September 29 2021
To the Brethren of the Grand Lodge of Idaho, A.F. & A.M., and guests,
It is an honor to be able to represent the Brothers of Idaho Grand Lodge, A.F. & A.M. as the 155th Most Worshipful Grand Master, and I am humbled with the support of everyone and the opportunity to do so. It is a responsibility that I do not take lightly, and will do everything possible to promote Freemasonry.
It is the Best of Times, it is the Worst of Times, and it is the Craziest of Times, and our great fraternity sits right in the middle of it all, to offer the time-tested tenants of Brotherly Love, Relief, Truth, Faith, Hope, and Charity to those looking for a positive way to make a difference in their lives, and those around them.
Our fraternity that prides itself on its creation from ancient times, where many of our ceremonies contain the phrase, “From Time Immemorial…..” indicating that no one knows the original beginning because it is that old, is surrounded by some of the most incredible advancements in medical health and technology. Life-saving surgeries are routine where they were unheard of a few years ago. Technology has shown us wonders the Supreme Grand Master created in the magnificent universe through the Hubble telescope down to the nanotechnology that can imbed a microchip in a piece of paper to track shipments or prove the authenticity of documents.
Yet, we still live in a world where is seems like the depravity of man can get no lower and are then proved wrong as we see the atrocities one human being inflicts upon another, either physically or verbally, and some of these in our own country. Hate and violence towards our fellow man seem to push love and respect under the carpet and sometimes, out the door.
How inspiring it is to dwell in and associate with a body of Brothers that strive to make themselves better men and through our Masonic fraternity help make the community a better place for others. We were hoping that Covid-19 would have subsided by now and we would be back to normal, but we continue to face these challenges and have been able to hold meetings and activities by observing safety precautions. Lodges are still operating in their respective areas observing the local Health District recommendations and the plan is to continue operating that way. Each lodge is determining the level of comfort in performing the activities for their lodge and keeping their Brothers safe.
When looking at the areas to expand on Junior Most Worshipful Past Grand Master Steven Zimmerman’s program of Plus One using the 3 R’s, Retention, Reinstatement, and Recruitment to increase overall membership in each lodge by one person. To enhance this program we will focus on Education and Supporting our Youth, which encompasses Membership, Education, Entertainment, Ritual, Brotherhood, and Youth, the areas of specific interest.
Membership is our goal, but quality is desired over quantity. It doesn’t help us if we have brothers go through our degrees and then we never see them again.
If we are not growing, then our outcome is already determined.
Our members expressed a desire for more education, so we are going to focus on that to help make meetings more informative, enjoyable, and entertaining. Each Brother is requested to provide a topic and then help develop a short educational program. Some of these will be given during monthly Zoom educational meetings. Ritual is always a focus, but we need more Masters’ and Wardens’ certificates of proficiency. This helps our lodges in providing new leaders which brings fresh and new ideas for community involvement and lodge growth.
A big focus this year in growing is to help bridge the gap between our adult organizations and our Youth organizations of DeMolay, Rainbow Girls, and Jobs Daughters. The wooden nickel was created out of necessity during depression hard times when banks were short of currency but has become a symbol of good times as a souvenir commemorating some positive activity or function. I have provided a wooden nickel to each Mason and a challenge to attend a Youth activity and have those leaders, the Master Councilor, Worthy Advisor, or Honored Queen sign the wooden nickel showing that they have attended. They will then present that wooden nickel to the District Deputy or Grand Lodge Officer and receive a metal coin. Those names will be collected and then drawn for door prizes at the next Grand Lodge Communication.
Why? To have a little fun, but to emphasize the importance of supporting our Youth groups. I was one of those Master Masons who would say to the youth, “You are our future. You are important!”, at Grand Lodge, but then not attend any youth activity. I had every intention to do so, but didn’t make it priority and another year went by without attending. Then I was asked to be a Bethel Associate Guardian and later a DeMolay Dad Advisor, and the rest is, as they say, history. Talk about having fun. These young individuals are good, moral individuals and the ritual work they do is very impressive, yet the majority of them do not join our adult organizations. It is my goal for every DeMolay to become a Master Mason, and every Job’s Daughter and Rainbow Girl to chose spouses that are worthy of becoming a Master Mason. Our Brothers are good men that can provide a positive male role model for our young men and women and inspire them to become a positive influence in our communities like our Masons are.
What a breath of fresh air to belong to a fraternity that promotes these ideals and works to make themselves and their communities a better place for everyone. Our Appendant and Concordant bodies are important in helping us make this difference. Thank you for all your hard work. Most of the time it goes unnoticed, and not recognized, but your efforts produce results, and the difference it makes is appreciated and helps us, along with others.
Let’s work hard, play hard, support each other, and have fun. It is a great day to be a Mason. It should not be the best kept secret. Let’s make this fraternity better by making each other better, and this will make our communities and world better. Thank you, and may the God of all creation bless each of you and surround you with His love and wisdom and let Masonry be an avenue to serve others and bring honor and glory to His Holy name.
Russ W. Smith
Grand Lodge of Idaho, A.F. & A.M.