Monday, June 29, 2009

Thanks For Your Generosity

This morning, while driving to the Post Office, I saw a Van with a “Masons – Preserving Our Heritage” decal on its back window. That decal represents one of the recipients of the Grand Lodge of Alaska’s direct appeal for support of the Alaska Masonic Foundation for Children (AMFC). The contributions received from this appeal will be used to fund the Grand Lodge of Alaska Masonic Visual Arts and Music Scholarship, one aspect of the AMFC.

This afternoon, I received a delivery from UPS containing a check for $9,247.27. This sum represents net revenues from contributions to date from our appeal. I am exceedingly grateful to all Masons and their families who have contributed to this worthy endeavor. For those who have not yet contributed, there is still time left to help bump our net revenues to $10,000.

In the next month or so, Alaska Lodges will be receiving information regarding the Visual Arts and Music Scholarship and asked to distribute it to High Schools in their communities. Please assist our Grand Lodge in promoting our scholarship throughout Alaska.

Once again, many thanks to all who have contributed.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Masonic Society 2nd Circle Committees

I just received the latest edition of the Journal of the Masonic Society. As stated on the Masonic Society web site:

"A significant group of passionate Masons are coming together to create what aims to be nothing less than the premier North American research society in Freemasonry. Called simply The Masonic Society, we are gathering together brothers who have a deep and abiding desire to seek knowledge, explore history, discover symbolism, debate philosophies, and in short, who will be at the forefront of charting a path for the future of Freemasonry. "

Articles presented in the latest Journal include:
“Special Report: The Real Illuminati”, by Christopher Hodapp
“Did He Or Didn’t He?” (a study of the inauguration of George Washington), by Jay Hochberg
“Philosophy and Freemasonry”, by John Bridegroom
“Masonic Ceremonial of Baptism”, attributed to Albert Pike and edited by Michael Poll

Under the section “News of the Society” reference is made to the creation of Masonic Society Second Circle Committees in various regions and jurisdictions around the world. I have been named chairman of the Alaska Second Circle Committee. This is rather a dubious honor, as at present there are less than a half dozen Masonic Society members within this jurisdiction. My purpose in accepting this position is to help further the aims of the Masonic Society in Alaska and to create for the Grand Lodge of Alaska a de facto Masonic Research organization.

For some time now, several Alaska Masons have expressed an interest in the development of some type of Masonic Research and Education association. These Masons expressed a desire to meet regularly to discuss and debate Masonic history and philosophy. Unfortunately, due to the relatively small size of this group and their distribution throughout the State of Alaska, the likelihood of them ever getting together was slim. The purpose of the Masonic Society Second Circle Committees is to create a forum within a Masonic jurisdiction where brethren can discuss Masonic topics of common interest and where they can meet annually (or semiannually) for fun and fellowship, for presentation of research papers, and to listen to guest lecturers. I envision that this committee can become the Masonic Research and Education association that Alaska Masons are looking for.

I invite your comments to this idea of creating a Masonic research association through the Alaska Masonic Society Second Circle Committee. I also invite you to become a member of the Masonic Society and share in the benefits of belonging to this premier organization. To become a member of the Masonic Society or simply subscribe to the Journal, click here for the Masonic Society application for membership.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Rainbow Grand Assembly

The Forty-Seventh Session of the Grand Assembly of Alaska, International Order of the Rainbow for Girls was held at Pioneer Park in Fairbanks, AK, June 24 -27. Grand Worthy Advisor, Miss Tabbitha Cobb led the ceremonies for this four day event.

During the informal opening on Thursday evening, several distinguished guests from the Fairbanks community were invited to speak. These guests included:

Terry Strle, Mayor of the City of Fairbanks
Doug Isaacson, Mayor of the City of North Pole
Dr. Nancy Wagner, Superintendent, Fairbanks North Star Borough Schools
John Coghill, Jr., Representative, State of Alaska Legislature

Dr. Wagner gave a very inspiring speech, telling the Rainbow Girls that education is the key to “Breaking the Glass Ceiling for Women”. She recounted her own experiences and advised the young women that the subjects of math, science, and engineering were excellent pursuits, which would advance their potential for success.

