Most Worshipful Grand Master,
As we briefly discussed, I'd like to share a story about SC Masons being true SC Masons...
Every now an then its nice to get a few reminders of why we really love what we do.
I was first contacted July 7th by WB Brian S. Dixon, PM Stonewell Lodge No. 124. He informed me that he had come into possession of a couple of old Masonic Bibles, one of which had belonged to a Brother from District 25. This Bible's cover having in gold the Square & Compasses and the words; Mr. & Mrs. J. Ross Rushing, Chesterfield Lodge No. 220 A.F.M. WB Dixon was requesting my assistance in contacting the Lodge Officers to make arrangements to present it to them.
During our conversations and emails it was clear that he, as a Mason, had a strong belief that he needed to see the Bible home where it most belonged. He wanted to deliver it in person, not just pass it along. (I am not sure what happened with the other Bible.)
On Thursday August 10, 2017 he, and others from Stonewell Lodge, travelled from Troy, SC to present this gift to the Brothers of Chesterfield Lodge No. 220. (That's approx. a 6 hour round trip.) I know they must have been doubly pleased to learn that a family tie to the Rushings was found from Ruby Lodge No. 314, just a few miles down the road. This family tie, Williams' family, father Junior, son Terry and grandson Hunter were in attendance that evening. In the attached photos, Hunter, a newly raise Mason, was given the honor of being the recipient of the Bible. Hunter's father and grandfather have been frequent visitors to and supporters of Chesterfield Lodge No. 220 for many years, so I know the Chesterfield Brothers felt a true joy in helping to honor their family.
That evening WB Terry posted on Facebook (not in SCGrandLodgeAFM Official): Couldn't have asked for a better night me daddy and hunter received my great grandfathers Masonic bible that was found in a storage unit I want to thank the brothers that brought it to us.
Since WB Terry did not name names - I had added this comment: Thank you to Brother Brian S. Dixon PM Stonewall Lodge No.124 for his love and dedication to the Craft! Not only found the Bible, recognized it's value to others, made the effort to contact me to hook him up with these Brothers, then drove several hours to hand deliver it. A special fraternal friend indeed!
TRAJECTORY OF OUR LODGES
As a young boy in the 1960’s, I was always interested in NASA and the great adventures of our Astronauts, their missions and accomplishments. As we enter the summer months, I recall with great clarity the success and issues of the Apollo Missions. On July 20, 1969 man first landed on the moon. As Neil Armstrong stated, “That’s One Small Step for Man, One Giant Leap for Mankind.” What a moment for all of mankind, the culmination of a decade of focused planning, scientific analysis, and unified work. I first learned of trajectory with the space program. Trajectory is a medieval term from the 1660’s meaning to cast over or casting over. The geometric definition relates to the curve or surface that cuts all the curves or surfaces of a system at a contact angle. Trajectory is an important term relating to future or desired success. Trajectory in essence defines the pathway to success for complex systems. The Apollo 13 Mission, in April of 1970, illustrated the impact of change in trajectory. The movie is worth of a watch on overcoming adversity or changing trajectory for survival itself.
What is the Trajectory of Your Lodge?
Brethren, as I have previously stated, Lodge membership is our most important asset. While I am positive of the great influence we have as Freemasons and our future, and yet I am also greatly concerned about the trajectory of some of our lodges! Many Lodges are just beginning to study membership trends, financial and sustainability reviews, to address their trajectory and adjust course. Some of our Lodges have the path to success in front of them, while others are on a perilous trajectory that if uncorrected will lead to disappointment and perhaps devastation to their members. We continue to discuss the Lodge of the Future program and to address the complex issues that face Lodges today! Study will enable them to plan for a future trajectory for success. Collectively we need to set our Lodge target and trajectory for a successful future. Does your Lodge have a Vision and Plan for what you really want your Lodge to provide your members, improving communication to all of your members and to determine what you want your Lodge influence to have in your community.
