Thursday, February 20, 2020

Owatonna-Austin Minnesota York Rite Get Together

Generally speaking Freemasonry in our state is decreasing in size, and our York Rite is to no acception. In the past decade the population in our smaller communities, and rural areas have decreased as well. Throw in the aging population in the equation and there is a problem to having thriving Lodges, and effective York Rites.

There are a few people (myself included) who saw the problem, and working with other Companions and Sir Knights to develop a plan to get over those obstacles.

The Owatonna and Austin York Rite have come together for a monthly social event, and to assist each other with degree work. This photo is the second such monthly event. Positive things are already occurring from it. One of those Brothers pictured is a potential candidate. There was discussion that at our next meeting three more perspective York Rite Candidates will be invited to join us. Seventeen came for dinner. Plans for this quarterly business meeting will be for a full form ritualistic opening. Something that has not been seen in these parts for sometime.

To make changes, all is needed is a little thinking out of the ordinary, having the courage to try something  different. a little communication and finding a comfortable place with great food.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Minnesota Grand Commandery Selects Pastor to Attend Holy Land Pilgrimage

Pastor Karl Jacobson with members of the Minnesota Grand Commandery

Holy Land Pilgrimage 2020

The Minnesota Grand Commandery is proud to announce that it has selected a Pastor to attend the 2020 Knights Templar Holy Land Pilgrimage. Reverend Dr. Karl Jacobson of the Good Shepard Lutheran Church, located at 4801 France Ave. Edina, Minnesota is the Pastor chosen for 2020. Karl graduated from St. Olaf College in 1996 and was then accepted at Luther Seminary graduating with a master’s in divinity in 1996. He has subsequently served congregations in California, Virginia and Minnesota.

Karl took a break from parish work and returned to school to obtain a doctorate in theology to undergo a more in-depth study of Gods Word. Karl then taught Religion and the Bible at Augsburg College for six years. He currently serves as the Senior Pastor of the Good Shepard Lutheran Church. 

Karl is married to Angela (who is also a Pastor) and they have five children. In his free time, he enjoys reading, golf, tennis, and watching the Vikings (and simultaneously despising the Packers). Karl is also a published author and he has written many books, written commentaries on Biblical topics, and blogs about the Bible and popular culture.

Pastor Jacobson is very excited to have been selected for the Holy land Pilgrimage. He stated, “I know the gospel and the other biblical stories well, but to walk them, to be in the physical locale will I believe enrich them for me and for my teachings.” He is looking forward to having the opportunity to make a presentation, upon his return, to the Sir Knights of our Grand Commandery.

The Knights Templar Holy land Pilgrimage for Christian Ministers is a program that has been offered from Grand Encampment since 1977. The purpose is to provide an intensive educational and spiritual study with a historical and cultural immersion experience. Sir Knight Tom Hendrickson, who traveled to Israel in 2017 for the same pilgrimage stated, “it’s easy to see why a Pastor who has had the opportunity to walk where Jesus walked, to see the landscapes, to place your hand on the Wailing wall in old Jerusalem, to hear the sounds and see the cultures of the people will gain much that will have a positive effect on the Pastors spirituality, and in his teaching and preaching to his congregations”
The Knights Templar have sent over 3,000 ministers on the pilgrimage over the last 40 years. The Minnesota Grand Commandery has sponsored four Pilgrimage Ministers since 2010. The Grand Commandery has a dedicated fund for the purpose of sponsoring a Minister for which they hold an annual fundraiser to raise funds. The cost of the pilgrimage is approximately $3,400, which includes round trip air travel from JFK airport to Tel Aviv Israel, all lodging, meals, transportation, tour guide, travel Insurance as well as other associated expenses.

For 2020, Zion Commandery has generously provided Pastor Jacobson with additional funds that will assist him with the cost of air travel from Minneapolis to JFK airport in New York city.

