spectacle. I follow many social networks, but primarily Facebook and Twitter. What I’ve seen lately is distressing. The climate of our times has raised the emotions of much of the world. Social media is exploding with questionable content, much of it inflammatory and hostile. As important as that is, I’m going to focus on our small slice. To further refine that focus, I’m going to concentrate on South Dakota Masons who participate on social networks. Let me first convey so there is no misunderstanding; we live in a country where many have given their lives for our freedoms, and I am 100 percent behind freedom of speech and expression. With that understanding, I will proceed.
On those networks, primarily Facebook, I have witnessed posts ranging wide across the spectrum. I have witnessed Brothers openly and sometimes harshly, criticize people for their viewpoints (again, look to what’s happening in our current climate for context) while they themselves in turn, espouse their own beliefs as being correct and take offense when being challenged. Meme after meme of ½ truths, misinformation, or what some would consider discriminatory content. For those who don’t know what a meme is, it’s an image with quick “facts” that are meant to be inflammatory and/or elicit a strong emotion. There is almost always going to be someone(s) who supports those type of postings and encourages their continuance through comments or by flagging the post with a like. This digital reinforcement makes the poster feel justified and empowered. This results in more postings of a similar flavor, or of increasing levels of questionability.
In our Masonic ritual, we’re taught lessons of inclusiveness, unity, and equality. We’re supposed to look past the exterior and embrace the internal qualifications of a person. We don’t discriminate based on race or religion. We should try to exemplify truth, zeal, and not just Brotherly love; but love for all mankind. We should be bringing light to those around us and those whom we have contact with. I would urge everyone to take a look at George Washington’s rules of Civility. Consider these and other teachings we’ve learned from the beauty of Masonry when conducting yourself online. Try to critically examine the content you’ve posted from the opposite viewpoint and grow as a person.
For complete clarity, I will reiterate, I firmly believe in freedom of speech and expression. I also realize that where one person may view a line in the sand as going too far, another may see that as a mere starting point. Safeguard your freedom of speech and don’t water it down or trivialize it.
Please ask yourself; does that post need to be out there with your name attached to it? Is it inflammatory or discriminatory? Are you doing it for real reasons or because of previous reinforcement? Are you appropriately representing several hundred years of our noble institution and is it something that you, as a Master Mason, should be posting? If you still feel strongly about it, pause and consider whether you’re being a true social activist or a social spectacle.
DaNiel Wood, Senior Grand Warden
Tidings from the Grand Treasurer-Secretary (posted January 2017)
It may be hard to believe, but the Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of South Dakota is quickly approaching even though you may be seeing snow falling outside!
We have very important officer positions to fill and hopefully, many of you are considering worthy candidates to nominate for election. We are not looking for “place holders,” but Masons who have the responsibilities of these positions in their hearts and minds to fulfil to the best of their abilities and the health of the Craft.
Additionally, the incoming Grand Master will need to make many appointments to fill diverse important positions to assure that Masonry in South Dakota flourishes. If you are asked to fill one of these positions, please give it thorough consideration and know that your devotion to the Craft and leadership skills were the reason the Grand Master-Elect asked this of you. Rest assured that you are needed and your efforts will be greatly appreciated by the leadership and Masons of South Dakota.
The procedures for nominations of elected officers are spelled out in Section 2.71 of the Grand Lodge By-Laws and the key points are listed here.
1. Nominations shall be made in writing and may be made by any Constituent Lodge or by any member of the Grand Lodge.
2. Such nominations, a Masonic Biography, and a 5 X 7 inch photograph of the nominee (actually, we prefer an electronic copy such as a .jpg in color) shall be filed with the Grand Lodge Office not later than 90 days before the first day of the Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge (That would be March 15, 2017, this year).
3. (The standard nomination form noted is nothing I have seen or used before, and I understand that it hasn’t been used in years). I suggest looking at Masonic biographies of former successful candidates in recent Proceedings as a guide. You want to put pertinent information in the bio to demonstrate you have the essential skills for the job you are being nominated for and not be too “wordy”.
4. We need to have this information published in the Messenger and in the hands of the membership not fewer than 35 days prior to the Annual Communication and not fewer than 45 days before the Annual Communication to the Lodge Secretaries.
5. The list of nominations for officers, their bios and their pictures need to be posted by the GTS prior to the opening of Grand Lodge at the site of the Annual Communication.
The following are the positions open for election this June:
1. Trustees (2)
2. Jurisprudence (1)
3. Grand Treasurer-Secretary
4. Junior Grand Warden
PGM Douglas C. McFarland, Grand Treasurer-Secretary
Pierre — The statue of our beloved Brother, General William Beadle, which stands in the South Dakota State Capitol in Pierre, was adorned with a Masonic Apron and Jewel for the holiday program, Christmas at the Capitol. Brother Beadle is best known for authoring state constitutional language that preserved 22 million acres across the west for public schools. (It is rumored that nothing happens during Christmas at the Capitol that Uncle Matt doesn’t know about.)