There are three active Rainbow Assemblies (Fairbanks #1, Juneau #3, and Nugget #13) remaining in Alaska, and the girls are very enthusiastic and have a lot of fun while learning leadership, confidence, and citizenship. The Alaska Rainbow Girls are a key member of the Alaska Masonic Family and have the potential for explosive growth, as new and younger families join the fraternity of Freemasonry. If anyone has an interest in participating with the Rainbow Girls in Alaska, contact Ms Gabrielle Hazelton (

Beth and I traveled from Palmer to Fairbanks on Thursday to participate in a portion of Grand Assembly. We really enjoyed visiting with Grand Worthy Advisor Tabbitha, Supreme Deputy Ms Hazelton, the girls, and many adult supporters who we hadn’t seen in a few years. Beth is a majority member of Rainbow Girls, as I am a senior DeMolay. In fact, we first met at a Rainbow Installation ceremony 40 years ago. Although, we were more active, as our daughter Megan went through the chairs in Palmer Assembly #7, our hearts remain with the Rainbow Girls and we wish them all the best.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Light of the Great Land

The 2nd edition of the Grand Lodge of Alaska newsletter ("Light Of The Great Land") is currently available for viewing on the Grand Lodge of Alaska web site.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggy-Jig

Beth and I returned home this afternoon after three weeks on the road. It’s great to be back in Alaska, even though we had a wonderful time on our visits to the Grand Lodges of Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia – Yukon. From June 1 until today, we covered 2896 miles by air and 2596 miles by car. We spent 10 nights on the road in hotels and another 11 nights with friends. This coming Thursday, we will travel to Fairbanks for the Grand Assembly of Alaska IORG, adding another 664 miles traveled by car in the month of June for a total of 3260 road miles in one month.

This past Wednesday (June 17), Beth and I traveled from Camano Island, WA up the Fraser River Valley to Prince George, BC Canada. Having lived in Alaska and traveled the Alaska Highway for 35 years, this was not the first time we traveled that portion of the highway. Our previous trips had us focusing on the destination and not enjoying the journey. We call this “border fever”, which tends to make us drive long hours over great distances, often times at the tail end of our trips. On this particular trip, however, we took our time and made it a two day drive to Prince George, instead of the usual one day. For the most part, the weather was blue bird clear with the occasional late afternoon thunder shower. The Fraser River Valley is absolutely beautiful, especially this time of year, which made me realize why the motto of this Province of Canada is “Beautiful British Columbia”.

We arrived in Prince George Thursday afternoon, in time to register for the 138th Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon and participate in the Community Reception. Our host for this three day event was Most Worshipful R. Glenn Allen and his lady Laura. I wish to offer our thanks and appreciation for all of the honors and courtesies extended to us.

Besides Beth and me, distinguished guests form other Grand Jurisdictions included:

RW Peter Dunlop, Senior Grand Warden, Grand Lodge of Alberta
RW Krisjan Goodmanson, Deputy Grand Master, Grand Lodge of Manitoba
W Adam W. Morrill, Grand Standard Barer, Grand Lodge of California
W P. Marty Martineau, Jr., Senior Grand Deacon, Grand Lodge of Utah
MW John D. McNab, Past Grand Master, Grand Lodge of Washington

The Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon has a truly progressive line, starting at Junior Grand Warden. That is, the JGW is the only elected officer in the line and the SGW, DGM, and Grand Master progress to their positions with the JGW's election. The new slate of officers for 2009/2010 is:

MW Brian Tuckey, Grand Master
RW J. Alan Cross, Deputy Grand Master
RW William R. Cave, Senior Grand Warden
RW Murray Webster, Junior Grand Warden
RW Del W. Patterson, Grand Treasurer
RW George Moore, Grand Secretary

RW Brother Moore replaces MW James C. Gordon (PGM) as Grand Secretary. MW Brother Gordon passed away earlier this year.

Items of note at this Annual Communication included the sanctifying of the use of four different rituals within the Jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge (Ancient, Canadian, Emulation, and Australian) and the raising of the per capita assessments to the Lodges. The per capita for the Grand Lodge is now $35 per member plus $15 per member charity fee for a total of $50.

Beth and I had a wonderful time visiting with our Canadian brothers and their ladies. Saturday after the installation of officers for 2009/2010, we headed back down the Fraser River Valley for Camano Island. We made it back in time to spend Father’s Day with my folks.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Alaska visits the Grand Lodge of Washington

On Tuesday, June 9, dad (W John Kelly Cline) and I drove down to Redmond, Washington from Camano Island to participate in the weekly meeting of the Redmond Goose and Gridiron (Nest One). It was great to break bread and have fellowship with several of the brethren I had not seen in quite a while. It was especially nice to visit with MW James Williams (Grand Master of Masons in Alaska in 1981-82). The photo accompanying this article shows me in the middle with dad on my right and MW Jim on the left. Dad became a Mason in Solomon Lodge No. 20 in Jacksonville, FL in May 1946, while serving there in World War II. MW Jim became a Mason in Tanana Lodge No. 162 in Fairbanks, AK in December 1947. It’s interesting to note that MW Brother Jim became a Mason one month after I was born. As it is, I am surrounded by 124 years of Masonry.

