Many of us have experienced very active summers both within the Craft as well as in our personal and business lives. Degrees have been conferred on high hills and along lake shores. Masons have marched in parades around the state, oftentimes – and most appropriately – leading com- munity parades as Freemasons ARE community leaders! The Widows Sons have had bike rides all over the state raising money for charity including the Inaugural Grand Master's Ride that generated a $2,500 donation to the Brotherhood Fund (see separate comments in this newslet- ter on this new fund).
The much welcomed warm days of summer are now dwindling to a precious few and God's beautiful artistry of multi-colored autumn leaves will soon to be upon us.
So now is the time to turn our thoughts toward bringing our Lodges from refreshment to labor again. The time for taking stock of where we are as individual Masons and as Lodges; for making plans to add value and excitement in our Lodges and Districts; and to set a course that will make Freemasonry a more important navigator of our personal lives, while putting wind to the sails of our Craft so that she might ply the waters leading to Masonic Excellence.
As Grand Lodge officers and leaders of our Craft, you are charged with turning vision into reality, with inspiring Brethren and Lodges toward greatness, and with spreading light and understanding through your activities and communications.
Kindly let me reiterate, please keep me informed of what's happening in your District. I hear often from many of you; not so much from others. All of you will be hearing from a senior member of the Grand Lodge team (see page 3) in the next few weeks, if you haven't already.
Use the Brotherhood Fund to Lend a Helping Hand
Over the past year the Masonic Charitable Foundation established a "Brotherhood Fund" to quickly help Brethren and Masonic widows address urgent personal needs. The maximum award is $500. The Brotherhood Fund compliments the more substantial financial relief that is available by formal application to the Masonic Charitable Foundation.
Earlier this year, the Brotherhood Fund was tapped to assist a Brother within 24 hours of a fire in which he lost everything. Other examples: aid might be given to some - heating oil or food, or needs medical equipment. There must be an urgent need that we might address quickly.
District and Lodge officers may communicate a financial need and assistance recommendation by phone or email to the Grand Secretary, Deputy Grand Master or Grand Master.
Feature Magazine Article on Maine Freemasonry
There will be a feature article in the September 2016 issue of the Maine Seniors magazine on Maine Freemasonry and its Grand Master. Authored by Paulette Oboyski of Brunswick, wife of RW Vic Oboyski, Past DDGM of the Seventh District, the article speaks to the background and activities of the Grand Master. Beyond that, it tells of our Masonic commitment to enriching lives, the criteria for becoming a Mason, the opportunities to become involved in our communities and our charitable initiatives, and our Bikes for Books program.
It will be a good issue to share with prospective Ma- sons of any age. Look for the September issue of Maine Seniors on a local magazine stand, in doctors' offices and other locations. Hopefully we will be able to obtain a copy of the article to put on Facebook and our web page.
Telling Our Story at Fellowship Nights
Our product – the Masonic Brotherhood – is outstanding. It adds value to our lives and serves with compassion those associated with the fraternity. Maine Freemasonry also makes a dramatic contribution to our fellowmen, especially our state's schoolchildren, through our Bikes for Books and other grant programs, our support of the Maine summer literacy program and youth service initiative. It is our intention to roll out in the next few months the National Masonic Foundation for Children's training program for school personnel – to identify and work with at-risk children.
We know that Maine Freemasonry enriches lives, but most people don't even know we exist. But they will! All our children-based programs are getting us noticed in schools, by parents and community leaders…and by future Masons. We are making an increasingly beneficial impact on kids, just like our Shrine-Mason Brethren do with their hospitals and burn centers.
Yet we need to share our story with men who you and your Brethren feel would make good Masons. Masonry is not for everyone! We, like the Marines, are "looking for a few good men" who share our values and will live by our tenets. Others need not apply and should not be accept- ed.
Materials have been sent to Lodge and Grand Lodge Officers on holding Fellowship Nights on a Lodge, District or across-District basis. The package announces that Grand Lodge will provide financial support for these Fellowship Nights. Review the package and assemble positive, supportive Lodge and District leaders to plan fellowship nights in your District.
Our very achievable goal is to raise at least two new Masons this year in every Lodge, or one more than last year, whichever is greater. Let's make it happen!
Masonic Excellence Award – 2016 and 2017
The leaders of the many Lodges listed below decided to pursue Masonic Excellence during 2016. They identiied at least four important initiatives to improve their Lodges. Real progress towards their goals should have been achieved by now, with the next four months being a critical period for accomplishing the positive results de- scribed in their plans and for preparing the report on the many achievements.
As District and Grand Lodge leaders, now is a good time to check on the progress of your Lodges in completing their Masonic Excellence Award initiatives; determine whether there are ways that Grand Lodge might assist them towards successfully achieving their plans, and motivate them to pursue the Masonic Excellence Award in 2017 (whether or not they are pursuing the Lodge improvement program this year).
Mount Moriah Lodge
Ira Berry Lodge
Mount Tir'em Lodge
Mt Kineo Lodge
Gov Wm King Lodge
Rising Virtue Lodge
St. Andrew's Lodge
Alna Anchor Lodge
St Aspinquid Lodge
Meridian Splendor Lodge
Morning Star Lodge
Solar Star Lodge
The award program reporting forms and due dates are available on the Grand Lodge website. Please contact the Grand Master if you would like a copy of the award sub- missions for Lodges in your District. Participating Lodges in 2016 are:
It is very pleasing to hear that several Districts are at work forming, reestablishing or expanding the efforts of their District Associations. The hope is that Lodges working together will benefit the Masonic experience enjoyed by our Brethren, as well as the health of every Lodge and our fraternity overall. Each District Deputy is requested to advise the Grand Master by September 6th via email whether your District has a functioning District Association, the extent to which each Lodge is participating in the association, and the nature of association activities. If there is not an association, please indicate the steps you are taking to form one.
