The Grand Master of Arkansas, Jesse D. Sexton, issued an edict on Tuesday, July 16, 2019 that recognizes Shriners International as a “Civic Organization”. The result of this decision permits Arkansas Masons, for the first time in more than five years, to be members of Shriners International.
Arkansas Masons are now permitted to immediately begin petitioning for membership in the Shrine following the decision of the Grand Master of Arkansas. In response to significant positive steps taken by the Grand Lodge of Arkansas at its 2019 February Communication, Shriners International passed a resolution during its 2019 Imperial Session. As result of this resolution and resulting action taken by the Grand Lodge, as of July 16, 2019, all new initiates for Shrine membership in Arkansas must be Master Masons in good standing. The resolution has no current impact on Arkansas Shriners who are not currently Masons.
The 145th Imperial Session of Shriners International adjourned on July 4, 2019. In addition to the historic action taken by the Representatives related to requiring a masonic prerequisite in Arkansas, Imperial Sir Jeff Sowder was elected Imperial Potentate for the 2019-2020 year. Imperial Sir Sowder is the first Past Grand Master ever to serve as the Imperial Potentate of Shriners International. “We welcome our brothers from the Grand Lodge of Arkansas to take advantage of the opportunity that now exists to become a Shriner”, said Imperial Potentate Jeff Sowder.
As a Past Grand Master and as a long-time Shrine Membership leader, Imperial Sir Jeff Sowder is extraordinarily well equipped to lead the Shrine through this period of productive transition. Both organizations are strengthened by the continuing collaborative efforts that have established a pathway for mutual success.
Freemasonry bears the imprint of the society in which it exists, and Freemasonry in North America is no exception. While keeping close ties to French lodges until 1913, American Freemasonry was also deeply influenced by the experiences of many early American political leaders, leading to distinctive differences from European lodges.
Offering an unobstructed view of the American system and its strengths and failings, Alain de Keghel, an elder of the Grand Orient de France and, since 1999, a lifetime member of the Scottish Rite Research Society (Southern U.S. jurisdiction), examines the history of Freemasonry in the United States from the colonial era to the Revolutionary War to the rise of the Scottish branch onward. He reveals the special relationship between the French Masonic hero, the Marquis de Lafayette, and the Founding Fathers, especially George Washington and Benjamin Franklin, including French Freemasonry’s role in the American Revolution. He also explores Franklin’s Masonic membership, including how he was Elder of the lodge of the Nine Sisters in Paris.
The author investigates the racial split in American Freemasonry between black lodges and white and how, unlike French lodges, women are ineligible to become Masons in the U.S. He examines how American Freemasonry has remained deeply religious across the centuries and forbids discussion of religious or social issues in its lodges, unlike some branches of French Freemasonry, which removed belief in God as a prerequisite for membership in 1877 and whose lodges operate in some respects as philosophical debating societies. Revealing the factors that have resulted in shrinking Masonic enrollment in America, the author explores the revitalization work done by the Grand Lodge of California and sounds the call to make Freemasonry and its principles relevant to America once again.
Alain de Keghel served as chair of the Supreme Council of the Grand Orient of France from 2002 to 2008. In 1994 he became a lifetime member of the Scottish Rite Research Society (Southern U.S. jurisdiction). The chair of an independent European Masonic Research Society, he has worked with the Philalethes Society in North America and with the research lodge Quatuor Coronati no. 8 in Germany. He is the former Consul General of France in Tokyo and Washington, D.C., and lives in Paris.
On November 13 Deering Lodge #83 AF&AM (102 Bishop Street, Portland, Maine deeringlodge.com), under the Grand Lodge of Maine (www.mainemason.org), will bring a momentous and unique event to Maine’s Masonic community. The Lodge will host the debut of the one act Masonic themed play, In The Interests Of The Brethren, written and directed by Brother Aaron Joy of Portland, with a six man cast drawn from across the district’s nine lodges.
Calling this is a ‘unique event’ is meant quite literally. This will be the first time a play combines all the variables of being explictly about the Masonic experience, taking place present day and not historically themed or a dramatization of a historic event, written by a Maine brother and not a former Scottish Rite degree or Brother Carl Claudy play, and performed for the public with no cover charge. All those variables make for a unique moment in Maine Masonry and the Portland theater scene as no previous Masonically sponsored show has brought all these variables together.
