25 February 2011

Elevator Speech...

“Who are the Masons and what is it that you guys do?”

This question is often asked and we as Masons have “an elevator speech” which is a small concise explanation of Freemasonry that can be delivered in about 30 seconds to one minute or in about the time it takes to share an elevator ride with the stranger who just asked the question.

Freemasonry is not a secret society as you might of heard but it is a private organization that does have some secrets of it’s own.

Freemasonry is not a religion but it is an organization where every member must have a belief in supreme being of their own choosing.

Freemasonry is not a charity but it is an organization that sponsors charity namely here the Masonic Foundation of Utah that awards nearly $250,000 a year in local grants and scholarships, The Scottish Rite Foundation of Utah that assists children with speech impediments and learning disabilities and of course we are all so well aware of the Shriners Hospital for Children.

And finally Freemasonry is not a volunteer organization but it is an organization where it’s members voluntarily bind themselves together to make themselves and the community around them a better place.

This is who the Masons are and this is what we do in Utah.

This quick talk given by John C. Liley, Jr. Most Worshipful Grand Master of Masons in Utah at conclusion of the Installation of Grand Lodge Officers for 2011.

Grand Master-elect Speech February 2011

Most Worshipful Grand Master, Most Worshipful Past Grand Masters, Distinguished Guests and Brethren All :
Good Afternoon.
In 2008, I stood before this body as Grand Orator and told you I was excited about Utah Freemasonry. Today, once again, I tell you I am still excited about Utah Freemasonry, for right Now is the Time, and This is Still the Place, and a Masonic Renaissance is happening right here, right now, in this place.
This past year we had positive growth in membership and I believe we will continue this trend. Think about it: Di you know that we have a lodge that for nearly ten years in a row has put up double digits in raising Master Masons and those new Masons are ten years younger than our statewide average age of 60. We have another lodge that for the first time in nearly 20 years raised 23 Master Masons, having worked almost every week last year. We had an Accelerated Class with 52 new Master Masons. Brethren, this does not even account for all the other hard work accomplished throughout our jurisdiction by the other 27 lodges with a total of 140 new Master Masons raised. This is 55% increase over last year. I was told the other day that Lasal Lodge in Moab had over 23 Brethren in attendance at a regular meeting. They told me this weekend they checked their records back to the 1970’s and they have never had that many Masons in attendance before. Ever. This is from a lodge that was thought was all but extinct just a few years ago. Brethren, we should be proud and we should be excited!
Men want to be Freemasons and the Grand Lodge of Utah is answering the call. We are seen on local television and heard on the radio. With the Meet-up Groups where potential candidates can meet us, with Facebook Pages, with websites and with plain old flyers tacked on bulletin boards around town, we have let our own little corner of the world know we are here and if a man meets the requirements, he may be able to join our ranks as a Utah Mason.
Please don’t get me wrong. Numbers themselves don’t mean progress, but the numbers show the results of our hard work, and that surely is progress. We now have the responsibility though to keep these new Masons engaged and help them be part of our Masonry.
No longer shall we sell a false bill of goods. No longer should we fail to Deliver on the Promise.
If we promise Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth and a new member is brought into a lodge of bickering, tired redundancy and sub par degree work, how can we expect that new man to stick around? We must practice what we preach; we must learn to subdue our passions; we must think outside the box.
We must Deliver on the Promise of Freemasonry.
There are a few concepts I would touch on that I have observed in my time as a Mason, followed by a few principles in which I believe.
Men want shorter, streamlined, productive meetings. Nobody wants to sit in a 3 hr business meeting discussing nothing.
Men want their ideas to be heard and not casually discounted just because they are a new member or because the idea has been tried before. New eyes can see new opportunity.
Men want varied Masonic education that both edifies and is practical in their everyday life. How else shall we make good men better?
Men want polished and well honed degree work. Our ritual, when done artfully, is the well cured mortar of our ancient Brotherhood.
Men want dedicated time to be fraternal and not just ceremonial. Sometimes Brethren it is just fun to “hang out with each other”.
Men want to work in our quarries, they do not join to sit on the sidelines with idle tools watching others do the work.
I believe that the Grand Lodge of Utah is the chief Ceremonial and Administrative body of our jurisdiction. However, the power to make change lies with the delegates you elect, your Past Masters and your Grand Lodge Officers. Change comes from you my Brethren from within your Lodges.
I believe that untapped talent within the Lodges has the new and innovative ideas that can propel a lodge to new heights..
I believe that the membership of a Lodge can solve most of their own challenges.
I believe it is the responsibility of a Grand Lodge to disseminate the best practices of this jurisdiction to all the lodges of the state and it is then Grand Lodge’s job to coordinate and propagate these shared ideas.
and lastly...
I believe our focus as Utah Masons as a whole should not alone be on our “membership”, but on the needs of the individual member.

Let me now outline some of my priorities this year.
The majority of our Grand Lodge visitations will be on the regular stated meeting nights of the lodges. This to avoid another night out of your busy schedules. The visitations on regular stated meeting nights will be a Mason only event in most cases, with no formal dinner. The visitations where more than one lodge may be called together or which take place outside of the Wasatch Front may have a meal and if so, our ladies will be invited.
An Accelerated Class will be offered if requested by a minimum of five lodges as per our Grand Lodge Code.
Each Lodge should consider at least one “renovation or beautification” project to their facility as a new part of the Master Builder Program. Just one thing Brethren: paint a wall, mow the lawn, pull the weeds, put up a sign..
We will continue the Statewide Masonic Open House to again raise local awareness of Freemasonry and to garner donations for the local and Statewide Utah Food Banks.
We will continue to foster the relationship we have as Master Masons with the appendant bodies, impressing upon our membership the strength that these relationships create and cement within our Masonic Family Statewide.
We will host the Rocky Mountain Masonic Conference on the 14th, 15th and 16th of July 2011, where we will offer the hospitality for which we are so well known for in the Intermountain West. This three day event will showcase the best practices of our adjoining jurisdictions, include lectures from world renown Masonic Speakers, and culminate with a ritual presentation from Keystone Mark Masons Lodge, a Masonic body which was not created by a Grand Lodge or a Grand York Rite, but by a few excited rank and file Masons-- Change comes from you my Brethren.
In closing I am thankful to be a member of Utah Freemasonry, and as a Utah Freemason and soon to be Grand Master I am thankful that most of our challenges are quite small. So that When we decide to make a change; when we decide to rise above the fray; when we decide to step up to the bat, the chance, the chance, that together “we” can knock the ball out of the park, is almost certain.
I thank you in advance for your help Brethren, as together “we” The Household of the Faithful “Deliver on the Promise of Freemasonry” in 2011.

02 February 2011

Almost Worshipful?

The funniest title I've heard. We're almost there Grandpa. Seems surreal, seems just like yesterday, seems weird, seems like I'm driving a car that looks like mine but was the wrong one in the car park, seems though with a little help from my friends everything will be alright. That I think it means it's ok.


That's all.