Yesterday was the Master Masons Seminar, put on by The Grand Lodge of NH, for newly raised Masons or Masons that just wanted to attend the seminar. The seminar was quite interesting and many topics were covered. Topics ranged from the First Mason noted in history to current day Masons and their practices.
The first lecture dealt with the start of the Fraternity in 1717 when Anthony Sayer (1672-1741) was made the first Grand Master on John the Baptist Day, June 24th, of the same year. The talk was given by Bro. Malcolm A. Wooff, District Education Officer for District No. 2. Of mention we were in the Masonic Building in Nashua, NH, which is home to the Rising Sun Lodge which is part of District No. 2.
This talk was quite interesting but, as any newly raised Mason knows, as well of those that have been in the Fraternity for a while, nothing is straight forward in masonry. A good example of this is that not long after reviewing the detail mentioned above Bro. Wooff then discussed Elias Ashmole (1617-1692) who is the first recorded English Mason, raised in the year 1646, In Warrington by nine Brothers – none of whom were Operative Masons.
A moment for a bit of clarification – “Operative” is referring to the stone masons that built the Temple of King Solomon and the Great Cathedrals of Europe and “Speculative” is referring to the masons that embraced the principles of these masons but were not “Operative” stone masons. This distinction is very important in looking closely at what Bro. Wooff said. Remember it is stated that Elias Ashmole was raised (made a Mason) in 1646 by people whom none were Operative Masons rather they were practicing Speculative Freemasonry. But wait, didn’t Masonry start in 1717? There you have a large part of the seminar, understanding that not all answers regarding Freemasonry are to be seen as black and white.
A bit of housecleaning: For more information on Operative versus Speculative Freemasonry please see page 7 in the Public Domain book, Introduction to Freemasonry, which is recommended reading by the New Hampshire Grand Lodge. Please note that all writing on Freemasonry may not be complete or entirely accurate, that is why when you have a question regarding Freemasonry it is best to Ask a Mason, or if none are available you can always refer to the Grand Lodge Website and look for a list of recommended reading.
After Bro. Wooff’s lectures we had discussions from other Grand Lodge Officers including Deputy Grand Master, Bro. John E. Lobdell. Brother Lobdell gave several lectures on expectations and on lodge practices and before lunch we moved down to the Lodge Room where District Deputy Grand Lecturer, Bro. Paul S. Gross (District No. 4) gave an excellent lecture on protocol in the lodge, including the proper way, both where and how, to give the Due-Guard and sign when entering and leaving the lodge as well as tips on how to enter a meeting after it has been started. There was also discussion on the use of smart phones in the Lodge during a meeting as to whether it was appropriate. This topic was brought up by a Brother who had come from a lodge in Texas and was commenting throughout the day related to the differences, NH vs TX, in the lodge practices.
Another topic of conversation that was covered was how one Mason should address another outside of the lodge. This topic was addressed by the Senior Grand Warden Bro. Kenneth A. Clay Jr. Bro. Clay said that outside of the Lodge he was “OK” with having a brother just call him Ken, there was no need to bring the title of the lodge outside of the lodge and address him as R.W. Brother Clay or Just R.W. For me, this is something that was good to hear and there was lots of good discussion around this topic. After this we broke for lunch.
Lunch, which consisted of cold cuts, chips and a nice warm chicken soup prepared and served by our Junior Grand Warden Bro. David S. Collins. One thing I like in Masonry is that everyone is willing to pitch in and help, from setting up a room to serving soup, during lunch I had the opportunity to meet many new brothers as well as Chat with brothers that I already knew. An example is a brother from Horace Chase Lodge (Bro Tom – I did not get his last name) was present, I first met Tom when I had attended his Fellowcraft Degree at Horace Chase the day after I received my own Fellow Craft degree at Harris Lodge. I also had the chance to speak again with the District Deputy Grand Master (District No. 2) Bro. Joe Beaumont, who I had last seen on a Deep Sea fishing trip with the Rising Sun Lodge Members and Family this summer, I was quite sea sick during most the fishing trip but recalled our conversation at the end of the trip. To the best of my Knowledge Bro. Beaumont was the first 33rd Degree Mason that I had met. I learned that Bro. Beaumont was also a private pilot and we discussed the different types of planes that we flew in the past (I am a pilot as well).
After Lunch we went back to the Lodge room where the District Education Officer (District No. 8) Bro. John A. Loven discussed more lodge protocols including how to verify a visiting mason is a Mason. Bro, Loven’s talk was quite good and it convinced me that I need to keep fresh with all my degrees for seeing other lodges in other areas of the world! When the talk was over we went back up to the room set up adjacent to the dining area where more talks took place. Our Junior Grand Warden Bro. David S. Collins gave great discussions on the Grand Lodge constitution and more. At this point, many of the conversations included all the NH Grand Lodge officers that had come to present at the Seminar.
There was one part where the question asked the Seminar attendees related to what did the degrees mean to individuals. I had spoken up that I felt that the third degree was a big responsibility that I taken onto myself and that it made me stop and think, because the commitment was clear and I took it seriously.
In closing, there is no way that I covered every conversation that I had or every lecture that was given at the seminar. However, I do hope that if you have not been to a Master Mason Seminar that is put on by Grand Lodge that you will go next year. I know that I will go back.
Additionally, for those on the Harris Lodge mailing list I will be sending a link in email later that will allow you to download the material that was handed out on the thumb drive yesterday. Including: