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Masonic Service Association of North America

Emessay Notes August 2013

 

Maryland Masons Help Boston Bombing Victim

            On the same day that the accused Boston Marathon bomber pleaded not guilty in a court in Boston, one of the victims was thanking the Masons of Maryland for "giving me some of my independence back."

            Erika Brannock, of Monkton, MD (north of Baltimore), and her sister and brother-in-law were among about 260 persons injured near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15 when the first bomb exploded.  They were there to watch their mother, Carol Downing, who was in the race.

            Erika, whose left leg was amputated above the knee and now is using a wheelchair, is a preschool teacher who is finishing her master's degree.  After the attack, she moved into her mother and stepfather's home in Monkton.

            The stepfather, Skipp Downing, contacted Bob Knight, owner of White Knight Remodeling Co., to renovate the home's bathroom to accommodate Erika's needs. 

When Knight, a Maryland Mason, heard the purpose of the renovations, "I realized there was no way I could take payment from this family."  He contacted the Grand Lodge, which made an appeal to the state's Masons, and he also secured some donated building materials from local companies. 

            In a ceremony in July, Maryland Grand Master Gerald E. Piepiora presented Erika a check for $10,000, from Maryland Masons.  The presentation was made at the Grand Lodge headquarters in Cockeysville, and was covered extensively by the news media.

            While Erika's life was changed forever by incidents in Boston, she called the efforts by Masons "a blessing."

            "When you have a life-altering change like this, you really need something that makes you feel more normal, and you guys have made me feel more normal.  I really just want to thank everyone here at the Grand Lodge for giving me some independence back and really going out of your way to do something for me that has touched my heart very dearly."

 

Old Lodge Records Uncovered In Maine

            Eric Cavers recently purchased a home near Thompson Lake in Otisfield, Maine.  A neighbor asked whether he had seen the old bus in the woods on his property.  His answer: "What bus?"

            The former owner had a bus that he used as an office, as a workplace for his duties as secretary of Presumpscot Lodge, No. 70, in Windham.  Brother Ephraim S. Jillson, "mayor of Otisfield," and a dedicated Mason for nearly 65 years, kept the Lodge records in the old bus.  No one in the Lodge knew it, and, when he passed away years ago, no one even knew of the bus.

            Over the years, the records were subjected to the ravages of weather and critters.  Most of the records in the old bus were destroyed, but others were in pristine condition, including the lodge records from its inception in 1864 through 1884.  They included documents about the dispensation and charter to form the Lodge from the Grand Lodge of Maine, and the records of many local men becoming Masons.

            When the treasure was found, Rt. Wor. Brother Walter Vickers, on behalf of the property owner, called Rt. Wor. Brother Thomas E. Pulkkinen, former editor of The Trowel, official magazine of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, now living in East Boothbay, Maine and active with the Grand Lodge of Maine, to evaluate the "find."  Brother Vickers is a Native American chief of the Nipmuc Nation and member of United Brethren Lodge in Marlborough, Massachusetts.  His son-in-law is Rick Cavers, a member of Oxford Lodge in Norway, Maine.  Rick's son is Eric Cavers, the new owner of the bus.

            This provides a lesson that records of any Lodge should be kept securely in the Lodge building, and that members should always know the whereabouts of these valuable historic items.  For Presumpscot Lodge, it was discovery of a lost treasure.

(Source: The Trowel, Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, Summer, 2013)

 

A New Meaning For 'Going Dark'

            Masons in Ipswich, Queensland, Australia recently held a "Dining in the Dark" event, in which all participants wore blindfolds or hoodwinks and ate dinner as if they were blind.  They raised money for a Guide Dog project, but it was a very successful social event, as well.

            It's an idea any Lodge might -- carefully – try.  It could raise funds for a variety of charitable programs related to the vision impaired.

(Source: The Ipswich Advertiser, June 27, 2013)

 

Tax Exemption For Ohio Lodges Approved

            The Ohio General Assembly has approved and the Governor has signed a law that grants a property tax exemption for Masonic buildings under some circumstances – an effort that Grand Lodge of Ohio has been working on for more than a decade.

            Details about how a Lodge must apply for its exemption and how some of the rules may affect Masonic buildings still must be worked out, but the exemption is now law.

            In short, the law reads: "The following property shall be exempted from taxation:  . . . Real estate held or occupied by a fraternal organization and used primarily for meetings and administration. . ."  The law defines a fraternal organization as a "domestic fraternal society, order, or association operating under the lodge, council, or grange system that qualifies for exemption from taxation" under cited IRS rules, supports "charitable purposes . . . and has been operating in this state with a state governing body for at least 100 years."

            In addition to the Grand Lodge of Ohio, other organizations which meet these qualifications include the Prince Hall Grand Lodge, Odd Fellows, Knights of Columbus, and Grange.

 

 

 

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