Monday, July 9, 2018

Pie, Coffee and a Side of Education

Pie, Coffee and a Side of Education
By Tom Hendrickson-PGM Grand Chapter Education Officer
Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of Minnesota

The Royal Arch is faced with new challenges today. We find young men standing at our door step, knocking at our door, that are seeking enlightenment, education, spiritual growth and meaningful experiences. So, we Royal Arch Masons in Minnesota have adopted a method for learning and exploring used by Thomas Edison, the inventor of the electric light bulb.  You see, if it was not for pie, coffee and inspiration we may still be living in the “dark” ages. More on that later.
The young men exploring masonry today are better informed about the craft than some of our current members. They have searched the World Wide Web and mined the vast information that is available there. They watch the History Channel and have seen the countless shows about Freemasonry. They have read books written by Dan Brown and or “Freemasons for Dummies”. These men come to us with a lot of information, some of it accurate, some of it not so accurate, and it behooves us to direct and educate these young men about the true concepts for Freemasonry.
These men also come to us with a hunger to seek further light and enlightenment. We Royal Arch Masons must be ready for that challenge and be ready to help lead them and help them find that which they are seeking. If we wish to attract and retain these men we must have more to offer them than a once a year pancake breakfast, poorly read ritual work, a boring business meeting and another dues card to put in their wallet.  
Our source material or curriculum has always come from our Ritual. Our Ritual is important, it offers lessons so a Companion can lead a life that is rich and fulfilling. The Ritual is the vehicle that can be used to install our principals into the hearts of men. However, the words of the Ritual alone, are not enough. It is the meaning of those words that will lead men to live the Ritual’s teachings. Studying the rich history and symbolism of the Ritual is essential to the understanding “behind” the words. It is a treasure trove of symbols and analogies that are worthy of introspection and mediation. Finally, the words contain profound truths and a unique perspective on life for those who are willing to make the conscious effort to uncover them.
I believe, that we , need to consider changing the format that is usually used to present the educational material. For eons, there have been lectures during our meetings to educate on the Ritual. The problem is that the lecture format is passive learning and doesn’t engage the listener. Proof of this can be seen when you look around the Chapter and you can count the number of Companions sleeping or the number you hear snoring.
We need to create a learning experience that engages the listener and makes education a more interactive experience. The lectures can be changed into discussions where the listener as well as the presenter become partners in the journey of knowledge acquisition and sharing.
A concept we in Minnesota have adopted, is that we hold our regularly scheduled business meeting and then have the educational event after. We move the tables into a circle and serve pie and coffee. As soon as the last person is seated the presentation of points in the Ritual or its esoterica begins and discussion commences.   So far, the results of this type of leaning has been very positive for us.
First, education is a planned event for every meeting. Second, the discussions last twice as long as our lectures did, signaling much more engagement. Third, attendance is better and new Companions keep coming back.  Most importantly, no one is sleeping for they are actively listening, discussing along with earing their pie and coffee.  In fact, one night a Chapter even served four different kinds of pie. That caffeine-sugar induced buzz created one of the liveliest discussions I had ever heard on Belshazzar’s feast.
Last year the Minnesota Royal Arch Masons began focusing on Chapter Education very seriously and have been working diligently developing layers of interactive learning opportunities for Chapters. First, the office of Grand Chapter Education Officer was created and made a part of the official Grand Line. Our goal or learning objective is for every Chapter to create an environment in which the Ritual and esoterica are performed, read, and discussed at every meeting. It’s that simple.
To aid this process, we have created a number programs to stimulate interactive learning.  I created a program that I present to the Chapters called the “The Royal Arch Game Show”.  I have traveled to various Chapters presenting this interactive session which is a parody of a 1970’s television game show. The twist is, that there are questions asked are from five categories; General Royal Arch Trivia, The Mark Master, Past Master, Most Excellent, and the Royal Arch. It’s fun, entertaining, and interactive plus there are even a few prizes.
Another program developed is called Royal Arch 101. It is a series of written education supplements mailed to the Chapters to be utilized during Chapter Meetings. This program focuses on the basics that are useful for new members but a good reminder for those of us that have been around for a while.  This material can be used to supplement and assist out state Chapters to enhance their education efforts.
Our Grand Lecturer, Chris Wendover, has implemented a School of Instruction that is totally different from what you may have seen before. We select a degree and then talk and walk thru it in detail. Action is periodically stopped, so that and details and certain aspects of many of the esoterica meanings within the degree can be discussed. This way action is “stopped” and there is time to answer questions on the how and why of things are happening during that degree. These sessions have been held at various Chapters across the state of Minnesota.
We also are trying to take full advantage of the Royal Arch Mason Magazine Supplement to promote education. Each quarter Minnesota has eight pages that we can devote to communicating with our members and providing educational opportunities.
Lastly, we developed a York Rite Mentor and Advanced Studies Program. We developed a Study Guide consisting of 25 to 35 questions for each of the degrees in the Royal Arch, Cryptic Council and Commandery. There is also a Quest Book for each degree. These are available to members on a password protected page of the Minnesota York Rite web site. We are encouraging the Chapter Secretaries to assign a mentor for each new Companion, utilize the Quest books and to go thru the Study guides together and work at answering the questions.
This study guide model serves two purposes. If the new Companion can understand all the questions then he should have a very firm grasp of all of the knowledge of the degrees. Second, the Companion is then prepared to tackle the Companion Adept of the Temple that is made available by the York Rite Sovereign College. We are planning to host a study group in the fall of 2018, to help our Companions navigate thru the course, while insisting the work must be their own.
More esoterica papers will be appearing this year as we continue our efforts. This is cutting edge stuff for Minnesota.
So how does Thomas Edison come into all of this? Mr. Edison would spend on the average of 16 hours a day working while creating his inventions. Many times he would lock himself away in his laboratory and not come out for days at a time. It is reported, he subsisted on apple pie and coffee while working on his projects.
If Thomas Edison could invent such a ground breaking items such as the light bulb, while living on pie and coffee, just think we Royal Arch Masons can do with some pie, coffee a side of masonic education? 