I have been pleased hear from Lodges that are moving forward with the Lodge of the Future Program. I have been blessed to see the first fruits from this effort with Lodges being focused on improving our meetings, adding more educational programs and considering what will your Lodge trajectory be in the coming months and years. Your Grand Lodge is moving forward with membership and system changes that will change trajectory. How we use the tools will determine the success of Lodges who understand the great benefit to their members.
As with the Apollo missions of the past, we need to ask what will be the legacy of our leadership!
Just imagine what we can do when we consider the possibilities, and take steps to get the craft moving together on a trajectory for greatness. Take the small step forward and keep moving!
MASONIC EDUCATION LESSON PLAN, NUMBER 12
YOUR LODGE OF THE FUTURE
BACKGROUND: Improving the Lodge Experience for All Members
ISSUES: Delivering on our promise, Making A Difference to All Members
NEEDS: Lead the discussion with your Lodge members as to what has improved over the last 2 years.
Discuss what yet needs to be done to improve the Lodge Experience with your members.
ACTIONS: Use the Grand Lodge Membership System to update your membership roster
Ascertain how many of your members are not attending and reach out to them
Divide the membership list among your Officers and Active Members and call them to check on them and get email address if they have it. Welcome them to come back, share upcoming events and regular meetings.
Call or email your members on their birthday
Use email to keep your members informed.
Hold a Family Breakfast and invite your Lodge members and families to visit.
Plan a special educational program and invite all your members.
Visit other Lodges and build the fellowship
Have a Lodge Project for 2017 to unite the members in a project for the community or the Lodge.
June 20, 2017 at the Veterans Victory House was a special day. Brother Lewis "Chief" Lee celebrated his 98th birthday!
Click here to read and see more of this amazing event!
Grand Masters Address
It is a distinct honor and privilege to serve our beloved Fraternity in any leadership position. I recognize that leadership has always been based upon the respect given by the membership if for only a short time. Leadership, in any case, is always accompanied by the responsibility to act on behalf one’s peers and to act in the best interest for all.
Most Worshipful T. Harry White once shared, “It is not how much a man may know that is important, as much as, the purpose for which he knows it.” This has always resonated with me in my Masonic Journey and one of several important realizations that I have gained from great Freemasons that have influenced me.
I have observed those great Freemasons that I follow in the office of Grand Master. These Brothers acted in the best interest of the Craft, as they faced the issues and challenges of the day. Having working with all of our Living Past Grand Masters, they all share the passion for Freemasonry and work for the craft. They have earned a place in history for their effort. I continue to be amazed by their great influence and labor for the craft.
Yet I am even more amazed and excited by the future of Freemasonry, because of the opportunity we have to make a difference in the world, but most importantly, among our newest members and future members. Freemasonry needs to be an integral part of the communities in which we labor.
I am, indeed, humbled and honored to have been elected and installed as the Most Worshipful Grand Master of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Ancient Free Masons of South Carolina. I promise that I will pray, listen, consider and evaluate the decisions that come to the Office of the Grand Master. I will work to address the issues that we face as a Fraternity. It will take work and faith in each other! By working together, we can create great opportunity for our gentle craft to in service to our members, communities and the world. We make a difference where we are!
I have been asked to comment on my Grand Mastered lapel pin. I was inspired to by the great lesson of the Five Points of Fellowship. When studied, all of us can benefit by the great lessons that can be gained from the rich meaning from our ritual instruction. The Blazing Star represents many things, the Five Points of Fellowship, the Da Vinci image of the Vitruvian Man, the elegant geometric proportion use to deliver the beautiful reminder of the Spiritual part of man that is found in each of us. The Hebrew letter Hei, found in the center of the star represents both the numerical value of 5 and also alludes to the ineffable name of God as we further pursue truth and light.
Brethren, so let us work together to elevate and improve the Freemason’s experience in our Fraternity, and in so doing elevate the Fraternity. It is up to each member to commit and work to improve our own experience by study. Better Ritual, Better Fellowship and Better Education.
I look forward to the opportunity to serve with those of you that want to better our Fraternity!
Sincerely and Fraternally,
Michael D. Smith, Sr.
