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Masonic Service Association of North America

Focus April 2013

MASONIC INFORMATION CENTER

2012 ACTIVITIES

 

The year 2012 was an active period of communications for the Masonic Service Association.  The MIC Steering Committee continued its inward and outward review of Masonic information needs and challenges.

Producing new publications, keeping the Masonic audience aware of valuable existing materials, and probing for new and better ways of distributing information and communicating have been the focus during 2012.

Internet Improvements

            During the year, there has been an urgent interest in improving the Masonic Service Association’s webpage, www.msana.com and offering increased opportunities for communication.  Younger generations in society, as well as younger generations in Freemasonry, are demanding online sources of information more and more.  With the guidance of the MIC, the website has added an increased quantity and more timely publishing of information.  The site must be kept “fresh” so Masons and the general public will come back frequently to see what is there.

            Also, beginning in 2013, the MSA website will offer, for the first time, the opportunity to make purchases online, using a credit card, from a selection of the more timely and popular items produced by the Masonic Service Association.  For example, subscriptions to the Short Talk Bulletin will be available there.  This will be an ongoing and improving program.  Stop by the website often to watch this growth.  We must also thank the Masonic Eastern Star Home (MESH) of the District of Columbia Charities, for a grant to assist in this webpage education improvement.

            Also during 2012, MSA became active on Facebook, one of the social media opportunities becoming so popular across the nation. More than 450 individuals have “liked” the Masonic Service Association on Facebook, and they receive regular messages about activities and developments.  We encourage all Masons on Facebook to “like” the Masonic Service Association and they too will be part of our improved communication efforts.

New Publication Added to MIC Offerings

            In late September, the Masonic information Center published a new brochure, What Has Freemasonry Done for The World?  It has become very popular and, at the end of 2012, circulation is nearing 100,000.

            This publication describes numerous historical trends that were either initiated or advanced by Masonry.  These include such items as Individualism, Democracy, the Rights of Workers, the Arts and Architecture, Public Education, Health, and Personal Development and Fulfillment.

            The brochure was written by noted Masonic author James Tresner, of Oklahoma, a longtime member of the MIC Steering Committee.  MIC gives thanks to the Grand Lodge of Oklahoma for permitting adaptation of its previous pamphlet.

            Since 1993, the MIC has been educating Masonic members and the public with accurate explanations of Freemasonry.  A tally during 2012 shows that 6 major pamphlets over the years by MIC have been distributed to more than 2.5 million individuals.  The publications and their printing quantity over the years are:

 

Who Are The Masons?

950,000

What's A Mason? 

950,000

Get A Life"  

113,000  

A Response to Critics

270,000  

There Is No Sin In Symbols

178,000  

Facts About Freemasonry

175,000

 

All of the pamphlets are still in print and available in quantity from MSA.

 

Freemasonry in the News

            The Imperial Session of Shriners International was held in Charlotte, N.C., in June, and afforded Freemasonry two opportunities for public awareness.  MSA participated with incoming Imperial Potentate Alan W. Madsen in two interviews.  One, with a reporter for the Charlotte Observer newspaper, produced a page 1 feature story.  The second was a live interview on “Charlotte Talks with Mike Collins” on WFAE, Charlotte’s NPR radio station.  While Brother Madsen pointed out aspects of the Shrine, MSA’s Executive Secretary was able to explain many points about Freemasonry, in general.

            A reporter from Time Magazine, in what appeared to be a positive examination of Masonic charities, interviewed MSA’s Executive Secretary in February.  To our knowledge, no story was ever published from the interview.

            In September, The Huffington Post, of Canada, published an article with the headline, “Why are the Freemasons Collecting our Children’s DNA?”  The article referred to the Masonic Child Identification Program, which is active in numerous Grand Lodge jurisdictions, claiming that the Fraternity was collecting and keeping DNA samples.  In those programs that collect DNA, all such samples are given only to parents for possible future identification needs.  There were no follow-up stories.

            In April, Bloomberg Businessweek, in its online edition, published a story out of France under the headline, “France: Where Freemasons Are Still Feared.” It outlined the media’s infatuation with ongoing stories about the Fraternity. One line from the story said, “The way the French see it, Masons are a fifth column at the heart of the French society, a cabal of powerful politicians, businessmen, and intellectuals with a hidden agenda that is difficult to pin down because it’s, well, hidden.  Nobody knows quite what the Masons are up to, but everybody suspects they’re up to something.”

            In its April issue, the Smithsonian Magazine did a feature story on Casanova, giving a moderate, even-sided glimpse into the life of this 18th Century adventurer.  “He hobnobbed with Voltaire, Catherine the Great, Benjamin Franklin and probably Mozart,” the article stated.  (Voltaire, Franklin, and Mozart were all Masons.)  The story on several occasions mentioned Casanova’s Masonic membership.  The book, 10,000 Famous Freemasons, notes that Casanova “was thought to have entered Freemasonry in Lyons in 1750.”

