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.
I recently had the pleasure to interview one of Phoenixmasonry’s own, Bro. Frederic Millken, Executive Director for the Phoenixmasonry Masonic Museum and Library. Frederic is a prominent and hard working Masonic author. The reason for the interview, however, was the recent intervisitation between the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Texas and the Grand Lodge of Texas. Frederic has a fascinating personal and Masonic history included here that I hope readers will find as interesting as I have.
Elena Llamas (EL): Frederic, first things first! Give us a bit of your personal background.
Frederic Milliken (Frederic): I was born and brought up in Lexington, Massachusetts the birthplace of the American Revolution. It was the battles of Lexington and Concord that started the Revolution. Lexington came first. Here Paul Revere rode into town hollering, “The British are coming,” the British are coming” (although he probably really said the Regulars or the Redcoats).
When I was 5 years old my father died. My mother worked three jobs to support me and my two sisters. She had a day job, part time night job and a weekend job. On the weekend she manned the Buckman tavern where the Minute Men gathered in the wee hours of the morning of April 19,1775. The Buckman tavern was on the northeast corner of the Lexington Green in 1775 and that same building is still there today. On the northwest corner today stands Simon W. Robinson Lodge where I went to DeMolay and on the southwest corner stands the First Parish Church where my Mom was secretary, her day job.
On weekends at the Buckman Tavern my Mom’s job was to be a tourist guide and she would go through the story of Paul Revere riding into town and the subsequent battle with the British that took place on the Lexington Green for any who wanted to hear. I can remember as a young boy sitting on the stone step just outside the screen door listening to her tell that tale over and over again. That’s why it was such an honor for me later on in life to become Master of Paul Revere Lodge and to participate in a Colonial Degree Team.
Every Patriot’s Day (April 19th) Lexington held a recreation of Paul Revere’s ride and a reenactment of the Battle of Lexington. In the afternoon there was a huge two hour parade. As a DeMolay I marched in that parade.
(EL): At what age did you join Freemasonry and where?
Frederic: I joined Freemasonry at the age of 45 in Plymouth, Massachusetts where the Pilgrims landed.
I worked in the next town over and my wife worked in Plymouth so we had many Plymouth acquaintances. Plymouth Lodge had just completed its brand new building a few years before my arrival. I was initiated in 1989 and immediately went into line as Junior Steward. The next year I jumped to Senior Deacon and three years later was Master. In 1992 I affiliated with Paul Revere Lodge in Brockton, Massachusetts where I lived. It was not long after that I entered Paul Revere’s two year line as Senior Deacon. I was Senior Deacon at Paul Revere the year I was Master in Plymouth. I can remember doing the Masters ritual for the First Degree on a Monday night in Plymouth and the next night, Tuesday, performing the Middle Chamber lecture in the Second Degree in Brockton. Immediately upon affiliating with Paul Revere Lodge I joined the Paul Revere Colonial Degree Team and as Master I brought that team to Plymouth Lodge for a historic night where over a hundred Masons gathered with five District Deputies in attendance, one from Rhode Island, to watch the degree team. I had to get permission for overflow parking from a business next door and hire a policeman to handle the traffic. That experience greatly influenced my philosophy on how, as Master, to put a yearly program together for a Lodge. My theme from then on became, “We Need To Celebrate Our Freemasonry.” And celebrate it we would!
Kilwinning Degree Team at Paul Revere Lodge with Bro. Frederic as Master
Both Plymouth Lodge and Paul Revere Lodge were high profile Lodges that had a lot going on. Paul Revere Lodge was looked upon as one of the five top Lodges in the state. I was honored to sit in the East in both these Lodges which were in two different Masonic Districts.
EL: Please elaborate on celebrating Freemasonry!
Frederic: What I am saying is THINK BIG! Many Lodges meet twice a month and they spend the majority of their time in boring business meetings where the topics of discussion are how much toilet paper should we buy and what do we do for the next fundraiser? How about inviting a guest speaker to enlighten the Brethren?
But even better than that how about planning and executing a big event where many Masons gather for some special brotherhood? When you do that you increase the pride Brothers feel for their fraternity and bolster their enthusiasm for the Craft. That all works for more camaraderie and perhaps more candidates.
After that first big bash with the Colonial Degree Team at Plymouth Lodge I continued to put on Masonic Events as large as I could come up with.