Saturday, May 26, 2018

York Rite Educational Program

York Rite Mentor and Advanced Studies Program
Thomas Hendrickson-Chair
R. James Luchsinger
Ryan Regnier

Every so often the right people, with the right attitude, with the right vision, with the right knowledge, with the right passion, with the right motivation and right energy come together in a seamless fashion that produce the right results.
Our first meeting was in St. Cloud one evening during the Grand York Rite Session 2017. That one hour conversation took place in a hotel corridor. In the span of that one hour we created a shared vision, and determined we had the right stuff to create a educational program for the entire Minnesota York Rite. Something that has never been done before.
We were fully conscious that this was going to be a daunting and monstrous task that could take an entire year to produce. We understood that it would take hours of burning the midnight oil to keep the pace needed. We were sensitive enough to understand that we would need to remain motivated and encourage each other to stay on task.
That is how the York Rite Mentor and Advanced Studies Program was conceived, and its now ready to use. The program was designed to help you obtain a greater understanding and a deeper appreciation  of all the Degrees, and Orders in the York Rite.
Freemasonry is to Make Good Men Better. If we are to become better we have to study and understand its teaching and apply those lessons to our lives. In the Blue Lodge we are required to “prove up” before the Master as well as demonstrate our knowledge, and dedication to the Craft. But, we as Royal Arch Masons have a higher responsibility to “ disperse”  light and truth to the uninformed Mason. We are also tasked to study and acquire knowledge so we can perform that task.
The York Rite Mentor and Advanced Studies Program is not a test of your memory skills. It is, however,  a test of your willingness to seek out knowledge and improve yourself in Masonry.
It is our overall intent to provide a self-paced program that will walk you through all the various aspects of each of the Degrees and Orders. You will encounter some questions that will require you to think, ponder and do some soul searching because of their esoteric nature. But when you can complete all the questions in that particular degree you will have a very firm grasp of the knowledge of that degree.
The program is in the form of question and answer using multiple choice, fill in the blank, and true-false.
You will need your ritual and manual for the tests. The information booklets like the Quest books will be on line for you to use to assist you. Feel free to use materials in your Masonic Library, on line or your Mentor.
If your Chapter, Council or Commandery is looking for a great Education program we highly recommend you print out the questions and use them in a group discussion. It will be an evening where everyone will learn something. Caution…some of the questions may require you to think, and you may have to find your ritual or use the one on-line.
Some of the R.A.M. Chapter Secretaries are printing them out, and giving them to the new candidates as they progress thru the degrees as a learning tool.
I am please to report to you that this is cutting edge stuff. We have been informed by General Grand Chapter that this is the first on line program like this. We have had four or five calls from other Grand Chapters wanting to see what we have done. There is a buzz about our program.
Our work for this year is done. If you wish to accept the challenge to improve yourself in Masonry now your work lays before you. All you have to do is go to go to Chapter, Council, or Commandery find the Resource page, log on and work through the pages.
If we at the York Rite Education Committee can help you in your further search for More Light in Freemasonry always feel free to call upon us.

