On Saturday, August 8, I had the opportunity to meet with the Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Alaska to brief them on the “State of the Jurisdiction”. We are half way through the current term. I wanted to update the PGMs on my view of how things are progressing and to hear their thoughts on some of the initiatives Grand Lodge is pursuing. The following is a summary of the information presented:
• Committee Assignments and Status – This year we have taken an aggressive approach in the assignment of the various Grand Lodge standing and sub committees. Each committee chairman has been given a set of specific tasks which they expected to accomplish and time frames when those tasks should be completed. To date, all committees appear to be on tract with their given assignments. Some of the committees have gone the extra mile and have far exceeded my expectations.
Masonic Public Relations Committee – Brother Jeff Polizzotto has been extremely busy promoting Masonry throughout Southeast Alaska this year and is preparing a statewide newspaper ad campaign to recognize the State of Alaska’s 50th Anniversary and Masonry’s participation in the development of all Alaskan communities. This campaign will coincide with the Alaska Day celebration on October 18th.
Masonic Youth Committee – WB Dale Gillilan has completed the final draft of the brochure to be distributed to all Masons in Alaska, encouraging Masons, Lodges and other Masonic bodies to sponsor and support Masonic youth organizations. Several copies of the brochure will be distributed to each constituent lodge and will be available at the Masonic Booth at the Alaska State Fair.
Leadership Training Committee – The Deputies of the Grand Master have successfully presented Lodge Officers Training course in Districts 1, 2, 3, and 5. District 4 has tentatively scheduled this training in Juneau in September. The Lodge Officers Training course is open to all Master Masons who are officers in their lodges and those who ever plan to be an officer. The training focuses on the duties and responsibilities of each lodge officer, suggested committees and lodge activities, and lodge management. This training has been very well received and Districts 3 and 5 are planning a combined District training event later this year.
Internet Committee – WB Tad Dean has completed a complete overhaul of the Grand Lodge of Alaska web site resulting in the following:
- A more 'upbeat' look and feel of the site;
- Crafted a message from the GM based on the 2009 theme for Alaska Masons and a message to the inquiring non-Mason;
- Improved navigability by incorporating a left banner site menu visible from all pages;
- Updated for 2009 GL officers' current information and posts;
- Updated Alaska Lodge information where responses were received;
- Created a web page titled 'Alaska-Things to do', with lots of useful information for the visiting mason and others; and
- Incorporated Traveling Mason review comments of the web site, which, incidentally, has been well received.
Trestle Board Committee – MWB Jared Decker has taken on the task of publishing the Grand Lodge of Alaska quarterly newsletter, “Light of the Great Land”. It has been a few years since Grand Lodge has published a newsletter and MWB Jared’s contribution is a refreshing addition of the several ways Grand Lodge has been communicating with the membership this year. The newsletter is viewable on the Grand Lodge web site and is downloadable. Hard copies of the newsletter have been distributed to each of the constituent lodges, as well. MWB Jared encourages contributors to get their articles for publication in early.
Masonic Code Review Committee – VWB Roger Hansen has commented that the only thing consistent about the Alaska Masonic Code is that it was consistently inconsistent consistently. VWB Roger was tasked with finding and correcting missing information and typographical errors. However, while reviewing the entire Code, many mistakes and errors were found that affected the meaning and intent of the Code. These errors and mistakes have been corrected by comparing the current Code with the original 1981 Code and 1988 Clarified Code and all passed resolutions to date. Also, both the Table of Contents and Index have been reviewed for spelling and alphabetical errors and have been corrected. The Alaska Masonic Code's format has been slightly changed so that everything lines up from page to page for consistency and thus is easier to read. The Jurisprudence Committee has reviewed the work done by VWB Roger’s committee and report that the results are merely housekeeping in nature and not changes to the Code.
Masonic Scholarship Committee – In the late 1990s, RWB Ed Weisser (PGM Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania) contributed a sum of money to the Grand Lodge of Alaska for the purpose of establishing an Arts Scholarship. In 2001, MWB Chuck Corbin established the Alaska Masonic Charities Foundation to administer an endowment dedicated partly to such a scholarship. This year, the Grand Lodge established a special committee dedicated to providing a clear definition of the “Grand Lodge of Alaska’s Arts & Music Scholarship”,
establishing applicant eligibility, establish a selection criteria for awarding scholarships, promoting the Scholarship to the target group of applicants, and making an award coincident with the 2010 Annual Communication. Brother Stephen Wright and his committee have created an application form for the “Grand Lodge of Alaska Visual Arts and Music Masonic Scholarship” and a ranking guide for selecting the best qualified applicant. The scholarship will be promoted within Alaskan High Schools and an award made during Grand Lodge in February 2010.
