147th Annual Communication

The 147th Annual Commuinication of the Grand Lodge of South Dakota will be held the weekend of June 18-19, 2021, from setting up the Grand Lodge Room at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 16, through closing on Saturday, June 19, at noon.

Here is the link to all the information you need about the Annual Communication. Information is continually being posted and updated.

Note: The phone number listed on the Annual Communication Registration form in the Masonic Messenger is incorrect. In order to get the room rate listed on the Registration, please call 605-996-6501.

2020 Grand Lodge Proceedings

The 2020 Grand Lodge Proceedings are availble here, as a .PDF.

2021 Grand Lodge Outstanding Lodge Education Officer

Here is the nomination form for the 2021 Grand Lodge Outstanding Lodge Education Officer:


Charles William Nash
Founding Master celebration
30-31 July 2021 at Philip, SD

C.W. Nash, Founding Master of the first Lodge, Northern Light Lodge in west Rupert’s Land which is now in North Dakota. Later as Grand Master of MN he chartered Lodges in Dakota Territory.


Schedule of Events:

30 July: Welcome Steak Fry & fellowship at 73 Saloon
31 July: 8:00 Breakfast & Program
- 10:30 Masonic Rites and Interpretive Panel dedication in Philip Cemetery


For Lodging Reservations:

Motel West, 421N. Auto Ave, Philip, SD 57567, 605-859-2546
Americas Best, 401 SD-73, Kadoka, SD 57743, 605-837-2188
Lakota Lodge, 106 SD-73, Kadoka, SD 57743, 605-837-2151
Americas Best, 201 S. Blvd, Wall, SD 57790, 877-200-1272
Best Western, 712 Glenn St, Wall, SD 57790, 605-279-2145





Come Celebrate Our Masonic History


M.W.B. Charles W. Nash Masonic History

On Saturday, July 31, 2021, M.W. Jeffery VanCuren, Grand Master of Masons in South Dakota, will be presiding over the Final Masonic Burial Rites, for MW Bro. C.W. Nash, our Founding Master, at the Masonic Cemetery in Philip, South Dakota.
M.W. Bro. Nash was Captain of Hatch's Battalion, Minnesota Cavalry, which was sent to Ft. Pembina in the fall of 1863, during the Sioux Uprising. Their military duties were to insure the safety of the local residents, and to assist in guarding the border between Dakota Territory and Rupert’s Land, British Territory.
Within this military unit there were a number of Masons, who wished to continue their Fraternal Fellowship while stationed at Ft. Pembina and reached out to the Grand Lodge of Minnesota for ability to do so.
M.W. Bro. Nash was appointed the founding Master of Northern Light Lodge U.D., at Ft. Pembina, Dakota Territory, when it was given a Dispensation to operate as such, on September 18, 1863. He personally carried this Dispensation with him from St. Paul as the soldiers made their way north.
While pondering a proper name for his Lodge one winter evening, Nash witnessed a beautiful display of color and light high above him and was compelled to call his lodge, Northern Light. This name still continues today under the Affiliation of the Grand Lodge of Manitoba A.F. & A.M.
A number of prominent individuals and soldiers from the Red River Settlement (present day Winnipeg) wished to join the Masons, and knowing of the Lodge operating at Ft. Pembina, traveled south to receive their Degrees.
When the soldiers from Minnesota were no longer needed along the border they returned home to Minnesota during the month of June, 1864. All the meeting records, membership list and the original Dispensation were returned and given to the Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota.
In the meantime, the northern Brothers had petitioned M.W. Bro., A.T.C. Pierson, Grand Master of Minnesota to reinstate the Dispensation of Northern Light Lodge U.D., Red River Settlement, Rupert’s Land, which he signed on May 20, 1864. He also appointed Bro. John Shultz to act a Master. W. Bro. Shultz would later become the fifth Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba, serving from 1888 to 1895.
This original Northern Light Lodge U.D. became a cornerstone Lodge of three who originally formed the Grand Lodge of Manitoba, and it operates today as Northern Light Prince Rupert’’s Lodge No.1, Winnipeg, Manitoba.
In its formative years the Grand Lodge of Manitoba held Fraternal authority of all lands to the west within Rupert’s Land, including present day Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and the Northwest Territories.
M.W. Brother Nash, returned to the Minneapolis, St. Paul area and was an active member of the community as well as the Masonic Lodge. He held a Degree in Law and co-owned the Pioneer Printing Company in 1866, which later became the Minneapolis Tribune. Prior to arriving in Minnesota, he had also held the office of Mayor at Ft. Dodge, Iowa.
On April 21, 1868, a fire destroyed the building which housed the Grand Lodge of Minnesota, and thus all the records from the past were consumed in the flames, but our unique history with Northern Light Lodge continued.
W. Bro. Nash was nominated and elected, from the floor of the Minnesota Grand Lodge to the position of Grand Master without ever holding another office! And, on January 10, 1872, as Grand Master of Masons in Minnesota, he signed the Charter for Yellowstone Lodge No. 88, Ft. Buford, Dakota Territory, which became the first Chartered Lodge in what is now the State of North Dakota.
Thus, he became a Grand Master of Masonry which eventually held leadership over several million square miles, and a Father of Masonry for many historically recognized Lodges in the US and Canada, including the noted Northwest Mounted Police Lodge No.11, at Regina, Saskatchewan.
The schedule of events honoring our historic Mason at Philip, South Dakota, will begin on Friday evening, 30 July 2021, with a Steak Fry Meet and Greet social, hosted by the Masonic Lodge Brothers in Philip and the Grand Lodge of South Dakota. A Breakfast Program will be held the following morning, and the Masonic Burial Ceremony to follow.
A special commemorative marker and interpretive panel will be placed and dedicated at the grave site after the Masonic Last Rite Ceremonies, with representatives from the Grand Lodge Jurisdictions from which MWB Nash had affiliation.
Contact numbers for Motel rooms, etc, can be found on the Grand Lodge of South Dakota web site. Most of the rooms in Philip at Motel West are already taken, but those in Wall and Kadoka are still open. Kadoka is about 20 miles to the South of Philip and Wall is 32 miles West of Philip, and the roads are in good condition, so spending the overnight there should not create too much of a problem for those who have to travel back and forth.
The public is invited to attend the services and dedication at the cemetery, and all Members and Ladies from any Jurisdiction are welcome to attend both the steak fry and breakfast and program on Saturday morning.
The committee is asking that if you plan to attend the steak fry, or the morning breakfast, to please sign up through Eventbrite at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/c-w-nash-celebration-tickets-156240157517. They will need this information in order to have enough provisions on hand for everyone when they arrive. Your assistance in this matter is greatly appreciated.
For any specific questions on the celebration you may contact either of the contacts listed below.

Lincoln Smith, District Master, District #15
20824 226th Street
Quinn, SD 57775
Mobile: (605) 441-2500

Doug Thorson, Past Master, Philip Lodge No. 153
22750 Cottonwood Rd
Quinn, SD 57775-3200
Mobile: (605) 515-1590


From the Grand Master

March 22, 2021

To: All members of constituent Masonic Lodges in South Dakota

I hereby recognize South Dakota Widows Sons Masonic Motorcycle Riders, Incorporated as a Concordant body of Masonry in South Dakota.
South Dakota Widows Sons Masonic Motorcycle Riders, Inc., with the help of several members and Attorney Jeff Larson, created a non-profit corporation which is now registered with the State of South Dakota. They have updated their By-Laws to reflect the corporation and their group. Masonic membership is required and high decorum as such is expected.
I realize that in the past the Widows Sons have received some bad press in other Jurisdictions (and sometimes rightfully so), and I understand why some may have reservations about recognizing the Widows Sons as a Concordant body. In South Dakota, our Articles of Incorporation read: “The Corporation shall not be subject to or under the jurisdiction of any superior body so far as its acts are concerned....” We are a sovereign Jurisdiction. The South Dakota Widows Sons are not under the jurisdiction of any superior body outside of this State. They are controlling their own destiny with a Board of Directors and Officers that champion the idea that they are Masons first and foremost and will run the Corporation as such. This group has been quite active in the State to further benefit our Masonic Fraternity and shine a positive light on Masons and Masonry in South Dakota. They have published articles in the Masonic Messenger on a regular basis to give our Brethren an opportunity to see what they are accomplishing, and I applaud what they are doing. I have been in regular contact with several members and leaders of this group and have been assured that high standards and expectations have been set.
South Dakota Widows Sons have developed a method to reprimand members through suspension or expulsion if any commit a Masonic offense.
South Dakota Widows Sons have obtained their own liability insurance.
South Dakota Widows Sons will use the same 501c10 as utilized prior to this recognition.
I look forward to working with these dedicated Masons and helping them continue to bring Masons with a love of motorcycles and a desire to promote our noble Fraternity, another option to gain further light in Masonry.
Continue to search out Light, be the Light and shine your Light my Brothers,
Jason D. Swindler  
Grand Master of Masons in South Dakota  


Edict from the Grand Master

New Stated Meeting Guidance (reproduced below)

(referred to in the letter below)

To All Masonic Lodges and all Freemasons under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of South Dakota

It has come to my attention that not all Lodges have received, reviewed or utilized my second COVID-19 (October 2020) edict sent out near the end of October or early November regarding meeting during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, [here is a link to the] second COVID-19 (October 2020) edict for your review and consideration.
I understand there have been reservations, of some Lodges, to resume meeting in person.
I am also aware of a number of Lodges that have been meeting regularly since I issued my second edict. I believe we are at a point that all regular Lodges should be making a plan to start meeting again in person. It is my direction that all Lodges that have not been meeting, make a plan to at least have one Lodge meeting before the Annual Communication in June. If any Master, Warden or Secretary has any questions or concerns, please contact me directly at 605-999-8354 or by email at gm@mygrandlodge.org. If we do not get active again very soon, I fear it will be nearly impossible to get Masons, and Lodges that have been dark for so long, back to business as usual.
I believe that Lodges that have been following my recommendations, and the CDC guidelines, have had success conducting in-person meetings. Masters, Wardens and Secretaries, please review the attached edict and come up with a plan to meet in May or June (or both) before the Annual Communication. If you have any concerns about not having enough Brothers present to open, reach out to me, your Regional Officer or District Master and we will work with you to come up with a solution.
We cannot let this pandemic become a nail in the coffin of Masonry in South Dakota. It is our duty to protect what our forefathers have built for us. It is imperative that we work together to ensure Masonry will be present in South Dakota for many years to come. Your elected officers and Grand Lodge office are dedicated to working with you and your Lodge to help wherever, or whenever, we can. It is time to let past issues and distrust be water under the bridge. Now is the time to embrace each of us as Brothers, tied deeply to our Craft, whether we agree or not on simple or complex issues. We are at a crossroad and it is time to decide. Do we come together as Masons in South Dakota and continue doing what we love to do as a Fraternity? Or do we continue to be passive and content with Lodges closing and Brothers walking away from the Craft? The coming months and years will be challenging for certain. Are we willing to step out of our comfort-zone and do whatever it takes, within the length of our cable-tow, to make Masonry in South Dakota what it deserves to be? And if not now, when? I ask for your careful consideration my Brothers, the outcome rests on ALL our shoulders.
Jason D. Swindler  
Grand Master of Masons in South Dakota  


Tidings from the Grand Treasurer-Secretary [posted April 2021]

Things are starting to get going again across our State. Again, your Grand Lodge office is ready to help if any Lodges need help getting started again. We still need all Lodges to update Member Contact Information. This is so critical to help all of us stay in touch with our brothers across the state. Please also consider calling all members on your membership lists to see how they are doing and invite them back as your lodges resume activities and meetings. Need help entering your Membership information into Groupable (MORI)? We can also help with that. If we all work together, we can get this important task done. The office will be back to full staff starting in May with the return of Sharron from her winter break.
Look to this Web site, for more and more content. We are going to work to continue to improve it and make it more of a resource for our members. The Annual Communication information will all be available on it in early May. If you have ideas and things you want added to our site, please let us know and we will see what can be done.
Hope you all can join us in June for our 147th Annual Communication.

James J Burma Jr., Grand Treasurer-Secretary  


Brethren all,
I would like to announce my appointees for the vacancies on the Jurisprudence Committee.
Allen Eide will replace Scot Mannschreck and Dennis Nelsen will replace Donald Gray. They will hold these positions until the Annual Communication / Election in June. I would like to thank the members of the Jurisprudence Committee for helping me make these decisions.
Jason D. Swindler
Grand Master of Masons in South Dakota


Spearfish Masonic Loidge Hosts Historic Meeting

A historic even in the Dakota Masonic world occurred Saturday at the Masonic Lodge in Spearfish, as most of the elected North Dakota Grand Lodge line met with most of the elected South Dakota Grand Lodge line, the first meeting of the two bodies since they split when Dakota Territory split.
“We share a joint history. We were together as the Grand Lodge of Dakota before statehood, so it’s something we’ve been working on for the lastw several years to reexamine our roots and do things together, like they used to do when we were the Grand Lodge of Dakota,” said Mason Mike Rodman. (Courtesty of Black Hills Pioneer)


PGM Gerald Johnson Honored

PGM Gerald Johnson was presented the honorary title Jurisprudence Emeritus for his 20 years of dedication to the Jurisprudence Committee. This was presented at the Lily Lodge #62 at Blunt, at their regular communication on Monday, March 1, 2021. PGM Gerald Johnson has contributed to Masonry in South Dakota in many years and many different ways. Thank you for service to South Dakota Grand Lodge.


In Memoriam

Jack Hantz, 131st Grand Master of Masons of South Dakota for the 2012 Masonic Year, age 81, of Belle Fourche, died Tuesday, March 9, 2021, at the Rolling Hills Healthcare Center in Belle Fourche.

WB Jack was initiated as an Entered Apprentice on May 4, 1972 at Faith Lodge #168, in Faith, South Dakota, passed to the Fellowcraft on September 2, and rasied to Master Mason on February 15, 1973. He later affiliated with Lemmon Lodge #151, in Lemmon, and Custer City Lodge #66, in Custer. In 1976 he served as Junior Warden of Lemmon Lodge, moving up to Senior Warden in 1977, and Master in 1978. In 2006-7 he served the Grand Lodge as Grand Sword Bearer. In 2009-10, he began his rise through the chairs: Junior Grand Warden, Senior Grand Warden in 2010-11, Deputy Grand Warden in 2011-12, and Grand Master in 2912-13.
   The funeral service will be 10:00 AM, Monday, March 15, 2021, at Leverington Funeral Home of the Northern Hills in Belle Fourche. Visitation will take place one hour prior to the service. Interment will be held in Pine Slope Cemetery.
   The service will be live-streamed from Jack’s obituary page on at www.LeveringtonFH.com.
   Jack is survived by his daughters, Laurie (Morgan) Berg of Lemmon, Jerrianne Wallace of Crystal City MO; son, Jim (Ester) Hantz of Montana; sister, Sandra (David) Walker of Rapid City; 7 grandchildren, Tyler, David, John, Amanda, Rachel, Allison, and Warren; nine great grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents; wife, Elaine; grandson, Jacob, and brother, Jerry.


