Saturday, February 27, 2016

‘Masonic Week in review’

Since Masonic Week was only two weeks ago, I don’t feel overly remiss in now getting to sharing some news and photos from the event. We gathered at the Hyatt Regency in Crystal City in Virginia for the annual meetings and other happenings we enjoy.

What follows is by no means a comprehensive report of the activities, but is more like a “names in the news” summary. I do the best I can. I do not and cannot attend every meeting, so if I have omitted anyone, it’s nothing personal or intentional. It’s just difficult to keep track of all the elections and appointments. As so many brethren of The Masonic Society are ascending to the top echelons of the national governing bodies of the Masonic Week constituent fraternities, I use various “TMS” designations to identify Fellows and Members of The Masonic Society.

So, at The Masonic Society’s February 13 dinner, results of the elections of new officers and board members, and the elevations of new Fellows were announced to the more than fifty brethren and guests in attendance.

Ken Davis, The Masonic Societys new president, displays the ceremonial gavel he is about to present to his predecessor, Jim Dillman of Indiana. Jim has guided the Society through a period of creative growth that is about to blossom in ways that will compel the Masonic world to take serious notice of our various doings. Sorry for being vague, but the announcements of the new initiatives are coming soon.

New Officers: Ken Davis of New Mexico is The Masonic Society’s new president. Patrick Craddock of Tennessee is the First Vice President, and I am the Second Vice President. Three new members have been added to the Board of Directors: Oscar Alleyne of New York, John Bizzack of Kentucky, and Mark Robbins of Minnesota.

Two TMS brethren were elected to become Fellows: again, John Bizzack, a frequent contributor to the pages of The Journal of the Masonic Society, and Michael A. Halleran, The Journal’s Executive Editor, and Past Grand Master of Kansas, and author, etc., etc.

Oscar Alleyne
In addition, Alleyne was the keynote speaker at the Society’s banquet. In remarks titled “The Masonic Scholar,” he employed humor and personal experience to illustrate the need for sober-minded responsibility in conducting Masonic research, especially in this age of frivolous internet sources offering misleading content. “I watched a young brother declare ‘Eureka!’ last week,” Alleyne said. “He visited a lodge in Montreal that had a set of aprons on display. One had these symbols: a set of blood drops, and a severed head. Well, this young brother said he stumbled upon an important find. He scoured the internet and found several references to John the Baptist—this apron, therefore was proof that John the Baptist was central in the Masonic world, and he was going to write a paper on it. This was exciting stuff.”

Courtesy A&ASR Jacksonville

“I politely informed him that the apron was for the Ninth Degree of the Scottish Rite, and that the jurisdiction he hails from no longer uses this apron, and it wasn’t anything significantly special. His response, deflated at best, was a resounding ‘Crap!’”

S. Brent Morris, Grand Abbott of the Society of Blue Friars, welcomes
BF No. 105, Michael Halleran of Kansas, to the Consistory.

The Society of Blue Friars is a small group of a highly select membership: published authors in service to the Craft. One new Friar, having been nominated by a current Friar, is named each year by the Grand Abbott—TMS Founding Fellow S. Brent Morris of Maryland—and the 2016 inductee is none other than new TMS Fellow Michael A. Halleran, author of The Better Angels of Our Nature: Freemasonry in the American Civil War. In addition, he is the creator of Hiram A. Brother, a Freemason of legend who is the diarist known through the pages of Bro. Brother’s Journal. Each new Blue Friar speaks on matters of Masonic significance at the annual meeting, and Halleran regaled his audience with a Brother biography steeped in the colorful humor for which the illustrated history is known.

Jeffrey Nelson tries on the Grand Chancellors collar and jewel at the Grand College of Rites meeting of February 13. It looks good! That’s retiring Grand Chancellor Lawrence Tucker at right.

TMS Founding Member Jeffrey N. Nelson of North Dakota was installed Most Illustrious Grand Chancellor of the Grand College of Rites of the United States of America. At the meeting of the Holy Royal Arch Knight Templar Priests, he also was appointed Grand Outer Guard. The GCR’s new Right Illustrious Senior Vice Chancellor is TMS Founding Fellow and Board member Aaron M. Shoemaker of Missouri. He unveiled the College’s new website that week.

On the GCR agenda are a few very important items:

  • Those of us who love Collectanea can look forward to the reprinting and availability of previous editions.
  • Some procedure must be devised for the issuance of regalia, and the return of the regalia. Sometimes there is a problem retrieving a jewel or something else important. It’s a vexing worry in the event of an officer’s death, so I’m curious to see how this develops.
  • A tax-exempt foundation will be incorporated so that the GCR may receive artifacts, intellectual property, and other gifts in a manner that permits the donor to benefit from an income tax deduction. This has been in the concept stage for a few years, and I hope it is brought to fruition.
  • In other news, some more practical goals are coming into view. Fellows of the GCR can look forward to membership jewels (die-struck pieces with cloisonné decoration) and certificates. No date announced on this, but it’s in the works.
  • Mitchell-Fleming Printing, Inc., a vendor familiar to several Masonic fraternities, is the new printer of Collectanea, the new edition of which should be reaching our mailboxes in the coming weeks.

