The Rough Ashlar

Thoughts from a Traveling Man

The Rough Ashlar - Thoughts from a Traveling Man

KYCH – A Huge Honor

kychI had the honor to be initiated into the Knights of York Cross of Honor (KYCH) this weekend. The KYCH is an honorary invitational body whose requirements include having served as the presiding officer of all four York Rite bodies. If you ever see the long-time Masons in your lodge with a four-colored cord with a crown suspended on it, that is the same group.

The strange thing about Virginia, where I am a  lodge member, is that we do not have a Cryptic Council. Neither does West Virginia. Back in the early part of the 19th century, the Grand Cryptic Council of Virginia closed up shop and merged with the Grand Royal Arch Chapter. As such, we confer the Council degrees in the Chapter in our two states. So technically, as the high priest of my chapter, I also served as the illustrious master of a council.

All the same, if you read my bio, you will see that I am in line at a Cryptic Council, so although I have already received the distinction of this order, I do mean to earn the final part of this.

Annual Dues Bill for Life Membership

It may seem strange to send an annual bill to someone who is a life member, but I get one each year from the Scottish Rite. Note the blank spots for me to add my own donation to a few funds they have. That is the value of sending seemingly redundant dues notices.

Will I make a contribution? Perhaps. Maybe not. But I am a whole lot more likely to than if I got nothing but a new dues card each fall. I wonder how many opportunities my local lodge is missing by not doing this.

Santa Fe Scottish Rite Building Selling for $6.9 Million

Santa Fe Scottish RiteEver wanted to own a Scottish Rite building? Now is your chance. Sotheby’s is selling off this grand structure starting at $6.9 million.

I had the opportunity to tour and photograph this building a number of years ago, not long after I became a Mason. It is beautiful inside and out and its design is based on the Alahambra in Spain.
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Grand College of Rites Dues Card

wpid-IMAG0670.jpgThe Grand College of Rites is back in the game. it had been a few years since I had gotten anything from them but now that there is a new grand registrar, things seem to be shaping up well. Again, I expect it will be a while before everything is back up and running like it was a few years ago but hopefully they will get things in order. Keeping the records for a group this size has got to be a difficult task and I can imagine that the new brother who took over that job has some serious work cut out for him.

However, I am happy because I have a dues card again. I am up to date with everything and even have the latest volume of Collectanea they published.

If you were a fellow of the College and have gotten discouraged by the lack of communication, get back in touch through the grand registrar. He may tell you to do something different, but my instruction was to send a new petition with this year’s dues check to bring me back to current status. That was mostly so they could update their records, I understand.

Whatever you do, know that the GCR is back in business and steaming ahead.

Back in the Scottish Rite

wpid-IMAG0637.jpgI had demitted a couple years ago from one Scottish Rite valley but have since found what I hope will be a better fit at the Valley of Washington, DC. This particular valley has a different body conduct business on each of the first four Tuesdays of the month. Fifth Tuesday? Sandwich night, I guess. I look forward to getting involved again when I have time and am especially eager to get back to the Master Craftsman II course that has been sitting around for nearly three years. Something that especially attracted me is that they have four meetings per month, as opposed to just one. More opportunity to attend meetings.

In the meantime, I do not expect to have a lot of time to go to many of the Valley’s meetings for a little while but at least I know that when I do go, I will be in the presence of some pretty warm and welcoming brothers. The funny thing is that, given where I work nowadays, I would have to drive pretty close to the Alexandria Scottish Rite to get to DC. Oh well. I don’t suppose that should enter into any decision about my membership.

The Masonic Order of Athelstan

athelstan250At the Masonic Week activities in Reston, VA last week I had the opportunity to join The Duke of Cumberland Court No. 101 of The Masonic Order of Athelstan. The Masonic Order of Athelstan is a relatively new order, founded in England in 2005, and is open to Masons who have attained the Royal Arch degree. A new candidate does not go through a degree, but receives instruction, using various symbols as tools to promote further thought and research.

The order is still new to me, as you might imagine, but I am excited to learn more. The teachings of the instruction are not new. If you are a Mason already, or even just a moral person, you know these teachings as being universal, as all the Masonic teachings are. However, the Order of Athelstan brings a different feel during the instruction, and a different take on what it means to be a good man and true.

This is an invitational body. I was able to join because a new Court was being formed in Winchester, VA and they were taking letters of interest from guys who would want to constitute the Court. If you find yourself in that situation, I recommend investigating joining this group. Anything that brings more light is worth doing, in my book.

Update on the Grand College of Rites

I was at Masonic Week events this morning and spoke with the incoming Grand Chancellor of the Grand College of Rites about the issues they have been having processing payments, getting dues notices out to the members and processing petitions. Of course, he was very aware of these issues already and informed me that this Saturday there would be a new Grand Registrar elected and installed, so things will start to ramp up again after a while.

Be patient though. The new guy will have to make a rather lengthy drive to Illinois at some point to get all the records and documents, and then organize them for his use once he brings them home. And then there is a backlog of information to sort through going back at least a year and probably more.

Have faith, my brothers. When the Grand College of Rites was in full swing, many said that it was the best $15 in Masonry, and I feel that is true. It will be great again.

Frustrations with the Grand College of Rites

If you are a member of the Grand College of Rites, you may have some frustration with a seemingly absent recorder and other management. I encourage you to hang in there. I received a communication from someone in the organization explaining the situation. He forwarded me a note from the Grand Chancellor that explains everything.

This is a great organization to be part of. Don’t give up on them. They are just having some¬†transitional problems at the moment and likely these will be cleared up before long. The good side is that there is an opportunity for some brother to become more involved if he wants a good-sized project. I considered throwing my hat in the ring but decided I have enough on my plate for now.
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Past High Priest – Finally!

Past High Priest JewelIt was a long year at Arlington Royal Arch but we did some good work. We lost a few members to death or suspension, and gained quite a number as well. Overall, we had a net loss of one, which in my book is a success. We also became more ritually proficient as a chapter and had some great programs.

All in all, I am happy.

The year was fun. We did some things we had not done in a while and maybe a few things we had not done before at all. As much fun as it was, though, and as happy as I am with the year, I am glad to have given the task to a very competent successor. The new high priest is smart and capable and I get the feeling that he likes to build on the success of his predecessors, so I feel great about the coming year and look forward in anticipation to where he will lead the chapter.

One of the things I have always felt about leadership in the lodge – or in any group or job – is that when you take on a position, you want to approach it with the mindset of being a steward for that position. Being a good steward means building in the right way and leaving it in a better state than it was when you got there. It is good to serve and then sit back so someone else can take the reins and make even more improvements. Another part of being a good steward is knowing that your duties do not end when you vacate a position. Numerous opportunities for mentorship and assistance will always be there.

Good luck and congratulations, Ex. Comp. Velena!

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