Tidings from the Grand Treasurer-Secretary [posted February 2021]

2020 was an interesting year to say the least. Hopefully, 2021 will be a more active year for Masonry in South Dakota. The office team is doing our best to get the work done and continue to be safe. For the most part, we are working half days in the office and half from home, but always ready to help. Please continue to reach out to your Grand Lodge office, we are here to help you. Having issues with Mori / Groupable M2, call the office. We will work to get the answers or just do it for you if we can. We all need to work together and the office is ready to help. Need a face mask to help you remain safe? Don’t forget about the Grand Master Mask fundraiser for the South Dakota Masonic Charities.
Sometime soon we hope to send out Personal Information Request to all Master Masons in South Dakota. We need to insure we have accurate mailing addresses information, phone numbers, and emails for all our members. In this Digital Age, it becomes more and more important for us to have every email possible to contact Brothers and provide Information regarding Masonic Activities across our state. IF you don’t have one please consider getting one if possible. The Grand Lodge of South Dakota will never share your contact information with outside groups. When you receive yours in the mail check the current information add or correct it and then return asap in the return envelope.
Plan to send your nominations for the 2021 - 2022 elections to the Grand Lodge office. They need to be in by March 20th to be included in the April Messenger.

James J Burma Jr., Grand Treasurer-Secretary  



The Grand Lodge of South Dakota will discontinue the 800 number before the end of February.
This is an unnecessary expense these days and will save money. Please call the Office number for any questions: (605) 332-2051


Save the Dates:

March 20, 2021 - Nominations and Proposed Legislation due 90 days prior to Annual Communication

April 23, 2021 - Deadline for submitting articles for Masonic Messenger

May 10, 2021 - Nominations and Legislation published in Masonic Messenger no less than 35 day prior to Annual Communication

June 17, 18, and 19 - Annual Communication


College Scholarship Program

Brother — This is your chance to make a difference. If you know of someone in your family or community who is planning on furthering their education in the fall, please let them know about the scholarships provided by the South Dakota Masons. The deadline for receipt of the Scholarship Applications is April 15, 2021 so please talk about it NOW.
The Grand Lodge A. F. &. A. M. of South Dakota will award several scholarships of $2,000 each year to South Dakota residents who plan to attend a public or private college, university or technical school. Preference will be given to students attending a school in South Dakota. Successful candidates will demonstrate financial need, scholastic capability, and have a family connection, either by blood or marriage, to a member of the Masonic fraternity, either living or deceased. Scholarships will be granted for one year, but may be applied for each year for a maximum of five years.
Complete Scholarship Application Forms can be downloaded from this link on our Web site.
The complete application must be received by April 15, 2021, including:
1. Two Scholarship Reference Forms filled out by two teachers who know the student well and are familiar with the student’s academic qualifications.
2. An official transcript of all high school (and post-graduate, if applicable) course-work.
3. Academic Certification Record sent by guidance counselor or other school official.
4. Scholarship Application must be sent to: Grand Lodge Scholarship Committee, Grand Lodge A. F. & A. M. of South Dakota, 520 S. First Avenue, Sioux Falls, SD 57104-6902.


From the East [posted February 2021]

As I write this article, it amazes me how fast time goes serving in this position. It has been an honor that I will never take for granted. This year has had some unique challenges for all of us in one way or another. We have learned that we must constantly be willing find a way to get things done and show that our Members are leaders in their Communities. It is my hope that we can get back to a more regular schedule in the near future. We will need to be ready to roll up our sleeves and get to work! The challenges of this pandemic won’t magically go away immediately. It will take time to get caught up on all the things we have been unable to do in the last year. I can say with confidence your Grand Lodge officers and Office staff are going to be there to help wherever it is needed. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions, concerns or needs you may have.
We are currently working on final plans for the 147th Annual Communication that will be held at the Ramada Inn & Conference Center in Mitchell on June 17th, 18th and 19th. I hope that all of you will consider attending since Mitchell is fairly centrally located for all of us. Please remember this is an event for all Masons in South Dakota, not just officers of the Lodge. This is an opportunity to get together for Masonic Fellowship and possibly make some connections with Brothers from across the State. Of course, it is not all play, we will have some work to do! Our group will basically have the whole hotel to ourselves and they have been great to work with. We have done our best to keep costs down in hopes of making the event more affordable for those wishing to attend. Please make plans now to help make our event a success.
I wanted to also let you know that MWB Donald Gray and WB Scot Mannschreck have given written notices of resignation from the Jurisprudence Committee. We are currently working to fill those positions until the Annual Communication. Therefore, there will be two positions up for election; one for a 1-year term (filling Scot’s term) and one for a 5-year term (Don’s term would have ended this year). Nominations for all elected positions must be in by March 20, 2021.
Thank you all for your dedication to our noble Fraternity! Please remember what we are taught in our degree work on how we should act as Masons (especially the Entered Apprentice Degree). Regardless of what is happening around us we must not let our passions cloud over what we have been taught. Please be kind and respectful to your Brothers, even if have you differences of opinion. Also, when you are advertising you are a Mason (shirt, car, Facebook etc.) please show everyone what that truly means! Show yourself and the Fraternity in a positive light. Show people how Masons act.
Jason D. Swindler, Grand Master of Masons  


From the Deputy Grand Master [posted February 2021]

What came ye here to do?
This is one of the first questions we are asked when we are learning our proficiency for our Entered Apprentice degree. The answer is very essential in today’s society. There are two parts to the answer.
The first, pertains to our current situation in the age of social media and the Internet. I am disheartened to see that many Masons, not just in this jurisdiction, but across the entire United States been caught up in the phenomenon of allowing their passions to get away from them as they hide behind a keyboard and screen of their computer and make personal attacks (more especially against a Brother Mason). I implore you that if you have any regard for the fraternity, and if you choose to engage in this type of unsocial and uncivil discourse, that you would take any reference to being a Mason off of your biographical information.
I do not disagree with those that post facts or opinions to the current situation but, when you go beyond the issue/idea and attack the other person personally (to include the character of an elected official), then you are crossing the line: ideas are free game but, the individual person is someone to be respected and courtesy should be extended at all times.
The second part of the answer to the question is how masonry makes a good man better. Masonry in itself cannot change the heart of man but, gives him the working tools to be able to change himself. As King Solomon erected the Temple, we use the working tools on ourselves to build ourselves as a temple to God.
In our 1st Degree, we obtain a working tool that shows us how to apportion our time and prioritize our actions. Although the metaphor of a day is used, we can also think of that metaphor as the entire timeline of our life. We must act in balance. There are times in our lives where other things take precedence and the balance shifts towards that precedence but, over the aggregate of our entire life we should strive to reach balance. Remember, the three areas of our life that we should focus our time is 1) The service to God and the relief of distressed worthy Brother, 2) our usual advocation and 3) rest and refreshment.
The second working tool that we receive is a remembrance that we ourselves are not perfect. We constantly must work at smoothing the rough parts of our character in order to make ourselves useful for Gods work.
So, my brother, if you are going to engage in personal attacks on the Internet and not use our working tools to look inward at yourself to make yourself a better person, my question to you is:
What came ye here to do?

Jeff VanCuren  
Deputy Grand Master / Grand Master Elect  


From the West [posted February 2021]

Are you open?
If not, do you have a plan to reopen? Are you waiting for a vaccine before getting back to work? Covid-19 has hit this country hard and has caused shut downs all over the country. Your leadership has left the option up to you whether or not get back to work. There are Lodges that are dark, and Lodges that have chosen to open back up with certain restrictions in place. Degree work has been resumed in some Lodges, with restrictions on masks and hand sanitizer for everyone.
Zoom meetings are an option, if you would like to schedule one with your Lodge and do not have access to Zoom, reach out to your Grand Lodge Officer Line for help and we could get one going for you. It’s very important, as humans, to have interaction with other humans. And we as Masons should be interacting with our Brothers as much as we can and checking in on them as often as possible. A simple phone call, letter, or a Zoom meeting are great ways for us to stay in touch and show that the length of our individual cable tows can extend further than we think!
Membership is, and does struggle during these troubling times. Getting back to work as soon as possible, or what you are comfortable doing, is what masonry needs most.

