Monday, March 30, 2009

Minnesota Bloggers: Part 2

In a past article about bloggers in the great state of Minnesota, I had thought that I had found all of them. Let's just say, I was totally wrong. There are two more blogs created by Brothers in the State of Minnesota which deserve a look as they are each of them written by incredibly learned brothers. The best part is that these two blogs are written by Grand Lodge Officers of Minnesota.

The first site I would like to feature is from Right Worshipful Brother Tom Hendrickson, Senior Grand Warden of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota. His blog is entitled "All Things Masonic" and seeks to put forth enlightenment. R.W. Bro. Tom is the president of the Minnesota Masonic Historical Society and Museum. R.W. Bro. Tom is incredibly active within Masonry and has been a great leader within Minnesota Masonry. I really agree with what R.W. Bro Tom says about being a Freemason, "Masonry is a way of life." All Things Masonic focuses on Masonic Education and the work of a Grand Lodge officer. I am very appreciative of R.W. Bro. Tom's work for Minnesota Masonry and I would like to thank him for his continued support of my blog.

The second blog that I wish to draw your attention to is that of the Grand Master of Minnesota's website, the MN Grand Master 09 blog by Most Worshipful Brother Tom McCarthy. M.W.B. McCarthy is truly dedicated to the Craft and has made it know that his year is dedicated to the Mentoring program for the Masons in the state of Minnesota. Mentoring is, in my opinion, the way in which Masons come together to form those intimate bonds of brotherhood. These bonds lead to a true devotion to our Gentle Craft. Although we are admonished to fit ourselves into that spiritual building, we cannot do it alone. We need good mentors to help us be prepared as we go about our time before, during and after we are raised to the sublime degree of a Master Mason. I want to congratulate M.W.B. Tom on his election to that Grand Oriental Chair and I know he will lead our Craft wisely during his year.

As you can tell, Minnesota Freemasonry is truly becoming an interactive experience. Many brothers have begun blogging about the Craft and I want to thank the Grand Lodge of Minnesota for allowing open dialogue among the brothers of this state. I want to thank both R.W. Tom and M.W. Tom for allowing me to feature their sites as I think they are a part of a growing trend of Masonry which I hope will continue for many years into the future.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Day 2 of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota Annual Communication

I would like to open this post with a one word response to describe what happened in Saint Cloud today, whoa!!! Today was one of those days in Masonry that could change the course of the Craft in America. But to start, let's talk about Nick's breakfast.

As is almost always the case, you meet and discuss Masonry the best over a plate of food. It is just natural considering the origins of Speculative Masonry in the taverns and pubs of England. I was fortunate enough to have been joined by the Junior Warden of my Lodge, Steve, and the Junior Deacon of my Lodge, Rick, the entire West Virginia contingent of whom one was MWB Frank Haas and W.B. Bob Davis of Oklahoma. It was a wonderful breakfast and it was again nice to discuss Freemasonry in the modern era.

All throughout Fridays sessions, I would run into M.W.B. Haas and I would discuss the situation of Masons in West Virginia. He told me everything from handicapped brethren not being allowed to be made Masons even if it occurred fighting for our Nation's freedom, the lack of recognition for Prince Hall Masons in West Virginia and the fact that Lodge halls may not be used by groups like OES and Demolay to fundraise. Although he could not discuss the matter of his own expulsion as it is currently in court, I was intimately aware of his plight through sources found online and elsewhere. It is truly shocking what has and is continuing to happen in West Virginia.

I want to congratulate M.W.B. Tom as he starts his year as Grand Master and I have great faith in his leadership as he continues the great tradition of Masonry in the state of Minnesota.

I would also mention that Bro. Rick, the Senior Deacon of my Lodge, was award the Daniel Carter Beard award for his dedication to Scouting. He has shown time and time again his devotion to Scouting. I am an Eagle Scout and I truly feel that Scouting has made me a better man. I think the Scouting movement, as a whole, is so vitally important in giving young men the opportunity to grow and become great men in their communities and I will support it for the rest of my life.

