MSA Logo

Masonic Service Association of North America

News Archive

2016  News Articles


Good Luck, George!

George Braatz has just spent his last day here in Burtonsville as the seventh Executive Secretary of MSA. He and Marilyn go on to their next great adventure, spending more time together and with their family. He deserves a rest from the tremendous work he has done for MSA, for the Veterans, and especially for the Volunteers at Veterans’ Hospitals who count in so many ways.

George will say he didn’t serve in the military, but his service these past five years certainly were meaningful to our country’s finest.

On behalf of every one of you, as well as the staff here in Burtonsville, we all give George a well-earned pat on the back and an “Attaboy!” Thank you, George!



Brother LaPlaceNew Executive Secretary Selected By MSA Board Of Commissioners

Simon R. LaPlace has been selected as the new Executive Secretary of the Masonic Service Association of North America.

Brother LaPlace is a Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Connecticut in 2013.

He succeeds George O. Braatz, who is retiring after five years of service in the position.  The selection of Brother LaPlace was made by the MSA Board of Commissioners at its Mid-Year Meeting earlier this month.

The MSA, formed in 1919 and now headquartered in Burtonsville, MD, provides educational material, statistical reports, disaster relief, and administers a Hospital Visitation Program across North America.

Brother LaPlace, who is completing his term as a member of the board of directors of the George Washington Masonic Memorial in Alexandria, VA, has been active for many years in Masonic activities at local, state and national levels.

The Executive Commissioners of MSA began the search for a new Executive Secretary in the spring of 2016 after Brother Braatz announced his upcoming retirement.

After reviewing submitted resumes and utilizing an interview process, the Executive Commissioners selected Brother LaPlace.  He will begin working at MSA on October 1.

Thomas H. Galyen, Chairman of the MSA Commissioners, said MSA is excited by this change in leadership and looks forward to the continuing service of MSA to all member jurisdictions and Masonry in general.

Brother Braatz, a Past Grand Master and Past Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Ohio, will conclude his service at MSA at the end of the year.


VA officers meets MA RepsTop VA Officer Meets MSA Reps in Massachusetts

Robert A. McDonald, right, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, was in Massachusetts in mid-July to attend a meeting at the West Roxbury VA Medical Center.  As he entered the facility, he found MSA's Hospital Representative and Deputy Representative Harvey A. Simons and Lil Simons, at the information desk.  Also pictured, at left, is volunteer Norman Hartstone.  Secretary McDonald is "a very gracious person." Lil commented.


Cornerstones - SOLD OUT

Cornerstone offer. . . Freemasons originally laid them in traditional ceremonies –

     and are still doing so today

Perhaps the best description of the Masonic tradition of Cornerstone Laying is found in the book, Cornerstones of Freedom, written by S. Brent Morris, and originally published by the Southern Jurisdiction of Scottish Rite.  It contains 195 pages of enjoyable reading and great pictures.

Also, a brochure, Cornerstones – a Masonic Tradition of Dedication . . . That Makes Sense Today, examines more recent Grand Lodge ceremonies and their significance.  The brochure, written by James Tresner for the Grand Lodge of Oklahoma, was subsequently published by MSA's Masonic Information Center.

You may purchase both the book and brochure for $12.00, including shipping and handling. (Out-of-U.S. purchasers should contact MSA for shipping costs.)

In addition, Author Brent Morris will autograph all copies of Cornerstones of Freedom purchased as part of this offer.

You may purchase the package at MSA's Online Store by clicking here, and using a credit card.

Or, send your check, marked "Cornerstones," to:

Masonic Service Association of North America
3905 National Drive, Suite 280
Burtonsville, MD  20866

Hurry. Quantities are limited.

Don't Miss the Prepublication Date of September 1 for Volume IV

STB VolumesThe fourth of a projected five-volume set of “The Complete Collection of Short Talk Bulletins” can now be ordered at special, reduced pre-publication prices.

Volume IV, with more than 700 pages, will cover all Short Talk Bulletins for the years 1968 through 1982.   When the series is completed, all 90-plus years of Short Talk Bulletins will be published in this attractive, re-edited, re-typeset, and indexed version.

Orders will be taken at the reduced, pre-publication price until September 1, 2016.  The Volume IV book is anticipated to be shipped to all buyers in the Fall, 2016.

The Short Talk Bulletin is an invaluable treasure of Masonic education and inspiration, and a great source of topical material for Lodge meetings.

The editor of the volumes is S. Brent Morris, P.M., Managing Editor of the Scottish Rite Journal and Past Master of Quatuor Coronati Lodge in London.

Limited supplies of Volume II and III of the Collection are still available for sale.  Volume I is now out of print.

Order a volume, using a credit card in MSA's Online Store.


MSA Executive Secretary To Retire

George BraatzGeorge O. Braatz, Executive Secretary of the Masonic Service Association of North America, has announced his upcoming retirement.

A Past Grand Master and Past Grand Secretary of Ohio, Brother Braatz is completing five years as the full-time Executive Secretary for MSA.

Thomas H. Galyen, Chairman of MSA, said that the organization is seeking applications from individuals to fill the position.  More information on the position and application instructions can be obtained by writing or calling the MSA office.  He said the MSA Board of Commissioners is interested in filling the position in the next several months.


New Chairman, Commissioner for Board Of Masonic Service Association

Thomas GaylenThomas H. Galyen has been elected Chairman of the Masonic Service Association of North America, succeeding William G. Roberts, PGM of Nevada, who died last November.

A Past Grand Master and Past Grand Treasurer of the Grand Lodge of Ohio, M.W. Brother Galyen has served as an Executive Commissioner of the MSA since 1997, representing the Great Lakes Division of Grand Lodge.

Barry WeerElected as the new Executive Commissioner to represent the Great Lakes Division is Barry D. Weer, Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Illinois.


The actions were taken at MSA's Annual Meeting in Madison, Wisconsin, during the Conference of Grand Masters.

