Grand Master Announcement about Coronavirus COVID-19
March 14, 2020
To our Brethren in South Carolina, This “NOTICE” is in response to the Coronavirus COVID-19 in our Grand Jurisdiction.
Until further notice, our Grand Lodge Communication scheduled for April 23rd and 24th 2020 in Myrtle Beach HAS NOT BEEN CANCELLED. Please stay tuned to the Grand Lodge System (Grandview ) Postings, Emails and the Grand Lodge Web-Site for future updates. Please do not cancel any room reservations at this time. You will have plenty of notice if the Annual Communication has to be rescheduled and the Grand Lodge Office will assist in cancelations at that time.
Our Grand Lodge Officers and Committees are looking for future alternatives for our annual communication if such issue should need to be addressed.
We are recommending that you follow all guidelines and mandates issued by the President, Governor of South Carolina, CDC –Atlanta, South Carolina Emergency Management Division, and Local Governments in your particular area.
All Brethren that are considered at-risk, elderly, or are currently ill should refrain from Masonic gatherings.
Until Federal, State, and Local mandates are issued, we recommend the act of “social distancing”, limited contact, proper hand washing, and refraining from shaking hands.
As of this date, any Subordinate Lodge unable to open will not be penalized until established government mandates in your area are discontinued, if your area has been affected. Please report this to our Grand Secretary for recordkeeping purposes.
Please stay in touch with local elderly Brethren, any Brother living alone, or any Brother with chronic health issues. I have included health links below for information.
We are taught the lessons of Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth. Now is the time and Here is the place for our world to know “Who We Are.” Lady Laura and I are praying for the health and safety of each of you, our state, and our country.
May God continue to Bless our Craft, the state of South Carolina, and the United States of America.
Walter C. Disher II – Grand Master
South Carolina Emergency Management Division
Happy Holidays from Laura and I to our Masonic families, wherever dispersed. We wish everyone a season filled with peace, love, and harmony. Enjoy this time of year with your family, recharging those batteries for the upcoming year. To all those elected and appointed in our subordinate Lodges, we extend congratulations and look forward to working with you in the ensuing year.
To the many in the “Masonic Family” that are practicing the true teachings of Masonry, we thank you for what you do. You are a beacon of light and inspiration to us during our travels. The outpouring of your friendship and hospitality are never forgotten.
A true builder has the ability to proficiently construct. My topic, “The Most Important Part of a House” is a topic of much needed discussion in our times. It may seem like a simple part of the overall construction process, but your foundation is the most important part of your entire project. The biggest reason for this is any mistakes made in the foundation will only get worse as you go up. It’s referred to as “compounding defects,” and it means that mistakes grow. An example: You notice that your slab foundation is 3/4” out of square when you start framing. It’s also 1/2” out of level across the total building. You figure, “well, I can handle that. I’ll just adjust it in the framing.”
As you complete the framing, you get up to the roof (if only one story) and notice that the building is now 1” out of square and 3/4” out of level. Well, you figure you can capture it in the roof framing. By the time your metal roofing arrives, the square panels don’t fit on your “out of square” roof and you have “to make it work.” In the end, everyone can see that the roof is out of square, and the simple mistakes in your foundation
have ruined the look of the house. Not only has it ruined the look, any future repairs being made will then require custom individual cuts, which require a huge amount of extra work for the Craftsman. This in turn will be very costly to the owner. Remember, it was a “simple” mistake, and it just got worse and worse as he went up in the construction process. You have circumvented the building standard, and everything must be adjusted to compensate.
Here’s another reason that your foundation deserves the highest focus and attention to detail: your entire house sits on top of it!
A True Builder requires a house be plumb, square, and level with a firm and adequate foundation. Anything less will prove that structure to be inferior. Likewise, on the speculative side, it is considered treasonous to the Craft. If a candidate is allowed to move up before he is truly ready, it is a Masonic Offense. By promoting an unworthy or uneducated candidate, you not only cheat and wrong the candidate, but your Lodge of its future, every other Ancient Craft Lodge, and every Appendant Masonic Organization. These organizations rely on our individual Lodges to vouch for good men with good work, true work, and square work to build those organizations.
