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House Resolution 33 - Recognizing Freemasons for their contributions to the Nation

On the first day of the 110th Congress, Representative Paul E. Gilmore (R-OH), introduced House Resolution 33:

Recognizing the thousands of Freemasons in every State in the Nation and honoring them for their many contributions to the Nation throughout its history.

To read the full Resolution, click here



Past Masters Night, Brookings Lodge

Brookings Lodge No. 24 will hold its 49th Annual Past Masters Night on Saturday, March 10, 2007.  Lodge will open at 5 P.M.  Dinner will be held at 6:30 P.M.  Further details will be sent out as arrangements become firmed up.
So, please mark your calendar and plan to be there!!
Thank you.
Doug McFarland
posted 1/14/07



New activities for Pierre Lodge

January 20th, 2007 at 6:30 PM in Mc Clure Hall.
Honour a non-Mason, together with the widow and wives.
A dinner of beef-tips in gravey served over noodles and vegetables.
Cost $5.00 for a couple and $3.00 for a single. Honorees and widow
be our guest.

January 27th, 2007, at 7:00 AM in Mc Clure Hall,
All the pancakes and sauage you can eat for $3.00.

February 24th, One Day Degree work.
Breakfast will be available from 7:00 AM consisting of pancakes and
sauage for $3.00.
Lunch will be available for $5.00.

Schedule of events:
Opening at 8:15 AM by Pierre Lodge.
EA begins at 8:30 AM by Mobridge Lodge
FC begins at 10:AM by Gettysburg Lodge
Noon Lunch
MM begins at 1:00 PM by Hiram Lodge, Fort Pierre
We intend to be done by not later than 3 :30 PM

Remember each candidate requires a member from the sponsoring Lodge.
Any questions please contact WB Matt Schatz.

posted 1/14/07



New Activities for Mitchell (Resurgam Lodge #31)

Resurgam Lodge 31
Mitchell, SD
Will be having a ONE Day on Saturday Feb. 17 degree work will start at
and the degree work will be follow with our annual Washington Day Banquet
at 5:00PM.



Something new is scheduled for Thursday, January 18, 2007, at 7:00 p.m.

We're all familiar with degree work and the business conducted at lodge meetings. What we may not be as familiar with is the broad range of, and competing opinions about, history, theology, and philosophy underlying our ritual and even the way we conduct our stated meetings. Freemasonry has inspired composers, authors, poets, and philosophers for centuries. Let's talk about that a little bit, starting on January 18, and continuing on the 3rd Thursday of the following months.

Please consider attending the first of what we hope will become a regular, continuing series of wide-ranging Masonic discussions on Thursday, January 18, 2007, at 7:00 p.m., in the 2nd floor lounge of the Mitchell, South Dakota, Masonic Temple.

So we have something to open our first discussion, please visit this website:

You'll find a series of booklets in PDF format, 1 for each degree, along with a separate "proficiency." For our first meeting please review the EA documents, particularly page 2 through page 13 and pages 19 through 21. We can use the information as a starting point for our first discussions.

There is not a strict and planned format. The floor is open to any suggestion. Decisions for future discussion will be made by consensus of the group. The California documents available at the web address set out above each have a recommended reading list. There are various reading lists and discussion topics available all over the internet. Maybe you have a suggestion for a book or article we can each read and then review in future discussions. It's completely up to the participants.

Come on by on Thursday, January 18. Mark off the 3rd Thursday evening of the next few months. We can have a conversation about the information Calfornia provides to its new EAs and then decide what future direction things should take. I'll make sure we've got some proper refreshments. Hope to see you then.


James D. Taylor

'06-'07 Resurgam Lodge Education Officer

posted 1/14/07



Boring Our Members To Death By Christopher Hodapp, author of Freemasons for Dummies

The Spirit stood among the graves, and pointed down to One. He advanced towards it trembling. The Phantom was exactly as it had been, but he dreaded that he saw new meaning in its solemn shape. "Before I draw nearer to that stone to which you point," said Scrooge, "answer me one question. Are these the shadows of the things that Will be, or are they shadows of things that May be, only?" Still the Ghost pointed downward to the grave by which it stood. "Men's courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead," said Scrooge. "But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change. Say it is thus with what you show me." The Spirit was immovable as ever.

Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol

Sit down and chat for about ten minutes with an insurance agent, and let him quote you chapter and verse about the death rate among the World War II generation. Okay, I'll grant you, there's a certain ghoulish aspect to it. I'm bringing it up because, like Scrooge's portentous Spectre, Freemasons have spent the last fifteen years pointing an empty sleeve at the grave, and blaming our declining membership numbers on the four-million Masons who were members during our boom years, who have had the very bad timing to pass on to the Celestial Lodge Above in record waves over the last dozen or so years.

Once you're sufficiently bored by your insurance guy, give your Grand Secretary a call and ask him how the numbers compare between the death rate of members every year, versus the losses from demits and non-payment of dues. Prepare yourself for a shock. In most jurisdictions in the U.S. and Canada, the losses of members from deaths has been statistically tapering off, while the losses due to Freemasons walking away from the fraternity have been rising at an alarming rate. Oh, we're initiating a very healthy dose of new Masons every year all right. But men whom we have initiated, passed and raised are deciding in increasing numbers to say no thanks to what their local lodge offers. Masonic membership rolls are still dropping, but not from natural causes. The truth is, we are boring our members to death.

It has long been understood that the Baby Boom generation didn't join the Masons. As a result, there is a five-decade difference between the generation of men who kept Freemasonry alive for us and the men who are now moving into leadership positions throughout the fraternity. At any other time in the history of Freemasonry, each succeeding generation came along approximately in twenty-five year intervals, making changes in their lodges, and in Freemasonry as a whole, to reflect their needs and desires. Masonry has always adapted to serve the societies in which it resided. Until recently. Now, instead of a twenty-five year adjustment in direction, Freemasonry is suffering from fifty years of habit and hardening of the arteries.

Not long ago, I visited a lodge that had fallen on hard times - very hard times indeed. At one time, their rolls held the names of more than 1800 members. Today, they are down to 200. That's not an unusual state of affairs for a fraternity that artificially swelled in size after World War II, but for men who see success and failure only in the narrow terms of numerical statistics, it is an emergency of epic proportions. There were members in that lodge who remember those heady days like they were yesterday. They remember the degree nights with 150 Masons on the sidelines. They remember the dances, and the Christmas parties, and the big group trips. They remember the dinners when the dining hall was packed to the rafters, with their kids running up and down the room, while some successful member from the civic or business world tried to give a speech. They look on those days fondly, and are bewildered by the fact that no more than eight members show up for the average meeting today. They'd had no candidates in four years, and they literally begged their members to come and participate. No one did.

The men who kept that lodge barely alive tried to do things the way they have been done when most of them joined a half century ago. The same eight men met for a meager meal before their monthly meeting. They opened lodge with perfect ritual. They read the minutes and the bills. There was rarely any business, new or old. They closed and fled the building, and were home by 7:30, before prime-time network programming got started for the night. Over the last five years, the same eight members have been trading officers' positions, and they just got tired. They were fed up. So, they decided to merge with another lodge and be done with it.

As with any turning point of this magnitude, all 200-plus members had to be notified of the meeting. Only twelve cared enough to show up to vote to euthanize their lodge. They had no fight in them to save their lodge. They wanted to simply slip into the ranks of another, give up their charter and their 140-year history, and vanish from memory. They had killed their own lodge with their own failure to embrace any change, and in fact, many of them were enraged that some brethren from outside of their lodge had come in to try to resurrect them at the eleventh hour and interfere with their plans for a quiet suicide.

They didn't do anything to appeal to new members. But neither were they serving their existing ones. They weren't broke. These were children of the Depression. They had almost $200,000 in the bank. So why did they do nothing to interest their aging members? Bus trips to Branson. $100 cruises to the Caribbean. Casino boat trips. Tours to Masonic sites in Britain. Trips to the Holy Land. Catered dinners. Sponsored movie nights. Loads of public awards. Medicare drug program presentations. Estate planning seminars. Computers at lodge to send emails to the grand kids. Power-chair races in the halls. In short, give their existing members a reason to keep coming to lodge, to keep enjoying it, to love it. Neither did they do anything to attract new members. They rent the lodge room in the big downtown Temple building, so like most tenant/landlord relationships, they figured they didn't have to put a dime into the place if they didn't own it. That's somebody else's job. Really? If only they had tried investing in their lodge. Put in new lighting so members could see three feet in front of them. Upholster the sad looking chairs and benches that have the original leather from World War I on them. Tear up the worn and moldy carpet and replace it - maybe with one of the only black and white checked carpets in the U.S. that we talk about in our ritual but almost nobody seems to have. In short, make it look like something worth coming to. Make it look like something worth joining.