Update On MSA Disaster Relief Appeals

South Carolina FloodingThe Disaster Relief Appeal for South Carolina, following large-scale flooding last October, has concluded.  A total of $110,000 has been sent to the Grand Lodge of South Carolina to assist in recovery efforts.   The picture here shows the level of water at Fort Jackson Masonic Lodge at the height of the flooding.

Also, $30,000 was sent to the Grand Lodge of Tennessee, following a series of tornados that caused severe damage there.

Presently, there are no other active MSA Disaster Relief Appeals that have been requested by Grand Lodges, even though reports of fires, flooding, tornadoes, and earthquakes have been in the news recently in many locations.


Maine Mason CoverMSA Audio Voice Achieves Cover Prestige in Maine

Brother Michael Smith, who initiated the program to put MSA Short Talk Bulletins into an audio format, has been featured with a cover story in the Winter 2015, issue of The Maine Mason, the official publication of the Grand Lodge of Maine.

MSA thanks Maine Grand Master David Walker A. Walker and Past Grand Master George P. Pulkkinen, editor of the The Maine Mason, for providing this special attention to MSA’s effort.

It was Brother Smith’s idea and very often his voice that makes the program work.

His concept has resulted in the Audio Subscription for Short Talk Bulletins. 


New Video Highlights MSA Hospital Visitation Program

A new video, "Are Ye Able?" has been produced, which provides a contemporary view of MSA's Hospital Visitation Program.

The goal of the video is to inform the Masonic world, as well as non-Masonic audiences, about the tremendous work of Masonic volunteers as they provide assistance for our Military Veterans at more than 150 VA Medical Centers and other Veterans' homes around the country.  It is also intended to serve as a method to recruit new volunteers.

Copies of the video on a DVD are available at no charge by contacting the MSA office for use in Masonic districts or regions, where it can be shown multiple times to a variety of groups.  The actual filming of the video was done at the VA Medical Center in Augusta, Georgia, and many of the spokespersons are Georgia Masons.  But the content is generic and appropriate for any state or Grand Lodge.

MSA is also proud of the assistance received from the Grand Lodge of Minnesota and is thankful for a grant from Minnesota Masonic Charities that made the production possible.

South Carolina Flooding Disaster Appeal

The Masonic Service Association has established a Disaster Relief Fund for South Carolina, following a weeklong drenching of rain, causing rivers to overflow, dams to burst, roadways to flood , and home and businesses to be inundated with water, resulting in major damage or destruction.

Officials said billions of dollars of destruction has occurred to roadways and bridges, in addition to building damage, in this historic flooding.

In the Columbia area, one Lodge building has been virtually destroyed. It is a Lodge whose membership is heavily composed of active military personnel.  Other Lodges, plus homes of Masonic members, have been seriously damaged, and the toll to life and property is still growing and being assessed.

Please forward to the MSA such donations which you feel are appropriate to help our devastated Brothers, their families and others in this stricken jurisdiction.

Welcome to the New MSA Webpage!

This newly designed webpage has been in the creation process for about two years, and we hope all the visitors to this site enjoy the new features.

The appearance has been heightened by four rotating pictures at the top, highlighting some of MSA’s services.

The homepage menus are designed for easier progress to the portions of the page you are seeking. Improvements to the Online Store, and easier options to renew subscriptions or make donations, are available.

We’ve created an online MSA Library, where past stories that have appeared on the page may be researched.  We also added a new section, “Vintage MSA Publications,” where soon you will be able to read historic, although still pertinent, publications of MSA that are no longer available elsewhere.

All of the information about MSA’s services is still available for reading, but hopefully presented in a more user-friendly arrangement.  We would appreciate any comments.


2015 News Articles

Speakers KitMasonic Speakers Kit Now Available

Writing a speech can be a challenging assignment.  A Masonic speech may be even more difficult.  Let us help you be a successful Masonic speaker.

The Masonic Speakers Kit includes 8 useful MSA publications, now packaged together to provide savings for users.

The titles are:

  • Dress Up Your Speech: Quotations for Masonic Speakers
  • Bible Quotations for Masonic Speakers
  • Masonic Vocabulary
  • Pocket Masonic Dictionary
  • Pocket Encyclopedia of Masonic Symbols
  • Language Landmarks
  • And Give Them Proper Instruction
  • Trestleboard Tidbits

Click here for more information and to order at MSA’s Online Store.

MSA Display Unit Unveiled at Masonic Conference

The Masonic Service Association, for the first time, designed a table-top d isplay for the Annual Conference of Grand Masters of North America, which took place recently in Vancouver, British Columbia.

There was a good response to the display, which showed MSA's Hospital Visitation, Disaster Relief, and Educational and Informational Services. Numerous Masonic leaders from a round the world stopped at the display to pick up samples of materials, ask questions about programs, and just discuss Freemasonry in general.

South Carolina Flooding Disaster Appeal

The Masonic Service Association has established a Disaster Relief Fund for South Carolina, following a weeklong drenching of rain, causing rivers to overflow, dams to burst, roadways to flood , and home and businesses to be inundated with water, resulting in major damage or destruction.

Officials said billions of dollars of destruction has occurred to roadways and bridges, in addition to building damage, in this historic flooding.

In the Columbia area, one Lodge building has been virtually destroyed. It is a Lodge whose membership is heavily composed of active military personnel.  Other Lodges, plus homes of Masonic members, have been seriously damaged, and the toll to life and property is still growing and being assessed.

Please forward to the MSA such donations which you feel are appropriate to help our devastated Brothers, their families and others in this stricken jurisdiction. Read how you can donate online or by check.


William G. Roberts, MSA Chairman, Passes To Celestial Lodge

The Masonic Service Association is sadden by the death of William G. Roberts, Chairman of MSA, who passed away on November 21, in Reno, Nevada, following a brief illness.

