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News & Events from The Grapevine

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

May 2017 AGL Article for The Word

Spring has arrived and the start of a new Masonic year is upon us.

I hope everyone enjoyed Grand Lodge. It’s wonderful to experience the annual meeting of Mason’s in New York City!

RW Charles Dellow and I would like to thank all of the Lodges in the Cortland Madison District for their hard work and dedication in performing the ritual of the craft. Every Lodge in the District put on a Degree this year. Practice is the key ingredient to achieving a successful Degree. It is important that all officers and conductors attend every practice. Not all of the newly raised Brothers who are taking part in the ritual know the floor work or what to do or say if they are conducting a candidate. Remember Brothers, practice makes perfect!

RW  Dellow and I have had a memorable year as Assistant Grand Lecturers of the Cortland Madison District and we would like to thank every Lodge very much! We continue to be available to help with any of your ritual needs.

See you in Lodge,

Clinton  Brooks

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

April 2017 AGL Article for The Word

Greetings Brethren,

The month of April is upon us and our Masonic year is winding down. Degree work within our District continues and if you are able to attend any of these Degrees, I am sure the candidates would greatly appreciate it.

RW Dellow and I have enjoyed working with the different Lodges in the District. Many new Mason’s have taken on major roles in the Degrees and have done outstanding work.  It’s important to remember to take your time in presenting the ritual. It means more to the candidate and the Brothers present and gives the piece of Ritual more meaning. It’s a great feeling for the Brothers presenting the work to hear from long standing Masons that they have done a great job.
As always, RW Charles Dellow and I are a phone call away and are willing to help any way we can.

Clinton Brooks

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

March 2017 DDGM Article for The Word

Brethren,

If you have attended one of my Official Visits, then it should come as no surprise to you that I hold recipients of the Dedicated Service Award in high esteem. As I’ve said numerous times before, “DDGMs come and go, but DSAs are here to stay!” These Brothers are the backbones of our Lodges, continually giving of their time, talents, and energy to make their Lodge and our Fraternity a better place for all of us.

Recently, our District gained two new DSA recipients. I won’t name them here, as I’d prefer to have their respective Lodges do so, but I’d like to take a moment to congratulate them on their achievement and to thank them for the “sweat equity” that they’ve put into their Lodges.   My Brothers you, together with DSA recipients from across our jurisdiction, represent many of the ideals that our Craft espouses to its initiates. Many of our Lodges have candidates entering or in the Degree process. I hope that each of these Brothers-to-be looks to you for guidance and Light.

Speaking of Degrees, I’ve got to cut this short, as I have some studying to do!

Scott

March 2017 AGL Article for The Word

Greetings Brethren,

The month of March is upon us. The days are becoming longer, Daylight Savings starts and the first day of Spring arrives. It will not be long before it is summertime again!

R.W. Dave Walter from Marathon Lodge will be the guest speaker at our next Fellowcraft Club meeting which will be held at the Cortlandville Lodge on March 28th at 7:30 pm. R.W. Walter will give a presentation on Camp Turk, followed by a brief presentation by R.W. Charles Dellow and myself on Masonic etiquette while in the Lodge room. Refreshments will follow. We have cordially invited our Brothers from the Cayuga Tompkins District to join us for the evening. Please try to attend for a great night of education and fellowship!

Degree work continues to be done throughout the District. If your Lodge is doing a Degree, please call R.W. Dellow or me and we would be happy to help you prepare. Watch the Grapevine for upcoming Degrees and please remember to post your’s so as many Brothers can attend as possible.

R.W. Clinton S. Brooks

February 2017 DDGM Article for The Word

Not long ago, I happened to be having a conversation with a trusted friend and Brother who offered me a piece of sage advice. While I have since forgotten the exact words he chose, the gist of his comment was as follows: “With all that we’ve got going on, I hope you’re taking some time to recharge your Masonic batteries.”

I assured him that I was or, at the very least, had plans to do so in the near future. Many of our Lodges have been involved in the strenuous work of correcting past failings and preparing for the future in order to assure that we are on track for generations of Masons yet to come. Under the weight of the work of running the corporations that are our Lodges, it is easy to neglect our Masonic work.

If you are guessing that I am referring to our Ritual, then you are correct, at least partially. You’ll never hear me argue that we should not be delivering our Ritual in such a way as to provide our candidates with the best possible experience. That, however, is only part of the story.

How many times have we all listened to the various obligations? Lectures? Charges? If you’ve been around for a while, it’s probably more than a few times. How many times, though, have we really heard what they are telling us?  I am convinced that if more of our Brothers actually tried to live up to the obligations they took while on bended knee, if they understood the history and the meanings behind what we do and why we do it, and if they actually followed the direction given them strictly in charge, that our beloved Fraternity would not be suffering many of the problems we now face.

Many Lodges have Degree work coming up in the near future and I have asked each Lodge to ensure that every Degree is widely publicized within the District. Join us for a Degree or two. Whether you’re giving a lecture or sitting on the sidelines, everyone’s contribution is important. Come and recharge your batteries. Remind yourself of what it is about our Craft that first called to you and where you were first prepared to be made a Mason. I know that I’m looking forward to my Masonic tune-up and I hope that you’ll join me.

Scott

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