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May 2018 DDGM Article for The Word – My Final Message to the Craft

Decisions regarding the consolidation of lodges and districts have moved into the spotlight over the past two years. Obviously, they are not to be taken lightly, as the decisions we make today and tomorrow will have a lasting effect. Native peoples consider how the decisions of today will affect the next seven generations. To do any less when considering the future of our fraternity would betray the trust of those who have selected us as their leaders.

Deciding how we choose our leaders helps to define us both in the present and for the future. Recently, we formalized the process by which the leaders of our district are selected. I consider this to be one of the most significant achievements of this term. No one is able to influence the process for his own gains and measures have been put in place to ensure that personal agendas and outside influence are eliminated. Knowing this gives me great comfort and hope for our future.

The same great care must be exercised as we convene to choose our leaders next month. However we may vote, we must ensure that we consider how our decision will affect not only tomorrow, but thousands of tomorrows to come. Each of us has a sacred responsibility to act only in the best interests of those we represent.

Keep true to the teachings of our ritual. Obey the charges that you have been given. Obligations, we must always remember, do not expire, nor are we freed from their ties when we exit the lodge room. Live as you have sworn to live, in lodge and in life.

As leaders, it is important to remember that we serve those who have selected us, not the other way around. I have tried to live up to this standard throughout my term and would encourage all those who go this way after me to do the same. Duty to ourselves, we are taught, comes after the duty to our neighbor.

Scott A. Cary

April 2018 DDGM Article for The Word

My term is rapidly drawing to a close and, at the risk of sounding like an Oscars speech, there are a few people that I’d like to recognize for their efforts throughout the past two years.

The first is R∴W∴Clinton S. Brooks.  Clint served the District during the 2014-2016 term as Grand Steward. For this term, Clint stepped up to the plate and offered to serve as Assistant Grand Lecturer.  What’s more, he has also continued to offer Masonic education to the members of the District, having recently held a Masonic Development Class for 9 Brothers.

Next is W∴Elwin H. Goff, DSA.  Elwin celebrates 40 years of Masonry this year and was recently awarded the prestigious Dedicated Service Award for his continued dedication to the Craft and his unwavering support of Cazenovia Lodge, No. 616.  He can often be found working in the Lodge until late hours and has been instrumental in helping to prepare and maintain the Lodge’s new home.

Finally, I’d like to mention Bro. Thomas J. Whitney. Tom has only been a Mason for 5 years, but he’s put the time to good use.  He has served as Cortlandville Lodge’s Brotherhood Fund Chairman since 2016.  In the same year, he also became a NorthStar Program Success Coach. In 2017, he began to serve as the Lodge’s Treasurer.  Furthermore, he’s taken an active role in helping distressed Brothers as well as working to revive the District’s Shrine Club.

These Brothers are doing it right.  They understand that it isn’t about adding feathers to one’s cap.  Instead, it is about service to the Craft, their Brothers, and, in a broader sense, the community. They should serve as role models to us all.  Well done, my Brothers!

Scott

April 2018 AGL Article for The Word

Greetings Brethren,

April is finally here and I look forward to the warmer weather, spring rains and the chance to work the fields on the farm.

Many Lodges within our District are doing Degree work as we finish out our year. R.W. Charles Dellow and I have been busy attending practice sessions and working with newer members on their ritual work.

Never be afraid to learn a new part of the Ritual. If you are trying to learn a long lecture, R.W. Dellow and I suggest that you break it down into smaller parts. As you become proficient with one section, move onto the next.  We also have been suggesting that it is possible to split up the long lectures and use multiple Brothers who can learn different sections of the work presented. This has worked out very well for the Lodges that have tried this method.

As R.W. Dellow and I close out our 2 years as your AGL’s we would like to express our sincere thanks for the warm welcomes and Brotherly love we have received throughout the District. It has been an honor and a pleasure to work with all of the Lodges within the Cortland Madison District.

As always, R.W. Dellow and I will see you throughout the District. Please call if you need our assistance.

Clinton S. Brooks

February 2018 DDGM Article for The Word

It has been said that the only person who likes change is a baby with a dirty diaper.  Change, however, is an ever-present and even necessary part of life.  Over the past year and a half or so, we’ve experienced a lot of change both as a District and as a larger Fraternity.

Change is difficult because we tend to fear what we don’t know.  The familiar can be comforting, even if it isn’t good for us. Real growth occurs, however, when we venture out of our comfort zones and challenge ourselves.

When things aren’t going well for us, we need to try something new in order to improve. By definition, this involves change.  If you aren’t willing to change, then much like the aforementioned baby, you’ll be stuck sitting in your own…well, you get the idea.

There are Brothers around the District who are working hard at improving our Craft.  They recognize that our problems don’t start and end with Grand Lodge – if you want to have a successful Lodge and a successful District, then that isn’t going to happen on 73rdStreet. It’s going to happen at home. They have realized that Grand Lodge, whatever tools it may provide, isn’t going to fix it for them. They have chosen to take it upon themselves.

