A Full Trestleboard: The Year Ahead
Thank you for the privilege of serving you and our Grand Jurisdiction as Grand Master for 2020. It is a responsibility that I approach with the utmost respect and seriousness of purpose. I’ll make you two promises right out of the gate: I will work hard to earn the trust that you have placed in me, and I will not make everyone happy!
To get things started, my wife, Maryann, and I would like to offer all of you our best wishes for a safe, productive, and Happy New Year! We look forward to meeting as many of you as possible throughout this year, and we both hope that you will consider participating in the numerous family-friendly events that we have planned.
There are ambitious plans for this year! Many of you have been asked to serve on the 30+ Grand Lodge Committees that have been formed for the purpose of making these plans a reality. In total, almost 300 very talented brethren have offered or been asked to serve – such that I am confident that I’ve broken the DC indoor record for Committee-forming. Each committee is led by an outstanding chairman, and each also has an elected Grand Lodge Officer who will serve as a liaison to me for reporting and coordination purposes. In the next week or so, I look forward to sharing my vision and expectations with all the committees.
So, what are some of the plans?
- We will continue to do the things that you already know and love: Universal Brotherhood Celebration (UBC), Fourth of July Parades, Grand Lodge Picnic, Masonic Day of Thanksgiving, etc. However, we will consider some changes to UBC and perhaps add a soccer game or some type of sporting event to the Annual Picnic.
- We’re going to have family outings to Patriotic events at Fort Myer and the Iwo Jima Memorial.
- The significant others (SO) of our Masons will be invited to a First Lady’s Tea with First Lady Maryann, and she is also planning a charity fashion show for mid-May.
- We have a “New Acacia Network” subcommittee looking at how to make Freemasonry more applicable to your daily lives, by providing a way to seek help or advice from other DC Masons.
- Our Cultural Events subcommittee will plan and present several cultural events for the enjoyment of our Brethren and families and will also serve as a venue to invite non-Masonic guests.
- We’ll have a very special committee called “Masonic Wellness” to look at how to provide help to our brethren and families who may suffer from mental disorders and additive behaviors. It has been my experience that any Brother who suffers from such things is not capable of being an effective Freemason – and in many cases his family also suffers.
- We will strengthen and improve our Hospitality Committee, which will provide a Brother to serve as a companion and guide to visiting Brethren and their families in Washington, DC. It is my hope and expectation that this will help both our visitors AND our DC Brethren.
- Our Masonic Education and Service Committee will continue to build on the outstanding work began last year and create a repository of “Best Practices” for use by our Lodges. They will also present instruction during the year.
- Our Combined Grand Visitations (3 in total) will feature a Festive Board and speaker, and will be designed to serve as an opportunity to invite men who wish to learn more about Freemasonry.
- We have a very talented Publications and Media Production Committee, whose interests will include the production of updated informational material for prospective men, and to produce rich media content for use on social media platforms.
- Our History Committee will develop ways to better present the rich history of our Lodges, and to share this past with brethren and families.
- We’ve started a Masonic Youth Programs Committee who will look at helping our new DeMolay program be successful, as well as to look for other opportunities for the healthy involvement of our Youth in the principles of Freemasonry.
- Our Masonic Service Presentation Committee will ensure that all 50, 60 and 70-year pins are awarded to our Brethren who are dispersed and hard to reach by our Lodges.
- Our Library and Museum Committee will make these resources more accessible to our Lodges.
- Our Arlington Masonic Funerals Subcommittee will expand a program already being conducted by Freedom Military Lodge No. 1775, and will help provide Masonic Funerals for the families of Masonic Veterans who desire such a service at Arlington National Cemetery. We plan to advertise this special service nation-wide.
- And we also have a Research Lodge Exploratory Subcommittee, to look at the re-establishment of a Research Lodge in DC, to produce research of Masonic significance and interest that are worthy of representing the Grand Lodge of our Nation’s Capital.
- I plan to host a weekly get-together at the Grand Lodge on “Burger Friday” afternoons for our newly made Entered Apprentice Masons. Every newly made Mason will be invited to attend at least once during the period from Initiation to Fellowcraft.
- I plan to host a monthly luncheon for all newly made Fellowcrafts, and a monthly dinner for all new Master Masons. The purpose of the “Burger Friday” and dinners/luncheons should be obvious, but my hope is to immediately immerse our new brethren into Fellowship and Brotherhood, and to make them want to stay connected. It should serve as an extension of what you are already doing in your Lodges.
- Finally, I have some ideas for how to actually “market” Freemasonry to the men who live and work in & around Washington DC. I am looking for five test Lodges to experiment with this concept this year.
So, these are most of our Committees, but there are many more. Many of these committees toil in relative obscurity, doing very important things (Accounts, Budget, Building Maintenance, Code, Jurisprudence, Grievances, Leadership Conference, etc.), but I’ve burned up about all of the pixels I’m allotted and I’ll stop explaining everything!
Brethren, my focus this year is to understand where we came from and to build our future with that knowledge and motivation. I don’t really have a catchy slogan, and I don’t even have a pin or coin yet. My entire focus has been on getting the right men in the right places to help Freemasonry serve a vital role in our daily lives – not just one or two nights a month.
We’ve all made serious and solemn promises to each other, to care for each other. I want to help you fulfill those promises.
I look forward to an exciting and interesting year, and I definitely need your help. We all need your help. I am continuing the work began by the 165 Grand Masters who have preceded me. I am only the steward of our Grand Lodge for a short period of time, but I want to pass it on in good shape to the Grand Masters who will follow me.
I invite you to jump on for the ride.
Sincerely and Fraternally,
Michael D. Nicholas, Sr.
The Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia