Notice: Grand Lodge By-Laws Update

NOTICE REGARDING GRAND LODGE BY-LAWS UPDATE

Due to the rising costs of publication and postage, the Grand Lodge Committee on By-Laws this year has again elected not to distribute paper copies of the 2015 edition of the Constitution and By-Laws. The full document is available for direct viewing, download, and printing from the Grand Lodge website at http://www.momason.org under the “Resources” tab. Alternatively, you may contact the Grand Lodge Office and purchase a full paper copy for the actual cost of printing and shipping the entire publication.

For ease of use in locating and inserting appropriate updates, below is a listing of all By-Law and annotation revisions by page and section number through the 2015 Annual Communication.

  1. The By-Laws themselves have been amended to reflect all legislation approved at the 194th Annual Communication. The amended Sections are as follows:
    • Section 9.051 outlining the Treasurer’s Duties has been added at page
    • Sections 9.070 and 9.090 relating to Formation of and Reporting by Building Associations have been amended at pages 48 and
    • Section 10.040 has been amended at page 54 to reflect the codification of the Public Relations Assessment for dues paying members. Note this assessment does not apply to those whose dues have been remitted, relieved, or
    • Sections 16.050 (pg. 70), 16.070 (pg. 71), 17.130 (pg. 74), 17.150 (pg. 75), 20.010 (pg. 82), and 20.080 (pg. 83) have been amended to eliminate references to the requirement of a Candidate’s Proficiency which was repealed in 2000 at the 179th Annual Communication.
  • The Junior Grand Warden has been added to the Resolution at page 125 concerning Representatives at the Conference of Grand Masters and meetings of the George Washington National Memorial
  1. With the approval of the legislation noted above, previous Committee Notes and Annotations relating to proficiency requirements have been eliminated for individual sections. A citation to previously repealed Section16.040 Proficiency (Repealed 2000-70,71) has been added at page 70 and all annotations relating to proficiency requirements have been added
  2. A Committee Note at 3.035 regarding previous erroneous by-law language has been
  3. The annotation regarding Treasurer’s Reports at 8.010 has been eliminated as it has been superseded by the addition of Section 051.
  4. Appropriate language and a Committee Note has been added to 10.040 to correct a previous omission in printing the By-Laws clarifying that lodges are not assessed per capita dues for Master Masons whose dues have been exempted or remitted.
  1. The Resolution regarding support of extraneous organizations has been removed due to conflicts with Section 053.

The members of the Committee trust that the Craft will appreciate our efforts to reduce costs. Should you have any problems accessing the Constitution and By-Laws on the web site, please do not hesitate to contact the Grand Lodge office for assistance.

Fraternally and sincerely,

John C. Spielman, Chairman

Grand Lodge Committee on By-Laws

2015 Revised Constitution and By-Laws

The 2015 Revised Constitution and By-Laws has been released and is available as a PDF Download on the Resource Tab.

This document has been formatted to be printed duplex to allow for the insertion of tabbed notebook pages, as are distributed with the purchased versions of the base document. This does not prevent you from printing the document on simplex (single sided).

Please feel free to download and print these documents. Since they are copyrighted, we ask that you do not make additional copies from the documents printed off the website. The pdf version found here is searchable, allowing you to easily locate the topic you seek.

Assistant Grand Secretary

Be It Known By All :

Pursuant to Sections 2.0lO(k) and 2.040(0) of the By-Laws of the Grand Lodge of Ancient,  Free and Accepted Masons of the State of Missouri,as Grand Master I have on this date approved the appointment of Right Worshipful  Brother H. Keith Neese to serve without compensation, unless otherwise determined at a later date, as an assistant to the Grand Secretary.

Right Worshipful Brother Neese shall hold the temporary title of “Assistant Grand Secretary” for the term of his appointment, which shall continue until such time as determined by the Grand Secretary and approved by the Grand Master.

This action has been deemed necessary due to the inordinate amount of work created for the Grand Lodge Office in transitioning from the administration of the former Grand Secretary to the current Grand Secretary.

Brent Stewart
Grand Master

Asst G Secretary Ltr 12 9 15 (003)

Grand Master’s Message

GRAND MASTER’S MESSAGE NOVEMBER 15, 2015

Greetings Brethren: I hope the new Masonic year finds you well. I apologize for not having this Message out earlier but the weeks immediately following the Annual Communication have been unusually busy. You can check the calendar of October events in the most recent edition of The Freemason magazine to get an idea of what we’ve been doing and what is planned.

Unlike in years past, I decided not to conduct the usual Area Meetings during October through the first of December. Instead, your officers and I are going directly to the individual lodges rather than asking you to come to us. We will be doing this all year long.

