December is a month for reflection.
Whether that reflection be personal, professional, Masonic, or all of the above, December is a month to both reflect on the successes and challenges of the previous 12 months and, more importantly, the reasons to be optimistic about the next 12.
As we (at Square & Compass) prepare for our last Masonic trip of 2022 (to Mexico!), we can’t help but reflect upon 2022 and, more importantly, upon the reasons for optimism about 2023.
Some of these reflections relate to events or activities in which we played a role in organisation or promotion; others relate to events or activities in which we were merely (but honoured to be) a visitor or guest.
While most of these reflections relate to our home district (Essex County District) and home Temple (the Windsor Masonic Temple), we have travelled across North America and visited amazing Masonic Lodges while meeting amazing Masons.
Do you have any reflections from 2022 (Masonic or otherwise)? Are you optimistic about 2023!
A Growing Windsor Masonic Temple Coffee Club & other Informal Activities
Far too many Masons (and non-Masons) view Freemasonry as an activity which starts and ends within the confines of the Lodge room.
What happens within the Lodge room is vitally important to the health and well-being of a Masonic Lodge (and the whole Craft)…but Freemasonry exists in many spaces.
Informal spaces (i.e. coffee clubs) provide excellent opportunities for Masons to connect with the community; meet and get-to-know candidates, applicants, or potential applicants in an informal and relaxed setting; and allow Masons to discuss Lodge events, activities, or challenges.
The Windsor Masonic Temple Coffee Club provides for all of the above (and more). It has, and continues to provide, fellowship amongst Masons, candidates, applicants, and the community.
In April 2022, after a COVID induced hiatus, the Windsor Masonic Temple Coffee Club resumed meeting. Initially, the resumption was slow.
However, thanks to the dedicated efforts of its membership, as of December 2022 the Coffee Club is strong…stronger than before the hiatus.
The Coffee Club has welcomed many community members, some of whom became applicants, who then became candidates, who then became Masons!
The Coffee Club has welcomed “rusty” Masons, interested in resuming their masonic careers.
The Coffee Club has hosted discussions and planning sessions related to Lodge development.
The Coffee Club (in conjunction with a Lodge) has hosted breakfasts and coffee tastings.
The Coffee Club continues to grow!
The Coffee Club is reason one for to be optimistic about 2023!
2023 Resolution: Continue to attend and promote the Windsor Masonic Temple Coffee Club!
Growing Masonic Virtual Presence
During the height (or nadir) of COVID, many Masonic Lodges developed a virtual presence (often for the first time).
As noted above, Freemasonry exists in many spaces. One such space: the virtual space.
While COVID may have “forced” Freemasonry into this space, the benefits of being there are numerous.
A virtual presence allows for easy visitation amongst Masons, even amongst those Masons living across the continents (or oceans).
For example, we have facilitated virtual meetings which included visitors from Tennessee, Scotland, South Africa, New York, Manitoba, Eastern Europe, California, and more.
A virtual presence allows us to maintain contact with Masons who have moved or live far away from their Lodge.
As virtual meetings (at least in Ontario) are not tiled, a virtual presence also provides opportunities for Masons to connect to and with the community; meet and get-to-know candidates, applicants, or potential applicants, and welcome guest speakers.
Lodge hosted virtual meetings and events can support local businesses (such as a holding “Beer and Cheese Night” and a virtual “Whiskey Tasting”), engage guest speakers on a variety of activities (such as guided meditation) or topics (such as a review of digital masonic history, and liberal arts related studies), perform artistic endeavours, and lessen the effects of isolation due to lock-downs or illness.
In 2022, many Lodges within Ontario resumed in-person meetings.
While we were (and are) very excited to resume in-person meetings, a Masonic virtual presence remains a necessity for and to the Craft.
We continue to engage within the virtual space both Masons and the community! A recent virtual meeting took place in November 2022; another is scheduled for January 2023.
The Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario’s (“Grand Lodge”) amazing new technological program is also cause for optimism. We have been lucky enough to become acquainted with this program. It will make the role of Lodge Secretary much easier and improve for every Mason his Masonic experience.
Windsor Lodge №403 also has an excellent website, and the work being done within that Lodge to maintain and grow the website is first-class!
The growth of a Masonic virtual presence is reason two to be optimistic about 2023!
2023 Resolution: Continue to host and grow virtual meetings and events, which will include guest speakers and visitors from around the world!
Preservation of Built Heritage (such as the Windsor Masonic Temple)
Freemasonry is relevant to the communities in which it is located; nowhere is this relevance more apparent than in its built heritage, which adds so much to the architectural and historical character of these communities.
Masonic buildings are more than Masonic homes; they are community homes.
The Windsor Masonic Temple (“Temple”), for example, is home to over 100 years of cherished community memories; memories of weddings, dances, dinners, tours, graduations, concerts, learning, parties, artistry, youth groups, and more.
In 2022, new memories were (and are being) created, including welcoming 186 visitors during “Doors Open Windsor,” book launches, graduations, the return of in-person Masonic meetings, welcoming youth groups, tutoring, and more.
In a September 2021 letter, the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario, stated “Freemasons are committed to doing what is best for society.” Doing what is best for society means preserving Masonic built heritage. As it relates to the Temple,
- Doing what is best for society means ensuring the Temple is as energy efficient and environmentally friendly as possible.
- Doing what is best for society means ensuring the Temple’s unique historical and heritage features are preserved, championed, maintained, and relevant to the community.
- Doing what is best for society means ensuring the Temple is accessible-so everyone across Southwest Ontario can within the Windsor Masonic temple connect with friends, family, and neighbours!