Then start kicking the members into participating in lodge - not worrying about who was going to be what officer or memorize which part of the ritual. Actually talk about Freemasonry, its history, its symbolism, its philosophy. Actively visit other lodges and help with their degrees. Get members interested in other activities in the building, or volunteering to help some of the community groups that have been meeting there with greater frequency. We talk a big line about charity and helping the community, so let's start giving time, and not just checkbook generosity. And if they still didn't have a full lineup of guys willing to be officers, just sideliners, it wouldn't matter.

Because, once the place looked like living inhabitants occasionally might be in the place, and that it was actually a vibrant, active lodge, maybe, just maybe, some of their grandkids might get interested in Freemasonry, because they were seeing Freemasonry in action, instead of Freemasonry inaction. The business author James O'Toole says, "People who do not think well of themselves do not act to change their condition." Even a lodge that only has eight regular attendees has within its active ranks the resources to wake itself up, to do things that make them truly happy to be there, and sometimes to even surprise themselves.

Leadership has no age, and there are no limits on imagination. But a lodge has to mean something to its members. It has to remain part of their lives, every day, every week, every month. Because once it's more fun, or less hassle, to stay squeezed comfortably in the LaZBoy, curled up with a remote control, than it is to go to lodge, we have lost them. No one would ever voluntarily join a memorization club, and no one wants to join the oldest, greatest, most legendary fraternal organization in the world, only to be sentenced to a lifetime of cold cut sandwiches made with suspicious meat, generic cola, and monthly meetings of nothing but minute-reading, bill-paying and petulant sniveling over why no one comes to meetings anymore. Be honest with yourself. What rational human being seriously wants to go to the trouble of leaving home to go and listen to someone spend twenty minutes reporting that nothing happened at last month's meeting either? It will be the lodges that provide programming for their active members - whatever their age may be - that will survive and prosper into the future. But those that stubbornly cling to the notion that lodge is no event, that lodge is just one more meeting to be borne, that lodge is that most terrible of things, Ordinary - those are the lodges that will literally bore themselves to death. Those are the lodges that will slip silently away in the night. And the shadows of things that Might Be will have faded into the concrete Reality of a deserted lodge room.

"Ghost of the Future!" Scrooge exclaimed, "I fear you more than any spectre I have seen. But as I know your purpose is to do me good, and as I hope to live to be another man from what I was, I am prepared to bear your company, and do it with a thankful heart."



New Masonic Reference Book

Check out Brother S. Brent Morris's book "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Freemasonry".  It is highly recommended by the Scottish Rite.  It can also be purchased from online booksellers. 



New websites for Masonic Information

Check out the Masonic Dictionary website for Masonic articles and the website for Masonic links. 



It's About Time

Check out the report, It's About Time, from the Masonic Information Center.  It deals with public awareness. 

posted 5/24/06


60 Year Pin

Brother Oscar Van Asperen, Bon Homme #101, was recently presented with his 60 year pin.  He is pictured with his wife Magdalene.  Click on the thumbnail image to see a larger image. 

posted 5/24/06


Jeptha Lodge #121

Jeptha Lodge #121 was the topic of an article in The Old Past Master's Masonic Almanac Volume 11.  The article is entitled "Jeptha Lodge #121 -- Visit the Little Lodge that Could".  The Almanac is available from Coffee Time Press

posted 5/21/06


Masonic Podcasts available

Several Masonic Podcasts are available.  Click here for details.

posted 5/21/06


Masonic Article Website

Numerous Masonic articles can be found here for reading.  The website is Freemason Information

posted 5/21/06


More Stuff!

