MIDWEST CONFERENCE ON MASONIC EDUCATION

Brethren, mark your calendars now for the 2018 Midwest Conference on Masonic Education. The Conference will be held April 20-22 at the Ramkota Hotel and Convention Center in Rapid City, in the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota.
We have a great list of speakers lined up, including Brother Shawn Eyer, Most Worshipful Brother Jim Savaloja, and our keynote speaker, Worshipful Brother Mark Tabbert. More speakers will be added as we get closer to the Conference, and we finalize the agenda. If you have an interest in presenting, please contact Yancey Smith at GM@mygrandlodge.org.
Registration is $160.00 for both Brothers and Ladies. The cost includes conference materials, social time with hors d’ oeuvres Friday night, breakfast and dinner Saturday and continental breakfast Sunday. A hospitality room will be open Friday and Saturday nights after the events.
Men’s registration also includes lunch on Saturday at the Ramkota. Ladies’ registration includes a Saturday trip to the Journey Museum, a private tour of the StavKirke Chapel in the Hills, lunch at the Firehouse Brewing Company, and shopping at Prairie Edge Trading Post.
A block of rooms has been reserved at the Ramkota Hotel, 2111 Lacrosse Street, Rapid City at $92.99 plus tax per night. Reservations can be made by calling the hotel at 605-343-8550 (mention the Masonic Education Conference to get this rate), or online at: http://book.bestwestern.com/bestwestern/groupSearch.do?groupId=9Y2DY4D3
The Ramkota will hold this block of rooms until March 20.
Registration for the Conference closes April 13, 2018, so don’t delay; register today.
The conference flyer can also be found here: Flyer for the Midwest Conference on Masonic EducationThe full agenda and schedule will be available soon.
We look forward to seeing you in Rapid City in April.
Fraternally,
Yancey Smith, Grand Master

 

SD-CHIP Event at Mitchell Health and Wellness Fair

On Saturday, February 17th, Mitchell’s Resurgam Lodge #31 hosted a CHIP event at the Mitchell Health and Wellness Fair. Volunteers included Bill Kinder, Jamie Sloan, Brandt Verhey, Tom Verhey, Paul Peacock and Larry Clark of Elk Point Lodge #3, Lyle Swenson, Ed Higgins, Linda Kaus, Jerry McNary, Steve Harmes, and Craig Kelly.

WB Bill Kinder working the ChIP computers

Br Jamie Sloan, Brandt Verhey, and WB Tom Verhey, working computers; Br Ed Higgins awaiting his next patient at the cheek swab station

CHIP volunteers Br Ed Higgins, swabbing cheeks; and Linda Kaus (OES Starlight Chapter #41) overseeing dental impression bitewings

WB Lyle Swenson and State ChIP Chairman WB Larry Clark (Elk Point Lodge #3) during a lull in registrations

 

Four Master Masons Raised (posted January 2018)

District Master Dan Wagner presented a 50-Year Pin to Charlie Walker and Darrol Bjerke, a 70-Year Pin to Ray Neuhauser and a 70-Year Pin to Homer Harding at a celebration after the mid-year meeting of the South Dakota Lodge of Masonic Research. Numerous Brothers, family members and friends were on hand for the event. Brothers Bjerke, Walker, and Harding are members of Pierre Lodge #27 and Brother Neuhauser is a member of Hiram Lodge #123.

District Master Wagner and Grand Lodge officers with Brothers Bjerke, Harding, Neuhauser and Walker

Family members with the four pin recipients.

 

Four Master Masons Raised (posted January 2018)

Four new Master Masons were raised at a one-day conferral in Pierre on January 27. Brethren from around the state came together to perform the Degrees. Two candidates from Aberdeen and one from Redfield received all three Degrees of Masonry, and one candidate from Mobridge received his Fellowcraft and Master Mason Degrees.

The Master of Pierre Lodge #27, District 13 District Master and Grand Lodge officers with the new Master Masons.

 

From the East (posted January 2018)

