September 18, 2020
To the brethren of the Grand Lodge A.F & A.M. of Idaho,
I am humbled and honored to serve as your 154th Grand Master of Masons of Idaho. The help and support I am receiving from so many is amazing. My pledge to you is to do my absolute best to further Freemasonry in Idaho.
The world is still in a predicament none of us have ever experienced before. The COVID-19 Global Pandemic has taken away so much from so many. It has prevented us from meeting as Masons for months, it has forced most school kids into online-only learning, and it has sickened many and taken away loved ones. Even those in the hospital cannot be visited by their loved ones. It just really ‘sucks’!
You are to be congratulated for staying safe. It reflects well on our Idaho Masonic Family to see the extremely low incidence of COVID-19 among us. Many thanks to Junior Past Grand Master Steve Hall for making the tough decision to close Masonry to help keep all of us safe, especially our ‘at risk’ members.
Now that the COVID-19 safety precautions are better understood, and because our Masonic Family has shown how responsible it is, the time for going back to work has come. I have returned authority to the Masonic Lodges of Idaho to meet. Since the conditions differ around the state, the officers of each lodge are making their own decision about reopening. I have asked them to meet with the other users of their building, so everyone is informed of their safety rules and protocols. I have also tried to notify all the Concordant and Appendant Bodies in Idaho of this decision. Spread the word to anyone I have missed. And please continue to act responsibly. We want to SAFELY reopen Freemasonry in Idaho. This is an individual decision that every one of us must make for ourselves. No one is required to attend any Masonic meeting or gathering. An absence will not be held against any member for not attending because of health concerns.
We need to work hard to make up for lost time. Many of our lodges’ money-making projects could not happen. Membership had to be put on hold. We have pending petitions to be accepted, and Candidates ready and anxious to advance. Other candidates are longing for in-person coaching. And we have many social activities to make up for. Getting ‘back to work’ and establishing the ‘new normal’ are among my top objectives this year.
I need your help in making the Grand Historian’s project successful this year. Chris Wethered agreed to take the office a different direction. As a professional photographer, Chris will be working on a picture presentation, rather than the normal written report. Please send in your special pictures of this year’s events and interesting pictures from the past. (Be sure to include an explanation and date.) And do not forget the Grand Lodge Weekly Newsletter. Your pictures and stories are needed there as well.
Why did I become a Mason? My dad, Orval Zimmerman, was truly my hero. I cannot remember a time when he showed anger toward anyone. Well into his 70’s, he could work still me into the ground. He was honest and kind. I was so lucky! Dad was a Mason and a Shriner. He took me on Shrine Food Caravans from Parma to the Salt Lake City Shrine Hospital so I could see the fun the Shriners had, but also so I could experience their great work helping children. Dad rode in parades all around the Treasure Valley as part of the El Korah Shrine Motor Patrol. He let me ride his little Honda around the yard from the time I was 11 until I got my license. (I do not know why Mom put up with the track I wore into the lawn.) Dad did not have to ask me to be a Mason and Shriner. He showed me by his actions how great it is. I could not wait to join. Who do you have in your life that you would like to see become a Mason?
My theme for the year is PLUS ONE. I am challenging every lodge in Idaho to have a net gain of one member. To accomplish this goal, I will be emphasizing the 3-Rs: Retention, Reinstatement and Recruitment. We need to consider what our lodges have to offer. We also should be contacting those who have left the fraternity to find out why they left and if they would like to return. And our ‘BEST KEPT SECRET’ should not be ‘How to become a Mason’. We cannot ask a man to become a Mason, but there is still a lot we can do. The success of Freemasonry in Idaho depends on us all working together. And let’s have a good time doing it!
I will also be promoting visibility this year. A supply of Idaho Masonic caps is being distributed around the state. Since we no longer have the Masonic license plates, we now have Idaho Masonic license plate frames. I hope we need to get lots more of both!
For visibility at public events, and in our lodges, posters, banners, and standups are available as part of the BeAFreeMason.org campaign. Also available are professionally produced videos and web/social media resources. I want to give a great big thank-you to the Northern & Southern Scottish Rites and Shriners International for developing and sponsoring this campaign.
I particularly like one of their mottos: “Being a Mason doesn’t make you better than everyone else. It just makes you a better you.”
We must work together to be so much better: better fraternal brothers, better supporters of our ladies, of our youth, of the community, and very importantly, working together for growth. Freemasonry is too great to fail; our goal must be to see it prosper. To borrow again from the BeAFreeMason site, "Not just a man, A Mason."
Let’s be safe, work hard, and play hard, as we build the future of Freemasonry in Idaho.
Sincerely and fraternally yours,
Steven O. Zimmerman
Grand Master of Masons in Idaho