Stephen A. Balke
General Grand Recorder

Stephen A. Balke
Stephen A. Balke
General Grand Recorder

Greetings Companions All!

As we turn the New Cryptic Year, many of the ongoing projects have made great progress but are taking a longer time while we work with restricted resources. Simultaneously, however, we are launching several ideas and projects either internally or with the help of jurisdictions. Our approach to this is to break down the major projects into “Sprints” and continue seeking Companions who wish to contribute to the path we are following (shameless plug: PLEASE consider taking on something if you would like to be a part of a close knit, low number, communicative, and intentionally directed team).

Recent Wins

  • First Responder Award “to and through the Lodge” Program – Scheduled to be Available 9/15/2019; you can pre-order now. The inception of the award includes a certificate.
  • Companion William Highsmith, NC – Needs YOUR articles to keep his AWESOME work on this newsletter going! He has taken the reigns and has been hitting weekly with good content. Editor's Note: Articles can be sent to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
New Certificates
  • Right Puissant Companion John Bridegroom, General Grand Sentinel, MIPGM, IN – Has taken personally ensuring our awards are delivered with (beautiful and meaningful) certificates. We started with the Cryptic Mason of the Year and the Adult Youth Leadership Awards.

Conference Flash Drive

  • “Conference Folders” – We have started the pilot to see what the response is: a traditional folder vs. a thumb drive with digital copies of the same materials. We will be collecting the data on how many choose which.


 Short Term Sprints

  • Companion Jason L., TP, TW, CN has been working arduously to reface and refresh the website. Though there have been hiccups along the way, he as 90% of the content transferred with an easier format for getting to information and resources. The new site has the translation options without the overhead, a modernized look, and the same functionality as the current site with articles.
  • Forms, reports and items are being updated to gather more and germane information as well as branding all General Grand Council items with the same name/logos/stationary.
  • Database migration from Access. This project is one of our long-awaited items – and a complex and time intensive project. We are currently sprinting with single processes within this office. The first three processes, currently being created, are Annual Return submissions, Awards fulfillment, and Life Membership. The first phase will make them available to General Grand Officers and this office.
  • Online store – We are working on getting this back online. The next sprint is to get the store live on the marketplace site.

Awards, Ideas, and Contributions

The First Responder project started with a phone call regarding the Veterans Award earlier this year. Illustrious Companion Arthur Patrick of Liberty Council No. 7 in Hattisburg, MS was inquiring about ordering the Veterans Award and made mention of how nice it would be to have an award recognizing those that serve their local communities. After consulting some First Responders, this idea was taken to the Trustees and was well received. Several revisions took place within meetings and ideas, and when the final components were put in place and “prettified” by RPC John Bridegroom (made to look like a jewel would), he put the finishing touch of the angels on the sides of the triangle as they are looking down to protect and pray, it was approved. Since the award directly targets people who are invested in their community, the program has been structured as a tool for ALL of the Masonic Family, through a local Council or Cryptic Companion, to reach out and provide support for their community. Thank you, Companions Art and John, for helping to introduce this great opportunity!

Royal Order of Zanzabar
Royal Order of Zanzabar Logo

Right Illustrious Grand Recorder Chuck Wood of Indiana is a founding member and the Grand Brewmeister for the Royal Order of Zanzabar.   While this group is intentionally “unaffiliated” so that it may allow anyone to join, the main purposes are to enjoy spirits and fraternity, to keep in mind that there is a lighter side to our organizations (or should be), and to fund Cryptic Masons Medical Research Foundation. For only $1.00 donated in the name of the Grand Council of Indiana per member, you can introduce this in/as a fun event and start a local drive for CMMRF.

In Arizona, I became aware of another program – it was awarded to my Lady, Michele. A certificate and beautiful medal – CYRUS, KING OF PERSIA award was given to her “… and is awarded to a non-York Rite Mason whose virtues, actions and community involvement embody and exemplify the ideals of the York Rite.” This Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of Arizona program is another idea worth its weight, bringing forth the teachings of our degrees and Sacred Law references and reaching out to those outside our ranks! Thank you MEGHP Bob Richards, MEPGHP Joe Zito, and RESWRDGGHP Chad Burks for recognizing my Lady for her contributions!