One thing that seems to be working well is for a lodge to call a Special Communication with a dinner on a Friday night with the Grand Master afterward conferring a first degree, followed by a formal, public lodge re-dedication or cornerstone ceremony on the following Saturday. We have a number of lodges preparing to celebrate their 100th, 125th, 150th or even 175th anniversaries and this is a way for the lodge to make a little money on the dinner, initiate a new brother, bring out some brothers who may not have attended lodge in awhile, and show the general public who we are and what we do.

I also am conducting officer installations, conferring first degrees on regular lodge nights, and making 50 year pin presentations, and just visiting lodges as often as my schedule will permit. If your lodge is interested in having me visit your lodge for any of these events or others, just complete the event request form available on the web site or from the Grand Lodge office.

Brethren, I hope you know that the “Grand Lodge” is not the Grand Master, the Grand Lodge Officers, or the Grand Lodge office staff. The “Grand Lodge” is the general membership. It is composed of the individual lodges. I have long felt that the Grand Lodge Officers and staff should work for the lodges, not the other way around. For this reason our primary focus this year is to help, aid, and assist the lodges in any way we can.

We have been and are doing all we can to restore confidence and trust between the lodges and those of us responsible for the administration of the Grand Lodge’s business. We have been and are: 1) implementing sound financial and operational practices in the Grand Lodge Office; 2) interpreting and applying the By-Laws consistently without regard for who it involves; 3) working to improve the way we communicate at all levels; 4) clearing up misconceptions and misinformation; and 5) bringing a new transparency in all we do. Some examples include giving lodge secretaries a voice in designing and implementing the new membership database, empowering District Deputy Grand Masters to do their jobs as specified in the By-Laws, and for the first time in years providing the membership with copies of the auditor’s report, budget, and financial statements prior to the Annual Communication. We also hope you will like the changes being made to the web site, our social media outlets, and The Freemason magazine. We ask for your help and patience as we move forward.

My theme this year is “Give the Gift but Guard the Gate”. Freemasonry is many things to many people. Some see it primarily as path to personal enlightenment, intellectual growth and spiritual development. Others see it primarily as a way to practice charity, which next to a belief in Deity, lies at the foundation of Freemasonry. Some see it as something in between, or like me, really as a combination of both.

I personally view Freemasonry, in the broadest sense, as being a gift—a gift of inestimable value that is given in and through our lodges. The lodge, that sacred retreat of friendship and virtue, is the very foundation of the Fraternity—where the “real action” is and where we practice our art.

It is in the lodge where we first individually give, and first individually receive, the gift that
is Freemasonry. It is in the lodge where the gift is then shared among the brothers and multiplies, thereby becoming the gift that keeps on giving, both inside the Craft and outside in our communities.

No one may receive the gift we give without first being permitted to pass through the west gate of one of our lodges. In our first and third degrees we are charged to guard vigilantly that west gate, lest our internal peace and harmony be broken and our external reputation be sullied. Only when we properly guard the gate will the harmony, strength, beauty, sincere friendship and good fellowship of our lodges be preserved, not only for us but for all those who will come after us.

Giving the Gift

A gift exists, according to the law, only when three requirements are met: 1) the donor must intend to give it; 2) the gift must be delivered; and 3) the recipient must accept it. If any one of those is missing it isn’t really “a gift”.

To truly have “donative intent” in Freemasonry, a sponsor must recognize that he has something of value that he truly wants to convey to his candidate. In my case, my grandfather personally valued Freemasonry and wanted me—when the time was right—to share that gift. While he may not have been a ritualist or even attend lodge regularly, he did value the Craft and was very proud to be a part of it. He wanted me to have that same experience. Compare that to the sponsor who hands out petitions willy nilly, is driven only by the desire to increase membership, and who does not even show up at his candidate’s initiation or otherwise participate in mentoring his candidate after he is initiated.

Those who focus on quantity at the expense of quality are not truly intending to give the gift of Freemasonry. Yes, we need more members. But that should never override or displace our real purpose. Giving a present to someone you care for is not the same as being a “secret Santa” at an office Christmas party.

How do we deliver the gift? Do we just put it in a bag with colored paper on top and hand it to him or do we take the time to carefully wrap and present it? How are we “packaging” it?
Delivering the gift of Freemasonry takes time. A sponsor starts giving the gift when he makes his first contact with the prospective candidate. He continues the process by then introducing the prospective candidate to the brethren of his lodge and otherwise preparing the candidate prior to even handing him a petition. This process continues through the investigating committee right up to the candidate first being taken into the preparation room. Being a progressive science, it continues step by step, degree through degree. Delivery of the gift is completed incrementally as the degrees are conferred and by the one-on-one mentoring provided thereafter.

We as Masons are not truly delivering the gift if we slop together our degree conferrals or perform our ritual purely by rote memory without conveying the meaning behind our ritual. Doing it right, again, takes time.

I believe that there are three elements to properly performing our ritual. The first is
memorization. You obviously cannot convey the meaning if you don’t know the words or floor work.  The second is taking the extra time and effort to understand the meaning of what you’ve memorized. There is a meaning behind the words and work. The third is conveying or communicating that understanding to others. Monotone delivery without emphasis and meaning conveys little. All three elements are required to deliver the gift.

We confer our degrees in one of two ways. The general membership has voted to allow a
Chance-To-Advance or “C2A” setting as an alternative to traditional degree conferrals. While it has not always been the case, today our C2As provide our candidates with excellent Masonic education and top notch ritual. If you have not attended a C2A recently or have never seen one, I strongly recommend that you do. I guarantee you will learn something you didn’t know to take back to your lodge and that you will witness the ritual as it should be performed.

There has been much confusion and misinformation about C2As. The By-Laws make it clear that C2As are the exception, not the rule and only can be held by dispensation of the Grand Master. I do not believe that the brothers intended C2As to serve as a “degree mill”. As Grand Master I will not approve a request for a C2A unless I am convinced that they deliver the gift through top notch education and ritual. Moreover, I hope everyone recognizes that going through a C2A does not relieve the lodge of the obligation to provide one-on-one mentoring. All candidates, regardless of which way they receive their degrees, are entitled to and should always have a personal mentor. This ultimately is the responsibility of the lodge, as it always has been.

Contrary to some misconceptions, mentors are allowed to teach the traditional “proficiency” lectures as par t o f a candidate’s Masonic education . “Proficiency” is not a “dirty word”. While the general membership has voted to no longer require that a candidate memorize the proficiency as a condition to advancement, and has done away with the vote of the lodge on the candidate’s proficiency, the By-Laws do not prohibit the teaching of the traditional proficiency work. To assist the mentors, individual degree ciphers even have been republished as part of our new Mentoring Program and are available from the Grand Lodge Office.

So there is no confusion, please know that as Grand Master I enforce the will of the membership as reflected in the By-Laws. I will take prompt, remedial action if a lodge is found to be requiring a candidate to memorize and give back his proficiency or is taking a vote of the lodge as a condition of advancement. I do, however, have faith in the lodges that they will observe the By-Laws and understand what is and what is not allowed. Like most things, there is a right way and a wrong way to use the proficiency lectures. I strongly encourage those old “proficiency coaches” who may have stepped aside out of a misunderstanding of the rules to get a copy of the Mentoring book, read it, and then start teaching again. We need you back. Help us deliver the gift.

In terms of accepting the gift, a candidate cannot accept what he doesn’t understand. It is our shared duty and responsibility—as sponsors, mentors, and brothers—to help our new brothers understand that Freemasonry is something of great value and that it is a gift that will keep on giving for his entire life. If he understands that we have done our job and he has received the gift.

Guarding the Gate

We necessarily must be selective in who we share our gift or the gift will become meaningless. This is in addition to what I’ve already have said as to why “guarding the gate” is important for us as an institution. I know some have said and believe that “all good men should be Masons”. I have to respectfully disagree. Not all good men can appreciate the gift or otherwise be comfortable in becoming and remaining a member of the Craft. We are admonished that a candidate must first be a Freemason in his heart. If he is not, we do a disservice to him and to ourselves escorting him through the west gate. The number of automatic expulsions and suspensions for non-payment of dues year after year tells me that we are not being selective enough in guarding the gate.

Please don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. I am not suggesting that we require, as some
“Traditional Observance” jurisdictions have, some sort of arbitrary college degree, financial qualification, or occupational threshold. If such things had been in place, my grandfather who worked at the post office, and my father who was a bricklayer—both good Masons—would never have been admitted. Our ritual is clear that it is the internal, not external qualifications that matter. Nor am I suggesting that our lodges go overboard in checking into the private lives of our candidates. Aside from it just being plain wrong, there can be some severe legal consequences should a lodge go too far in checking a person’s background without that person’s consent. Using common sense here, as elsewhere, is the appropriate standard.

So how do we guard the gate? Perhaps it is as simple as making sure that sponsors, investigating committees, and lodges ask themselves two basic questions: 1) is the person under consideration worthy of receiving and able to accept the gift of Freemasonry?; and 2) will the lodge and the Craft generally receive a gift if that person is allowed to become a Master Mason among us?