The show is open to the public and all are invited, whether Masonic brother or curious about Freemasonry or just a theater attendee looking for a new experience, men and women, though the show is not thematically relevant for youth. This is not semi-public nor in open lodge, but a fully public informal event. Optional dinner at 6:30, show at 7:30, normally scheduled Stated to follow for attending brothers. Guests are invited to stay after the show to discover more about Masonry. No tickets or entry cost, but those who come for dinner are asked to give a small donate to cover food costs and RSVP for a head count. Other attendees, in lieu of tickets, are invited to instead contribute to the Lodge’s annual collection of personal items that are boxed together for the homeless. A donation can be something like a wool hat or a toothbrush.
The play, written 2016, was loosely inspired by the Rudyard Kipling short story of the same name, which is about a soldier discovering how a lodge transcends world problems and turns enemies into friends on the level. The play is about a guy that left Masonry after the first degree on the eve of his father not being voted in as Master, and who would also leave the Craft to soon die heart-broken. Years later, when Masonry is a forgotten bitter taste, the guy finds himself unexpectantly attending Lodge. Here he discovers what Masonry really means, comes to terms with his father’s death, and understands why even in the face of disappointment his father still encouraged him to stay with Masonry.
The play will be presented as a reading. This is not to be confused with poetry readings but is a performance without formal set or costumes and with script in hand. While eliciting interest in staging future or more eleaborate productions is welcomed, the goals of this reading is to share a local brother’s creative work, get writing feedback for further development, introduce a new social activity into Lodge culture, open the lodge to visitors and remind brethren that Masonry isn’t just about memorizing ritual but it can go wherever one wants to take it.
Its author/director has over 200 theater shows under his belt, ranging from community theater acting to historical re-enactments to technical work to directing Off-Broadway to writing an award-winning musical. Currently, he can seen acting lead in Scottish Rite Northern Masonic Jurisdiction degrees and in 2016 was in a largely improvised 2 act gangster themed show for DeMolay and Rainbow. To direct his own show is a lifelong dream and Masonry provided the much needed source of inspiration while seemingly aligning the stars. Brother Joy is a member of Portland’s Triangle Lodge #1, Gorham’s Harmony Lodge #38, Scottish Rite NMJ and is the webmaster for the Maine Lodge of Research.
For more information, contact playwright/director Brother Aaron Joy at firstname.lastname@example.org or call/text 646-597-1583 (leave a message) for more information, questions, and to RSVP for dinner.
What: A one act Masonic themed play, In The Interests Of The Brethren When: November 13, 2017 Where: Deering Lodge #83 AF&AM, 102 Bishop Street, Portland, Maine Cost: Free (donation suggested for dinner following)
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Managing the Future of Freemasonry A Book of Optimism
A new book takes an optimistic approach to the vexing issue of declining membership. Managing the Future of Freemasonry: The Book of Optimism, by Dr David West, is a work by a man who understands philosophical thinking. A graduate in and of Philosophy from the University of Leicester, West has taught at universities in England and Canada and worked in top industries and holding government roles working to fathom the the future of work. He has been an adviser to a Cabinet Minister and founded The Working Manager Ltd, creating the core content of its management education process. An active Freemason of his mother lodge, St Laurence No. 5511, West suggests he sees the possibilities of the future.
From the press release about his book,
The numbers are staggering; since 1959, worldwide membership of Freemasonry has declined by almost 75%, akin to numerous other societies and groups tasked with being positive pillars of the community.
According to Dr. David West, this sudden decline is the result of significant negative changes to society as a whole. In his powerful and evidence based new book, West outlines the problem and suggests plausible solutions for a revival of Freemasonry.
The golden years of Freemasonry have passed with the departure of a world never likely to return. We cannot pretend that our membership problem will simply go away. If we are to rescue our order, we must take an objective look at ourselves and understand the society we now face. Our challenge will be to renew our ideals and bring them to the attention of a new audience, one that we as yet know little about. This will require hard work, open-mindedness, creativity and above all leadership. The optimism which runs through this book depends upon our ability to change, knowing that holding on to the past will be the last thing our order does. West says,
I’m totally convinced that a resurgence of Freemasonry is possible, However, we must first take an objective look at how our society has changed, what has caused this change and what needs to be done to repair things. When we know this, we can ‘redesign’ Freemasonry to be a vital building block in getting society back on track. It’s all down to proper management, lateral thinking and a departure from our old mind-set.