Dan Nace, Senior Grand Warden  


From the South [posted February 2021]

Happy New Year Brother! We are well into the new year now and even though every day in 2020 felt like the movie we are halfway through our year. I like to view it though as the year half full. I really believe the best is yet to come!
During our quarterly business meetings, along with the mid-year meeting, we have discussed a lot of great ideas on devoting more attention to education and ritual work. It appears the pause in some of that work has fanned the flame and energized members to make that work even better.
Some lodges are also looking to cautiously and carefully resume meeting in person as they are comfortable, and the brothers are excited about getting together again while of course observing all precautions and guidelines. This enthusiasm is encouraging to see.
I have heard of several new candidates recently that have petitioned various lodges and they have been really excited to become a part of our fraternity. I am always curious on how they came to find their path to Freemasonry. With the increased traffic electronically, as we endured the unchartered waters of 2020, our online presence has been a go-to place for those seeking light. Several lodges have their own Facebook pages, websites, social media, and of course every lodge’s Our Lodge Page (OLP). The website www.beafreesmason.org has also been a popular stop for those seeking more information and ways to join. All these tools have been a valuable way to connect to those candidates. These tools have also been valuable for a way to stay connected to our brothers across the state and their lodges. The more we utilize these resources the more we get out of them. Please encourage the use of these tools with other members. We are always looking for more content on any of these platforms. If you have a member of your lodge who has stories to share or a passion to spread positive messages please consider adding them as a Lodge Webmaster to help delivery content to your lodge’s Facebook and OLP pages along with sending content to the Grand Lodge website. The more we share the more engaged our members are with the craft!

Aaron F. Zahn, Junior Grand Warden  

Delta Dental Van Brings Smiles [posted February 2020]

- Gray Hughes
The Delta Dental Mobile Program visited the Hill City School District last week.
An annual tradition, the program is sponsored by Tin City Lodge #112 and is done at no cost to the kids.
“It’s...an access issue for a lot of towns we visit,” said Dr. Greg Hanson, the dentist providing services to kids. “We try to help kids that don’t have access to a dentist. It’s kind of a way to keep them healthy, keep them in school, and keep them happy.”
According to Delta Dental, 53 percent of students who are seen have tooth decay. It provides an average of $742 worth of free dental work per kid.
Each truck travels with a dentist, a hygienist, two dental assistants, and a coordinator. It costs $26,000 per week to operate each truck, according to Delta Dental, and local sponsors — such as Tin City Lodge — typically contribute around $2,500 per week.
Last year, in Hill City the mobile unit served 42 kids and provided $31,355 worth of free dental care. The mobile unit provided 119 x-rays at a cost of $4,922, three-hundred six cleanings at a cost of $14,229, seventy-six restorative procedures such as filings, crowns, and extractions, at a cost of $12,204, and placed 190 sealants, according to the lodge.
This year, the van saw 41 kids. Hanson said he’s done “a little bit of everything” for the kids who visited the van.

Ronn Rossknecht, Tin City Lodge; Darleen Bothwell, hygienist; Patti Fuchs, hygienist assistant; Dr. Greg Hanson, dentist; Teresa Masteller, truck coordinator; Joryn Gehm, assistant [Photo: Gray Hughes]

One of the most common procedures was installing stainless steel crowns in childredn as young as 6 or 7. Hanson said the kids will keep the caps for five or six years until they get their permanent teeth.
Hanson is trying to prevent pain and to help kids keep their teeth so they have their permanent teeth without orthodontics. “We’re trying to help maintain their overall health,” he said.
A retired dentist from Rapid City, Hanson has done the mobile program in Hill City twice prior to this.
Ron Rossknecht, a Brother from Tin City Lodge #112, said to help bring the mobile program to Hill City, the Lodge gets sponsors, including First Interstate Bank and Golden West.
“I’ve seen a lot of kids more than one time, so I’ve been able to follow up on some of the things that I’ve done, and I think that’s really the rewarding part for me “ making sure they’re being taken care of, and, hopefully, they’re having a healthy, happy life,” he said.
“Some of these kids,” he said, “have teeth problems, and when a kid has a tooth problem they really can’t focus on their academics or studies, and sometimes their folks just can’t afford it.”


From: MWB Jason D. Swindler, Grand Master of Masons In South Dakota
To: All Masonic Lodges and all Freemasons under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of South Dakota

Brothers all,
I think we can agree that promoting Masonry, both inside the Craft and out, in South Dakota is an important part of seeing to it that this Fraternity is here long after you and I are gone. I believe one way to do this is recognize Brothers that have met specific criteria such as age and years of service to the Craft in South Dakota. These Masons are our libraries of knowledge and our link to the forefathers of our noble Fraternity. It is my belief that our Brothers that meet the criteria should be recognized and honored for their dedication to Masonry in South Dakota.
It is my hope that along with giving these Brother Master Masons some rightly deserved accolades we will help promote what Masonry is all about in our state. These Brothers and their families should never have to be worried about being in good standing with the Grand Lodge of South Dakota. Achievements such as mentioned above deserve attention from both the Grand Lodge and the entire Jurisdiction.
You will also recall that when you were Initiated an Entered Apprentice, you were asked to contribute something of a metallic nature, so as to teach you that should you ever meet a friend, but more especially a Brother Master Mason in like circumstance, you should contribute to his relief as liberally as you could without material injury to yourself.
After due consultation with the other elected officers and committees of our Grand Lodge, I have decided to make the following Proclamation:
I HEREBY PROCLAIM that Lodges will not collect per capita from a Brother Master Mason who has reached 95 years of age and who has served his Lodge for a minimum of 25 years as a member in good standing, nor shall the Lodges be required to pay Grand Lodge per Capita for those Brothers on the Annual Report that is due by February 15, 2021.
While I do not believe that I have the authority to waive his dues all together, I would humbly ask that each Lodge consider following suit and not charge these Brothers dues of any kind.
Continue to search out Light, be the Light and shine your Light my Brothers.
Jason D. Swindlerm Grand Master of Masons in South Dakota  
Grand Lodge A.F. & A.M. of South Dakota  
520 S. First Avenue Sioux Falls, South Dakota 57104-6902  


Christmas at the Capitol [posted December 2020]

On November 22nd, the Grand Lodge of South Dakota had the opportunity to decorate a Christmas tree at the State Capitol. Dee and I, along with Deputy Grand Master Jeff VanCuren, his wife Pam and Uncle Matt Schatz spent a couple of hours putting our creative touches on a beautiful 9-foot Christmas tree. I can say it was a great day and I think we did a good job getting the tree put together. It was an honor to have the opportunity to represent Masonry in South Dakota this year at the Capitol. I would like to extend a special thank you to R.W. Jeff, Pam and Uncle Matt for helping get this project completed. I hope everyone that is able will think about making a trip to Pierre to see all the beautiful trees.

I hope you all have a safe and happy Holiday season!
Jason D. Swindler, Grand Master of Masons in South Dakota


From the East [posted November 2020]