Most Worshipful Brother Roberts was an Executive Commissioner for MSA, representing the western U.S., for 16 years, and subsequently was elected Chairman for an additional 9 years.  He presided over many annual and semi-annual meetings and provided outstanding guidance for MSA during his tenure.

He was a Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Nevada.

Brother Roberts was born in Tonopah and spent most of his life in this community.  For many years, he worked in nearly all areas for the Tonopah Times-Bonanza newspaper, and specifically served in positions as editor, reporter, and columnist.  He was also active in many Tonopah civic organizations.

Survivors include his wife, Barbara Jean (B.J.), and son, Matthew W., and two grandchildren.

The Grand Lodge of Nevada conducted Masonic Funeral Services on Nov. 29.

Holiday Special

Special Money-Saving Offer Can Bring Lifetime Reading Pleasure to a Mason

MSA is offering a special bundle of Volumes II and III (clothbound Master Mason Edition ONLY) of the Short Talk Bulletin Collection.

These two volumes are still available for sale individually at $98 each (includes shipping), but you can save by buying these two volumes together through the Holiday Special!  Volumes II and III, Master Mason Edition, are priced as a packaged Special for $170.00, which includes shipping—U.S. only.*   This is a savings of $26.

These are the re-edited, re-typeset, and indexed Short Talk Bulletins in bound volumes, each containing approximately 15 years of MSA’s monthly publication, and well-over 700 pages of outstanding reading in each volume.

The deadline for this offer is December 31, 2015, and it cannot be extended after that date.

You can purchase these volumes either through our online store or download the PDF for ordering by mail.

* For shipping costs for non-U.S. orders please call our office at +1 301-476-7330.

Please Note: Due to high demand, Volume I is no longer available.


Trestleboard TidbitsTrestleboard Tidbits Reprinted

Because of the popularity of this ageless publication, MSA has reprinted “Trestleboard Tidbits,” by Alphonse Cerza.  The most recent previous printing was 2008.

Originally published in 1982, this 67-page MSA Digest contains a host of interesting tidbits on Freemasonry, complied by author, under such headings as, Capsules of Masonic History, The Nature of Freemasonry, Masonic Symbolism, Masonic Law, and even Masonic Humor.

Trestleboard Tidbits can be purchased for $4.00 in the MSA’s Online Store.


Picture of the vintage publicationsFirst Vintage Publications Added to Collection

The first out-of-print publications have been added to the Masonic Service Association’s new webpage Library section, called "Vintage MSA Publications."

They are:

  • “Masonic Questions Answered by the Courts,” by Alphonse Cerza, first published in 1972.
  • “Lodge Guide For Celebrating the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution", published in 1987.
  • “Masonic Renewal Task Force Reports,” published in 1990.

Disaster Appeal for Baja California Sur Concludes

The disaster relief appeal for Baja California Sur has been concluded and the Masonic Service Association has sent $25,000 -- received from individual, Lodges, and Grand Lodges – to the Gran Logia de Baja California Sur, with headquarters in La Paz, Mexico.

In September, the MSA issued the appeal, following widespread damage in the area from Hurricane Odile.

Many examples of the use of those funds to help individuals, families, and Lodges have been communicated to MSA.  To view some of the examples, go to a special website the Gran Logia has set up – -- for the latest report.  At the bottom you can move backwards and see other uses they made of the disaster funds.

Graphic Examples of MSA Disaster Relief Funds in Action

In September, the Masonic Service Association issued a Disaster Relief Appeal to assist the Gran Logia de Baja California Sur, with headquarters in La Paz, Mexico.  Hurricane Odile had left widespread damage and flooding.

From the initial donations received by MSA and sent to the Grand Lodge, we have received some early reports of how the money is being used.

Brother Valentino Sartev, who has been a liaison between the Gran Logia and MSA, described in several reports what he discovered while dispersing some aid: 

I spent a day in one of the communities today where families have kids sleeping on the floor.  We are buying 25 bed mattresses, sheets, etc. We had the kids copying their feet (tracing the size) on paper sheets, so we can buy shoes for them.  Many haven't been able to go to school for this reason.  They lost everything.


I'm very much concerned in helping the brothers of Lodge "Fieles Obreros" #189 in La Paz.  The Lodge is one of the oldest in the country, more than 140 years.  Part of its roof is literally ripped off and incoming rain is damaging the whole lodge.  The walls of the Lodge are covered with many paintings and need to be rescued.


It is true happiness to see how sharing disaster funds from MSA made another positive change in someone's life.  A widow woman, who last Christmas lost her husband, who was a brother of a 33rd Degree Mason, suffered a huge loss on her property.  Half of the house was literally eaten by the hurricane. The construction that has remained contains two little bedrooms and a bath. Beds and other furniture were destroyed; clothes and more things were sucked through the windows by the winds. She is being helped to put the house back together by the brothers and family and today we donated bed mattresses, sheets, pillows, a front door, bed covers, towels and beds. This woman also is taking care of the two kids of her daughter, who passed away a couple of years ago.

Measured for Shoes

Young feet being measured for shoes.


Before the hurricane

What the La Paz Lodge looked like before hurricane.

House of widow

The house of a widow




Here are the previous news articles from 2012-2014 from the MSA home page.

2014 Green Envelope Appeal Features Rear Admiral William G. Sizemore

Rear Admiral SizemoreBrother William G. Sizemore, a third generation Navy veteran, currently serving as Grand Executive Director of the Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction, is the featured writer in this year's Green Envelope Appeal, which helps fund the Masonic Service Association's Hospital Visitation Program.

This year's appeal has been mailed to many friends and associates of the MSA across the continent.

"Brother Sizemore is a highly recognized Naval Officer, who comes from a family of distinguished U.S. Military Veterans," said George O. Braatz, P.G.M., Executive Secretary of MSA.   "He is also using his vast leadership skills on behalf of the Masonic Fraternity.

"He knows and understands the sacrifices and needs of the new generation of Military Veterans, and MSA is very pleased that he is willing to serve as our spokesman in this campaign."