If a Commandery would like to sponsor a Minister for next year’s trip please see the requirements on the Holy Land Pilgrimage website and send a recommendation to the Minnesota Grand Commandery Grand Recorder.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Thanks for Lunch Bob

Special Masonic Lunch-Thanks Bob
Those of you who are Freemasons know that we enjoy good food and Brotherhood. You are probably wondering what could be so special about this photograph of a plate of food and why is it so important to write about it. That's easy, "Bob bought us Lunch'. Now here is the rest of the story...

In Freemasonry we develop long term relationships with members that can last well over half a century or longer. This is a short story about Robert John Pemberton, a Masonic Brother who I have known since the Fall of 2008 when he was raised a Master Mason.

Bob was an active Mason, but I spent most of the time with him in our York Rite (Chapter,Council, Commandery). Two nights a month we would have dinner at our Rite. I always made sure that I sat next to Bob for I found him to be a wonderful conversationalist, plus he really cared about people.

Bob was like a loaf of fresh French Bread. Hard and crusty on the outside, warm and soft on the inside. Those who didn't know him so well may have thought him a curmudgeon.

I have always believed that our personalities are made up of our life experiences and how those experiences shape us. I think that was true of Bob as well. Bob and I shared the experience of being Veterans. That experience that we shared and gave more insight to each other. Bob served in the Navy, a real Blue Water Sailor his whole tour was spent on a Replenishment Oiler. This is a ship that carries tens of thousands of gallons of aviation fuel, diesel  and other highly combustible fuels. His ship would replenish air craft carriers and other ships at sea. Bob said it was a task that required you to perform in hazardous heavy seas. You had to follow the simple rules or you could have a disaster. The kind of disaster that you did not get a do over. I think this is why Bob had great difficulty accepting peoples bad behavior or inability to follow the simplest of tasks, like not using your turn signal when driving, people using cellular phone while driving and bicyclists  on freeways just to name a few.

Another of Bobs life experiences that gave me great perspective about him was that he was a proud graduate of the University of Michigan, He also identified closely with his Finnish heritage. He had a successful career in the Risk Management business. He always had a hug smile when he talked about his kids.

One day Bob said that he was thinking of going to a summer camp to work on his understanding of the Finnish language. At first I was very supportive, and informed him of all the benefits to immersing into that language environment. Then I changed course and gave him a hard time about going to a summer camp with twelve year olds. Bob tried to calmly inform me that this language camp had an adult only week. I then proceeded  to kid him about summer camp romance sitting around the campfire flirting in Finnish with women half his age. We had a good laugh.

Bob had a series of serious health issues for awhile. We had kept in touch as he progressed thru them and when Bob would come to our meetings I was glad to see his improvements and his health becoming restored.

About six or seven months ago Bob said that he had a pretty busy day with an appointment. Now Bob always had an appointment during his day, so it was nothing unusual. Usually he would share information he received when visiting with his investment counselors, his tax accountant, or while attending one of his professional associations that had a speaker. It was always some kind of information that I could use or something that may make me think in my own affairs.
Except that night Bob said that he had just prepaid for his funeral! I said "Bob, I thought you were ok"?  Bob replied "oh ya Tom I'm fine" but there are a lot of advantages of doing this and then Bob gave all the benefits and disadvantages of planning early and how it all worked.  Just like he was explaining the new tax law or the Governors screwed up transportation bill.

When Bob had finished I said " Bob, are you really ok"? Bob explained he wanted to do this so his kids wouldn't have to go thru that experience and expense when that day comes.

Then Bob said "Tom you gotta to come to my funeral, I got a great lunch planned for you guys". Tom you like Hawaiian Rolls and Cheesy potatoes"?  I said "Ya Bob, I love them". Bob said "You think most of the guys will like that?" I replied "Bob, whats not to like"? Then we both laughed.

Bob was not feeling well and went to the hospital on December 21, 2019. He unexpectedly passed away on December 23, 2019. Today, January 18, 2020, the family held Bob's funeral and the Brothers of Minnehaha and Phoenix Day Light held the Masonic Service.

