Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Midwest Conference of Grand Masters

Last week I attended the Midwest Conference of Grand Lodges in Sioux Fall South Dakota. I had a chance to enjoy the four hour drive with Senior Grand Warden Brian Beerman.We had an outstanding talk. I'm afraid we could have talked for a few more hours. We were joined by our Grand Master John Cook and Grand Lodge Secretery Doug Campbell.

The Conference is an exchange of ideas and information on what programs are working for them and what approaches they are taking to solving future issues. It's a great place to gain insight and valuable information on common problems that we share.

Every Grand Master had a good report, and it was good to see that one Grand Lodge to our south that starts with a I and ends in an A is using our Minnesota Lodge Recognition Program. Not to name names or anything...

This year I enjoyed hearing about the programs that the Grand Lodge of Michigan is working on. I will admit not only was one of the ideas was cutting edge for Freemasonry. BUT I CANNOT REVEAL THAT HERE...however, if you read on I will tell about one of the Other Projects that they are working on....keep reading.

I think what I enjoy the most is the renewal of friendships at this conference. We have known each other over the years. We have advanced together through our Lines and the Deputy Grands are preparing to advance...if tradition prevails. So it was exciting to see each other and get caught up with each others lives. On Sunday morning after breakfast we shook hands, gave each other a hug and said "Ill see you at your Communication -- Safe Travels, Brother."

The Grand Master of Kansas Kent Needham,Deputy Grand Master Tracy Bloom, Senior Grand Warden Don Newman and Junior Grand Warden Rick Reichert.

The Grand Lodge of Nebraska: Deputy Grand Master Dave Watts, Grand Secretary Bruce Watkins, Junior Grand Warden Rex Moats, and Most Worshipful Master John Parsons.

Not pictured was Senior Grand Warden Bruce Baker......I think he went for a run.

The Grand Lodge of Michigan: Senior Grand Warden Dean Bar, Deputy Grand Master Fred Kaiser, Most Worshipful Grand Master Frank Praria.

Author and Brother Chris Hodapp deep in thought.

The Grand Lodge of Michigan started a great project to help the local lodges in providing information telling the public who Masons -- which they do at community events. They have developed a traveling display booth as you see above, with signage that tells of their program, Share the Secret.

It is a trailer that can be towed from their Grand Lodge to any local event. Inside the trailer is the tent, table, chairs, tee shirts, plus printed literature talking points to inform the people attending the booth. It contains everything that you need to host a public information event.

Sorry I took a photo of the Power Point slide.....should I have been taking photos during such a meeting????
My Grand Master of Minnesota John Cook.

The Nebraska Sojourners and Grand Master John Parsons. They performed a Lodge of Military Tribute. I enjoyed it very much and would like to see it performed here in Minnesota for our Brothers.

My Friend and Author of "Freemasons for Dummies," Chris Hodapp. Doesn't he look great! He has lost 60 pounds so far. I purchased two more copies of the book. It was my 15th and 16th copy......I keep giving them away. Chris doesn't mind and reminded me not to worry -- he will print more!

Grand Master Dean Behrens did a great job in every aspect of the planning and preparation. Of course his lovely Bride Donna had a lot to do with it as well.

Next year the Conference will be held here in Minnesota......Do you think they would like to have a tour of one of my favorite places? The Spam Museum? I better get to work!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Top Ten Reasons to Become a Mason

I'm planning to attend the Midwest Conference of Grand Masters in Souix Falls, South Dakota next weekend. I have been looking over my notes from last year's conference in Ohama, Nebraska in my preparation. I'd like to take a moment to share with you some of the comments of the Past Grand Master of Iowa Jack Butler's speech. The Most Worshipful said that every Mason should be able to tell their friends and family at a moment's notice, the reasons and benefits of becoming a Free Mason. He then recited the 10 reasons provided below. I could not agree more -- that we all need to have prepared in our minds and hearts a short talk or reasons why someone that we think is qualified should join us in the Craft. I hope that you find these of use.


1. A place where you can confidently trust every person and trust your family with them also.

2. A place where, within moral and civil guidelines; free thought, free speaking and the spiritual growth of man, can grow into its fullest potential.

3. A place to meet outstanding individuals from all walks of life, that a person would not otherwise have had the opportunity to know and call brother.

4. A place to be part of an organization which has for its principal tenets – Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth.

5. A place that provides self-development opportunities, leadership training and experience, and to improve public speaking skills.

6. A place you can go to seek support as well as give it.

7. A place where moral virtues are taught and through these teachings a regular reinforcement of the moral virtues is experienced.

8. A place to spend time with a group of brothers, who by acting as good men, make me want to become a better man. Not better than others, but better than I would have otherwise been.