The challenges of 2020 unfortunately continue to hinder much forward progress in getting goals accomplished. While progress might not be seen on the outside, I assure you that your Grand Lodge officers are working hard to accomplish goals and projects set out at the beginning of my year. I realize that having regular Lodge meetings may not be possible but remember we have a Grand Lodge Zoom account that we are more than happy to have anyone that needs to utilize it do so. Please reach out to the Grand Lodge office or to your Regional Officer if you would like us to help you facilitate a meeting with your Lodge members.
We cannot just do nothing. Our membership depends on us being Leaders so start doing something! This would be a great time to divide your Lodge’s roster among the officers and start making some phone calls. First, a personal phone call might go a long way in assuring Brothers that their Lodge cares! Second, we have an opportunity to verify accurate contact information so we can update MORI and get important emails sent to our membership. I cannot stress how important this is for us to move forward with as much input from the Masons of this State as we can get. We will only be sending out emails that we feel contain information that needs to be disseminated to the Craft. Also, contact information stays within Grand Lodge it is not used for any other purpose than Grand Lodge business. If you need help updating MORI after getting information, please reach out to the Grand Lodge office. They are able to enter the information for you.
My I would like to address some questions that have been brought up over the last few months. We were asked if Lodge minutes can be emailed. The answer is “Yes”! I would hope that all of the Lodges have the Secretary email minutes after a regular meeting so everyone has a chance to review them before the next stated meeting. The Lodge can then have a few printed copies available for Brothers that may not have email accounts. The Master can ask if anyone has any additions or corrections to the minutes that were emailed and, after any corrections, vote to approve the minutes as emailed without having to spend all that time reading the minutes. The time saved would hopefully be used to have some Masonic education during the Lodge meeting. I cannot stress how important Masonic education is during a meeting. Have some Masonic discussions in Lodge! It is our opportunity to help bring Light to all the Brothers attending the meeting.
Another question was about opening a Zoom meeting after opening and before closing. I see no issues with the business part of the meeting and Masonic education being open on a Zoom platform. The host of the meeting will be able to let known Brothers into the meeting so they may participate. We need to be thinking of ways to get Brothers reengaged with Lodge activities even if they cannot physically attend a stated meeting. It is time for us to think outside the box until we can all safely meet inside the Lodge room.
Brethren I know tremendous challenges face us this year. Remember your obligation to meet, act and part as Masons. I will stress “ACT.” This is an opportunity to show our friends, family and Community how Masons ACT! Be visible and show your true Masonic colors. If there is a need, work with your Lodge to help remedy that need. That’s what Masons do. Take care of yourself, your Brothers and their families during these uncertain times. We all need the support of our Masonic family.
Jason D. Swindler, Grand Master of Masons  


Tidings from the Grand Treasurer-Secretary [posted November 2020]

We continue to do what we can in the office to support the Masons in South Dakota through these interesting times. Our office hours are reduced but we remain open, as safely as we can for the foreseeable future.
Please use this time when meeting is difficult to update our member contact information. This is a great time to just call members and see how they are doing in general. When checking on them double-check addresses, best phone number and work to get email addresses for a many as possible. We need to keep our Brothers informed about what is going on in our Lodges and in our State. Through this Pandemic the importance of email communication has become even more evident. We must have current contact information on all our brothers. Please take some time to do what you can to update this critical member information.
Let us in the office know what we can do to help! Lodge secretaries reach out to your Grand Lodge office. We have the time to help and work with you to update member information. Having issues with MORI? We can help you though it or even enter the needed member updates for you if needed. We want and need to be a better resource for all our South Dakota Lodges that need the support. Together we can get though these challenging times and be ready to get going again quickly when it gets safer to do so.

James J Burma Jr., Grand Treasurer-Secretary  


Brother Lester Solberg Honored

PM Lon Reidburn presented a 50-Year Pin and Certificate to Brother Lester Solberg on October 18. Brother Solberg’s daughters were able to attend the presentation. Brothers Reidburn and Solberg are members of UD #357.


From the Deputy Grand Master [posted June 2020]

We are now one-fourth of the way in the current Masonic year. The year 2020 is still wreaking havoc inside the borders of our state. How we respond as Masons will be telling to the future of our Fraternity. Our lectures tell us that the devastations of war have laid waste and destroyed many valuable monuments of antiquity but, not withstanding, Freemasonry has still survived. The same is true with this pandemic, Freemasonry will survive. But, how healthy will your Lodge be when this pandemic is over? Are you staying engaged with your members? Are you doing activities? Or are you using this as an excuse to close your doors and take a break?
More than ever your Brothers are looking for a reason to connect. There are ways of safely conducting business, having social interaction and spreading the light. The Grand Master has laid out guidelines and if the individual Mason is responsible and the Lodge follows the guidelines, we can minimize the chances of catching the virus. If you are in an area that has an outbreak and/or your members do not feel comfortable meeting in person, then take advantage of modern technology and use a platform that allows you to meet virtually. If you have members that are still in their journey of joining the Lodge, keep them engaged.
Now is also a great time to get engaged with your community. There is a huge need for blood. Organize a blood drive. There is a huge need for food. Organize a food drive. There is a huge need for the elderly to have some sort of social interaction. Arrange a parade/walk in front of the community where the elderly might live so they can look out their windows and feel a part of their community again.
Be safe and look for the Silver Lining.

Jeff VanCuren  
Deputy Grand Master / Grand Master Elect  


From the West [posted October 2020]

I’m going to start with how much I appreciate all the SD Brothers for entrusting me to be your Senior Grand Warden for the ensuing Masonic year. With that being said I will be curious to see/hear how much we will be able to accomplish in the year.
The Grand lodge is busy with setting up Zoom meetings like being able to have the District Masters training on Zoom. If you, or your members, are uncomfortable with in person meetings during this COVID pandemic and need help setting up a Zoom meeting for your lodge, please reach out to the GL office or your Regional Officer for help.
Communication IS KEY!! If your lodge is not using MORI/OLP (Our Lodge Page) please get that going. If you require assistance, please reach out to the GL office. We really need an active email, phone and address for EVERY member in your lodge to ensure that we can all have a direct line of communication during these trying times. If they don’t have a personal email, find out if a member of their family has one and is willing to share the info with them from that email.
With all the indifference going on in the country right now, with the COVID, riots and so on, it is more important then ever to be evermore caring to the community and the Brothers around you. Please check in on Brothers and their families if you haven’t heard from them in some time. We need, more than ever, to show our support to them in this hard time.
Last but not least: If you know of a man that is fitting to our fraternity, send him to www.beafreemason.org. Where he will be able to look for all the info he is wanting to know about our great fraternity. If you have not looked at the website PLEASE DO!! It is full of great info for a future member and a current one.
I Look forward to serving YOU and YOUR Grand Lodge for the ensuing year!

Dan Nace, Senior Grand Warden  


From the South [posted October 2020]

Greetings Brother! I am excited to be writing to you as Junior Grand Warden! I am very humbled and honored to be elected to this position and very much look forward to the journey ahead. Thank You. From the start of my journey even before the Annual Communication I felt a part of this Grand Lodge team and the mission they wanted to accomplish. Dane and I were invited to be a part of the planning meetings before the Annual Communication to get acclimated right away. This was very much appreciated as we truly hit the ground running after the Communication. The Grand Lodge team is motivated to move Masonry in South Dakota forward. One of the first steps Most Worshipful Jason would like to shore up is communication. We want to keep Masons across the state well informed of what is happening throughout the craft. As technology and the way we all communicate continues to change and evolve, we will be looking for the best and most effective ways to accomplish this.
I am looking forward to making my way around the state to visit your lodge and connect with you personally. Of course, this year presents a different kind of challenge for in person visits but will do what is possible. As I look forward to the visits, I am reminded of one of my favorite things about Freemasonry. Meeting on the Level! Ever since being raised a Master Mason it has been amazing to know that a group of men from all kinds of different professions, ages, thoughts, and views can meet and together and act as Brothers. With that wither I am wearing a green coat or not I would like to connect with you on the level and work together to accomplish our goals and preserve our craft for future generations. I am always willing to listen on ideas and thoughts.
Thank You again for this opportunity and I look forward to our journey ahead!

Aaron F. Zahn, Junior Grand Warden  

Leave a Lasting Legacy

From: MWB Jason D. Swindler, Grand Master of Masons in South Dakota
To: All Masonic Lodges and all Freemasons under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of South Dakota

HISTORICALLY THE GRAND MASTER supports the South Dakota Masonic Charities (formerly South Dakota Masonic Foundation) by sending out appeal letters throughout the Masonic year and sponsoring Table Lodges or some other function to raise funds. The charities that are included under the umbrella of South Dakota Masonic Charites (SDMC) are:
1. South Dakota Child Identification Program which provides parents and guardians what they need for an Amber Alert in case of abduction or loss of an individual.
2. Masonic Model Student Assistance Program (MMSAP) or “Save a Child Program” which provides training for school staff to recognize and assist children that are at risk.
3. Masonic Scholarship Program which provides tuition assistance for students seeking higher education.
4. SDMC Matching Grant Program which provides up to $500 in matching funds with Constituent Lodges to help fund charitable community projects.

