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NEWS/ INFORMATION (as of November 23, 2014)

Also see Calendar for all events

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CHARITY/ FUND RAISER

EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE FORM

See Form in Form section or HERE.

MASONIC SAFETY ID EVENTS

None

Blood Drive - Sconondoa Sherrill

WHEN: Saturday, December, 2014

TIME: 8:30am – 1:30pm

WHERE: Sconondoa Sherrill Lodge, Vernon, New York (map)

DESCRIPTION:

Sconondoa Sherrill Lodge #814 will be having a Blood Drive in April .

The Drive will start at 8:30 and run through 1:30.

The Blood Levels in the area are so low it is critical that we keep all Blood Drives on schedule.

 

To schedule a donation, call the American Red Cross at 1-800-Red Cross (1-800-737-2767) or call the local chairman at 315-853-5908.

WALK-INS ARE WELCOME!!!!

 

Thanks, W. Phil Chandler

INFORMATION ON CAMP TURK – The Masonic Youth Camp

Please find the updated information for the 2012 camping season at Camp Turk. The website for Camp Turk is www.campturk.org.

Please share this with everyone in your lodge & district and include it in your lodge communications.

Camp Dates are:

Session I:  Boys – July 1st thru July 7th          $100.00 Reg. Fee PLUS $400.00 Camp Fee        Session I:  Girls – July 22nd thru July 28th

Session II:  Boys – July 1st thru July 14th       $100.00 Reg. Fee PLUS $800.00 Camp Fee        Session II:  Girls – July 22th thru August 4th

Session III:  Boys – July 1st thru July 21st      $100.00 Reg Fee PLUS $1000.00 Camp Fee       Session III:  Girls – July 22th thru August 11th

 

Camp Turk offers a scholarship program for families in need of financial assistance.  The application is available on our website at www.campturk.org

If you are interested in hosting a Camp Turk information night in your lodge or district, give them a call at 315-392-2081 or email at CampTurk@aol.com and they will send one of our Committee members out to your area for a slide show presentation.

Back by popular demand…Work Weekend at Camp Turk.  They are currently organizing a fall work weekend at camp planned for August 18th.  They are looking for volunteers to help do some interior painting and minor repair work.  Please contact Mollie Denslow at 315-392-2081 or email at CampTurk@aol.com if you are interested in volunteering to help improve the camp.

 

This fraternity is truly blessed to have such a great facility as Camp Turk to offer to our youth.  Give a gift to a youth that will last a lifetime! 

 

2012 Wish List for Items Needed.

2012 Camp Turk Application

2012 Camp Turk Information

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BROTHERHOOD FUND 2014-2015

From: brotherhoodw23@aol.com [mailto:brotherhoodw23@aol.com]

Sent: Monday, August 04, 2014 6:31 AM

Please post that I will be hosting a Seminar for the Masonic Brotherhood Fund on September 6th at the Masonic Care Community in Utica, NY. It will start at 10:00 A.M. and we will have coffee and ... at 9:00 A.M.   I look forward to seeing everyone that can make it  and will be outlining this year's Campaign.  Let me know if you can be in attendance by sending an e-mail to: Testutb@aol.com

 

Thank You

Bruce Testut 

Chairman - Masonic Brotherhood Fund

Testutb@aol.com

 

Brothers,

Like to remind each of you that Grand Lodge does not automatically send out a Brotherhood fund package. It is up to the lodge secretary or lodge chairman to call the grand lodge brotherhood fund office and furnish them the name and information for this years lodge chairman.

It is at that time the secretary or chairman can submit an order for the brotherhood fund paperwork. Please don’t hesitate to call!

The person of contact at the BH fund office is Lois at 1-212-337-6652.

I look forward to working with all of you again this year and if you have any questions concerning the BH fund. Please don’t hesitate to call or email me.

Oneida Districts Degrees.

