2019-2020 Annual Report of the Senior Grand Warden
I humbly submit the following Senior Grand Warden report for the Masonic year 2019-2020.
This Masonic year has been filled with several highs and lows, peaks and valleys. Our job is not to submit a report that is filled with only sunshine and rainbows, we must also report on the thunderstorms and clouds.
The year started out on a high note with the rededication of the Friendship Tower at Mount Roosevelt in Deadwood, South Dakota. This event was well attended not only from Masons but also South Dakota citizens and tourists. I thank the Grand Lodge of North Dakota for being a part of this historic event.
One, of my major concerns, is the lack of participation from our Appointed District Masters. Our District Masters are chosen from the best of our best to represent the Grand Master within their Districts. Their duties include holding District meetings and making official visits to the Lodges. During these official visits the District Master is charged with assessing the state of the Lodge. Quite frankly, this is just not being done to the standards that our forefathers established in our Constitution and Bylaws.
With this being said, I did attend district meetings at District 4 in Brookings and District 9 in Huron. These meeting were both very productive meetings and I commend the District Master for the job they did. The new District Master for the District 3 had scheduled a District Meeting for later in the year because, he had conflicts with his work schedule. Unfortunately the District 3 meeting was canceled because of COVID-19. The District 1 meeting was never scheduled or held and the District Master was not able to be contacted and would not respond to communications.
I attended The Annual meeting of the Conference of Midwest Grand Lodges. This meeting was hosted by the Grand Lodge of Nebraska and was conducted in Omaha, Nebraska. This was a great workshop tape conference and the Grand Lodges of the multiple jurisdictions of this Conference exchanged great ideas on the current issues and problems that are affecting all the Grand Lodges around the world. South Dakota is honored to host the next conference either in August 2020 or February 2021 depending on the COVID-19 crisis.
I was asked to attend the Grand Lodge of Iowa as the official representative of the Grand Lodge of South Dakota. I would like to thank the Grand Lodge of Iowa for making me feel welcome and extending me every courtesy that they would to the Grand Master.
I am also very disappointed with the attendance at the quarterly business meetings and the mid-year meeting of the Grand Lodge. The Grand Master put out these dates during the Annual Communication in June of 2019 to every officer and committee member of the Grand Lodge. With these dates, being established so far in advance, there is no reason that they should have not been attended by a greater number of officers and committee members. Grand Lodge Officers and committee members are chosen because of their dedication to the craft. When they accept these responsibilities, they also agree to a greater responsibility to the craft.
In February I attended the conference of Grand Masters of North America in Louisville, Kentucky. Like last year’s conference that was held in South Dakota, this was an amazing event that allowed the elected officers of the Grand Lodge to collaborate and exchange information with every jurisdiction in the United States and North America. We were also able to interact with Grand Lodges around the globe.
In March, I was honored to be a principal participant of the 150 year dedication of Incense Lodge #2 in Vermillion South Dakota. I would like to thank the Grand Lodge of Iowa for being active participants in this ceremony, as they granted the original charger of the Lodge.
We had also scheduled the 150th dedication of Elk Point lodge #3 but, because of the COVID-19 crisis in the United States, we had to cancel that ceremony. Hopefully, we get to perform that ceremony in the very near future.
As we end this year, we are under a dark cloud of the pandemic that is threatening the world. Masonry is taking a big hit but, it is how we react in the coming days that will define the Fraternity. I am proud to be involved with Lodges and Organizations that are reaching out to their members and making sure that we adhere to one of the tenants or our Organization, Relief.. I urge everyone not just the elected officers of the Lodges to reach out to members that they may have lost contact with or that they do not even know. Renew your commitment to this Great Fraternity and always remember to practice those tenets of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth.
Jeffery P. VanCuren
Senior Grand Warden
Grand Lodge A.F. & A.M. of South Dakota