GRAND MASTER'S MESSAGE|
By Robert J. Bateman
Right Worshipful Grand Master
of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania
Dec. 27, 2013
It is a great honor for me to serve as Grand Master of Freemasonry in Pennsylvania and
my privilege to serve each and every Pennsylvania Freemason and his family for the next two years. I am committed to
assisting our great fraternity in the future, whenever and wherever needed.
First and foremost, I would like to thank my family for all of their support
throughout my journey in Freemasonry. I would also like to thank Bro. William Slater II, R.W. Past Grand Master,
for appointing me District Deputy Grand Master for the 36th Masonic District, and Bro. Stephen Gardner, R.W. Past
Grand Master, for bringing my name forward to be considered as R.W. Junior Grand Warden. I must congratulate Bro.
Jay W. Smith, R.W. Past Grand Master, for his dedication these past two years as he continued to work toward securing
the future of this great fraternity.
It is my belief that every organization and its membership needs to have goals to
succeed and survive. These goals should encompass what the organization stands for and believes in and should be
easy to achieve. Our goals begin with family involvement, interesting meetings, membership retention and growth,
community and youth involvement, education, retention of past programs, the creation of new programs, and yes,
even some changes. We have a plan to achieve these goals, and I hope that all of you will join with your Grand
Lodge officers in bringing them to fruition.
Our initiatives for 2014 Ė 2015 will encompass the following:
Freemasonry has always been a family organization, but we can do more to live up to that reputation.
Hectic work schedules can leave many families little time to spend together. We need to begin inviting
and involving our families in our meetings and presenting programs that all will enjoy. By including
our families in lodge activities, they will have an opportunity to build new friendships, rekindle old
ones and enjoy fellowship together.
Every lodge in our jurisdiction should include families in two family nights after lodge, one in the
spring and one in the fall.
All Masonic achievements should be celebrated with families and guests in a public forum. This should
include, but not be limited to: Masonic Service Emblem Awards; Masonic birthdays; brethren receiving
certificates, citations, and Masonic Achievement Awards; and Officer Installations. Other family
programs should include CHIP, fire prevention and bullying prevention.
Our families are the keystone of our lives, and it's about time we let them know that they are the
keystone of our fraternity, as well.
Let's take a look at our meetings and see what we can do to make them more appealing through various
new ways to build interest in the lodge.
Worshipful Masters are encouraged to use opening and closing charges to run the business of the lodge
at all their stated meetings. This will leave more time for fellowship and an earlier trip home for
those who don't like to travel late at night.
No degrees will be conferred at stated meetings without the District Deputy Grand Master's approval.
A jacket and tie will be worn at all Masonic lodge stated, special and extra meetings, lodge banquets,
funeral services and other Masonic occasions requiring business attire. If a brother shows up at a
lodge meeting and is not properly attired, he is not to be turned away from attending lodge that evening.
He should, however, be reminded in the most tender manner as to what the proper attire is for the next
time he attends a lodge meeting.
Since traveling at night, or even work schedules, may interfere with lodge attendance, I am requesting
a Day Lodge be formed from an existing lodge in every Masonic district throughout Pennsylvania. This
will assist those brethren who wish to attend lodge meetings but who are unable to attend them in the
Membership Retention and Growth
Membership retention and growth over the last few years in Pennsylvania Masonry has ebbed and flowed.
We must remember that while increasing membership is always important, retaining our members is essential.
Through personal contact, the Retention Committee will go back three years in its records and try to
contact all the members who have resigned or been suspended for nonpayment of dues. The committee will
attempt to find out why our brothers have left, and what it would take for them to renew their membership.
We need to take their concerns seriously and change the way we have been doing business. The Worshipful
Master will oversee this committee's progress and make recommendations and changes as needed. The District
Deputy Grand Master will keep in close personal contact with all the Worshipful Masters in his district to
review the committee's progress, make recommendations and changes as he sees necessary and send a monthly
report of his district's progress to the Grand Secretary's Office.
We need to inform our brethren about our programming, community involvement and the countless programs
and opportunities available. We need to let them know that they are still a very important part of our
fraternity and that they are not forgotten, but they are sorely missed.
It is the goal of this administration that every Masonic lodge in Pennsylvania increases membership while
maintaining current membership in both 2014 and 2015. Incentives will be given to both lodges and
individual brethren who help achieve this goal.
All first line signers on a petition will receive a sun shade for the windshield of his vehicle as my
personal gift. This shade displays the state of Pennsylvania, the Square and Compasses, a telephone
number and website for any interested person to get more information. Please use this gift every time
you park your vehicle to help spread the light of Pennsylvania Freemasonry.
We will continue to use selective invitation to bring new members into our beloved fraternity. If every
Pennsylvania Mason would be the first line signer on one petition, we would increase our membership
considerably, and the number of new Masons would be staggering. The rewards of increased membership
could be the difference between healthy lodges versus merging lodges or even lodges going dark.
There will be a One Day Class in both 2014 and 2015. These One Day Classes are to be run at the regional
or district level. All One Day Classes will be governed by the rules that have been used these past few
years. Appendant bodies may have a table set up at the One Day Classes.
For the next two years, we will continue to use the Call to the Craft Program, the Mentor Program,
the Online Masonic Education Program, Random Acts of Kindness/Community Service Initiatives, Change for
the Troops (previously called Help for Our Heroes), the Grand Master's Award Program and the Master
Builders Award Program.