An Ancient Craft Lodge assumes a huge responsibility not only for the future of Freemasonry, but the future for all other affiliated organizations. This means our candidates MUST be investigated properly. This means our three grades of workmen should be proficient in the work before being allowed to move up to the next degree. If candidates are proficient in the work, they are ready to fill the chairs in the Lodge when the time comes. They will not be overwhelmed with learning so much information and performing their duties. They will have a “firm foundation.” When they have finished the Ancient Craft chairs, they will be ready for future leadership in other appendant bodies because they have learned proper protocol in our Ancient Craft Lodges.
Again, here’s another reason that your foundation deserves the highest focus and attention to detail: your entire house sits on top of it!
For our appendant bodies to be successful, we MUST support our local Ancient Craft Lodges. We MUST support our Grand Lodge and Grand Master. Not just in words, but in actions and deeds. As long as Masonic Affiliation is a prerequisite for that membership, our appendant organizations RELY SOLELY on the Ancient Craft for membership. Until things are different, our Ancient Craft Lodges are the ONLY training ground for the future leadership in our appendant organizations. If the Ancient Craft Lodge is the “Foundation of Masonry,” the walls and roof cannot outgrow the foundation without it being detrimental to the entire structure.
My Grandfather use to say; “It’s not always what you say, but it is always what you do that makes the difference.” As Ancient Craft Lodge members, officers, and leaders of the Craft, let us not forget the importance of “The Foundation.” Serve, Protect, and Support your Blue Lodge! Our future depends on it!
May the Grand Architect of the Universe be with you and keep you safe until we meet again.
Walter C. Disher II
GRAND MASTERS MESSAGE Whether your Lodge is dark or not, Laura and I hope that you are enjoying the summer with friends and family, going on vacation, grilling, gardening, camping, or just soaking up some sun and making Vitamin D. Have you ever taken something apart and been unable to get it back together? Have you ever taken a break and come back to what you were working on and have everything fall right into place? When you do this, you are using the other hemisphere of your brain, which gives a short break to the hemisphere that was previously working. Many great minds in the arts and sciences throughout history have used this as a way of expanding the efficiency of their brain. Genesis 2:2 of our Great Light explains that on the seventh day, God rested from his work. Most successful people choose to take time to make memories with their friends and family. They avoid burn out and afterwards come back to work and Lodge feeling rested and refreshed, ready for fellowship and degree work. It is not about how fast you are running around, but how many things you have completed accurately. As you read this article, I have visited Grand Lodges in Florida, Washington, D.C., and Louisiana. Our Grand Lodge Officers have completed the first phase of training for the District Deputy Grand Masters and the Appointed Subordinate Grand Lodge Officers and Committeemen. This will hopefully make us more efficient from a Grand Lodge standpoint for our Lodges. South Carolina will be hosting the Southeastern Masonic Conference in August in Charleston, followed by the District Inspirational Meetings in the fall and District Instructional Meetings in January. We ask that you consider some topics of interest that you feel should be covered at future training sessions. You can voice and share this through the surveys taken at the District Instructional Meetings. Your attendance at each of these events is crucial for the future success of your Lodge and District. I am asking the Worshipful Master of each Lodge to compile a list of charities or community projects that have been completed in 2019 by the end of the calendar year, listing time and money donated. I personally feel that this is a great selling and informational tool that our Lodges have to influence the community in a positive light concerning our Fraternity. Your compiled list will help us with the assessment of our worth and community commitment and impact at the local level in our state. It can be as simple as Lodge X donated $300.00 to the X homeless shelter. Please take time to collect this information and share a copy of it with your District Deputy. We have information that will be coming out in the following months about our Grand Lodge Building and Library and Museum Fund. If you haven’t been to our Grand Lodge to see the historic Masonic artifacts in our museum, please take the time to do so in the near future. If you give our Grand Secretary advanced notice, he can schedule time to give a personal or group tour of our building. I want to mention something that is of great concern to me in our Fraternity today. On the evening that I took my first degree, a Past Master that I knew congratulated me on taking my first step in Freemasonry. He reminded me of the questions that we are asked and the answers I gave before being initiated (Re: 2015 Ahiman Rezon, page 60). First, I came here because I wanted to be here, it was my choice. Second, I was here because I was impressed with the positive things that Freemasonry had
done for mankind, AND I desired knowledge. Third, I would CHEERFULLY CONFORM to all the ancient usages and established customs. He reminded me that our Lodge is a HAVEN from the world of chaos. We are NEVER to bring divisive countenance, religious intolerance, or political correctness into our walls. As your Grand Master, I encourage you to take the lesson that Worshipful Brother Bill Swicegood gave me that evening and let it resonate with you. Often times, a majority of my time and that of Grand Officers and Worshipful Masters is spent on issues that stem from people that only want their way no matter the cost to their Lodge, District or our State. They refuse to CHEERFULLY CONFORM to our rules. This robs our Fraternity of harmony, causes dissention, membership loss, and is mentally draining to productive members. Question yourself; Do I still: Want Masonry to be viewed in a positive light Desire knowledge Agree to cheerfully conform to our order Remember that most of us joined this group because we realized that we are not average. We do not like doing the bare minimum, like the rest of the outside world. You are special Brethren, so be special! Finally Brethren, thank you for what you do on a daily basis to make your community, state, and nation be the best that it can be. May our Grand Architect bless and keep you until we meet again.