The Grand Daddy of them all was the Colonial Degree Team’s visit to Indiana. Bloomington, Indiana is my wife’s hometown and there you will find Monroe Lodge. Monroe (family name also spelled Munroe) was a natural, the name of the Revolutionary War Masonic patriot I had adopted for the Degree Team.
My correspondence with the Master of Monroe Lodge in Bloomington, Indiana, lasting for more than a year, proved fruitless in trying to put this undertaking together. After I stepped down from the East at Paul Revere Lodge and Monroe Lodge got a new Master talks picked up again and finally it was a go.
So on a Friday morning 18 Paul Revere Colonial Degree Team members boarded a plane for Indianapolis. There we were met by a small bus and a Past Grand Master of Indiana, MW Richard Hickham, and the Worshipful Master, Wor. Gary Denson, and some Brethren from Monroe Lodge. They transported us to Bloomington, about a 2 hour drive, where we stopped at the Bloomington Shrine Club for a steak dinner and welcoming speeches. Afterward we were taken to the state DeMoaly Chateau for billeting.
The next morning we were picked up by the bus and transported to the Lodge where we were served breakfast. After breakfast we visited the Lodge room and laid out what the degree would look like for the officers of Monroe Lodge. Then back in the bus we received a tour of Bloomington and Indiana University.
Saturday night we had dinner at the Lodge followed by the degree. The Lodge room was packed! After it was all over we went downtown to an Irish Pub and celebrated. Following that we were bused back to the DeMolay Chateau for some shuteye. The next morning, Sunday, the bus picked us up and transported us back to Indianapolis to the airport. By Sunday night we were back in Boston.
What a great time we all had and how rewarding it was to make new friends. That was really celebrating our Masonry!
EL: What attracted you to Freemasonry?
Frederic: My best friend in school introduced me to DeMolay. Battle Green DeMolay met at Simon W. Robinson Lodge AF & AM in Lexington, Massachusetts. Eventually I became Master Councilor. Our Dad Advisors were Freemasons and I became very acquainted with a Masonic Lodge and some of its workings by belonging to DeMolay. Joining DeMolay was the main reason for my later joining Freemasonry. But there is still another important reason. I reached a stage in my life where I really wanted to associate and become friendly with like minded men, that is those that value honesty, morality and uprightness. I found that every Mason I knew was a good man and that perhaps associating with many good men would keep me from straying into the less than noble world.
When I was elected to become Master for the first time at Plymouth Lodge I gathered an installation team of five Past Masters of Simon W. Robinson Lodge who were also Past Master Councilors of Battle Green DeMolay and all old friends of course. They installed me and my officers.
EL: Tell us more about The Paul Revere Colonial Degree Team
Frederic: The Paul Revere Colonial Degree Team was formed as a tribute to our nation’s Centennial in 1976. It was only supposed to be for that one year but was such a great hit that it continued on and is still active today. Each member of the team dresses in Colonial costume which always includes a tri-cornered hat and takes the name of a Revolutionary War Mason. The Team performs the second and third sections of the 3rd degree. At the end the Team’s Historian gives a lecture on our American Flag and the sacrifices that Colonial Mason’s made to make our country free. At the conclusion each Team member rises and gives a brief bio of the Revolutionary War Mason he represents.
While the Paul Revere Colonial Degree Team performs in its own Lodge its claim to fame is the travelling it does to put on this degree for other Lodges. I accompanied the Team to the 200th anniversary celebration of Provincetown Lodge on Cape Cod, to a Lodge in the state of Maine and to an outdoor degree held in the woods of the Grand Lodge’s retirement home with the Grand Master present, to name just a few. At the retirement home stone stations and altar had been carved out in a clearing in the woods at the bottom of a hill. As Master I took the Degree Team to Plymouth Lodge as we have already heard, to Simon W. Robinson Lodge in Lexington, MA and to Putnam, Connecticut, again to mention just the most memorable.
The visit to Simon W. Robinson Lodge was a really a big time affair. Along with our usual 3rd degree exemplification we also participated in a tri Table Lodge. Three Lodges came together with the District Deputy of that District so that we had three Masters in the East, three Senior Wardens in the West and three Junior Wardens in the south. We started at 4:00 PM on a Saturday and finally finished up at 11:00 PM.
