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From the DDGM

September 2017 DDGM Article for The Word

My Brothers,

As we did not receive a sufficient number of applications to fill our District Officers for the 2018-2020 term, we have reopened the application period. The new deadline is September 30, which is as late as we are able to make it and still be guaranteed enough time to complete the remainder of the selection process prior to the deadline for submission of names to Grand Lodge.

Past Masters, including Right Worshipful Brothers, who are interested in serving as a DDGM, Staff Officer, or AGL are encouraged complete the application materials (available from either myself or your Lodge Secretary) and contact me as soon as possible to discuss their future plans. I have recently been informed that any position for which we do not have a completed application, from a qualified candidate, will not be filled, thus leaving the District short-handed for the next two years.

I hope that you and your families enjoy the remaining days of summer and Bart and I look forward to seeing you back in Lodge soon.

Scott

Applications Are Now Being Accepted!

If you are a Master or Past Master and are interested in serving the Cortland-Madison District as an Assistant Grand Lecturer, Grand Lodge Staff Officer, or District Deputy Grand Master for the 2018-2020 term, please contact me by email here to request more information or an application packet.

All application materials for all of the above offices must be received by me (not just postmarked) no later than August 4, 2017.  No incomplete applications and no late applications will be considered, so please submit your materials early.

The Selection Committee will be interviewing candidates in late summer or early fall and the final nominees will be selected by late October.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions and thank you for your interest in serving our District!

Scott

 

June 2017 DDGM Article for The Word

My Brothers,

The 236th Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of the State of New York has closed and, with it, we begin a new Masonic Year. This year has special significance for me, as it marks the 150th anniversary of Cazenovia Lodge, No. 616.

Serving as District Deputy Grand Master during the sesquicentennial celebration of my mother Lodge is rarer than a once-in-a-lifetime event and I am truly honored to have the opportunity to do so. My first official act after returning from Manhattan was to install the newly elected and appointed Officers of the Lodge. As I performed the Ritual of Installation, the rarity and enormity of the evening settled in and I began to think about the words being said and the following occurred to me:

Throughout my term, thus far, I’ve had the opportunity to discuss with many of my colleagues the difficulties that they have encountered within their Districts and throughout the State. Although the details of the various incidents and problems are rarely the same, one theme seems to underlie many of them – unmasonic conduct. Most of these incidents never rise to the level of Masonic charges or disciplinary action, but it is clear that many of our Brothers either never heard, never understood, or, perhaps more troublingly, have chosen to disregard the lessons of our Ritual and the bindings of our various Obligations.

My Brothers, we simply cannot claim that our Ritual is what makes us special when we all too often disregard the important lessons contained therein. To do so, is the very definition of hypocrisy! It is not good enough to talk the talk; we must walk the walk.

I could list trite expression after trite expression, but what it all boils down to is this: do the right thing, treat people the right way, and forgive those who fail to meet the standard of perfection (which includes every one of us). If we do this in our Lodges, our Fraternity will prosper and grow. If we do this in the larger world, all of humanity can benefit. We can make a difference, one incident and one person at a time, but only if we make the conscious choice to do so – let each of us choose to make this our resolution for this new Masonic year.

Scott

May 2017 DDGM Article for The Word

My Brothers,

As I sat, waiting for my latest missive to flow from my fingertips into the keyboard, I realized that it wasn’t the time for another essay or treatise. Rather, a simple thank you was in order:

Thank you to the new Brothers, and future Brothers, who have petitioned our Lodges in increasing numbers this year. I am happy that you have decided to join this great and honorable Fraternity and would encourage you not only to learn all that you can, but also to get as involved as your schedule will allow. You will make lifelong friendships locally, across the state, and maybe even throughout the world. Please don’t feel that you have nothing to offer because you’ve only been here a short time – if you had nothing to offer, you wouldn’t have been elected to take the Degrees! Don’t allow yourself to be pushed aside or discounted by more experienced Brothers. This is every bit as much your Fraternity as it is theirs and, frankly, you are its future.