Hard work, open-mindedness, creativity, and above all leadership are skills that Freemasonry needs to hone and be willing to put into action because, after all, reversal of the decline will be far from immediate. Complacency has already become our enemy and, with societal discord now at an all-time high, we have a bold opportunity ahead of us to work for tangible change.
On the other end of the spectrum, in the news, four local Masonic Lodges and the Wisconsin Masonic Foundation are among those who donated funds to supply local first responders, schools and other community organizations with AED (automated external defibrillator) devices.
Out of Waukesha, Wisconsin:
The Powerheart G5 AED is the first FDA-cleared AED to combine fully automatic shock delivery, fast shock times, and dual-language functionality to fight the leading cause of death in the United States: sudden cardiac arrest. (PRNewsFoto/Cardiac Science Corporation)
Saving the life of a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) victim is predicated on speed; the quicker the victim is treated with an automated external defibrillator (AED), the higher the likelihood of survival. In Lafayette County, one of the most rural parts of Wisconsin, officers are often first responders to SCA emergencies–a reality that has made AEDs a necessity while on patrol.
“Absolutely the biggest challenge in a rural environment is getting to a medical emergency in time,” said Lafayette County Sheriff Reg Gill. “With a volunteer EMS system, people need to get to an ambulance and then out to the call. As a result, patrol officers on the road are often the first responders, so we have AEDs in those patrol cars.”
This is why Cardiac Science, a global leader in AEDs, is proud to announce that theLafayette County Sheriff’s Office selected Powerheart G5 AEDs to help their patrol officers save lives. Lafayette County covers 640 square miles and a population just shy of 17,000 people.
Gill said the sheriff’s office will place the new AEDs in the jail, in the county courthouse, and in the three patrol cars that are out on the road during each shift. The Powerheart G5 units will replace existing AEDs.
“The new Powerheart G5 AED is proving extremely popular with law enforcement and other public safety first responders,” said Al Ford, Cardiac Science General Manager and Senior Vice President of Sales / Marketing. “The device is light enough to be easily portable in the field and tough enough to meet military standards. The fully automatic model of the G5 features RescueCoach™ instruction that guides a rescuer through CPR and AED use.”
Gill said that his office first became aware of the new Powerheart AEDs through a presentation at the quarterly meeting of the Badger State Sheriffs’ Association.
Funding for the new AEDs was provided by four local Masonic Lodges and the Wisconsin Masonic Foundation as part of the Wisconsin Freemasons’s ongoing support for AEDs for first responders, schools, and other community organizations. Additional funding for the Sheriff’s Office AEDs came from the Benton State Bank.
The Powerheart G5 was designed for ease of maintenance. It conducts daily, weekly, and monthly self-tests and has a highly visible indicator to confirm the device’s Rescue Ready® status. It comes with an 8-year warranty and a 4-year performance guarantee on its Intellisense® medical grade non-rechargeable batteries.
This seems a strange addition to the wide world of Masonic ephemera, especially given the recent news and press on guns and gun violence. But is would seem the world wants (needs) a vintage styled rifle branded with icons of the fraternity.
Henry Repeating Arms logo (PRNewsFoto/Henry Repeating Arms)
Out of Bayonne, New Jersey:
Henry Repeating Arms is pleased to introduce the newest rifle in its collection, The Henry Golden Boy Freemasons Tribute Edition. It recognizes the long history of this honorable fraternal order and rewards the work and dedication of Freemasons everywhere.
The rifle is crafted with the highest attention to detail. The select American walnut stock depicts our first President in full Masonic regalia, with apron, trowel, and Warden’s column, standing on a “temple” floor in front of the Masonic staircase, in a painted tableau bordered by scrollwork in the same style as the receiver.