The final event within the Grand Lodge of Minnesota is that two Lodges have been given charters today. The first Lodge is Sir Winston Churchill Lodge #351 UD, which will be working the Emulation Rite and the second is General Douglas MacArthur Lodge #352 UD which will be focused on men in the military. Both Lodges are filled with excited brothers who are emblematic of how the Craft is growing and become more vibrant currently. I want to congratulate the brothers of both Lodges and wish them the best.

As you can imagine, I have seen huge changes within Masonry in my own state and possibly throughout the world, met many influential and humbling brothers and experienced a Masonic rebirth in a mere two days. As I drove home from Saint Cloud, I looked into the sky and watch the sun pierce the clouds as if Deity sought to cast light on our state just as we have cast Masonic light upon the world of Freemasonry.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Day 1 of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota Annual Communication

I am writing today to you from the very beautiful city of Saint Cloud in the great state of Minnesota. It has been an incredible day of fellowship and brotherhood that has truly opened my eyes to the path for a better Fraternity. It is always a wonderful time to get reacquainted with old friends and meet new friends throughout these two days.

This year, we were fortunate to hear from four very important brothers to our Craft. The first brother is, of course, Most Worshipful Brother Frank Haas. If you don’t know the story of the raw deal that M.W.B. Haas has received from the Grand Lodge of West Virginia, I will point to you the blog dedicated to vindicating the rights of M.W.B. Haas, Masonic Crusade. I had a nice short chat with M.W.B. Haas during lunch about the nasty business down in West Virginia and I gave hi9m my support in his efforts to regain his rightful place in this Fraternity. I am of the belief that the old ways of West Virginia are not the best and I hope that more enlightened men will once again lead that Grand Lodge back to its honored place. Now, it sits, like an old, dilapidated abandon home, waiting for the strong willed hands to fix her rough exterior. Sadly, as is Masonic courtesy,  MWB Haas was not present at our tyled meeting but I know that in spirit, he was in our hearts.

The next two brothers that were able to speak with us were W. Bro. Curtin Winsor, Jr. and Bro. Marc Wachenheim, who were kind enough to explain to us the situation of Freemasonry in the country of Cuba and its role in transforming the country from a totalitarian dictatorship into a democratic country. I was truly impressed by the work that my Grand Lodge has done in continuing to grow the ties between my Grand Lodge and its sister Grand Lodge in Cuba. I have heard Freemasonry the shock troops of the Enlightenment and with this example of generosity and moral fortitude, these brothers are transforming their island nation into a stronger and better nation. I want to applaud their efforts and my own Grand Lodges efforts in bring light to another corner of the globe.

The final brother that graced our annual communication and was, in fact, our keynote speaker, was Robert Davis, 33°, of the Grand Lodge of Oklahoma. He is a preeminent scholar on the subject of Freemasonry and my Grand Lodge has awarded him the Duane E. Anderson National Excellence in Masonic Education Award. As I listened to his speech on the properties of each generation and the ways in which they are joined, I really got a sense by which I joined Masonry. I was able to talk to him about issues affecting Lodges and I really appreciated him taking the time to discuss with me the quintessential quality within Masonry by which men join, to enjoy the company of other men. I think this is truly key in all Lodges, that men seek out other men because they are seen as good, upright men in the community. If you want to read more from W.B. Davis, visit his website here.  I want to congratulate W.B. Davis on being awarded this prestigious honor.