9. A place to become better equipped to serve Church and community.

10. A place to meet with established members of the community and to become a part of the community.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Past Grand Masters of Minnesota

Seated, left to right: MWB Alyn Dull, 1983; MWB Donald Severson, 1978; Grand Master John L. Cook; MWB Verne Long, 1973; MWB John Peterson, 1981; MWB Warren Clark, 1993. Standing, left to right: Jr. Grand Deacon John Gann; Jr. Grand Steward John Studell; Jr. Grand Warden David Olson; MWB Steven Johnson, 2006; MWB Neil Neddermeyer, 2003: MWB Thomas McCarthy, 2009; MWB Thomas Jackson, 2008; MWB Charles Baltos, 1991; MWB Jack Benson, 1995; MWB Donald Sether, 1986; MWB Eric Neetenbeek, 1996; Deputy Grand Master Thomas Hendrickson; MWB Roger Taylor, 2001; MWB Samuel Dickinson, 1980; MWB Ward Sonsteby, 1989; MWB Philip Soderberg, 2000; MWB Donald Flood, 1985.

Photo taken by Doug Campbell Grand Lodge Secretary

This is the second year the Past Grand Masters of Minnesota have met for Lunch. It's a very simple gathering, but it's a very warming and caring time. The photo you see shows our Past Masonic leaders for over the 37 years.
It was great to see the Past Grands together in one place for a couple of hours. Many dropped their regular activities of the day to gather, some from far away. We talked about a lot of things, but it was a time to reach out and look into each others' eyes and share about what is happening in our lives that's important. We talked about Ralph Holquist and his battle with cancer, and mostly how we miss him. Others shared about the memorable events in their year as Grand Master. It certainly was special and I don't plan on missing next year's or any other, for that matter. They are all my Masonic Fathers.

Minnesota DeMolay Conclave 2010

I had the great opportunity to attend this year's Minnesota DeMolay Conclave Opening Day on July 29th. It was held at Gustavus Apolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota. I had been invited to attend and I grabbed the opportunity to go.

As I was driving to the campus I was reflecting upon my youth, being a very active member of Camelot Chapter in Richfield, MN. I have been to many Conclaves in years past. But this time there was something missing...I didn't bring the hundreds of water balloons to drop out of the dorm windows. My back seat didn't contain the three cans of shaving cream, a true multi-use party treat. The plastic doggy doo, and plastic human ahhh throw up is also long gone. This trip I wore a clean shirt and my best Deputy Grand Master smile and hand shake.

I was greeted quickly and very warmly by Karen Pehle, the State Adminstrator, and Mark Hailer, the Executive Officer. They introduced me to many of the adult staff. My old friend Ted Kiefat and I shared a big hug and many warm friendly words. As the boys came off the softball diamonds, I shook their hands and got to know them a little.

We then went to the Campus Cafeteria. Conclave is very well served at Gustavus for many reason, but especially for the food. It's a place where the boys could really enjoy a big meal in a very nice dining area. I certainly enjoyed my salad and great conversation with them. I mean, they actually listened to my stories!

The photo below shows the Minnesota Demolay State Officers and myself. (I wish I would have gotten the memo about the tie.) They are all very sharp, and I watched them for one hour conduct a great business meeting...we could have took notes and learned something. They also managed to present "The Simpsons- Stone Cutter" eposode. I'm sorry -- I laughed the loudest in the room.

The picture below is of myself with the out going Minnesota Demolay State Officers, Cody Braunschwieg, State Chaplain; Danny Niederhaus, State Scribe Treasurer Talon Beck, SMC; Tyler Nevala, State Marshall; Chris Pierce,SSC. After the meeting we were going to be presented with the Jacques DeMolay degree. The photo directly below is the setting looking upon the Rugby pitch, on which the degree was to be performed. I was very excited, for I hadn't seen this degree for several years. For those of you who don't know the story, I won't tell the secret, but King Philip ordered Jaques DeMolay to be burned at the stake. The story is a testimonal to loyalty and friendship.

The degree was performed in full costume and the quality of the performance was EXCELLENT! All the boys knew their parts and performed outstandingly. I was impressed. It was at the close of the degree that I personally figured out what my inner self was trying to tell me all evening. You know the feeling you can't get your arms around? I've come home...I was perfectly content in my surroundings. I was part of them...I once was and now I've returned...I'm home.

This is horseplay central, man...these guys are planning something

This Mark Hailer after he was trying to explain who the musical group "Tower of Power" was. I knew them: soul and funk, man, great group. I'm a little more tame -- into the group Chicago and all, but I got it. I think everyone enjoyed the Youtube video.

There is always room for a little fun at Conclave. Also a time for personal growth and development no matter what age you are.
Thank you for a wonderful evening that I'll remember for many years to come. But then again... lets do it again next year!