Respectfully and Fraternally,
Walter “Cal” Disher II
GRAND MASTERS MESSAGE WHERE ARE WE NOW!
A journey begins with a destination in mind or a goal to achieve. My journey to the Grand East began in 2010, when several Past Grand Masters asked me to consider offering for Junior Grand Warden, but at age of 51, I was not in a position to consider such a prestigious office. I continued to serve on committees and actively support my Lodge, Grand Lodge and the Scottish Rite, where I was serving as Sovereign Grand Inspector General for the 7th year. By 2012, I had numerous young Masons, who witnessed the positive changes that we were and still are experiencing in the Scottish Rite, approach me from all parts of the Jurisdiction to consider offering as Junior Grand Warden. After listening to my Brethren, and serious discussion with my family, personal discussion with all the Past Grand Masters, Lynn and I began what has been a wonderful journey. This is and has always been about serving the best interests of the Brethren and Freemasonry in South Carolina and to improve the experience of our members.
From my years of experience in business and The Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite, I have found opportunities to research, discuss, and most importantly, to listen to the Craft about where we are and the roadmap to a brighter and better future for those men that join, engage in and eventually, lead the Craft. I have witnessed many wonderful things on this journey from the promise of a family at a Lewis Degree for infant sons of Master Masons, to the generosity of South Carolina Freemasons at home and in the support of other Jurisdictions of so many in need, to the great joy of visiting Veterans in all of our VA locations in for a friendly handshake, prayer and humble gift to just say thank you for their service, to the hard work of Grand Jurisdictions that are literally fighting for their recognition, to the grandeur of the established Ritual and Ceremony when I see excellent Ritual at home and other Jurisdictions.
I have had the honor of visiting with grieving widows and families at the death of some of our Brethren, laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, visiting and touring Gettysburg Battlefield and visiting many with many great Lodges and presenting George Washington Portraits.
Sadly, I have seen and spoken to men who have lost their way, and unfortunately, far too many that decided by their selfish motivation to tarnish the very core of our Brotherhood, through their total disregard for their obligations and their Brethren. I have seen where the complacency of leaders has led to discouragement and disgust of members that has led to their decision to leave our beloved Craft. Most often, it is related miscommunication or poor leadership. The leadership gap that some of our Fraternity is experiencing comes from members who want status, presumed power and inexperience. This comes from misguided and even a total misunderstanding of what it takes to be a true Freemason and Servant Leader of our Fraternity. I am deeply concerned for our Fraternity, when I see men who have gained leadership roles, when their actions and personal bias has shattered the true meaning of Masonic Brotherhood.
So Where ARE We Now! We are much better off today than just a few short years ago because of several initiatives that have been emphasized for several years including improved membership awareness, improved Lodge management tools, improving Masonic Education, and a new spirit of hope and success.
In most parts of the Family of Freemasonry in South Carolina, true leaders, who have listened and studied, are now more aware of the issues facing our Fraternity including membership engagement, listening and working to improve communication with all the members, and thus improving the VALUE of membership rather than simply talking about financial problems all the time. After all, isn’t Brotherhood about supporting one another and taking time to celebrate our faith, fellowship and our successful actions with each other, the critical part of our beloved Fraternity.
Value increases when all members feel and know that they are an important part of the success of our Fraternity! All of Freemasonry, including our Appendant Bodies and Lodges, benefits by increasing membership value. If your Lodge chooses to improve value, then you must have serious discussion and civil debate to plot a course forward, instead of simply fading away.