Today, Bob bought me and his Masonic Brothers that he loved lunch.

Thanks for lunch Bob, and for all the time we shared on this earth together. It meant alot to me.

Robert John Pemberton
March 27, 1940
Flint, Michigan

December 23, 2019

Memorial Service
Washburn-McReavy Eden Prairie, Minnesota

W.B.Wiley Smith
Pastor Paul Nelson

Fort Snelling National Cemetery
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Monday, December 30, 2019

Allied Masonic Degrees

Minnesota Council # 111 Allied Masonic Degrees

This is the Annual Meeting of the Minnesota Council #111 Allied Masonic Degrees. We are located in Minneapolis Minnesota. Our group is a invitational body that is  limited to 27 members. We meet four times a year for the purpose of researching and studying what is called "Detached Degrees" That is simply Degrees that were once conferred by Craft Lodges in the United States and Great Britain that are no longer practiced.There are Seventeen Degrees that are the focus of our study and research. 

There are many benefits to this type of formation of a group. I find that people who are genuinely interested in the study of old rituals come prepared to part take in sharing their thoughts of their study and research.The discussions are very lively and all take an active role. 

I am so interested I also belong to Johnny Nelson Council #252 Allied Masonic Degrees which is located in Owatonna, Minnesota. Belonging to two Councils allows me to go to eight meetings a year. 

Tonight seventeen of our members showed up on a very snowy and windy Minnesota Winter night. We all knew that the roads were filled with ice, snow, and traffic would be slow and snarly. To us that's a cheap price to pay for an evening of great food, brotherly love, and  intellectual stimulation. 

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Minnesota Newest Royal Arch Chapter-Seeking Further Light

We ventured North last night to Hibbing MN. It was a special night to attend the first meeting of Bemidji Royal Arch Chapter #70.
There will be a name change for this Chapter coming in the very near future to reflect their true mission. It will change to Iron Range Chapter #70. This is a traveling Chapter that will move throughout the year to towns and cities spread out across the far Northern section of Minnesota we call the Iron Range.
We are very proud of all of them for their motivation to Seek Further Light in Freemasonry
It was nice the weather cooperated when I arrived for it warmed up to zero degrees.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

There has been a death in the Family

There has been a Death in the Family
Death Notices of a Commandery

By Tom Hendrickson-Past Grand Master Grand Lodge of Minnesota

Today, I had to assume the role of a Mortician-Funeral Director. It’s a job that I never wanted to do, as I don’t much like anything about funerals, nevertheless it is a job that had to be done.
Today’s funeral is a simple yet very sad event. There are no beautiful flower arrangements to set up. There is no organist or piano players to contact nor any special songs to be selected. No Clergy or program to worry about. No hearse or funeral coach to wash and wax. No need to make sure that the boxes of tissues are strategically placed, and no coffee to make.
The lid of the coffin had been closed and sealed ahead of my arrival. Really, all that is left for me is to do is to make a few calls, to provide comfort and council and mail out the death notice.
This death that I speak of is not the death of a human being, but instead the death of a Masonic organization, Constantine Commandery #20 of the Grand Commandery of Knights Templar of Minnesota.
Its demise came to no great surprise as it had suffered from a long lingering illness of declining membership. The closing of Constantine Commandery is an end of an era, it had a good life, nevertheless, you mourn its loss.
Out of respect I would like to take a moment to eulogize to honor those who started Constantine Commandery and sustained it through the years.
The Commandery Story Here…………….

On October 1, 1887, Grand Commander Thomas Montgomery issued a dispensation to eleven Sir Knights who had requested to open and work a Commandery of Knights Templar at Crookston, Polk County Minnesota.
Their petition was recommended by the nearest Commandery, Palestine, #14 at Fergus Falls, one hundred and ten miles away.
Grand Commander Montgomery appointed Thomas C. Shapleigh as E.C. Sidney F. Markham as G, and Charles H. Mix as C.G.
The only concern of the Grand Commander was that he would be unable to visit due to Crookston was three hundred and fifty miles from his home in St. Paul, Minnesota.