Brethren, think back to the night of your Initiation into a Lodge of Masons. What was going through your mind? Were you nervous, confused, bewildered, excited? Maybe a combination of all of these?
If your experience was anything like mine, it was probably a combination of emotions. I was a little nervous, not really knowing any of the Brothers present that night. I wasn’t really confused, but by the end of the night, I was certainly bewildered (maybe overwhelmed is a better word) by the huge amount of information I had received. But mostly, I remember being excited. Excited by the prospect of becoming part of the world’s oldest and largest Fraternity. Excited to find men, Brothers, who shared my thirst for knowledge. Excited to have revealed to me the secrets that would unlock a world of philosophy and enlightenment few men get to know. But that didn’t happen.
Eagerly I waited for my Fellowcraft Degree, to receive the secrets; that didn’t happen. I thought when I received my Master Mason Degree, all would be revealed, and that I would be, to paraphrase Ralphie in “A Christmas Story” when he becomes a member of the Little Orphan Annie Fan Club, entitled to all the “honors and benefits occurring thereto.” But, alas, it was not to be.
However, I found something there that kept me coming back. I can’t really tell you what it was, but I knew there had to be more than reading the minutes and paying the bills. Occasionally there would be some education. One I particularly remember was given by WB Jim Cummings on what is a Mason. If you want to know the answer, feel free to contact me.
Still there was no great discussion on the meaning of the Ritual, the veiled meanings behind the words used in the Degrees. I still sometimes wonder what kept me coming.
Within about three years, I joined both the York and Scottish Rites, seeking more light, but again, there were no great revelations. More information and opportunity, certainly, but not a great deal in the way of guidance.
I believe I joined a Masonry in the middle of a crisis, real or imagined, of membership. We had perhaps become more concerned with Raising Master Masons than we were with really making men Masons. We had cheapened the Fraternity by reducing Proficiency requirements, by keeping dues artificially low to hopefully attract more members, and by allowing men to “try” Masonry, without really considering their motives for joining and their expectations of us. We gave them no expectations of what would be required to be a Mason. Many times I heard a new Master Mason told as he left the Lodge on the night he was raised “We hope you come back to Lodge sometime.” Is it any wonder we have been in a “membership crisis” for 50 years or more?
As I travel around the state and region, I repeatedly see young men who joined our Craft seeking Light. More, now than ever, they are craving that philosophy and enlightenment. What are we to do?
First, start by making sure the potential Candidate knows what is expected. Use the “Six Steps to Initiation” provided by the Grand Lodge. Refuse to accept into the Craft just any ol’ man who can fog a mirror and make an x. Then, change your Lodge meetings. Keep business to a bare minimum by using a consent agenda, and spend the majority of the meeting on education. Not just the history of George Washington type stuff, but examinations of the Ritual, and other esoteric topics. Spend some time in the community helping others, and don’t forget to be Brothers outside of the Lodge, as well as in. Don’t hang up your working tools at the door of the Lodge when you leave.
Your Grand Lodge elected line is working to bring the Craft into the 21st century with programs like OLP and our email blasts. We are also doing our best to welcome new Master Masons with an educational packet after they are Raised and working to keep our current members by sending years of service certificates and developing a better award for 50, 60 and 70-year members.
Brethren, does your Lodge still provide that sense of excitement that you felt when you first knocked on the Inner Door? If so, wonderful. If not, what are you doing to bring it back?
Today, I am still excited by the prospect of Masonry and the secrets it holds. I eventually discovered many of the “secrets” Masonry holds, by a variety of means. Some were learned in the Lodge, others through self-study reading on my own and some by attending conferences and educational classes. However you choose to learn, please know the secrets are there, waiting for you, all you have to do is look for them.
(One or two hints — the secrets are different for everyone, and I strongly believe many, if not most, of Masonry’s secrets can be found in the Entered Apprentice Degree).

Fraternally,  
Yancey Smith, Grand Master  

 

From the South (posted January 2018)

I am going to make this short, sweet, but to the point. I want to discuss the Tenets of Freemasonry. Not all three, just Brotherly Love and Truth. A few simple words with a lot of meaning. Depending on the day, I could have a different meaning for each of the Tenets. I wish to share with you the meaning of each to me today.
One of the biggest issues in Masonry today, across the country, is activity. Brothers are not getting as involved as they once did. I am reaching out to encourage more activity. Find a reason or a way to be active. Just attending regular stated meetings can’t be your only activity. You do not have to be an officer of the Lodge or even have a title, just start something. Hold a drive for a local charity, plan a Table Lodge, have a fund raiser, have a special day or night out, whatever; just find a reason to get together. Today, this is the meaning of Brotherly Love to me.
The second Tenet I wish to discuss is Truth. I am guilty, as I am sure most everyone else is as well, of jumping on a “bandwagon” before knowing the Truth. As Masons, we should have higher expectations of ourselves to find the Truth before taking a stance. Truth is finding the facts, not opinions

Fraternally,  
Richard Hagler, Junior Grand Warden  

 

Tidings from the Grand Treasurer-Secretary (posted January 2018)

I’ve always believed you never stop learning. I also believe that you may not necessarily be in search of an educational opportunity when that learning takes place.
In the Fellow Craft Degree we are taught about LOGIC. We are told that it is the science and art of reasoning. We are further instructed that it should mean a system which teaches us to so arrange our reasonings that their truth or falsehood shall be evident in their form. This particular snipped of wisdom popped into my head one day while in the middle of reading an article. At first it didn’t even occur to me why I happened to think of it just then. But, as I continued reading, and then re-reading the article, it became crystal clear. I was being presented with a pre-determined conclusion, followed by questionable and sometimes even desperate attempts to justify it. I chuckled to myself as I repeated ”...the truth or falsehood shall be evident in its form”. While the presenter was not entirely clear on what they hoped to achieve by the article, it was certain the goal was neither to educate nor inform.
Think about that concept the next time you read something. Is the presenter attempting to improve your knowledge with a well-reasoned argument or are they essentially trying to sell you something? If you really want to delve into the topic, review something you have written, presented, or otherwise communicated. Can we impress the importance of Masonic teachings on others if we are not following them.
We are taught that we need to be true to our Brothers. The foundation of this principle lies in being true to ourselves. Masonry is and should always be a self-improving art. Let us never forget that self-improvement is an ongoing process.