GRAND MASTER’S LAST MESSAGE
This is my last Masonic Light article as your Grand Master. I begin with mixed emotions as my time as your Grand Master is slowly coming to an end. I am sad because my term will soon be over. However, I am very thankful you gave me the opportunity to serve this Grand Jurisdiction as your Grand Master for the past two years. I will always have wonderful memories of the way you received me and of the many acts of kindness and courtesies extended to me as I traveled over this state visiting your Lodges. Also for the honor of representing The Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Ancient Free Masons of South Carolina as I travelled to other Grand Jurisdictions for their Annual Communications. It was my privilege to meet and make friends with Brethren from many Jurisdictions in North America as I attended the Southeastern Masonic Conferences and Conferences of Grand Masters and Grand Secretaries of North America for the past several years.
I want to thank the elected line officers: Rt. Wor. Michael D. Smith, Sr., Senior Grand Warden, Rt. Wor. Walter C. Disher II, Junior Grand Warden, M.W. Jack A. Marler, PGM and Grand Treasurer, M.W. Gerald L. Carver, PGM and Grand Secretary, and Rt. Wor. A. Robert Nix, Grand Chaplain for their support. Congratulations to Rt. Wor. Michael D. Smith, Sr., as he is elevated to the time-honored position of Grand Master. To the Subordinate Grand Lodge Officers, District Deputy Grand Masters and Committeemen: thank you for your support these past two years. Also I want to thank Rt. Wor. Benny Hammond for his outstanding performance as my Grand Marshall and the times he accompanied me on my demanding travel schedule.
To M.W. Jerry Carver, PGM and Grand Secretary thank you for your wise counsel, advice and work performed for me. You were always there for me when I needed advice and counsel and I thank you for that.
To M.W. Jack A. Marler, PGM, Grand Treasurer for the assurances that the funds of the Grand Lodge are properly maintained.
To MW Ronald C. Mitchum, PGM, Chairman of Commission on Investments and Masonic Relief. Thank you for your expert advice and performance with the Grand Lodge Investments and assuring stability in the future. Also for your work with the Masonic Relief to ensure those receiving assistance were thoroughly investigated.
To our Past Grand Masters: MW Tommie Brant, MW G. Ray Marsh, MW Robert V. Pinkston, MW Samuel Tennyson, Sr., MW G. Kent Elkins, MW Barry A. Rickman, MW Jay A. Pearson and MW David J. DeChant, Sr. This Grand Lodge is fortunate to have a dedicated group of Brothers as you.
To all the Brethren who were always there when I needed a helping hand and prefer to remain anonymous. I know who you are and will always be indebted to you.
To Jeanne, my best friend, the love of my life and my wife: I can’t express in words my love and appreciation for your love and the sacrifices you made supporting me through the forty seven years I have been active in this Great Fraternity of Masonry. You have been so very encouraging and supportive every day.
Brethren, I look forward to our upcoming 280th Annual Communication to be held in Greenville, S. C. at the Embassy Suites Hotel on April 27th -28th 2017. I sincerely hope to see you there.
William B. Rogers
The Masonic Fraternity
The origin of Masonry began hundreds of years ago as a skill based upon a need. It then became a trade which was organized into a guild. It required diligence and a commitment to quality work. Not just any man was taken in as an apprentice. Men were asked to measure up for a job he sought before he was allowed to do it. More important, no man who was unwilling to work to learn how to produce good work was allowed to remain very long with the Craft.
Speculative Masonry also has the same requirements, but because the work expected is that of improvement of the individual it is not as easy to evaluate the quality or the results. But here again, any man who is unwilling to learn to produce good work should also not be allowed to remain in our Fraternity.
For years we have been telling men who ask about the value of Masonry that what you get out of it is what you put into it. I hear this almost everywhere I go. I have never told a Brother that what you put into Masonry is what you will get out of it. This is a lazy non-answer and the result of it has been that men have been allowed to bring anything they enjoy from their daily lives into the craft and call it Masonry. The reasoning behind this appears to be that so long as what we are doing is good and will make the person a better man. Therefore, he believes this is what Masonry is all about. It cannot be just getting out of it what we put in, or we will have ended up nothing more than what we started with.
