General Grand Recorder’s Update January 2020

General Grand Recorder’s Update January 2020
Stephen A. Balke
General Grand Recorder, Cryptic Masons International

Stephen A. Balke
Stephen A. Balke
General Grand Recorder, Cryptic Masons International


Greetings Companions,

There has been a LOT of activity in the General Grand Council over the holidays! Your General Grand Officers have been taking the less active time (few Grand Assemblies and no Conferences) to get some housekeeping done and prepare as we come to the mid-year of the last year of the Triennium! This article is intended as a quick update – you should look for more from us during this quarter on all of the topics.

General Grand Recorders Office

In preparation for the Triennial, we have centralized the GGR office in New Mexico. On November 18th, 2019, a concerted effort to move all of the resources and assets from the Idaho office, with considerable contributions of time from Lady Karen, Lady Michele, MPGGM David and Companion Leonard Roughgarden. This was the start of a very work intensive project that is still ongoing.

Lady Karen has graciously agreed to stay on part-time through the end of the Triennium! This is a boon for us because we will have the continued resource of her institutional knowledge and WOW dedication to our Craft. We welcome my Lady, Michele Balke, as the primary General Grand Clerk for this last nine months – thank you for coming aboard! Most operations will be facilitated in our personal offices, but the Grand Lodge of A.F. & A.M. of New Mexico is also allowing the General Grand Council an office so that we have centralized availability of the office, a two location backup of our technology resources, and access to conference and meeting facilities – Thank you Most Worshipful Brother Ralph Easley and the Board of Directors!

The most apparent hiccup in this effort has been ensuring that we have vendors for the ongoing activities of the office – specifically, Lady Karen and MPC David had what we have found to be a great relationship with Awards Etc., who provided the engraving and embossing of awards. The Veterans Medals have been the most affected, as we have orders dating back to October that we are working to fulfill. We are just now able to forecast that these should be fulfilled within the next two weeks. As soon as I have a confirmation on them going out I will update with another article.


In addition to focusing on getting orders and scheduled tasks fulfilled, Lady Michele and I are leveraging the technology platforms and known processes to help improve our ability to serve the General Grand Council. As of now, we have a working schedule for orders:

  1. Order comes in during a week – Monday through Sunday.
  2. The following Monday: Notifications to Grand Recorders/Constituent Recorders and deposit is made
    1. All awards will be verified and notice given to Grand Recorders (sponsor for First Responder, Good Standing for Cryptic Awards, etc.)
  3. Once verification has been made, the awards will be sent.
  4. There are other items which have a different path, but this is the general structure.

Online Access to Information

Companion Will Highsmith has been working on a central sign-in ability vigorously over the past few months. It is still in testing. Regardless, our goal is to have an online data reference for the Grand Recorders by February 15, 2020 which will show the historical information for their jurisdiction. Our main focuses are returns, awards, contacts, and membership.

Conference Calls

Last quarter, we started a quarterly conference call with the Grand Recorders and Regional Deputies to keep everyone in the loop. Our testers were the North Central, Southeast and Southwest, and it was well received. We have started this quarter’s conference calls and plan to AT LEAST include the US Regions, we are working to ensure that our Zoom tele/video conference system has local capabilities in foreign jurisdictions before announcing for each of the jurisdictions. Please plan for one per quarter and then one the month before the Triennial – we are working to ensure that everyone is aware of available information as soon as possible.

My Candidacy

I have had tremendous support from many Companions since I announced that would make myself available for General Grand Principal Conductor of the Work, and I thank each and every one of you! I have sought the advice of the General Grand Council team and many mentors from across the bodies of Masonry and concluded approximately six months ago that while this would be a service I may seek, it is not my intention for now.

There are many things the General Grand Recorders office – in line with the Trustees and the General Grand Council team – is trying to accomplish. While it may all be in place by the Triennium (that is our intent and goal), it will be better with continuity. Therefore, with your support and consent, I would ask that you consider supporting my bid for remaining in the office of General Grand Recorder to finish what we have started.


In closing, I would like to give some Masonic Wages to some folks who really have stepped up:

  • Lady Michele Balke for coming on board and helping us to get everything in motion.
  • Lady Karen Grindle for all of her service and for staying on through the Triennial to help us.
  • Companion Len Roughgarden – drove to and from Idaho the week before his anniversary. WOW, thank you – and helped load unload. This is in addition to taking on the position of Tech Coordinator for New Mexico, working in his York Rite Bodies, and being an officer in his Lodge, among other things!
  • Companion Will Highsmith of North Carolina – who in addition to taking over as the Editor for the Decryption is also working on heavy data engineering to enhance our systems.
  • Right Illustrious Companion Dennis Newman who has just signed on to standardize our office forms!
  • Companion Christopher A. Larsen II, Most Illustrious Grand Master and Most Illustrious Companion Jeff Johnson, Deputy Grand Master and Ambassador, and our 327 New Mexico Royal and Select Masters for hosting the CMMRF Board meeting and beta testing a seminar event with our scientists. (More to come in a future article).
  • The support of the Trustees on all we are trying to do -Thank you! To Most Puissant General Grand Master David A. Grindle, and Right Puissant Companions Monty Glover and Bill Snyder!
  • Most Worshipful Brother Ralph Easley, Grand Master of Masons in New Mexico – providing the GGC space and opening and hosting the CMMRF Board Meeting.