Thank you to all of the Brothers who have worked so hard to learn and improve their Ritual work. Openings and closings are running smoothly and it has been very encouraging to see the level of involvement with Degree work throughout the District this year, particularly by “first-timers”. As we strive to attain our goal of every Lodge being able to perform every part (including the lectures) of every Degree with only its own members, we will need to continue to build up our bench full of qualified Ritualists. This can only be done as we have been doing it, by learning new parts. Remember that some of the longer pieces, even the obligations, can be broken up and delivered as a team with great effect.

Thank you to the Lodge Officers who have worked so hard this year to ensure that their Lodges are in compliance with both our civil law and our Masonic law. These offices are not merely ceremonial posts – they involve real work that must be done in order to ensure the stability of the Lodge. While we give our Officers great power and responsibility, we must always remember that the ultimate power and responsibility rests with the membership of the Lodge. If things aren’t going well and your Officers aren’t doing their jobs, then it becomes the responsibility and duty of the membership to vote accordingly. No one ascends to office by right and no one should expect to remain in office except by demonstrating a willingness and ability to perform the key functions of that office. With that said, if you aren’t getting good Lodge Officers, then you may need to make some. There are plenty of educational resources available and I would encourage all who aspire to be Lodge Officers one day to take the MDC, RTTE, and Master’s Chair classes as soon as possible.

Finally, I’d like to thank our Grand Sword Bearer, the R∴ W∴ Bart C. Chapin, and our AGLs, the R∴ W∴ Charles A. Dellow and the R∴ W∴ Clinton S. Brooks, for their continued dedication to the Craft and for the many hours that they’ve invested in the future of Masonry within the Cortland-Madison District.

My Brothers, as we move into the new Masonic year, I look forward to building on the successes of this year. A year from now, when my successor is about to take office, I hope that I will be able to pass to his care a District full of vibrant Lodges, active in their respective communities, and fully engaged in the work of making good men better.

Scott

Deputy Grand Master’s Town Hall Meeting

Brethren,

Please click on the graphic (below) for more information regarding the Deputy Grand Master’s Town Hall Meeting for the Cortland-Madison District.  It will be held on April 8 at 1 PM at the Liverpool Masonic Temple.  We will be joining our Brothers from both the Onondaga and Cayuga-Tompkins Districts.

There will also be a DGM’s Town Hall Meeting in Johnson City (Broome-Chenango) at 9 AM on the same date.  I would strongly encourage you to attend whichever meeting is more convenient for you and take the opportunity to meet with our Deputy Grand Master.

Scott

April 2017 DDGM Article for The Word

The functional unit of Freemasonry in this jurisdiction is the Lodge, each of which exists because of the Charter granted to it by Grand Lodge. The Grand Lodge exists, in large part, because each of its constituent Lodges sends (or ought to send) a representative to participate in the body of Grand Lodge. Stated another way, Grand Lodge allows each Lodge to exist and to perform the work of Freemasonry in exchange for its participation in Grand Lodge and its adherence to the Constitutions, Edicts, rules, and regulations of Grand Lodge. Each Lodge is semi-autonomous, free to do as it chooses, within the guidelines and restrictions established by Grand Lodge and agreed to as a condition of the issuance of its Charter.

Over the past few months, I’ve heard a lot of griping about the “new” changes being implemented by Grand Lodge. If we take a step back, however, we’re likely to find that these changes aren’t all that new. Take, for instance, background checks. We’ve never had to do those before, right? Wrong, it was and still is called the “Investigating Committee”. Unfortunately, we’ve often glossed over the vitally important work done by this committee and, as a result, numerous felons and predators of every nature have been admitted to our ranks. Grand Lodge is simply reiterating something that we’ve always been required to do and, in so doing, is also giving us a powerful new tool to help the Investigating Committee with its work.

