Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Change has come to Minnesota York Rite

 In Minnesota we are trying different things to increase membership,and add to the quality of programming to our York Rites.
Owatonna York Rite has taken a bold step this evening. They met with Austin York Rite for a evening of Brotherly Love and talk about coordinating events. These two York Rites are about forty miles apart from each other. 

Their story is a very similar story to Masonic Bodies located far from the metropolitan areas. Owatonna, and Austin are smaller cities that are located in rural areas. Their Chapters, Councils,Commanderies have been absorbing other York Rites that were based in small rural communities who cannot sustain themselves any longer. Their area of service has been greatly expanded covering a vast area in South Central Minnesota.  

Tonight thirteen leaders met to discuss membership, coordination of Degree work, and social activities.There would of been three more Companions to join us, but they were involved in a traffic accident. The car they were in was driving on a rural county road had struck a farm tractor that was hauling two wagons filled with corn.The tractor did not have any lights displayed on this dark night. The car was totaled and one went to the hospital. 

The meeting was very successful, the conversation was lively and the daily special of Walleyed Pike was great. Ya see there are benefits to having the courage to do something new and try to make positive changes to improve Freemasonry.

I said Changes, NOT Innovation....ha

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Kevin V. Jones Minnesota Mason Passed to the Celestial Lodge

Kevin V. Jones September 10, 1928-November 14, 2019
We have lost one of our Great Masons in Minnesota. Kevin came from humbled beginnings raised in a loving family. He heard the call of his Country and served in the USAF during the Korean War. He came home from the war and married his sweetheart Betty, raised a beautiful family and they were married for 68 years. He attended college and earned three degrees. Worked hard his whole life, and cared for people in his community.

Kevin found the fraternity, and found it very much compatable with his beliefs and made it a lifetime passion.  He was a 50 year Member, Past Master and Past Chaplain of Itasca Lodge #208 A.F.& A.M. of Grand Rapids, MN. Kevin was a Past Grand High Priest of Royal Arch Masons of Minnesota 1990-1991, Past Grand Illustrious Master of the Grand Council of Royal and Select Masters of Minnesota 2004, York Rite Sovereign College-Order of the Purple Cross 1977, Duluth Commandery#18 Knights Templar, Worthy Patron of the Mesaba Chapter #211 Order of the Eastern Star of Hibbing Minnesota, and the AAD Shrine of Duluth MN, and the North Star Shrine Club of Grand Rapids.

Kevin had a passion for re-building and re-finishing old furniture and antiques. It seemed that there wasn't anything that Kevin couldn't fix. One day a couple had heard about Kevin's cracker jack ability and arrived at his home and stood on his drive way with three boxes of wooden parts. Kevin asked what it was? The couple responded that it was supposed to be a Spinning Wheel that had been in their family for a very long time, but no one knew what it looked like. Kevin accepted it as a challenge. He went to the library and conducted his research.Some time latter  the couple returned, and saw their resurrected spinning wheel and joyously took it home.

Kevin's favorite masonic activity was making and selling cotton candy with the North Shore Shrine Club at the Itasca County Fair." Where he would come home sticky and full of smiles".

Kevin was determined and driven in everything he did during his life. Especially in the way he cared for people, and touched our lives.

Alas My Brother
Grand High Priest 1990-91

Grand Illus. Master 2004

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Brotherly Love Came in the Form of an Umbrella