Other Alaskan Masons in attendance at this luncheon included VW Brother Pete Nilles (the first Worshipful Master of Aurora Lodge No. 15 in Anchorage) and W Brother Roger Barnstead (the Grand Historian of the Grand Lodge of Alaska). MW Jim and VW Pete now live in Renton, WA (my hometown).

MW Brother Jim Williams was the first Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Alaska, which formed out of the Grand Lodge of Washington in 1981. Since that time, there have been many Alaska Grand Masters who have been affiliated with the Grand Lodge of Washington, of which I am the newest. However, MW Brother Jim was not the first Alaska Mason to be a Grand Master in Washington. The first member of an Alaska Lodge to be a Grand Master within the jurisdiction of Washington was MW Charles P. Kirtland. Charlie, as he was known to thousands of Masonic associates, was Past Master of White Pass Lodge No. 113 in Skagway, Alaska, and became Grand Master of Masons in Washington in 1939.

One final note: Dad’s lodge, Thornton F. McElroy No. 302, probably holds the record of the most affiliated Grand Masters from Alaska, if not the most affiliated Grand Masters. Alaskan Grand Masters who affiliated with TF McElroy include:

MW Jack Bently*
MW John Intram*
MW Gunnar Flygenring*
MW Charles Greg
MW Bo Cline

Additionally, MW Wendal (Wendy) Kuecker, who is a Past Master of TF McElroy, was named Honorary Past Grand Master of Alaska in 1996. One other Past Grand Master affiliated with TF McElroy is MW Ted Clarke from the Grand Lodge of BC-Yukon.

Thornton F. McElroy Lodge No. 302 was the first lodge chartered in the Grand Lodge of Washington in its second one hundred years and was named for the first Grand Master of Washington. Dad is a charter member of TF McElroy and its sixth Master. MW William R. Miller was the eighth Master of TF McElroy and the Grand Master of Masons in Washington in 1989-90. The Grand Lodge of Washington just celebrated their 150th anniversary, which makes TF McElroy 50 years old. There will be a celebration marking this occasion on August 14 – 16, 2009 at the Lodge in Federal Way, WA.

Friday, June 12, 2009

152nd Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Washington

I just returned from the investiture ceremony where RW Brother Gale Kenney was inducted into the Past Grand Masters Association of Washington. Gale is the newly elected Grand Master for the Grand Lodge and will be installed later this evening.

Beth and I had a wonderful time at this 152nd Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Washington. We reacquainted ourselves with many old friends and made many several new ones. MW Doug Tucker and his lady Glynis were very gracious hosts and we thoroughly enjoyed their hospitality and good fellowship. Thanks to VW Brother Brian Hardy (Deputy District No. 4) for all of the courtesies and assistance extended to us.

At the close of the Grand Lodge session this afternoon, the following brethren were elected to lead the Grand Lodge of Washington for the coming term:

MW Gale H. Kenney, Grand Master
RW F. Santy Lascano, Deputy Grand Master
RW Michael L. Sanders, Senior Grand Warden
RW Dean W. Heinemann, Junior Grand Warden (pictured above)
RW David P. Owen, Grand Secretary

Thank you again, Doug and Glynis for a great Grand Lodge.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Pirates of Washington

Today Beth and I are attending the Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Washington along with dignitaries from various jurisdictions throughout the Western US. The delegation from the Grand Lodge of Alaska is comprised of:

MW Bo Cline, Grand Master
RW Johnnie Wallace (Walker), Deputy Grand Master
RW Jerry Wasson, Grand Secretary
W John Bishop, Grand Lecturer
W Roger Barnstead, Grand Historian
VW Roger Hansen, Grand Representative to Washington
VW Maynard Brent, Valdez Lodge No. 5

This afternoon’s session was highlighted by the entrance of the Grand Lodge of Washington officers in Pirates of the Caribbean garb (ala Jack Sparrow). MW Douglas Tucker (Grand Master) is depicted in the photo on the left and RW David Owen (Grand Secretary) is depicted in the photo on the right. Aaarg!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Choosing a Path for Retention

The following was presented at the Grand Lodge of Oregon on June 5, 2009.