The Putnam, CT performance was our second visit to this Lodge. The first visit was precipitated by a church member of mine who upon selling her house and cleaning out the basement found an old Masonic diploma. It was from the 1800s for a Mason completing his degrees at Putnam Lodge. So, after going through channels, I contacted the Lodge and arranged for us to bring a bus load of Paul Revere members to formerly return the diploma. That got us a return visit 6 months later with the Colonial Degree Team.
EL: What role did you have in the Team?
Frederic: My role was to do the Charge at the end of the degree before the Historian came on. I tried many different charges but eventually settled on one called “The Canadian Charge” in Massachusetts. This charge is known in many other states by a different name. For a historical sketch of this charge see the article penned by a friend here – http://phoenixmasonry.org/a_charge_by_any_other_name_is_still_a_charge.htm
As you remember each member of the Paul Revere Degree Team adopted the name of a Revolutionary War Mason. When I arrived onto the team all the famous names had been taken. With permission from the team leader I researched my own name. I wrote to the Grand Lodge Of Massachusetts Library and asked them if there were any Freemasons that fought in that battle against the British on April 19,1775. The reply stated that of some 70 Patriots that lined up to fight the British some where near 26 were Masons. That was remarkable because Lexington did not have a Masonic Lodge at that time. From that list I chose William Munroe.
William Munroe was a Sergeant in the Lexington Minute Man and he was stationed by the Lexington Green on an all night vigil the night of April 18,1775. He was to warn the Minute Men of any British activity in the area. When Paul Revere rode into town he woke up sleeping Masons in the area and had word sent to Captain Parker the leader of the Lexington Minutemen. Munroe was also the proprietor of the other tavern in town, the Munroe Tavern which still stands today just a stone’s throw down the street from the Scottish Rite National Heritage Museum.
In 1797 William Munroe went into Grand Lodge to receive a charter for Lexington’s first Masonic Lodge with himself as its first and founding Master. He was escorted to the East of Grand Lodge there to be received by Most Worshipful Paul Revere. Hiram Lodge met for some 40 years in the backrooms of Munroe Tavern in Lexington.
EL: Who were the other team members representing?
Frederic: I can’t remember all the names chosen by Colonial Degree Team members but some of them were Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, Israel Putnam, John Paul Jones, Paul Revere, George Washington, John Marshall, Henry Knox, Robert Livingston, General Hugh Mercer, Ethan Allen, Patrick Henry, Benedict Arnold, Joseph Warren and of course the honorary American Marquis de LaFayette, These are some of the Revolutionary War Freemasons represented by the Paul Revere Colonial Degree Team.
EL: How fun! What led you to join Prince Hall Masonry?
I was Master of Plymouth Lodge in 1994 when Prince Hall recognition was being worked out. Recognition was formerly signed in 1995. Thereafter I was active in receiving Prince Hall visitations into Paul Revere Lodge. I was very impressed with their Masonic knowledge and work.
A few years later I started to become very active with Masonry on the Internet. There I met and corresponded with such stalwarts as Jeff Naylor, Chris Hodapp, Errrol Hinton, Stephen Dafoe and Theron Dunn to name a few. We all seemed to be involved with the reform Freemasonry movement. And among those reforms was recognition of Prince Hall. These were the days when “Laudable Pursuit” was penned. And I added my 2 cents in, often with biting sarcasm.
When I moved to Texas I joined the Grand Lodge of Texas AF & AM and went to their Grand Lodge Session. I was not impressed with some of the leadership and disappointed with the racial divide that was part of the tradition. I had some unfortunate incidents which I do not wish to go over again.
It was then I figured out that the best way I could work for racial justice within Freemasonry was to join Prince Hall. After all I had been an advocate for many years for Prince Hall recognition across the board in every state. I decided to put my feet where my mouth was and walked on over into Prince Hall Texas. I have never regretted that decision. I love and am much loved.
EL: Any other special personal Masonic history you want to share with the readers?
Frederic: The Fellowship Players of Fellowship Lodge in Bridgewater , Massachusetts, a town close to Brockton, invited me to take the part of Squire Bentley in the Masonic play “A Rose Upon The Altar,” by Carl Claudy. This is a very moving play about a man who disowns his daughter for marrying a man he disapproved of and the discussion that goes on in the Lodge room about his plight and his subsequent change of heart. By removing all Masonic signs, tokens and grips from the play, the Fellowship Players was able to get permission from the Grand Master to perform this play to the public at large.
