Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sibley Lodge #209 honors MWB Steven R. Johnson with the Hiram Award

On March 26, 2011 Sibley Lodge #209 AF & AM of Winthrop, MN honored Past Grand Master MWB Steven R. Johnson with the Hiram Award. There were approximately 100 brothers and guest in attendance who participated in the Charles A. Wetter Table Lodge. WB Charles A. Wetter was the Master of Sibley Lodge.

MWB Steve was Master of Sibley Lodge #209 twice and served as the Grand Master of Minnesota in 2006-2007. MWB Steve was appointed to the Grand Lodge Line by Past Grand Master MWB Phillip G. Soderberg, his Masonic Father. Past Grand Master MWB Verne E. Long who was Grand Master in 1973-1974 was also present. MWB Phil stated MWB Verne was his Great, Great Masonic Father.

The table lodge consisted of Chicken Kiev for the main course (without the masonic vegetable - green beans), cheesecake for desert (mine was chocolate and I loved it), and great fellowship. MWB Thomas McCarthy was the MC for the event, with MWB John L. Cook, the current Grand Master in attendance to help present the award. There were a total of six Past Grand masters in attendance, plus the current grand master who was reminded by MWB Tom he only had 14 for days left in his term. MWB Steve gave a moving talk about having his breath taking away on several occasions with this being the most recent one.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Corner Stone has been Set!

The ceremony for laying the corner for the New University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital took place in October of 2010 with MWB Thomas McCarthy leading the ceremony as the Grand master of MN Masons at the time. On February 25, 2011 a group of Grand lodge Officers were invited to see the new hospital and the plaque before the Grand Opening to the public and hospital employees.

The pictures show the hospital from a distance leading up to the front door where they will be able to see the plaque as they enter the hospital.

A big Thank You to Brother Steve Johnson and Jennifer Soderholm for arranging the tour for Grand Lodge of MN Masons representatives to see the new University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital. It was fabulous and the state of the art. It is really geared to treating the children and making them comfortable as can be on their extended stay.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

"4" Master Masons Raised at Clearwater Lodge #28

Four brothers were raised to the Sublime Degree of a Master Mason last night (3-19-11) at Clearwater Lodge #28 with seven different lodges in attendance and helping with the degree work. The four new Master Masons were as follows: one from Clearwater #28 in Clearwater; two from Fraternal Lodge #92 in Princeton; and one from Sharon Lodge #104 in Willmar.

Brother Travis Gergen was the Master for the first section and Worshipful Brother Robin Nelson was the Master for the second section with both brothers being member of Clearwater Lodge #28. Brothers who assisted or were in attendance were from the following lodges: Anoka Lodge #30,Anoka; Clearwater Lodge #28, Clearwater; Fraternal Lodge #92, Princeton; Golden Fleece Lodge #89, Litchfield; Monticello Lodge #16, Monticello; North Star Lodge #23, St. Cloud; and Sharon Lodge #104, Willmar.

The brothers did a great job with the work and it was a very enjoyable event!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wearing The Square and Compass

The square and compass together is a universal sign of our Fraternity and is recognized all over the world. Masons as well as Non-masons associate the square and compass as our logo or trademark. They were original tools of the building trade.

Remember back to when you were going through the degrees and you were taught about the square and the level. The square was used by operative masons to square their work, but we were taught to use to govern al of our actions with mankind. The square represents honesty, fairness, and virtue; it is also used as a badge the badge of office of the Worshipful Master. The principal tenets of masonry are said to be contained within the two points of the compass when spread out, which are friendship, morality, and brotherly love. When you use a compass to draw a circle, one point remains in the center of the circle. That point represents the individual Mason. The circle represents the boundaries of his world and the people he comes into contact with. He is always to live by those principals of friendship, morality, and brotherly love, in all of his dealings with mankind, and especially with a Brother Mason. (1)

When a Mason wears the square and compass, whether it be a ring or other piece of jewelry, emblem on an article of clothing or hat, tattoo, bumper sticker, etc. he is telling the world that he is a Mason. The mason is then held to a higher standard or scrutinized more in greater detail for every action he might take. This is no different than an individual who wears or displays a religious emblem. The individual is letting the world know about their faith and beliefs. Other people watch the actions those individuals so they can criticize them for what they do wrong rather those thing they do right. Most of us have probably heard someone say (if not us ourselves) that person is a hypocrite. Look how they display their religious emblem and they act like that. How can they wear that or display that bumper sticker and act that way or drive that way?

I know we all can remember the good things that have happened or tell a story how someone noticed we were displaying the square and compass and what that meant to them or to us. But do we know about all the stories that might have been or are being told about our actions to others while we wear the square and compass?

As Masons, we should always be striving to improve ourselves in masonry and to become a better person, husband, father, friend, and especially a Brother Mason. This is not a completion amongst other brothers, but an individual’s goal to set his standards a little higher than they were before.

When Masons get involved in their communities and display the square and compass at events it shows the non-masons we really do care and want to help others. This might be done through KidsID events, books for schools, donating blood to the Red Cross, jumping in frigid lakes to help Special Olympics, hosting fund raisers for scholarships, supporting the women and children shelters, helping out communities during flooding and clean-up operations, and the list goes on.

