Grand Lecturer’s Blog
There is nothing in the existing Standard Work and Lectures (SWL) that specifies that the Bible is to be opened to a specific passage of scripture when the Lodge is working in a specific Degree. To the best of my knowledge, it is one of those things that has been assumed to be “known.” When a Lodge is working in a specific Degree, the Bible is supposed to be opened to the scripture reading from the Ritual for that Degree. The Custodians of the Work will address this issue in future editions of the SWL
For a little further information, the specific Bible openings are not universally practiced in Masonry, and where they are practiced there is wide variety in the choice of the readings. Some jurisdictions use different Bible openings, some keep the Bible open on the same page throughout, and some don’t specify. Most likely the tradition of specific Bible openings started because it made it easy for the Chaplain to read the desired scripture directly from the Bible on the Altar. The earliest system of Degree-specific Bible openings I have seen comes from the famous 1763 exposure Three Distinct Knocks and specifies 2 Peter for the Apprentice’s Lecture (i.e., First Degree), Judges 12 for the Craft Lecture (Fellowcraft Degree) and 1 Kings 7 for the Master’s Lecture (Master Mason Degree). Completely different from ours! It seems likely that the scripture readings and associated Bible openings we adopted in the GLNY originate in the system developed and promulgated by Thomas Smith Webb and Jeremy Ladd Cross in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and it also seems likely that the custom of reciting a specific piece of scripture as part of each Degree Ritual probably originated in America around this time as well. The said, individual Lodges had probably been including bits of scripture in their Ritual practice for quite some time prior. Eighteenth century Masons were on average quite familiar with the Bible, and it’s not too hard to imagine them saying “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” during their ceremonies (although I doubt they were performing the whole Psalm). That said, the turn of the century seems to be when scripture readings began to be systemized in American ritual practice. Not for nothing, but these years also correspond to the earliest attempts of American jurisdictions to develop and promulgate a “standard work” for the Masonic ritual within their borders.
Grand Lecturer Convention
November 29, 2016
What a wonderful time was had by all at the Monroe District Grand Lecturer Convention in the Monroe District. The events began with a homemade dinner at Fairport-Flower City Lodge. The convention was opened a little differently than usual. All in attendance formed a chain of Brotherly Love around the Altar and RW Roberts offered up prayers for the benefit of RW Freidman and his wife Joanne. Just having Richard there was a lift for all in attendance, especially his lodge brothers. He was able to stay for most of the convention and was a willing and knowledgeable contributor to the Middle Chamber Lecture discussion. What a Surprise!
After our repast the Brethren moved to the Lodge room for the GLC. The first order of business of the GLC was discussing the new regulations on lodge certification and additional open lodge proficiency. All present understood the importance of both of these directives in order to preserve our Sacred Fraternity and keep our lodges strong.
The Middle Chamber Lecture and discussion followed. The ritual work was performed admirably by five brothers and was expertly handed off as their respective responsibilities changed. The discussion that ensued was extremely educational and sometimes entertaining. The conversations were so in depth that we filled the entire evening. The Brothers agreed that there was much more that could have been covered, but vowed to listen to the MCL with a new awareness. It was a pleasure to be in an environment where esoteric work is an integral part of the ritualistic learning.
Finally, congratulations to ERAC Lodge No. 163 for qualifying for the Potts Award. RW Freidman is the current Master band refused to deny his lodge of this award. Hats off to a great Brother and friend.
Perinton (originally Perrinton (in federal censuses) and sometimes Perrington when still part of Ontario County) is a town in Monroe County. The village of Fairport is within the town on the Erie Canal. Perinton is adjacent to the village of East Rochester (west), and the towns of Victor (south), Macedon (east), Pittsford (southwest), and Penfield (north). The hamlet of Egypt is in southeastern Perinton. Egypt Fire Department, Lollypop Farm, and Egypt Park are major Egypt landmarks. The southwestern portion of Perinton is called Bushnell’s Basin and is home to the Bushnell’s Basin Fire Department, Hitching Post Plaza, and Richardson’s Canal House.