Fraternally,  
Terry Knutson, Grand Treasurer-Secretary  

 

From the West (posted January 2018)

Your Grand Lodge progressive line has been busy trying to provide better tools and products for our Craft. Changes are always hard to implement because we always run into the statement, “that’s not the way we have always done it”. As the greatest fraternity there is, we need to take pride in ourselves and be more professional. To that end we feel proud to provide the new plastic dues cards with the bar code. By scanning the bar code you can see if a Brother is in good standing, etc. The bar code is tied to your MORI number and we want to utilize this process for Annual Communication to assist in registration and credentials. The 50, 60, and 70 Year pins have been redesigned and are being presented to our members. Any Brother who has dedicated 50 or more years to an organization deserves something better than we were previously presenting. Remember these longevity awards are a Grand Lodge award and as such should be presented by a representative of the Grand Lodge. If you have deserving Brothers please request support through your District Masters. We provide a packet to new Master Masons within 60 days of being raised. Packets include the book “Further Light”, a bookmark with OLP instructions, a Grand Lodge pin, a welcome letter from the Grand Master, and new dues card. Recognize your new members and make them productive Brothers of your Lodge. An active participant is more likely to be a Mason for life.
We need your assistance in curbing our losses. We are losing too many good Brothers from our fraternity and need to collectively work this issue. One thing we are doing is recognition of Brothers with 5 years of service and every 10 years thereafter. We are receiving positive responses on this matter. Your Grand Lodge is providing every Lodge with a website through Our Lodge Page (OLP) as well as a mobile OLP app for cell phones. Procedures are in place to calendar events, show your Lodge activities, RSVP for events and to make payments through the app should your Lodge desire to use the features. If you are not using the OLP website your Lodge is missing a great opportunity to better tell your story, show what you are doing, and better communications. We continue to send out email blasts to keep the Craft informed. If you are not receiving these blasts check with your Lodge Secretaries and ensure the correct email and contact information is listed in MORI. Grand Lodge continues to provide Leadership Conferences with outstanding Masonic presenters to provide training on Six Steps to Initiation, the health of your Lodge, and how to plan for a successful Masonic year and much more. We are continuing to strive to protect and preserve the massive amount of Masonic treasures stored in the basement of the Grand Lodge in Sioux Falls. Our goal is to catalogue and properly preserve these items as part of our history. We have also presented Civility Championship Awards to recognize great actions by civilians and promote Masonry. As mentioned earlier, change takes time and money but we are doing our best to facilitate appropriate changes and move the Craft in a positive direction by updating our procedures and utilizing technology to become a more professional organization. Your Elected Line has the best interests of the Craft at heart and we are working for the betterment of Masonry. Visits to other jurisdictions provided opportunities to share both successes and issues to meet the challenges of the times. The Elected Line is here to serve you and make a stronger and better Fraternity. We all want South Dakota Lodges to have the opportunity to be successful and want to work as a team to improve our Craft.

Fraternally,  
Harold D. Ireland, Senior Grand Warden  

 

From the Deputy (Posted January 2018)

That’s not the way we’ve always done it.
How many times have we all heard those words? They are perhaps the single largest inside joke in all of Masonry. Everyone laughs, uses the phrase as a mantra to precipitate change, and then for the most part returns back to the way they’ve always done it before. Don’t get me wrong; there are many things in Masonry which absolutely must be maintained such as ritual, their teachings, civility, and our landmarks. These are the bedrock of Masonry, a solid and perpetual foundation from which to build upon. What we do beyond that is where there’s room to change and evolve.
Without change there is stagnation and without evolution there is extinction. Think about that for a moment and ponder the truth of those words.
We as Grand Lodge officers have been putting forth a number of new programs and different ways of doing things. All of us are committed to making these successful. If we don’t try new things and different ways of accomplishing goals, we’ll stagnate. Some may fail, but in order to succeed, you first need to try. None of us has plans for “our” year — that concept simply doesn’t exist among the current line. We are all cooperatively working towards the same goals, and I hope that remains true for many years. We were elected to lead all aspects of the Craft, and it’s a responsibility taken very seriously.
There is long list of items that the Grand Lodge provides the Lodges and Masons of South Dakota. I urge you to look into all of them and take advantage of everything possible. Consider what you can do in your own Lodge to institute change and fresh ideas. We have a long and rich heritage to draw from, and an unwavering foundation beneath us. Embrace new ideas and make a difference.

DaNiel Wood, Deputy Grand Master  

 

Brother Chestnut Presented 60-Year Pin (posted January 2018)

Brother Graham Chesnut was presented his 60-Year Pin at his home in Spearfish on January 2, 2018. The pin was presented by District Master Harold Walker and Graham’s wife Alma placed the pin on his lapel. Also present were PGM Mike Rodman, GM Yancey Smith, SGW Harold Ireland, WBs Gene Kinney, Herb Cook, Bob Tesch and Clare Armstrong.

The Brethren gathered for Brother Graham Chesnut’s 60-Year Pin. Also pictured is Graham’s wife Alma.

 

Civility Champions Honored (posted December 2017)

The Grand Lodge of South Dakota presented a Civility Champion award to the Brandon Valley High School senior class and to Brandon Valley Senior Josh Donahoe.  Josh lobbied the senior class to elect his Best Buddy Carson Rowbatham as Prom King.  When Josh was elected in spite of many of the Seniors voting for Carson, he gave the title to Carson.  These acts of caring are exactly what Civility is all about, and are especially encouraging when done by the youth of our State.