Undoubtedly, the world we live in needs more acts of loving kindness and concern for our fellow man. Masonry calls us to perform such as part of our obligation to humanity. However, this is no more the sum of Masonry that it is in math. Every human being should be called to display goodness and love toward their fellow man as it should be with every Mason. But what the observant Mason must ask himself is how Masonry distinguished itself from other fraternal organizations. We must ask ourselves why seek membership in our Fraternity as opposed to any group of well intentioned people who do good things for humanity. When they do seek membership and have truly advanced beyond the door of the Lodge it is our obligation to help them understand the teachings which they are receiving. We must start by understanding that Freemasonry, unlike other fraternities, is not for everyone, and should never be offered as such. Masonry is and was always intended to be an organization that an individual must seek to join. The quality of the individual far outweigh the number of men knocking at our doors, quality of character far outweighs quantity of candidates, and less is more. If we select ten exceptional men to whom he can teach the whole of the craft, each of those ten men can in turn teach ten others. By working with fewer but dedicated men, the Fraternity gains substantially. We thereby gain the survival of the Craft. We have some who believe that more men are needed in order to save dying Lodges from extinction.
The man who knocks at our door, in full knowledge of both the risk that he may be rejected, and yet proceeds anyway because the search for light is that important to him. Only such a man is one who should become a Mason. Why? Because such a man will understand that as with all things worth doing or having, the “true knowledge of the art” takes time, and cannot be achieved in a day. It requires a sincere pledge of time and effort. Men who should be Masons will make time for the Craft. They must not change its principles, methods or techniques in order to take all men at all cost, especially those who have told us that they do not have the time for it. Freemasonry does not offer itself to those who are outside the doors of the Lodge, or even to those who may simply be curious about its contents. The real reason for membership in the Craft is that it must be sought. The experiences of an Entered Apprentice’s and Fellowcraft’s first few months and a new Master Mason’s first years will determine how they view Freemasonry for the remainder of their lives. This is why our commitment to mentoring and the sustaining of fellowship is relevant, now more than ever. I believe our Lodges should strive for better Masons rather than more Masons.
Freemasonry is oldest Fraternal Organization in the world. We owe no explanation to anyone for who we are, what we do, why we do it or how we do it, and no one has the right to demand an explanation from us.
William B. Rogers
William B. Rogers
GRAND LODGE ANNUAL
The 280th Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Ancient
Free Masons of South Carolina will be held on April 27th and 28th, at the
Embassy Suites, Greenville Golf Resort & Conference Center located at
670 Verdae Blvd, Greenville, SC 29607.
The Religious Service will commence on Thursday, April 27th at 9:00
AM and will be conducted by Reverend and Right Worshipful A. Robert
Nix, Grand Chaplain. Following the Religious Service, the Grand Lodge
will be officially opened at 10:00 AM by Most Worshipful William B.
Rogers, Grand Master with the assistance of the Grand Lodge Officers
and Brethren. The Annual Banquet will be held on Thursday, April 27th at
7:00 PM in the Ball Room of the Embassy Suites, Greenville.
The Embassy Suites, Greenville will be the Headquarters Hotel. Those
desiring to stay at the Headquarters Hotel are encouraged to make reservations
as soon as possible since there is a limited number of rooms
available. Elected Grand Lodge Officers, Appointed Grand Lodge Officers,
Past Grand Masters, and Committeemen are requested to stay at the
Headquarters hotel and to make their reservations promptly. Each person
including Grand Lodge Officers, Past Grand Masters, and Committeemen
are responsible for making their own reservations.