Today, we are much better off due to the tireless efforts of MW Gerald Carver and our Grand Lodge Staff, and Lodge Secretaries that have implemented our Membership Management Tools. Thank you, MW Brother Carver, for your passion for our Fraternity. We are now using the features to review, plan and prepare our Leadership to really “lead the Craft!” Today, our Worshipful Masters, Secretaries and Wardens have the capability to connect with all members and to examine what needs to be done to improve their individual needs. But like all tools, used properly, they can improve the results of work. Used improperly or neglected, they will be of little or no use to those that have access to the tools. Are you listening to your members? Are you even trying to reach them?
We see in many places a renewed spirit and enthusiasm for our Fraternity because those that are using the tools are seeing results from listening and moving forward by implementing better meetings, better outreach to members and more visibility in our communities.
Finally, Gentlemen, my time as your Grand Master has come to a close, and it has been my strong belief, indeed, my commitment to the Craft that we must look to the future so as to prepare for success. We need to be cautious and guarded to make certain that we are working together. Treasure your membership and take a positive approach to moving forward! We have many issues facing us in the coming days, Stand Tall for what is right! Stand Tall against those that do not have the best interest of the Fraternity at heart. Eliminate fear of change by doing the work to plan based on facts and not just emotion. It has been the honor of my life to serve Freemasonry, now and in the future as well. Remember “It is not how much a man or person may know that is important, as much as the purpose for which he knows it.” (MW T. Harry White, Grand Master) Thank you, my Brethren all and may God Bless Freemasonry in South Carolina! Sincerely and fraternally, Michael Smith, Grand Master
GRAND MASTERS MESSAGE
The Future IS Now!
PLANNING FOR SUCCESS!
As we begin the new Masonic year, it is THE BEST TIME to examine the status of your Lodge,
address the issues facing your Lodge and prepare a plan for success. As previously stated, I
believe that fear is the most crippling attitude that must be addressed before our Lodges can
really progress and increase the value of membership. Often Lodges are crippled by fear of
trying new things. Over the past several years the Grand Lodge Officers have consistently
promoted several key initiatives from our research and study. Several Masonic Lesson Plans
over the last 4 years under the banner of the LODGE OF THE FUTURE, have shown proven ways
to, improve Ritual Quality, increase Member Communication, add meaningful Masonic
Educational programs, develop a realistic financial plan or budget plan not only for 2019 but for
the next 5 years so that you can take steps now to protect your Lodge, and finally how to
become active in the community. Members and men in the community can see the difference
that Freemasonry makes in the lives of our members and highlight who and what Freemasonry
does for others!
Many Lodges are addressing their issues and are seeing real progress. More members
attending meaningful meetings, adding new member with better and meaningful ritual being
taught, improved communications with members, improved financial status, and regaining a
meaningful place in our communities.
Unfortunately, many of those that have not seriously addressed these issues are struggling to
keep their Lodges open. After all, the primary role of a Lodge is to make Freemasons, not just
put on degrees but make Freemasons! As of this writing we have 52 Lodges in this Grand
Jurisdiction that have not raised a candidate in over 2 years or more! Only 4 Districts do not
have any Lodges on this list!
In order to become a place where members, both old and young, want to come and participate,
we have to get our house in order. This means addressing those items that directly impact the
members. Complacency is our number one issue. Choose not to be complacent! It will take
work and working together!
EMBRACING THE YEAR TOGETHER!
As we all begin our new year, with our officers taking their respective leadership roles in our
Lodge, it is important that we take time to plan for this year! Will it be better that last year?
Will our Lodge make a difference to our existing members?
Prepare by reviewing the “Lodge of the Future” series of Lesson Plans and Lodge Education
Topics, you may find these at www.scgrandlodgeafm.org under the Resources Tab. Use these
for enhanced education. Gather and analyze your Lodge data with your officers to plan a course
of action and establish a vision and pathway for your Lodge success.
Our Lodges have made a great impact in 2018 with support of Disaster Relief of members and
Lodges in South Carolina, North Carolina, Florida. Our Veterans visitations and gift project was
outstanding with gifts and supplies to 3 of our Veterans Units. We have visited 4 units and one
more to the Richard Johnson VA Hospital in planning for 2019. Brethren, thank you!