View the biographical information on Brother Sizemore and the full Green Envelope Appeal Letter.

You may also choose to donate online

Annual Membership Report For North America Released

The Masonic Service Association has released its annual survey of Grand Lodge membership statistics, showing that the Masonic population in the United States and Canada totals 1,324,640.

This breaks down to 1,246,241 members in the United States and 78,399 in Canada.

The total represents a decline of 59,192 Masons in the U.S. and 3,076 in Canada from the previous year.

The Masonic Service Association has been tracking membership statistics in the U.S. since 1924, and the complete annual figures for 90 years, as well as the most recent totals for each Grand Lodge, can be reviewed by clicking here.

The current statistics are labeled as the 2013 Membership Report.  Each Grand Lodge has a differing fiscal year, and the membership numbers they provide are from the conclusion of their most recent fiscal year.

In this 2013 report, four Grand Lodges – Colorado, Hawaii, North Dakota, and South Dakota – indicated a higher total of members than the previous year.

Serbia Disaster Relief Appeal Ends with $32,000 Donated

The disaster relief appeal for the Grand Lodge of Serbia has concluded, with a total of $32,000 being contributed by the Masonic family of North America.

Earlier this year, torrential rains and massive flooding caused thousands of families to be evacuated from homes in Serbia and surrounding regions. It was reported as being the "worst floods since records began being kept 120 years ago."

The Grand Lodge of Serbia has indicated that is will use the funds to assist in such reconstruction as hospitals and schools.

National Anthem – 200 Years Old -- Changes Our 'Flag' to the 'Symbol of Liberty'

Fort McHenry FlagSeptember, 2014, marks the 200th anniversary of the writing of the words of the Star Spangled Banner.  It was penned as a poem by Francis Scott Key on September 13, 1814, as he watched the British bombard Fort McHenry at Baltimore.  The poem was later attached to the tune of a British song, popular in the United States, "The Anacreontic Song," and soon became a well-known American patriotic song.

According to Wikipedia, "The Star-Spangled Banner" was recognized for official use by the Navy in 1889, and by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916, and was made the national anthem by a Congressional resolution on March 3, 1931, which was signed by President Herbert Hoover.  That process from Key's words to becoming the U.S. National Anthem took 117 years.

However, the writing of the words and the creation of this tribute to the American Flag 200 years ago significantly changed the way citizens viewed the nation's flag.

According to USA Today (July 3, 2014), "Before the night of Sept. 13,1814, the flag was mostly thought of as a utilitarian marker, raised at military installations and used to identify government buildings."  But after the successful battle at Fort McHenry and the words written by Key, the American flag, "became the symbol of liberty and perseverance and the life of the nation," according to Jeffrey Brodie, deputy director of the Smithsonian Institution's Lemelson Center, quoted in the USA Today article.

The words of the song, at a perilous moment in U.S. history, "helped stir Americans' imagination about their future," the newspaper said.

Brodie, the project manager and one of the curators for the Smithsonian's Star-Spangled Banner preservation project, said that "Key's poem and the song that emerged were the first important works to infuse the flag with qualities of resilience and liberty," USA Today wrote.

STB Vol 12 Addition Weeks Added to Pre-Publication Deadline To Buy Volume II, Complete Collection, at Reduced Prices

The deadline for Pre-Publication purchases of Volume II, Complete Collection of The Short Talk Bulletins, has been extended two additional weeks – to September 15, 2014, from September 1.

With many Lodges in the country not meeting during the summer, months, it was decided to give some addition time for individuals and Lodges to order Volume II at the reduced prices.

Volume II will be printed in the Fall, 2014, for delivery before Christmas.  It is a book of more than 700 pages and includes all Short Talk Bulletins published from 1938 until 1952.  You may select a Grand Master's Edition, Master Mason's Edition, or Lodge Edition.

Full details about the Volume II can be found by clicking here.  Or to purchase at MSA's Online Store, using a credit card, please click here.

2 Popular Items Added to Online Store

Two popular items – both written in an excellent manner by Jim Tresner, of Oklahoma – have been added to MSA's Online Store, making them more easily available.

  • FURTHER LIGHT . . . Helpful Information for New Master Masons, is a concise, enjoyable, 50-page explanation of the Fraternity, it meaning and purpose.  (Illustrated)  It covers such subjects as the Ritual and its Evolution, an explanation of Obligations and Penalties, further explanation of the Three Degrees, how to respond to questions about the Craft, information on Concordant Bodies, and more.  Buy online.  Single copies $5.50 plus shipping and handling.

  • CORNERSTONES: A Masonic Tradition of Dedication . . . That Makes Sense Today, a 16-page booklet,was originally prepared for the Grand Lodge of Oklahoma and (edited for general use) is offered by permission by the MSA's Masonic Information Center. Buy online:   Single copy, $ .50 plus shipping and handling or 50-copy purchase receives 40% discount, making cost $15.00 plus shipping and handling.

Disaster Relief Appeal for Grand Lodge of Serbia

Torrential rains and massive flooding have caused thousands of families to be evacuated from homes in Serbia and surrounding regions. One comment regarding the areas affected is that "Everything is destroyed." News reports say that the equivalent of three months of rainfall occurred in three days, creating the "worst floods since records began being kept 120 years ago."

Read more about the appeal.

MSA Surpasses $10 Million in Disaster Aid

The Masonic Service Association has been distributing disaster relief assistance for more than 90 years and this month has gone over the $10 million plateau in funds contributed.

In May, MSA wired $42,500 to the Grand Lodge of the Philippines and THAT action elevated MSA above the $10 million mark.  See the entire 90-year history of this service provided by the Masonic Service Association.l

The latest $42,500 brings to $185,000, the total of relief that has been given to the Philippines, following the typhoon, which struck the island nation last year.  That appeal has now ended and all the contributed donations have been sent to help our brothers in the Philippines.