Pierre-The Grand Lodge 2016 Christmas tree was one of the favorites of this year’s Christmas at the Capitol Program. This year’s theme was “A Monumental Christmas”, a tribute to the 75th Anniversary of the completion of Mt. Rushmore. Our tree, beautifully designed by Colleen Lewis of Hill City, carried out the theme of our Masons National Day of Celebration at Mt. Rushmore last September 8th, 2016. The tree, covered in red, white and blue lights, bulbs and streamers and our Mt. Rushmore commemorative coins. The tree topper was a large reproduction of the commemorative coin and the skirt was made from the commemorative Masons Day aprons. A special thank-you to Colleen and everyone who volunteered to make this tree available to the hundreds of holiday visitors to the State Capitol.
It doesn’t matter where we live in the world, our age, or how much money, education, or fame we possess; each of us can make a difference by choosing civility every day. Every kindness, every act of generosity and every effort to be open-minded makes a difference and helps to repair our world.
Why not begin the New Year by making a personal promise to try to choose civility every day? Make it your personal mission to learn about civility, to be courteous, to show restraint when others are uncivil, and to take responsibility for your contribution to the world.
You may also download the UpTo App for iPhone or Android (a link is provided on the web page) so you can download a monthly calendar of events.
We ask that you consider including this information in Grand Lodge and lodge communications.
On Monday November 7th, 2016 in a special ceremony at the Clarkson Living Center in Rapid City, Robert Helmer received his 60-Year Masonic Service Award from Cedar Lodge #124. Secretary John Kissack, who recalled and serving under Bob during his military service, read Bob’s Masonic record. Russ Millar presented the 60-Year Pin to Bob.
Officers of the Grand Lodge of South Dakota gathered to pay tribute to former Deadwood businessman George Vincent Ayres, who received the Deadwood Wall of Fame Award at the Deadwood Historic Preservation Commission meeting.
In a pinning ceremony on Sunday, October 30th, Battle River Lodge #92 honored two long-time members. Receiving his 70-Year Pin was Brother Robert Phillip, and receiving his 50-Year Pin was WB Lee Sutton. After the ceremony, there was a reception with pie and homemade ice cream.
Edith C. Wong of San Luis Obispo, California, is a great-granddaughter of Deadwood Pioneer and prominent Chinese Merchant Fee Lee Wong. Fee Lee Wong arrived in Deadwood in 1876 and was a member of the community for the next 43 years before returning to China. With her mother Beatrice, Edith carries on the passion for genealogy begun by her late father Kam Leung Wong. She had made several visits to Deadwood and has published her ancestral legacy in Deadwood Magazine, South Dakota History, and the Society of Black Hills Pioneers’ Annual Heritage Book. She has joined efforts with the City of Deadwood, the Deadwood Historic Preservation Commission, the Adams Museum, Days of ’76, and Deadwood History Inc. towards preserving the Chinese History of the Black Hills.
Beatrice Wong and son Leroy at Mt. Rushmore in 1955 (photo by Kam Leung Wong)
Good morning in the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota! Thank you Grand Master Mike Rodman for inviting me to participate in today’s celebration.
I met Mike back in 2004 in Deadwood. I could never forget his kindness and support during a large family gathering for the first reunion of the descendants of my paternal great-grandfather Fee Lee Wong.
Mike and I realize that the Masonic heritage in South Dakota has, at times, been directly connected with my ancestral heritage in the Black Hills. Those occurrences of cross-cultural brotherly friendship, although over a century old, have relevance for today: communities are bettered by a benevolent society in which individuals, and individuals as a collective give encouragement, support, and aid.
As a young man, he traveled from Canton China to California, and eventually made his way to Deadwood South Dakota in 1876. After the gold rush began, he witnessed the influx of many ethnic groups, including the Chinese who worked in mines, restaurants, laundries, and stores. He saw the Chinese labor that built the railroad that connected the Black Hills with other parts of the United States. Unlike most, he stayed and Deadwood became his home for 43 years. He established a business, the Wing Tsue Emporium; brought back a bride after a trip to China; raised a family of eight children; participated in celebrations of his adopted country, and shared his culture with his non-Chinese neighbors.
Fee Lee Wong developed brotherly friendships with fellow Deadwood citizens, including Mason Seth Bullock and Past Grand Master of Masons of Montana Solomon Star, and Dr. Henrich Wedelstaedt. These prominent citizens and members of Deadwood Lodge #7 helped Fee Lee Wong establish a “Chinese Masonic Lodge” in 1879. The lodge was not a part of freemasonry, but nevertheless served the purpose of a benevolent society whose members took care of their fellow brothers. The Chinese Masons provided funeral ceremonies at Mt. Moriah Cemetery — as these, as well as other Chinese observances were open to the public, locals were exposed to ethnic diversity, contributing to a community bettered by tolerance of a mix of cultures.
Due to the Chinese Exclusion Act at the time, upon returning from a trip to China, Fee Lee Wong was detained in Port Townsend, Washington. After two months, he was released and returned to Deadwood only after leading citizens testified that he was “a merchant and an honorable person to whom full faith and credit should be given.” Among the citizens that stepped forward on his behalf included Sol Star and George Ayres, Past South Dakota Grand Master. The Daily Pioneer-Times reported that Fee Lee Wong was happy to be back and relayed “that he was not afraid of being deported as he had too many good friends in Deadwood.”