Here is a Masonic blog (weblog) that you might want to check out or contribute to.  It is called the Masonic Traveler.  Interested in Masonic news from Texas and beyond?  Send an e-mail to Brother Carl E. Jones to subscribe to his newsletter.

posted 5/22/06


Freemasons for Dummies

The book "Freemasons for Dummies", by Brother Christopher Hodapp 32˚, PM & KT is available from online book stores.  It has been recommended as a "good read" by our Grand Master.  The book can also be ordered through the Freemason Information website (they will get some credit for the sale and it will help them maintain their website). 

posted 5/21/06


New York Rite Body in Aberdeen


April 16 the charter for Aberdeen Area Council No. 11 was
formally presented at a dinner at the Masonic Center in Groton by MI
Grand Master Jim Taylor. 

Rededication of Deadwood Lodge

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Grand Master of Masons in South  Dakota Bill Coffield of Hot Springs and Deadwood Mayor  Francis Toscana noted the importance of the  century-old Masonic Center as a meeting place for the  Deadwood community.   A new bronze plaque noting the  rededication of the Deadwood Masonic Center building  was the centerpiece of ceremonies Saturday. Bill  Coffield, Grand Master of Masons in South Dakota,  brought Grand Lodge officers from across the state for  the ceremonies that were joined by city and historic  preservation officials. 

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 DEADWOOD - Deadwood city and historic preservation  officials Saturday joined the state's Masons in  rededicating the historic Masonic Center building.  Deadwood Mayor Francis Toscana said of the century-old  facility, "The Masonic Temple has been a very vital  part of this community; we as a city certainly  appreciate the way you have opened your arms and your  facility to the community."  The building originally was dedicated at cornerstone  ceremonies in 1900. It includes large dining and  meeting facilities. It has a theater that has even  been used for the community's summer trademark "Trial  of Jack McCall."  Bill Coffield of Hot Springs, Grand Master of Masons  in South Dakota, said that the building has long been  the center of West River Masonic organizations and  charities.  It is technically headquarters not only of the seventh  oldest Dakota Territory Masonic Lodge, it also is  headquarters of Naja Shrine and the Deadwood Valley of  the Scottish Rite.  Coffield said all three organizations annually make  major contributions to the community, and especially  to children's programs.  All South Dakota Masons, he said, have spent hundreds  of thousands of dollars on the national Masonic Model  Student Assistance training for teachers, police and  social workers to identify and help students at risk.  The Scottish Rite sponsors a children's speech and  language clinic in Rapid City and the Shrine Masons  annually sponsor dozens of West River children for orthopedic and burn treatment at no charge regardless of their race or creed.  Jim Wilson of the Deadwood Preservation Commission said they have helped the local Masons keep up the  building as a living landmark and meeting place for  the community as well as for its historic value.  He said preservation grants have helped repair the  roof, rebuild the historic elevator without losing its  century-old character, and now is working to preserve  a century of paper records there.  Coffield said the building and its use through the  years as a major public meeting place is a good  example of how Masons in South Dakota have worked to give their fraternity a community outreach.  Leaders of other Masonic groups attending included  Naja Shrine Potentate Rod Baumberger of Sturgis, and  top regional Scottish Rite leaders Max Main of Belle  Fourche, Tom Hughes and Gene Kinney of Sturgis.  For more information on the building and Masons'  community outreach programs, contact Willie Steinlicht, Masonic Center Association president, at  578-1478.




Masonic Christmas Tree at the Capital

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Pictured are: Grand Master Bill Coffield and Pat, Deputy Grand Master Larry  Anderson and Phyllis, Senior Grand Warden Ken Glaser and Nan, Junior Grand  Warden Dennis Robinson and Elaine and Leslie Spies Grand Treas/Secretary and  Bettie.

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Grand Master Bill Coffield with Masonic Christmas tree at the state capital in Pierre.

posted 12/10/04



Hot Springs Cornerstone Ceremony

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Grand Master Bill Coffield, left, and Jeff Simmons, Worshipful Master of Harmony Lodge #110 in Hot Springs, took part in an unique cornerstone laying and rededication ceremony October 9th. Worshipful Master Simmons, an operative Mason, actually laid the cornerstone while the Grand Lodge officers performed the ritual of cornerstone laying at the Masonic Lodge which is undergoing significant renovation.

posted 11/7/04



Grand Lodge of South Dakota Belle Fourche Cornerstone Ceremony

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Mayor Todd Keller welcomed local and state Masons and the public to the Saturday cornerstone ceremonies dedicating the new Tri-State Museum. A traditional dedication was performed by the officers of the South Dakota Grand Lodge to begin a day celebrating the new facility.