2016-2017 District Meetings
Thank you for getting your District Meetings scheduled in time for the Autumn 2016 Maine Mason. Please advise the Grand Marshal of any errors in or needed changes to the published schedule.
These meetings are not the Grand Master's meetings they are the Districts' meetings, to be run by the DDGM. They also are not meetings for the Lodge Masters alone, but for all officers and members, and in most instances (open meetings), for their ladies and other non-Masonic guests. The meetings offer good opportunities to introduce prospective Masons to the Craft.
The Grand Marshal, VW Rich Nadeau, is coordinating these meetings. You may reach him at (207) 577-4781 or email@example.com. Bro. Nadeau will contact the DDGM a week before his District Meeting to coordinate the evening's activities, and will email District Brethren and Grand Lodge officers to remind them of the meeting times, attire (tuxedos at open meetings; suits at tyled meet- ings) and to encourage their attendance. Having email ad- dresses in MORI greatly helps this process.
Buying 200th Anniversary Coins at District Meetings
Please inform your Lodges and District Brethren that the Grand Secretary will have a supply of the strikingly beautiful 200th anniversary challenge coins available for purchase for $10.55 at the District meetings. Purchasing them at the District Meeting will save purchasers the ship- ping charge and allows Lodges to obtain a supply for use as candidate gifts and for resale to interested Brethren.
District and Grand Lodge Calendars
One of the great tools that we have to invite Brethren to upcoming activities is the District Calendar on the Grand Lodge website. It helps build interest and sideline attend- ance. I have asked each DDGM to have his Lodges use this tool by September.
As of today, the majority of Lodges in Districts 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, 17, 18, 19, 20 and 23 are using the calendar for September, or the information is being added to the calendar for them. Either way, thank you Brethren. Please make having all of your Lodges use the calendar a top priority in the upcoming weeks and thereafter.
Communicating with Lodge Officers via Email
You and Grand Lodge can efficiently and effectively communicate with Lodge leaders when the email address- es and phone numbers of the officers are maintained in the MORI membership database system. Unfortunately, some Lodges do not include this information in MORI.
The easiest approach to determine which of your Lodg- es are not including this information in MORI is to go to Find Lodges; choose your District number; click View (for a Lodge); and click Officers. The page – which can be printed – shows all address and contact information for each officer. Repeat for each Lodge in your District.
Please personally (you or one of your team members) approach each Lodge officer directly to obtain his email addresses and telephone numbers as well as to affirm his mailing address. Grand Lodge will enter this information into MORI for you upon request.
Guns in Lodges
A separate communication was sent to all District Dep- uties and others in July seeking feedback from each DDGM not later than September 30, 2016, reflecting the diversity of opinions and suggestions of the Brethren in your District, as well as what you feel is the consensus opinion within your District, on how Maine Freemasonry might proceed on this matter. This would be a good topic for discussion at District officer / member meetings.
Elected Grand Lodge Officers at Work
Your Grand Lodge elected officers are working as an engaged team this year, with each Brother visiting District Lodges and taking a leadership role in aspects of the work of the Maine Masonic Charitable Foundation. The Deputy Grand Master and the Grand Wardens will be regularly visiting eight Districts around the jurisdiction, reaching out to District Officers, Lodges and Brethren to share in- formation on activities at Grand Lodge and other Districts, addressing questions and offering suggestions, seeking great ideas that might benefit other Lodges, and helping to create a positive relationship between Grand Lodge and Brethren statewide. The District assignments for 2016- 2017 are:
RW Mark Rustin
RW Bill Layman
RW Don Pratt
Districts: 8, 10, 11, 14, 16, 17, 18, 19,
Districts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 21, 24
Districts: 7, 9, 12, 13, 15, 20, 22, 23
The Need for Lodge and Building Assn. Audits
Attached is an article on how our Brethren from Vancouver, Washington, lost their Masonic Temple and Charitable Funds because its treasurer embezzled over $800,000. Sadly this is not an isolated instance of a Mason breaking his Masonic obligation not to wrong, cheat or defraud his Brethren and Masonic bodies. It's happened before here in Maine, to which the Brethren in the Port- land area can attest and that resulted in the loss of treasurer's bond insurance coverage for Maine Lodges for sever- al years (it has now been reinstated).
Also attached is a simple audit program devised by a Past Grand Master of New York that might guide local Masonic bodies in the audit of their accounts. All Masonic bodies should take steps to ensure that their accounts are audited each year by someone other than the Secretary or Treasurer, preferably by a duly qualified audit committee.
Lodge and Building Association Insurance
The Grand Lodge master insurance policy has moved to a new carrier, Philadelphia Insurance, which is willing to cover nearly all Masonic buildings, including those within one mile of the ocean, unless the building is literal- ly on the shore. Insurance bills will be sent this week to all Lodges and building associations. Please take note that the Lodge general liability coverage is constitutionally re- quired and payment is not optional.
All communications regarding insurance should be ad- dressed to Jan Ryan of the Auburn Insurance Agency, firstname.lastname@example.org or Austin Ryan at email@example.com with a copy to the Grand Secretary. The agency's telephone number is (781) 863-8004.
The Grand Lodge Insurance Committee chairman is Bro. Bob Ellis at firstname.lastname@example.org or (207) 647-8225.