Since 1923, when Masonic Service Association issued its first appeal to help Japan, the MSA has become the recognized and credible Masonic group to which all the Grand Lodges trust in forwarding disaster aid when it is needed.  This is one of MSA's key services.

Also, remember that this is not MSA money.  The funds are donations from YOU – from individual Masons, Lodges and Grand Lodges, and not a penny of it is kept by MSA for administrative costs.  All disaster appeals are initiated by a Grand Lodge, and all money collected is forwarded to that Grand Lodge for local distribution.

The Masonic Service Association of North America is registered with the Internal Revenue Service as 501(c) (3) non-profit organization, and all donations are tax-deductible.

'Masonic Funeral Services' Revised and Updated

A new version of this venerable brochure is now available.  The title actually is, "An Open Letter Concerning . . . Masonic Funeral Services," and it is aimed at clergy of all faiths. It promotes understanding of Masonic funeral practices. 

The brochure, however, is also great for education of Masons, whether new members or those seeking more information regarding the Masonic funeral procedure.
This pocketsize pamphlet has been a popular item for many years for MSA, and supplies recently dwindled.  This newly designed and edited version become a more contemporary communication tool, but with the same traditional understanding of our Fraternity's views of the subject.

  • Single copy, $1, includes shipping, and must be ordered by mail from MSA.
  • Package of 50 brochures -, $14, plus shipping (from MSA or online)
  • Package of 100  brochures - $27, plus shipping (from MSA or online)


Past Executive Commissioner Passes

MSA was saddened to learn of the death of M.W. Brother P. Vincent Kinkead, Past Executive Commissioner of MSA and Chairman Emeritus. He was a Past Grand Master of Missouri. He passed away on April 2. Masonic Services will be Sunday, April 6, at 7 p.m., and funeral services will be Monday, April 7, at 10 a.m., both in Memorial United Methodist Church in Farmington, MO. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his widow, Evelyn, and his family.


Distribution of Masonic Brochures Surpasses 3.3 Million

As the Masonic Information Center (MIC) begins it third decade of service to the Masons of North America, its distribution of Masonic materials has reached some astounding numbers.

More than 3.3 million copies of brochures published by the MIC – the information arm of the Masonic Service Association – have been distributed.

The seven major printed pieces from MIC are listed below, with their totals.

Who Are the Masons? 
What's a Mason?  
Facts About Freemasonry 
Response to Critics
What Masonry Has Done for World 
There's No Sin in Symbols
Get a Life


Only the "Get a Life" brochure is now "out of print," with no plans for republication.  The other six brochures are still available in quantity, and are appropriate for giving to new members, prospective members and their families, to visitors to Lodge open houses or fair booths, and to just have available when someone wants information.

The MIC, created in 1993, has evolved into a force for improving the knowledge of Masonry among Lodge members and increasing the awareness of the Fraternity in the community.

Vol. II, Complete Collection of Short Talks, Ready for Orders

The second of a projected five-volume set of The Complete Collection of Short Talk Bulletins can now be ordered at a special, reduced pre-publication price.

Vol. II, with more than 700 pages, will cover all Short Talk Bulletins for the years 1938 through 1952.  It follows the successful launch last year of Vol. I of the series.  When the series is completed, all 90 years of Short Talk Bulletins will be published in this attractive, re-edited, re-typeset, and indexed version.

Orders will be taken at the reduced, pre-publication price until September 1, 2014, after which, prices will be raised.  The Vol. II book will be sent to all buyers in the Fall, 2014.

The Short Talk Bulletin, described as the "most widely distributed Masonic publication in the world," has been published monthly for more than 90 years, with nearly 1,100 separate issues available.  It is an invaluable treasure of Masonic education and inspiration, and a great source of topical material for Lodge meetings.

The editor of the volumes is S. Brent Morris, P.M., Managing Editor of the Scottish Rite Journal and Past Master of Quatuor Coronati Lodge in London.

A limited supply of Vol. I of the Collection is still available for sale.

Read a detail flyer about Vol. II, including all pricing information, as well as directions for ordering.

Order a volume, using a credit card in MSA's Online Store.

Historical Glimpse at "God Bless America"

The song, "God Bless America," written by Masonic Brother Irving Berlin, was a "hit" from the start, and continues to instill perhaps the most patriotic and emotional feelings for the U.S. than any other tune. Here is a little of the song's history, with a YouTube link at the end to hear Kate Smith first introduce it. The clip has been modified with some additional film footage of the era. (Look for Ronald Reagan at the end.)

Subject:  A Little Patriotic History

This is a very interesting bit of history and music.

Frank Sinatra considered Kate Smith the best singer of her time, and said that when he and a million other guys first heard her sing "God Bless America" on the radio, they all pretended to have dust in their eyes as they wiped away a tear or two.

Here are the facts...

The link at the bottom will take you to a video showing the very first public singing of "GOD BLESS AMERICA ". But before you watch it, you should also know the story behind the first public showing of the song.

The time was 1940. America was still in a terrible economic depression. Hitler was taking over Europe and Americans were afraid we'd have to go to war. It was a time of hardship and worry for most Americans.

This was the era just before TV, when radio shows were HUGE, and American families sat around their radios in the evenings, listening to their favorite entertainers, and no entertainer of that era was bigger than Kate Smith.

Kate was also patriotic. It hurt her to see Americans so depressed and afraid of what the next day would bring. She had hope for America, and faith in her fellow Americans. She wanted to do something to cheer them up, so she went to the famous American song-writer, Irving Berlin (who also wrote "White Christmas") and asked him to write a song that would make Americans feel good again about their country. When she described what she was looking for, he said he had just the song for her.

He went to his files and found a song that he had written, but never published, 22 years before - way back in 1917. He gave it to her and she worked on it with her studio orchestra. She and Irving Berlin were not sure how the song would be received by the public, but both agreed they would not take any profits from God Bless America . Any profits would go to the Boy Scouts of America. Over the years, the Boy Scouts have received millions of dollars in royalties from this song.