Also, while I was here at the Annual Communication, I was able to see two Minnesota bloggers and great leaders of the Craft, W. Bro. James at the SE Area Travels blog and R.W. Bro. Tom, Junior Grand Warden of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota who writes the All Things Masonic blog. Both of these brothers are active Masons and I hope for them only good fortunes. I would like to add that the Grand Master of Iowa was in Minnesota as a result of RWB Tom’s incredibly work in organizing our Minnesota brothers into a driving force to clean up after the state of Iowa was ravaged by flood waters. I want to congratulate RWB Tom for extending our collective hand for brotherly love and relief. Now, I promised to have video up but sadly, because of something in my steak, I had an allergic reaction. Not to worry, I caught it but now I have lost my voice. Hopefully, by tomorrow after a few hours of sleep, I will return to half strength. Stay tuned for more coverage tomorrow.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

24 Lodges receive the 2008 Mark Twain Awards

MSANA's Masonic Information Center has awarded 24 Lodges the Mark Twain Award for Excellence in Masonic Awareness. They are listed here. One notable Lodge (although I have to admit that all of them are notable just from receiving this award) is the Maine Lodge of Research. If none of you are familiar with this particular Research Lodge, it is one of the premier Lodges in the world. Maine Lodge of Research, because it allows Master Masons of all recognized jurisdiction of Maine to join, boasts an impressive list of members and fellows including John J. Robinson, Tom Jackson, Paul Bessel and Ed King. I really want to congratulate all the Lodges that have been honored with this important distinction in Masonry.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Millennial Freemason Visits: Braden Lodge #168


An immediate feeling of welcome, check, Great Ritual Work, check; Great Fellowship, check;  … oh.. hello, sorry, I was busy looking over my “what a Lodge needs for Masonic Renewal” and Braden Lodge #168 is a great example of how Freemasonry is hitting its stride and coming back. I would like to describe how Braden Lodge #168 has accomplished what Lodges must do to begin the Masonic Renaissance.

On Thursday, March 19th, I was fortunate to again enter the Triune Masonic Temple to visit Braden Lodge #168 to watch seven candidates receive their Entered Apprentice degree. That’s right, seven. Also, they had conferred the first degree on another brother earlier who would be joining the class later, making in all eight newly made Masons. When I asked the brothers if that was a common size for degree classes, I was told that it is between seven and ten and sometimes bigger. What, what, what, what?!

I come fr0m a Lodge that does pretty well bringing new brothers into the Fraternity. When I heard that Braden Lodge raises two classes ranging from seven and ten, I wanted to know how. What are their secrets of success?

I think it is rather obvious and other Lodges should take note what  Braden does well for their own success. The first attribute of this Lodge is that they make visitors and newly admitted brothers feel welcome. When you are in an old building built for the practice of Masonry, it can be rather austere and overwhelming. Unless you have a brother to guide you through this new experience, you can be taken aback right out of the door. That is not the case as I entered the door into the Lodge. I was greeted, and after making sure I was in fact a Mason, I felt immediately welcome into Braden Lodge. Also, looking into the faces of my new brothers, I could see also that they felt comfortable within their new Lodge.

The second attribute is that they do quality ritual work. When the ritual is treated with the respect and care that it deserves, the brothers and candidates can feel the electricity in the room. The first degree is always the most important degree to do well. When a new brother goes through the degree work, it is the first time that he will experience Masonry. If the work is done shoddily, lazily, or without proficiency, the candidate’s experience will be cheapened to the point that they may not seek to return to the Lodge to complete the degrees. Braden Lodge did the ritual extremely well and I could see on the candidates’ faces that they could feel the energy within the Lodge Room.

The third attribute is that Braden Lodge has a culture, from what I could see, of fellowship and friendship. Each candidate was given a mentor to work through to the next degree. Mentorship is essential for creating the bonds of brotherhood. However, it isn’t just mentorship that made these newly admitted brothers feel welcome. After the meeting, we continued to talk and chat late into the night as brothers but also as friends.

From all that I saw from the brothers at Braden Lodge, this Lodge and many that are like it, are leading the way to a renewed Fraternity, a Fraternity that seeks to impress upon its members the lessons but also the friendships that are created and maintained through our brotherly ties. I want to congratulate the work of the brothers of Braden Lodge #168 and I also want to congratulate my newly admitted brothers; you have entered the greatest Fraternity that the world has ever seen. I am sure that you will find what you learn here will help you in throughout your life.

