Tuesday, May 4, 2010

‘Another four bits’

Good news coming from the Annual Communication (or, if you must, “convention”) last week of the Grand Lodge of New Jersey: The annual per capita donation to the George Washington Masonic Memorial from each Master Mason of half a buck... has been doubled! The Magpie Mason congratulates MW Bro. Edgar Peppler, a past president of the GWMM Association, and MW Bro. John Ryan, a former member of the Board of Directors, both past grand masters of New Jersey, for proposing the legislation that sealed the deal.

Their explanation of the requested funding:

The George Washington Masonic Memorial was conceived, financed, constructed and is supported and maintained by the Freemasons of the United States to honor the memory, character and legacy of the greatest American citizen, soldier, Freemason and president that ever lived. The mission of the Memorial is: ‘To inspire humanity through education to emulate and promote the virtues, character and vision of George Washington, the Man, the Mason and the Father of our Country.’

It is the only Masonic national memorial in the nation and continues to be financed and forever owned by the Freemasons of the United Sates. We, as Masons and proprietors, have supported the Memorial with an assessment of only 50 cents per member each year since 1994. This request for an increase to $1 per member, per year, is the first increase in 16 years. It will benefit the Memorial as a museum; tourist attraction and destination; research center and library; center for community activities; performing arts center and concert hall. However, first and foremost, it is a Masonic memorial, honoring the memory, character and legacy of our Brother, George Washington. Please take the opportunity to visit your Memorial during the ensuing year.

Actually I think that may be boilerplate text supplied by the Memorial, and believe me, New Jersey hardly is the only or first jurisdiction to make this change, but the brethren did it. The GWMM is enjoying a revitalization of late, as it has been transformed from a quaint tourist curiosity with 1950s era exhibits to a locus of Masonic culture and scholarship. Under Executive Director George Seghers and Director of Collections Mark Tabbert, the Memorial not only is becoming one of America’s top Masonic education resources, but it is actually leading our country as a top learning institution on the international scene.

In 12 months, the International Conference on the History of Freemasonry will hold its biannual meeting at the GWMM, the first time it will convene in the United States. Later this year, the Memorial will co-host the annual meeting of the Masonic Library and Museum Association.

Quite a difference from the days when the Grotto exhibit was hot stuff.

The Memorial also is becoming a revolutionary host of digital data, thanks to its partnership with OCLC, the creator of the ContentDM Database. This resource allows lodges and other Masonic bodies to upload and manage limitless stores of data, be it historical records, inventories and photos of artifacts and documents, membership info, or whatever. A priceless resource for researchers, and a great opportunity for Masonry’s archivists, historians, and those who simply care about Masonic culture and historic preservation.

In addition, the Memorial offers Masonic bodies the opportunity to digitize printed materials. Imagine your grand lodge’s entire library of annual proceedings turned into digital data, searchable, portable, and in all ways modernized. This is HUGE. Read all about it here.

The George Washington Masonic Memorial is realizing its potential to be an agent of change that helps American Freemasonry conserve its great heritage in ways highly useful to the modern man, providing the ideal mix of timeless knowledge and timely technology. The perfect way to begin its second century.

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