Grand Lodge seemed to go really well. The previously mentioned resolution regarding alcoholic beverages in the lodge actually passed, and our new Grand Master is MWB Gareth J. Duggan. Congratulations, Brother! For those who have never been to Grand Lodge sessions before, I recommend sitting through them at least once. While I didn't get to stay for the installation, I found all the pomp and ceremony revolving around the introduction of visiting dignitaries and grand officers to be quite interesting. Representatives from the MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge F&AM of Oregon, Idaho, and Montana, Inc. were present, and I had the opportunity to speak with one of the grand officers for a moment. We have been trying to arrange a visit for a while, but unfortunately I learned that their southernmost lodge, which once met in Klamath Falls, has surrendered its charter.
I mentioned that I was traveling with our Senior Warden. We spent a great deal of time this weekend going over his plans for next year, and while fleshing them out came up with enough material and ideas to fill three years of lodge activities. As I am certain that there are other Masters out there looking for ideas for their year in the East, I thought I would share some of ours.
- Camping, fishing, and picnics. We have avoided these in the past because they're difficult for our older members to attend, but as we won't be taking away from other lodge activities, they really can't hurt and should be a lot of fun.
- "Bring a friend" night. Our "Layman's Night" idea hasn't been working out very well, so after three years we're thinking of putting it on hold. Instead, Masons will be able to use non-Masons as meal tickets — bring a friend and the two of you eat for free! This way, non-Masons will get to see what our regular programs are like.
- A "Degree Month" for each degree. Our lodge members normally meet three times a month: once for the Stated Communication, and twice for ritual practices. We thought it would be neat to have our first meeting be a ritual practice for one of the degrees, then our Stated Meeting would open on that degree. During the meeting we would recite or exemplify some portion of the degree (perhaps the lecture or obligation), with some discussion. Finally, our third meeting would be an educational meeting where we discussed the degree.
- Seven Liberal Arts and Sciences. We will focus on this important symbol of Freemasonry by having public programs focused on each of these topics. This should provide us enough material for several years of programs, even! We thought about inviting the local Toastmasters group to talk about rhetoric, and already lined up a Past Grand Master to talk about astronomy.
Finally, I thought I would close this entry by announcing that one more Masonic weblog has been found. As I was saying... at Solomon Center is run by a few Illinois Freemasons. The website looks really great, and I wish them luck. It is really, certainly worth a visit.