From the East – December

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Dec 152007
 

Brethren All,

We have recently closed our Grand Lodge annual communication in Waco. During that session some monumental changes in Texas Masonry occurred. For those of you who were unable to attend for various reasons let me inform you of the two changes I think will impact Masonry in Texas the most. First is that it is no longer a Masonic offense to posses a code book of the esoteric work in certain circumstances. Second is stated meetings may now be opened in the Entered Apprentice degree and all business can occur while open in that degree. I know there are strong feelings associated with both of these changes and I will leave that to be discussed in the lodge room.

This is the time of year when families and friends gather for celebrations; the time of year to reflect upon what has occurred during the previous months; the time of year when some see friends or loved ones not often seen; and a time when certain meals or dishes are prepared, that would simply not taste right at any other time. Please savor this time and spend it wisely for you will not get another chance for 12 whole months. Enjoy the season and all it brings. Spend time with those friends and family and reflect on what a great year 2007 has been.

In that spirit December will be a somewhat slow month at Plano Lodge. Our stated meeting will be held on the 13th; on the 20th I expect we will have an Entered Apprentice degree and something different will occur on the 27th. I don’t believe that many would show up at lodge that night, so to bring the friends and families together for a little fun lodge will be dark, but we will be gathering to view the new movie National Treasure: Book of Secrets. Let’s gather to have a little fun with Masonry and rest and refresh ourselves for what I am sure will be a very busy 2008.

In the light,

Chris

From the East – November

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Nov 152007
 

Brethren,

I have 2 things to talk about this month. First is a CD that some of you may own titled Hiram’s Call by brother Howie Dameron of Ohio. This was first brought to my attention by Brother Rhett North who performed a song from the CD at our family night in October. The song is about those of us who wear Masonic rings and what they stand for to Brother Dameron. I have been very moved by this song and listen to it often. The next track after this song is Brother Dameron speaking about masonry and what he feels makes a great lodge. Friendship, fellowship, and a true sense of belonging make lodges strong. I know we have that in Plano Lodge. So as Brother Dameron says “let’s continue to practice the successful art of gathering.”

Next, we had an open forum meeting in September and the subject of how Plano Lodge contributes to charitable causes came up. I have heard this question several times, in several ways recently. Some answers to this form of question are that we have semi-annual blood drives that benefit the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital. We readily contribute to the relief of poor and penniless Masons and their families. Or simply that we are not a charity, but a fraternity which chooses to sometimes contribute to charitable causes. Hearing this question often and not really being happy with the answers, although all we do are great acts of charity and do true good in the community, I propose this. We manage our financial resources to better maximize return while minimizing risk, and create a pool of funds for charitable purposes. I would like to begin with a “scholarship” to accompany the Lamar awards we hand out each year. This has to be one of the most common fund raising causes for local lodges. It seems most other lodges in our district raise money each year and award 1 or 2 scholarships. Why not combine an award we already present with a monetary award that will provide an investment in young men and women who are of extraordinary character or have overcome hardships to continue with their education. I personally find it embarrassing that all we offer these students is a very nice medal and some paperwork. What a young man or woman graduating high school and continuing their education really needs is money. If we are able to use our resources effectively, we can provide a meaningful award to the students and not just a pat on the back.

Fraternally,

Chris Rhodes

Worshipful Master

From the East – October

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Oct 012007
 

Brethren,

I would like to start my column this month by saying Thank You to some of the brethren of Plano Lodge publicly. First I would like to say Thank You to Brother Charles McKay. Brother McKay brought me a situation regarding a Masonic widow here in Plano who was having some financial difficulties. Not only did Brother McKay bring this issue to me he worked with me to uphold our obligation by arranging more monetary help than Plano Lodge could provide on its own and worked with me to see that this issue was resolved in a very positive way. Second I would like to say Thank You to Brother Michael Young, Esq. who has provided the lodge with a contract between it and the Fillmore Pub about to open around the corner. Finally, I would like to say Thank You to Brothers Clay Smith and Jim McBeth. These brothers have taken on the duty of compiling a list of and contacting the Masonic Widows of Plano Lodge. Through their efforts we expect to have about 15 of our brother’s widows join us at the Family Night Dinner in October. Next time you see these brothers please give them a pat on the back for good work they are doing on behalf of Plano Lodge.