We in Minnesota Freemasonry have been talking about our Civility Project lately which I think is important.  I want to move this discussion up a notch and talk about one of our tenets of Brotherly Love and maybe get you thinking of what you can do.
  This Autumn on a Sunday afternoon I was walking in downtown Edinburgh Scotland and it was raining very hard.  The sidewalks were bustling with Shoppers carrying bags and families with kids.  You could pick me out of the crowd easily enough for I was the guy under the big American golf umbrella. The street traffic there was heavy with double decker buses, delivery trucks and cars. For survival the pedestrians cross at the intersections with the traffic lights. (unlike back home)
While waiting for the light to change I noticed a woman standing near me in the pouring rain carrying two heavy bags filled with groceries. I moved a foot closer to her and extended my arm to cover her with my umbrella. she set down her two bags and wiped the rain from her face and looked at me, smiled and said thank you.
A block latter at another pedestrian crossing I stood next to a woman who had her adult son by the hand waiting for the light to change. I performed my simple task again. The women’s son looked up at me and in his own special way said thank you.
Just by extending my arm and causing the rain to cease for just a few moments provided a human touch of warmth in the cold autumn rain.
I was walking back to my hotel from the Grand Lodge of Scotland when this all took place. I was a long way from my home and my Lodge in Minnesota. But that doesn't matter does it? For the world is my Lodge. As Freemasons we are to practice our principal tenets of: Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth in our daily lives.
These words said in Lodge must become our actions.
A simple act of kindness can create a moment of connection with another human in a way that we cannot always understand. That act of kindness signals that someone cares about them and their plight or situation.  For a moment their world has changed for the better. Even more significant, you, as the Good Samaritan, may experience a sense of happiness or pride knowing that you may have made a meaningful impact in someone’s life that day.  This may result in more acts of kindness, as kindness can be contagious.
We humans have become so self-absorbed and connected to our cell phones there are days we don’t connect to the world around us.  You may need to look up from your small screen, to see and connect to the world around you to observe that someone may need a helping hand or a kind word.  Then you need to act, however small that may be.  
An act of kindness takes a small effort on our part, yet it pays a huge dividend in our lives and in the lives of the people we touch.  I hope you will consider what simple things that you can do in your daily life to bring relief or kindhearted act or words of encouragement to our fellow man.

“How do we change the world? One random act of kindness at a time”
Morgan Freeman

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Report from the 2019 North Central Grand York Rite Conference

North Central Grand York Rite Conference 2019
Steve Tiner-General Grand Chapter

     The 2019 North Central Grand Conference was held October 22, 2019 at the Best Western Ramkota Hotel in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. This is the annual meeting of the Leadership of the Grand Royal Arch, Grand Cryptic Council, and Grand Commandery for the states that make up the North Central Conference which is Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. The approximately 200 attendees travel from a good-sized geographical area.  The conference is an opportunity for the leadership to gather and attend a daylong meeting within their respectful groups. It’s a day that is filled with information on new programs, workshops, and learning opportunities along with an exchange of information. Of course, there is always time to renew old acquaintances, make new ones, and tell tall tales.
 Many years ago, the Grand Rites saw a need to assist the State Chapters, Councils and Commanderies and developed the Grand York Rite Leadership-Emerging Leaders Program. This course is usually held at the regional conferences held across the U.S. and it has been an annual event for many years at the North Central Conference. As the Leadership meets in their day long meetings the Leadership Course is held down the hall. Here is a little more information about the course.
This training recognizes the need to prepare a core group of leaders for the York Rite, and the Masonic family. The leaders of each Grand Body nominate members of their organization who shows signs of leadership or who they feels would have their existing skills enriched by this training.  The entire training program is provided free of charge to the participant. The program is designed to integrate solid leadership skills with a special emphasis on Masonic teaching, this program promotes classroom interaction and participation. The training consists of three courses. The first explores general leadership concepts, The second course builds upon the concepts gained from the first year, and the third year emphasizes development of communication skills. These courses are offered each year at our Area Conference. Once each of the three courses are completed the successful graduates receive a token indicating that they have satisfactorily completed the program.

I have had many opportunities to talk with those Companions and Sir Knights who have attended and they all have very positive comments and glowing reports about the program.

I have always loved to attend conferences for work or Freemasonry. It’s great to be in a room that is filled with likeminded people who share the love of vocation or the Craft. Being in this magnetized atmosphere reenergizes my enthusiasm. This year being the Grand Recorder for the Grand Commandery of Minnesota I attended the Grand Encampment Knights Templar Conference. I found it to be a very interesting, helpful and stimulating program. Grand Master Jeff Nelson runs a great meeting. I must admit that I did sneak out to go over to the Royal Arch to hear Steve Tiner the General Grand King of the General Grand Chapter. Steve is a wonderful speaker and I enjoyed listening to his message. I also had the opportunity to hear the author Worshipful Brother Russell Herner talk about his book “Cathedrals Built by Masons”. You will hear much more about his book for I am preparing an article that should be posted soon.
For me the most touching or heartfelt moments of any masonic conference is hearing from our fraternities’ charities. It is uplifting to see the work of the researchers and physicians who are working hard towards finding new cures and procedures to help our ailing fellow man. This year we were fortunate to have two very committed and dedicated doctors from two very different fields discuss their cutting-edge work.
Dr. Michael P Murphy from the Cryptic Masons Medical Research Foundation and Professor of Vascular Biology Research at the University of Indiana attended. He presented the Seneca Trials Research, and the use of stem cells to prevent amputations. He also shared his experience on his tour of duty in Iraq in the U.S. Army as a Vascular Surgeon on battle injuries.
Knight Templar Eye Foundation Speaker Bela Anand Apte PhD Cole Eye Institute, Cleveland, Ohio spoke on the “Impact on Pediatric Vision Research”. Dr. Apte also presented material on Retinopathy of Premature Babies, and updates on her current research projects. She also gave a very interesting presentation on the vast number of blindness cases that can be prevented.
My hat is off to all those who have spent many hours in arranging a central location and taking care of all the details in putting together such a fine conference. My thanks for all the speakers who traveled across the country who came to share their important message. My gratitude for all the Masonic Leaders for their dedication and vision to move us in a positive direction.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Minnesota York Rite and the Word" Change"

Minnehaha York Rite and the word “Change”
Tom Hendrickson-PGM

Change is a word that brings discomfort, irritation, torment and pain to some Masons. To other Masons, change is a word that brings to mind freshness, new fashioned notions, the unusual or the out of the ordinary comes to mind.
We at Ark Royal Arch Chapter, Omega Council, and Minneapolis Mounted Commandery (otherwise known as the Minnehaha York Rite) are embarking on making a major change in the way that we meet and in the activities that we do.
We will no longer hold twelve monthly standard business meetings with full ritualist openings and closing. No longer will there be twelve monthly readings of bills and who hasn’t paid their dues.
Our formal meetings will be held four times a year with all the usual Masonic traditions. The other eight months we will be meeting, but that time spent will be doing things. We currently are in the process of deciding what those activities will be. Some ideas that have been mentioned so far are: visiting other York Rite Bodies in the state such as Owatonna or St. Peter and having dinner at one of their local known eateries. Another idea is visiting the Masonic Home and bringing refreshments and as well as fellowship with some of our Brothers. Other ideas are playing Bocce Ball, horseback riding or even throwing axes at a local establishment. Of course, we will always have engaging opportunities to learn more about Freemasonry.
I have been told that sometimes Masonic Meetings have the same feeling as being trapped in a high school detention hall. However, you want to describe it, a bad meeting is a waste of time. Time is our greatest gift, so why waste it.
We held a Waffle breakfast last month and that embarked us on this new way of thinking. We had not held a fund raiser for a very long time and this was a new to us. It was a lot of work but we had a lot of fun doing it.
You may wish to watch the Calendar to see what we are up and if you are so inclined, you may want to join us. Your Minnehaha York Rite is a path to further enlightenment but also a path to worthwhile activities and perhaps having some fun in the process. 

Since writing this story there has been a additional development:

The York Rite of Owatonna, Minnesota (which is pictured above) has also been making changes in the way that they meet, and are currently undergoing changes in  their activities very similar to Minnehaha York Rite. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Veterans Day 2019

     On this Veterans Day, let us remember the service of our veterans, and let us renew our national promise to fulfill our sacred obligations to our veterans and their families who have sacrificed so much so that we can live free.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Minnesota Cryptic Council 150 Anniversary

     The Grand Council of Cryptic Masons of Minnesota celebrated its 150th Anniversary on August 25th at the Minnesota Masonic Home.
     It was an intimate affair of 90 York Rite Masons from across the state, who enjoyed good food, and great Companionship.