Cornerstone event dedicates museum

State's Masons head ceremony

By Milo Dailey


The Grand Master of Masons in South Dakota presided over traditional cornerstone ceremonies Saturday to dedicate the Tri-State Museum to its purpose of preserving the history of the Belle Fourche area.

The event began a day of celebration for the new museum building.

But, as Mayor Todd Keller told the crowd of about 150, the job of completing new exhibits is just beginning.

"It is a work in progress," he said in a short welcome to Masons from across the state who gathered for the program.

Grand Master Gary Griffith of Hartford presided over the cornerstone ceremonies.

Guests also had a preview of the museum interior as local board members have begun efforts toward a working display for the July 3 Grand Opening during the Roundup.

After the museum ceremony, the local Masonic Lodge hosted a burger picnic in Herrmann Park and the Belle Fourche Arts Council, with aid from the City Council Special Events Committee, hosted a concert.

The Arts Council's first concert of the season featured Barry Pitt and friends with a three-hour event that began with accoustical guitar-accompanied older style music, then came up through the years into the era of electric guitars and modern country and blues musical styles.

The community picnic lunch at Herrmann Park was served by the local Masonic Lodge.

Nearly 20 World War II veterans were on hand to take advantage of the free picnic fare at the beginning of the Memorial Day weekend activities in Belle Fourche.

Although heavily clouded skies, the weekend's strong winds and threats of rain kept crowds small, about 200 people were served at the picnic.

Cars from eastern South Dakota and Wyoming parked along the western side of the park to hear the concert with protection from the wind.

The Tri-State Museum Board arranged the event in keeping with the cornerstone tradition begun in 1910 when the state's Masons were requested to lay the cornerstone for the Butte County Courthouse.

The ceremonies were similar, and similar to the cornerstone ceremony at the U.S. Capitol performed by George Washington.

Along with Griffith were Deputy Grand Master Bill Coffield Jr., Senior Grand Warden Larry Anderson, Junior Grand Warden Ken Glasier and Grand Chaplain Ned Wick.

Also a special guest was Dale Miskimins, Brookings, head of the Frontier Army Lodge of Masonic Research, a regional 1880s reenacting and research group.



Masonic Exhibit in Sioux Falls

The exhibit opened at the Old Courthouse Museum on April 29, 2004. It is
titled " Unraveling the Mysteries of Masonry" The exhibit will close the
last week of July. The Old Courthouse Museum is open to the public 9 - 5
Monday - Saturday, Noon to 5 on Sunday and on Thursday evenings until 9 PM.
Admission is free.

There are some great historical artifacts including instructional charts
from the 1880's, the apron, collar and Jewel of Grand Master H. H. Blair,
1876, a stained glass window from the Grand Lodge Library, a portrait of
Grand Master George A. Pettigrew and much more.




Masonic Scouting Award Presented

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W. Brother Mike McCann (left) of Brookings Lodge #24 was presented with the Daniel Carter Beard Masonic Scouter Award by MWB Gary Griffith, Grand Master, at the Brookings Lodge Past Masters Night on April 17, 2004. This award is presented to active Masons who have performed exemplary service to the Boy Scouts of America. Brother McCann, who has held many leadership positions in the Boy Scout organization in South Dakota, is the first recipient of this award in the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of South Dakota.

posted 5/05/04



El Riad Shrine newspaper insert

See cover of insert from the recent Argus Leader below (click on thumbnail to see a larger image)

posted 12/3/03


Volume 4 Masonic Papers Available

Volume 4 Masonic Papers available now from the South Dakota Lodge of Masonic Research.  Click here for details.  

posted 5/15/01

10 Reasons

Check out this new feature from the Grand Lodge of Iowa. 

posted 2/24/01 


New Fact Sheets

Check here to read the new Fact Sheets from the Masonic Information Center.  

posted 2/13/01