·         3rd degree – Utica 47 on November 24, 2014

·         2nd degree – Amicable #664 on January 6,2015

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DDGM/ GL / ONEIDA DISTRICT INFORMATION or NEWS

AMICABLE – September 2013 Newsletter PDF; Trestle Board PDF

BARON STEUBEN – September 2013 Limburgh Letter PDF

DDGM/ Grand Lecture Convention

 

EVENT: Clinton Hampton #347 DDGM -  1st Oneida

DATE: Thursday, December 4. 2014

TIME: 6:00pm until 9:00pm

PLACE:

  West Main Street, Westmoreland, NY

 

EVENT: Baron Steuben Lodge DDGM – 2nd Oneida

DATE: Wednesday, December 10, 2014

TIME: 6:00pm until 9:00pm

PLACE:

  5559 Lee Center-Taberg Road; Lee Center, NY 13363

 

EVENT: Infinity Lodge DDGM

DATE: Thursday December 11, 2014

TIME: 6:00pm until 9:00pm

PLACE:

  Admin Building, Masonic Care Community, Bleecker Street, Utica, NY

 

EVENT: Oriental Faxton #224 Lodge DDGM Visit – 2nd Oneida

DATE: Tuesday January 13, 2015

TIME: 5:30pm until 9:00pm

PLACE:

  Utica Masonic Hall; 251 Genesee Street, Utica, NY 13501

 

EVENT: Oriskany #799 DDGM Visit -  2nd Oneida

DATE: Monday, January 19, 2015

TIME: 7:00pm until 9:00pm

PLACE:

  700 Utica Street, Oriskany, NY

 

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ENTERED APPRENDICE DEGREE INFORMATIONAL PROGRAM

Brother Troy Kelley of St. Marks-Vestal Lodge gave a lecture on the Entered Apprentice Degree. His effort was drawn upon his own thoughts and those of others culled from his research on the subject. Because it was so well received and with his permission, I’d like to share his work with all the Brethren. This makes for a very informative program and deserves space in anyone library. Brother Kelley has a passion for writing and hones his skill weekly on their Facebook page, (www.facebook.com/smv435) and through his interest in the old west. Feel free to contact him if you'd like to comment his work at tkelleyny@yahoo.com .

Great job Brother Kelley!

Click to view/download presentation – EA Information Program

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SCOTISH RITE INFORMATION/NEWS (E-mail: AASRUCANY@verizon.net  / 315-724-9561)

See Scottish Rite – Valley of Utica Website: http://www.aasruticany.com

 

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ZIYARA SHRINE INFORMATION/ NEWS (Get Publication s at http://www.ziyarashriners.com/page.php?id=Publications )

See Ziyara Shriners website: http://www.ziyarashriners.com

ZIYARA FISH FRY

CANCELLED UNTIL 2015!!

DAILY WINNING NUMBERS

365 Days of Excitement

Prizes: $20.00 Per Day

$200.00 Memorial Day, Fourth of July,

Labor Day and Thanksgiving

Donation: $20.00

Buy Your Calendar Raffle Today!

Call the Shrine Office at 315-732-5328, OR visit our website at

www.ziyarashriners.com , or speak to any noble!!

Rent Ziyara Shriners Park

BOOK YOUR NEXT EVENT at the Shriners Park! Meetings, Graduations, Reunions,    Family Events and MUCH MORE! For details call at 315-732-5328 Today!

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Point of Information: The Long Form of Closing in the Masonic Ritual is now the Law in this jurisdiction.

Brethren:

The report of the Custodians of the Work emphasized the importance of maintaining the “long form closing” and to eliminate the “short form closing”. The following is the actual transcript of the Grand Lodge Proceedings recorded on Tuesday, May 3, 2011 featuring the report orally presented by RW Richard C. Friedman, Chairman of the Custodians of the Work: “My brothers, we are proposing a change this year. Not a change to Ritual, but adding something back in before it’s completely lost. On page twenty of your original book [Masonic Ritual Cypher Book], there is an italicized portion that says that you may perform a short-form closing. My brothers, we have timed the long-form closing easily at about 80 seconds and it was the longest it took us to do it. And we even used guys right off the street at St. John’s Day to test it. It takes two minutes to do a long-form closing.”

“My fear is that the short-form closing which was meant to be an emergency closing is now becoming the standard work. And I don’t like it. And I hope that you don’t like it. So, my brothers, I ask for your support today to get rid of the italics and allow the long-form closing to be the only closing we have.” This was followed by much applause.

“Most Worshipful Grand Master, I’d like to make a motion to spread this report upon the Minutes.”

The motion was accepted, carried and so order by unanimous applause.

Under Section 334 of the Masonic Law, it states that “…The Grand Lecturer, before entering upon the holding of his conventions, is required annually to exemplify the work, lectures and ceremonies before this Committee [Custodians of the Work], and no change shall be made in the Work as established by Grand Lodge except upon the report of such Committee and the favorable action of Grand Lodge thereon.”

