Where Are You Going?That’s a question each of us should continuously ask ourselves, whether it be in our personal lives or within our Masonic journey. In regard to Masonry, you should ask yourself where you think your lodge should be in five years. How are you going to lead it there? What will be necessary to accomplish your goals? How are you going to mobilize your resources and talents to make a difference in the years ahead? These are not questions only lodge officers should ask, but every Mason. They are important questions deserving your earnest attention and also establish your vision. Every last member of the lodge has the potential to play a critical role in its vitality through his own unique ideas. It isn’t forecasting forthcoming events; vision creates the future by taking action in the present.
This does oblige, however, our best effort, and our willingness to believe in ourselves, and to believe in our capacity to perform great deeds; to believe that together, with God’s help, we can and will resolve the problems that now confront us. And though this requires sacrifice, it brings a deeper fulfillment.
It’s time for us to realize we are too great a fraternity to limit ourselves to small dreams. I do not believe in a fate that will befall us no matter what we do. But I do believe in a fate that will befall us if we do nothing.
Your Grand Lodge Officers (GLOs) have been working hard refining our vision for the future. It involves creating ways to shore-up a new Mason’s experience and take steps to lay a foundation that ensures he stays with us for the rest of his life. Each officer being involved in the planning and execution of our vision, here’s what your GLOs will tell you if you ask, “Where are you going?”
1. Opening Regular Communications in the Entered Apprentice Degree.I have been inundated with questions from multiple lodges concerning why we don’t open our business meetings in any of the three degrees of Ancient Craft Masonry to facilitate our new members getting immediately involved in the lodge. They say voting, a luxury available only to Master Masons, can be easily monitored and regulated by the Worshipful Master and Senior Deacon since they should know the few people who are EA and FC Masons in any given lodge. They also say that if the goal is to make someone a Master Mason as quickly as possible then instantaneously toss them into an officer’s chair, that lodge’s problems are much greater than worrying whether candidates take their time getting raised. All my inquirers have called for me to examine this issue and I have accepted their challenge. So, I ask you: what do you think?
2. Grand Master’s Excellence Coin.My schedule is well populated with visits to lodges to experience new Entered Apprentice Masons competing for a Grand Master’s Coin for Excellence by reciting the full-form EA Answers for proficiency. Lodges are reporting long-dormant mentors returning to take on the responsibility of “posting” these enthusiastic candidates like they were mentored decades ago. Are you looking for a way to bring absent members back into the lodge with a renewed sense of purpose and give your new candidates a well-laid Masonic foundation as well as a solid goal to strive for? All you have to do is ask them to do it. It takes zero money, planning, and effort on the part of the lodge to offer this. The mentor doesn’t even need to memorize the questions, just be able to read a cipher and know when the candidate makes a mistake. We’ve tried picnics and green bean dinners for thirty years and our membership numbers continue to nosedive. Try this. Ask the numerous lodges practicing this technique and see how well it works for them.
3. Entered Apprentice Q&A “mini cipher.”Along those same lines, I am excited to announce the Grand Lodge will be offering an official Entered Apprentice “mini-cipher” that contains only the full-form Questions and Answers. This is perfect to provide to your new EAs to not only help them begin learning our code symbols, but the actual full-form Answers themselves. As you know, you cannot provide an EA with our current cipher because it also contains the Fellow Craft and Master Mason ritual which they are not yet eligible to view. Further, this tiny booklet will be offered to any Mason who wants to learn the EA full-form Questions and Answers. These will be available for approximately $1.00 each and obtained through the same process lodges acquire ciphers and monitors from the Grand Lodge. We are taking pre-orders and I expect them to be available by approximately July 1st.
4. PayPal for Lodge Dues.It is also part of the vision of the Grand Lodge to encourage lodges to accept PayPal for lodge dues. Members continuously ask us for ways they can pay their dues online; Grand Masters, including me and a committee I appointed to look into it, have tirelessly explored ways the Grand Lodge can directly accept credit cards for lodge dues. Given how each lodge has a separate dues schedule, it is difficult to sort out which portion of the payment goes to the lodge and which goes to the Grand Lodge for per capita and a middle-man processor must be paid to process credit cards through a bank. It is much easier for a Shrine Temple or Scottish Rite Valley to accept credit cards because there is only one dues fee for the entire organization. Until technology and industry fees make it easier and cost-effective for the Grand Lodge to accomplish this, an immediate way to accept credit cards for dues is to encourage each blue lodge to establish a PayPal account for which its own members can pay their dues directly. All you need is a bank account, which lodges already have, and someone to set up and link a PayPal account to it, then monitor it for transactions. Contact the Grand Lodge for advice on how to establish this. If your Secretary/Treasurer doesn’t use computers, you have greater strategic obstacles to overcome.
5. 65, 75, (and 25) year pins.New this year is the establishment of 65 and 75-year pins. They were created based on the notion that 65 and 75 years of Masonic service are just as worthy of recognition as our existing 60 and 70 year policies. One of my Masonic mentors said, “I have 77 years of service—sure wish I could have had a 75-year pin because I don’t know if I’ll make 80 years.” I’m betting this World War II veteran will make that milestone, but he was right—ten years between the 70- and 80-year pins is a lot to ask of the Great Architect of the Universe. And in case you didn’t know, we do have a pin for 80 years of service! But did you know we have a pin for 25 years? I wholeheartedly encourage lodges to order these pins for members achieving that milestone, as it is also significant and the practice can contribute to retention. Remaining with the same employer over 25 years is exceptional, so why shouldn’t we honor those Masons who stay with us that long, too? Contact the Grand Lodge for any of these categories of year pins.
These examples of our vision for the future create opportunities for growth and success; your Grand Lodge is taking action on them in the present. So, with all the creative energy at our command, let us explore an era of Masonic renewal. Let us renew our determination, our courage, and our strength. Being mindful not to confuse tradition with habit, let us renew our faith and hope in a traditional future for Masonry.
Remember: Masonry is the world’s oldest fraternity of gentlemen founded on the code of ethics of the stonemasons who built King Solomon’s Temple.
See you in lodge!
Sincerely and fraternally,
Patrick D. Barger
Grand Master of Masons
2018-2019 Grand Lodge Officers
|Grand Master||Patrick D. Barger||Lincoln|
|Deputy Grand Master||Robert W. Moninger||Burwell|
|Grand Senior Warden||Ronald D. Stites||Papillion|
|Grand Junior Warden||James A. Carlton||Bellevue|
|Grand Secretary||Reginald S. Kuhn, PGM||Lincoln|
|Grand Chaplain||Charles J. Odorizzi, III||Omaha|
|Grand Orator||Kevin H. Scheele||Waco|
|Grand Historian||Russell G. Reno, PGM||Lincoln|
|Grand Custodian||Scott J. Krieger, Sr., PGM||Hastings|
|Grand Marshal||John R. Fairlie||Omaha|
|Grand Senior Deacon||Alexander F. Straatmann||Kearney|
|Grand Junior Deacon||John L. Millington||Lincoln|
|Grand Senior Steward||Robert C. King||Valley|
|Grand Junior Steward||David C. Norton||Bellevue|
|Grand Tyler||Tyler S. Loontjer||Bellevue|
|Grand Musician||F. Graham House||Lincoln|
|Personal Rep of the GM||John R. Herbolsheimer||Gretna|
|Personal Rep of the GM||Michael E. Tomasiewicz||Tekamah|
|Personal Rep of the GM||David A. Wetrosky||Nebraska City|
Nebraska Living Past Grand Masters
The table below can be sorted by any of the column headers. Simply click on the column header to change the sort order.
|First Name||LastName||Term Start|