Stephen Balke
General Grand Recorder

Balke Council
Stephen A. Balke
General Grand Recorder

Never Doubt that a thoughtful and concerned group of citizens can change the world, you know why?” [answered] “It’s the only thing that ever has.”1

Companions and Friends of the Cryptic Rite,

Masonry has a high percentage of intelligent and hardworking type “A” personalities. The Craft attracts these men because they are the ones most likely to be looking to improve themselves and/or the world around them. These same men are also typically the ones within the fraternity who aspire to and hold the leadership positions. The real trick is to find a group of them who have REALLY adopted the teaching “… to best work and best agree”2 enough to synergistically work as a team.

In 2012, I experienced Masonry outside of my jurisdiction for the first time at a York Rite Conference, where I learned that there was a program that bridged the lessons I had been teaching for years (Stephen Covey and Zig Ziglar) with the activities of Masonry. In 2013, I was asked to help the General Grand Council with technology and automation, to bring better tools to the Craft. In 2014, I attended my first Triennial Assembly. Throughout this time and the Triennium that followed, I was exposed to A LOT of both the positive and negative aspects of so many “A” personalities being in the same place. Many ideas and many obstacles.

Fast forward to 2017 – Most Puissant Companion David Grindle is elected and appoints me Chair of Technology, with the promise that there will be a great deal of work to be done, and the expectation that I would put my best foot forward to bring ideas to fruition. What he didn’t tell me was how he was going to interact with his officers. In November, faced with a great deal of push back from Constituents, the three Trustees not only addressed the complaints with a positive and solution-oriented attitude, but they also included me and anyone who would invest the time in their conversation.

As the Cryptic Year progressed, starting from zero, the leadership implemented habits that supported the efforts that were made by many Companions on their behalf. They continuously solicited assistance from talented Companions, they aligned the duties of the appointees with the communication and information goals, and they encouraged and supported their people as much as possible; even when there were issues both for them personally and with the abilities of people to dedicate time to Cryptic work.

On September 1, 2018, I was honored to become the General Grand Recorder by a vote of the Trustees of the General Grand Council. In all previous offices and honors bestowed upon me in Masonry, I have been asked if I would – In this case, I wanted the job, and to work as a member of this team. Amidst the whirlwind of new responsibilities, working directly for the guy who previously had this job for almost a decade, and no shortage of personal challenges for all of us; I continue to see positive progress in spite of circumstances. No kidding, one person in radiation therapy, one moving 6000 miles while still working, one who lost a close companion and is still working – the reaction: not status quo – they implemented a more focused and regular Trustees meeting to ensure the business of Cryptic Masons International was done.

This is a small and dedicated group of your Companions that want the best for the General Grand Council. Most Puissant Companion David is encouraging the continued work toward our plans and goals, while also continuing to adapt to feedback given and planting the seeds for the coming Triennium. Right Puissant Companion Monty has begun to develop a strategic plan for the next Triennium and is including (fully) everyone who is willing to work for the betterment of the Craft. Right Puissant Companion Bill is working diligently to complete his committee work and inspire the Companions with his research. In addition, several other Companions have stepped up to the plate and you will start seeing the fruits of their labor! I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of an effective team dedicated to accomplishing great things, as the Deputy General Grand Master stated.

I would therefore be honored to stand for election as your General Grand Principal Conductor of the Work at the coming Triennial Assembly, and respectfully ask for your support for the privilege of continuing my service to Cryptic Masons International for the coming Triennium.  

Fraternally and Sincerely,

Stephen A. Balke
General Grand Recorder


1.  “Inauguration: Part 2 – Over There” The West Wing: The Complete Fourth Season. NBC, 2003. DVD.
2.  Publications Committee, Grand Lodge of A. F. & A. M. of New Mexico. Official Monitor and Ceremonies. 2007.

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...