Since the report of the Custodians of the Work was presented and favorably accepted by vote of Grand Lodge, the change is now concluded. The above ruling does not require or mention anything about a second reading.

I trust that this excerpt helps to clarify the position taken by Grand Lodge at our last Annual Communication.

All the best,

Richard W. Bateman

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Latest Grand Masters Message

GRAND MASTER'S 2014 THANKSGIVING DAY MESSAGE

November 21, 2014

To my Brothers, families and friends of Freemasonry in New York ....

As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving 2014 we have so much for which to be grateful. This past year has been a wonderful and exciting time for Susan and me as we have traveled through this Grand Jurisdiction... and beyond. It has been really inspiring for me, as your Grand Master, to meet with so many of you and share your hopes and dreams and your aspirations and your enthusiasm for our great Masonic fraternity.

Now, as the holiday season is upon us and we look forward to enjoying another great family occasion, I want to extend our warmest personal greeting to each of you and those you love. We hope that all of your prayers will be fulfilled and we give humble thanks for God’s many blessings.

I hope you too will take time this week, together with those at your Thanksgiving table, to pause and reflect on the many, many things for which we can all be truly thankful – for the many blessings we enjoy with our families and with our friends, and with our extended Masonic family.

On behalf of Susan and myself, RW Jeffrey Williamson, our Deputy Grand Master and Carla, and your Elected and Appointed Grand Line, we hope that you and those you hold dear enjoy Thanksgiving, and the days and weeks ahead. May God continue to bless you and your family and our great Fraternity. May He watch over our men and women in military service. May God continue to Bless our great fraternity and God Bless America!

With warmest fraternal regards and best wishes,

WILLIAM J. THOMAS
Grand Master of Masons in the State of New York

2014 St. John’s Day Address (Posted on June 22, 2014 by MW William Thomas)

{The printable version of this speech can be found HERE.}

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24)

Right Worshipful Deputy Grand Master, Most Worshipful Past Grand Masters, my colleagues of Grand Lodge, all my distinguished Brothers, Ladies, and friends of Freemasonry:

I welcome you to the investiture of our appointed Grand Lodge Officers, here in the Daniel D. Tompkins Memorial Chapel. It is indeed a fitting place for a commencement of our terms of office for service to our beloved Grand Lodge. Grand Master Robert Judson Kenworthy dedicated this house of God on June 25, 1911. Our Grand Master remarked at that time,

“… If anything were needed to testify to the generosity and might of our Fraternity, it will be found in this building which we today open for the worship of God, the joy of our children, and the peace and happiness of the home community … .”

Indeed, in our commencement today, we endeavor to carry that work forward, receiving the batons from our predecessors, with the goal of boldly going forward on those paths illuminated by Golden Rays of Truth.

Thanks

We should first pause to give thanks to the precious jewels of our Grand Lodge. It is through the stewardship of the Trustees of our Masonic Hall and Home that we enjoy the bountiful graces of this magnificent facility. We entrust to them the watchful eye to keep our investment in this great asset for the benefit and joy of future generations of Masons.

The Trustees of the Masonic Hall and Home are working diligently on many different projects, but three stand out in this, their 150th Anniversary. Major renovations to all the campers’ facilities at Camp Turk are being completed in time for this summer’s programs. Preparations are being made for the replacement of the steeple and part of the roof at our beloved Tompkins Chapel here in Utica. Substantial changes are about to commence at our Masonic Hall in New York City which will improve the facilities for all 97 Masonic and Non-Masonic groups that regularly use the facilities including new collation spaces and air conditioning for all the lodge rooms.

We are also grateful for the contributions to humanity that are being pioneered by our Masonic Medical Research Laboratory here on the campus. They are looking to even greater scientific discoveries, and they do so in the name of the Grand Lodge of New York.

The Chancellor Robert R Livingston Masonic Library and Museum, also here on the campus, is the crown of our Fraternity. We are blessed to have the support of benefactors such as our Trustees to promote the continuing work of our world-class institution.

Theme

Each Grand Master develops his trestle board on his theme. For Grand Master Edward Gilbert, it was his “Back to Basics.” Most Worshipful Vincent Libone had his FIT theme: Faith, Integrity and Trust. Grand Master James Sullivan’s trestle board was based upon Brotherly Love, Charity and Integrity.

The theme influencing our next two years of work together is the TEAM concept: T – E – A – M: Together Everybody Achieves More.

