It is a humbling honor to serve you and our entire craft as Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons of the State of Missouri for the ensuing year. I look forward to the things we can accomplish, working together.
My message this year is seemingly simple: “Whence Came You?” This question taps into my passion for history and how I have come to love being a part of this fraternity that we know as Masonry. I have always been intrigued by the story of how my hometown lodge, Mt Hope No. 476 came into existence, and how this has contributed to my Masonic journey.
Each one of us has had a special introduction to Masonry. Mine was around age 13 when visiting an Uncle living in Indiana, who was proud to be a Mason and took time to tell me how Freemasonry was an important part of his life, even taking me to his local lodge hall and introducing me to some of his friends. The seed was planted.
I am sure each of us can testify of being inspired by a variety of Masons we have met over the years of our membership. Not all were officers contributing in leadership roles, some were brothers on the side lines who attended faithfully, volunteered for special projects, truly enjoying genuine fellowship. Once we ventured beyond the safe confines of our local lodges, a whole new world of Masonry was available on the District and State level, giving us opportunities to befriend District Deputies and State Officers who unselfishly devoted countless hours being encouragers and promoters of our art.
Brethren, the message I want to convey within our Lodges is simple: What is your story? What is the story of your lodge? I feel that by researching and reflecting on these stories we can be in a better position to help others discover the light we have found ourselves through Freemasonry. Telling our story can give us the opportunity to motivate existing members and mentor a new generation of Masons.
We have a great resource at our finger tips for the story of our Lodge just by studying the history in our minute books. I am told of a lodge which had absorbed two neighboring lodges that asked a few of its 50 year members to research the minute books of their hometown lodge prior to the merger and to recount highlights of people and events duly recorded. They recounted a treasure trove of memories about their lodge and the town(s) represented in those communities, and how many of the merchants in those towns were members of the lodge. There were members in my hometown lodge who owned a jewelry store and drug store in the early 1900’s and they had a large impact on what my Lodge is today.
As a Fraternity, when we reflect on our history we are quickly reminded of the many wonderful programs and charities that have been developed and expanded for our membership and the communities we serve. Most of us know about the Masonic Home of Missouri, the Masonic Children’s Foundation, the Missouri Lodge of Research and the Masonic Scholarship Foundation, but can we name and summarize the programs each of these Masonic Charities provide and the people they touch?
While I do not plan to add any new programs, I do challenge everyone to take time to get to know the ones we have and learn why they were created, who and what they help, how they have grown and evolved, and what we must do to carry them forward. Get involved and help our leaders by working individually or on committees designed to research annual proceedings of the Grand Lodge to learn about these programs and those of our Past Grand Master’s that are no longer easily remembered but still available.
I look forward to seeing you at our Area Meetings this year and for the special ceremonies that will be celebrated across the State, whether it is a 50 year pin, a Lodge Re-dedication, Degree work, or just a night of fellowship.
We can accomplish much through Masonry when we become motivated to learn, evolve and participate. Hearing your story and that of your lodge could very well be a reason for others to become interested in Freemasonry. In doing so, we have better opportunities of mentoring our members to be hungry for our ritual, our programs, and our fellowship.
Whence Came You?
Ronald D. Jones