- Doing what is best for society means ensuring the Temple’s historical documentation is digitally preserved, protected, accessible, and relevant, allowing for future masons (and non-masons) to connect with stories of and from the Temple’s (over) 100 year history.
- Doing what is best for society means ensuring the Temple’s useful and relevant life is extended.
Throughout 2022 (and 2021) the Temple has applied for many public and private grants that would allow it to do all of the above; and through this process it has received amazing support. It has also experienced support from the grant providers.
Even more encouraging, other masonic building associations are showing a new enthusiasm towards grants and built heritage.
Enthusiasm towards the preservation of Masonic built heritage, and the Temple’s recent grant application successes, is reason three to be optimistic about 2023!
2023 Resolution: Continue to promote the preservation of Masonic built heritage; continue applying for public and private grants; and encourage renovations and repairs of and to our built heritage!
Border Cities Masonic Lodge.
Before the pandemic, this author submitted to Border Cities Masonic Lodge (which meets at the Windsor Masonic Temple) an application for affiliation. COVID placed this application on hold.
During COVID related lock-downs, many Masons expressed concern over Border Cities future. However, the author never lost hope that Border Cities could (and would) survive and prosper.
Ensuring Border Cities survives and prospers is about more than pride.
Every Lodge is a Masonic asset.
Every Lodge provides an opportunity for Masonic growth.
Every Lodge provides a venue for Masonic activities.
Every Lodge provides an opportunity for Masons to display the utmost in fraternal feeling and affection towards one another and the larger community.
We are proud to say in 2022, Border Cities held two successful meetings, the most recent of which included a district breakfast and coffee tasting.
We are prouder to say that the author is the newest Border Cities member.
We are prouder still to say that Border Cities is examining ways to grow in 2023 or beyond!
We cannot wait to see what 2023 holds for Border Cities!
Border Cities is reason four to be optimistic about 2023!
2023 Resolution: Continue attending and supporting (and promoting) Border Cities Masonic Lodge!
The return of in-person meetings and events came with excitement and fear.
After an over two year in-person meeting hiatus (which included a hiatus on degree work), many questions existed.
After such a long hiatus and with COVID related fears still very relevant, would Masons be interested in returning to in-person meetings and events? Could Masons resume ritual and degree work? Would applicants still have an interest in joining Freemasonry?
(Regarding the last question, this author points out the vital role a virtual presence played in maintaining contact with applicants, ensuring they were not forgotten, during COVID).
It took a lot of work, from a lot of Masons, but these questions are being answered positively. Masons have returned to in-person meetings and events. Masons have resume ritual and degree work. Applicants have maintained an interest in joining or have joined Freemasonry.
This did not happen quickly. There was a time when this author feared for the future of Freemasonry. Those fears are being allayed.
The work is not done (not even close). But, 2022, we have seen Lodges within our Temples, within our districts, within our Province, and within North America…experience success!
One success was Great Western Lodge’s amazing installation. This installation welcomed to the Windsor Masonic Temple over 80 Masons from across Ontario.
Another success: this author’s Lodges have seen attendance surpass what it was pre-COVID.
Another success: the zeal with which many of our newest Masons have dedicated themselves to Freemasonry.
Another success: the growth of Masonic youth groups, particularly the International Order of Rainbow Fort Assembly. This assembly (which meets at the Windsor Masonic Temple) is steadily growing its membership.
We have seen successes in social activities, in the supplying of benevolence to struggling Brethren, in charitable and community support.
Masonic successes are reason five to be optimistic about 2023.
2023 Resolution: Build on 2022’s successes to make 2023 an even more successful year!
Passion for Freemasonry.
Freemasonry is the most important thing within our (my) lives…but it does not represent the entirety of those lives, or the entirety of that for which we feel passionate.
The author is passionate about professional wrestling, particularly Impact Wrestling…and is optimistic about Impact’s March 2023 Windsor return.
The author is passionate (grudgingly) about maintaining his health and fitness…and is optimistic about his health plans in 2023 (through “450fit”).
The author is passionate about travel and regularly posts travel videos. The author is optimistic that these videos will continue to attract viewers. In 2022, for the first time ever, one such video reached over 5,500 viewers.
The author is passionate about the holiday season, celebrating with friends, family, and Brethren!
But Freemasonry is our main passion.
This passion is reflected in the ways we keep Freemasonry in Mind.
Keeping Freemasonry in Mind means having a plan in case of sickness, incapacity, or death. Having such a plan allows for optimistic that, should sickness, incapacity, or even death occur, the Lodge(s) will be contacted, a Masonic service will take place, and all Lodge records, information, and items will be returned.
The author is optimistic that his Masonic travels will continue in 2023 (just as they continued in 2022 and 2021).
The author is optimistic that Square & Compass will continue to grow and that it will continue to explore the many ways in which Freemasonry was and is relevant to the communities in which it is located.
We are passionate about the connections we have made and continue to make within Freemasonry, and the connections between Freemasonry and the larger community.
It is this passion that creates optimism for 2023 (and beyond)!
The first rule of Freemasonry is passion.
There are many reasons for optimism, but we must not be blind to the significant challenges Freemasonry is facing.
Freemasonry must contend with several structural challenges.
As the author writes this from his temporary “offices,” watching planes depart and arrive, and preparing to get on one such plane and visit my Mexican Brethren, these structural challenges remain top of mind.
To face these challenges in 2023, we must be optimistic!
To face these challenges in 2023, we must be passionate!
To every Mason (and everyone) that has in 2022 given the author a reason for optimism.
All opinions expressed are those of Square & Compass Promotions and the guest(s), and do not reflect the opinions of the Windsor Masonic Temple and/or any Masonic group.