With the current Covid-19 situation it is not known whether Table Lodges or other functions will be possible this year. I have, with the support of the Trustees and SDMC Board, decided we are going to sell face masks with all the proceeds going to SDMC as unrestricted funds so they can use the money where it is needed most. We have decided to have two separate mask designs: one is black with the Seal of the Grand Lodge of South Dakota and one is blue with the Square and Compass. We will be selling two masks (one of each design) for $30. Our goal is to keep costs as low as possible so I am hoping that each Lodge can submit an order to the Grand Lodge office and we can make one shipment to each Lodge. Individual Masons wishing to order masks may be asked to pay a separate shipping fee.

We have tried to pick nice quality masks that all South Dakota Masons will be proud to wear in Lodge or out in public. It is my hope that I can count on your support of OUR South Dakota Masonic Charities. Your participation in this fundraiser will help support SDMC in continuing our charitable work in South Dakota. As I stated before, I am doing this fundraiser separate from my appeal letter that will be presented later. I think it is important to get orders generated as soon as possible so we can order more masks if needed.
I want to personally thank you for all the work you continue to do as Masons, even in the face of a pandemic. I am proud to be a Mason and I look forward to what the future has in store for our great and noble Craft in South Dakota. As always, continue to search out Light, be the Light and shine your Light my Brothers.
Jason D. Swindler,  
Grand Master of Masons in South Dakota  


From the Grand Historian

George Attwood Pettigrew served as the Grand Master of Masons of South Dakota in 1918 and forty years as the Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of South Dakota. A second cousin of Senator Richard Franklin Pettigrew, George was born in Ludlow Vermont April 6, 1858. He received a medical degree in 1882 from Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire and moved west to Flandreau, Dakota Territory. He was the Surgeon for the 2nd Regiment of Dakota National Guard from 1885 to 1898. He married Edora Zulette Stearns on October 19, 1887 in Troy, New York. George served as the President of the Flandreau State Bank 1891-1903. In 1903, he moved to Sioux Falls and lived at 411 South Minnesota Avenue. He was a member of the Sioux Falls School Board 1910-1918. George was instrumental in the construction of the Grand Lodge Library in Sioux Falls on Main Avenue in 1925. The building is still standing and is currently the home of Architecture Incorporated.
George’s Masonic career began in King Solomon’s Lodge No. 14, Scytheville, New Hampshire June 14, 1880. He affiliated with Flandreau Lodge No. 11, January 5, 1884, and with Unity Lodge No. 130 on November 3, 1905. He was a member of the El Riad Shrine Temple, Cyrene Commandery, No. 2, Knights Templar, the Order of the Eastern Star and the Scottish Rite. In 1889, he became the Grand Secretary of the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of South Dakota and continued in the role for a quarter century. In 1894 he was selected as the Grand Recorder of the Grand Commandery of Knights Templar. He was elected Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of South Dakota in 1895. He continued as Grand Secretary of the grand Lodge of South Dakota until his election in 1918 as Grand Master of Masons. In 1919 he was re-elected Grand Secretary and served in the position until 1936. George Pettigrew died of a Heart Attack on April 13, 1938 and is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Sioux Falls.
Dr. George A. Pettigrew, ca. 1895
George L. Chesley Photographer
Siouxland Heritage Museums Photograph 1999.020.56

The painting of George Pettigrew in his Masonic regalia was painted in 1917 by portrait artist F. H. Morse (1993.14.1). The painting was donated to the Siouxland Heritage Museums in April, 1993 by the Grand Lodge A.F. & A. M. of South Dakota. The painting underwent conservation by M. Randall Ash, Painting Conservator, in 1997.

William J. Hoskins, Grand Historian

1 Kingsbury, George W., History of Dakota Territory, S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, Chicago, Illinois, 1915, Vol. IV, p. 106-109
2 Tisher, Harold L., The First 100 Years of the Grand Lodge A. F. & A. M. of South Dakota 1875-1975, 1974, p. 102-103
3 “Dr. G. A. Pettigrew National Figure In Masonry, Succumbs,” The Daily Argus Leader, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Thursday, April 14, 1938, p. 1


Grand Master’s Edict Regarding Covid-19 (Updated September 30)

From: MWB Jason D. Swindler, Grand Master of Masons in South Dakota
To: All Masonic Lodges and all Freemasons under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of South Dakota

The original edict that was issued on July 13, 2020, will expire September 30, 2020. I have decided to allow further decisions on COVID-19 guidelines to be made by each individual Lodge under the direct guidance of the Master of that Lodge. I believe that each Lodge can decide what is best practice for conducting meetings and degree work. We are all aware of the guidelines and recommendations the CDC has provided. I believe it is worth repeating that it is everyone’s responsibility to use our best judgement to keep the the Brothers and families of Masons protected from the spread of COVID-19 in our Jurisiction.
The following are the recommendations for Lodges that are comfortable with opening and holding a Stated meeting or conducting Degree work. If your Lodge is located in a part of the State where there are increased cases of COVID-19 please use good Masonic common sense and judgment. If you are experiencing symptoms (i.e. fever, cough, shortness of breath, dizziness, etc.) please STAY HOME! Masons in the high-risk category are the sole decision makers whether or not to attend Lodge.


1. Regular Stated Lodge meetings will be allowed:
- Contact your District Master and inform him of intention to hold regular stated meetings. (REQUIRED).
- Lodges may open in any Degree
- A “social” (physical) distance of 6 feet must be maintained.
- Any Brother required to be closer than 6 feet from another Brother is highly encouraged to wear a mask. Lodges are encouraged to provide masks or encourage Members to bring their own
- Hand sanitizer must be available in numerous places in the Lodge building including entrances and exits of the building and of the Lodge room(s)
- All restrooms must contain liquid hand soap

2. Conducting Degree work will be allowed with the following stipulations:
- Contact your District Master and inform him of intention to conduct degree work. (REQUIRED)
- All Candidates, Conductors (including the SD & JD) must wear masks for protection and use hand sanitizer before and after putting the mask on or taking it off
- Any Brother required to be closer than 6 feet from another Brother or Candidate must follow the same requirements
- Hand sanitizer must be used before and after each Section
- A “social” physical distance of 6 feet must be maintained by ALL others

As Grand Master I reserve the right to update this edict at any time if the need arises. I will continue to constantly monitor the COVID-19 situation in South Dakota.
Continue to search out Light, be the Light and shine your Light my Brothers.
Jason D. Swindler  
Grand Master of Masons in South Dakota  


Worshipful Brother Brian Pulling Accepts Award

These Brothers were all smiles as Senior Grand Warden Dan Nace presented Worshipful Brother Brian Pulling of Minnehaha Lodge #5 with the Region A Master Builder of the Year Award for 2019-2020


Brethren, please take note of the following:
Recently there have been a number of scams going around requesting Gift Cards as fundraisers for many charities and other things. The Grand Lodge of South Dakota, Grand Master Jason Swindler, and the South Dakota Masonic Charities will never send a request to members requesting gift cards be purchased and sent in or numbers used as Masonic Fundraisers.
If any of you receive such a request, please call the Grand Lodge office, or the office of any group requesting, to let us/them know and to confirm the request. Do this for all gift card requests. Better to be safe than sorry.
Jason Swindler, Grand Master of Masons  


The Other Masonry...

Mt. Rushmore Lodge #220 takes a field trip to learn and practice some operative masonry. EA Jeremy won the “Chip-Olympics” and won the Rough/Perfect Ashlar.