This new Commandery in Crookston Minnesota became known as Constantine Commandery #14. In their first year they quickly grew to twenty-four Sir Knights. These men were among the pioneers to that far Northwest corner of Minnesota. They were Farmers, Craftsmen, Business Owners, and Venture Capitalists. Looking into the history books I can see that they had a willingness to endure hardship in order to explore new places or try new things. They had a shared vision of developing a community that would grow with human social and cultural development. Organization would be needed to bring industry and government. They were civic minded. They built churches, created a cemetery, established a fire department. Many went on to become Mayor and a few to become State Senators.

Here are a few who have interesting stories to be told.
Tom Morris
Was the Mayor of Crookston, businessman, Past Grand Master of Minnesota Masons 1906, Past Grand High Priest of Royal Arch Masons, and Grand Commander Knights Templar 1918.

Edmund M. Walsh
A Tinsmith by trade, a member of the City Council, Mayor of Crookston, County Auditor, Clerk of Court, and organized the first telephone company to serve the region.

Andrew D. Stephens
Engaged in Real Estate, he started his own Bank. He was so successful he went on to owning six other banks in the region with one in Minneapolis. He served two terms as Mayor and was elected to the Minnesota State Senate where he served two terms.

Charles Henry Mix
He came to Minnesota in 1852. He worked as a clerk at the Winnebago Agency at Long Prairie. In 1854 he was a Secretary to the Territorial Governor, Willis Gorman. From 1855-1861 he was a trader and Agent to the Winnebago Indians at Blue Earth Agency.
In 1862 he enlisted in Company A, First Independent Battalion Minnesota Volunteer Calvary to participate in the U.S.-Dakota War. He was stationed at Pembina and Commandant of Fort Abercrombie Dakota Territory in 1864.
He moved to Crookston and his remaining years of his career was with the railroad St. Paul-Minneapolis-Manitoba Line. He became Mayor in 1905.
Charles Mix took a very active role in the Commandery.  He was the third person to sign the petition for the formation of the new Commandery.  He was the Commander from 1890 to 1893 and again in 1903. He was the Generalissimo in 1889 and the Captain General from 1901 to 1902 and again from 1904 to 1909.  He died while in office on December 15, 1909.
His Knight Templar Sword and Scabbard have been preserved and may be viewed at the Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul.

Thru the years Constantine continued to grow and was very active.  It did better than most Masonic bodies during the economic depression and during WW I.  Surprisingly, they knighted twenty new Sir Knights in 1943 during WWII.

 The last Commander was Leo Luettjohann. Leo stated that in the 1990s the Commandery was very busy. They hosted an annual Christmas Observance that was attended by the Commanderies from Thief River Falls and Fergus Falls. The Sir Knights always brought their ladies. The dinner must have been an elegant affair with the Sir Knights in uniform and the ladies in their fancy dresses and gowns.
The Sir Knights enjoyed practicing receiving the Grand Commander and Officers on their official visits.
The Commandery was very active in raising funds and sending the local Pastors on the Holy land Pilgrimage.

One of Crookston’s Commandery prized possession is on display in the Masonic Lodge. It is the Officer Jewels for the Constantine Officers made by Tom Morris. Tom was a pioneer to the area, and a Charter member of the Commandery. He became the Grand Master of Minnesota Masons in 1906, Grand High Priest of Royal Arch Masons, and Grand Commander of Knights Templar Minnesota 1918.  He started a jewelry business in Crookston. Today if you go to where his store used to be. You will find it to be an Attorney’s office. When you walk in you will see a black and white checkerboard floor with the name Morris inlaid.

