Stephen A. Balke
General Grand Recorder

Stephen A. Balke<br>General Grand Recorder
Stephen A. Balke
General Grand Recorder
Photo by Michele Balke

It was truly an honor to be Appointed (Elected by the Trustees of the General Grand Council) to the position of General Grand Recorder. The honor isn’t wholly in the position, but being included on one of the most effective and communicative leadership teams I have witnessed. Since last year’s Southwest York Rite Conference, I have seen planning, hard work, and results from MPC David Grindle, and RPCs Monty Glover and Bill Snyder – prioritizing based upon facts and interactive communication, transparency in activities, and long term focus without penalty to interim needs. It is my hope and intention to assist them in continuing their accomplishments, and privilege to be invited to become a member of this team.

Some Quick Gratuities

MPC David Grindle and RPC Bryan Bechler have left the office thoroughly workable! The organization and processes have made learning the job and assessing the needs for a path forward not only possible, but feasible. Thank you!

Next week’s Weekly Decryption will have an article regarding the Technology Committee, projects and progress, but a general directive that has been given is to continue the work of my predecessors in streamlining the business of this office. The overview picture is that the priorities are availability and disaster recovery of our data, centralization and process flow of information, and ease of use for our Affiliate Grand and Constituent Recorders. We have some real Rock Stars who have already stepped up to the plate: MIC John Bridegroom, MIC Daniel Hanttula, MIC Dayle Schrock, MIC David Witte, IC Geoff Joosten, IC Rod Wagoner, and Companion Len Roughgarden.  Each of them has taken ownership of an aspect of our technology implementations and are simultaneously working cooperatively because the separate systems aren’t exactly separate. That said, our needs far outweigh our available resources. If you have some technology expertise and would like to assist in some exciting projects for Masonry in general and the General Grand Council in particular, WE WOULD LIKE TO SPEAK WITH YOU!

My experience in the various Masonic organizations has shown me that there is usually someone who takes care of the day to day – more correctly translated, makes sure our operations stay running. If you happen to see Lady Karen Grindle, please say “Thank you!”, she ensures that everyone gets the awards and literature, orchestrates parcel and post logistics, and keeps the office running. Lady Michele Balke also plays an integral role in facilitating my ability to participate in Masonic activities and contributes in many ways herself. Thank you to them both, and to all of our ladies who help make the good works and great times happen!

What’s next?

For the past (first) month, most of the minutia involved with the role transition has been addressed. We have also spent a good deal of time planning and prioritizing activities and projects. The following items have become the main focus of this office:

  • The Veteran’s Medals are scheduled arrive Wednesday of next week. As soon as they are engraved, the over 100 pre-ordered (so far) will be shipped to be presented to our Companions who served.
  • The Ritual Committee has reported and recommended a revision for the Ritual. The General Grand Trustees are meeting on October 11th, 2018 and approval of a final ritual is scheduled. Printing vendor limitations aside, the intention is that these will be ready by the Southwest Conference (November 2-3, 2018) for purchase.
  • Mapping and documenting the processes of the office and the interactions with Affiliate Grand and Constituent Councils. This is both for the office, and we are going to start releasing “how to” or job aid documents and videos for reference.
  • The Triennial Proceedings is well under way. It is planned to be published before the end of the year.
  • An inventory of supplies is being undertaken (Thank you, Lady Karen!) and will be completed by the end of the year, after which an ongoing inventory will be available and trackable for fulfillment of any orders for items we stock.
  • The regular publication of the Weekly Decryption.

It is an exciting time to be a Mason, and a fantastic experience watching the Craft grow – YES, GROW. We are stemming the tide of loss of membership in the United States by implementing some of the practices that have been previously put aside, and watching Masonry – and Cryptic Masonry – explode in several foreign jurisdictions. Join us in facilitating and turning the trends for the betterment of Masonry!

  • A form to share your Ritual, Festive, or Jurisdictional event will be available soon so that we can all know about these important occasions!
  • The Weekly Decryption will be improved by including an article that presents knowledge or experience in Masonry, Leadership, Esoterica, or other Craft materials.
  • Let us know if there is an idea that needs to be a part of our vision and activities.
  • (Shameless 2nd Plug) – If you have practical experience with Technology implementation, we want to know what you are able to and want to do. Lots of exciting projects!

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please do not hesitate to contact me!

Decryption - All Articles

  • 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...