How about the 990s? Surely this is new, right? Nope. We’ve always been required to obey the law and filing your taxes is the law. Don’t believe me? Ask Al Capone. Audits? Well, here is the first glimmer of newness, but given the number of felons we’ve admitted (see above), this is a common sense measure designed to protect ourselves and to ensure the financial viability of our Lodges. Before you object and claim that none of our Brothers would steal from us, let me assure you that there are a number of criminal and Masonic trials currently underway for just that. I’m a Cold War kid: trust, but verify!

Certifying our Work? Again, there’s nothing new here. Each Lodge applying for a Charter must have its skill and proficiency certified prior to the granting of a Charter. It follows, then, that each existing Lodge must also be proficient in order to meet with the terms of its Charter and of the Constitutions. We can just pick and choose which parts of the Ritual we like or which are convenient for us to confer, right? And, again, the answer is “No.” I’ve been asked numerous times when this changed. My answer has often been, “About 1781.” A complaint that “We’ve never done it this way…” is akin to telling the Trooper who pulled you over for going 65mph in a 55mph zone that he shouldn’t give you a ticket because you drive the same stretch of road nearly every day at 75!  Grand Lodge simply wants the Lodges to hold up their end of the bargain, and the bargain isn’t a new one. Our Brothers from generations past conferred all parts of each of the Degrees from memory. Further, they learned it without the aid of Ritual books. In fact, the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania just published its first-ever Ritual book about 6 or 7 years ago! I’m not aware of many Lodges who would be able to meet such a standard today. That doesn’t mean that they won’t (or shouldn’t) be able to do so tomorrow, however.

At the beginning of this article, I mentioned that the functional unit of Masonry is the Lodge. It isn’t the District, nor is it Grand Lodge. Neither the District, nor Grand Lodge, is a member of your community. Neither knows what your community needs, nor how best to serve it. Neither knows of the family down the street with bare cupboards during a holiday season and neither is in a position to help them. Neither the District, nor the Grand Lodge, has the personal friendships and connections that a thriving Lodge can transform into the bonds of Brotherhood.

Grand Lodge recognizes this, my Brothers, and this is precisely why it is taking so many steps to ensure that each of our Lodges is in the best possible shape for the future. Grand Lodge recognizes that, when you are producing a masterpiece, good enough simply isn’t good enough. Grand Lodge recognizes, and needs each of us to recognize, that the problems facing our Fraternity aren’t likely to be solved at the Grand Lodge level. If they are going to be solved, it will be at the local or Lodge level. Grand Lodge is doing all it can to give you, the Craftsmen, the necessary tools. It always has been, however, and always will be, up to you and your Lodges to pick up the tools and do the work. The work of Masonry is not merely symbolic (as any Lodge Secretary can attest). So, the next time we look at our little corner of Masonry, or perhaps even at Grand Lodge itself, and aren’t happy with what we see, rather than asking, “What has Grand Lodge done to fix this?” each of us should be asking, “What has MY Lodge done to fix this?”

As we approach the beginning of a new Masonic year, I look forward to working with our Lodges to ensure that each has a solid foundation for generations to come. While I can’t do the work for you, I’m happy to tie on an apron and help out.

Scott

Fellowcraft Club Meeting on March 28

The next meeting of the Fellowcraft Club will be on March 28th at 7:30 PM at Cortlandville Lodge, No. 470 (1883 State Route 13 Cortlandville, NY 13045).  As was previously publicized, R∴ W∴ David Walter, Camp Turk Committee Member, will be providing a 20-30 minute presentation on Camp Turk.

Following the presentation on Camp Turk, the R∴ W∴ Richard S. Morley, Senior Grand Warden of the Grand Lodge of the State of New York, and the R∴ W∴ Nicholas J. Paolicelli, Junior Grand Warden of the Grand Lodge of the State of New York, will be on hand to moderate a discussion on the redistricting process currently underway within our Grand Jurisdiction.  Specifically, the discussion will center around the variety of rumors and misconceptions being circulated about the process and how that process will affect those Lodges currently assigned to the Cortland-Madison and Cayuga-Thompkins Districts.