The program at all Stated Meetings in May 2014 and 2015 will be for the purpose of honoring and thanking
all Masons and non-Masons from the community who serve or who have served as first responders: police,
firefighters or EMTs. At the stated meetings in November 2014 and 2015, the program will honor all Masons
and non-Masons from the community who are veterans. These programs will be held after the stated meeting
closes in an open forum for our families, our honorees and their families, and the community. These ladies
and gentlemen put their lives on the line to help protect us in times of danger. Along with our
appreciation and admiration, each first responder and veteran attending these meetings will receive
a lapel pin as a token of our appreciation for his or her service to the community and our country.
These pins are a gift from Grand Lodge. An agenda for each of these events will be sent to every lodge
to be included as part of the program for those stated meetings.
An Eternal Flame will be installed at the Veterans Grove at the Masonic Village at Elizabethtown. This
Eternal Flame is to pay homage to all veterans who served our country and all those who gave their lives
for our freedom. We will be celebrating this event at Autumn Day 2014 (see pp. 16-17 for more information).
Membership in Pennsylvania Freemasonry entitles every member and his family to gain access to the vast
array of high quality services available at our Masonic Villages. These include retirement living and
health care services, whether it be personal care, nursing care, rehabilitation, hospice or specialized
care for those with dementia. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, individuals can continue to receive
these services for the rest of their lives regardless of their ability to pay, should the need arise.
In addition, membership includes the services provided by the Masonic Outreach Program. Individuals and
families throughout the United States seeking information, direction and education can find the assistance
they need through the Outreach Program. Staff can help you understand what services and resources may be
available and refer you to the appropriate community services, such as personal care and skilled care
facilities, government and state programs, caregiver support, supplemental income, transportation, senior
centers, Medical Assistance and many others. While the majority of services are available to the community,
the Outreach Program has designated the following services for Pennsylvania Freemasons and their families
only: a Panel of Attorneys, a Finance Panel and Home Assistance.
As an added benefit, the Masonic Blood and Organ Donor Club of Pennsylvania provides a valuable service to
our fraternity. Each member of this club, his spouse and all children up to 18 years of age can receive
blood without any limitation on the number of units of blood, and there are no geographic limitations.
Masonic Youth Group Involvement
Another way to continue building our future is through our desire to get involved with our youth groups.
Freemasonry needs to use the resources we have. Our lodges are a safe place where Masonic and local youth
groups can come and be mentored. Every Masonic district in this Commonwealth that has a DeMolay Chapter,
Job's Daughters Bethel or Rainbow for Girls Assembly will appoint at least three members of the lodge to
attend their meetings, get involved with their programs and support their dreams.
The Worshipful Master, Senior and Junior Wardens of the lodge, as well as District Deputy Grand Masters,
are encouraged to attend the meetings of our youth groups whenever possible. I encourage districts that do
not have a Masonic youth group to attend the meetings of a youth group in a district close to them. If
your district does not have a Masonic youth group, consider sponsoring one, or better yet, all three.
We need to make it a priority to visit our brethren and/or their ladies who may be home bound or live at
one of our Masonic Villages or at another senior care community. Every Lodge Secretary will publish and
distribute in the February lodge notice a list of these brethren and/or their ladies so members of the
lodge can visit, call or send cards and letters to them. Letís spread the cement of brotherly love and
affection to those who really need it.
Every lodge building will sponsor at least one open house in 2014 and 2015 to increase our visibility
within our local communities.
Through our presence in the community, we can show how Freemasonry builds character and is a driving force
for good. Letís get involved in community activities and encourage our neighbors to get involved in
We should be cooperating with the local food banks, marching in local parades, participating in events
that will help make our communities safer or sponsoring a youth sports team, just to name a few. All of
these efforts will help to modernize our image.
Education is VERY important in Freemasonry. For the next two years, there will be a MANDATORY Wardens
Workshop for all Senior and Junior Wardens, Past Masters and anyone else who is planning to become
Worshipful Master of his lodge. All District Deputy Grand Masters are required to attend and support
the workshop in their region.
If we want to keep our Masonic heritage intact, it should be the goal of every lodge officer to learn our
ritual. There is nothing more beautiful, when conferred properly, than our Masonic ritual. Since we have
had five years to use the ritual manuals for learning the work, it is now time to take the next step in
the requirements to become Worshipful Master or Senior or Junior Warden. Every brother who is planning to
be elected and installed as Worshipful Master of the lodge beginning Dec. 27, 2014, will be required,
before his election and installation, to be certified by a District School of Instruction in the business
of the lodge and two degrees. All brethren who are planning to be elected and installed as a Senior or
Junior Warden of the lodge beginning Dec. 27, 2014, will be required, before their election and
installation, to be certified by a District School of Instruction in the business of the lodge.
Past Masters can be elected and installed as Worshipful Master or Senior or Junior Warden of the lodge
again without the two degree requirement, but must attend the Wardens Workshop.
Freemasonry is ours to share with the world; itís not to be kept behind closed and locked doors. We are obligated
to ensure that the future of our Craft is left in good hands and that our Masonic history be written by Freemasons,
not by historians. Share the experiences and knowledge you have gained during your years in this fraternity with
others who are seeking Masonic enlightenment.
If we want Freemasonry to grow, we should nurture it with brotherly love and affection by using the blueprints and
designs from the past, the tools of the present and our dreams to build the future for our great fraternity.
Brethren, we are the builders of our Masonic future, and it is about time we all get to work.
God bless the United States of America, God bless our great fraternity, and God bless all of you.