Josh Donahoe and Carson Rowbatham with Grand Lodge Officers DaNiel Wood, Richard Hagler and Harold Ireland

 

School of Mines Football (posted December 2017)

On Friday, December 1, the players of the South Dakota School of Mines football team gathered at the Masonic Center in Rapid City for a goulash supper. The team was recognized for its help at the SDCHIP event every year at the Black Hills Sports Show. Eighty-nine players and coaches and fourteen Masons attended. The Rapid City Masonic Building Association donated the use of the building, and the event was sponsored by Rapid City Lodge #25, Mt. Rushmore Lodge #220, and Tin City Lodge #112. WB John McKnight, PM of Mt. Rushmore Lodge, was chief cook and bottle washer.

Players from the South Dakota School of Mines football team at the SDChIP appreciation dinner in Rapid City

MWB Jack Welker and WB John McKnight thanking the football team for their help.

 

Brother Bobby Lewis Honored (posted November 2017)

Brother Bobby Lewis received his 50-Year Pin in his home in Rapid City on November 16. The award was presented by Past Grand Master Maurice Peterson, Most Worshipful Grand Master Yancey Smith, and Right Worshipful Senior Grand Warden Harold Ireland. Brother Lewis’s wife Judy and several friends were present.

 

Tin City #112: Ladies Appreciation Luncheon (posted November 2017)

Tin City Lodge #112 in Hill City held its annual Ladies Appreciation Luncheon November 5, 2017. Several Brothers and Ladies enjoyed a great meal and fellowship. As part of the event, Colleen Lewis was recognized by the Lodge for her volunteer service to the Hill City community and the surrounding area.
Colleen Lewis honored with a plaque presented by Past Grand Master Welker on behalf of the Lodge.

 

Unity Lodge #130: ”Chance-to-Advance” (posted November 2017)

On October 21, nine new Master Masons from four Lodges were raised by Unity Lodge #130 in Sioux Falls. Unity Lodge held a ”Chance-to-Advance” class, in which the Fellowcraft and Master Mason Degrees were conferred.  Eight Brothers received both the FC and MM Degrees and one additional Brother joined for the Masters Degree.
The new Master Masons raised at the ”Chance-to-Advance”, with Unity Lodge Master Dan Nace and Grand Master Smith

 

From the Deputy (Posted October 2017)

What an incredibly small world we live in.  I’m not referring to our planet being a mere speck among the 10 trillion+ planetary systems in the known universe. Nor am I referring to how it seems we can have relational ties with people around our globe that transcend logic. I’m not referring to how we can be in another state and bump into someone we know, or stop into a local coffee shop and strike up a conversation with a friend we haven’t seen in years. Think smaller. Each of us has a very personal world that we surround ourselves with; our daily activities, our work, our home and social life, our routines, and relationships both physical and spiritual. Spend some time reflecting on your version of that world and how you see yourself in it. What happens when something disrupts your routine or something you believe in? If this were to happen repeatedly, perhaps so often that it has become a large negative part of your world. At what point do you say enough, and attempt to do something that brings things back into balance? What if avenues of expression were cut off and your voice wasn’t heard. Imagine how tumultuous and frustrating that could become and to what extremes would you be willing to go in order to be heard. Every one of us seeks a comfortable existence in our own microcosm and we forget that not everyone enjoys the same comfort until their world disrupts ours. Do we get angry, cast labels, vilify their behavior while we rationalize (rational lies) ours, or do we try to see the world from their perspective and strip away those pieces which separate us?

Fraternally,  
DaNiel Wood, Deputy Grand Master  

 

Tidings from the Grand Treasurer-Secretary (posted October 2017)

What do the numbers tell us? We’ve spent the last few months examining South Dakota Masonic membership numbers from the last 10 years or so. We found that we brought in a high percentage of our new candidates via one-day conferrals. That information raised a few questions. Were we helping or hurting ourselves with this focus on one-day conferrals. Were the one-day conferrals the reason for the membership losses we’ve been experiencing.
    The age-old question of the candidate search: do we need ”Quality or Quantity” came to the forefront once again. Coincidentally, one of our presenters at the Grand Lodge Leadership Conference even touched on this subject. But, the answer probably isn’t what you would think. According to Adam Hathaway, Deputy Grand Master of New Mexico, the answer to this age-old question is neither quality nor quantity, WE NEED BOTH.  Our continued examination of the membership numbers helped confirm this theory. Percentage-wise, we were losing just as many long-form conferral candidates as we were one-day conferral candidates. Our problem isn’t getting candidates, our issue is keeping them once we get them.
    This little piece of information really drives home one important point: we need to get members engaged somewhere. Notice I say ”somewhere”. There are a myriad of opportunities for new Masons. They may become active in their Lodge, or they may become active as a Rite Mason, an Eastern Star member, or a Shriner, which itself offers a myriad of opportunities. We have to remember that not all new Lodge members join just to be Masons. And, we need to embrace that. The ideal situation isn’t that a new member becomes engaged in the Lodge, just that they become engaged in something. I’m a walking testament to this theory. I joined the Masonic Lodge in 1988. After becoming a Mason, I was active in the Shrine Clowns, the Shrine Circus Committee, Job’s Daughters, etc. I did very little with the Lodge until 2007. But in all that time, I was engaged in SOMETHING.  I always had reasons to maintain my membership, reasons why my membership was valuable to me. After I came back to the Lodge, I’ve been Worshipful Master of my Lodge, Venerable Master of my Scottish Rite Valley, and this year, was elected Grand Treasurer-Secretary. Ultimately my point is, you never know how, when, or why someone will become active or how they will contribute over time. But, as long as they are engaged in something, there are reasons to maintain membership. And, as long as membership is maintained, opportunities are always available.
    Membership has kind of abandoned the concept of ”rush parties” recently. Even though there will be virtually no One-day conferrals, rush parties are a great way of educating candidates and getting them started on their Journey through Masonry. And, once we get them to join, we need to communicate with our newly made Brothers, encourage them to find what interests them, help them find their passion, help them get and stay engaged in something. We have the ability to improve our situation, to improve the Masonic experience, and to encourage others to join is in the work the Great Architect has laid out on the trestle board. We just need to put in the work upfront.

