Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Mattoon Lodge No. 260 (IL) Stained Glass

Stained glass windows at Mattoon Lodge No. 260 A.F. & A.M. Illinois
I noted on a recent visit to Mattoon Lodge No. 260 for a Secretary's Workshop, these beautiful round stained glass pieces inset into the wall between a seating area in the entrance foyer and their large dining room.  It was not the first time I noticed them.  They're beautifully lit from behind by track lighting on the other side of the wall.  As you can see they are stunning.  There are actually five of these, but sadly I botched the photo of the Eastern Star window.  I apologize.

Long time member Charlie Coffey (and I believe he's a Past Master there) filled me in on their history.  They were part of the original Mattoon Lodge building.  They were inset into the exterior wall over the entrance doorway of that Lodge and served as the meeting lights.  When they were illuminated it was a meeting night.  I assume each stained glass panel had it's own bulb and switch and were illuminated according to which body was meeting at the old building that particular night. 

When the Lodge left the old building, and took residence in a more modern building, they brought those stained glass panels with them, and installed them in the dining room wall so that future generations of Mattoon Masons could enjoy that legacy.  Great story, and a really nice feature of their Lodge.  I would have loved to have seen them as they looked in the old Lodge building.

~Todd E. Creason

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Masonic Ink: New York

WB Richard Vesperman, Yorktown Lodge, No. 1154, New York
I haven't done one of these for awhile.  I posted a series of these Masonic ink photos some time back that Masons would send me.  You can find all of those by clicking the "Masonic Ink" tag below. 

I'm not sure traditionally how popular Masonic tattoos have been in the past, but they are certainly very popular today.  If you have some ink you'd like to share, send it to me at webmaster@toddcreason.org and I'll put it up.  Be sure and include your name, your Lodge, and a bit about yourself (and who did the art would be nice as well). 

This ink belongs to WB Richard Vesperman from Yorktown Lodge No. 1154 F & AM, Yorktown, New York!

Thanks for sharing, Bro. Rick!

~Todd E. Creason, 33°

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Taking The Show On The Road!

Yup, that's a lot of pins.

This is the Grand Lodge of Illinois AF & AM Eastern Area of Illinois--15 districts and 99 Lodges.  I'm to be the new Eastern Area Education Officer, so this is my domain.  I've usually steered clear of Grand Lodge positions--I've always felt I reach more people and am able to do more good with my books, and through the Midnight Freemasons blog.  In fact, I had an opportunity a couple years ago to join the Grand Lodge line--I backed out at the last minute when I realized that perhaps I'm not the right type for that duty, and that Illinois probably isn't ready for a Grand Master Creason even 15 or 20 years from now.

But then this AEO job came up, and I realized what a unique opportunity it offered.  We've been doing some interesting things at Homer Lodge No. 199 and with Admiration Chapter No. 282 RAM with education--in fact, both the Lodge and the Chapter have education and member development as its central focus, and both are seeing a very positive impact on our membership.  And of course the Midnight Freemasons have been leading the charge in emphasizing the need for better Lodge education--not to mention proving through its tremendous success that there is indeed an interest in topics relating to Freemasonry.  When this job came up, I realized I was uniquely qualified to fill it--I'm knowledgeable in the subject, and the challenges.  I know many of the District Education Officers (which include Midnight Freemason Darin Lahners).  And as a bonus, I know the State Education Officer, also a former Midnight Freemasons contributor WB Scott Dueball.  So here we go on a new adventure.

In Illinois, like in many other places, education and member development is being taken much more seriously than it was even a decade ago.  The biggest challenge is that Freemasonry hasn't done a great job in encouraging Masons to study in more depth the topic of Freemasonry for a couple decades or so--so we find ourselves short on scholars, teachers, presenters, writers, etc.  So that's really where we have to start--building core groups of educators.   There are Masons interested in this area.  I get emails nearly every day.  It's a matter of providing them with the resources, training, guidance, and opportunities to share what they're learning.  And that's going to be my focus.

Sounds simple, right?  Believe me, it's easier said than done.

So going forward, I would imagine I'll be writing a lot about the places I'll be visiting, and the things I'm learning during my travels. I don't plan on visiting all 99 Lodges, but I do plan on visiting at least one in each District during my first year.  It should be an interesting new adventure, and I hope it will provide me with plenty of fodder for future articles and posts.

~Todd E. Creason, 33°

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Back In The Saddle Again . . .

I was not sleeping, I was listening intently . . .
About a year ago, I retired as Secretary of my Lodge after a seven year stint. I thought it was time somebody else take it. I was swamped at the time. I was busy working on a book idea, being the Master of another Lodge, serving as a newly elected member of my local school board, and helping to build a new Chapter of the Royal Arch. It was difficult keeping all those balls in the air and balancing that with a full time job, and with the duties of being a husband, father and grandfather.

And while leaving that chair creating a great deal of time for me, what I’ve discovered is that I haven’t used that time very wisely. I thought I’d have more time to write. I have, but I haven’t spent it writing—last year was my least productive year writing since I began writing about Freemasonry a decade ago. I haven’t spent any more time with my family, because almost everything I did as Secretary I did from home evenings after they’d gone to bed.

I realized something a few months after I left the Secretary chair. I get more out of that Secretary job than the job takes out of me. In fact, many of the things I’ve written about over the years have come from the experiences I’ve had being Secretary of my Lodge—both good and bad. It’s not an easy job. And it’s not a job for everyone. But for me, it fits. I like it because it’s behind the scenes instead of out front. I like it because it because it primarily involves work I can do from home, through email, and on the phone.

During our annual officer elections, our current Secretary expressed a desire to go through the chairs and become Master eventually—he hasn’t had an opportunity to do that yet. And if he remained Secretary, he probably never would have a chance to do that. It was a great relief to me to hear that, because I thought he was enjoying the job as Secretary, and would probably stay in it for some years. So when the Lodge was looking for volunteers for the job of Secretary, well, my hand couldn’t have gone up much faster.

Freemasonry gives each of us an opportunity to serve in our own way. I guess for me, the place where I prefer to serve the Fraternity is behind the scenes. Writing my books and stories at night, and sitting behind the Secretary’s desk doing a job few want, and even fewer excel at. But it certainly suits me just fine I've discovered.

Saturday, I went on a road trip with a few Masons down to a Secretary’s Workshop given by Our Grand Secretary of Illinois in Mattoon, Illinois. I learned about all the things that have changed, all the things that are new, and all the things good Secretaries should do—presented in a three-and-a-half hour session with about forty PowerPoint slides. And after taking it all in, I recall exactly what I was thinking.

What in the world have I done?

~Todd E. Creason, 33°
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