The left side carries the famous compass and square retained from the earliest days of Freemasonry, the mason’s plumb and level, the letter “G” which stands for both God and Geometry, the All-Seeing Eye of God as the symbol of divine watchfulness, and the words BROTHERLY LOVE, RELIEF & TRUTH that the order considers its foundation, along with FAITH, HOPE, CHARITY, emphasized in a Mason’s First Point Ceremony, all in raised 24K gold relief against a background of classic floral engraving.
The Henry Golden Boy Freemasons Tribute Edition Rifle. Visit henryrifles.com to learn more. (PRNewsFoto/Henry Repeating Arms)
On the right side, black and white mosaic squares represent the floor of King Solomon’sTemple to illustrate “human life, checkered with good and evil.” Ascending stairs remind a member of the path to higher levels of Freemasonry, with another “G” at the top as the ultimate goal.
It’s built with the same smooth action that all rifles in Henry’s award-winning Golden Boy family are known for. This model features a nickel-plated finish and the receiver engravings are plated with 24K gold. The buttplate and barrel band are brass. The American Walnut stock is engraved and hand-painted.
It features a fully adjustable semi-buckhorn rear sight with a reversible white diamond insert and brass beaded front sight. It includes a blued octagonal barrel and is drilled and tapped for easy scope mounting. Offered in caliber .22 S/L/LR, capacity is 16 rounds of 22 Long Rifle and as much as 21 rounds of 22 Short.
Anthony Imperato, President of Henry Repeating Arms explains, “Many of our customers are Freemasons and it’s an honor to pay tribute to them with this rifle. Freemasonry dates back to the early 1700s, with one of its most notable members being our first American president, George Washington. Open to all levels of society from cab driver to Congress, the Freemasons have included such names as country western singers Roy Acuff and Eddy Arnold, astronaut Buzz Aldrin, South Pole discoverer Roald Amundsen, hotelman John Jacob Astor, western star Gene Autry, comedian Richard Pryor, actor John Wayne, magician Harry Houdini, jazz legend Count Basie, America’s literary icon Mark Twain, and boxing great Sugar Ray Robinson. Truly an impressive group.”
Model H004MAS is available through licensed Henry dealers. MSRP $1200.00.
Help wanted is an occasional missive from a visitor to Freemason Information. Frequently they arrive in our Contact Us mail box and ask a specific or unique question about some aspect of Freemasonry.
This note is from a visitor to the website named LeiLani who makes an inquiry regarding a Masonic Document she found at a local yard sale.
My husband and I bought a document at a yard sale recently, just wanting the frame. I glanced at the certificate and thought it looked cool, then promptly forgot about it. Two weeks later I remembered to take it out and look at it. It was a 32° Prince of the Royal Secret certificate from Ohio, November 1945. I’ve researched both the recipient and the signers – the recipient was John Docherty of Cleveland, OH. The signers include Samuel H Baynard Jr., Melvin M Johnson and Louis H. Wieber, all 33°.
I’ve been able to track down comparable documents with one exception: Dr. Docherty’s photo is in an oval to the right side of the certificate. I’ve only seen one other example where that was the case. Do you have any idea what significance, if any, the photo inset makes on the document? Does it signify a copy, or something about the recipient’s social status?
I was able to decipher all but one of the names on this document and they were all significant personas in their time frame, with Baynard and Johnson playing key roles in the Freemasons during the first half of the 20th century. I’ve searched every term I can think of on Google and drawing a blank. By the way, I offered to give the certificate to the Freemasons’ group where the certificate originated and got zero response, so now it’s just tracking down the details for my own sake.
As a crowd-sourced site, feel free to respond to LeiLani in the comments below.
MEGA Brands has pledged to donate $500,000 for new Shriners hospital while launching a limited edition Mega Bloks® Fundraising Toy.
Montreal – June 6, 2014 – MEGA Brands Inc., a member of the Mattel family of companies (NASDAQ: MAT), announced the start of a new partnership with Shriners Hospitals for Children® – Canada. The toy maker has pledged $500,000 to the hospital’s Exceptional Care for Exceptional Kids campaign and will launch a custom-made and limited edition Mega Bloks™ First Builders Block Buddy fundraising toy at today’s International Shriners Day celebration in Ottawa.
Additionally, MEGA Brands will provide Mega Bloks toys and decorations for the new hospital’s Child Life playroom. Located in Montreal, construction of the new Shriners Hospital for Children began in spring of 2013, and is expected to be complete in 2015.