Fraternally,  
Terry Knutson, Grand Treasurer-Secretary  

 

Masonic Civility in South Dakota (posted October 2017)

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.

 

From the South (posted October 2016)

I would like to start off with a quick explanation of words chosen. My time in the management role with manufacturing facilities has taught me that the use of the word “problem” is not acceptable, as it leaves a negative connotation. Instead, the word “opportunity” should be used, as it is thought to be positive. Therefore, I will use “opportunity” and not “problem” or “issue”.
I have been doing a little traveling lately, and I can literally say I have gone from east to west and west to east again. I have visited a few jurisdictions, and believe it or not, they have lots of opportunities, just as we do in SD. When the opportunities are all boiled down, we really have a lot of the same opportunities; lack attendance, participation, etc. which leads enviably to NPD.
I was fortunate enough to get to attend the Shrine Membership Seminar in Tampa, FL recently. Guess what, they have a lot of the same opportunities. The major difference is, they realize they must CHANGE, if they want to survive. The Shrine has lost membership for the last 38 years. Masonry has been in that downhill slide much longer.
Masonry has been its own worst enemy for too long now. The new generations simply won’t put up with it. There are too many other activities to compete against. If you want Masonry to survive, then CHANGE must happen.
What must be CHANGED? First and foremost, stop making the meetings so dry and boring. Challenge yourself to keep the business portion as short as possible. Put Masonic Education first, so that there is little time left for the business portion, and it must be done quickly. Masonry is supposed to be a fraternity for making men better men and we do little of that. Stay active! Have you noticed that the more active a body is the healthier it is? Above all, find a way to have fun and fellowship.

Fraternally,  
Richard Hagler, Junior Grand Warden  

 

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  

 

D. C. Booth Commemorated (posted October 2017)

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

 

From the West (posted October 2017)

Recent visits to other neighboring Grand Lodge sessions have provided some interesting insights to similar issues and what solutions may be utilized. Discussions were held on Constituent Lodges that are having difficulty and what jurisdictions are doing to assist those Lodges. Some indicators that a Lodge has problems may be: does the Lodge meet regularly, do they have a full slate of officers, do they attend Annual Communication, are they raising new masons, and are they active in their communities? These are only some of the indicators discussed but seem to be widely expressed as key in assessing the livelihood of a Lodge. South Dakota has Lodges that are having difficulty and need assistance. Your Grand Lodge has promoted the use of the Lodge Assistance Teams to provide options to any Lodge that fits in this category and we stand ready whenever asked. The key to success of your Lodge is to determine if you can accomplish the requirements of Section 4 of the SD Masonic Code. If your Lodge cannot do these functions it is time to have a serious conversation as to what it will take to get you back on track. I have attended some of our Lodge Assistance Team visits toward that end over the last couple years and feel we have been able to have honest discussions on options for those Lodges. My concern is there are more Lodges that should be asking for assistance than we have visited. Do not allow your Lodge to be one that goes until financial or structural problems exist before you do anything to rectify the situation. Two Lodges within our jurisdiction consolidated with other Lodges last year after they realized they waited too long to change their course. Again the Grand Lodge is ready to assist wherever we can. If you would like to schedule assistance through the Lodge Assistance Team process please contact your District Master to coordinate. We all want South Dakota Lodges to have the opportunity to be successful and want to work as a team to improve our craft.

Fraternally,  
Harold D. Ireland, Senior Grand Warden  

 

Wessington Open Air Lodge (posted October 2017)

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

 

From the East (posted October 2017)

This year marks the 300th Anniversary of the founding of the Grand Lodge of England, and the beginning of modern Freemasonry as we know it. Masonry has undergone many changes since then, but the Tenets of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth still remain. I believe the men who join our Fraternity are seeking exactly those tenets.
They are searching for Brotherly Love, that feeling we get when spending time with others with whom we have a common bond. They want to associate with other men of good character, and socialize in a safe, comfortable setting. The importance of the social aspect of the Lodge cannot be disregarded.
Some men are searching for Relief, not for themselves, but for others. They want to be part of a group that gives back to the community, and assists its own members when the need arises. The charitable programs the Lodges and the Grand Lodge offer are a tangible result of this search for Relief.
Some are seeking Truth. We do not claim to possess the absolute truth about anything; we encourage men to seek their own truth. We encourage the study and discussion of the liberal arts and sciences, philosophy and the like, all the while insisting on tolerance toward others whose opinions may differ.
These tenets are like the legs of a three-legged stool. For the stool to be effective, all three legs must be present. It is possible to balance on two legs, or even on only one leg, for a while, but sooner or later, the stool will fall over.
So it is with a Masonic Lodge. A Lodge must be founded on Truth, a search by its members to better themselves, and to learn those lessons taught by the symbols of Freemasonry. It is the duty of the Lodge to provide opportunities for this in the Lodge.
A Lodge must then put those lessons into action, by the practice of Brotherly Love. We must be a presence in our communities, helping wherever a need is felt, whether in the community, or with an individual Brother.
After developing these first two Tenets, the Lodge becomes a place where the Brethren want to go, a safe retreat from the cares of daily life, and the members begin to experience true Brotherly Love.

