Relighting The Torch: Did The Rule Change Snuff Out The Flame?

By Rick Reichert, Grand Senior Warden
Hancock Lodge No. 311

Previous winners of the Relighting the Torch awards are finding themselves struggling to accumulate acceptable hours. Grand Lodge is rigidly enforcing the rule change enacted at the 2009 Annual Communication. Has the rule change snuffed out the flame on the torch?
According to Don Newman, Deputy Grand Master, “I’m seriously considering doing away with the program altogether. It doesn’t seem right to reward lodges for doing what they should be doing anyway.” However, there is still time to turn the rule-change hurdle into a significant win, especially for lodges that have not been competitive for this award in the past. There are fifteen $1,000 awards for which few lodges has yet qualified for the 2011-2012 year.
Complete details are posted at but here is the essence: Do something charitable as a lodge-led endeavor with enough hours to qualify for the award. To level the playing field, smaller lodges are required to perform less hours than larger ones. The reward, however, is the same regardless of lodge size. This can be a significant boon to the smaller lodges and they, likely being in less populated areas, are most likely to succeed.
The rule change is that the hours accumulated must be a lodge-led effort. Individual charitable volunteer hours and supporting another charitable organization, although encouraged and the right thing to do, are not counted for this award. The spirit of this award, and the reason for the rule change, is to build the image of your lodge and the fraternity as a whole.
Internally, we know we have been Herculean with our quiet philanthropy. Our religious teachings tell us that any boasting of our giving is its own reward and cannot serve as treasure in heaven. Promoting good works done by a group of men who display brotherly love, relief and truth is not boasting. By not making ourselves known by the good works we do deprives the community the knowledge of how to seek that charitable support when needed and most importantly, it denies potential brothers the knowledge of how to seek out like minded men and join them. Hiding our light under a bushel basket is helping drive our fraternity into obscurity.

The rule change was made to align our good works with the Image goal of Vision 2020, our strategic plan. Making our good works visible, accessible, and significant are required to meet our strategic goals and ensure the solid future of our Craft.
The litmus test for lodge-led is simple. If the lodge did not participate in the charitable effort, would it continue anyway? If the answer is yes, it is not lodge led. So what can a lodge do? First, look at your own membership. Whoever said charity begins at home was right. In any group of men, there must be some cause near to the heart of at least one of them. Once the need is identified, attaining the requisite hours is the next step.
The 300 member lodge must have 300 hours. That’s one hour per member or 10 hours for 30 members. Whether you do the effort all at once, like a toy-building workshop for the underprivileged children in your community at Christmas, or spread out by providing a pool of free on-call handyman for services made available to seniors that can’t otherwise afford to winterize their homes, meeting the time requirement is certainly achievable.
The response to a lodge-led effort like these would put your lodge in the forefront of your community’s mind when they are in need of a charitable service you perform. You’ll be building up the image of your lodge, bring unity to your charitable efforts, and put your lodge on the map for men who are looking for a way to give back. The community response will be, “That’s what the lodge guys do in our town – and it is great thing!”
Hook onto something like that and making the hours will be but a mere side benefit to the many other rewards your lodge will reap. Your torch flame will burn most brightly.

Live-Blogging From the Grand Lodge Leadership Academy

9:27 a.m.  The Leadership Academy has kicked off on-time with a huge crowd of 160 registered guests (and as yet uncounted unregistered Masons and their wives) in the very impressive House Chamber of the Kansas Statehouse.

9:35 a.m. W:. Cliff Porter, Master of Enlightenment Lodge No. 198 in Colorado and author of The Secret Psychology of Freemasonry begins the opening address.

Some Highlights:

“If Masonry can improve members of a lodge – can’t Masonry also improve upon Masonry?”

“In communications theory we most revere the senses of hearing, seeing and feeling,” which is very similar to Masonic thinking.

“In my work, I am an old crusty guy five years from retirement, but in Masonry, I am a punk.”

“I’ll trade a hundred guys with great ideas for one guy with a broom.”

“The idea that Masonry doesn’t grow, progress or change is radically, radically, false.”

“When you look at old grand lodge photos from the 1920s – the men we in their twenties.” The best thing we can do in Masonry, Porter stressed was to prepare the way for our successors.

Following Porter’s address, the attendees attended various breakout sessions.  Here in the House Chamber, R:.W:. Cole Presley, DDGM #35 addressed the responsibilities of Wardens in Kansas Masonry.

Leadership Academy Materials Online

Rev. Robert H. Schuller is quoted as saying, “Spectacular achievement is always preceded by spectacular preparation.” 

To that end, materials for the October 1, 2011 Leadership Academy have been posted in the Downloads area of our web site.  Please feel free to browse these items prior to the session in Topeka.  Contact your District Deputy Grand Master or the Grand Lodge office if you have any problems getting access to the download area.

Oklahoma Masonic Indian Degree draws 279

In the waning September 24th sunlight at an abandoned Silverdale rock quarry near Arkansas City, 279 Master Masons gathered from as far away as Oklahoma City and Leavenworth for a spectacular outdoor event. At the conclusion of a delicious steak dinner cooked over a charcoal fire, Silverdale Quarry lodge was opened in due form and turned over to the Oklahoma Masonic Indian Degree Team who, in native American costume, exemplified the second section of the third degree on a live candidate. The team which formed in 1948, conferred their 999th degree that evening in an outdoor lodge with furnishings hewn from the nearby limestone.