I want to thank brother Mitch for inviting me to visit Braden Lodge. I don’t know how I keep experiencing great Masonry at the Triune Masonic Temple after visiting both Saint Paul Lodge #3 and Braden Lodge #168 but  I do each and every time. I am hoping in the near future to complete the trifecta and visit Unizar Lodge #347 which also meets at Triune. I am sure that it will be another great experience in my Masonic travels.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Gen Y: Resilience and Arrogance?

In the Houston Chronicle, Gregory Rodriguez asked the question, “Will ‘millennial generation’ downturn their way?” Rodriguez is a Director of California Fellows with the New America Foundation. In the article, he describes the usual characteristics attributed to millennials; we are coddled, technology driven people with high expectations. The article describes two possible ways in which the recession will be handled by people of my generation: 1. Treat it as an affront to our values and our high expectations and we will become despondent and detracted or 2. this will be our World War II, Viet Nam War, in other words, the defining point in our history and we will survive and thrive in this new environment.

As the newest generation to have entered adulthood, we are experiencing something that many of our parents, and older siblings have only dealt with in a cursory fashion, if at all. Yes, there was the deflation of the 70’s, recession of the 80’s, and the Internet Bubble of the late 90’s but never has a generation of workers been saddled with so much debt with so few prospects. That being said, I am proud to say that most young people that I talk to do not hold a grudge and want to do great things. Young people may not have the same jobs and may be feeling the pressure of insurmountable debt but there still remains a feeling of hope. The energy built around this singular concept is giving us the fuel we need, the air we breathe, a whole generation that has lost its level path but with the clarity of mind and desire of heart to rise above what some might perceive as an insurmountable mountain.

What does this have to do with Freemasonry? Everything. Grand Lodges and their constituent Lodges will continue to see operating costs outpace revenues, and many Lodges will still struggle to raise new brothers. But there is hope. This new generation of men have the vision, the desire, and the high expectations to make Freemasonry better, stronger and more resilient. Freemasonry requires men that join its ranks who can move with the times, using the lessons of our past failures and promoting our multitude of successes.

Young men are joining Freemasonry as a way to network for employment, seeking protection from the chaotic world outside the Lodge door, meeting other men on the level for friendship and and good cheer, and seeking inner peace from our ritual. Freemasonry has survived as long as it has because it is built upon men coming together to watch out for each other and a desire to make themselves and others around able to survive life’s ups and downs. We are a sacred band held together by the cement of brotherhood, understanding that what we have today will not necessarily be there tomorrow but knowing that someone has your back in times of trouble.

Yes, I know that there is also arrogance in my generation and that Masons are taught to keep their passions in check but we are also taught that should also be zeal for the Fraternity. Let’s guide this zeal to make a better and stronger Fraternity.

The article ends with a rather interesting comment. Rodriguez writes:

I’m confident these upstarts will find their way. After all, if life is going to beat you down eventually, you might as well go in with high expectations and your head held high. As the going gets tough, I’d rather this new generation be arrogant than insecure.

I am now entering the workforce and I know it is going to be tough out there but I also have hope. I have hope that the economy will change, that Freemasonry will be a rock of brotherhood for me to anchor myself through life’s successes and failures, and that life will go on for me and my family. I look out at the beginning of spring, I have hope. The sun is shining and I know that it will be a beautiful day.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Follow Me?!

I have been using Twitter now for nearly as long as Twitter has been around under the name nickjohnson. I have found it very useful for getting messages out to my friends and families as well as being able to follow people that I am legitimately interested in what they are up to (yes, that includes MC Hammer, ;)). With all that I was doing on Twitter, I thought to myself, "Maybe I should talk about Masonic stuff." So I did. (I realize that there are those out there that truly hate Twitter. They hate Twitter so much that they wish that it would just collapse on itself from the pressure like a 10 year old Casino in Las Vegas. If that is you, I would suggest that you stop reading this particular post. Go outside and think about the beautiful spring day and tell yourself that Twitter doesn't exist.)