Fraternally,  
Yancey Smith, Grand Master  

 

MEMO

To: All Lodge Secretaries
RE: Lodge Membership information in MORI and Dues Notices

Brothers,

Lodge Membership Information: Please complete all MORI entries for Demits, NPDs,  Dues remits, deceased Brothers, etc. by December 31st.  Grand Lodge per capita will be based on Lodge membership numbers pulled right after the first of the new year.

Dues Notices: If you want the Grand Lodge Office to generate dues notices for your Lodge, please submit your request as soon as possible.  We cannot guarantee timeliness for late submissions.

Thank you for your cooperation and understanding.

Fraternally,  
Terry Knutson, Grand Treasurer-Secretary  
Grand Lodge of South Dakota A.F. & A.M.  

 

HUNTER Strong Benefit Breakfast (posted September 2017)

HUNTER Strong! A community-wide fundraiser breakfast, sponsored by the Philip Masonic Lodge #153, was held Saturday, August 26, at the Bad River Senior Citizen’s Center. The menu included pancakes, sausage, eggs, biscuits and gravy, coffee and juice. The free will donations were supplemented with $1,500 from the Philip branch of Modern Woodmen. One hundred percent of the proceeds, totaling $4,700, went to the Peterson family. Their teenage son, Hunter, is recovering from extreme leg injuries incurred during an agriculture work-related four-wheel accident on August 13.

From left: Tucker Smith, John Heltzel, Matt Arthur and Brad Kuchenbecker. Photo by Del Bartels

 

Philip Masonic Rascal Rodeo

The annual Philip Masonic Rascal Rodeo, Saturday, July 29, was geared for fun by contestants and audience alike.
The Philip Roping Arena saw young cowboys and cowgirls of four different age brackets entered in seven different events. Competition began at noon this year.
The goat tying involved older kids on horse back, or younger kids on foot untying a ribbon from the tail of a tethered goat. The younger kids could have an older person lead them through the barrel route. Some events were intentionally geared so those entries did not need to have a horse. Kids could enter any or all of the events.
All the entry fees collected went back to the top winners in each event. As in previous years, the kids seemed to appreciate the other prizes, such as halters, straps, spurs, ropes and hoof knives.
Livestock was provided by local producers and organizations.
Barrel Racing: 6 & under: 1. Charlee Ramsey; 2. Hinsley Harvey; 3. Hatlynn Harvey
7-9 year olds: 1. Weston Reedy; 2. Kammy Reedy; 3. Christopher Lurz
10-12 year olds: 1. Faith Martin; 2. Dymond Lurz
13-14 year olds: 1. Alec Crowser
Flag Race: 7-9 year olds: 1. Tel Gropper; 2. Teagen Gropper
10-12 year olds:  1. Dymond Lurz
Pole Bending: 6 & under: 1. Charlee Ramsey; 2. Hinsley Harvey; 3. Hatlynn Harvey
7-9 year olds: 1. Christopher Lurz, 2. Tel Gropper; 3. Hia Fitzgerald
10-12 year olds: 1. Faith Martin; 2. Dymond Lurz
13-14 year olds: 1. Alex Crowser
Mutton Bustin’: 6 & under:  1. Jordyn Jones; 2. (tie) Camo Kochesberger and Charlee Ramsey
7-9 year olds: 1. Jaydon Martin; 2. Weston Reedy; 3. Layne Martin
Calf riding: 10-12 year olds: 1. Christopher Lurz; 2. Teagan Gropper; 3. Kash Slovek
Steer riding: 1. Eagan Fitzgerald
Goat Tying: Goat ribbon race - 6 & under (without horse): 1. Hatlynn Harvey; 2. Jordyn Jones; 3. Charley Ramsey
Goat ribbon race (without horse) 7-9 year olds: 1. Jaydon Martin
Goat ribbon pulling - girls (with horse): 7-9 year olds: 1. Kammy Reedy
Goat ribbon pulling - boys (with horse): 7-9 year olds: 1. Tel Gropper; 2. Weston Reedy; 3. Christopher Lurz
Goat tying - girls: 10-12 year olds: 1. Fayth Martin

 

2nd Grand Lodge Civility Champion Award

The Grand Lodge presented its second Grand Lodge Civility Champion Award to the Senior Class at Douglas High School in Box Elder at an all-school assembly on May 26. The Class elected Katie Haugh, who has Down Syndrome, its prom queen.
Katie and her parents along with the senior class president receiving the award.