50 year certificate
Nevada's 50 Year Certificate

Also in Arizona, and in Nevada, Companions are putting together “New Member Packets”. Right Illustrious Companion Rod Wagoner, GPCW presented one at last years’ Southwest York Rite Conference and Illustrious Companion Alan R. Troland of Reno Council No. 4 provided his subsequent to my visit. These packets give “the rest of the story” for a new member and encourage them to participate. Further, Companion Alan has been distributing 25 and 50-year certificates to his Grand Council for several years.

There are many opportunities for our Companions and Brethren to highlight positive contributions that we would all like to know about. If you or your jurisdiction have a program that works for you, or have an idea which might improve current programs (like the certificates for existing awards), please consider writing an article about it, contributing it for a reference for others (like Arizona’s Ish Sodi requirements and ritual), and/or bringing it to the attention of others. These are the programs that allow us to show appreciation to those in and out of our organizations and may just serve other purposes simultaneously.


MI Craig A Phillips
MI Craig A Phillips
Grand Master of the Grand Council of Nevada

Reno was the site of the 2019 Nevada Grand Sessions, in case you are unaware, both the Grand Lodge and the Grand Sessions rotate between Reno and Las Vegas annually. Right Puissant Companion Bill Snyder and I were welcomed and, as usual, treated as family. Even though Nevada is having some of the same issues that all of us are experiencing – and perhaps, even more pronounced due to their size – they are working diligently to inspire their members and preserve the Craft; further, all three bodies voted to directly and financially support a Grand Lodge community outreach program! Most Illustrious Companion Craig A. Phillips ran a tight Grand Assembly, AND THEN STEPPED UP TO THE PLATE AGAIN. We are all aware that sometimes we have some circumstances that preclude our plans for continuity – Nevada is having such a time, except our Most Illustrious Companion said “no – we are not going to put people in uncomfortable positions” and accepted another year of service. THANK YOU, Companion Craig, and may you have another great term!

Great Plains Rendezvous

Comp. T. Mark Mickelson, Representing MWGM Ken Badget, MIGM Wayne Rector, Kansas, MIGM Thomas Thompson, Colorado, MIGM Wayne Long, Wyoming, MPGGM David A. Grindle
Comp. T. Mark Mickelson, Representing MWGM Ken Badget, MIGM Wayne Rector, Kansas, MIGM Thomas Thompson, Colorado, MIGM Wayne Long, Wyoming, MPGGM David A. Grindle.

The Great Plains Rendezvous, a three-state Cryptic Festival with Colorado, Kansas, and Wyoming was held in Cheyenne, Wyoming this year. Celebrating 25 years of this outstanding program, I have found that it is one of the best kept secrets in Masonry outside of these three states! On June 29, 2019, each state took a degree, and the Most Puissant General Grand Master and I were welcomed with open arms and some OUTSTANDING degree work. Most Illustrious Companion Wayne Long hosted this year and oversaw the creation of several Royal and Select Masters and 32 Super Excellent Masters! Please take a look at his article and plan to attend next year! A special thanks to Illustrious Companion Harry Furrey as well, a great Companion, host, and the Companion who introduced me to this wonderful event!

Maggie Valley

MW Mack Sigmon, Glen Cook, Joseph Crociata
MWB D. M. “Mack” Sigmon, MWB Glen Cook, PGM Utah and Deputy Grand Master of Allied Masonic Degrees USA, and MWB Joseph S. Crociata, PGM of Washington D.C. and ME Great Chief of the Grand Council of Knight Masons USA

The first trip to Maggie Valley has convinced me that it should be a high priority on an annual basis! Right Puissant Companion Monty Glover and I enjoyed a relaxing, inspirational, and educational week in North Carolina with a great many ACTIVE York Rite Masons! It started for us with the Grand Master of Masons of North Carolina, Most Worshipful Brother D.M. “Mack” Sigmon, giving a FANTASTIC performance as Principal Sojourner in the Royal Arch. As I understand it, this was a break from recent tradition to do the Chapter degrees, but this Summer Assembly in North Carolina has been going for 82 years – may not be the first time! An outside barbeque, three outstanding keynote speakers, MWB D. M. “Mack” Sigmon, MWB Glen Cook, PGM Utah and Deputy Grand Master of Allied Masonic Degrees USA, and MWB Joseph S. Crociata, PGM of Washington D.C. and ME Great Chief of the Grand Council of Knight Masons USA, and time to meet with dignitaries from all over the country! Companion Mack has shared his speech with us and we are hoping Companions Glen and Joe will have time to as well!


Order of the Secret Vault Arizona
Sound, Camera, Action! – One of the things that Stephen Powelsland is best known for is his contribution to Colorado River Fall Festival, Sessions, and many events as the “Sound Guy”, Kerry Owen, Dean, is usually the one with a camera as his jewel, and POPO the Clown A.K.A. RE Grand Commander Darrel D. Mandrell is fairly well known for clowning (and photo-bombs). Photo right is Right Puissant Companion James Baum, SWRDGGM, presenting Honored Companion Stephen Powelsland with his CSV Plaque.

Several articles have and will continue to share some of the many activities in Arizona. They are certainly doing some great work and are sharing it with those who will find it useful! Most Illustrious Companion Joseph F. Zito has had a great year in spite of health issues and his Lady Angie is one of the strongest and most supportive people I have had the good fortune to meet – to both him and the York Rite! They wrapped up the year with their new College of Preservation Dean, Illustrious Companion Kerry Owen, following through on his charge by marshaling in Most Illustrious Companion Stephen G. Powelsland (not jr.) as a member of the Arizona College and a Companion of the Secret Vault. 

Darius G.
Darius G. "Mac" McClintock
Most Illustrious Grand Master of Arizona

Most Illustrious Companion Darius G. “Mac” McClintock started the year off with brevity as his installation was the last item of business for the Sessions, but also with planning that was apparent and continuous throughout the Sessions! Congratulations Companions Stephen and Mac, great things to come in Arizona!  

Look for an article soon – Arizona also sharing a GREAT membership and mentorship program!



NM New Select Masters
New Select Masters at Land of Enchantment Festival (New Mexico)

Well, Masonry has a way of exposing those who travel to a great many ideas, and you can get caught up in them quite easily! Some of the excellent experiences that have happened in New Mexico include Route 66 DeMolay Installation of officers, Ashlar Assembly (IORG) Installation of officers, a Grand York Rite and a Grand Chapter discussion group, the Land of Enchantment Festival (9 new Companions), and our Grand York Rite Quarterly. My personal thanks to Most Worshipful Grand Master Ralph A. Easley, Most Illustrious Grand Master Christopher A. Larsen, Sir Knight D. W. Winchester, PGC, Grand Commander, and Most Illustrious Companion Dion A. Newhouse, Grand Recorder as they have all supported my dual role and continue to make New Mexico York Rite Masonry all it can be!


Well, if you have made it all the way through, thank you! While my articles are long, I hope they are segmented to allow people to be exposed to some of the many things a traveler can experience, some of the many Masons that have and continue to contribute to the Craft, and what we are and will continue to do as General Grand Officers to try to listen, improve and propel the General Grand Council of Cryptic Masons, International into a future of realized potential as the preserver of our Masonic heritage.