Thank you Brethren, give the gift, guard the gate, and I hope to see you in lodge sometime soon.
Fraternally and respectfully,
Brent Stewart
Grand Master 2015-2016

 

Missouri Residency Requirement

Re:  COMPLIANCE WITH THE BY-LAWS—Candidate Petitions

Worshipful Master and Brethren of all Missouri Lodges:

            While I know that this is a redundant letter, that I sent it to you last October and that my term has almost come to an end, I am again sending it to you to emphasize the importance of the investigation of candidates.

Your attention is directed to Section 13.020 of the Grand Lodge By-Laws, which states:

Except as provided in Section 21.100 (Waiver of Jurisdiction From Another State), a petitioner for the degrees must have had a permanent settled domicile or fixed abode in Missouri continuously for the six months immediately preceding  and presentation of his petition.  Residence is neither lost nor gained by the mere fact of location while employed in the service, either civil or military, of Missouri or of the United States.

All brothers recommending a candidate and signing a petition already should be aware, but if not should be immediately made aware, of this By-Law.  The Investigation Committee, the Lodge Secretary, and the Master each share the duty to insure that this and all other By-Laws are carefully and punctually observed.

When investigating a prospective candidate due diligence must be used to confirm the petitioner’s address prior to presenting his petition for a final vote.  Our By-Laws require that a candidate must be a Missouri resident for six months.  A Post Office Box does not qualify as a permanent Missouri address.  Falsely stating a residence or its duration on a petition is a Masonic Offense.  Petitions from non-residents of Missouri may be received only after the required jurisdictional consents have been obtained.  Should you have any questions, contact your District Deputy Grand Master.

I have included a brochure from the Grand Lodge entitled Manual for the Committee of Investigation to assist the members of your investigation committees in carrying out their duties.  Additional copies are available upon request from the Grand Secretary.

Fraternally,

David W. Haywood, Grand Master

September 15, 2015

New Secretary Database

Brother Secretary,

We’re pleased to announce that we have successfully converted the Grand Lodge Database to the new system.  We are in the process of verifying the information and customizing the operation of the system to suit our processes and by-laws.    We’re excited about the new capabilities it will bring our craft.

We will begin a phased rollout this week.  The system will be launched with essential features enabled and new features will be released in the coming weeks.  As the system is implemented we will be communicating through email and posting correspondence through the system itself.

As with any major changes in the processes and procedures of an organization there will be issues along the way.  We ask that you be patient with the implementation.

Training & Communications       

The implementation of such a system is a complicated series of events and training. In order to facilitate both, the Grand Lodge will be communicating with lodge secretaries on a regular basis.  We will also be posting information on the Grand Lodge Website www.momason.org

Once you follow the directions in this email to set up your account you will find training videos showing you how to use different features of the system.  Keep in mind that you will initially have view-only access to the system so some of the features in the videos may not be available.

Web based training sessions will be held at least once a week.  Please check the Grand Lodge Website for the schedule of web-based training sessions.  Sessions will be scheduled both during the day and in the evening to suit varying personal schedules.  These sessions will last approximately one hour and will allow you to see the screens and functionality while also providing an opportunity for questions and answers.

Getting help and reporting problems.

Should you have issues or need assistance after watching the training videos and attending a WebEx training session, please email smann@momason.org with a description of your issue and how we can contact you.  Please include pertinent information such as what you were trying to do, what lodge or member you were working on, and whether or not you received an error message.  If possible, please send screenshots as well.  This information will greatly reduce the amount of time it takes to troubleshoot an issue.

Creating an Account and Gaining Administrative rights

o   Please visit https://my.momason.org/membership_registration

o   Enter your home lodge number, member number, and last name exactly as it appears on your dues card.  (Case sensitive)

o   Set your username and password (Case sensitive).

o   Update your contact information.

o   Upon setting up your account you will have access to your own record.  The Grand Lodge will be notified of the creation of your account and will grant permissions for your lodge.  All you need to do is log back in to see the lodge dashboard.
What to do when you access your lodge dashboard for the first time.

o   Look around and get comfortable with the layout of the application.

o   If you find inaccuracies please make a note and send that to smann@momason.org .  We expect there to be some minor data irregularities so please be patient.  We will investigate the issue and report back the resolution.

What’s Next?

Over the next couple weeks we will be testing various features of the system.  You may receive emails from the Grand Lodge from time to time testing communication features.  Please be patient!   This is a large and complicated undertaking and we will be working to address issues and rollout the system as quickly as possible.

We appreciate your assistance and look forward to the capabilities this upgrade will bring to the Grand Lodge of Missouri, Constituent Lodges and the Membership!

Fraternally,

Jeffrey S. Pennington, Grand Secretary

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