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Masonic Service Association of North America

Emessay Notes January 2005

Grand Lodge to Distribute Swisher Kits for Military Lodges

The Nebraska Grand Lodge has instituted a program for brothers in the military service deployed outside the Unites States. Several Nebraska Guard and Reserve units have been activated in the current conflict, and many of our brethren are now serving our nation overseas. These men leave their homes and families to protect us all. Most are gone for long deployments at great distance. Their service and the sacrifices of their families must be recognized and acknowledged by Masons.

There are many ties between military service and Nebraska Masonry. Monitor Lodge U. D. was formed by men of the 1st Nebraska Regiment during the Civil War. The Lodge was active during the war years and raised more than twenty Master Masons. General John J. (BlackJack) Pershing was a member of Lincoln Lodge No. 19 throughout his military career. Nebraska Freemasons are now involved in the current conflict. In October, 2002, our brother, S. Sgt. Christopher Swisher, also a member of Lincoln Lodge No. 19 was killed in action in Iraq. This project is dedicated to his memory.

Earlier this year, a photo was published which showed a Masonic ceremony being conducted by an Army unit from North Carolina. The soldiers wore white garbage bags for aprons, because that was what they had available. That photo was the genesis of this program. The concept began as a "Lodge in A Briefcase" idea where the necessary materials to open and operate a Lodge would be packed in a Masonic briefcase and presented, without cost, to Nebraska Masons in activated guard and reserve units. Our Grand Master has indicated that he will allow lodges to be formed and do Masonic Labor, under dispensation, by our brothers in service. The introductory letter contained in the kit reads, in part:

The Grand Lodge of Nebraska, A. F. & A. M. is honored to present you with this "SWISHER KIT". In it you will find forms and instructions needed to obtain dispensation from the Nebraska Grand Lodge to create a Subordinate Lodge, under dispensation, as well as the necessary materials to open a Lodge and do Masonic Labor.

For further information please contact: Michelle Fullmer, Grand Lodge of Nebraska PO Box 81852 Lincoln, NE 68501-1852 Phone: 402-475-4640 Fax: 402-475-4736 

Annual Christmas Dinner

The Masons of Central Iowa will be sponsoring the 20th Annual Free Christmas Dinner on Christmas Day, Saturday, December 25, 2004 at the Scottish Rite Masonic Center located at 519 Park Street, Des Moines, Iowa between 11:00 A.M. and 2:00 P.M. Radio equipped vans and handicapped access vehicles will be available. For a ride call 288-8927 for coordination on Christmas Day.

This noble undertaking is fostered and sustained by Central Iowa Masons through monetary contributions and many hours of donated labor.

The Annual Christmas Dinners were dedicated to Jerry Marsengill who started this tradition several years ago. Jerry Marsengill, a noted local Mason and Masonic scholar, died in 1991 and the Masons of Central Iowa plan to continue this Christmas dinner in his honor. The annual dinners aim is to provide the homeless and lonely of Des Moines a traditional Christmas dinner will all the trimmings, turkey, ham, pumpkin pie, etc. Christmas music will be provided.

We have served 300 to 500 people in previous years.

(News Release-prepared by Robert H. (Bud) Erickson, PGM, GL of Iowa)

Shriners Hospitals 2005 Budget

In 2005, Shriners Hospitals for Children will increase its spending for children by $100,000 every 24 hours. The organization will spend $1.7 million every day, or $19 every second, to continue to give expert medical care to children. As always, the state-of-the-art specialized orthopaedic, burn and spinal cord injury care is provided at no charge to the patients or their families.

The overall budget, increased by $29 million, is indicative of both an awareness of the cost of health care, and Shriners' continuing concern for children.

"The increased budget figures are a reflection of both a renewed optimism in the economy, and a realistic awareness of the increased cost of quality health care. Shriners Hospitals for Children remains committed to providing the very best pediatric orthopaedic, burn and spinal cord injury care possible throughout our system," said Ralph Semb, Chairman of the Board of Trustees.

The 22 Shriners Hospitals in the U.S., Canada and Mexico have a total budget of $625 million for 2005. Of that amount, $552 million is designated for the hospital operating budget, which includes patient care, teaching, administrative expenses, depreciation and the daily expenses for all the Shriners Hospitals. Medical research is a key component of Shriners Hospitals; $28 million has been earmarked for the more than 125 research projects currently in process. Since Shriners Hospitals began a formal research program nearly 40 years ago, more than $450 million has been invested in research efforts that have improved the lives of children around the world.

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