This past year has had significant challenges for the Grand Lodge of South Dakota. My local Lodges in District #10 have had to make decisions of whether to open fully, partially, or perhaps not at all. Each Lodge knows what is the best decision for them and as District Master I have tried to stay in contact with all.
Montrose, Bridgewater, and Chamberlain have been dark all year. Alexandria is planning to open in late April. Armour has opened when possible. Resurgam in Mitchell has stayed open throughout this Masonic year.
A District meeting was held in Mitchell on November 29 and a supper meal was provided. JGW Zahn was gracious enough to drive over from the Sioux Falls area and he gave some remarks to the few that attended. Number 10 district has long had a poor attendance record for these meetings. Next year I will combine the district meeting with the normal monthly meeting of one of my lodges, and invitations will be sent to the others. It’s time to try something different than the way we have always done it.
As District Master I visited Armour and also my home Lodge in Mitchell. I am planning to visit Alexandria as soon as possible.
I have had a number of recognition pins and certificates that needed to be presented. Of course, these Brothers were all, to a degree, advanced in age and most were reluctant to meet personally. The secretary of each Lodge is in possession of these items, and they shall be presented to each brother at their discretion.
Degree work was completed for a number of candidates at Resurgam in Mitchell. Last fall we raised six Brothers to enlightenment, and in March four were raised. It was very difficult to gather enough Brothers to complete all the degree work. I sincerely thank those who made sacrifices to attend and conduct “the work”!
The Blue Lodge must stay adaptable and be dynamic if we are to remain a strong and viable entity. Opening and closing ritual is a fun and important role that each Lodge is required to do, and we all enjoy seeing it done in a crisp and precise manner. If done correctly, each Lodge, and it’s members, can take pride in their proficiency. A school of instruction has been impossible this year. I fear that some of the newer members who are working their way through the chairs may not be clear on some of the proper words, salutes etc. I am not a ritual purist by any means. We all make mistakes in doing our opening and closings. But it would be a shame if each and every brother did not know exactly what is to be said or done. I know that teaching these things at the local level is undoubtedly the best and most effective way. However, our more seasoned and knowledgeable Brothers may not always be at stated meetings, as this past year has proven. I propose that a video be made “in house,” that would show, in a detailed manner, the proper way of opening and closing a Lodge. Of course, the substitute and the pass would not be said. They both would be conveyed by Brothers at their respective Lodges. This video would be copied digitally and sent to the secretary of each Lodge. It could be used as a training tool for some of our smaller and more challenged Lodges. I would stress to all Masons that I do NOT propose to water down the quality of our candidates. Maybe we teach them in a little bit more “user-friendly” fashion. The millennials and Gen-Z generations are very comfortable learning from video. I am sure this idea will not be universally accepted by all of my Brothers, but I earnestly would like to have a conversation with any and all doubters in a respectful and warm manner.

Respectfully submitted,  
Dave Harris  
District Master, District 10  
Grand Lodge A.F. & A.M. of South Dakota