Ritual Consolidation Committee – Early this spring and under direction from Grand Lodge, MWB Chuck Corbin and his committee consolidated the Standard Work of the Grand Lodge of Alaska, as defined in Section 8.01 Constitution of the Alaska Masonic Code, into a single volume. The purpose of this consolidated ritual is to provide a more orderly and manageable ritual book, which will encourage more, and better practice and presentation of the Alaskan ritual. During my visits throughout the jurisdiction this year, I have shared the draft of the consolidated ritual with the brethren with resulting rave reviews.
• Special Activities & Achievements
Alaska Masonic Foundation for Children – Late last year, the name of Alaska Masonic Charities Foundation was changed to the “Alaska Masonic Foundation for Children (AMFC)”. The purpose of this endowment is to provide material support for the “Grand Lodge of Alaska’s Arts & Music Scholarship” and the “Alaska Masonic Model Student Assistance Program”. During the same period and working with an attorney, an application was prepared and submitted to the Internal Revenue Service to exempt the AMFC from Federal income tax under section 501 (c) 3 of the IRS Code. In March of this year, we received notification from the IRS that our application had been granted.
Direct Appeal – Last year, I committed the Grand Lodge of Alaska to a contract with Affinity Marketing Associates to administer a direct appeal to our members. The purpose of this appeal was to raise money to base fund the “Grand Lodge of Alaska’s Arts & Music Scholarship” portion of the “Alaska Masonic Foundation for Children (AMFC)”. Affinity assured me that, since the Grand Lodge of Alaska had not pursued a direct appeal for some time, we might be able to raise as much as $3,000 to $4,000. They also assured me that should we fail to raise enough money to cover the cost of the marketing campaign, we would not have to reimburse them. To date, we have netted nearly $10,000 in contributions, and I am exceedingly grateful to the members of the Grand Lodge of Alaska for your generosity.
Ritual Performance – The Alaska Masonic Code defines a Standard of Proficiency, which, when met, will lead to a certificate of proficiency. The recitation from memory required to meet this standard is extremely stringent and very few if any attempt it. In order to encourage greater participation in memorizing our ritual and recognition for accomplishment, I have charged RW Jerry Wasson (Grand Secretary) to chair a Ritual Performance committee. The purpose of the committee is to establish criteria for three levels of ritual performance and to create a recognition program for successful demonstration of proficiency.
Prince Hall Recognition – On May 10, 1997, the Grand Lodge of Alaska entered into an agreement of mutual recognition with the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Alaska, Inc. In the intervening years, the Grand Lodge of Alaska has entered into similar agreements with the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Connecticut, Inc.; the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Oregon, Idaho, and Montana, Inc.; and the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of North Carolina, Inc. This year, I formed a special committee, chaired by RW Johnnie Wallace (DGM), to work with the committee to be named by the Grand Master of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Alaska. The purpose of this committee is to identify those North American Prince Hall Grand Lodges who (1) are in amity with the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Alaska, (2) meet the standards of recognition as defined by the Commission on Information for Recognition of the Conference of Grand Lodges of North America, and (3) who maintain treaties of shared jurisdiction with the mainstream Grand Lodge(s) within their jurisdiction. Further, I have charged this committee with drafting letters for my signature requesting amity with those Prince Hall Grand Lodges that meet these criteria.
MSA Hospital Visitation Program – The Hospital Visitation Program of the Masonic Service Association of North America “is much more than merely "visitations" to the disabled and lonely patients in V.A. Hospitals, State Veterans Homes and Extended Care Facilities. It is the rendering of personal services to all our sons and brothers, Masons and Non-Masons alike, who now need someone to turn to for encouragement and to make life a little more pleasant.” I am proud to announce that the Grand Lodge of Alaska is participating in this wonderful program with my naming of VWB William Goodwin as our representative as Hospital Visitation Coordinator within the Veterans and Pioneers Home in Palmer.
Alaska Masonic Family Group – On May 9 this year, I hosted the inaugural meeting of the Alaska Masonic Family Group. The purpose of the group is:
- To provide a forum for leaders of the Alaskan Concordant Bodies to meet with the leaders of the Grand Lodge of Alaska and exchange ideas on topics which are of common interest to them.
- To provide an opportunity for the leaders of the represented organizations to become acquainted with one another and to promote one of the truly Masonic ornaments, which is Brotherly Love.
- To promote an open line of communications between the leaders so that when communications of a formal nature are required they will occur in a pleasant and productive manner.
This meeting was attended by all concordant bodies within Alaska and was extremely well received. All present agreed to make this an annual occurrence, to schedule it in October, to rotate the hosting responsibility, and to use the meeting as a vehicle for coordinating calendars between all associated bodies.
• Grand Lodge Membership Statistics
2009 (Jan 1 – Aug 1)