Just remember when you wear the square and compass, you could be the first impression of masonry to a non-mason. Let’s make that first impression a great and lasting one and teach the non-mason about Truth, Relief, and Brotherly Love.

(1) Freemasons For Dummies, by Christopher Hodapp, Wiley Publishing Inc., 2005

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Polar Bear Plunge - Masons of Minnesota

On March 5, 2011 a team called Masons of Minnesota took the Polar Bear Plunge at Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis, MN. The team was put together to support our Deputy Grand Master, Thomas Hendrickson who is a Minneapolis Police Officer.

The Polar Bear Plunge — presented by Minnesota law enforcement as part of their year-round Law Enforcement Torch Run® events — is a unique opportunity for individuals, organizations and businesses to support Special Olympics Minnesota athletes by jumping into frigid Minnesota waters. It consists of 14 different events that take place across Minnesota during the coldest months of the year. From January through March, the Plunge crews travel around the state to 14 different communities with one goal in mind: raise funds for Special Olympics Minnesota!

Plunge Facts
Did you know this will be the 14th year of the Polar Bear Plunge in Minnesota? The first Plunge took place in Minnesota at Como Lake in 1998 and had 65 participants who raised $20,000.

In 2005, 1000 plungers raised $275,000 at 5 Plunge locations. By 2008, Minnesota had 11 plunges, 3,500 participants, and raised $725,000. Just two years after that, in 2010, the Polar Bear Plunge took place in 13 different locations, included over 7000 participants, and raised $1.4 million!

At this rate, just imagine what 2011 will bring!

RWB Thomas Hendrickson's goal was to help support the organization and to get masons working in the communities we live in and to show the public Masons do care and are willing to help others. Their were 13 masons who were part of the team which raised approximately $3,075 for the event, including matching fund from MN Masonic Charities the total raised was $6,150. The team members were MWB Andy Rice, RWB Thomas Hendrickson, and the following brothers: John Gann, Rick Wallace, Robert Peterson, Kris Pich, Paul Scofield, Chuck Hendrickson, Doug Beach, Matthew Lundgren, Matt Fuller,Jason Pibal, and myself. The goal for next year is to get more Masonic Teams organized so they can take the plunge at lakes nearby their communities. Stay tuned for more information to following the coming months.

I would personally like to thank all of my sponsors who contributed on my behalf. I exceeded the goal I set thanks to each and everyone of them. They were as follows: MWB Thomas McCarthy and his wife Patty; MWB Roger Taylor and his wife Nancy Fischer; Sue Lentner, Owner of Your Travel Agency; WB Bob Holly and his wife Barbara, WB Larry Austin and his wife Julie; Gary and Debbie Heltemes; Lisa Pfannenstein; Nancy Frank; Dallas O'Dell; Cathy Thielman; and my loving wife Kathy Darling.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

MN KidsID Program

The new MN KidsID Program was rolled out at the last annual communication in March 2010 after completing three Pilot Programs. The three pilot programs were held in Rushford, St. Cloud and Mounds.

During the pilot programs and the first few programs hosted by the lodges, there were major issues with the computer equipment. It was recommended at a Grand Lodge Corporate Board Meeting to bring in the company representative for the equipment to watch a KidsID Event in person and see the problems first hand. The company representative traveled to Minnesota and watched an event in October and saw the problems with the equipment and software issues first hand. He agreed to take all of the units back and correct the problems, which also included upgrading the software programs. This resolved the major issues with the computer equipment and events are now running smoother. The Grand Lodge hopes lodges that experienced the problems with the equipment will host another event and see the difference with the units.

Since the start of the new KidsID Program till January 25, 2011, there have been 14 KidsID Events hosted by local lodges with a total of 926 children going through the program. There are currently 6 new events scheduled for 2011 and calls are coming into the Grand Lodge office checking availability of dates. The Grand Lodge is encouraging local lodges to host a KidsID Event in their communities. The KidsID Event is a great way to provide an important service to their community.

The KidsID Program has received endorsements from the following groups: National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, MN Dentist Association, The MN Sheriffs Association, and The MN Chiefs of Police Association.

Please call Gary Odegard in the Grand Lodge Office to schedule a KidsID Event in your community.

The Masonic Ring I Wear!

The Masonic Ring I wear looks like most Masonic Rings with a square and compass, but it has special meaning to me!

It is the family history behind the ring that means so much! If only it could talk, it might tell the following story. I was originally worn by Perry Oliver Liming, but I am not for sure how or when Perry started wearing me. I do know that Perry was born in Milford, Ohio on April 18, 1880 and later moved with his family to Maroa, Illinois. On June 6, 1916, Perry was elected to take the degrees of masonry at Maroa Lodge #454 in Maroa, Illinois. He was initiated on July 27, 1916, Passed to the Fellowcraft Degree on September 26, 1916, and raised to the Sublime degree of a Master Mason on October 31, 1916. From November 13th – 15th, 1918 Perry went through the Consistory Classes at Bloomington, Illinois.