In order to help drive donations to the Exceptional Care for Kids campaign, MEGA Brands has designed a Shriners-inspired Block Buddy to add to the Mega Bloks First Builders line. Called “Loveable Lucas,” the Limited Edition Block Buddy can be purchased at select Shriners Temples, at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Canada in Montreal or online at http://exceptionalcare4kids.com.
“Shriners Hospitals for Children -Canada does a remarkable job of providing exceptional care and services to children and their loved ones in communities across Canada,” said Bisma Ansari, vice president of marketing, MEGA Brands Inc. “Our team was thrilled to bring to life a brand-new Shriners-inspired toy, and we can’t wait to help create the hospital’s Child Life playroom. MEGA Brands could not be happier to join forces with this outstanding institution.”
To commemorate International Shriners Day, Loveable Lucas will make his debut, and be available for purchase, at the Shriners celebration in Ottawa. Today’s event will be held at Ottawa City Hall, from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., and hosted by Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson and members of the Tunis Shrine Temple. The Tunis Klowns, Keystone Kops, Mini Bikes and Tunis Air Force Units will also add to the fun. Please visit for more information on the Exceptional Care Odyssey.
The Iberian Center for Masonic Studies (CIEM) calls all Spanish, Portuguese, English and French speaking masons to participate in the Second International Competition of Masonic Essay, which will take place in 2014.
The aim of this competition is to promote the investigation of the following theme:
The initiating tradition in a changing world.
The competition is open to all Masons, without distinction.
The official languages of the competition are Spanish, Portuguese, English and French.
The essays presented must be unpublished and three printed copies are to be sent, double-spaced, typed in 12-point Times Font, in letter-sized sheets. Also, the electronic file must be enclosed in a compact disc.
The essays should not exceed 10.000 words.
The essays should begin on the second page. This page and all the following should not contain information susceptible of identifying the author.
The essays should appear undersigned with a pseudonym, enclosing, in another envelope, a card containing the name, address, telephone number and e-mail address of the author. The envelope will bear the chosen pseudonym. The originals presented will not be returned.
The bibliography should be enclosed as an annex with the essay.
The authors should include a certificate drawn up by the Secretary of their Lodge, attesting to their affiliation and membership to a Masonic Jurisdiction.
The essays should be sent to the following address: Centro Ibérico de Estudios Masónicos (CIEM), Apartado de correos 6.203, 28080 – Madrid (Spain) or via e-mail at: email@example.com
The deadline for presenting essays is the 1st of December, 2014, the prize will be communicated on the 28th of December, 2014.
The jury, made up by Master Masons, will award a first and only prize consisting of a diploma proving their condition as the winner of the competition, as well as the amount of 250 Euros.
The jury may, in the case of it being justified by the quality and interest of other essays, concede an access it or declare the prize void if the essays do not meet the required quality standards.
The essays chosen will be published in the web site www.cienmas.org and transmitted, electronically as well as in print, to the Grand Lodges and the main Masonic institutions.
For further information, contact the Secretariat of the Competition at the following e-mail address:
firstname.lastname@example.org or by post to the Centro Ibérico de Estudios Masónicos (Iberian Centre for Masonic Studies) CIEM, International Competition of Essay, Apartado de correos 6.203, 28080 – Madrid (España)
The origins of the Knights of the Golden Circle can be traced to Cincinnati con man George Bickley.
University of Cincinnati Civil War historian, Mark Lause, has a new book out titled A Secret Society History of the Civil War (University of Illinois Press). It’s a look at secret societies (societies similar to the Freemasons) that were active in the years leading up to and during the Civil War.
KNIGHTS OF THE GOLDEN CIRCLE: JOHN WILKES BOOTH WAS A MEMBER
That secret society, the Knights of the Golden Circle, was the brainchild of a Cincinnati con man named George Bickley. He fund-raised for the group here in Cincinnati before the Civil War and envisioned it as a para-military organization. During the war, he offered the services of the Knights to the Confederacy, suggesting the organization could work as a fifth column among the North’s civilian population.