We played for Lodges, Ladies nights and to the public. I can remember one performance for the Bridgewater Knights of Columbus and their wives and another in New Bedford for Masons visiting from England and their wives and the public.
These performances gave the Craft another way to feel proud of themselves and enthusiastic for their membership in the fraternity. It also introduced non Masons to a little slice of Masonic life and opened the door for a dialogue about Freemasonry.
Lastly it was one of the biggest joys of my Masonic career to be able to do this.
EL: Wow! That is awesome! Now, let’s talk about the recent events in Texas. What are your thoughts on the historic intervisitation between the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Texas and the Grand Lodge of Texas?
Frederic: I think intervisitation was long overdue and that now that it is here those that have a difficulty with Prince Hall are going to recede into the background and not be heard from hardly at all. A new day has dawned on Texas Freemasonry and it will be one of shared brotherhood. As the two Grand Lodges cooperate in a wide range of efforts together, all the fears and the fairy tales will disappear and we will become one in Masonic purpose and practice.
There were many forces behind the scene on both sides working for recognition for years and then for intervisitation. I was one of them but also from the Grand Lodge of Texas was Blake Bowden and his website “My Freemasonry.” Many other unknown and unheralded Masons on both sides of the aisle worked behind the scenes, especially to see that we could visit each other’s Lodges. There was literally a ground swell of sentiment from the rank and file that this was something that needed to be done. And I don’t think anything could have come of it all if Prince Hall Texas did not have such a gentle, soft spoken, easy going Grand Master in Honorable Wilbert M. Curtis.
EL: Really? You think Grand Master Curtis’ personality had a lot to do with it?
Frederic: You would really have to get to know the man to see how much his personality has kept the peace. I know that I am nowhere near that personality type. Cross me and I will let you have it, both barrels. But in the face of false accusations, finger pointing, lies and deceit Grand Master Curtis has remained calm, cool and collected. He has not fought fire with fire but rather with brotherly love and affection. He can be firm and commanding but never mean or derogatory. In some tough negotiations he was solid as a rock.
EL: This marks the first time in history that both Grand Lodges sat in a regular session together. How does this feel to you on a personal level?
Frederic: It is exhilarating! To know I have played a small, miniscule part, but one nevertheless, that is rewarding. I think that Prince Hall Freemasonry has been vindicated. I think that some of the misconceptions of Prince Hall will now disappear.
EL: Which misconceptions are you referring to?
Frederic: That Prince Hall Freemasonry is not regular; that it is Clandestine; that it does not perform acceptable ritual; that it is disrespectful to the Craft; that it is rowdy and raucous; that it doesn’t take Freemasonry seriously enough, that its first Grand Lodge was not formed according to Masonic protocol. These are all false misconceptions.
Race relations in the state will improve. My only disappointment was that I was too ill to participate on this historic occasion. But I know that years of opening my big mouth and even at times inserting my foot into it have paid off. That when it came time to choose the fork in the road, I didn’t take what I thought was the easiest path but the one that was the right thing to do. It means my rebel rousing days are over for Texas. However we have nine US Grand Lodges left who still do not recognize Prince Hall. This battle is won but the war is not yet over.
EL: What would you like to see happen in the future?
Frederic: I would like to see the two Grand Lodges do more things together inside and outside the Lodge room. Intervisitation opens up a whole new world to many Masons. Both Grand Lodges can celebrate some Masonic historical remembrances together. They can have a joint Table Lodge. They can join together on some charitable events. They can study Freemasonry together and pull lecturers from each Grand Lodge to speak at the other.
As it stands now each side must apply to its Grand Secretary to visit the other’s Grand Lodges and permission must be granted by the other side. I think that in time this requirement should just disappear and a more free flow of cross visitation assume its place.
They say time heals all wounds. I’m not so sure that is true but I am willing to give it a shot. As each Grand Lodge does more together it will cement the bounds of peace and harmony and brotherly love will freely flow.
EL: Hopefully! Are there other Caucasian Brothers in your Lodge?
Frederic: There was one other Brother who was Caucasian who has since demited and moved away. My Lodge also has a Brother of Filipino heritage.
EL: Do you want to share any racial insights from your perspective?