This video starts out with Kate Smith coming into the radio studio with the orchestra and an audience. She introduces the new song for the very first time, and starts singing. After the first couple verses, with her voice in the background still singing, scenes are shown from the 1940 movie, "You're In The Army Now." At the 4:20 mark of the video you see a young actor in the movie, sitting in an office, reading a paper; it's Ronald Reagan.

To this day, God Bless America stirs our patriotic feelings and pride in our country. Back in 1940, when Kate Smith went looking for a song to raise the spirits of her fellow Americans, I doubt whether she realized just how successful the results would be for her fellow Americans during those years of hardship and worry and for many generations of Americans to follow. Now that you know the story of the song, I hope you'll enjoy it and treasure it even more.

Many people don't know there's a lead in to the song since it usually starts with "God Bless America ....." So here's the entire song as originally sung.

View it on YouTube

MSA Hospital Visitation - Examples of Impact

Here are two recent examples of the nationwide MSA Hospital Visitation Program making an impact for U.S. Military Veterans or those injured during Active Duty.  They also show the value of online communications and social media.

First Example

The MSA Office in Maryland received an email from a U.S Serviceman and Mason, Brother Jeremy Moak.  It said,

"I'm a Master Mason from a lodge in Colorado, on active duty stationed in Italy.  I had a bad landing during an airborne jump in Italy on Dec. 18 and I've been in the hospital since.  I'm now back in the states at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio (now called San Antonio Military Medical Center)."  (MSA later discovered that he broke both ankles, one so bad he had to undergo surgery and will have a long period of rehabilitation.)   Brother Moak continued, "I'm interested in having some brothers visit me in the hospital, since I'm alone with no family or friends here."

George Braatz, MSA Executive Secretary, contacted Jack Norton, MSA Hospital Representative in San Antonio (who is himself a disabled vet in a wheelchair), and with his Deputy Rep, Charles Whetstone, made plans and set up some visitations for Brother Moak.  In addition, MSA contacted Tommy Guest, Grand Secretary of Texas, and sent out a note via the e-mail distribution chain of Carl E. Jones, seeking San Antonio area Masons and Lodges to make some visits.

A little over a day after the initial request, Brad Kohanke, Worshipful Master of Davy Crockett Lodge, made the first visit.  Plans for numerous other visits are in the works to give this injured military man and Mason a taste of what Masonic brotherhood really is.

Second Example

About the same time, Brother Braatz posted on the MSA Facebook site the following message: 

The Hospital Visitation Program of the Masonic Service Association is one of those well-kept "Masonic secrets." With volunteers at some 170 VA Medical Center around the nation, a tremendous amount of good work is done. I just received this note from Joe Puff, our Hospital Representative at the Jefferson Barracks VA in St. Louis: "My work at the VA is contacting fellow Masons, but has blossomed into visiting many other Vets that have no family or visitors to stay with them for awhile. I am spending a lot of time with terminally ill patients that are really alone at this time. They seem to sincerely appreciate this contact immensely, and they are very aware that it is a Mason visiting them." Hats off to Brother Puff and our many other dedicated volunteers!

This message produced more comments, "likes," and sharing than any other message thus far posted on the Facebook page.  Comments included:  "This is the kind of news I like to hear, and I'm sure the Vets appreciate it."  "HOOORAH !!! What a great way to display Masonry in action."  Even Jeremy Moak from #1 (above) made a comment: "Had a visit today from Worshipful Master Brad Kohanke.  I'm thankful to this organization fore being around and getting me in contact with fellow Masons in the area.  So nice to have fellow Masons coming to visit me."

Digests on SaleOnline Special: 2 Great Digests Available at Bargain Price

Dwight L. Smith was one of the most influential and well-read Masonic writers during the middle of the 20th Century.  He was a Past Grand Master and Past Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Indiana, and a long time Editor of the Indiana Freemason.

In the 1960s, the Masonic Service Association published two writings of M.W. Brother Smith -- "Whither Are We Traveling?" and "Why this Confusion in the Temple.  Because of their appeal, several reprints were necessary over the years.

He writes about numerous issues that remain topics for improving Freemasonry today, and his insight is just as valuable as it was 50 years.

Get both volumes for $5.00 (regular price is $7.00), plus $3.00 for shipping and handling.  Click here to visit the MSA store.

Disaster Relief Appeal Summary During 2013

So far during 2013, there has been much generosity shown by the Masonic world in assisting in relief for others.  Here is a summary of what MSA has been doing:

  • On November 14, 2013, MSA issued a Disaster Relief Appeal for the Philippines, following the massive destruction and loss of life from a typhoon that hit on November 8.  Money is already flowing in from the Masonic community and the first funding will be sent to the Grand Lodge of the Philippines soon.  Read more and contribute to the Appeal for the Philippines
  • On May 22, 2013, MSA issued an appeal for Oklahoma, after a series of tornados left a path of destruction in the town of Moore, OK.  On November 9, George O. Braatz, MSA Executive Secretary, personally presented a check for $70,000 to the Grand Lodge of Oklahoma at its Annual Communication, bringing the total given to Oklahoma to $235,000 since the appeal was issued.  This appeal will be closed at the end of 2013.
  • On November 13, 2012, MSA issued a Disaster Relief Appeal for the Grand Lodges of New York and New Jersey, following the massive destructive force of Hurricane Sandy.  The appeal effort for New York and New Jersey was ended on November 4, 2013.  That yearlong effort produced a total of $214,228 for the Grand Lodge of New York, and $213,304 for the Grand Lodge of New Jersey.

Disaster Relief Appeal for the Philippines

Masonic Service Association has established a Disaster Relief Fund for the Philippines, with all donations to be transferred directly to the Grand Lodge of the Philippines for distribution to those in need.