There are more men seeking out Masonry today than we have seen in the past thirty or forty years. The cause for this sudden interest in Masonry could be because of a greater presence of Freemasonry in the popular media or that a new generation is more receptive to what Masonry has to offer. What ever the case, men are joining for the same reasons that men have become Masons for more than 300 years, for brotherhood and fellowship, for community involvement, and for self improvement. Unfortunately, men are also leaving Masonry at an alarming rate. I suspect that the reason these new Masons are leaving the craft is because they are not finding what they expected in Masonry, that which we have promised them.

What do we promise our candidates for the degrees of Masonry and how do we keep our promises? First of all, we tell our candidates that Masonry is a fraternal society where they will be regaled with good food, fun, and friendship. We tell them that Masonry is a community organization where they will have an opportunity to get involved with and improve all aspects of their communities. And, we tell them that Masonry is a character building institution, that through the presentation of the three degrees of Masonry and through a life long study of the history and philosophy of Freemasonry they will become better citizens, better husbands and fathers, better men.

Men joining Masonry today have many commitments and responsibilities which dominate their time. These men are busy with work, church, and family and, although they have a strong desire to participate in the positive aspects of Masonry, their time to commit to the craft is measured. Dedicating one evening a month to a stated meeting and one weekend to a community or social activity may be the best we can expect.

I have a friend in England who is a member of a very successful lodge in London. He says that there are three reasons his lodge is so successful. First and foremost they give the “lads” excellent ritual and Masonic education, secondly they give them quality festive boards with all the good food and all the drink they want, and finally they give them an early train home.

Knowing what the next generation expects from Masonry is half the battle. To be truthful, they expect no more than what we have promised them. Our challenge, then, is to meet those expectations and deliver on our promise.

I believe that American Freemasonry is at a fork in the road. We may choose to maintain the status quo and continue along our current path where men are leaving Masonry as fast as they are joining it. Or, we may choose to follow a different path, one that will lead to a bright and positive future. Successful lodges throughout our country are encouraging and empowering their new Masons, they are instilling in them a desire for continued Masonic education and support its attainment, and they are sanctuaries of fun and friendships. What THEN can we do to promote fellowship within our lodges and keep Masonry interesting and relevant for every member?

I urge us to choose a different path that challenges the status quo and keeps the promises to our candidates; to commit to a program of fellowship, individual involvement, and Masonic education; to choose a path for retention, a path that will remake our lodges and keep Masonry alive.

Friday, June 5, 2009

159th Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Oregon

Beth and I are currently in beautiful Bend, Oregon, attending the 159th Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Oregon. I wish to thank MW Robert M. Richmond, Grand Master and Cowboy Poet and his Lady Joyce for their wonderful hospitality and all of the courtesies extended to Beth and me.

This Grand Lodge has been extremely well attended, which is a testament to how well MW Richmond is loved by the brethren in Oregon. Representatives from the Grand Lodges of Alaska, BC-Yukon, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon (Idaho & Montana) Prince Hall, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming have been in attendance. Additionally, two brothers from the Grand Lodge of Scotland came for the visit and MW Richard Fletcher and his wife Judy represented the Masonic Service Association of North America and spoke at the Fellowship Banquet last night.

Many of the guest speakers addressed the changing demographics of Masonry and how to keep new Masons enthused and excited about Masonry. Another common theme was the degradation in ritual presentation and how to improve it.

An item of interest occurred when MW Aaron W. Harvey announced that he was stepping down as Grand Secretary after five years. Aaron stepped in as Grand Secretary during a time of trial for the Grand Lodge of Oregon and has served this Grand Lodge with distinction these last several years. Another item of interest was the unanimous recognition by the Grand Lodge of Oregon of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of F&AM, Jurisdiction of North Carolina, Inc.

During the election of officers for the Grand Lodge of Oregon for 2009/2010 the following brethren were elected:

Grand Master MW D. Arthur Bush
DGM RW L.E. “Ed” Bousquet
SGW RW Richard A. Martin
JGW RW Hunt M. Compton
Grand Secretary RW Paul Temple

MW John S. Harvey was elected to serve on the Jurisprudence for another five years. W David Fryday was appointed to be the Senior Grand Deacon for the ensuing term. This was a significant appointment, as in the Grand Lodge of Oregon the SGD is traditionally elected to the office of Junior Grand Warden in the succeeding year.