Reservations may be made by calling the Embassy Suites, Greenville at
1-864-676-9090. When calling, you must ask for group reservations and
identify yourself as being with The Grand Lodge of Ancient Free Masons
of South Carolina (code GRA) in order to obtain the special room rate of
$143.00 plus tax per night. Since the Headquarters Hotel will be unable
to accommodate everyone attending the Annual Communication of the
Grand Lodge, the following is a list of nearby hotels for your convenience:
Holiday Inn Express & Suites
1036 Woodruff Road
Greenville, SC 29607
La Quinta Inn & Suites
31 Old Country Rd.
Greenville, SC 29607
Microtel Inn & Suites
1024 Woodruff Rd.
Greenville, SC 29607
Comfort Inn Millennium
2756 Laurens Rd
Greenville, SC 29607
The Future Begins Now With a New Year! - Fresh Start Initiatives
HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL FREEMASONS!
As we begin the new Masonic Year, it is a great time to embrace
and improve the Masonic experience for your Lodge Brothers. As
previously stated, I believe that fear is the most crippling attitude
that must be removed before our Lodges can progress and increase
our member value. Often Lodges are crippled by fear of trying new
things or trying to raising the quality standards of the Lodge, and it
is true that not all will like changes, changes are needed to continue
to improve our Masonic Experience for our current and future members. Indeed change is happening whether you plan for it or not!
Men are changing. 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 than last year? Will our Lodge
make a difference to our existing members?
Your Lodge can greatly prepare for success by ALL officers attending your District Instructional Meeting together. Your experience is important so that you can lead the Craft of your Lodge. To prepare for your Instructional Meetings, review 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, analysis with your officers to plan and lead discussion in your Lodge.
Several key events are planned for your Instructional Meetings with time set aside for your specific office and materials for your use this year. If you are a first time officer in any chair in the Masonic Lodge, your will get specialized training for your specific office. We will also have time at your meetings to discuss common items, and some of the best instruction from the Masonic Education Committee on the standard Lodge practice and procedure.
Finally Gentlemen, remember that we learn best from each other, so offer to share your experience and your Lodge History with your members. After all, that is the way we have taught for centuries! Many great Freemasons have passed through your doors. Document and share your Lodge history before it passes another generation.
I hope to see many of you at your District Instructional Meetings, and Worshipful Masters, the upcoming Grand Masters Workshop for Worshipful Masters on January 28, at the Columbia Scottish Rite Center.
Chairman, Masonic Education Committee
Michael D. Smith, Sr., Senior Grand Warden
MASONIC EDUCATION CORNER HOLIDAY PRAYER
Brethren, as we enter the Holiday Season, a time for Thanksgiving for our many blessings, a special time with family and friends to celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah and the coming of a New Year, take time to reflect on your personal commitment to God, your Family, our Nation and our Fraternity. So, as you close a year, celebrate your accomplishment, and look forward to the potential of a new year, take time to pause and reflect. In considering what to share with my Brethren, I am led to simply offer a prayer that I hope will inspire you and your Lodge as you celebrate 2016 and prepare for 2017. Most Holy and Glorious Lord God of Heaven, thank you for the beginning of a new day, as 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 one with the other. I ask for forgiveness for our errors, and mistakes that have hurt others, while we give thanks for the great compassion that men of faith have for one another. I ask your infinite blessings upon all members of our Gentle Craft this day, as we prepare for the New Year, 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 love one another, to be the shining example of what is right and true, an example of love, an example of strength and an example of faith. Guide our thoughts, words, and actions all the days of our lives with that great purpose of teaching and guiding our families and our Lodges, 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 learn and use our 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 more especially as we celebrate this season and accomplishments. Touch each of them with the great sense of purpose as we claim your promise of great success as a body of faith. 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. Aid us, O God, to learn and use these gifts wisely and well in the coming days. 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 and our Nation. Remove from among us, those that sacrifice our honor and integrity for their selfish greed and evil motivation, send to us the leaders of faith, leaders who will stand, leaders who will lead and leaders 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 in your will and 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 joy and fellowship for eternity. 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.
Amen! So Mote It Be! Amen!
Our lesson plan for the month references some ways to jump start your New Masonic Year. Find the Masonic Light Lesson plan under the resources tab at www. scgrandlodgeafm.org. Salve! Salve Frater!
Michael D. Smith
Senior Grand Warden
Chairman, Masonic Education Committee