Frederic: I think that to rehash old instances and war stories does more harm than good. Suffice it to say that there was some animosity between Caucasians and African Americans in the state of Texas that bled over into Freemasonry. Those feelings have not all gone away but we are on the road to peace and harmony in Freemasonry.
All it really took was for some association to take place. I have maintained for years that if you sit down and break bread with a stranger or an enemy or someone you don’t understand, that that act of having a meal together opens up the common humanity you have with each other and promotes a mutual respect. Upon that can be built real friendship.
There will always be people who can’t see beyond skin color. This is not Utopia. Evil exists. But when you greet another Freemason on the five points of fellowship it matters not what race he is.
We would be wise to remember our ritual, “By the exercise of Brotherly Love we are taught to regard the whole human species as one Family – the high and low, rich and poor, who as created by one almighty Parent and inhabitants of the same planet are to aid, support and protect each other.”
EL: Seems like you have a positive and hopeful view of the future.
Frederic: There is only one place to go and that is up. Every close association, every time of togetherness will meld Brothers from both Grand Lodges into fraternal love. We can learn a lot from each other and in so doing we can come closer and closer together. New traditions will soon be formed. Some joint fellowships will become part of those new traditions. As that unfolds disharmony will become a thing of the past. As I said before a new day has dawned on Texas Freemasonry. It will never be what it was again.
EL: Wonderful! Frederic, you are an avid blogger and Masonic author. Tell us about your work and where it can be found.
Frederic: I write in other areas besides Freemasonry but it is my wish that these areas remain separate and unknown to each other. In this manner I can remain more open to other ideas and interface better with people of all different views without others having a preconceived notion of what I am all about. There is nothing worse than an agenda driven person who will not get off your ear. My thing is to approach fields from a point of view that fosters knowledge, education and understanding.
My Masonic writing started on the early well known Masonic websites with forums of the 90s. Masonic Light started by Jeff Naylor and frequented by Hodapp, Dafoe and Dunn gave way to The Lodge Room.com. Here I was in constant discussion on Masonic issues especially with my nemesis Theron Dunn who after he suddenly passed was replaced by Grayson Mayfield. When that Forum died I went on to Master Mason.com and then got out of the forum talk back and forth show altogether.
I formed my own blog “The Beehive” which I merged with Freemason Information by invitation of Greg Stewart. Those forum discussions formed the basis of the articles I then wrote which can be found on either Freemason Information or Phoenixmasonry. It is in these two places that I continue to write but with less frequency.
I have evolved over time. Much of my early Masonic writing was about the abuses of Freemasonry and certain Grand Lodges and the reforms needed. I really took some Grand Lodges to task and I wasn’t afraid to be vocal about it. Some of the high profile cases I wrote about were PGM Frank Haas, Derek Gordon, Mike McCabe, Victor Marshall and Gate City Lodge No 2 and Corey Bryson & Duke Bass Fortesque.
I actually got to meet in person Derek Gordon who resigned from the GL of Arkansas and Victor Marshall who the GL of Georgia attempted to expel because he was an African-American. Mike McCabe was expelled unjustly from New Jersey and Bryson & Fortesque were forced to resign from Florida for not being Christians.
I have gradually steered myself into a more philosophical approach and find great joy in telling the stories of some super Masonic Craftsmen. I was able to meet Masonic artist Ryan Flynn last year and record a session with him about his work.
There are two other places I write for which may not be open to all Masons. I write and deliver articles to the Phylaxis Society and to my Grand Lodge publication “The Texas Prince Hall Freemason.”
EL: You are also Executive Director for the Phoenixmasonry Masonic Museum and Library. Tell us about your work and experience there.
Frederic: It was President and owner David Lettelier who approached me about the position of Executive Director of Phoenixmasonry. He had read some of my writings and liked what he read. One of the first things I did upon coming aboard was to convince David that we needed to get into Social Media. I felt this was where Freemasonry on the Internet was going. So Dave and I put our heads together and opened a Phoenixmasonry Facebook page. I then added Twitter followed by Rebel Mouse. David starting putting many of my articles into the Phoenixmasonry essay session.
Soon I was to open a special Prince Hall section of the main website inaugurating its inception with the William Upton videos which tell such a heart rendering story. We added a few more article writers such as Nelson King and Ian Donald and the poetry of Ezekiel Bey. The Essay section was rapidly increasing. Adding books was very time consuming and proceeded at a slower pace.