Our Grand Lodge office and Museum have had dramatic improvements this year! We have had
several degrees held in the Grand Lodge this year and I had the distinct honor to present the
MM Lecture in our Grand Lodge in 2018. It is YOUR Grand Lodge and Museum, please schedule
a visit and tour, get dispensation to hold a degree or regular meeting. Consider a District
Meeting at your Grand Lodge! You will be well pleased and honored!
Your Grand Lodge office and staff, MW Bro Gerald Carver, Grand Secretary, MW Bro. Jack
Marler, Grand Treasurer, Ms. Debbie Morrell, Ms. Connie Bennett and Wor. Bro. Pete Bailey are
the best and work so hard to support our Lodges and members.
Many committeemen, and your Grand Lodge officers are working hard to serve the craft and
are to be congratulated for their vision and support.
Finally, Gentlemen, my time as your Grand Master is rapidly coming to a close, and it has been
my strong belief, indeed my commitment to the Craft that we must look to the future so at to
prepare for success. History clearly demonstrates that success comes from preparation,
understanding and practice. Many great Freemasons have passed through your doors. Our
members will engage when we create, prepare and share goals for your Lodge and work to
accomplish those goals. I am certainly convinced that when our members feel as if they are
important to the success of the Lodge, then we can succeed because we choose to work
together. See the Lesson Plan which reviews the key initiatives for your review and study! Or
call or email me directly and I will forward to your attention!
Michael Smith, Grand Master, email@example.com or call at 864-680-0966.
“If you want people to play like champions, we must expect them to prepare like champions
and to treat them as champions.”
MASONIC EDUCATION LESSON PLAN NUMBER 10
JUMP STARTING THE NEW MASONIC YEAR
BACKGROUND: Planning for Success
ISSUES: Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail.
NEEDS: Engagement of Your Member with a Vision for Success.
APPLICATION: Planning for 2019 Success and Implementation
Step One: Officer Engagement and Alignment – Worshipful Master
Worshipful Master, you should plan a meeting with your 2019 officers as
quickly as possible to discuss the key issues facing your Lodge and determine
the priorities for 2019.
a. Operational Excellence. Is your Lodge operating and on budget.
b. What are the pressing needs for the Lodge Stability / Success?
c. Are your Officers ready to confer our Ritual properly?
d. Are you capable of reaching all your members today?
e. Is your Lodge ready to support Community Projects?
Step Two: Set the Plan for your Lodge and Plan your Calendar for 2019.
a. Key Project Committees
b. Key Event Planning and Committees
c. How will you motivate and inspire your members
d. Set the Craft to Work – Work for Excellence!
Step Three: Communicate your 2019 plan with ALL of your members. Let them know the
key items, events and calendar for your year. Plan and communicate your
Educational programs and special family events for you Lodge and get
members involved and engaged. Committees work well to create engagement.
Step Four: Report and Recognize your success and celebrate those that help
accomplishment. King Solomon delegated to other leaders to accomplish the
task. You will be successful with the cooperation and working with other.
Finally It’s ALL about the members and the harmony of the Lodge. Do what is right for
your Lodge members, even if it is difficult and you will accomplish your Goals
and make a difference in 2019.
May God Bless you and your Lodge in this important endeavor!
Thanksgiving Day Prayer
November 21, 2018
Michael Smith, 33°- Grand Master of Masons in South Carolina, AFM
Brethren, Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families.
Today, I offer this Thanksgiving prayer to my Masonic Brethren. May God continue to richly bless each of you, your families, our Fraternity, and our Nation.
Most Holy and Glorious Lord God of Heaven, thank you for the beginning of a new day. Today, we renew of our vow of service and labors as Free Men and Free Masons, to share your Love, Mercy, and Grace among those that we may touch each day and with the other.
I ask for forgiveness for our errors, and mistakes that have hurt others, while we yet give thanks for the great compassion that men of faith have for one another.
I ask your infinite blessings upon all members of our fraternity this day, Thanksgiving Day, as we reflect on our principle role as men of Faith and Love. Today, I ask that each of our members feel your presence and understand the great role each has to teach our children of all ages, to be the shining example of what is right and true, an example of Faith, an example of Strength , an example of Hope, and our best example of Love.