To become a part of a TEAM is a privilege. Few people ever have the wonderful opportunity to experience the support of teammates and friends. A team lifts and elevates the performance of an individual to heights never before achieved. Each individual recognizes his responsibility to the TEAM.

A TEAM is a collection of individuals who have chosen to pursue one or more common goals. One of these goals is the improvement of each individual, which can result in the improvement of the entire TEAM’s performance.

There is no such thing as a free lunch. If an individual wishes to benefit from the TEAM he must give to the TEAM. Successful teams nurture the individual, and expect the individual to respond by also nurturing the team.

Together our TEAM will realize greater achievements, because Together Everybody Achieves
More.

District Deputy Grand Masters

A special reminder to our District Deputy Grand Masters: I reiterate the admonition of Most Worshipful Edward R. Trosin in his 2004 address,

“The District Deputy will serve as the Senior Masonic Officer in his District. You are responsible for providing the leadership in your District. You are my personal representative, and responsible to me, not to any District organization. Others have been given the role of Advisor in your District, but you are the final authority. There can only be one boss, and you are it!”

Grand Lodge Staff Officers

The Grand Lodge Staff Officers are charged with a very essential task of providing our education programs in the Districts. You are an integral part of the District’s TEAM, and work alongside the District Deputy. Coordinate your travel and programs. Work together. Provide an atmosphere which enhances Brotherhood and Membership Retention.

Assistant Grand Lecturers

Just as the District Deputy Grand Masters and Grand Lodge Staff Officers are on my TEAM, the Assistant Grand Lecturers are an integral part of the District’s TEAM. Our Assistant Grand Lecturers are with us today to demonstrate to your Districts that they are important to accomplish our work as Masons. Together with your Grand Lecturer, you will continue to shine those Golden Rays of Truth for which our Petitioners are searching.

Admonishment to our TEAM

To each of our newly invested officers, I remind you to be ever cognizant that the eyes of our Fraternity are constantly focused upon you for both leadership and direction. Your own high standards and good example should reflect your high office. Never lose sight of the fundamental tenant of Brotherhood. The trowel is among your most valued tools.

Military Veterans – hand salute

Placing our hand over our heart while rendering honors to the Flag of our country is a patriotic act, and is authorized by the United States Flag Code. You will note that earlier I invited our military veterans to join me in a hand salute, which is a patriotic act authorized by our Flag Code, as amended in 2011. I am a Navy Veteran, and I invite our military veterans to join with me whenever the opportunity presents itself. It is not a requirement, but an opportunity of which many of our veterans are not aware.

DDGM’s Dispensations

The Grand Master is empowered to grant dispensations for a number of rather routine situations. For most of them, the Grand Master seeks the counsel of the District Deputy Grand Master. Accordingly, I hereby delegate authority to the District Deputy Grand Masters until Grand Lodge 2015 to grant dispensations in the following limited situations, and he may not further delegate this authority:

Until Grand Lodge in May 2015, Lodge Secretaries should request these dispensations directly from the District Deputy Grand Master. The District Deputy is not required to grant such dispensations, and should use his knowledge of the Lodge, the Officers and his District before granting the dispensation. Depending on the success of this program, it may be continued for the following year, along with additional dispensation authority. When there are concerns, the District Deputy Grand Master must consult with the Grand Master.

MORI

Among the issues discussed during our Town Hall meetings over the past two years, one overwhelming concern was the need of our District Deputy Grand Masters for access to the online membership data for their Districts. You now have read-only access to MORI. Contact Grand Lodge registry when you have questions.

Also regarding MORI, the 10-year transition period from paper to MORI has ended. We still have about 25% of our Lodges not subscribing to MORI. The manual processing of paper documents continues to increase the costs of running Grand Lodge. The District Deputy Grand Masters are directed to survey their Lodges and assist them in finalizing the transition.

Concordant Bodies

Our concordant bodies are an integral part of Masonry. They cannot exist without the Blue Lodge, nor can the Blue Lodge exist without the support of both York and Scottish Rite. We see that our leadership in Grand Lodge includes Brethren who have an association with at least some of these organizations. Indeed, note that our Grand Chaplain today wears the chapeau of a Sir Knight, and the presiding officers of our concordant bodies are in the front rows of the Chapel. These men are leaders not only in concordant bodies, but also leaders in our Grand Lodge. If there is an interest, I encourage our Brethren to find even more Light and more diverse personal relationships though these organizations. Worshipful Masters may find new and enlightening ideas by inviting the concordant bodies for Lodge programs.