And guess what? It’s working!  My Brothers, keep on building, keep up the good work.  Not only will you enjoy the wages of a Mason, but so will your sons.

Scott

January 2018 DDGM Article for The Word

Customer Service.  As the Holiday Season winds down, it is likely that many of us will have some sort of interaction with the Customer Service department of one or more businesses.  But, what does that phrase mean for us, as Masons? Who, exactly, are our customers?

For those of us who are Grand Lodge Officers and Lodge Officers, the answer is simple.   The “customers” that we serve are our Brothers and our prospective Petitioners.  Notice that I said, “…we serve…” If you’re an Officer or a Grand Lodge Officer who thinks that the Brethren are here to serve your interests or your ego, then do us all a favor and go join some other organization! In my Official Visit speeches this year I outlined some of the reasons why we are losing men from the Fraternity.  Simply put, we aren’t giving our customers what we promised them and we aren’t taking care of them.  Like any dissatisfied customer, they are taking their business elsewhere.

I’m not at all saying that our Senior Wardens are failing in their duties.  Frankly, the issue is bigger than that.  When we do things like make Brothers from Regular, foreign jurisdictions wait months to affiliate, make our own Brothers wait months for a dues card, fail to learn a new Brother’s name, or fail to spend even a few minutes speaking with a potential Petitioner who is inside of our Lodge building and asking about joining the Fraternity, we have failed as an institution.  The Brothers and the Petitioners don’t necessarily know or even care whose fault at the Lodge (or at Grand Lodge) it was that their ball got dropped.  All that they see is it rolling away.  And all that we see is those men walking away.  You see, for an institution that prides itself on principles of Brotherhood and humanity, we seem to treat our humans an awful lot like numbers (and sometimes a whole lot worse).  Is it any wonder that our numbers are decreasing?

My Brothers, we can, and simply must, do better in the coming New Year and every year afterward.

I wish all of you and yours a safe and joyous Holiday Season and a healthy and prosperous New Year!

Scott

 

February 2018 AGL Article for The Word

Greetings Brethren,

February is a very busy month with President’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Winter break for school age children and Ground Hog’s Day. An old farmer’s saying is that you should have half of your stored forage supply left on Ground Hog’s Day. Just a piece of useful knowledge from your AGL’s.

RW Charles Dellow and I would like to thank all of the Brothers who completed the Masonic Development Course. We hope that  this course helped in your understanding of the three Degrees in becoming a Master Mason.

We would also like to remind all Lodges that they are required to do a Degree before April 1st of this year to satisfy the Grand Master’s edict. It can not be the same Degree as the one you did last year.

If you are doing a Degree, RW Dellow and I would like to come to your practices. We can not stress enough to the Lodges in our District the importance of having at least 3 practice sessions before the Degree. It is vital that everyone who has a part in the Degree, including the Conductors, be present at these practices.

As always, RW Dellow and I look forward to seeing you around the District.

RW Clinton S. Brooks

December 2017 DDGM Article for The Word

My Brothers,

This year is almost concluded and, while it’s not quite time to be considering resolutions, that time will be upon us shortly.  As we turn toward the New Year and toward the challenges and opportunities that it will afford us, let us consider our present and plan for our future.

Currently, there are 408 Master Masons belonging to the 8 Lodges of the Cortland-Madison District. Actually, the number is less than that as this figure includes dual (or plural) members, but we’ll stick with this number as it makes the math easier.  This means that, on average, each Lodge in our District is composed of 51 Master Masons.

Again, on average, each of these Master Masons is just shy of 65 years of age.  This means, of course, that some are older than 65 and some are younger than 65.  Let’s assume that age 50 is about the midpoint of a typical Masonic lifetime (spanning the beginning of eligibility to the current life expectancy).  After a not-so-quick foray into MORI, I discovered that only 91 of our 408 Master Masons (22%) are under the age of 50. With each successively younger decade, these numbers plummet.  Only 52 of our District’s Master Masons are under the age of 40 (13%) and a scant 2% of our membership, or just 9 Master Masons, are under the age of 30. No Lodge has more than two 20-somethings and there are no 18 or 19 year-old Master Masons in our District

Well, that’s all very interesting, but what does it mean?  It means that all those years where we did not bring young men into the Craft are about to catch up with us, and in a big way.  Over the next quarter-century, we will likely lose approximately 300 of our 400 Master Masons to the Celestial Lodge. Unless we see, and can maintain, a large increase in the number of young (20s & 30s) men entering our Lodges, we will not be able to stem the tide of our losses to death within this District over that same time period.