But we wanted to give our readers the widest possible choice of Masonic content. It wasn’t long before we started to invest heavily into You Tube videos. We added a You Tube section to our Facebook page. This became very popular.
I spent a lot of time as Executive Director in marketing Phoenixmasonry especially among the Prince Hall brethren. I got the Grand Master of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Texas to add a link to us on the Grand Lodge’s website. I worked with David on his project of a 10 year (2009) medallion minted as a thank you to all who had contributed to Phoenixmasonry’s success. That became a tremendous marketing tool as I carried a bunch of them with me wherever I went and gave to many influential Masons one as a gift.
My job concentrated on disseminating whatever we were doing to various Grand Lodges, Masonic websites and forums, Masonic Yahoo Groups and an extensive E-Mail list. It was my goal to always keep the name and content of Phoenixmasony on the lips of as many Masons as possible.
I took over the project of getting us a 501(c) 3 status with the IRS, filling out the laboriously long form and making sure all the information was correct. This designation will facilitate contributions to Phoenixmasonry from those who are looking for a good cause to contribute to.
What I started with David to increase our visibility has been continued with the addition of new blood to our team. We have added editorial assistants to our Facebook page who help us add the most interesting Masonic material we can find. We recently added
you, Public Relations Director Elena Llamas, and you have carried on right where we left off. You have spruced up our Facebook page, created a Phoenixmasonry You Tube channel adding many videos and put Phoenixmasonry on Pinterest, Instagram, Google +, Reddit and Tumblr. It’s a team effort and I am proud what all of us have been able to accomplish. Phoenixmasonry is the most complete and best Masonic website on the Internet.
EL: It is a pleasure to work with you at Phoenixmasonry! Thank you so much, Frederic, for sharing such a fascinating personal history and all you insights. I hope the readers have enjoyed this interview. For more information on Frederic’s work, you can find him at https://freemasoninformation.com.
First-of-its-kind online medical resource to provide ophthalmologists globally with the latest clinical information for treating children’s eye diseases and disorders
Knights Templar Eye Foundation A Masonic Charity
The American Academy of Ophthalmology today announced a new partnership with the Knights Templar Eye Foundation (KTEF) to establish the first online medical resource center dedicated to children’s eye care. Made possible through a generous grant from KTEF, the virtual skills transfer center will provide ophthalmologists globally with the latest clinical information for treating children’s eye diseases and disorders.
The creation of the Knights Templar Eye Foundation Pediatric Ophthalmology Education Center (KTEF Education Center) is an important step toward addressing a large and growing burden of vision loss. An estimated 19 million children worldwide under the age of 15 are visually impaired, 1.4 million of whom are blind.  Many cases of childhood blindness could be avoided with interventions using existing knowledge.
The KTEF Education Center aims to help prevent pediatric blindness by supporting the lifelong learning needs of pediatric ophthalmologists and the on-demand learning needs of comprehensive ophthalmologists. Regardless of location and formal training, it will allow ophthalmologists to have access to the most current surgical and clinical guidance and instruction. The KTEF Education Center’s content will address the needs of residents and fellows, mid-career practitioners as well as physicians training in less-developed countries. Resources will include:
Urgent diagnostic and treatment guides – Reference quick guides on diagnostic and treatment criteria for children in critical and emergency situations.
Video guides – Watch demonstrations on surgical techniques, symptomology and diagnostic approaches particular to childhood eye disorders.
Expert clinical advice from peers – Share and find expert clinical advice on certain cases or general clinical challenges.
Latest developments and standards of care – Review the latest in evolving standards in diagnosis and treatment, both medical and surgical, and access evidence-based preferred practice patterns based on peer-reviewed literature.
Guidance for pediatric practice management – Learn how to understand and navigate the changing health care environment as it pertains to childhood eye care.
The KTEF Pediatric Ophthalmology Education Center is expected to launch in 2015. The executive editor will be Faruk Örge, M.D., director of the Center for Pediatric Ophthalmology at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland and vice chair of clinical affairs at the University Hospitals Eye Institute, Case Medical Center. The deputy executive editor will be K. David Epley, M.D., a past president of the American Association of Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus.