If you were at the Lodge meeting on September 20th you know about some of the plans for the enhanced Mentor Program at Plano Lodge. I thought since there were not that many of the brothers present at that meeting I would publish some guidelines for the duties of a mentor. The Mentor has essentially three goals in working with the new candidate:

  • provide a personal link between the candidate and the lodge membership,
  • provide an individual to whom the candidate can turn to for information, and
  • provide encouragement for the candidate to seek Masonic knowledge through education.

Some suggested “duties” of a Mentor are:

  • Ask the candidate if there are any special guests he might be expecting and, if so encourage him to inform them of the degree and to invite them to attend,
  • On the night of the initiation, greet the candidate and explain to him how he will be dealt with and reassure any anxiety he might have about the ritual,
  • Following the degree, reserve a seat next to the mentor for the candidate to take upon being welcomed into the lodge by the Worshipful Master,
  • Keep in regular contact with the new member and personally invite him to attend appropriate meetings and gatherings of the lodge,
  • Take responsibility for the new brother and insure every effort is taken to keep the new brother engaged in progressing through the Masonic degrees,
  • For one year following his receipt of the Master Mason degree, keep in regular contact with the new brother and encourage him to participate in lodge activities, and
  • Extend a special invitation to the wife and family of the new brother to attend open lodge functions. Take time to introduce them to other wives and families for their first several visits.

This is an opportunity to create in a new brother a feeling of pride in the Fraternity and aid him in his quest for the genius of Freemasonry. Through this endeavor I believe we can create even more confident and educated Masons in Plano Lodge.

Chris Rhodes

Worshipful Master

From the East – September

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Sep 012007
 

Brethren,

It is that time of month when I must put fingers to keyboard and submit a message to the lodge. I normally spend a fair amount of time contemplating what message it is that I want or need to send in any specific month. However, this month such is not the case.

I am a subscriber to Carl Jones’ email lists and recently received a message that I think every brother in Masonry should get. I have chosen to make a paraphrased version of that message the subject of my article this month.

Making Good Men Better

Let me first start at the end of the message with a list of attributes we should strive for younger Masons to see:

  • Honor to the fraternity to never let it be defaced by bad intentions.
  • Virtuous in our lodges, and in our daily lives.
  • Truthful to ourselves about our need to change.
  • Fidelity to our practices, so that younger men will want to be like us.
  • Courage to speak out when others are not following Masonic principles.
  • Loyalty to our brothers in letting them know we care, and are willing to help.
  • Patience enough to wait and watch them change.
  • Humble enough to accept criticism when we falter, or commendation when we succeed.
  • Proud enough to commend the changes we see in our brothers.

This list was preceded by some suggestions of what is “good” for the Lodge and what is “not good” for the Lodge. Many of the “good” suggestions are practiced at Plano lodge, and many of the “not good” suggestions are also not practiced at Plano lodge. However, I feel the need to point out some items of both categories that I feel we can improve upon.

As an Entered Apprentice Mason we are taught that “a lodge is …a place where Masons meet for work” and as a Master Mason “… of who can best work and best agree”, of course we are all imperfect and striving learn to be the as perfect as possible. To that end I feel that we can improve in “Counseling”, “Edification of another”, “Controlled discussion of differences”, “Attitudes” and “Other profanity”. These items have been lifted from the afore mentioned email along with a short description.

Counseling – When a brother who is normally at lodge is absent for an extended time (for no apparent reason) we should be worried about him. We help our own first, and we worry about them when they are not with us.

Edification of another – There have been times that negatives were spoken about a Masonic issue, and younger masons started chiming in with their own negative views about Masonic issues. This cannot happen. The only way to prevent this is to ensure all do not get this kind of conversation started.

Controlled discussion of differences
– Craft your discussion without emotion, or just say you don’t agree but cannot verbalize it. Keep the level of discussion to the point.

Attitudes – Please leave them at the door. All masons should have similar thoughts in mind when attending lodge. And remember, you represent your lodge when you do ANYTHING.

Other profanity – NO PROFANITY IN THE LODGE WHATSOEVER!!!

To make good men better, it takes “better men” to be role models for the “good men” to see and learn from. This is not a place where you “let your hair down”; it should be a haven clear of all negatives toward each other. We must all “mind our manner’ when in lodge or fraternizing with other Masons.