Freemasons Sol Star, Seth Bullock, George Ayres and Chinese Mason Fee Lee Wong were all members of another benevolent local group, the Society of Black Hills Pioneers — for which I and other family members belong to. The Society was the first to open their arms to my father Kam Leung Wong during his genealogy search which started in 1955. The beginning of that is remembered by a treasured photo taken by my father, of my mother and my nine-month old brother and a fourteen-year-old Mt. Rushmore in the background!
After my father passed away in 2000, his genealogy passion has become mine. Encouragement and support come from my aunt Anna Woo, my mother Beatrice, my son Rob & his girlfriend Suzie who are here today, and gratefully, many more. This week, I am back to the Black Hills for the ninth time in the past 16 years. It’s not just my ancestral heritage that beckons me, it is the local people and how they are and what they do – it’s the heartfelt warmth and support, and willingness to help to contribute towards a better community. The City of Deadwood is a National Landmark. You can Google Map Chinatown, Deadwood, South Dakota and get a location for Chinatown — in reality, since 2005 there is no tangible evidence left. So for now, local Chinese history is preserved by passionate individuals and dedicated people such as those of the City of Deadwood, the Historic Preservation Commission, Deadwood History Inc., and the Society of Black Hills Pioneers, and by celebrations such as today’s by the Masons.
One of Fee Lee Wong’s son, Som Quong Wong was born in Deadwood in 1889. My paternal grandfather was college educated in America as an architect and was a Captain in the Marine Corps during WWII, before passing away in California in 1959. Mason cufflinks were found amongst his remaining possessions. Was my grandfather just a fashionable guy? OR perhaps the vintage cufflinks will lead me to another connection between the Masons and the Wong family!
Wong family at Masons’ National Celebration at Mt. Rushmore (photo courtesy of Herb Ryan)
Pictures from Mount Rushmore’s 75th Anniversary
Mt. Rushmore on Mason’s Day of Celebration
Amphitheater as Grand Lodge officers line up
DGM John Studell and the Grand Lodge of Minnesota
Eagle Butte Lodge wreath presentation
GM Jim Mendoza and the GL of Washington
Edith Wong and the Wong Family
GM of SD Mike Rodman, RWB WO Mark Williamson, and MWB James Savologa
GM Rodman greeting Commander Seale
Grand Lodge backdrop
Illustrious Ronald Seale, Grand Commander Scottish Rite, SJ
Ira Briggs Jr., Eagle Butte Lodge #172
MWB Larry Coleman, Jr., GM of Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Kansas
MWB Art Crandon, Grand Master, and the GL Officers of Iowa
Paying the piper
Williams and Ree
Tony Larsen performing
Ridgley Gilmour, President of the George Washinton National Masonic Memorial
Wearing the Dakota Territory GM jewel
Historic Moment for Masons
Written by John Higgins and reprinted with the kind permission of the Black Hills Pioneer.
A priceless Masonic medallion returns to South Dakota today.
The Dakota Territory Grand Master’s Jewel, a gold medallion, will be worn by South Dakota Grand Master Mike Rodman in a ceremony at Mt. Rushmore. This will be second time the medallion has returned to South Dakota since 1889 and the first time it will be worn in ceremony by a South Dakota Masonic Grand Master, since the Dakota Territory was divided into North and South Dakota.
Rodman will wear the jewel at the Mason’s National Day of Celebration of the 75th anniversary of the completion of Mt. Rushmore, where it will also be on display with a number of other state Masonic artifacts.
The Masonic jewel was crafted in Ohio in 1885 for the 11th anniversary of the Dakota Territory Lodge, and presented the same year in Fargo, the then Territorial Lodge. The jewel was purchased for $152, said Jim Savaloja, Past Grand Master of North Dakota and now North Dakota Grand Historian. The jewel is an approximately 4-inch wreath of leaves with Masonic symbols. The words “Dakota Territory” are inscribed on the three-ounce medallion.
But in 1889, the Dakota Territory was divided, and so was the Territorial Lodge. At a Grand Lodge meeting in Mitchell, the lodge possessions and treasures were divided between the states.
“And then, as a final gesture of being very kind and brotherly, South Dakota gave the officers of the Grand Lodge of North Dakota their jewels. Each Mason actually put his jewel on his counterpart, from one to the other. So North Dakota wound up with the territorial jewels,” Savaloja said.
“These are the crown jewels of Masonry for Dakota Territory. There’s no question,” he added.
For Rodman, Grand Master of the South Dakota Lodge, the historic jewel has special significance. George V. Ayres, South Dakota’s first Grand Master, was from Deadwood, where Rodman was once Master of the local lodge.
“When I took my obligation (as a Mason), the altar that I used was the Deadwood altar. We believe it is the same altar that George Ayres used,” said Rodman.
For him, the jewel, which he describes as “priceless,” has come full circle.
“The history of Masonry and what that jewel stands for is very, very humbling. I think it’s very exciting that we’re bringing that history back and sharing this jewel with not only Masons, but the people of South Dakota,” said Rodman.
Mount Rushmore is a particularly appropriate setting for the jewel to be worn. Two of the monument’s faces, George Washington and Theodore Roosevelt, were Masons, and Mount Rushmore sculptor Gutzon Borglum was once a Master in New York City.
Wearing the medal “creates a feeling of pride for Masons that really signifies the rich, rich history of Masonry in the Dakota Territory. And you can’t separate Masonry from the development of Dakota Territory. They are one and the same. The people who developed the Dakota Territory were Masons,” Rodman said.
Upon completion of the ceremony, the jewel will return with Masons to North Dakota.
The Dakota Territory’s Grand Master
Jewel is pictured here in its traveling
case. Pioneer photo by Mark Watson
Masons celebrate Mount Rushmore’s 75th anniversary
Milo Dailey, Butte County Post
Masons and friends from across the United States joined Thursday with South Dakotans to celebrate the 75th year of completion of Mount Rushmore and the influence of their fraternity from the founding of the nation into today.
Organized by South Dakota Masons, the ceremonies at the Mount Rushmore amphitheater noted how each of the four presidents depicted by Mason Gutzon Borglum had their own unique connections to the fraternity.
Along with the history of well-known Masons making American history from the Revolutionary War, speakers noted the multi-cultural contributions to the fraternity and nation from Masons.
South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley said the Masons’ contributions continue today with the Child Identification Program, or CHIP, that offers parents a free identification package.
“There are 21,700 kids in South Dakota, including my two, who are being protected by the Masonic program,” Jackley said.
Keynote speaker Ronald Seale, head of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry Southern Jurisdiction, noted that Masons today are woven into the American community: “When you find them, you find the fabric of America,” he said.
Rushmore, crafted through the work of many Masons and others, is a symbol of “the freedom to hope, and to dream, and the freedom to be and the freedom to accomplish,” he said.
The Master of Ceremonies for the event, host of America Unearthed on the History Channel, forensic geologist Scott Wolter, introduced the guests.
Edith Wong not only told of the influence of Masons on her family and Chinese pioneer history in Deadwood, but of another generation of her family who served in America’s military and proudly wore Masonic cufflinks.
Ira Briggs Junior of Eagle Butte led Lakota prayer as a Mason and noted that Lakota values and tradition mesh well with those of Freemasonry.
Larry Coleman, head of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Kansas, noted how African-American Masons played a role in South Dakota and American military history.
Also linking the Masonic fraternity to the presidents on Mount Rushmore and the American epic were Ridgley Gilmour, president of the George Washington National Masonic Memorial, and George Braatz, executive secretary of the Masonic Service Association of North America.
Freemasons Honor Last Living Mount Rushmore Worker
September 8th marks the day that Mount Rushmore was officially completed, and the Masonic Grand Lodge of South Dakota hosted a celebration to commemorate the occasion.
Among those honored was Nick Clifford, the last living person to have worked on the monument. Clifford worked on Rushmore for three years, beginning in 1938, at just 17 years old.
“I’m honored to still be here, that’s the main thing, and of course, the chance to work on something like this gives you a great deal of satisfaction,” said the 95-year-old Clifford.
With three of the four presidents carved in the mountain as members of the Freemasons, the Grand Master for the South Dakota Grand Lodge Mike Rodman said the monument embodies many of the values the group tries to uphold in it’s members.
“You know the 400 workers that worked on this monument, that made it a reality, very special people, and of course Nick Clifford, is a Mason and was a Mason and so, that makes it all the more special that he was here today, and part of our celebration,” said Rodman.
Abraham Lincoln is the only president on the mountain who was not a member of the Freemasons, however he had applied for membership prior to his nomination in 1860, but withdrew for fear that it would be seen as an act of pandering for votes.
From the South (posted August 2016)
It is an honor and privilege to serve on the Grand Lodge line and represent the Masons of South Dakota. Since becoming a Master Mason I have strived to improve our fraternity and see it prosper and grow.
We must not only bring new members into our fraternity but do a better job of retaining those currently on our roles. We continue to see many individuals join our fraternity but within a short period they lose interest and quit attending meetings and events. We as Masons must ensure our members are inspired and given meaningful work to keep them engaged in Masonry. Everyone wants to belong to an organization that is accomplishing good works in their community and that is why most will join. If your lodge is not engaged as a significant part of your community we need to change that as well as the image being projected.
Additional ways to assist in retention of members is to ensure timely and appropriate recognition of outstanding efforts. We must be sure we submit for awards that are available, nominate Brothers for achievement awards, or provide a Certificate of Appreciation at a minimum. It is too easy to sit back and not take the time and effort required to recognize our deserving Brethren. Let’s all do a better job of saying thank you and showing our support to those that go beyond the normal to make Masonry great.
The Leadership Seminar scheduled for 26-27 August is designed to provide the tools to Lodge leaders so they can make certain we select men that will be a great fit to our fraternity. The Six Steps to Initiation and an appropriate Mentorship Program will go a long way toward growing the right people to lead our fraternity into the future.
Remember, it is much better and easier to keep a good Brother in the fraternity than to recruit, raise and grow a new member. Let’s get out and call or stop and see our Brothers that have not been to Lodge for a while and see if we can assist them in any way. When people know you care they will be more likely to stay engaged in Masonry.
Harold Ireland, Junior Grand Warden
WB Bob Carrico, Master of Spearfish Lodge #18; MWB Roger Stout, Grand Master of Masons of North Dakota; MWB Mike Rodman, Grand Master of Masons of South Dakota, attending Spearfish Lodge’s Biker breakfast August 6th.
143rd Annual Communication Location Change (Posted August 2016)
Due to the many comments about room availability at Cedar Shore Resort for the 142nd Annual Communication and with no additional rooms available, I have made the decision to hold the 143rd Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of South Dakota at the Best Western Ramkota Hotel & Convention Center in Rapid City. There are room blocks from Wednesday 6-14-2017 night thru Saturday 6-17-2017 night. To get the special room rate of $119.99, call the hotel directly at 605-343-8550 and ask for the Grand Lodge of Masons 2017 group rate. We look forward to seeing you in June in Rapid City!
Mike Rodman, Grand Master
Commemorative Coins for Mason’s National Day of Celebration (Posted August 2016)
The Grand Lodge of South Dakota will be selling commemorative coins in conjunction with the Mason’s National Day of Celebration of the 75th anniversary of the completion of Mt. Rushmore and the Masonic influences on its creation. These coins will sell for $10 each. They coins will be available for sale on the busses to Mt. Rushmore and at the chuck-wagon dinner. You can also order your coins from the Grand Lodge office, but please add a $2 shipping and handling fee for each coin.
The front of the coin features the Mt. Rushmore logo, the Masonic logo, and clearly identifies the Grand Lodge AF & AM of South Dakota. The back of the coin is a reproduction of the 1914 Grand Master’s Jewel designed by Gutzon Borglum for MWB Robert Kensworthy of the Grand Lodge of New York. The design shows two cherubim, with wings, arms and legs with hooves. Their inner wings are upraised and the tips cross at the top. The cherubim on the right is kneeling and has the outer arm up. The seraphim’s inner arm is holding up the shield in the center. Within the shield is a Greek cross engraved, in the upper right corner is the shape of a lion lying down and facing inward;
in the upper right corner is the shape of an ox, facing the center. In the lower left corner is the shape of a man in a long robe with upraised arms; in the lower right corner is the shape of an eagle with wings.
There will be a limited number of coins produced, so please don’t miss your opportunity to get one of these historic coins. To have your coin mailed to you, send a check for $12 each to:
The Grand Lodge of South Dakota
520 S. First Avenue
Sioux Falls, SD 57104-6902
Scott Wolter to Emcee Mason’s National Day of Celebration (Posted August 2016)
The Grand Lodge of South Dakota is pleased to announce that Forensic geologist Scott Wolter, best known as the host of History Channel’s hit show America Unearthed, which follows him on his quest to uncover the truth behind controversial historic artifacts and sites found throughout North America and beyond, will join us for the Mason’s National Day of Celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the completion of Mt. Rushmore and our Masonic heritage on September 8th at Mt. Rushmore as the event emcee. He also co-hosted History’s Pirate Treasure of the Knights Templar about late 17th century pirate shipwrecks, Freemasons, and the Knights Templar.
Scott was raised as a Master Mason at Wayzata Lodge #205 on November 21, 2015. He is also a 32nd Degree Scottish Rite Freemason and Sir Knight of the Temple of York Rite Freemasonry. As part of the Mt. Rushmore Celebration, Scott will be presenting his lecture, The Ritual Code on the Kensington Rune Stone, Wednesday night September 7th at 7:00 PM at the Hilton Garden Inn in Rapid City free of charge. This evening is being sponsored by Mt. Rushmore Lodge #220. You will not want to miss this event! We are so pleased that Scott is taking time from his many projects to join us in our Celebration! For more information visit:
Wong Family to Participate in Mason’s National Day of Celebration
The Grand Lodge of South Dakota is also pleased to announce that descendants of Fee Lee Wong, longtime Master of the Deadwood Chinese Lodge, will be participating in the Mason’s National Day of Celebration. Beatrice and Edith Wong will share the history of their ancestor, Fee Lee Wong and his impact on Deadwood and Chinese Masonry.
Deadwood Mayor Sol Starr, Past Grand Master of Masons in Montana, and Dr. Henrich Wedelstaedt, both prominent Deadwood citizens and members of Deadwood Lodge #7, helped the Chinese to establish a “Chinese Masonic Lodge.” The Chinese allowed only PGM Starr and Dr. Wedelstaedt to attend their lodge functions. The Chinese Masonic Lodge was a prominent organization, and the Deadwood newspapers often mentioned Chinese Masons. Wong built a Joss House, or temple, on Deadwood’s Main Street, where they conducted Buddhist and other Chinese religious ceremonies. The Joss House also served as the Chinese Masonic Lodge.
When Wong was unable to return from a trip to China, prominent South Dakotans, including PGM Sol Star and Congressman Eben Martin, intervened on his behalf, and Wong was allowed to return.