The center will be housed within The Ophthalmic News & Education Network®. The Academy’s ONE® Network is the world’s largest online source of peer-reviewed, high-quality news and education for ophthalmologists. Funded by the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (FAAO), the ONE Network provides more than 50 interactive cases and courses, full-text access to nine leading journals, self-assessment questions, practice guidelines, and thousands of videos and clinical images. It also provides summaries of the Academy’s practice guidelines in eight languages and is used by ophthalmologists in more than 140 countries.
“The Knights Templar Eye Foundation is a tremendous partner for ophthalmologists and our patients, and this grant is an extraordinary gift for the profession,” said David W. Parke II, M.D., CEO of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. “The KTEF Pediatric Ophthalmology Education Center will ensure a strong educational foundation for current and future generations of ophthalmologists. It will speed the adoption of new knowledge, technology and treatments, and will eliminate a lack of ophthalmic education as a contributor to global blindness. No such resource currently exists.”
“We are proud to expand our relationship with the Academy and contribute to the advancement of ophthalmic education through this innovative new resource,” said KTEF President David D. Goodwin, who also serves on the FAAO Advisory Board. “The KTEF Pediatric Ophthalmology Center will provide a real opportunity to make a difference and improve the outcomes in eye care for children worldwide.”
Incorporated in 1956, KTEF is a charity sponsored by the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar, a Masonic fraternal organization. Their mission is “to improve vision through research, education, and supporting access to care.” For the last 19 years, the KTEF has been a key supporter of the FAAO’s public service program EyeCare America, which provides sight-saving services to the medically underserved across the United States.
About the Knights Templar Eye Foundation
The Knights Templar Eye Foundation, incorporated in 1956, is a charity sponsored by the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar. The Foundation is governed by a Board of Trustees comprised of the six elected officers of the Grand Encampment, all Past Grand Masters of the Grand Encampment, and six trustees-at-large elected from and by the membership for a term of nine years. It is exempt from federal income taxation under Section 501 (c) 3 of the Internal Revenue Code and contributions made to the Foundation are deductible by donors.
The original mission of the Foundation was “to provide assistance to those who face loss of sight due to the need for surgical treatment without regard to race, color, creed, age, sex or national origin provided they are unable to pay or receive adequate assistance from current government agencies or similar sources and to provide funds for research in curing diseases of the eye.”
About the American Academy of Ophthalmology The American Academy of Ophthalmology, headquartered in San Francisco, is the world’s largest association of eye physicians and surgeons — Eye M.D.s — with more than 32,000 members worldwide. Eye health care is provided by the three “O’s” – ophthalmologists, optometrists, and opticians. It is the ophthalmologist, or Eye M.D., who has the education and training to treat it all: eye diseases, infections and injuries, and perform eye surgery. For more information, visit www.aao.org.
The Academy’s EyeSmart® program educates the public about the importance of eye health and empowers them to preserve healthy vision. EyeSmart provides the most trusted and medically accurate information about eye diseases, conditions and injuries. OjosSanos™ is the Spanish-language version of the program. Visit www.geteyesmart.org or www.ojossanos.org to learn more.
About the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology
Established in 1980, the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology raises financial support and implements programs that advance ophthalmic education resulting in the best possible eye care for the public. Funds raised by the Academy Foundation are used to develop new Academy educational products and services and to preserve the history of ophthalmology and that of the Academy. Since its inception, the Foundation has worked to advance ophthalmic education and provide better care for the public. More information can be found at www.faao.org.
I can’t believe that April 1st is the 9th anniversary of the first time I ever presented my Masonic Pride Tour. Now countless performances and close to a million miles have passed. As I’m reflecting back and doing self examination of where I’ve traveled and whom my music has allowed me to meet in our Brotherhood I’m humbled to know that they are out there keeping the Masonic Spirit alive.
As many of you know I would have never written my first Masonic song had it not have been for the late Great Brother Rich Stoll who passed away from Pancreatic Cancer. The Great Creator has sent another wonderful chapter in my Masonic Music career recently with a new exciting group of Publicists.
I want to invite everyone to go to www.MasonicPrideProductions.com and see the new web site and new album “My Masonic Legacy.”