Currently, you can find me @nickjohnson where I post at least one question concerning Masonry each weekday. I also use Twitter as a feed blaster letting my readers know when I have posted on my site. I really think that tools like Twitter can be incredibly effective at creating conversations between brothers. When one has only 140 characters, including spaces, to communicate his or her thoughts, it is advantageous to be accurate about what you write. That being said, Twitter is also built around the concept of informality. I have received a great many of responses from Twitter concerning the questions of the day that I have posted.

Now, I realize that I had been using the name @millennialmason but I have chosen to consolidate my posts into one name, @nickjohnson as it has become increasingly difficult knowing where I am posting. The elixir I bought from Dr. Jekyll has been taken away as he said he has another use for it and I have decided to keep all my thoughts in one place until he sells me some more. Also, my Lodge has a Twitter account @corinthian67. I thought we might as well get them in the act as well.

For brothers who are already members of Twitter, I would suggest that you join the freemasons Twitter Group. It is an amazing way for Masonic Twitters to get together and see each others posts and learn about what everyone is doing in their lodges and their lives. Twitter has been accused of being a huge time waster, or a version of stalker vision but it is much more than that. It is a place to meet with people that you would not meet on a place like Facebook. I remember seeing a post traveling around Twitter that stated something like, "Facebook is for people you know while Twitter is for people you are about to meet." I hope to create lasting conversations through this new media outlet.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Millennial Freemason Visits: Saint Paul Lodge #3

I was fortunate enough to have been invited by the Senior Warden of Saint Paul #3, Worshipful Brother Clay, to attend a Special Communication of his Lodge dedicated to education on the 2nd degree. Saint Paul #3 is the oldest Lodge in Minnesota and is our Grand Lodge’s only Traditional Observance Lodge. For anyone unfamiliar with what a Traditional Observance Lodge is, TO Lodges, as they are called, follow a set of guiding principles developed by the Masonic Restoration Foundation. These Lodges believe in ritual work being done well, an Agape or a Festive Board being held after the meetings, a lecture, music piece or some other presentation being given at each meeting to expand the brethren’s formal Masonic knowledge, formal attire being worn, and attendance being expected by all brothers of the Lodge. TO Lodges use a combination of English, North American and Continental European and South American traditions in the practice of Freemasonry. Traditional Observance Lodges do not use different ritual, but are able to take what we have and make it awe-inspiring.

I have never been to a TO Lodge and really didn’t know what to expect. So I donned my newly purchased white shirt, black tie and black suit and went on my way with a brother from of my Lodge, Brother Jon. I have never been to the Triune Masonic Temple on Iglehart and Howell but immediately, I was impressed. The building exudes the greatness and importance that our Fraternity brings to men. The building was built in 1911, a few years before the Farmington Masonic Temple was built. The building is quite impressive and has been especially built for the practice of Freemasonry. In fact, Triune Masonic Temple is one of the few Fellow Craft’s lodges still in existence. This means that the Lodge Room is specifically designed to confer the 2nd Degree on candidates with all the Fellow Craft degree’s symbolism built into the Lodge Room itself. It is truly a remarkable building to see as a Mason.

As I met the brothers of Saint Paul #3, Jon and I were asked to wait to be allowed into the Lodge Room. As Jon and I entered, I knew I was entering a very different Lodge environment by the dim lights and burning tapers around the Lodge Room as the other brothers entered wearing tuxedos and white gloves. It was at this moment that I knew I would be going through a very new and wonderful Masonic experience. I won’t go into detail on how the brothers performed the ritual but I can say that the ritual was done extremely well with great proficiency.

I was truly amazed by how the ritual is treated by the brothers of Saint Paul #3. It is my opinion that it is our ritual that sets us apart from all other social clubs, men’s groups, or fraternities. Our forefathers presented us with beautiful ritual built on a system of morality and thoughtful contemplation. What the brothers at Saint Paul Lodge #3 do is treat Masonry and her ritual as solemn and pensive. I wouldn’t consider myself a perfect ritualist but I have been trying to become proficient in our ancient traditions and when I watch good ritual work performed, I feel a true affinity to my brothers and to Masonry. It wasn’t just the ritual that made this Lodge experience special but also the presentations and musical performances.

