REFLECT ON THESE, THEN LIVE IT!
Welcome to the Grand Lodge of Missouri web site. I am humbled and honored to have been elected and installed as your Grand Master of Missouri and I feel woefully unprepared and inadequate to assume the helm of such a notable and worthy institution. The confidence you have reposed in me as Grand Master is very humbling, and the weight of such confidence is not lost on me.
I am continually amazed at the nuggets of wisdom and knowledge that I learn or become aware of through listening to and reading all the parts of our ceremonies and ritual. Our ritual is vital to the understanding of the principles of Freemasonry and has a lifetime worth of contemplation and revelation that we need to rediscover. While our ritual is vital to understanding, so are our ceremonies necessary for us to regard all other aspects of our daily lives. I challenge you this year to spend some time in the ceremonies book as well as the cypher and holy writings to reflect on how we can better understand the symbolic and allegorical meanings of those operative tools to sharpen our speculative lives. REFLECT ON THESE, THEN LIVE IT
My symbols this year are the trestle board and all the tools of masonry with the accompanying lessons and symbols of the all of the other elements of our fraternity. The reason I have chosen these to represent my message this year is to illustrate the necessity of converting theoretical or the idea, found on the trestle board, into action, by use of the working tools of masonry, which will produce a beautiful, perfect and complete whole. Ideas and concepts drawn on a trestle board or found in the Holy Writings are nothing until we use the symbolic tools and implements of speculative masonry to produce the desired change in our lives and the lives of others. Study and contemplate the meaning of these in your daily actions. REFLECT ON THESE, THEN LIVE IT.
This year, I anticipate, will be a continuation of challenges for our Masonic Fraternity. It is no secret that our membership numbers have been declining. Surveys tell us that millennials are searching for fulfillment and purpose, not just time fillers. There are plenty of those around. They want to feel challenged; they want to make a difference, but their time and MONEY are precious to them. We need to feed their hungry brains with meaningful information and to fill their hours with purposeful activities. We have failed to support and protect those we place in office by not providing the education and tools to guide the lodges toward success. Many have the desire and passion and want to succeed, but just don’t know where to start. We continue to elect and appoint great guys to positions of responsibility but haven’t given them the opportunity to improve their management and leadership skills. Not everyone is destined to be a leader, nor would they be happy and fulfilled in that role. We all know that we have brothers who are especially good at ritualistic floor work and are spatially oriented, others who excel in memorization and still others who are good at organizing and managing and doing it is such a way that it encourages participation and provides a positive atmosphere. We all have gifts and very few of them overlap. It is important that each and every one of us recognize that no one interest, or proclivity is superior to any other. Our challenge is to identify the gifts of others and put them to the best use for our success and then properly educate those who desire to grow and learn. Our charities are a great outlet for fulfilling the desire to help others through the Masonic Home, Children‘s Foundation, Missouri Lodge of Research or our various Scholarship programs.
This year I do not plan to begin any new programs however, I am going to charge several committees to work towards getting something into the lodges that will help them develop a meaningful education program, make better use of our Lodge Education Officers and to suggest local community projects to put a more visible face on Freemasonry. You must do the work. We will provide resources as necessary, however, we cannot be in your community, school district or church every day. You need to want to survive and convert that desire into action.
We have an honorable heritage with wonderful principles that we should exhibit every day. One, of which we should be proud. Exhibit that pride by sharing your experience in Freemasonry with others and invite them to be a part of it. With that in mind, I challenge each of you, every member of a Missouri lodge to share your story with a non-mason. You have continued to be a mason for all these years, now share it. I am calling it “REPLACE YOURSELF PLUS 1”. Surely you have acquaintances from work, college, church, other civic and community groups. Start a discussion with them. Invite them to your lodge for a “pre-meeting” meal or get together. Sponsor a public event with movies or other interesting masonic speakers. Form a speaker’s group or other special interest group in your lodge. Invite them to help with a MOCHIP event or a Masonic Home presentation. There are a lot of things your lodge can do in the community and enlist the aid of non-members. SHARE YOUR ENTHUSIASM. REPLACE YOURSELF PLUS 1.
There are several things that will take several years of planning and organizing before we can get them implemented. We have the Bi-Centennial coming up in 2021 as we prepare to launch into the century. We can make this the platform to prepare us for the next 100 years. As noted previously, several committees will need to coordinate to get a comprehensive mentoring program utilizing both virtual and print media. Our membership program now has the LAMP program on line module ready. However, we cannot rely just on digital media only. I believe that some of the membership challenges we face are a result of lack of personal contact. How often do we rely on emails or other forms of mass distribution instead of calling a brother or widow and personally inviting them to events? We need to get a useful and dynamic Masters and Wardens leadership program written and in place. We plan on looking at the C2A program and standardizing the materials presented and also to get back to the original intent of it being an exception to becoming a Master Mason and not the accepted way. I believe that while wonderful and meaningful education is included in C2A classes, when properly presented, something is lost in mass raisings. We must look at redistricting and lodge consolidations, at least for the near future. We need to determine how we want Freemasonry to look in the next 10-20 years and the next 100 and then plan for it now.
How you act and treat others, the language you chose to use in public and your overall appearance determines the public perception of our order.
In conclusion, as we go forth from this day into the future, let us resolve to live honorable lives as an example of our beliefs. Let us resolve to share our love of the fraternity with others in both verbal and non-verbal ways to increase our membership. Do so, not in an act of desperation, but for the desire to share a very good thing with a friend.
REFLECT ON THIS, THEN LIVE IT!
Stanton T. Brown II