We are so pleased and excited to have the Wong family be part of the Mason’s National Day of Celebration on September 8th, and help us rekindle that bond of Brotherly friendship fostered by Sol Starr between the two Masonic groups.
Attending the 150th Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Montana (Posted August 2016)
Pictured (l-r) Mike Rodman, Grand Master of South Dakota; Brian Murphy, outgoing Grand Master of Montana; Lewis Smith, III, incoming Grand Master of Montana; Harold Ireland, Junior Grand Warden of South Dakota. Jack Welker, PGM of South Dakota also attended. The 150th Annual Communication was held June 23rd thru June 25th in Helena, MT.
Ill. Ronald A Seale, 33o, Sovereign Grand Commander, Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Southern Jurisdiction Will Keynote Masons’ National Day of Celebration (Posted August 2016)
The Grand Lodge of South Dakota is pleased to announce that Ill. Ronald A. Seale, 33o
, will join the Mason’s National Day of Celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the Completion of Mt. Rushmore and the Masonic Influence on its Creation on September 8th at the Amphitheater at Mt. Rushmore. Ill. Seale was raised a Master Mason in 1969 in East Gate Lodge #452, Baton Rouge, LA, where he served his lodge as Master in 1988. Ill. Seale was elected Sovereign Grand Commander by the Supreme Council, 33o
, on October 3, 2003. Commander Seale will be the Keynote Speaker for this historic event.
16-Year-Old Hailey Randall Designed David Ragan’s Paint Scheme for Saturday’s Coke Zero 400 (Posted August 2016)*
By Don Coble
Most of Hailey Randall’s young life has been spent at two places: the dirt tracks that make up the WISSOTA Late Model Challenge Series and at the Shriners Hospital for Children-Twin Cities in Minneapolis.
The 16-year-old combined those experiences to win a national contest to design David Ragan’s Toyota for Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.
David Ragan and Hailey Randall unveil the car design for
Saturday’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.
Hailey, of Kyle, South Dakota, was at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte on Tuesday for the official unveiling of her car design. After that, she went to Daytona Beach to be part of Ragan’s BK Racing team during this weekend’s race.
“I grew up at the track, but this will be my first NASCAR race,” Hailey said. “When my mom (Lavonne Randall) told me about the contest, I started working on it.”
Her design, “Love to the Rescue,” is simple. But the message is strong.
“I designed the car that I would want to drive myself,” Hailey said. “So it’s a dream come true to see it in real life and on the race track. I can’t believe I will have a car at Daytona.
“I’m so happy that my design was selected to represent how Shriners Hospitals send love to the rescue every day to kids just like me.”
Ragan, who has a special-needs brother, was eager to embrace the project. Car owners Ron Devine, Wayne Press, Mike Wheeler and Anthony Marlowe, and Shriners, collaborated to move the idea from the drawing board to the race track.
“I’m a Shriner and I’m fortunate to be a part of BK Racing, where we got this opportunity to remind everyone of the incredible work the Shriners do,” Ragan said. “We run 22 hospitals, and it’s not cheap. No child ever has to pay. Putting the Hospital for Children on the car this week, especially at a big race like Daytona, is a great way to deliver that message.”
Ragan won the 2011 Coke Zero 400. He said the unpredictability of restrictor-plate racing provides a real opportunity for another upset — and a bigger stage for Hailey’s design.
Hailey has been through a dozen surgeries since her first visit to the Shriners Hospital for Children when she was 9 months old. She was born with dislocated hips, and she has been treated by the Shriners for clubfoot, bilateral hip dysplasia and leg length discrepancy.
“People think of Shriners as people who wear funny hats and drive tiny cars in parades,” Ragan said. “It’s much more important than that. Hailey did an amazing job capturing the spirit and strength of the patients, employees and everyone associated with Shriners Hospitals in this paint scheme.”
When she’s not getting treatment, Hailey’s working on the pit crew for her father’s Late Model race team.
“I’ve worked at the race track every summer for as long as I can remember,” Hailey said.
She also spends the winter months designing her father’s race car.
“She’s been around this for a long time,” said dirt racer Virgil Randall. “She’s very good at designing our car. I’m so proud of this car.”
Virgil Randall competes in a traveling series that races in six states — Wyoming, Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wisconsin and Montana, as well as the Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario Canadian provinces.
“But I’ve never been to anything like Daytona,” Hailey said.
* Reprinted from the St. Augustine Record, St. Augustine, FL, by permission
From the East (posted August 2016)
I continue to be humbled by the great honor you have given me to lead this fraternity for the upcoming Masonic year. I want to again thank each Brother who is serving your Grand Lodge either as a Grand Lodge officer, member of the district teams, or a member of one of the many committees it takes to run our Grand Lodge. I also want to thank the many people that have positively influenced my Masonic journey, and know I will be leaning on many more throughout this year.
Whenever I have the opportunity to meet and visit with members of this jurisdiction, I am always impressed by the passion, dedication and love of this fraternity and it strengthens my resolve to work even harder for the future success of the Grand Lodge of South Dakota. While we know our several challenges, one of our biggest was the decrease of 265 members this past year. I have asked all of the GL Officers and committee members to roll up their sleeves and get to work on this issue and the others we face.