The Grand Lodge also presented the 20117 Community Service Award to Douglas High School JROTC. The Douglas High School ROTC has been a long-time supporter of the Grand Lodge by participating in the area SDCHIP events. They also participated in the 75th Anniversary event at Mt. Rushmore by ushering and were the color guard.

Douglas High School JROTC accepts Community Service Award

 

Pictures from 143rd Annual Communication (Posted August 2017)

Dr. David Harte, spokesperson for the NCEMC, gives Friday luncheon address

Brother Bob Stanfel recieving the Grand Master’s Award of Merit, pictured with WB Doug Thorson

Brother Lenny Tucker receiving the Master Builder Award for Region B

Color guard opening 143rd Annual Communication

Custer City Lodge #66 receives Lodge of the Year for Region C

Elected Line Officers presenting MWB Don Gray his 50-Year Pin at the GM’s banquet

Grand Lodge Officers Opening 143rd Annual Communication

Jack Welker, PGM and Willie Steinlicht, co-general chairmen, taking care of details

Ladies’ Program presentation by Helen Merriman, founder of SD CEO

Larry and Gladys Clark receiving awards for service to SDCHIP

Leeds, ND, Banner Girls perform at GM’s banquet

Mike Lamb, SD Masonic Education Officer of the Year, presented his award by Assistant Education Committee Chairman Jim Taylor and GM Mike Rodman

MWB Stan Barclay, PGM of Manitoba, receives his green coat as honorary SD GL officer

Banner Girls

PGM Ladies youth fundraising booth

Resurgram Lodge #31 receives Lodge of the Year for Region B

SDCHIP Awards given to Mt. Rushmore 220, Rapid City 25, and Tin City 112 Lodges

SDCHIP Training Session with Dr. David Harte

WB Dave Meltz receives the Master Builder Award for Region C

WB Jeff Larson, SGIG, presenting the Grand Lodge Oration

Wednesday night practice session

WM Aaron Zahn, Worthing Lodge #141, receives Lodge of the Year for Region A

 

Spearfish Lodge #18 Ice Cream Social (Posted August 2017)

On July 24, Spearfish Lodge #18, in conjunction with the D. C. Booth Fish Hatchery, hosted an ice cream social at the Booth House. The Lodge unveiled the historic marker it commissioned for display in front of the lodge recognizing that D. C. Booth was Master of the Lodge in 1905-1906. Many local dignitaries were in attendance including descendants of D. C. Booth, who was the long-tome superintendent of the national fish hatchery that now bears his name.

 

From the Deputy (Posted July 2017)

Moving from Senior Grand Warden to Deputy Grand Master is a milestone for each officer that crosses that threshold. It is that election in which the Brethren have voted and given both the honor and responsibility of becoming Grand Master the following year. As I progressed through the Grand Lodge, first with several years of appointed positions, elected Junior and then Senior Grand Warden, my roles changed greatly and responsibilities increased. It wasn’t until this last election however that the full weight of this actually hit me; the realization that in one vote, you have been chosen for both offices. It is an extreme honor, one in which mere words cannot express. I’m both excited and daunted by the path before me. Masonry is more than a fraternity, more than a Brotherhood, more than lessons in civility and morality. It is greater than the sum of its parts and it is universal. It is with that thought that I take on my next role as your servant and a steward to our great Craft.

Fraternally,  
DaNiel Wood, Deputy Grand Master  

 

From the West (posted July 2017)

Brethren, it is my pleasure and honor to serve as your Senior Grand Warden for the coming year. As I reflect on my year as Junior Grand Warden, I am struck by all the great works that were accomplished. From the Mason’s Day of Celebration and 75th Anniversary of the completion of Mount Rushmore; to the Rededication Ceremonies at Mt Moriah Lodge #155, White River Lodge #161, Mount Moriah Cemetery, and the Cornerstone Laying Ceremony at the Visitor’s Center in Deadwood; to the experiences gained by visiting other Grand Lodge jurisdictions; our Leadership Seminar; participation in SD CHIP events; Longevity Awards and DeMolay Presentations; Civility Award Presentations; and our membership support materials provided in the Path to Brotherhood folders to every Lodge in South Dakota; we have accomplished a lot of support to the Constituent Lodges which I am very proud of. As your Senior Grand Warden this year I hope to focus on Leadership and how we can make better leaders to direct us into the future for Masonry in this jurisdiction. Do not forget the resources available with your District Leadership teams or any of the other Grand Lodge Officers. Leadership starts with you and to become a better leader you must have initiative and willingness to put in the time to learn excellent tenets and skills. Leadership is mostly learned so I hope to see many of you at the Leadership Seminar in Oacoma on 25-26 August. Be a part of the future of Masonry in South Dakota.

Fraternally,  
Harold D. Ireland, Senior Grand Warden  

 

Tidings from the Grand Treasurer-Secretary (posted July 2017)

It never crossed my mind that I would be considered for such a prestigious position in the Grand Lodge. I am honored and humbled that you consider me to be worthy of such responsibility. It quickly becomes apparent in this position that communication is the name of the game. I will strive to ensure that we keep everyone informed of what is going on and respond to all inquiries in a timely manner. If there is anything we in the Grand Lodge office can do to help the Lodges, do not hesitate to let us know. Thank you for bestowing this honor upon me.

