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Grand Lodge Messenger - GM Edition 1st Quarter
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Twenty-five Brethren and ladies from our Jurisdiction joined Masons from across America to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the completion of Mount Rushmore.

Organized by the Grand Lodge of South Dakota, 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.

Shortly before becoming the first President of the United States, George Washington was elected the first Worshipful Master of Alexandria (Virginia) Lodge, No. 22. Theodore Roosevelt, Past Master of Matinecock Lodge, No. 806 (Oyster Bay, NY), made a habit of visiting Masonic Lodges wherever he traveled. Thomas Jefferson’s connection to the Fraternity has been a matter of debate for some time, though evidence may have surfaced connecting him to the Lodge of Nine Muses. Abraham Lincoln did apply for membership in Tyrian Lodge, Springfield, IL, shortly after his nomination for President, but withdrew his application as he did not want it to be construed as a political ruse.

The ceremonies included placing wreaths in tribute to Senator and Mason Brother Peter Norbeck who was instrumental in promoting construction of and securing funding for the monument, along with other Masons including sculptors Gutzon and Lincoln Borglum who were directly involved in the creation of the memorial.

This trip was made possible thanks to a chance meeting with RW Yancey Smith, then Junior Grand Warden of the Grand Lodge of South Dakota, who informed me that this re-dedication ceremony was going to happen – talk about traveling in foreign countries and receiving Master’s wages. Having always wanted to see Mount Rushmore up close and personal, this was an opportunity that I could not pass up and most definitely wanted to share. Next to South Dakota, the Grand Lodge of Washington was the largest delegation in attendance (insert feeling proud emoji).

Basking in the glory of Mount Rushmore and celebrating those who made it a reality, the words of Ill. Ronald Seale, Sovereign Grand Commander of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry Southern Jurisdiction, rang true: “Masons today are woven into the American community. When you find them, you find the fabric of America. 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."
This summer I was in Omak on a business trip. My schedule allowed me to visit a nearby Lodge, but alas they were dark. So I put out a plea to the local area Brethren: Join me for dinner. No trappings. No standing on ceremony. Just food & drinks. That evening I shared a pleasant evening with my Brethren from the Okanogan Valley. We talked shop. Shared stories. Enjoyed each other’s company.

Since that gathering, I have enjoyed two other informal get-togethers with three more on the horizon. I think there is great value in the Brethren sitting down with the Grand Master in a casual setting, while putting to use the “working tools” of pizza & beer (or whatever food & beverage combo is at the ready).

Informality creates a sense of ease and openness that is typically absent when pomp & circumstance are involved. As noted, three more informal gatherings are on the horizon. Stay tuned. An informal gathering may be happening in your neck of the woods.
How Are We Doing?

At installation I identified eight key initiatives that I felt needed to be accomplished to not only define the year, but also help to set a sustained course for the future of our Fraternity. To review, those initiative were ~

 Improve Membership Retention - New Candidate Education Program - Develop Future Leaders - “One More” - Reclaim the Narrative - Review the Long Range Plan - Reshape the Military Recognition Committee
 
So how are we doing?

Improve Membership Retention
The Membership Development Committee has developed a three-pronged approach to addressing the issue of membership retention. They have identified the three key points of focus as Pre-Petition, Post Degrees, and Beyond.

New Candidate Education Program
Online access to the Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft, and Master Mason curriculum will be available on Monday, October 17th via the Grand Lodge website. Expect a letter from me informing all Lodges, per Code, to make a copy of this curriculum available to all candidates going through the Degrees. Stay tuned for details on Washington Masonic University.

Develop Future Leaders
In addition to the very successful Lodge Leaders Retreat, the Leadership Training Committee has been on the road offering training on Board Governance as well as training for Secretaries and Treasurers.

“One More”
I have been receiving reports of Brethren attending the adult volunteer training programs offered by our youth groups. This is a good sign.

Reclaim the Narrative
Did you see me on TV in the Yakima area, http://kimatv.com/news/local/grand-master-of-the-freemasons-of-washington-visits-yakima? Have you seen our new video, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1qSVW4LJImA&sns=em? Yup, the Public Relations Committee is doing good work.
 
Review the Long Range Plan
To get things started, Brethren identified as current and future leaders in our Craft, were invited to serve on a Task Force. The Task Force established six areas of focus, which will be referred to as “Six Supports of 20-20 Vision”:

 
Membership Experience - Masonic Education - Leadership and Management
Beyond the Lodge - Philanthropy - Technology
 
By refining these six supports, a program shall be developed as a guide to the Grand Lodge Officers as they endeavor to fulfill our Brethren’s expectations and move successfully into the future. Accomplishing to meet the needs and expectations of the Brethren of our Jurisdiction shall be the challenge and the goal. Your participation is essential for the success of this plan. You can do so at http://6supports.weebly.com/.

Reshape the Military Recognition Committee
A framework is in place to shift the focus of the Military Recognition Committee from one that presents plaques to one that offers support to our returning servicemen. This will be presented as a Resolution at the Annual Communication. We have also donated funds from the sale of my lapel pin to sponsor Honor Flights leaving out of SeaTac and Spokane. In addition, we have been there to see our heroes depart and return – truly life affirming experiences.

I am truly pleased with the work of the committees that have gotten us to this point. There is still a lot of work to do, but I believe that the Brethren who are doing the heavy lifting will get the job done.
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