Guide our thoughts, words, and actions all the days of our lives with that great purpose of teaching and guiding our children, as well as those we influence, to walk in the paths of righteousness and truth. We give thanks for these gifts and the wisdom to properly use our gifts for your honor and glory. Aid us, O God, to recognize your gifts to each of us and how to use your gifts wisely and well in the coming days.
I ask for your gifts of patience, steadfastness, endurance, wisdom, love and grace upon all my brethren every day but today more especially this Thanksgiving Day. Touch each of us with the great sense of purpose as we claim your promise for all of your children. Lead us every day in the paths of truth, guide the steps of the faithful to remember our duties to our children, our families, each other, our nation and in the world.
Lord God, I pray that you imbue our Nation, with the realization that our nation is only as strong as our Faith. Strengthen our members to be the Fatherly example in our homes, communities, churches, states, our Nation, and indeed the world at large.
Remove those among us, that sacrifice our honor and integrity for their selfish greed and evil motivation, send to us the leaders of faith, men who will stand, men who will lead and men who will pray for strength and guidance every day.
I ask your grace and mercy upon those among us that are suffering from ill health, loneliness, ill fortune, and even estrangement from their families. Guide them to the place within your will and upon the paths that will be pleasing in your sight. As men of faith, we acknowledge that all will be healed in time, according to your purpose, and whether here, so as to be called to further service, or when we claim the promise of eternal joy and fellowship.
We give humble thanks for all the days of our lives, and all those that have touched our lives, provided guidance and wisdom to us along our journey. May they know that they are truly Loved. I ask for your finest blessings each of those that have shared of themselves to help us along our journey as men of faith.
So Mote It Be!
GRAND MASTER’S MESSAGE
Out of the darkness, into the light
who comes here?
Brethren, I have often illustrated the power of the ballot in my discussions about our Fraternity. The unanimous ballot is the most important part of taking a worthy candidate into our membership. This tradition is certainly important within our Fraternity, or part of guarding the West Gate of the Temple.
Why then are we seeing new members that do not complete the process, or complete their degrees and obtain full membership in our Lodges?
I believe the process for membership needs to be reviewed in our Lodges so that our members and our candidates fully understand what it takes to become a Master Mason in our ancient and honorable institution.
I call your attention to the 2015 Edition of the Ahiman Rezon, particularly the Index, page 556 – 558 which outlines the Articles and Sections relating to the Candidate and pages 587 – 588 are related to the Petition process.
Your Grand Lodge Elected Officers have engaged and listened to some of those that have not completed their degrees. We have listened to members that shared their concerns about what they should have known prior to joining the Fraternity.
The main items learned were as follows:
Most were not aware of all the requirements to become a full member, viz., the time commitment to become a Master Mason, the memory work required to advance, the financial requirement to go through the process.
Some said their experience was not favorable, in that they were confused and even embarrassed during the process.
Some were not impressed by the work nor the quality of the process. They expected more from the Lodge, specifically the lessons and how they were presented.
Some worked hard to study and prove my knowledge of the degree and it was not taken seriously! “Why bother, if they are not interested in teaching me, then why should I continue?”
Many were excited when the process was done correctly.
Have you and your Lodge really listened to your members to understand if they are getting what you are trying to teach? Do they get the great lessons that Freemasonry has to offer? Have you asked? Are your degrees really about the candidate or about the members of the cast?”
Brethren, when your elected line gathered this information, we began a dialogue as to how to address some of these issues that are negatively impacting our members and candidates. Here is the process we have developed for your review and study.
Inquiry. While we are not to directly solicit members, our Fraternity is known by those that know us and those that see what the Lodge is doing in the community, if we are active. What is the impression of your Lodge in your community? If a man is interested, and perhaps, lucky enough to find a Freemason and inquire about the Lodge or Fraternity, what do you do? Rather than just hand him a petition, we believe it is better to discuss his inquiry.
“How did you learn of Freemasonry?”
“What interests you about the Fraternity?”
“Why are you seeking membership?”
It is best to explain the process of membership to any inquirer.