Fraternally,  
Terry Knutson, Grand Treasurer-Secretary  

 

Dedication of Celestial Lodge Marker

On June 7, the Grand Lodge of South Dakota rededicated the Celestial Lodge at Mt. Moriah Cemetery in honor of the installation of a Masonic marker and interpretive panel developed in conjunction with the Deadwood Historic Preservation Commission.

On June 13, 1877, Deadwood Lodge #7 was charted and in May 1878, Lawrence County purchased land for the development of Mt. Moriah Cemetery. In 1887, the Deadwood Masonic Lodge purchased 1.5 acres in Mt. Moriah for a new burial ground, which would become known as Section 10. On December 10, 1892, a group of concerned citizens created the Deadwood Cemetery Association. The first five-member board included Byron P. Dague, who became Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of South Dakota. This association ran the cemetery for the next 46 years before turning it over to the City of Deadwood. In 1914 the Deadwood Lodge #7 installed concrete walls, sidewalks and granite altar that contains the names of the members buried within 25 feet of the concrete circle, forming the Celestial Lodge.
Knights Templar Arch of Steel presentation at Deadwood Welcome Center cornerstone ceremony.

 

From the East (posted June 2017)

It is indeed an honor to write this article as your new Grand Master. The last three years since I was elected Junior Grand Warden have flown by and I am humbled to be serving.
There are many responsible for putting me here, including those who have mentored me, scolded me and given me advice — good and bad. Thank you. Thank you also to the Brethren who voted me here.
Masonry is a lifelong journey, not something to be entered into lightly, or on a whim. It is a process of self-transformation and improvement. I am still in that process, even as Grand Master, and will be all of my life. It is my hope that the self-improvement I have achieved thus far will serve me to guide the Craft this coming year.
In everything I do, I will have the best interests of the Craft at heart, and though some make take issue with the decision, please know it was intended for the betterment of Masonry.
I look forward to seeing old friends, making new friends, and improving Masonry as I travel this year. Please keep me, the other Officers and District Masters, and the Grand Lodge office, notified of your events. We would love to attend if possible.
Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to serve.

Fraternally,  
Yancey Smith, Grand Master  

 

From the South (posted June 2016)

Thank you for your vote of confidence and allowing me the privilege to serve you as Junior Grand Warden.  I take this honor seriously and will do everything possible, to make Freemasonry in South Dakota better.  Better is hard to define, regarding improving Freemasonry, as we all see “better” as a different strategy or vision.  My vision at this point is cloudy, but I do know we will have to make changes.  We must make changes to stop the decline in Masonry by making, and keeping, new Masons.  We need good quality Masons and the quantity will fix itself.

Fraternally,  
Richard Hagler, Junior Grand Warden  

 

Masters, Wardens, Deacons and Anyone Wanting to Better His Lodge

If you have a desire to see your Lodge become a thriving, vibrant hub of activity, where people actually want to come and spend some time; if you want to see your Lodge become a force for good in your community; if you want to attract the best possible candidates to your Lodge, or if you are just wondering what Lodge Leadership is all about, YOU need to attend the Grand Lodge Leadership Conference.
Your Grand Lodge is once again offering Leadership Training to anyone interested. We have Most Worshipful Brother Daren Kellerman, PGM of Kansas, returning to provide training on how to select the BEST men to be allowed to join, how to keep them interested and coming back (and maybe get those “older” member to return as well), to give Lodge leadership teams the tools they need to provide a quality program for their Lodge this year and to talk about rising above mediocrity and taking pride once again in what we do.
Assisting MWB Kellerman will be RWB Adam Hathaway, DGM of New Mexico, who will also let you know how to tell if your Lodge will be here in 10 years.
Those of you who attended last year know how great this Conference was. This year will be even better. We have tailored our trainings to be more specific and relevant to South Dakota, while providing leadership skills you can use in other areas of your life. This is an event you will not want to miss.
The Leadership Conference will once again be held at Cedar Shores Resort on August 25 and 26. Registration is $40.00 and includes all training materials and lunch on Saturday. Registration forms can be found at the end of this article or at mygrandlodge.org (please print and mail the form). We have reserved a block of rooms at Cedar Shores. Please call 888-697-6363 or go to www.cedarshore.com to reserve a room.
We will have an informal gathering Friday night, starting about 7:00, with some fun and games. There will plenty of time to socialize and enjoy some fellowship. We will start again at 9:00 am Saturday and finish up about 4:30.
Please call the Grand Lodge office or any of your elected line with questions.
Make your reservations now to secure your spot at this year’s conference.
The Leadership Conference will once again be held at Cedar Shores Resort on August 25 and 26. Registration is $40.00 and includes all training materials and lunch on Saturday. Registration forms can be found at the end of this article or at mygrandlodge.org (please print and mail the form). We have reserved a block of rooms at Cedar Shores. Please call 888-697-6363 or go to www.cedarshore.com to reserve a room.
We will have an informal gathering Friday night, starting about 7:00, with some fun and games. There will plenty of time to socialize and enjoy some fellowship. We will start again at 9:00 am Saturday and finish up about 4:30.
Please call the Grand Lodge office or any of your elected line with questions.
Make your reservations now to secure your spot at this year’s conference.

Leadership Conference Registration Form

Leadership Conference Flyer