Monday, October 18, 2021

UCCofE - the thing I never knew I needed... till now

Masonry is a funny thing. We tell the new Master Mason that this is the highest degree and then, it's like that scene in Airplane! when Robert Stack is walking through the airport.

Thing is that while Masons pretend that the blue lodge is the end all, be all, we all know that this is never going to satisfy the brethren. We are seekers of further light. And since light diffuses so widely, it shouldn't surprise anyone that there are so many Masonic adjacent bodies. Case in point, the Universal Craftsman Council of Engineers, a body I am now proud to call myself a member. 

My day started like any other, it was a beautiful autumn day in Minnesota. Not to hot, not too cold. I was heading out to the meeting of my very first invitational body, Minnesota Council No. 34, Knight Masons. It was at this particular meeting that I was also elected as its presiding officer, Excellent Chief. It was just so exciting. We are back in person, the brothers excitedly meeting and seeing each other to confer the degrees. I am so thankful to them to entrust me with this position for the year. 

Because I attended the meeting with one of my really good friends, MW Bro. Joe G., who was kind enough to drive down with, I got to have great conversation and great fellowship. But since he was the driver, I stayed longer than I would have otherwise. We ate and Joe remembered he was a member of a group. 

"No problem, Joe, you go to your meeting. I can just hang out."

Little did I know that I was going to be a candidate. 

"Hey, Nick! Go over to the prep room!"

I had never heard of the Universal Craftsman Council of Engineers, which is usually abbreviated UCCofE. I was really happy that I was able to join this body.

To explain, UCCofE is a Masonic body founded in 1902 in the state of Ohio by Bros. Pomeroy and Dettleback, who were engineers in factories in the rust belt. This organization was founded to bring together other engineers who were also Master Masons. Because we, as Masons, love meeting together, this body grew and grew and became so popular that even non-engineer Master Masons who also were craftsmen (what we would think of as blue collar today) wanted to join. At first, the UCCofE encouraged those MMs to start their own councils aimed at their own crafts, e.g., electricians, but as is always the case, the first mover has the advantage and UCCofE ultimately started allowing non-craftsmen and laborers to join.

The ritual was fascinating because it is so different from what I recognize yet so similar. It was really fun to experience the role of candidate and to hear something different but familiar. The main reason I recognized the ritual is because it was similar to so many rituals used by unions throughout history. 

I am not a blue collar worker but I come from a long line of railroad workers and heavy machinery guys (my brother is the next in that long, long line of railroadcers). I've never been a factory worker, laborer, blue collar worker nor really had a job that would be considered that. However, I have spent many years researching the many rituals that unions used in their meetings because of the number of union members in my family. Union fraternal rituals are a subject that needs far more scholastic research than it currently does and I hope that whatever contributions I can make will be helpful.

Thank you to everyone in Minnesota Council No. 79, UCCofE for admitting me as a member of this august and fascinating body. I really look forward to all the many years of research and participation I hope to dedicate to the Council. 

If you are interested in joining, click the link.