From the East,

Chris

From the East – August

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Aug 012007
 

Brethren,

Thank you all for making my first month as Worshipful Master of Plano Lodge a great one. I have implemented some new programs at the stated meetings and the response has been positive. I was very pleased with the participation of the brothers during these programs and the comments I received afterward confirmed that these were good additions to the meeting and were indeed something the brothers would enjoy. I have a few more ideas to try out as we continue through this year, and look forward to receiving feedback on them both positive and constructive.

I expect we will continue to be busy at Plano Lodge through the month of August. I do know of some events we have coming up in September. At the stated meeting in September we will receive our second official visit from our District Deputy Grand Master, R:. W:. Glen Day, as well as have the report from the Audit Committee. Both should prove interesting and informative. We will also have our annual Certificate Examination at Plano Lodge on the Monday following Labor Day. For those who choose to sit for this examination, this can be quite a hectic, mind numbing experience. I have also had a request to have a Saturday degree. I am not sure when that will be able to be fit into the schedule, but be expecting it. We have had poor attendance at the last 2 Saturday degrees we have put on, so I would like to have a larger crowd for this when it comes to be.

Finally, the weather (i.e. rain) seems to have lightened up to the point I can again use my pool. I know you have all been eagerly waiting for this moment, so please note the pool party has been rescheduled. The new date is Saturday, August 25th. The same requests apply. Please RSVP to me either in person, by email, or by telephone. This is a BYOT event. Bring Your Own Towel.

In Peas and Hominy,

Chris

Worshipful Master

From the East – July

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Jul 012007
 

Brethren I would again like to thank all of you who came out on June 30th to participate in my installation as Worshipful Master of Plano Lodge. This was a very proud day for me and I appreciate the confidence you have placed in me. I also again apologize for having to postpone the party after the installation, but even as your Worshipful Master there are some things beyond my control (i.e. the weather). I will reschedule that party and once the weather decides to cooperate and the pool is ready I will let you know.

As you have read in this Trestleboard recently, I would like to do some things differently this year. We will be discussing some of these things at the stated meetings as they come up. Additionally, for the next 12 months we will have a program prepared by our Chaplin Brother Bob Pannell on the various names of Jehovah and how they pertain to Masonry. I have had the privilege of previewing this program and I think you will enjoy it. Also, our Marshall Brother Matt Smithey has been charged with presenting some topics at the stated meeting meant to get you thinking about Masonry, what it means to be a Mason and where and how we can make positive changes in the craft. These programs are not meant to disrupt the peace and harmony of Plano Lodge, but merely to give its members and opportunity to discuss controversial topics in Masonry and get the brotherhood thinking.

I know this will be an exciting year and I look forward to leading you through it. As always please contact me and let me know your thoughts and feelings about the state of Plano Lodge. I may be reached at copen27@aol.com or by telephone at 214-536-2452 (mobile), 972-881-9052 (office) and 972-384-0405 (home). I have intentionally left this column short to encourage you to attend lodge and find out in person what I am talking about.

In the light,

Chris

Worshipful Master

From the East – June

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Jun 192007
 

Close the lodge

Very soon we will be ending the 111th Masonic year for Plano Lodge #768. As usual we have been very busy at work in the quarries. By the time the year ends on St. John the Baptist day, June 24th we will have had 12 stated meetings and 39 called meetings, (two dark Thursdays in the year.) We will have conferred more that 45 degrees – Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft and Master Mason, (Tiny says he will count them up after the year ends.)

Among the activities of the Lodge for the year are included:

  • Annual Certificate exam where many Plano Masons showed their proficiency in our ritual work
  • Good participation in grand lodge workshops
  • Participation with other community organizations to distribute candy at the annual Halloween party at Garden ridge
  • Institution of the family night on stated meeting days
  • Beginning of the Tracking and mentoring of new Masons program
  • The 79th annual Washington’s birthday barbeque
  • Trip to Claremore OK to confer a Texas style degree
  • Presentation 50 year awards and Lamar awards
  • Two record setting blood drives
  • Participation in the MWSA outdoor degree

I have enjoyed my time as Master and your encouragement, and patience and good advice. I wish the best for the new team and expect that they will enthusiastically, resourcefully and competently represent Plano Lodge in the 112th year.

See you in lodge. We have another busy month ahead.

Fraternally,

Fred Smith

Worshipful Master