This discussion is open to all Masons in the Cortland-Madison and surrounding Districts, but the R∴ W∴ Michael A. Miller, District Deputy Grand Master of the Cayuga-Thompkins District, and I would particularly like to see current and future Lodge leaders from within our two Districts in attendance. Lodge leaders, in particular, are invited to bring (and be prepared to discuss) their concerns and any plans for the future of their Lodges (or groups of Lodges).

All Brothers are reminded that, while redistricting is a Grand Lodge initiative, the planning and work of redistricting is done at the local, District level.  To state it a different way: you know what works for you.  This meeting is an opportunity to let Grand Lodge know what works for you and, further, how we can help you to get there.

I look forward to seeing you there!

Scott

January 2017 DDGM Article for The Word

My Brothers,

I must apologize, as I neglected to submit this article to The Word in time for publication.  With the Holidays upon us, it is often easy to become overwhelmed with shopping, parties, dinners, and other special events associated with the Season.  I fell victim to this and dropped the proverbial ball.

With all that happens this time of year, it can be easy to forget that the Holiday Season is about giving.  I’m not talking about Hatchimals or whatever the latest craze is;  I’m talking about gifts that are far more significant. One of the most precious gifts that we may give this season is the gift of time.  The time we spend with family and friends can be the root of lifelong memories and traditions.  In twenty years, our children or grand children will not likely remember what gift was under the tree, but they will remember the time spent with the entire family huddled around the fireplace as “‘Twas The Night Before Christmas” is read aloud.

We often “splurge” this time of year and spend more than we should on gifts and other excesses, but we should always remember that there are those in our communities who do not have even enough for the bare necessities of a simple dinner, much less a holiday feast.  As we move into the New Year, it is important for us to remember that this need does not go away when we pack up our Christmas decorations and put the lights away.  Charity being one of the hallmarks of our Fraternity, I, for one, am making a New Year’s resolution to do a little more to help those less fortunate throughout the year.

I wish you and your family all the best for the New Year, may it be filled with joy, prosperity, and good health!

Scott

Fellowcraft Club – Canceled

My Brothers,

After speaking with our AGLs, the decision has been made to cancel this evening’s scheduled meeting of the Fellowcraft Club due to the inclement weather and potentially hazardous road conditions.

Jamie & I, Bart & Patti, Clint & Brenda, and Charlie & Gloria join in wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving!

Scott

December 2016 DDGM Article for The Word

This election cycle, if nothing else, reminds us why we are forbidden from discussing the broad categories of politics and religion in our Lodge rooms. Even as we put the election behind us, we are provided with daily reminders of how we, as a people, have been divided. Those who serve to divide us constantly seek to remind us of our differences.

As Freemasons, however, we strive to remind ourselves of our similarities while celebrating the enrichment provided by our diversity. We call each other by the title “Brother” because we recognize that we are equals under the fatherhood of God. We understand that, although we may be on opposite sides of the political aisle, we are all still in the same house, under the same roof, and under the same flag.

As Freemasons, we know that disagreement is the path to new ideas and new knowledge. Many in our society attempt to label, vilify, and denigrate those with whom they disagree. We understand that ignorance and arrogance are the precursors to anger, fear, and hatred. Instead, we seek to understand the viewpoints of others and, perhaps more importantly, the path that brought them to that view.

As Freemasons, we have always been builders – builders of men, builders of families, builders of communities, and, yes, sometimes even builders of nations. As we move through this holiday season and into the New Year, let us remember that our duty to ourselves comes in a distant third behind our duty to God and our duty to our neighbor.

My Brothers, I wish you a holiday season filled with the warmth of family and good friends, followed by a healthy and prosperous New Year!

MORI
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