As I sat in the dim, candle-lit Lodge room, I listened to two well-written papers on Masonic subjects, one by Worshipful Brother Clay, the other by Worshipful Brother Jim, and closed my eyes as I listened to two beautiful piano pieces, one by Debussy performed by Worshipful Brother Jim and one by Bach performed by Brother Andrew. I wanted to get the full effect of this Lodge experience. I looked about myself and listened intently to the sounds of the ritual, the musical pieces and the periods of silence, searching and finding meaning within each pause, each word, each note and each movement about the Lodge. Although I have no problem with the way my Lodge does its ritual work, I really found this to be a new and refreshing Masonic experience that I will remember for the rest of my life.

We in Minnesota are truly fortunate to have a Traditional Observance Lodge within our jurisdiction. If you are a brother and you live in Minnesota or will be in Minnesota, I would suggest giving this Lodge a visit. If you will be planning to visit Saint Paul #3, please contact their secretary as they need to know how many will be at the Agape or Festive Board after the Lodge meeting. Also, if you are fortunate enough to live near a Traditional Observance Lodge in your state, you need to visit it so you too can be immersed in the Wisdom, the Strength and the Beauty of our Fraternity and to have the same transcendent experience that I enjoyed during my time with the brothers of Saint Paul #3. I was incredibly impressed and I want to thank Worshipful Brother Clay for his invitation to attend a Lodge experience that I will treasure for the rest of my life.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

No Secrets?!

In the Warwick Beacon, I found an article entitled, It's no secret: Masons recruiting new members. I am sure you can imagine my first reaction. What, what, what, what?! In Masonry, we are taught that recruitment of new members is wrong, that each man must come of his own free will and accord. However, I righted myself when I remembered that recruitment means many different things, anything from blatant asking of men (not cool), TV ads (maybe cool), or Lodge Open Houses (cool). As I read further down the article, I noticed one sentence that I think causes more ire among young brothers than anything else, “There ain’t no secret.”

When I first joined Masonry, I knew nothing of our legends, plays and stories. I purposely kept myself in the dark so that when the time came, I would be ready to experience something new and fresh. I think younger brothers are joining because of this desire for truth or the study of esoteric ideas. Yet, we continue to have brothers describing the Fraternity as having no secrets. Why would we downplay our greatest asset?! I mean, c’mon!!!

Although I had access to the different books that purport to reveal the secrets of Masonry and the internet is just rife with ritual exposes, I chose not to read them as I wanted to experience the ritual for myself. I really believe by waiting to complete the degree work without knowing what was happening next, I gained a better and deeper appreciation and understanding of the lessons that were being taught to me. Freemasonry has, for many new brothers, skipped at least one generation which makes our legends fresh in the minds of this new generation. We should use the freshness of the ritual to get new brothers excited about joining a society built upon secrets and mystery.

The lessons that are inculcated in our ritual are truly ancient and delve deep into the soul of men so we need to treat these lessons as such. Interested men come to this Fraternity after seeing endless History Channel (or is it History, whatever) specials on our Fraternity. We are being handed free advertising for our Craft yet we continue to tell these prospective brothers that our secrets aren’t that important to us. I swore not to reveal anything and I hold that oath close to my chest because it brings me closer to Freemasonry.

