High Tech and Distanced Touch
Stephen A. Balke, General Grand Recorder

Balke Council
Stephen A. Balke
General Grand Recorder

Greetings Companions,

There certainly is A LOT going on right now, and many are in situations where their very lives depend upon the decisions that they are making. The real challenge with times such as these is to make sure that we are concerned with things that are actually an issue rather than an inaccurate interpretation or simply a bad time to allow other agendas to even have a priority.

The General Grand Council & The GGM Edict

One misgiving that has come to the attention of the General Grand Officers is that the Edict from the General Grand Master isn’t binding to our Grand Councils. Of course, it isn’t, it is Most Puissant Companion David taking his responsibility seriously for our constituent Councils. Here is a quick rundown, we know its complicated, but hopefully this will provide some clarity:

  1. The General Grand Council is a body comprised of several groups of Companions:
    1. The Dais Grand Officers from 59 Constituent Grand Councils.
    2. The Most Illustrious Past Grand Masters from each of those 59 Constituent Grand Councils.
    3. The Dais Officers from each of our over 100 active Councils (in countries and jurisdictions which do not have a Grand Council).
    4. Our Past General Grand Elected Officers.
    5. Our General Grand Officers including Regional Deputy General Grand Masters and Ambassadors.
  2. We act as the centralized resource and steward of Cryptic Masonry for our Grand Councils.
  3. We act as a Grand Council for all Councils who form in areas in which there is not a Grand Council.

In other words, his Edict was to those Councils who did not receive direction from their Grand Lodge in places WHERE THERE IS NO GRAND COUNCIL. While it is a good and relevant thing to question when one sees something that may be amiss, it may just be a misunderstanding and getting further information would be a good first step.

Many of our leaders are faced with a reality that has not been seen by anyone in living memory, and they are making the best decisions they can in the face of unmeasurable and completely unexpected circumstances. We elected them. We should assist them by at least giving them the benefit of the doubt while they are taking on the very weighty mantle of leadership during times such as these.

Activities During Social Distancing

The Grand Master of Masons here in New Mexico made some hard choices early – cancel everything until further notice. All of the Masonic family fell in line to support MWGM Ralph Easley and we have canceled all, as have many other jurisdictions. Just a few days ago, he amended his message by encouraging Masonic engagement electronically – nothing tiled, and no business. Other jurisdictions have made similar decisions to facilitate the business of the Craft to varying degrees. There are several examples and ideas for people to use, which we are compiling now and will be giving some examples in the near future.

The most important take-away is: “We are changing our daily habits to adjust to circumstances, that doesn’t mean Masonry stops, it just adapts with us.” Many of our Lodges are meeting informally, DeMolay is still required to meet, though they do not perform tiled work, and many groups of Masons are getting together using several products online to meet in groups.

The General Grand Council started using Zoom one and one-half years ago – the nature of our organization is socially distanced, so this made sense for us. When I brought this to the Grand Bodies of New Mexico, it was adopted a short time later because we alleviated travel for conducting committee and informal meetings to get things done. Now it is apparent that these methods will assist all of us in getting through this time.

Your officers are still meeting. Yesterday, there were several informal meetings with officers and Regional Deputies, and there was a Trustees Meeting. As of now, the Trustees plan to meet weekly during this circumstance, and we have scheduled meetings for the Regional Deputies, each of the Regions’ Grand Recorders, and we are in preparation to have a quarterly meeting of the CMMRF Chairs for each Region.
If you have questions about what is going on, please ask them. We will get them answered.

Technology

Well, we are still working and are short-staffed. We could really use some help and if you have the time and would like to be a part of a progressive and fast-paced team, we would like to hear from you. The specific talents/positions we could use some help with right now include:

  1. Online Marketplace Webmaster – We have several products that are not yet posted, and a slew of items provided by Companions that we would like to be available. Our platform is CENTOS/Apache/MySQL(MariaDB)/PHP, running Joomla! CMS and the VirtueMart Storefront with several plug-ins. This position is 80% self-directed with 20% feedback and approval from the leadership.
  2. Jobs Board – Our Deputy General Grand Master would like a Jobs Board. It will also be on the same systems, but this would be a project with a lot of freedom to create the desired result.

Several projects are currently underway, and while I’ll not iterate them, I will give a huge shout out for some hard-working Companions spending time on our Tech:

  • MPC Dave Grindle, GGM (Yes folks, he’s the one keeping our calendar updated during this time of many changes)
  • RPC John Bridegroom, GG Sentinel
  • RPC Jim Baum, RDGGM SW
  • MIC Ryan Groat, MIPGM MI (Welcome!)
  • MIC Mark Irwin, MIPGM DE
  • RIC Rod Wagoner, GPCW AZ
  • RIC Dennis Newman, GRec NE
  • IC Will Highsmith, PTIM NC, Editor of the Decryption
  • Companion Ron Garrison, IN (Welcome!)
  • Companion Len Roughgarden, NM

If you are technically proficient, or at least computer savvy, we could still use some team help on projects. If you have time, we definitely have projects both team-based and directive-based. We would love to hear from you. Not tech savvy - WRITE!

  • Boast about a project in your jurisdiction.
  • Inform us how you are dealing with what is happening.
  • Break out the esoteric and talk more about the Craft!
  • Provide a puzzle or a game.
  • Get creative!

Be safe, stay healthy, and we will keep updating you as information becomes available.

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