Explained Lause, UC professor of history,
The Confederates turned Bickley down, but the South did have a secret service that was active in the North during the war. The United States government was convinced the Knights of the Golden Circle were a big part of this Confederate secret service and spent resources tracking down the organization. However, it wasn’t the case, since the Knights and their numbers were greatly inflated by Bickley.
While the Knights were never actually a fifth-column force in terms of numbers, they and their ideas are thought to have influenced John Wilkes Booth, the stage actor who assassinated Abraham Lincoln. Said Lause,
John Wilkes Booth is thought to have been either a member or sympathizer with the Knights of the Golden Circle who were in Baltimore at that time. A man named George Sanders, who was a member of the Confederate secret service, was reputed to have been Booth’s contact via the group. And Sanders was a member of another secret society that advocated assassination.
Depiction of an initiation ceremony of the Knights of the Golden Circle.
PRINCE HALL MASONS: TAP ROOT OF THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD
On the other hand, some secret societies of the era, like the Prince Hall Masons, played a role in beginning and then sustaining the Underground Railroad.
In general, you can think of secret societies as umbrella organizations for those who want to break existing laws for what they believe are patriotic reasons,
On one side, there are groups like the Knights of the Golden Circle. On the other side, there are groups like the Prince Hall Masons.
The membership of the Prince Hall Masons was comprised of African-Americans, both free men and slaves. The order was founded by a black veteran of the American Revolution, and its purpose was to oppose the legal, social and cultural repression of blacks. “This group was the tap root that became the Underground Railroad, he stated.
A Secret Society History of the Civil War by by Mark A. Lause
Interestingly, the Louisville, Ky., chapter of the group held its meetings in New Albany, Ind. Said Lause:
Because slaves were members along with middle-class, free blacks, the group routinely rowed across the Ohio River in secret in order to safely hold meetings in a free state.
BROTHERHOOD OF THE UNION
Founded in 1848, this U.S. secret society (NOT named for “Union” in Civil War terms) was loosely tied to other such societies in Europe. It pursued an anti-slavery agenda. In fact, members of the Brotherhood of the Union in Milwaukee, Wisc., are known to have taken civil disobedience so far as to successfully storm the local jail in order to free a runaway slave who had been captured and incarcerated under the Federal Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.
The Confederate campaign referred to in the title was initially begun to capture St. Louis and Jefferson City (the capital of Missouri). It quickly degenerated, bringing little credit to either side. As such, the available historical record – participant and eyewitness accounts, military records and newspaper accounts – have been little studied until now.
In studying that record, Lause interprets why St. Louis was never actually invaded — even though the forces commanded by Confederate Gen. Sterling Price greatly outnumbered Union army forces (commanded by Cincinnati industrialist Union General William Rosencrans) in the state and even though Price came to within 30 miles of the city.
According to Lause, there are important reasons Price, in the end, did not invade St. Louis even though newspapers in the city were openly publishing information about how few Union army forces were in the city to defend it – information that Confederate informants in the city would have shared with Price.
The city’s civilians would no doubt have taken up arms and transformed the fight from a “battle” between armies into high-casualty, building-by-building , street-by-street guerrilla war.
Why? Because they absolutely had nothing to lose, said Lause. For the population in Missouri, if a Union occupation was considered bad, a Confederate occupation was considered far worse. In the two-month campaign, the forces under Price engaged in ethnic cleansing as they passed through towns and territory: Brutalizing and killing blacks, German immigrants, Catholics, prisoners of war and anyone else who might be sympathetic to the Union cause.
Price actually tried to put a stop to the ethnic cleansing, but many of his forces were originally from the region. They felt disenfranchised and were determined to settle the score. They were already killing civilians and literally leaving the bodies out for hogs to eat. The German population in St. Louis knew what they faced and would have made it extremely expensive – if not impossible – in terms of casualties for the Confederates.
Another reason the Confederates did not invade St. Louis: They had suffered grim casualties in the two battles of the campaign. In the battle of Pilot Knob, about 1,400 local blacks, local militia and some Union Army forces fought about 8,000 Confederate troops, with the Confederates suffering “ghastly losses,” according to Lause, even though the pro-Union forces, in the end, gave up ground. In the subsequent Battle of Leasburg, pro-Union forces refused a demand to surrender and were able to hold off the Confederate forces.