The news media has communicated the enormous damage caused by Typhoon Haiyan to the Philippines on November 8.  While it is too soon to determine the final extent of the loss of life and destruction of buildings, we know the suffering is extensive and will be long lasting.

Read more and contribute to the Appeal for the Philippines.

Masonic Service Association Moves To New Location

The new office is modern, less costly, and will better meet the future needs of MSA as it serves our Fraternity in the 21st Century. The new offices are about 10 miles away from its long-time headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland.

The new address is:

3905 National Drive, Suite 280
Burtonsville, MD 20866

The relocation has required New Contact Numbers and Addresses. Our new telephone numbers are:

Phone:    301-476-7330

Fax:         301-476-9440

Toll-free: 855-476-4010

Please note: The phone number has changed from what was publicized as "new" in recent mailings. The telephone company gave MSA one number then changed it after we had sent out the information.

Also, we have a new email address:

[email protected]

Please adjust your records with this new information.

Back By Popular Demand:  Founding Fathers Membership

Masonic Membership of the Founding Fathers, originally published in 1965, was allowed to go "out of print" a couple of years ago, but customer demand for the publication has resulted in a 2013 reprinting.  It is now available from MSA for $9, plus shipping, and can be purchased online as well.

This 164-page book, written by Ronald E. Heaton, had been reprinted earlier in 1974, 1988, and 1997, prior to this year's reissuing.

It examines the evidence of Masonic membership of 241 Revolutionary-era patriots.

Queen of Sheba Visits King Solomon in Famous Painting

The current Short Talk Bulletin (June, 2013) relates many factors surrounding the often-told story of the Queen of Sheba visiting King Solomon.

Of the dozens of paintings that have been drawn depicting this event, perhaps the best is the painting by Sir Edward John Poynter in 1890.  Please click here to see that full painting.

The author of this Short Talk Bulletin, Ronald Gale, of Australia, notes that 7 films, 16 books, 1 operatic musical, 1 television program, 1 ballet feature, 3 poems, 21 songs, and about 70 paintings have used the theme of Queen of Sheba visiting King Solomon.

Author Dan Brown Comments on Freemasonry

Dan BrownDan Brown, author of the Da Vinci Code and more recently The Lost Symbol, was interviewed recently by The Independent, a publication in the United Kingdom, in which he makes some very interesting comments about Freemasonry.  The interview actually took place in London in Freemason's Hall, the headquarters of the United Grand Lodge of England.

Brown's latest book, Inferno, is now on sale.

Here is a link to read the interview story in The Independent.

Popularity of 'One Hundred One Questions' Continues

Cover of One Hundred One Questions Pocket DigestThe MSA Pocket Digest, "One Hundred One Questions About Freemasonry" – reprinted this year for the 31st time – has proven itself as a Masonic education guide that can seamlessly move through generations.

According to its Foreword:

In March, 1938, the Association published a Short Talk Bulletin entitled, "Nine Questions;" in May, one called "Nine More Questions," and in March, 1953, "Please Tell Me" (which contained still another nine questions).  These were queries made especially by newly made Masons.

So many were the requests for these Bulletins, and so numerous were other questions . . . that this booklet, containing one hundred one of the most commonly asked questions, resulted.

As a Pocket Digest, it was copyrighted in 1955.  Its 8th printing was in 1962 and its 30th printing was in 2009.

This year's 31st printing, a 70-page digest, is now available by mail from the MSA office or online using a credit card at MSA's Online Store at  ($3.50 plus $3.00 shipping and handling for each copy.)

Carl Claudy, Executive Secretary of the Masonic Service Association from 1929 to 1957, was the original author of "One Hundred One Questions About Freemasonry," among his many Short Talk Bulletins and other writings.

The digest's basic Masonic information is perfect for Lodge education meetings, or as filler material for Lodge newsletters.

The Foreword, written more than 50 years ago, says, "The book is designed for any Mason of an inquiring mind, but should be especially useful to instructors in the ritual."

"Who Are The Masons" Hits 1 Million Copies

Who Are The Masons CoverA new reprinting of the brochure, "Who Are The Masons? And What Do They Do?" has pushed total distribution for that item to 1 million copies.

Since it was first printed in 1999, it has become the most popular publication ever issued by the Masonic Information Center.

It is a colorful brochure that gives an overview of Freemasonry, and lists dozens of famous persons who are or were Masons.

"Who Are The Masons" is perfect for handing out to non-members at open houses or "friendship dinners."  It is available for purchase.  Visit out "Online Store" for full information.

MIC Ends Mark Twain Award Competition

New Initiatives in Masonic Awareness Planned

In 2006, the Masonic Information Center, an arm of the Masonic Service Association of North America, launched the Mark Twain Award for Excellence in Masonic Awareness, planning to sponsor the Award for three years.  With growing Lodge participation, the competition was extended for an additional four years.  Now, having completed its 7th year and having recognized 129 winners, MIC feels it is being pulled to serve new initiatives, and no Twain Award will be offered in 2013. 

"We deeply appreciate the participation of hundreds of Lodges and the positive Masonic journeys that entrants have traveled with their Brethren and their communities," said George Braatz, MSA Executive Secretary.  "Across the country, I have personally met with and heard from dozens of participants, telling stories of how the Twain Award guided their Lodges back to a position of strength in the community.  Time and again, I heard that the Twain Award guidelines provided simple processes through which their Lodges rekindled their enthusiasm for our Masonic identities and respect for our historical Fraternity." 

"In our seven years of experience with the program, we witnessed how the principles and procedures used by Mark Twain Award competitors have proven themselves as successful avenues to greater Masonic awareness. These practices can be easily perpetuated without the necessity of an award program," Braatz said. "We encourage Lodges to continue to use these methods for their own success, even though there will be no trophy at the end."

Although the contest ends, its resources will remain archived online and available to Lodges needing examples of success stories and tips on moving forward.