Crookston is a community that is in the far Northwest corner of Minnesota that’s only 25 miles from Grand Forks North Dakota, and one hundred miles from the Canadian border. 1960 was the start of a declining era for the region. The major economy was agriculture, and most people earned their living directly or indirectly from agriculture. The young people have left the area seeking careers and well-paying job in larger communities, leaving an aging population. A telephone interview with the Publisher of the “Crookston Times” the regions daily newspaper, Don Forney, confirmed this “Ya that’s pretty much right. The Baby Boomers either went off to war or college and found good jobs and didn’t come back. There was only a few that came back to farm.”

My analogy is that a Lodge, Chapter, Commandery or any Masonic Body is like a living thing, it has a life of its own that has a life process. This is a process of inception, growth and in due time death. Masonic organizations may have different life spans so one lodge may live for 200 to 300 years while another may only last for 25 to 50 years. Generally, the Lodge or Masonic body will experience its birth, a period of growth, a period of stabilization, and then a period of declining membership that can lead to its demise. The time frame for this process is uniquely different for each case. Generally, it happens when lodge or Masonic body loses its purpose and/or loses those two or three “spark plugs” who can attract new members and generate interest that encourages the existing members to attend.

Constantine Commanderies demise was due to aging membership, members who left the town to be closer to relatives in distance cities or that members left the state. Those who did remained had health issues or a spouse who had health issues or they could not drive to the meetings any longer.  Some just lost interest due to years of inactivity.

What makes this eulogy sadder is that Constantine is not an isolated case. There are many lodges, Chapters, Councils or Commanderies that are in similar situations and are struggling to even hold a meeting.
Every member who stops coming to a meeting, every member who demits, every member who doesn’t pay their dues, is another precious drop of blood of the organization that is wasted. Eventually the organization is another drop closer to death. The life’s blood of any Masonic organization is its membership.

If you love your masonic organizations and value your membership the best thing you can do is to help them continue. Find a good candidate to join but then make them feel welcome and get them engaged. Help him learn and accept our ways. Every new member is a new transfusion of life into your organization.

If not, I guess you can give me a call. I can help you prepare the death notice and write the obituary. I know it’s not a job anyone wants to do, but if we do not make positive changes regarding membership, it may be something that the rest of us may have to do.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Anoka Masonic Lodge Installation of Officers 2019

2019 Installation of Officer

On December 7, 2019 Brian K. Dimatteo shared the tradition with the past 133rd men of distinction who had the privilege of being installed as Worshipful Master of Anoka Lodge. Anoka Lodge was chartered October 25th, 1859. They are celebrating 160 years of continuous service to Freemasonry with its 275 members.

Anoka Lodge is a very full and vibrant Masonic Lodge. They host a full slate of Masonic Bodies.
The full York Rite, Grotto, Zuhrah Shrine Club, Widows Sons Masonic M/C Chapter, DeMolay, Jobs Daughters, and an awarding winning Masonic Bar B Q Club called the Bones Brothers. 

My Brother and Friend
I'm not going to list Brians Masonic Resume for a couple of reasons. I don't want to bore you, and I don't think Bryan's wife knows of all those Dues Cards. I can say he is a busy guy who "holds the keys to the heart of man and interested in the welfare of each and all" Need I say more?
Brian is currently serving as the Right Eminet Grand Commander of the Grand Commandery of Knights Templar of Minnesota. He brings a level of great skills and wisdom that is moving us forward as a organization.
He is also a very proud father for his daughter is Gabbi Dimatteo the Supreme Bethel Honored Queen of Jobs Daughters.He is also very busy trying to track her in her world travels. And trying to figure out when he needs to be at the airport on time.
My first trip with Brian was a car trip to Indianapolis Indiana for the Grand Encampment Triennial. It was a trip of great conversation while listening to Serius Radio listening to Broadway Show Tunes. Time that I will always cherish.
Anoka Lodge is a great Lodge with a great Leader.