Schedule for Oct 1 Leadership Academy

Schedule for 2011 Leadership Academy

8:00 Grand Lodge building open with coffee and donuts

9:00 Statehouse opens

9:15 Welcoming, introductions, comments. All, House Chamber

9:30 Plenary;

  • Typological Leadership Cliff Porter, House Chamber

10:30 The Wardens;

  • Strength and Establishment of the Lodge; Cole Presley,House Chamber
  • The Changing Face of the Average American Male; Statistics and Trends; Tim Hamilton, Senate Chamber
  • Wives Section Block 1; Wives team; First floor committee room
  • Secretary’s Block 1; General Introduction to the Role of the Secretary, Grand Secretariat, Old Supreme Court chamber

11:30 Strategic Planning;

  • Strategic Planning for Lodges – Jumpstart; Rick Reichert, House Chamber
  • Rethinking the nature of investigations in the lodge; Cliff Porter, Senate Chamber
  • Wives Section Block 2; Wives team, First floor committee room
  • Membership policies, forms and paperwork, and records/minutes; Joey Stiles, Old Supreme Court chamber

LUNCH in blocks. Secretaries and Wives offsetting Warden’s attendees.


1:00 Questions, answers and case studies; Don Newman, House Chamber

  • Wives Section Block 3; Wives team, First floor committee room
  • Secretary’s Block 3; TBD Grand Secretariat, Old Supreme Court chamber

1:30 Lodge Finance Course; Vernon Butt, House Chamber

  • Defining the Culture of a Lodge and it’s Experience; Cliff Porter, Senate Chamber
  • Wives Section Block 4; Wives team; First floor committee room
  • Secretary’s Block 4; TBD Grand Secretariat, Old Supreme Court chamber

2:30 Lodge and the Law; Michael Halleran House Chamber

  • The Effect of Recessions and the Business Cycle on Future Planning; Tim Hamilton, Senate Chamber
  • Wives Section Block 5; Tour of GL Building/Explanation of Lodge room Wives team, Grand Lodge building, Grand Lodge’s Lodge room
  • Secretary’s Block 5; Database Overview Bob Pfuetze, Old Supreme Court chamber

3:30 Final comments, questions, answers, thanks, etc. All, House chamber

  • Wives Section Block 6; Explanation of Lodge room Wives team, Grand Lodge — Lodge Room
  • Secretary’s Block 6; Q & A from database users,
  • Time permitting Qs and As; in general from Secretaries Grand Secretariat, Old Supreme Court chamber

4:00 Policing of materials/debris & Departure from statehouse; complete Grand Lodge building open for tours, store open, available for questions or concerns.

District 35 lodges jump-start Strategic Plans

The flyer beckoned Masters, Wardens, and any other officer or brother with a stake in their lodge’s future.  And they came.  Hosted by Cole Presley, District 35’s Deputy Grand Master, fifteen brothers representing eight lodges invested a September Saturday in a Morland cafe discussing problems, plans, and getting ideas to chart their way forward.  “These brothers jump-started their planning and we all came away with tons of great ideas”, said Rick Reichert, Grand Senior Warden.  “Strategic planning may sound like a big mountain to climb,” says Brother Presley, “but once we break it down, organize it, and put it to paper, it is a lot simpler than it first looks.”  Brother Reichert hopes that the participating lodges will share their plans and ideas for posting to the Vision 2020 area on the Grand Lodge web site so other lodges in need of ideas can get their plans going.  Next opportunity to get live help is the October 1st Leadership Academy in Topeka.

Starting Your Strategic Planning

Still stewing on how to get going on your lodge’s strategic plan?  When asked why there is no standard Grand Lodge planning template, Rick Reichert, GSW, responded, “The plan is secondary to doing the planning.  Whether you chisel your brief plan in stone, create a 30 minute slide show, or detail it in a one-inch bound volume, the most important thing is that you’ve thought about what you want your lodge to be in 5 – 8 years and then devise a way to get there.”

Take a look at the Vision 2020 page.   One of the resources there is entitled, Strategic Planning for Lodges, which talks about why planning is a good thing.  There are accompanying slides to help you motivate your lodge officers to get excited about the planning process.  External links take you to sites that guide you easily through the planning process using a variety of methods and complexity.  Browse through the links and see if there is a version that suits your style.

Check the Vision 2020 page often.  Notes from the 35th District planning session  in September and materials for the Leadership Academy in October will be added in the next few weeks.

Grand Lodge Phones Up and Running

In an email message today, Joesphe Stiles, Assistant Grand Secretary, reports that phone service to the Grand Lodge has been restored.

Grand Lodge Phone System Down

Due to last week’s storm, the phone system at the Grand Lodge remains down, although the Grand Lodge building is open.

Fall Kansas Mason plus Online Survey

Well in advance of the September 15 deadline, the Fall 2011 issue of the Kansas Mason is now online.

This issue features information and a registration form on the new Grand Lodge Leadership Academy along with details of that event which will be held in the Kansas Statehouse on October 1.

In addition, the issue also features insightful commentary by Grand Senior Warden Rick Reichert on Masonic unity which should not be missed.

Also in this issue,  J. Howard Duncan reviews Andrew Hammer’s Observing the Craft, and Nolan Sump provides answers to the burning questions of the Craft.

Our regularly featured departments, including columns by the Grand Secretary and the Grand Master, as well as Masonic news and events from around the state round out our Fall offering.

A lot has changed since we redesigned the Kansas Mason at the end of 2009—including our readership.

Our on-going commitment to the Craft in Kansas is to provide fresh and relevant content, add new content through our digital platforms, and build our visibility in Kansas Masonry and beyond. We are energized to continue our engagement with you—our readers—but we need your feedback.

So that we might better understand how to serve you, please complete this short reader’s survey.

We will publish the results in the next issue of the Kansas Mason.