Some of our Lodges have already started working on this issue and are seeing good results. Not surprisingly, the age-distribution of the members in these Lodges is somewhat more sustainable.  Two Lodges, in particular, stand out in this regard: Cortlandville, No. 470, and Homer, No. 352.  They have the two lowest average ages in the District. Each of these Lodges has approx. 35% of its membership under the age of 50 and 25% under the age of 40. These numbers are encouraging, however, neither Lodge has more than 4% of its Master Masons under the age of 30 (again, the best in the District).

Men typically bring other men into the Fraternity from within their own social circle and, consequently, age group.  Recognizing this, we need to find ways to bridge the generational gap and make our Lodges attractive, or even known, to men who may be decades our juniors. Does your Lodge have a web page? Social media presence? Is it active and visible within the community?  How do you respond to questions of interest and inquiry about the Fraternity? Do you respond?

How does your Lodge work to ensure that its newer, and presumably younger, members are afforded an interesting and enriching experience?  How does your Lodge incorporate its younger members into Lodge life and activities?  What does your Lodge do to make its new members want to bring their best friends to the Fraternity?

If you don’t have well-defined answers to these questions, then you are missing out on the possibility of significant, possibly exponential, growth.  Visit other Lodges. Share ideas.  Work together.  Please remember that the Fraternity is bigger than your Lodge – don’t pass over a college student or do less than your best for a young man at the beginning of his career, just because he may not be around in two years.  True, he may not be a member of your Lodge in a few years, but if you give that Brother the wonderful Masonic experience that we have promised him, then he will be a member of someLodge.

My Brothers, I wish each of you the best for this coming holiday season.  May you enjoy safe travels, good health, and time well spent with family and friends.

Scott

 

 

January 2018 AGL Article for The Word

Greetings Brethren,

I hope everyone had an enjoyable Holiday season!

Degree work is continuing throughout the District. Congratulations to Cortlandville Lodge, TriValley Lodge and Otselic Valley Lodge for working together on the 3rd Degree. As a result, 7 new Brothers are now a part of the Masonic family. Thank you to all the Brothers from throughout our District and other Districts who came to help or just be present at this Degree.

RW Charles Dellow and I can not stress enough about the importance of having everyone at the practice meetings before a Degree. Floor work, preparing the candidates before the Degree starts, knowing where everyone should be and having all of the parts filled are all the things that need to be done on the Degree check off list. If you are preparing for a Degree, please contact RW Dellow or myself and we would be glad to attend your practices and the Degree.

Please remember that all Lodges in the District are required to do a Degree before the end of April. It can not be the same Degree as you did last year.

On January 31st we will be teaching the second part of the Masonic Development Course at Cortlandville Lodge at 6 pm. There were 15 Brothers that took part in the first part of the MDC class that was held in November. A great time was had by all.

As always, RW Dellow and I will be around the District and we look forward to seeing everyone!

Clinton S. Brooks

The NorthStar Project is coming to the Cortland-Madison District!

Please click on the graphic below to view the full-sized flyer:

Click to email W∴ James Boss, Jr. for reservations.

Click to email R∴ W∴ Scott A. Cary with questions.

November 2017 DDGM Article for The Word

My Brothers,

Official Visits for this term are winding down. We still have much work to do around the District and in our Lodges. To that end, we are in the planning stages for a number of training classes.

As R∴ W∴ Brooks mentioned, there will be a Masonic Development Class in Cortlandville beginning in November. Please contact him to register, or for more details.

The NorthStar Program is coming to Hamilton Lodge! R∴ W∴ Joseph Passaretti, II, Chairman of the Membership Development Committee, will be presenting the NorthStar Program at Hamilton Lodge, No. 120 on Saturday, November 18, 2017. Lunch will be served at noon and the training will follow immediately afterward. This important training demonstrates how we can not only attract better candidates to the Fraternity, but also retain them as lifelong members. Every Lodge should have at least one certified Success coach, as we have repeatedly seen that Lodges who utilize elements of the Program have much better rates of retention. The training is open to Master Masons from the Cortland-Madison and neighboring Districts who are interested in becoming certified as Success Coaches. All those interested in attending are asked to please make reservations with the Master of Hamilton Lodge, W∴ Jim Boss, by email (jboss8564 [at] gmail [dot] com) no later than November 12.

We are also planning to offer a Road to the East class in the near future. Unfortunately, last year’s offering had to be cancelled and we would like to hold one before next year’s officers are elected (or appointed) and installed. This class is not just for Wardens who plan to become Master. Any Brother who is planning to move into or advance in the chairs should seriously consider taking this class. If you are interested, please email me as above and I will make sure that you get the class information once the planning is finalized.

Masonic education is more important than ever. Historically, however, attendance rates have been low. Our next generation of leaders is joining the Craft now and we must make every effort to ensure that they are well educated and well trained.

Scott

MORI
The Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library of the Grand Lodge of F. & A. M. of the State of New York