Youth

Similarly I encourage Lodges to invite our Youth Organizations to present programs and degree work in Lodge. You would be amazed at the quality of ritual work and the great love they have for our Masonic family!

I ask the District Deputies to consider appointing a District Youth Coordinator to promote youth activities. As Masons we are the models for those who follow in our footsteps. What a greater impact on humanity can we have than influencing and leading our youth? This is a good opportunity for us to anchor our work to inspire all our youth, both boys and girls, and reach out to work with them for their future.

My goal is to see at least one new DeMolay Chapter, one new Rainbow Assembly and one new Triangle formed in each of the next two years. We need adults and Lodges to pitch in and make that happen.

Camp Turk

And speaking of support for our youth, my wife and I have decided to put our charitable support behind Camp Turk, which is about 45 minutes north of us in the Adirondack Mountains. Our Trustees maintain the Camp on Round Lake, and which is named after Most Worshipful Nathan Turk. I have asked the District Deputies and Staff Officers to use the Grand Master’s pins as a vehicle for donations directly to the Camp.

2014 and 2015 GM Cruise for Camp Turk

Additionally the 2014 and 2015 cruises will benefit Camp Turk. The cruise lines have agreed to make donations to the Camp for every cabin booked. Our cruise on September 6 will be a short 6-day Bermuda trip out of Port Liberty, New Jersey. The 2015 trip will be a longer cruise to Alaska. Again, beneficiary of both of these cruises is our Youth and Camp Turk.

Masonic Medical Research Laboratory

Scientists at our Masonic Medical Research Laboratory continue to be world leaders in heart research. They are uncovering new genes that cause heart diseases and are testing new therapies for common human ailments. These projects stand to benefit all of humanity and the continued support of the Masonic community remains essential to their success. You are encouraged to reach out to the Lab for Lodge and District Programs.

Native American Masonic Degree Team

Right Worshipful William Greene from the Niagara-Orleans District, under my auspices is forming a Native American Masonic Degree Team. I see this as an important program for both recognition of the heritage of our Brethren, as well as stimulating ritual relevance among our Craftsmen. Please circulate this new program in your Districts, and refer them to Right Worshipful Greene.

Social Media

During our Town Hall meetings, you told me that communications is paramount, and that we need to adjust to the needs of our contemporary Craftsmen, especially with regard to social media. I listened, and I acted quickly.

Today, we have a new web site. We have a Facebook page. We have a Facebook group. We are on Twitter. We have a new newsletter called Hiram’s Highlights. We have an email announcement group list called Atholl 1781. We have a renewed Empire State Mason magazine.

But social media is not without its concerns. Along with contemporary communications comes a recognition that social media can be abused and could be a detriment. We need to subdue our passions when we place our square and compasses in front of the public. I have established a best practices policy for social media, which you will find on our web site. There is nothing therein which conflicts with your moral, social or civil duties and privileges. It does remind us that we are Masons in the public eye, and not just in the Lodge room.

Be careful of what you say on Facebook and other media. Once it is out there, it is there forever; it won’t go away. The things you publish could impact on your children and family – in addition to your own professional career. But also use social media to the benefit of our Craft. A review of a petitioner’s Facebook and other public media could be helpful to the investigating committee.

Observant Masonry

Many of our petitioners are interested in our Craft for different reasons than you might expect. Some express interest in esoteric knowledge, spiritual enlightenment and personal development. Some are simply interested in Lodge meetings as they may have been conducted in the early 19th Century. Is this for everyone? Of course not. But we cannot ignore these young men who are hungry for what we might offer them. The concept of Observant Masonry is spreading through many other Grand Jurisdictions, and we will encourage development on a Lodge by Lodge review. I have appointed Right Worshipful Piers Vaughan as Grand Lodge Staff Officer at Large and Liaison for Observant Masonry in New York. We already have pockets of interest in Dutchess, Erie, Albany, Rensselaer-Schenectady, Onondaga and Manhattan.

Ritual Renaissance Program

Two years ago, we engaged the Custodians of the Work on a study of our rituals, both past and present, titled the Ritual Renaissance Program. To great acclaim, the program has reviewed the Entered Apprentice and the Fellow Craft degrees, with recommendations to restore some of the work which had been previously withdrawn. The study has provided a body of knowledge to be used for both future study and optional inclusion in our rituals. I consider that program to be of great importance, and have directed that the program be the subject of its own special committee. The RRP Committee, chaired by Right Worshipful Stewart C. McCloud II, will continue the work to its logical conclusion with the Master Mason degree.

