During the same time as our last stated communication the President of the United States was giving his State of the Union Address. Under the advice of a good brother and friend, I decided to address the lodge concerning the state of our own affairs. I have summarized below what I said that evening.
It is the job of the Master to be the Chief Executive Officer of the Lodge. The Master has the right and responsibility of presiding over and controlling his lodge, and only the Grand Master, or his Deputy, may suspend him. He may put any brother in the East to preside or to confer a degree; he may then resume the gavel at his pleasure – even in the middle of a sentence if he wants to! But even when he has delegated authority temporarily, the Master is not relieved from responsibility for what occurs in his lodge.
It is the Master’s right to control lodge business and work, it is his responsibility to make sure that the work is pertinent, necessary and doesn’t cause disharmony within the craft. The Master is the keeper of the ritual, he makes sure the finances are in order; he tends to the ill, oversees all degree work, promotes membership growth and oversees all committees. It is in a very real sense “his” lodge. He leads the lodge in all aspects of masonic life. He is responsible for the harmony of the lodge, and the lodge’s image in the public eye. He is the strength behind all the officers and all its members. He greets all when in the Lodge and makes visitors feel welcome. A good Master will give the lodge to his successor in better shape than he received it.
Although one can read all the primers in the world, take the Road to the East Course 1000 times and attend lodge meeting after meeting, one will never get a true sense of what it means to be Master until actually sitting in that Oriental Chair. This year has not been without its bumps but as a whole, the year so far is a good one and this lodge is thriving and growing.
Over the last few years, there have been some concerns regarding delinquent clerical work. Under my guidance and direction, the Senior Warden will tend to making sure that those are resolved. We have started the process of producing a lodge audit and are working towards making sure we are completely compliant with our current by-laws. I have also put together a by-laws committee to review and recommend possible changes to some rather older and possibly outdated requirements.
On Saturday January 18th we initiated three new brothers. We also had representation from every lodge in the district which resulted in a packed house. We then afterwards had a big contingency of brothers spend lunch together at Sullivan’s Quay. The brotherhood and camaraderie could be felt throughout both the lodge and restaurant.
On Sunday January 26th we had our first study session for the new initiates at my home and it was well attended. All four local Entered Apprentices were there, armed with questions and ready to learn. These brothers are eager to be part of the Lodge and our great fraternity. Their excitement should be inspiring to everyone. Some of them already have the necessary ritual memorized. If all goes well, we will have our fifth Entered Apprentice back with us soon and by the end of my term, we will have raised 5 new brothers and possibly add an affiliate or two. Those of you that have been assigned as mentors, please remain steadfast in your tutelage of these fine men.
We’ve honored the first responders of Port Washington with a well-attended dinner; we had a full house for the holiday party, and we honored those brothers that have laid down their working tools at our first Lodge of Remembrance in who knows how long. All of our meetings have lasted no more than an hour or so, they’ve been well attended and filled with masonic education and brotherhood. At the conclusion of one meeting, a brother walked over to me, shook my hand, and commented that it was one of the best meetings he had attended in quite some time.
Our lodge has been more active in district events and no longer isolated from the rest of Second Nassau. I have had brothers from other lodges more times than I can count; reach out asking if we need help with degrees. No longer do we have to scramble and plead for assistance, it’s being offered, unsolicited. Special thanks go out to all those great brothers.
We as a Lodge have achieved all these wonderful things together. It has been building over time, and we should be proud. When the time comes for me to pass the charter to my successor, I will be not only passing the responsibility of the lodge but a lodge with positive momentum and a strong future and hopefully a lodge that is in even a better place than I received it.
The rest of this year will not be without challenges. Our treasurer is currently recuperating from major heart surgery and our Junior Warden thankfully has gotten new work, but will not be able to attend meetings; at least for the near future. Don’t fret, the bills are being paid, and with the cooperation of the officers and members, our collations will continue just fine. It was great to see everyone jump in at the last meeting to both set up and break down.
Brothers, I have but one personal request, pick up your ritual book – learn your parts well. This coming Grand Lodge special communication at the end of February will be each officer’s chance to shine. We will have the opportunity to show 2nd Nassau, Grand Lodge and two jurisdictions of Masons from other states that we are proficient, that we excel in ritual, in masonry and in brotherhood.
May the Great Architect of the Universe shine his/her light upon us all.
W. Jeremy W. Bernstein