In 1919 Perry married Catherine Thayer who was a member of the Order of the Eastern Star. They gave birth to their only son, Julian Thayer Liming (also known as J.T.) on May 3, 1920 in Maroa, IL. In about 5 – 6 years Perry and Catherine were divorced and J.T. went with his mother to live in Taylorville, IL with her mother Mary Thayer. Sometime later when J.T. was older he went to live with his father who then resided in Decatur, IL and attended and graduated from high school. After high school he went back to Taylorville to work. He later met Ila Ethridge from Taylorville, IL and they were married on February 2, 1940. On January 26, 1941 they gave birth to Julian Ann Liming (aka Julie Austin, my mother-In-Law). J.T. was working as an electrician at the construction project for an addition to the St. Vincent’s Hospital where he fell from a scaffold and broke his neck. After recovering from his neck injury, he went to work as an electrician for Montgomery Wards repairing refrigerators and other appliances. He and his family moved around a lot, until 1947 when they moved to Argenta, IL on his father’s family farm so Julie could start attending school. On December 2, 1947, J.T. was elected to take the degrees of masonry at Maroa Lodge #454 in Maroa, Illinois. He was initiated on December 30, 1947, Passed to the Fellowcraft Degree on April 28, 1948, and raised to the Sublime degree of a Master Mason on December 12, 1950. After J.T. was raised to Sublime Degree of a Master Mason, I was passed from Perry’s finger to J.T.’s finger. I can remember the look on Julie’s eye when she saw the ring. Perry would be wearing a big shiny ring (thought to be his ring from the Consistory) that really impressed Julie (a girl of young age) whose family was considered poor. Perry would come over to J.T.’s house and eat supper with the family before Perry and J.T. would go to the lodge meetings.

About this time J.T. started working for the Illinois Central Rail Road in Clinton, IL. I can remember J.T. coaching several newly admitted brothers to the fraternity. He would climb up into the warm locomotive engine at lunch time and sit there with the new brother practicing their proficiency work.

In 1955, after J.T.’s father Perry passed away, J.T. inherited his father’s farms. They moved to Maroa, IL and into a house which had electricity. Shortly afterwards, Gene Craig, J.T. and Julie helped build a new room onto the house, where they added an indoor bathroom. This was the first time the family had an indoor bathroom. J.T. also took a second job working for the Maroa Police Department to help buy food and clothing for the family.

It was not until after J.T. retired from the railroad, that he started wearing me on his finger on a regular basis. Also after his retirement from the Rail Road, J.T. became Chief of Police for Maroa and later started his own detective business, Liming Detective Agency. He named Julie Austin (his daughter), President and he was the only stock holder. He wore me proudly on a daily basis until his death on April 8, 2001.

Bob Darling, became a Master Mason in Maroa Lodge #454 on January 9, 1988 where his Father-In-Law Larry Austin (current Master of Maroa Lodge #454 raised him to the Sublime Degree of a Master Mason). At the time of his raising, J.T. was present and it was a proud moment as his Grandson by marriage became a Master Mason. He had married Larry and Julie Austin’s daughter Kathy, on December 21, 1979. He was a Grand Lodge District Representative with the Grand Lodge of MN and on behalf of the Grand Lodge of Illinois he presented J.T. with his 50 year membership pin with the fraternity prior to his death. I can remember J.T. wearing me proudly. I even made the trip with J.T. to Minnesota when Bob was installed as the Master of North Star Lodge #23 and took part in the installation ceremony.

Bob and Kathy Darling had a son Matthew Robert who was born on January 28, 1982. In January of 2000, Matthew Robert Darling was raised to the Sublime Degree of a Master Mason at North Star Lodge #23 in St. Cloud, MN. I (the ring) was carried proudly by Larry Austin, who gave me to Matthew on behalf of Ila Liming (J.T.’s wife/widow) to be worn proudly to show everyone he was a mason. Unfortunately, I was too small to fit on any of Matt’s finger and remained in a ring box in one of Matt’s dresser drawers at Bob and Kathy’s house. The dresser was moved from one house to another when Bob and Kathy moved from Sartell, MN to Becker, MN in 2003.

In the summer of 2010, Bob and Kathy’s house was being burglarized and the thief took me out of the drawer with intention of stealing me. I just wish I could tell someone who he/she was, but I must have gotten to them, since they put me down on the computer desk while they were stealing the camera used to Skype family members. I know J.T. was with me in spirit and the thief walked off and forgot me. When Bob and Kathy returned home from the weekend trip, Bob found me by the computer when he couldn't’t figure out why he was having trouble skyping a family member. I sent the spirit of J.T. to let him know the camera was gone and I was safe and sound. I started sending messages through J.T.’s spirit to Bob. Bob asked his son Matt if he could wear me, J.T.’s ring that was given to him on behalf of his Grandfather, Larry Austin. Matt told his dad that he could wear me, the ring. Bob finally realized my dream to be worn proudly again, and show the world what I stand for: Truth, Relief, and Brotherly Love.

So it is with great pride and honor that Bob wear his grandfather J.T.’s ring! May the Grand Architect be with you in all of your applications to the deity?