I am excited that your Grand Lodge is stepping up to help the lodges with programs like the MORI OurLodgePage program to improve lodge communications with their members and visibility to the public; that our foundation is updating their mission with a new name, South Dakota Masonic Charities and emphasis; that the Grand Lodge is holding our second Lodge Leadership Conference at the end of August to help develop our future lodge leaders and that your Grand Lodge continues to develop the Lodge Assistance Team concept to lend a helping hand to requesting lodges.
I am also so very pleased at the level of enthusiasm everyone is showing for the Mason’s National Day of Celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the Completion of Mt. Rushmore and the Masonic Influence in its Creation event on September 8th at the Mt. Rushmore amphitheater. This one day will allow us to nationally showcase South Dakota Masons, our heritage and our impact in a unique, respectful and public way. I urge all Masons and their families to attend and be a part of this historic event!
The true impact of the Mt. Rushmore event will be realized by what your lodge does after the publicity of the day fades. I ask that all lodges join and get involved in the community group that positively influences your community, in most communities that would be the local chamber of commerce; be visible and serve your community, have a South Dakota Child Identification event in your community, a great way to show how Masons care about children. As we re-commit to doing the work in our communities that Masons have done for generations, show what Masonic Brotherly love truly means, the perceived problems of our fraternity will begin to fade away.
While there is much in our fraternity to do, it is the excitement of our commitment to our fraternity and love of Masonry that will propel us forward. Let’s get started working together on what is sure to be a great and adventurous year!
God bless our fraternity,
Mike Rodman, Grand Master
Match Safe Returned to Its Home
In late June, the Grand Lodge office received an item (pictured here) from a Mr. Kenneth MacRitchie, who lives in New Jersey. He thought the item might be a match safe, and stated that he had recently inherited it from his parents. He had sent it to us as he believed it had come from Mt. Moriah Lodge #155 in Kadoka.
When I saw the picture, I was sure that it didn’t belong to South Dakota, as we are an AF & AM Grand Lodge, and the item says F & AM. It also has the date 1906. Mt. Moriah in Kadoka was not Chartered in 1906. I called Mr. MacRitchie and informed him of this and also said I would be happy to research this item and see if I could determine the proper owner.
A search of the Internet showed that there is Mt. Moriah Lodge #155 in Pennsylvania that is F & AM. I contacted the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania and emailed with Dennis Buttleman at the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania Library and Museum. He stated that there is indeed a Mt. Moriah Lodge #155 in Pensylvania. It was Warranted December 1, 1817, and Constituted December 25, 1817, and the match safe was most probably a gift from the Worshipful Master in 1906.
The match safe has been returned to the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania. I was able to find another identical item on the Internet that said the item was sterling silver and recently sold at an auction for about $120.00.
It’s interesting the number of unique Masonic items that can be found and the history behind them. We were pleased to see the item and are glad it is back where it belongs.
Yancey Smith, DGM/GME
Tidings from the Grand Treasurer-Secretary
In the spring 2016 edition of the Journal of the Masonic Society, M.W.B. Michael Halleran, P.G.M. of the Grand Lodge of Kansas, wrote an article with the intriguing title: “Make it Meaningful.” His essay focused on the importance of keeping Lodge meetings meaningful, fun, and interesting. This is not a new subject or problem for Lodge Masters as he quoted a reference from 1923 indicating that some Lodge meetings contained very little substance aside from the opening and closing ceremonies. Halleran stated that: “A common complaint across every jurisdiction, and indeed throughout the ages, is that stated communications hold little attraction for new members and are often excruciatingly dull, even to the old hands.”
While the Worshipful Master is responsible for conducting meetings there is no reason why he cannot delegate qualified individuals to conduct interesting programs on a variety of topics in addition to Masonic education.
In an article written by M.W.B. Rod Larson, P.G.M. of Masons in Minnesota entitled “Making a Lodge Meeting Interesting”1
, many good suggestions for activities are listed that would help make Stated Communications more interesting.
In noted Masonic author Allen E. Roberts’ chapter entitled: “The Ideal Lodge” in his book, The Search for Leadership, he states that there should be a file cataloging each member’s likes and dislikes, what type of work he does, what his hobbies are, what special activities he enjoys, etc. Conducting a survey to gather this information would be a great starting point for implementing interesting programs in our Lodges. Roberts also stresses the importance of keeping the members informed “about what’s happening, going to happen, and has happened. More and more will start attending Lodge, even if it’s out of curiosity.”
Also stressed was the importance of engaging the Lodge members. “Most active men aren’t interested in being just bodies on the sidelines. They want to participate in some way. This is one big reason so many Lodges have small attendance. Too many members don’t feel they are important. The ‛Ideal Lodge’ will see this doesn’t happen.”
PGM Douglas C. McFarland, Grand Treasurer-Secretary
From the Deputy (Posted June 2016)
What is Freemasonry? What makes a man a Mason? These are questions countless men have asked, and continue to ask. One other question that I’m sure crosses many men’s minds is “Should I consider becoming one?” I would like to briefly address the first two, then delve a little deeper into the third.