Respectfully Submitted
Thomas E. Hendrickson-PGM and Grand Chapter Education Officer

PS If you think this is good, We have bigger plans for next year!

Friday, April 20, 2018

Royal Arch School of Instruction

This is the first time in a couple of decades that Schools of Instructions have been held. Except the way its being done is not what you may experience in your Blue Lodges. Instead of practicing the degree to perfection. We are going thru the degrees and explaining and going over the esoteric meanings as well. This approach brings forth the light.

Monday, April 16, 2018

165th Annual Grand Lodge of Minnesota Annual Communication

If you missed the 165th Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota,you really missed out. Minnesota Masonic Charities were giving away free snow scrappers. The timing was perfect since we were in the midst of a Blizzard, with snow accumulation of 13.6 inches making diffcult driving conditions for all those traveling. 
This was our first year at the Minnesota Masonic Heritage Center in Bloomington Minnesota. It was a very nice location for us. 
I had the great honor and privilege of conducting the Installation of Officers for 2018-2019. The Most Worshipful Grand Master Edward R. Halpaus was my appointee during my term of office.
The ceremony was shortened due to the blizzard, but it was a wonderful event. 
Those free snow scrappers got alot of use out in the parking lot afterwards. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Masonic Symposium St. Cloud Minnestoa

       Rex,Sean and Art are coming to Minnesota April 28th, and this is an opportunity you don't want to miss.

  Personally I know the works of Arturo de Hoyos, and Rex Hutchens. For I have spent most evenings for the past two years studying their works. I have also had the greatest of pleasures to have met both of them. Art is the recipient of the  Duane E. Anderson Excellence in Masonic Education Award from the Grand Lodge of Minnesota in 2011. I had the honor to presented the same award to Rex in 2012.

It should be a day of first class masonic education, and great discussions, and of course Brotherhood.

But leave it to Helios Lodge #273 to be able to put this all together. They are not just a little lodge that has one of the biggest Masonic Libraries in the state. The Brothers live after their Lodges name...Helios which means Light.

So save the date, and I encourage to attend. Please call Worshipful Master of Helios Lodge       Andrew Barrett 612-709-7603 to reserve your place. Just click on the image to expand the view to see the days activities.
 Oh did I mention that they are providing lunch?  I hope to see you in St. Cloud.

It will be great to hear if Rex bought a new Bike, and  how Arts shooting is coming along.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Masons at Sea

Just a few days ago I was sitting in the solarium on the Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas. I was drinking coffee and writing an outline for a Royal Arch education program. As I was twirling my pen searching for a better word to use I gazed around the ship. My eyes came upon a gentleman near me reading. Being a lover of books, and a hellacious reader I was wondering what book he was reading.
As I took a closer look I realized it was " Capitular Development Course by Piers Vaughan.
 I walked over to him and said " Brother is that Piers Vaughan book? I then introduced myself, and we shook hands. Meet Richard Petty the Right Excellent Grand King of the Royal Arch Masons ot Tennessee.Him and his wife were on vacation, and Richard was getting caught up on his reading.
If tradition prevails Richard will be elected as Grand High Priest in less than a month.
During the cruise we had a several conversations and of course they were all about our favorite subject...The Craft.
Also on the cruise I met a group of Brothers from Franklin Tennessee. They had brought their newest Entered Apprentice and one of their goals was to help him learn his ritual. I thought that was a great idea. 


Monday, March 5, 2018

A Little Vacation reading

I always travel with a Ritual when I go on vacation. Yesterday I just returned from a week long cruise from the lower Caribbean. There is nothing more relaxing than sitting on the beach or on a ship contemplating the esoteric meanings of our Rituals. Its those trips that seem to charge my batteries, and inspire me to write a paper or an education piece.
It was my intent to write an article for Commandery and to study it further.My Royal Arch manual has been to two different continents, and eight different countries with me.
I was very surprised when I pulled out both my copies of the Royal Arch Manual that morning. I have all my Rituals on one shelf. I meant to grab my Commandery Manual and my Royal Arch.
 But I did manage to write a very nice education piece, and I also started an outline for a book.
So traveling does have its many benefits.