So this is my plea to brothers out there: when someone asks you about Freemasonry, describe the Fraternity anyway you want, whether you discuss our charity work, our desire to make good men better, or our historical existence in this country, but please, please, please, do not say that we have no secrets. We have secrets that we as Freemasons are sworn to keep. If the question of secrets comes up, just tell the person that we do indeed have secrets, and that we have sworn not to reveal those secrets to anyone except a fellow brother. This statement is 1) true and 2) keeps the mystique the Fraternity deserves. This message has been brought to you by Young Brothers for a Better Freemasonry.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The University Scheme and College Lodges

The University Scheme is a program developed a few years ago to give men that are attending a university a chance to join a Masonic Lodge even if they are not 21. These brothers pay a lower amount in dues and are around other young men interested in the Fraternity. This program is, in my mind, brilliant. Our Fraternity is just that, a fraternity. Yet, we offer something that the Greek system can’t, the unity of lifelong brotherhood.'

It is true that a man or woman can go about their lives meeting others from their Fraternity or Sorority; the problem is that once you graduate from college, that’s it. No more meetings, no more living together in a house, nothing but fond memories of your time in the Frat. Freemasonry offers more to its brothers.

Once you become a Freemason, you are one forever. You can travel to different Lodges, meeting new brothers and know that anywhere in the world, a brother is watching out for you and your family. Once a man gives the obligation, he makes a commitment to the Fraternity for the rest of his life. The values and storied past of our Craft gives us prestige over all other Fraternal organizations.

The University Scheme is a great system but it is not “new” in the sense that Freemasonry has never existed on campus. In fact, Freemasonry and Universities have gotten along together on both sides of the pond. There are many examples of Academic Lodges in the United States and Canada, including University Lodge #496 in Toronto, University of Washington Lodge #141 in Seattle, Richard C. Maclaurin Lodge A.F.&A.M., and Harvard Lodge A.F.&A.M. Richard C. Maclaurin Lodge was the first college Lodge, having been formed in 1920, while Harvard Lodge was the first Academic Lodge, having been formed in 1922.

Richard C. Maclaurin Lodge formalized what was originally “the Masons at MIT” club into a Lodge in 1919. Harvard Lodge AF & AM was formed, in part, from the efforts of Dean Roscoe Pound and Professor Kirsopp Lake as a way to join the myriad number of Masonic organizations at Harvard University into one Lodge. Harvard Lodge, as an academic Lodge, is very distinctive in its methods, including wearing academic robes during regular stated meetings. Both Richard C. Maclaurin Lodge and Harvard Lodge require that a University connection be established, whether it be staff, student or alumnus, to be eligible to receive the degrees.

College and Academic Lodges are, in my opinion, one of the best ways to create the strong connection between men and Freemasonry at a young age. It is true that a young man could join De Molay but it is the connections that we make in our years at a university, college, trade school, or our first job that last the longest. The UGLE has, in my opinion, committed itself to a laudable and important goal, using these intimate associations formed during these years as starting blocks for making Freemasonry not merely a Fraternity, but a lifestyle.

The current Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota, AF & AM, Most Worshipful Brother Thomas Jackson, has stated his commitment in creating connections among brothers that were members of college fraternities and I agree with him fully. My advice for my own Grand Lodge and Grand Lodges around the globe would be to encourage the formation of College or Academic Lodges.

In Minnesota, we have one of the largest University systems in the country, so it would seem appropriate to me that a Lodge be formed in this state called the University of Minnesota Lodge. I am an alumnus of the University of Minnesota system (I went to University of Minnesota, Morris) and would love to see a Lodge, even one that meets only a few times a year, formed for the benefit of students, staff and alumnus of the U. But it needn’t stop there. If a brother is a student, staff, or alumus of one of the many private colleges or the MNSCU system, such as Hamline (my Law School Alma Mater) or Moorhead State, a Lodge could be formed to serve the students of those colleges and could continue to foster those connections made as students.

I believe one of the best ways to continue growing and strengthening the brotherly bonds of our Fraternity will be to create these Lodges based upon school affiliation. I hope that we see a continuance of the University Scheme started by the UGLE, the coming of fruition of Grand Master Jackson’s college fraternity goal and the continued prosperity of North America’s College and Academic Lodges. Connections are what makes our Fraternity what it is and using collegial affiliation is just one way to continue fostering these connections.