TMS Member Lawrence E. Tucker of Texas, having just completed his year in the Grand East of the GCR, was installed Most Venerable Sovereign Grand Master of the Grand Council of Allied Masonic Degrees of the United States of America. Upon taking office, the Most Venerable has the privilege of appointing the new Grand Tyler, and Tucker named TMS Founding Member John C. Elkinton of Texas to the position.

The 2016 Grand Council of Allied Masonic Degrees
of the United States of America.

MV Douglas Moore was the retiring Grand Master. He is very soft-spoken, so it was a little difficult to discern everything he said in his allocution, but he made some excellent points, including a call on all AMD councils to get organized within their respective states and to organize annual meetings. I doubt he meant business meetings, but rather what we in New Jersey have, for a number of decades, called Ingatherings. AMD brethren come together for a day of presenting papers and conferring a degree and whatever else. Always a great time.

I was there in 2002 when the Marvin E. Fowler Award was first presented, so I always take an interest in the new honoree. This year it is William R. Logan, Past Sovereign Grand Master.

The AMD Grand Council meeting has gotten shorter in recent years (thank you Moises?), but it’s still a full afternoon. Thankfully there usually are emotional highs, like the Fowler Award presentation, and other revelations:

MV Prince Selvaraj of Ontario and MV Doug Moore.

MV Prince Selvaraj, a very familiar face at Masonic Week for a number of years, is the Immediate Past Sovereign Grand Master of AMD in Canada, and now he also is Honorary PSGM of AMD for the United States.

Bro. James, secretary of the unfortunately named Illuminati Council in Illinois, presents outgoing Grand Master Doug Moore with honorary membership in that AMD council.

Illuminati Council (God, I wish for a name change there) No. 495 in Illinois sent its secretary, Bro. James, to the meeting to bestow honorary membership on Doug Moore. It obviously was a touching gesture that surely has an interesting backstory.

In other news, International Relations Committee Chairman Allen Surratt reported there is interest in both Italy and Brazil to see the Allied Masonic Degrees expand. The feasibility of this is being investigated.

RV Mohamad and MV Doug.

And finally, for this meeting, among the advancement of the line officers, my friend Bro. Mohamad (TMS Member) is the new Junior Grand Deacon!

The irrepressible Reese Harrison of Texas.

Also in the AMD, Founding Fellow Reese L. Harrison, Jr. of Texas exited the East of the Council of Nine Muses. Unique in the AMD fraternity, Nine Muses consists of only nine members—well, nine muses—appointed for life, who rotate through the officer stations.

As is custom, the outgoing Sovereign Master presents a lecture of Masonic interest (not necessarily a research paper), and Reese spoke of metrics. Not as in sterile calculations of dimensions, but speaking movingly of a Mason’s need to lead a balanced life. Without invoking either the traditional 32° or Kabbalah, he spoke plainly of the perils of losing sight of the important aspects of life—family, community, business, et al.—while spending too much time pursuing the ultimately frivolous honors the Masonic fraternities confer. There is a practical problem for Masonic bodies, he explained, where someone accepts appointment to a board of trustees as just another honor, but is incapable of executing the fiduciary responsibilities. (I’ve seen that a number of times in my years in Freemasonry.) He spoke at length, I think without notes, recounting anecdotes and imparting wisdom drawn from a long (no offense, Reese) life. Perhaps an unexpected subject, especially from one who has been a Masonic Week regular for four decades, but a fitting and always timely one.

Former TMS Board Member Fred Kleyn is the new Master of Nine Muses.

In the Operatives, known formally as the Worshipful Society of Free Masons, Rough Masons, Wallers, Slaters, Paviors, Plaisterers and Bricklayers, the new Deputy Grand Master Mason for the Region of the United States of America is TMS Fellow George R. Haynes of Pennsylvania.

In the Order of Knight Masons, congratulations to you all.

Masonic Week 2017 will take place at the same hotel February 8 through 12. See you there.

I check into my room, go to the window to see what view there might be, and am confronted with multiple Templar crosses etched into the glass! Coincidence or Masonic conspiracy?!

 TMS Founding Members بافين دن. and Reed Fanning.

Reed and Prince Selvaraj of Ontario.

Michael, and TMS Members Ted and Ray.

TMS Founding Member Roberto and TMS Fellow Paul.

Although Stephen Dafoe quit the Masonic fraternity some years ago,
he is missed, and his presence is felt still.

Ted is the unofficial Masonic Week photographer.

Mohamad and Aaron in AMD regalia.

1 comment:

Chris Hodapp said...

Thanks for the great and in depth update! I have unfortunately cut back on my travel time and budget lately, and haven't been to Masonic Week for the last two years, so I appreciate your reporting and photos.

Congratulations especially to all of the Masonic Society members and Fellows for all that they do for the fraternity.