Much has changed throughout the world since MIC released its 2004 report to the Grand Masters, "It's about Time," in which MIC proposed that moving Masonry into the 21st Century meant making a call to action and moving away from lethargy.  Research led to the proposal of the Mark Twain Award as an incentive, geared primarily for Lodges looking for extra tips on how to break free of old habits that inhibited both Masonic participation and Lodge potential. 

In this different world of global cyber communications, MIC plans to focus on Masonic awareness and Masonic service in new ways, such as our recent offering of Masonic information publications in an online store. 

MSA Official Appointed to National Veterans Advisory Committee

George O. Braatz, Executive Secretary of the Masonic Service Association of North America (MSANA), has been appointed to represent MSANA on the National Advisory Committee for the U.S. Veterans Administration Voluntary Services.

It will be the first time in many years for a Masonic representative to serve in an advisory capacity for the VAVS.

Brother Braatz said that during his two-year term he would work to strengthen the relationship between Freemasonry and our military Veterans.

The Masonic Service Association for more than 50 years has administered a Hospital Visitation Program at virtually all VA medical facilities in the country, as well as at a variety of state Veterans homes or military hospitals.

MSA is one of 57 national groups – and the only Masonic one – certified by the VA to work in and provide services to our military Veterans in VA facilities.

MSA coordinates about 184 certified Coordinators and Hospital Representatives in the U.S., plus works with more than 1,000 other Masonic volunteers who assist at VA hospital and medical centers.

Brother Braatz is a Past Grand Master and Grand Secretary Emeritus of the Grand Lodge of Ohio.

In 2013, MSANA celebrates three milestones

  • 90 years of monthly publishing the Short Talk Bulletin, which means that 1,080 issues of the educational publication have been printed.
  • 90 years of providing Disaster Relief services for Grand Lodges in North America and beyond, including the collection and distribution of more than $9 million in Disaster Relief funds.
  • 20 years of providing informational services and programs by the Masonic Information Center, an arm of MSA.

 Within a few years after its creation in 1919, the Masonic Service Association began to implement more avenues of service to the Fraternity.  One was supplying educational materials.  Thus was formed the Short Talk Bulletin.  Volume I, Number 1 was published in January 1923, on the subject, "Paul Revere."

Over the past nine decades, MSA has issued 105 Disaster Appeals and distributed some $9.5 million in relief.  The full listing of all disaster appeals in the 90 years can be found on by clicking here.

The full story of these milestones is detailed in the January 2013 Short Talk Bulletin. Download the subscription order form (PDF).

Program to Help Homeless Military Veterans

The Masonic Service Association is cooperating with the Veterans Administration in its effort to eliminate homelessness of military veterans by 2015.

In early, January 2011, it was reported that more than 65,000 veterans were homeless, and while this number has been decreasing, MSA agrees with the VA that this total is still "unacceptable."

MSA is helping by trying to spread the word. If you are a veteran in need of assistance, or if you know a veteran who is homeless or at risk of homelessness, there is help available.

The National Call Center for Homeless Veterans hotline, toll-free, is 1-877-424-3939. Make this call if you know of someone in need. Also, go to for more information and other assistance in organizing local programming for this effort.

Veterans nationwide are eligible for comprehensive, coordinated access to health care, housing, employment, education, job counseling and training, and justice system assistance and benefits.

Remember, the words "homeless" and "veteran" should never be used together.

Thank you!

Done for the World Brochure CoverNew Brochure Highlights Masonry's Historic Contributions To Society

Key historical trends, which were either initiated or advanced by Masonry, are described in a new brochure published by the Masonic Information Center.  "What Has Masonry Done for the World?" is aimed at both Masons and non-Masons.

The societal innovations influenced by Masonry include Individualism, Democracy, Human Rights, the Rights of Workers, the Arts and Architecture, Public Education, Health, and Personal Development and Fulfillment.

The pamphlet is an excellent tool to build pride and respect for the Fraternity in the heart of any Mason, regardless of the length of their time in the Craft.

"What Has Masonry Done for the World?" also is perfect for reading by families and friends of Masons, or for handing to non-Masons who may show an interest in Masonry.  It is great for giving to visitors at open houses, fairs, and other public events.

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

This brochure will be sold only in lots of 50*.

                             50 @ .27 = $13.50
100 @ .25 = $25.00
500 @ .23 = $115.00
1,000 @ .20 = $200.00
* Plus postage

Send orders to Masonic Service Association, 3905 National Drive, Suite 280 Burtonsville, MD 20866.

Historic Book Now a Bargain for Stamp-Collecting Enthusiasts

The Masonic Service Association is offering a bargain for an historic stamp-collecting book.

The 50-page publication, "Masonic Philately," traces all postage stamps of the U.S. and Canada that relate to any Freemason during a 141-year period, from 1847 to 1988.  The book was written by Christopher Leo Murphy, an active Mason from British Columbia, and was published by the MSA in 1990.

Since its publication, the books have been sold by MSA for $3.50 per copy, but it is now on sale for $1.00 per copy, plus shipping and handling, as long as the supply lasts.

According to author Murphy, the booklet is a good "starter" for those interested in Class II U.S. and Canadian stamps (those that show a Freemason or the name of such). "It provides a good foundation," he said.

The publication is filled with names, dates, identifying information, and artwork of the stamps.

Anyone interested should send a check to the Masonic Service Association, 3905 National Drive, Suite 280 Burtonsville, MD 20866.  For single copies, the cost is $2.00 ($1.00 for the book and $1.00 for S&H).  For the cost of shipping and handling for multiple copies, add $3.00 for orders up to $5.00; add $6.50 for orders up to $10.00; and add $7.50 for orders up to $20.00.

For more information, email MSA at [email protected] or call at 301-588-4010.


FacebookMasonic Service Association      •     Tel: (319) 206-5411      •        Fax: (319) 365-1439       •           Toll-free: (855) 476-4010
813 1st Ave SE, Cedar Rapids IA 52402-5001        •             Email: [email protected]

  Privacy Policy