What is Freemasonry? A Google search yields 914,000 results and tells you things like we are the largest, oldest fraternal organization, the first Grand Lodge was formed in 1717 and other basic information. Our Initiatory Ritual work tells us that “Masonry consists of a course of hieroglyphic moral instruction, taught agreeably to ancient usages by emblems, types and allegorical figures”. More simply put Masonry uses the tools and emblems of a stone mason such as the trowel, the square and the level to teach moral lessons, to allow men to better themselves. However, only the simplest, most obvious meanings are explained to the new Mason; to understand more, he must study and learn for himself.
What makes a man a Mason? Looking again to our Ritual, we are told it is our Obligation that makes a man a Mason. In each of the three Degrees we make certain promises, or Obligations to each other, our families and to our God. But simply reciting these promises and passing through each of the three Degrees does not make us a Mason, any more than reciting the Pledge of Allegiance would make a Canadian an American citizen. You must really understand the things you a promising, and, more importantly, actually mean them and strive to live your life by those promises.
So, should you consider becoming a Mason? That depends on what you are looking for. If you are looking for personal gain or advancement, Masonry is not the place. If you are looking to join a charitable organization, Masonry may not be for you. Masonry certainly has charities that it supports and we contribute millions of dollars a year to them, but that is not what we are really about. If you are intolerant of other races, religions, etc., Masonry is certainly not for you.
But, if you are looking to associate with men of the highest moral caliber; if you are willing to ponder philosophy, science, religion, music, math; if you are willing to honestly, earnestly strive to make yourself a better man, not better than others, but better than you would have been otherwise; if you really want to make the world a better place, starting with your home and community, through love, understanding and tolerance, then we would welcome you with open arms.
Being a Freemason is not to be taken lightly, and we take our Obligations seriously. It is not an organization one should join out of idle curiosity. We hold ourselves to a higher standard, and expect the same from the men we allow to join. If you are considering Freemasonry, please remember, almost any man can be a Mason, but not every man should be a Mason.
Yancey Smith, Deputy Grand Master
Your 2016-17 Grand Offcers (posted July 2016)
Imperial Shrine Session in Tampa (posted July 2016)
Grand Master Mike Rodman attended the Imperial Shrine Session in Tampa, Florida, July 3 - July 7. MWB Rodman is a member of Naja Shine in Deadwood.
MWB Rodman with the Divan and Ladies of Naja Shrine at the Imperial Shrine Session in Tampa, FL
From the West (posted June 2016)
Some of the very basic ideals and teachings of Freemasonry involve human rights. We don’t discriminate based on what a person is, but rather look to who they are. We don’t define what religion a person is, but rather accept that they have a faith and a higher power they hold to. We don’t give preference based upon someone’s station in life, but rather meet on the level. Those are lofty and beautiful goals to strive towards.
Every one of us continually flashes in and out of those moments of achieving such ideals. We’re bombarded our entire lives by characteristics of what defines certain slices of humanity, some for the better, some for the worse. Often those definitions are driven by agenda, bigotry, or just plain misunderstanding.
One of my favorite lines in our ritual refers to this by stating; we’ve come to learn to subdue our passions and improve ourselves in Masonry. Subduing those passions essentially distills down to our ability to control our thoughts and actions. Improving ourselves in Masonry is striving towards those ideals previously mentioned, along with others from our teachings.
When looking outward to the world around us at recent events such as racial conflict, the heartbreaking act of hatred in Orlando, terrorism, and religious discrimination, we need to stand up for what’s right. I’m not suggesting we protest or cause conflict ourselves, but rather try to keep those basic Masonic ideals at the forefront when interacting with others. If we’re part of a conversation which is inflammatory or abusive, it’s our responsibility to speak up and stand for what’s right.
If we’re witness to discriminatory posts on our Facebook feed, it’s our responsibility to call it for what it is. If we’re the ones making those comments or posts, remember to subdue your passions and improve yourself, it’s our responsibility to look inwards as well. We need to be the ambassadors of human rights.
A friend of mine who is a multi-time Past Master recently stated that he isn’t yet a Master Mason, but someday hopes to achieve that distinction. Masonry has always stood for the perfection of the person and we as Masons should attempt to reach that lofty goal. Make a difference, be a Master Mason.
DaNiel Wood, Senior Grand Warden
Join us at Cedar Shores Resort August 26 and 27. MWB Bob Conley will again be our keynote presenter and will cover “Six Steps to Initiation,” candidate mentoring, and much more.
Also presenting this year is MWB Daren Kellerman, PGM of Kansas who will talk about “Striving for Excellence,” and “Protecting the Franchise.” Cost for this fantastic training is only $40.00, which covers registration, all training materials and lunch on Saturday.
A block of rooms has been reserved at Cedar Shores for $99.00 plus tax. Be sure to mention the Grand Lodge Leader Training to get this rate. Rooms will be held until July 26. You can make your reservation at www.cedarshore.com
or by calling 888-697-6363
This year’s training promises to be great and, on Friday night, we will done in time to socialize, and we will have you done in time on Saturday to get home that night.
Join us for fun, a chance to make new friends and see old ones and maybe, just maybe, leave with a plan to make your Lodge a cut above the ordinary.