Friday, April 06, 2007

Report on the 146th Annual Convocation of the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of Oregon

Yesterday, April 5th, 2007, was the 146th Annual Convocation of the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of Oregon.

It was also my first time in attendance at any "Grand" meeting. (For those who are new Masons or from foreign lands, in the United States that means it is a meeting of the "State-Level" group which governs over our constituent local groups.)

The officers ending their term, who conducted the meeting were:

Garrett K. Cooke, Most Excellent Grand high Priest;
John Ridenour, Grand King;
Daniel Crockett, Grand Scribe;
John H. Smith, Grand Treasurer;
Dalvin L. Hollaway, Grand Secretary;
Gavin Reid, Grand Captain of the Host;

Stanley C. Miller, Grand Lecturer;
Paul Gehman, Jr., Grand Principal Sojourner;
Richard E. Surroz, Grand Royal Arch Captain;
Darrell Carter, Grand Master of the Third Veil;
Robert C. Elliott, Grand Master of the Second Veil;
Richard M. MacKinnon, Grand Master of the First Veil;
Loren E. Shrock, Grand Chaplain;
Robert M. Richard, Grand Orator;
Jerry Muceus, Grand Historian;
Carl G. Carlson, Grand Capitular Reviewer;
George Eldredge, Grand Musician;
and Charles R. Carroll, Grand Sentinel;

The convocation was held at the Seven Feathers Conference Center in Canyonville, Oregon.

We got together around 8:30 in the morning. A bit early for me, especially since it was a half-hour drive to get there from my home town, although I am fortunate that it is close enough to drive and not requiring to stay overnight at the hotel.

Companion Erik Arneson sat next to me during the session. We had communicated via email recently on Masonry but I had not seen him in person since I was about eleven years old, when we got together at a BBS Meet-Up, and I actually can't remember meeting him there but I did chat with him on the BBSes throughout the early nineties. It was interesting to cross paths with an old friend, anyhow. He told me at the start of the Reception of Distinguished Guests that the Morning Session of Grand Chapter was like aerobics. He wasn't kidding. We must have stood up at least twenty five times during the reception, as we welcomed our numerous guests from foreign lands - or, around the country, as it were. I can't remember all, but we had visitors representing Nevada, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, and Washington just to name a few. We were also privileged to have the General Grand High Priest of Royal Arch Masons International attend our convocation, Most Excellent Companion Larry E. Gray. I cannot do justice to all of the various talks delivered by all the Companions present at the meeting, but I can say that it was a worthwhile experience and that I would recommend other Masons to attend a Grand Royal Arch Chapter convocation if the occasion ever presents itself to do so.

Some of the visitors presented interesting and unique ideas that their jurisdictions have implemented, and I thought them worth passing along here:

- Make the Mark Master Degree available to any blue lodge Mason, free of charge, so that they can see a sample of the work of York Rite before deciding whether to go all the way through. Take the degree to them, rather than having them come to you; make the proper negotiations to be able to offer it to the Blue Lodges.

- With slight modifications to remove the secret work, the Most Excellent Master Degree can be made available for public viewing, for Mason's families, etc. This is a fascinating idea, and I am surprised that something this bold and creative has actually gone into practice, but apparently it has been well received.

- Start doing traditional classes. One degree at a time, and have Lodge/Chapter/etc. officers learn their own parts. The younger generation coming into Lodge views it as an educational process and actually wants the slower, traditional classes instead of Festivals being the only option.

I was impressed particularly by all of these reports (which I have somewhat reworded into the form of advice).

I hope this report was not without some merit to you,


Thursday, April 05, 2007

Wow! A petitioner!

I bought a Masonic T-Shirt, and wore it in public for just one day. I got two inquiries that day as to its meaning, one of them, from a person I had been acquainted with by business dealings in the past, turned into a request for a petition.

The shirt I was wearing was my "Seeking Further Light" York Rite shirt, available from my merchandise blog, however, any shirt would probably do just as well. I recommend getting one of your liking.

My rationale to consider shirts to begin with is that rings and jewelry such as tie-tacks used to be the day-to-day way to express yourselves in the late 1800's. We've kept the tradition of the Masonic ring, but this way of expression has been mostly superseded by messages on T-Shirts and bumper stickers -- they stand out more, and are more likely to be noticed.

I consider it a success. 1 day, 1 petitioner -- and a good one, at that. I don't expect to keep such a perfect record in the future, but it delighted me. I didn't even have to bend the rules and "ask", a technique for which there has been so much advocacy lately.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Esoteric Blogs

I just wanted to recommend that those of you who are interested check out my other blog aggregator, Occult Esoterica. It often has some truly amazing articles on it, and goes into a few topics that might be of interest to most Masons, such as Kabbalah, ancient ritual, etc. It also goes into many other areas of Occult and Esoteric studies, which may only interest a certain type of folk. ;-)