Grand Unity Day

On September 13 in Trenton, four Grand Lodges will come together for a first-ever Ritual exchange and education event. The Grand Lodges of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware will exemplify the three degrees as done in their respective jurisdictions in a tiled meeting. New York will exemplify the Entered Apprentice degree. I strongly encourage our Brothers to join me in the Historic Trenton Masonic Temple. Information is on the web site. I urge the District Deputies to send representatives to Grand Unity Day in Trenton on September 13.

Boring Lodges

I encourage all Worshipful Masters to step back and look at the way they conduct Lodge work. Many of our Lodges are not retaining members because, well, they are just plain boring. Our Lodges must be stimulating to keep our Brothers knocking at our doors. And mediocrity in our work as Craftsmen is not conducive to membership retention. Good ritual and interesting programs are the heart and soul of a vibrant Lodge. Worshipful Master, you are the designer of your Lodge’s success. Look well to the East!

Library

Have you visited our Livingston Masonic Library lately? The Library is online with a treasure trove of artifacts and documents for your education and general pleasure. Our Trustees of the Masonic Hall and Home are the primary benefactor. Recent work includes digital archiving of Lodge minutes and records. Lodges should contact the Library to become involved in the program.

Anniversary Aprons

Several years ago, Most Worshipful Edward G. Gilbert stepped boldly forward with his 50-year anniversary apron program. which has been enthusiastically received by our veteran Craftsmen.

Grand Masters Libone and Sullivan continued the program. And now we are taking the program two steps further, adding 60- and 70-year aprons to our anniversary program in recognition of our long-time veterans. The aprons will be sent to the Lodge secretary directly (not to the District Deputy) when a request is made for a 50-, 60- or 70-year certificate and pin.

We are very thankful for the sponsorship of the program. For the next two years, the Directors of the Masonic Medical Research Laboratory have sponsored the 50-year aprons; and the Trustees of the Masonic Hall and Home have sponsored the 60- and 70-year aprons. We are grateful for the service to the Craft of these veteran Masons, and these tokens will recognize in some small way our appreciation for all they have accomplished.

Surviving Spouses and Loved Ones

The Surviving Spouses and Loved Ones program is another innovation of Most Worshipful Edward Gilbert which has drawn huge albeit quiet acclaim. He initiated the program in 2008, chaired by Right Worshipful William Jones, who continues the program today. We are grateful for the opportunity to continue this valuable effort, which is sponsored by the Trustees of the Masonic Hall and Home.

Prince Hall

In 2001, we established Fraternal relations with the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of New York, under the stewardship of Most Worshipful Carl J. Smith. Both Grand Lodges continue to bask in the warm Light that emanates therefrom.

In April I had the great pleasure of traveling to Olean in the Southern Tier with Most Worshipful Dorian R. Glover for an exchange visit between our Enchanted Mountains Lodge No. 252, and Prince Hall’s Master Craftsman Lodge No. 110 and St. John’s Lodge No. 16. It was a long drive, and one of the most pleasant of my Masonic career. Most Worshipful Glover and I enjoyed many hours together, sharing experiences and histories, problems and solutions. In short, we demonstrated what we already knew – that our Brothers want more and greater fraternal relations. We agreed that we would encourage our Lodges to continue exchange visits.

My brothers, there is no reason why you should not be reaching out to your local Prince Hall Lodges. Invite them to your Lodge. Share your programs. Take advantage of that warm Light that comes from Brotherly Love.

Statewide redistricting

There was a time in our history when we had over 1,000 active Lodges in 65 Districts. Today we have about half that, and we still have 60 Districts. We once had about 346,000 Masons, and today we have about 12% of that – and we still have 60 Districts.

There are fewer men within our Districts from which to select our leaders. About 20 years ago, we expanded our District Deputies terms from one year to two, since we had fewer and fewer available Brethren to take on the ominous task. That situation continues unabated.

Accordingly, I have directed our Deputy Grand Master to engage a special committee to study the concept of a general reunification of our Districts into a more administratively streamlined structure, consistent with the general downsizing of our membership and Lodges.