Decryption - All Articles

  • General Grand Recorder's Update January 2020
  • From the Cryptic Masons International Education Committee
  • Donald S. Thoen, PMIGM Idaho, 1939-2019
  • 2019 Southwest Regional Conference Recap
  • General Grand Master's Update: November 2019
  • G. Thomas Taylor, Candidate for General Grand Principal Conductor of the Work
  • 2019 Northeast Conference Recap
  • Passing of MI Silas Wilson, PMIGM of Arkansas and Ambassador to Arkansas
  • Some Aspects of the Theories in the Development of the Cryptic Degrees
  • Ebenezer: Stone of Help
  • Velox Annos (Fast Year) – GGR September 2019
  • South Central Conference Recap
  • The Mercy Seat
  • The First First Responder's Award Presentation
  • What are your regular hours?
  • Aaron's Rod and It's Message
  • Grand Cryptic Council of DC Centenary: November 8-9, 2019
  • Manna: What is it?
  • The Importance of Improvising
  • Guardians of the Sacred Treasures
  • Consejo Internacional 2019
  • Passing of MI Don Himes, PMIGM of Michigan
  • South Central Regional Conference: September 20-21, 2019
  • The 200th Anniversary of the Grand Council of Connecticut
  • Jurisdiction Jewels: Arizona Ish Sodi
  • General Grand Recorder's Update: August 2019
  • Passing of MI Bill Price, PMIGM of California and Ambassador to California-North
  • Arizona, the 48th State, the Wild West
  • I find our number to be 3 times 9 plus 1: The 25th GP Rendezvous
  • The Significance of the Silver Trumpet
  • Introducing the First Responders Award
  • Cryptic Masons International: Enhancing Our Awards Presentation
  • Summary Assembly 2019: Reaffirmation of Your Masonic Lessons
  • The Revitalization of Rathdrum Lodge #41
  • Discharge Your Duty to the Craft
  • General Grand Master's Update: Happy Cryptic New Year!
  • Portugal's Upcoming 22nd Annual Assembly
  • A Challenge to Become an Individual Giver
  • A Review, A Call, and A Need for the General Grand Council's History
  • General Grand Recorder's Update: July 2019
  • Snyder's Synopsis of three of the Thirteen Degrees in the American York Rite
  • A Message from the Decryption Staff
  • The Beginnings of the Thrice Illustrious Master's Degree
  • Arizona: Order of Ish Sodi and Super Excellent Master Degree
  • Passing of Betty J. VanEtten, Widow of Charles VanEtten GGM 2002-2005
  • Deputy General Grand Master: Travels in April (Austria, GEKT Easter Observance, Maine, GGC-PHA,...
  • Educational Article: The Regular Alarm of the Mysterious Nine
  • General Grand Master: More on types of Masonic Members and recent activities
  • General Grand Chaplain's Message: Our Family, Gifts from God, and Masonry's Place in Life
  • Right Puissant Companion Gerald L. "Jerry" Ogle, PGM, has been called to work on the second temple...
  • Right Puissant Companion Carle L. Jackson has been called to work on the second temple above.
  • Update on the Recorders office - a lot done, A LOT left to do!
  • Ritual demand and some changes that will ensure continued availability.
  • The General Grand Master's announcement regarding the next Triennial.
  • ADVANCE AND BE RECOGNIZED! - Being A Cryptic Freemason in an Ever-Changing World.
  • The key to Freemasonry; that each of us – and the Fraternity – grows by mutual admiration and...
  • Technology Update as We Approach the Mid-term of the Triennium.
  • 2018 Provisional Royal & Select Master Ritual - Printed and Available
  • Strategically Approaching the New Year and Beyond
  • From One Member of a GREAT Team
  • Some very significant Grand Council activities in Maryland over the past six months
  • Progress is being made in regards to Cryptic Masonry in the Hawaiian Archipelago
  • Happy New Year, Companions! It's been quite the start.
  • Looking to the future, our faith being in God, we will surely prevail!
  • 2018 European Cryptic Masonry - A year filled with travel for the Cryptic Rite
  • Daniel's Gloves - 'If you see something that makes you think of me, will you pray for me?'
  • From the Editor - TWO IN TWO DAYS!! THAT’S TOO MUCH… Or is it enough?
  • 70 Companions gather in France to create 25 new Super Excellent Masters in 2018
  • 2018 Provisional Royal & Select Master Ritual - Announcing the availability of the provisional...
  • General Grand Council Service - Monty Glover and continued service.
  • The General Grand Treasurer, duties and great experiences!
  • GG Chaplain - Christmas at the Gas Station - Carry this warm story through the New Year!
  • From the Editor - Projects, processes and fruition - Catching up with communication.
  • Cooperative work within the Ninth Arch recently resulted in an historic moment for our Craft.
  • Here is an outline of the living plan for a path forward for the General Grand Council.
  • Let’s give you an update on some of the opportunities that I have been given to promote the cause...
  • The Board of Trustees met October 12, 2018 with Dr. Michael Murphy
  • Preserving Traditions, Enabling Masonic Unity, and Creating Conduits for Effective Masonic...