Freemasonry and Religion

            While MSA continues the hope that religious intolerance toward Freemasonry will disappear from today’s society, there are organizations and clergy from some churches that continue unfavorable opinions of our Fraternity.

            One former Mason, who had been quite active in the Fraternity at several levels, including being the Secretary of a Masonic body, contacted MSA.  He made an ardent plea, that we would change our usage of the word, “Master,” in referring to any Masonic officer, quoting scripture.  MSA contacted a Past Grand Master who is also a clergyman, and he responded and gave an in-depth Biblical explanation of the passage and why there should be no problem with the word, “Master” in Masonry.  The former Mason responded, “It is not my intention to debate over the interpretation of the Bible,” and his mind was not changed.

            The Masonic Information Center continues to offer several of our publications – A Response to Critics of Freemasonry, Get a Life – Thoughts on Freemasonry and Religion, There is No Sin in Symbols, and Facts About Freemasonry – as excellent explanations of why there should be no problems between Masonry and religion.  These brochures are available in quantity from MSA.

 

Mark Twain Award Program

            The Masonic Information Center is completing its 7th year of sponsoring the Mark Twain Masonic Awareness Award, which was initially authorized by Grand Lodges at the Conference of Grand Masters.  The award recognizes Lodges that have demonstrated exemplary work in constructing a positive Masonic identity within the Lodge and its local community.

            In 2012, a total of 88 Lodges from 34 Grand Jurisdictions originally indicated that they would enter the award competition.  At the deadline in December, 46 Lodges had submitted entries. This represents an increase of about 20 % from the preceding year. The winners, as always, will be announced at the Annual Meeting of the Masonic Service Association during the Conference of Grand Masters in February.

            During the past year, MIC has been attempting to provide more assistance to the Lodges in preparing their submissions.  Periodic communication is maintained with those who indicate their interest in submitting an entry.  Explanations and tips are provided on the MSA website, and this year, MIC-scanned examples of entries from the previous year’s winners were displayed online to assist those preparing their 2012 submissions.

            The MIC Steering Committee and its Mark Twain Award Task Force has been studying the procedures for the award, using the results of a questionnaire to Grand Secretaries as additional input.  Some changes are expected in the procedures for 2013, and these will be announced to the Grand Lodges at the Conference of Grand Masters in February.

            The 2011 Mark Twain Award winners, announced at the Conference of Grand Masters in February 2012 are listed here:

 

MARK TWAIN AWARD 2011 WINNERS

  • Alabama  - Rising Sun Lodge #29, Decatur, Alabama
  • Alabama - Helion Lodge #1, Huntsville, Alabama
  • Arizona  -  Oasis Lodge #52, Tucson, Arizona
  • Arizona   -  Tucson Lodge #4, Tucson, AZ
  • California  - California Lodge #1, Daly City, CA
  • California -  Granada Hills Lodge #378, Granada Hills, CA
  • Hawaii  -  Hawaiian Lodge, Honolulu, HI
  • Iowa  - Newton Lodge #59, Newton, IA
  • Louisiana -  Franklin Lodge #57, Franklin, LA
  • Michigan -  Byron Lodge #80, Byron, Michigan
  • Minnesota -  Red Wing Lodge #8, Red Wing, Minnesota
  • Nevada  -  Dhahran Daylight Lodge #55, Henderson, Nevada
  • New Hampshire  -   Benevolent Lodge #7, Milford, New Hampshire
  • New Hampshire -  St. John's Lodge #1, Portsmouth, New Hampshire
  • New Jersey -  Fidelity Lodge #113, Ridgewood, New Jersey
  • New Jersey - Atlas Pythagorus Lodge #10, Westfield, New Jersey
  • Oklahoma  -  Frontier Lodge #48, Stillwater, OK
  • Pennsylvania  -  Jerusalem Lodge #506, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Pennsylvania  -  Good Samaritan Lodge #336, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
  • Texas  -  Rio Grande Lodge #81, Brownsville, Texas
  • Washington  -  Temple Lodge, Cheney, Washington
  • Wisconsin  -  George Washington 1776 Lodge #337, Whitefish Bay, WI

 

Summary

            The Masonic Information Center, as an arm of the Masonic Service Association of North America, continues to answer the call for new and continuing, factual and credible, easy-to-access information on Freemasonry.

            We sincerely thank the Grand Lodges for their support of this effort, and we appreciate the volunteer work of our Steering Committee.

Respectfully submitted,

GEORGE O. BRAATZ, PGM
Executive Secretary

MASONIC INFORMATION CENTER
STEERING COMMITTEE MEMBERS

Dean R. Alban                                                         Thomas W. Jackson
George O. Braatz                                                     Jack H. Jones
Robert Conley                                                          Gary Leazer
Joseph R. Conway                                                  Steward W. Miner
John Cooper                                                             George D. Seghers
Richard H. Curtis                                                     Terry Tilton
Robert G. Davis                                                        James Tresner
David Goodnow

SPECIAL MEMBERS AND CONSULTANTS
Bernice Robinson                                                   S. Brent Morris
Carolyn Bain                                                                        Peter Normand

 

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