I was involved in an accident hit by a car a while back that destroyed my left shoulder in which I’m doing major therapy on and it appears will end in reconstruction surgery. My shoulder falls completely out of joint which numbs my left hand. We were preparing to launch a fishing boat and a car came backing up the wrong way on the launch ramp and hit our boat and trailer from behind which totaled the boat and trailer and my left arm was inside the boat leaning over unhooking it when it exploded into the air. My Dads hand was broken as well while he was unhooking the front. Thank God my eight year old Grandson who was standing beside the boat was only shaken up but not hurt. I had just crossed behind the boat one second before the impact. This will keep me from the Masonic Pride Tour for quite some time and from playing the guitar. I’d like to ask you for your support by ordering the CD.
I make my living from the performances and now at least for a while I’m counting on the new album and all my Brothers support.
The Small Town Texas Mason E-Magazine has an excellent article going out in the November 2010 edition. The publication comes from the heart of a brother who publishes it to “enlighten, educate, and entertain Masons and non Masons alike.” Like so much of Masonic publishing it is a free press to circulate Masonic thought and interest.
In the November issue, the publisher Corky Daunt asks the question:
Is Freemasonry’s reputation was being harmed by to many news stories in newspapers and being repeated on the internet about Freemason bringing Civil Lawsuits against Grand Lodges for Masonic reasons.
He reserves his conclusions and posts instead three responses sent in by readers on the subject, two from North America (one from our very own Fred Milliken) and one from Australia. The relevancy of the question is an important one and something this site has been charged with repeatedly as reporting (or editorializing) on the bad in the news.
At the end of his piece, Corky asks “Do you think bad publicity is harming Freemasonry’s image?”
To be honest, I would have to answer and say that it is. But, with the caveat that the press and editorializing is only so bad as the reality of the events taking place themselves. Because there is no system to mitigate these events that lead to the bad press they are left to spiral out of control in an increasingly close world.
In other words, there is no system to police the system itself, so a free press (as with Democracy) needs to exist so as to ensure that the system adheres to its own principles.
The question then becomes is the system of Freemasonry of such importance that it needs such a medium to keep watch of its practice, or is it merely a membership organization like an athletic club like the YMCA or a big box shopping warehouse like Costco or Sam’s Club, where the membership value we get comes in the commodities we take away from it.
Ask yourself this:
Is Freemasonry really a practice of some moral philosophy? And if so, how do we (the members) practice it? Or, is it just a membership club that we go to for some monthly dinner socializing and entertainment in the form of democratic practice in voting on paying for the phone bill.
Personally, I like to think that its a Moral Philosophy that needs to be kept on its toes so as not to fall into the morass of base society, that it has an elevated sense of upright moral rectitude (that’s what we were told right?). Why else would we be members?
So to answer Corky’s question, Yes, I think the bad publicity hurts us as a fraternity overall. But, I think what hurts us even more are the activities being reported upon which chip away at the larger structure of the craft. We need to know what goes on in our own house, our Masonic house, so as to be vigilant against it and the only way to do that is to know what is going on – good, bad, or indifferent.
Otherwise, we can keep our heads buried int he sand while lodges are left to falter, members expelled for bucking the system, or indiscretions allowed to continue in fear of reprisals – all of which seem very un-Masonic in my handbook. But, if those are acceptable in the great moral society, then we can each just look for the next discount coupon for a reduced cost dinner at the next lodge meeting and not give a thought to our role in supporting a greater moral philosophy.
What do you think? Is the bad press hurting Masonry?
This story slipped under the radar. The burning taper posted on it, but sadly, someone found it distasteful and gave it a thumbs down on King Solomon’s agrigator.
But really, this raises SO many red flags and questions that it is really impossible to ignore. My questions is how, at his first arrest was he allowed to remain on the roles, and second, how is it he is still on them today?
The tag: A Shriner – known for his charitable work with children – is now accused of having a thousand graphic images and video of child porn.
Seriously, is this Freemasonry???
This came to me on Facebook, that I thought important to add…
“I did not catch the word “conviction”. I think they said the investigation started in 2007 but it sounds like it has not been to trial. I think he was probably arrested, bonded but not convicted (yet).
He violated the terms of his bond so was was arrested again (the arrest would probably have been for violation of the conditions of bond) for a bond violation.
I am sure they (the GL of Va) are waiting on a conviction for the child porn. Knowing the GM like I do he will be gone as sure as old faithful will blow again as soon as the conviction is handed down & GL gets a certified copy of the conviction in hand.”