Audit Committee

As we have fewer members, we must do more with less. Adjusting to these new realities means that proper financial management is more important than ever. If mismanaged, the various tax and accounting considerations can become obstacles to our mission and goals. To that end, I have established a special Grand Lodge Audit Committee. The committee is chaired by retired New York MTA Inspector General Right Worshipful Bernard Rashes. The committee is authorized to review financial and procedural activities of the Grand Lodge, with an aim of transparency and mitigating risk. This is a new endeavor for Grand Lodge, and we will adjust as necessary to reduce waste and increase efficiency.

General Committee changes

Many of our committees are top-heavy with highly talented Craftsmen, who have labored long in the quarries. Our younger Craftsmen are benefitting from their work. It is time to give them the opportunities to hone their own skills, and we will be adjusting the composition of our committees. It is time for new energy and refreshed ideas. That means new faces on our committees.

None of our veteran committeemen should ever feel as if they are being pushed aside. To the contrary, they have lead us to the great places we now find ourselves. Leadership succession is an essential element of any organization. Indeed, among the first instructions we give our new District Deputy Grand Masters is to “find your successor.” I personally thank each of our Committeemen for their contributions, and trust that they will pass the torch and mentor their successor, so that we may all benefit with even greater achievements.

Lewis Jewel

The relationship between Masonic Brothers is very important. But the relationship between a Father and a son who are also Masonic Brothers is extraordinary. I can think of no bond stronger.

The Lewis is a tool operative Masons use to move very heavy stones, and is very strong. The Lewis of speculative Freemasons denotes the relationship of a father and son – which is also very strong. The Lewis jewel is authorized to be worn in a number of Grand Jurisdictions, notably Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Delaware, United Grand Lodge of England and others. I am authorizing the wearing of this jewel by New York Masons. If your step-father or father-in-law is the Masonic influence in your life, you may also wear the jewel. Additional details and how to acquire the jewel are on our web site.

Minimum Age for Petitioning

In 1968 there were just nine jurisdictions in North America with age minimums lower than 21. Today there are 38. The Grand Lodge of New York is in the minority; we are following rather than leading. During my Town Hall meetings over the past two years, you spoke loudly that you wanted to revisit the topic and study it again. I have commissioned a Special Committee to examine the topic of lowering our minimum age to petition.

Notwithstanding any recommendations, it is wise to remind both the sponsoring brother and the investigating committee that it is their task to diligently maintain the integrity of our membership by guarding the Inner Door. The Charge to the Worshipful Master on his Installation is very clear: “It is better that no workmen be added to the roll than one unworthy be permitted to cross the threshold of the Lodge.” Look well to the East, my Brothers. Look well to the East.

Closing Remarks

In closing, I give thanks to all our Past Grand Masters, especially Most Worshipful Trosin, who gave me my first opportunities to serve our Grand Lodge, and who continually encourages and counsels me.

I reflect that our Grand Lodge is emerging from a decade of divisiveness. For the past two years, Grand Master Sullivan and I have worked together tirelessly on various issues in front of us. Some of the concerns were very challenging. But in every respect, Most Worshipful Sullivan worked in earnest to prepare me for the work ahead of us. During his term, he counseled us all that we must avoid private piques and quarrels, and learn to like each other.

Indeed. Brethren, a lot of our problems would disappear if we talked more WITH each other, instead of talking ABOUT each other.

There comes a time in your life, when you walk away from all the drama and the people who create it. You surround yourself with people who make you laugh. Forget the bad, and focus on the good. Love the people who treat you right, pray for the ones who don’t. Life is too short to be anything but happy. Falling down is a part of life, and getting back up is living.

Poem: The Builder

I conclude with a short verse the epitomizes my own philosophy of our work as Craftsmen:

I saw them tearing a building down -
A team of men in my hometown.
With a heave and a ho, and a lusty yell,
They swung a beam and a sidewall fell.

I said to the foreman, “Are these men
skilled like the ones you’d use if you had to build?”

And he laughed and said, “Oh no, indeed!
The most common labor is all I need,
For I can destroy in a day or two
What takes a builder years to do.”

So I thought to myself as I went on my way,
Which one of these roles am I willing to
play?

Am I one who tears things down
As I carelessly make my way around?
Or am I one who builds with care,
to make the world better… because I was
there?

{José N. Harris}

Epilogue

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! {Psalm 133}

GOD Bless each of you and your families. GOD Bless the past, present and future men and woman who are serving our great nation.

GOD Bless our beautiful Fraternity and may God Bless America.

Fraternally,
MW William J. Thomas
Grand Master

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