Civility: A Continuing Masonic Community Conversation

On Saturday, September 26, from 1:00 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. (Pacifiic Time) there will be a discussion with an exploration of the difference between racism and prejudice and bigotry. We will then hold smaller group discussions where participants will have the opportunity to share their perspectives and needs. To register:
To see a flyer with more information on this event, click:


Brothers one and all,
We have an amazing Public Awareness Committee (PAC) this year, built from Brothers across the state who are energized and ready to start taking on some challenges. We are looking at some interesting projects to get the message out that we are proud to be Masons and we want our communities to know that too.
There will be more to come on our efforts, but this will give you a little flavor of what we are working on:
- “Proud to be a Mason” program
- Grand Lodge website redesign
- Gathering, preserving, and sharing our current and past Masonic history and inspirations
- Furthering the interests of Masonic Civility within the state
- Begin building a statewide Masonic directory
Are we going to fail at some things? Absolutely! Will we learn from that and find a better or different approach? Absolutely! We are also looking for input from the body of the Craft. If there are things you feel the PAC can tackle, we are very open to hearing them and getting them into a plan for the future.
Please keep checking the Grand Lodge website for the list of members of the committee and their contact information. Feel free to reach out to any or all of us with your ideas, thoughts and Brotherly advice.
For now, we leave you with this from Simon Sinek, “The goal is not simply for you to cross the finish line, but to see how many people you can inspire to run with you.” We sincerely hope you will be inspired to run with the PAC!
Brian Pulling, PAC Chair  


Olive Branch #47 Installs Officers [posted August 2020]

The installation of Officers took place at Olive Branch #47 in Sturgis on August 30. Participants included members of the Grand Lodge, Demolay, Rebecca’s Daughters, Spearfish Lodge #18, and Olive Branch #47. Attendees were from both South Dakota and Wyoming.


Three Generations of Freemasonry [posted August 2020]

Here is a picture from degree work in Mitchell showing three generations in Masonry. To the right of MWB Denny Robinson is his grandson, Cooper Vermuelen, who received his MM Degree, and his son-in-law, Jon Vermuelen. Cooper recently graduated from Mitchell Sr.High and is now heading to the South Dakota School of Mines for Mechanical Engineering. He was raised at a One-Day Conferral at Resurgam Lodge #31 on August 8, 2020.



Effective July 13, 2020, and until further announcement from the Grand Master the following guidelines will regulate activities of South Dakota Lodges and Freemasons during the continuing COVID-19 pandemic

From: MWB Jason D. Swindler, Grand Master of Masons in South Dakota
To: All Masonic Lodges and all Freemasons under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of South Dakota

Although the State of South Dakota has been slowly getting back to business as usual while under guidelines and recommendations on the CDC, I have up to this point been reluctant to rush in making a decision on the next step of our reopening. The time has come to take the next step. With that being said, we must continue to practice “social” (physical) distancing; wearing masks when having to be closer than 6 feet from another person; and washing hands and using hand sanitizer often. It is everyone’s responsibility to use our best judgement to keep the Brothers and families of Masons protected from the spread of COVID-19 in our Jurisdiction.
The following are the requirements for Lodges that are comfortable with opening and holding a Stated meeting or conducting Degree work. If your Lodge is located in a part of the State where there are increased cases of COVID-19 please use good Masonic common sense and judgment. If you are experiencing symptoms (i.e. fever, cough, shortness of breath, dizziness, etc.) please STAY HOME! Masons in the high-risk category are the sole decision makers whether or not to attend Lodge.


1. Regular Stated Lodge meetings will be allowed:
- Contact your District Master and inform him of intention to hold regular stated meetings. The District Master has the authority to veto a Lodge reopening if, in the District Master’s discretion, he believes the Covid-19 rate within his district, or within the Lodge’s immediate community, is too high to allow a safe reopening.
- A “social” (physical) distance of 6 feet must be maintained.
- Any Brother required to be closer than 6 feet from another Brother is highly encouraged to wear a mask. Lodges are encouraged to provide masks or encourage Members to bring their own
- Hand sanitizer must be available in numerous places in the Lodge building including entrances and exits of the building and of the Lodge room(s)
- All restrooms must contain liquid hand soap

2. Conducting Degree work will be allowed with the following stipulations:
- Contact your District Master and inform him of intention to conduct degree work with his approval under the guidelines set forth in 1., above.
- All Candidates, Conductors (including the SD & JD) must wear masks for protection and use hand sanitizer before and after putting the mask on or taking it off
- Any Brother required to be closer than 6 feet from another Brother or Candidate must follow the same requirements
- Hand sanitizer must be used before and after each Section
- A “social” physical distance of 6 feet must be maintained by ALL others


In my professional duties as a Registered Pharmacist I am constantly monitoring the Covid-19 situation in South Dakota.
As Grand Master I reserve the right to update this edict at any time if the need arises. I understand this is not what we are used to as Masons in South Dakota but it is in our best interest to do whatever it takes to move forward without risking our Brother’s and their family’s safety. In this world of uncertainty, we must stand out as a Fraternity of Leaders both in our Lodges and, maybe more importantly, in our Communities.

Continue to search out Light, be the Light and shine your Light my Brothers. Use the tools we have been given to be the best Masons we can be.

Jason D. Swindler, Grand Master of Masons in South Dakota  


One-Day District Master Meeting: August 29 [posted August 2020]

As discussed in the DM and Appointed Officer meeting on August 4, we will do a one-day District Master Meeting on August 29. Leadership training will be a separate event, most likely a virtual event. This was to allow travel to and from location without having to stay overnight. If you cannot make the meeting and would like to watch via Zoom please let me know, as I can accommodate virtual meeting.

Who: District Masters (appointed Officers invited)
What: District Master Training and Round Table
When: August 29th 10am-4pm CDT
Where: Pierre Lodge (201 W Capitol, Pierre)

Pierre Lodge #27 will provide lunch ($10 donation)

Schedule of Events:
10:00-10:30: GM welcome and remarks
10:30-11:15: Dep GM code requirements for DMs
11:15-12:00: SGW recognition program and District Meetings
12:00-1:00 Lunch
1:00-1:45: GTS reporting requirements and expectations
1:45-2:30: JGW membership
2:30-3:30 Roundtable Discussions (Please submit or be prepared to submit a Topic)
3:30-4:00: GM closing remarks

Jeff VanCuren
Deputy Grand Master/Grand Master Elect
(703) 217-3001


Masons Supporting Widows and Orphans [posted August 2020]

In October 2009, with the permission of the Grand Master of Masons of South Dakota, Master Mason motorcycle enthusiasts formed the South Dakota Widows Sons Masonic Motorcycle Riders Association as a Square and Compass Club. Subsequently, the Grand Chapter of South Dakota Widows Sons Masonic Motorcycle Riders Association was chartered on November 27, 2009. The SD Widows Sons Masonic Motorcycle Riders Association (SD WS) continues to grow in popularity and membership. As a result, a second chapter, The Mystic Brotherhood Chapter of South Dakota Widows Sons Masonic Motorcycle Riders Association was formed, and we are working on a third chapter in southeast South Dakota.
In celebration of its tenth anniversary in 2019, the SD Widows Sons celebrated its founders with a meeting and a ride to an Alexandria car show led by the new Grand Master, Most Worshipful Jason “Swinny” Swindler and his wife, Dee, on June 20, 2020 in Mitchell, SD. The Founders Fathers of the SD Widows Sons awards were presented to Jason Swindler, Denny Robinson, and Neil Kotas. In addition, Jason and Dee were celebrating their 23rd wedding anniversary and a successful Grand Lodge virtual installation. Most Worshipful Swindler provided opening comments for the meeting. It was exciting to listen to the awesome goals and the exciting plans for the future of SD Masons and the SD Widows Sons.
The SD WS’s mission is to support widows and orphans, and Masonic “helping people” events and charities. This is our third year of working supporting the Sacred Heart Children’s Services in Eagle Butte. The SD Grand Chapter and the Mystic Brotherhood Chapter are continuing to work with the Eagle Butte Lodge to support the annual Children’s Home Christmas Gift Presentation, a children’s event, like the Masonic Child Identification Programs (CHIP) that we did in 2018, a Children’s Bicycle Give Away, and a community ham charity (last year, 84 hams) in December. Throughout the year, we continue to provide clothing, school supplies for the children. The Scared Heart organization has set up a thrift store this year to support the “mothers and children in need” facilities, and they need our help.
SD WS support events for many causes and provide support to widows, children and brothers in need; e.g., $1000 to the Nebraska Flood Relief, $1000 to Worshipful Brother Dave Saunders’s widow, $4,700 for Sioux Falls Masonic Building Association, Veteran’s Health Event, Ride for Survivors, charity funds for Scottish Rite, York Rite, Daughter of Nile, Demolays, Job’s Daughters, Lodge, and others. We will continue to support many more in the future. The SD Widows Sons Chapters are excited about riding motorcycles and working to keep Masonic Charity efforts going and growing. If you are interested in supporting Masonic charities and Widows and Orphans and love to have fun riding your motorcycle, contact Greg Stensaas at sdwidowssons@gmail.com.