  • We as Masons are generally becoming busier because we are picking up the work that we have laid...
  • Does Character reflect your true self and your true relationship with your God?
  • York Rite Masonry is beginning to spread its wings here in the Mid-Atlantic region
  • Grand Orient of Brazil – about Freemasonry today and the perspectives to it in the rest of the...
  • Such an honor being included on one of the most effective and communicative leadership teams!
  • We in the Southwest still have two major events coming up - Colorado River Fall Festival and the...
  • Nuggets from the North Central Region
  • This is one of the smallest but one of the most important and certainly one of the most curious of...
  • Please anticipate much more on ritualistic teachings like this in future issues.
  • The General Grand Council of Cryptic Masons International has made a major commitment to Masonic...
  • There are (at least) two reasons for having this conference every year...
  • The 2018 Colorado River Fall Festival is being held on October 21st, 22nd, and 23rd.
  • Just a few examples of how the Brothers, Companions, Sir Knights, and Families can be involved in...
  • Freemasonry is 300 years of tradition, unimpeded by progress.
  • Strategic Planning consists of a systematic process that the organization agrees on...
  • Out of the mouth of babes, so they say, comes a saying we can all learn from.
  • Please consider this your invitation to join us at the 61st Annual South-Central Regional York...
  • General Grand Recorder Reassigned, Stephen Balke, GGR and Bryan Bechler, RDGGM for Canada - both...
  • Regional York Rite Conferences: Traditions and the Way Forward as True Partners
  • Kentucky is close to wrapping up Cryptic year 2017-2018, but we’re not done yet!
  • You are cordially invited to the South Dakota Grand York Rite Sessions will occur on September...
  • August, Arizona and Ascending the Cliffs Together
  • Introducing the Cryptic Mason Service Medal
  • You are cordially invited to attend our Grand session in Casper Wyoming in September!
  • The Grand York Rite Session of Colorado for 2018 will be in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
  • This month sees the General Grand Officers becoming very busy after a short lull...
  • Results of the survey on GGCCMI Objectives and Improvements.
  • New York State is proud to have one of the founding Grand Councils.
  • First Year Triennium Reflections
  • Ego autem in nobis Nobis
  • I keep finding evidence of great cooperation between the York Rite bodies from Grand Lodge to...
  • Busy of late, visiting Asia, and Hawaii updates.
  • We just finished our Florida Grand York Rite and all went well with Peace & Harmony Prevailing.
  • A Seat of Power or a Place at the Father's Table?
  • Your General Grand Council officers continue to represent you and share information across several...
  • So, what does this phrase in our ritual signify or reference?
  • Learning to allow the Craft to grow will have its own reward.
  • Regalia, Symbols, and keeping our history alive for future generations.
  • Share your Masonic experience and become a part of others' journey!
  • Masons Operative Masonry English Freemasonry
  • The study of the Evolution of the Three Great Lights
  • When you first joined your Craft Lodge
  • With this issue of the Weekly Decryption, I wanted to briefly report to you about the emerging and...
  • The Education Manual Course that was discussed at our 193rd NY Grand Assembly when I was GPCW and...
  • Last week, MP Grindle mentioned that the General Grand Council is investigating the concept of...
  • The East Central Region consists of the states of Michigan, Indiana and the Commonwealth of...
  • In Delaware, we are proud of the fact that we are the first state. We are also the second...
  • Update including the progress on our Weekly Decryption newsletter, traveling officers, and...
  • Something I've seen over the past few months is how the General Grand Council team is working...
  • It has been truthfully proclaimed that to preserve and transmit our principles to those who...
  • Greetings to my Royal and Select Companions throughout worldwide Cryptic Freemasonry!
  • The Ritual Committee this Triennium is making a concerted effort to correct the many mistakes that...
  • The Cryptic Degrees are a set of three degrees controlled by the Council of Cryptic Masons: Royal...
  • Welcome to a New Year with new beginnings. It’s an exciting time with exciting challenges ahead of...
  • Welcome to the new technology applications of the General Grand Council - We Want YOU! Help us...
  • Greetings from the Southwestern States of the US!
  • Life Membership Listings for the Each of the Grand Councils.
  • Happy New Year, Companions, and welcome to the first issue of our on-line and email newsletter.
  • Despite its antiquity, the York Rite still has a lot of untold histories, unclear symbols and...