Freemasonry does not solicit members, members seek to join our Fraternity. Our requirements are as follows, we are men of faith, who believe in one true God and the belief in the resurrection of the soul. (See page 456, the Twenty Five Landmarks of Freemasonry.) Note this is not specific to denomination. Two members of a Lodge must get to know you and recommend you for membership on their honor as a man and Freemason. If you are recommended, our requirements include standing a background investigation, interviews with a committee of inquiry who must unanimously recommend your membership, it takes a financial commitment for the petition, each of the degrees and annual membership dues. Our process included several steps to gain full membership and you will be required to demonstrate proficiency by learning the key moral lessons of our Fraternity that will not interfere with your religious or political opinion; we will require time to obtain full Lodge membership with both proficiency and repeated approval of the members prior to advancement. With these requirements in mind, do you wish to proceed?
If the candidate agrees to proceed, and one member is convinced that he would sign a petition, then we recommend introduction to the members, and perhaps, inviting them to a Lodge Dinner to meet members prior to giving a petition to the inquirer. We then follow the process of investigation, recommendation, and balloting. If elected, our process continues with education of the candidate of the first of the Masonic Education Program and inviting the family to visit the Lodge to become familiar with the Fraternity and address any questions or concerns that may surface.
The background check fee, in our opinion should be part of the petition fee and explained that portion is non-refundable if it is run. The report, only viewed by the secretary and Investigating Committee and given to the background check and no copy kept by the Lodge.
Finally, it is important to reiterate that the coaching of a candidate is critically important and is not taken lightly. The responsibility of the coach and Worshipful Master is to teach the candidate the lessons of the degree in the proper fashion, by mouth to ear instruction. No Red Ritual Book, or any portion thereof, should ever be provided to the candidate during his instruction.
It is also important to have the new member show his proficiency so that both he and the Lodge are certain of his preparedness for advancement.
Brethren, the process will improve both the perception and practice in your Lodge and will help streamline the on boarding process of new members.
It is our hope that your Lodge will review and consider the process and increase the percentage of members completing their degrees.
See the Lesson Plan found at www.scgrandlodgeafm.org and find the Lesson plans under the resources tab.
Retaining members and proper teaching of our members is critical to future success.
Michael D. Smith, Sr.
2018 Masonic Year Trestle Board
Our 281st Annual Communication of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Ancient Free Masons of South Carolina has come and is now in the rearview mirror. Brethren, we had a great session with positive reports, recognition and fellowship, most of all great fellowship! During the Grand Masters Address, I placed several initiatives on the trestle board for 2018 - 2019 year that I believe will continue to serve the craft and move our Lodge of the Future program forward. We will continue to focus on the primary initiatives
- Improved Ritual Work Quality – to increase new member engagement.
- Full Candidate Proficiency – to impress our lessons on new members.
- Improved Member Communication – Staying in touch with all members.
- Improved Masonic Education – Providing Quality Educational Programs.
- Improved Financial Management – Lodges taking ownership of Budgets
Brethren, those Lodges that are embracing these programs, through their hard work and effort, are seeing improved membership experience.
The new initiatives that your Grand Lodge officers are working to develop and introduce this year;
1. Address and formalize the onboarding process for new members to clearly define the requirements for membership in our Jurisdiction. This process is testing well with inquiries we get from our website. It will help our Lodges with retention and also with improved quality of applicants. It is designed to better prepare those new members coming into our fraternity with understanding of the process of membership.
2. Develop a District Realignment strategy. We currently have Districts with few as 5 Lodges and as many as 13 Lodges. We will structure so as to maintain 30 Districts but we will include Lodge input that is critical to this project.
3. Develop a Lodge of Excellence Recognition program to support our Lodges that are working to create the Lodge Membership Experience and move forward with the Lodge of the Future concepts. This recognition program will better define what successful Lodges are doing and sharing in the great results. More to follow in the coming weeks. 4. Develop and implement a Grand Masters Unity Project this year. This program is asking all Lodges and all appendant organizations of our fraternity to hold one fund raiser to support the Fraternity. Each group that participates will receive a share of the contributions to demonstrate the great impact of our fraternity. See the attached Lesson plan for details.
Gentlemen, we owe a great deal of thanks for the blessing we have in this Jurisdiction! It is by the hard work and teamwork of our members, that we see great success. We have many that worked so hard for our Grand Lodge and I want to publicly say thank you to the many on the Local Grand Lodge Committee and our Grand Lodge officers that worked on our Grand Lodge Session. Our local committee and their ladies did a wonderful job in making our members and guest feel so welcome.
Thank you to the local committee you make us so proud to be a South Carolina Freemason!
Michael D. Smith
Messages from our Grand Master