Spearfish Lodge Holds “Pasturized Lodge” [posted July 2020]

Thursday, July 25, 2020, high on a Northern Hills ranch in the Black Hills of South Dakota, Spearfish Lodge No. 18, hosted a genuine “Pasturized Lodge” where a herd of cattle had grazed a short time earlier.
The boys are sitting on mineral cattle feed tubs that were partially cleaned for the event.

Needless to say you also watched where you stepped. Only the Master wore his hat when the gavel sounded. In attendance with this select group is present Grand Master of North Dakota, MW Bob Wedberg, and Immediate Past Grand Master of South Dakota MW Harold Ireland. This place is the Bear Ridge Ranch, owned by the present Master of Spearfish No. 18, and is designated as a South Dakota Centennial Ranch, with family ownership of over 100 years. Four states were represented; three other Past Grand Masters (two from out of state) were also present. Twenty miles to the west is Devils Tower, the first national monument, established by Brother Theodore Roosevelt in 1906. This is true cowboy Masonry, many from working ranches, and some of the best men and Brothers you can find. Living proof right here you don't have to wear a tuxedo to be a great Mason, neighbor, and friend to all.

Here was our sunset over the Bear Lodge near Sundance, WY, that looks over Devils Tower from the east and (below) the boys standing together with Crow Peak, a well-known landmark just west of Spearfish.


Mount Rushmore Lodge #220 [posted July 2020]

Mount Rushmore Lodge #220 takes things outside. This is a picture of their officers after their second outdoor lodge of the new Masonic Year: District Master - Pete Isaacs, WM - Alex VanCuren, SW - Bryant Stokes, W - John McKninght, Treasurer - F. Reed Foster, Secretary - Jeff VanCuren, Chaplain - Ken Kundel, SD - Greg Still, JD - Jessie Thomas, SS - Chris Thames, JS - Jim Jackson (not pictured), Marshal - Brian Cole, Tyler - Dave Meltz


Big Week for Deserving Brother [posted July 2020]

Imagine traveling back to June 29, 1950, and attending lodge at Sheridan Lodge #0008 of Sheridan, Wyoming. You would have witnessed the raising as a Master Mason of Lloyd Kenneth Salisbury. We affectionately know him as Ken these days, and we were able to give him a suitable celebration for achieving the distinction of becoming a 70-Year Member of the Craft. That’s right, 70 years as a Master Mason. That is longer than most of our readers have been alive.
The week started off on Tuesday evening, June 16, when Ken was presented the City of Sioux Falls “SuperHero” Award by Councilman Pat Starr and Mayor Paul TenHaken. In attendance that evening was Ken’s better half, Arta, his daughter, Tally, and her family, as well as his son, Chuck.

The following Sunday, WM Robert Solorzano of Unity Lodge #130, District Master Kyle Orth, and WB Glendon Rice had the privilege of presenting WB Ken with a pin and certificate recognizing his longevity in the Craft. A parade in front of Ken’s house was held, with many Brothers and their families participating, to congratulate our Brother.
After the parade, some of us stuck around while Ken regaled us with stories of his time in the Army Air Corps during WWII. If you get the opportunity, stop by Ken’s house and sit and chat with him for a while. You will be amazed by the stories and details contained in those stories from his time in the war. You might even ask him about standing in the doorway of the C-47 and dropping hand grenades on the enemy, or trying to take out anti-aircraft guns by dropping the tow rope from the gliders on the guns.
Ken participated in the D-Day invasion by towing gliders with Army Rangers and also had some airborne troops that jumped out of the airplane and into the action. He also participated in Operation Market Garden, which was the military action portrayed in the movie A Bridge Too Far.
Army Air Corps C-47, the type of airplane that Ken was the navigator on during WWII (image from Flying Magazine).


From the East [posted July 2020]

I would like to take a few moments to share some thoughts with all of you. I am truly honored to be serving as Grand Master of Masons in South Dakota for the ensuing year. I appreciate all the kind words of support and offers to help with projects when needed. I want to thank my Installing team for all their hard work! I thought for doing most of it remotely things went extremely well! If you were unable to watch the Installation live, you can still watch it if you go the Grand Lodge of South Dakota Facebook page.
We are building a strong team with your Elected Line of Officers. With the help of Microsoft® Teams and Zoom® meetings, we have been in almost constant contact for the last several months. This has allowed us to develop a good idea of how we all want to move forward in the next few years. I sense excitement and motivation which I hope will catch on as the year progresses.
My Brothers, it is imperative that we gather accurate contact information for every Mason in our Jurisdiction. If the “Virtual” Grand Lodge Communication taught us anything, it is that we need to be able to send emails out when important information must be shared. I will personally make one of my missions, with the help of the Grand Lodge Office and the individual Lodges, to get our information in MORI as updated and accurate as possible. We are only as good as the information we have in MORI and currently it is severely lacking. I am confident we can agree that communication and information is key to our success!
I am also excited to roll out a new program for the year. For the last few years Resurgam Lodge #31 in Mitchell, my local Lodge, has been doing Blood Drives and I know several other Lodges do the same. During the initial phases of the COVID-19 pandemic I noticed the Red Cross was advertising a need for blood donations. I realized this is an excellent opportunity for Masons to do what we do best, which is help our communities. This literally costs us nothing but the end result is invaluable. I would love to be able to say at the end of each Masonic year that Masons and Mason driven Blood Drives have yielded “X” amount of blood for our state. We will need Brothers across the Jurisdiction to help get this program off the ground. RWB Jeff VanCuren has worked hard to get the details ironed out and we will be getting out more information in the near future.
Thank you all again for entrusting me to lead this Fraternity that means so much to me. Please feel free to reach out to me or any of the Elected Officers with any questions. I look forward to working with all of you this year.
Jason D. Swindler, Grand Master of Masons  


From the Deputy Grand Master [posted June 2020]

Brethren, “I am so humbled by my election to the position of Deputy Grand Master/Grand Master Elect” is a response all good Lodge Officers have been taught to say whenever they get elected to a new position. In this case I truly mean it. South Dakota and the United States is in a time when Masonry is desperately needed. We are in scary but exciting times and we need to work together to show the World what diversity and inclusion look like.
Last year I wrote an article about the Tenant of Brotherly Love, and in re-reading it I can see how we can also extend that Tenant to society in general and not just Brother Masons.
Start thinking of how “Your Lodge” can get involved and serve “Your community.” Can you run a Food or Blood Drive? Can you volunteer to read at the elementary school? Can you do a roadside clean-up? Can you maintain a public space? Can you sponsor a youth group? As the Grand Master said at his installment, “Masonry is Local.” The Grand Lodge cannot know what is best for every Lodge and it is our job to assist you in making what you do at the local level as impactful as possible to your community.

Jeff VanCuren  
Deputy Grand Master / Grand Master Elect