In 1788, Oliver Phelps and Nathaniel Gorham purchased 2.6 million acres of land in the wilderness of Western New York. William Walker of Canandaigua purchased 36 square miles of the land and hired his brother Caleb and his cousin Glover Perrin (1762-1830) to survey and divide the land into 66 equal lots. The area was known as Township 12, Range 4, in the governmental unit of Northfield.
In 1793, Glover Perrin, his family, and his six siblings and their families, became the first permanent white settlers in the area. They settled in the flat and well-watered areas, specifically in the hamlet of Egypt (along the current Route 31) and Perinton Center (the intersection of Turk Hill and Ayrault roads). Early commercial ventures included mills, blacksmith shops, taverns, and inns. By the late 1820s, the village of Fairport, located within the town on the Erie Canal, was becoming a booming canal town. Fairport, however, was not incorporated as a village until 1867.
From the 1850s to the 1950s, Perinton’s history was primarily Fairport’s history. The village was an active canal port and also a booming industrial town, echoing a trend that was occurring nationwide. As a result of the availability of cheap and easy transportation, which by the 1850s included the railroad as well as the canal, companies like the DeLand Chemical Company, the Cobb Preserving Company, Taylor’s Oil of Life, and eventually the American Can Company, grew and thrived. Services, including a fire department, a public library, street lighting, and parks, enhanced the life of the town and village. Residential areas, with homes built in a variety of architectural styles, were built around the bustling village center.
The town of Perinton, outside of Fairport, remained essentially rural until the 1950s. Today farms still exist in Perinton, but are surrounded by suburban subdivisions, office and industrial parks, and an impressive number of parks and open spaces. The village of Fairport still maintains the ambience of a canal town and capitalizes on the recreational aspects of that canal.
The town of Perinton was named one of the nation’s 100 best places to live in 2008 by RelocateAmerica.com. Richardson’s Tavern was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.
Fairport is a village located in the town of Perinton which is part of Monroe County. Fairport is a suburb 9 miles east of Rochester. It is also known as the “Crown Jewel of the Erie Canal”. In 2005 it was named as one of Money Magazine’s “Best Places to Live.
In the 19th century industry moved into Fairport including Deland Chemical (baking soda), Cobb Preserving (the predecessor to American Can) and the Trescott Company (fruit grading and packing systems). Deland Chemical later became Fairport Vinegar Works – makers of Certo brand pectin used to jell foodstuffs.
In the early 20th century the Erie Canal was expanded and renamed the Barge Canal. (It reverted to its original name in 1992) Barge transportation rapidly declined as automobiles and trucks became popular. The town began to expand away from the canal. Currently, the Erie Canal is used mainly for recreation.
Fairport acquired its name in the mid-19th century from a traveler on the Erie Canal who was overheard at Mallett’s Tavern referring to the village as a fair port. In an ironic twist, local legend has it that the same visitor vociferously complained the next morning that the Millstone Block Hotel had bedbugs and he stormed out of Fairport never to return. The name, however, stuck. Most residents of the town of Perinton reside within both the Fairport Central School District and the Fairport postal district; due to this it is common for Perinton residents to describe their place of residence as “Fairport” even if they live outside of the village.
Grand Lecturer Convention
Ontario Seneca Yates District
November 28, 2016
The Ontario Seneca Yates Grand Lecture Convention was hosted by Garoga Sincerity Lodge 200 in Phelps. Phelps is a town in Ontario County. The evening began with a home cooked dinner provided by RW Bob Ruggles, his wife Mary and RW Ronald Galens. RW Galens was a Grand Tiler for Grand Master Sullivan. RW Ruggles also served under MW Sullivan as Senior Grand Deacon. It is always nice to see good friends as I travel across the state it is even more special when you see them continue to serve the Fraternity. The downstairs which was newly renovated had the appearance of a small diner where a capacity crowd had a sumptuous meal.
Everyone traveled upstairs for the convention. The first order of business was presenting a Meacham Award to Garoga Sincerity Lodge 200 for their outstanding ritualistic performance last year. I am always honored to present these awards to deserving lodges. After the new regulations were discussed on lodge certification and additional open lodge proficiency was discussed, we began the Middle Chamber Lecture and discussion. The ritual work was performed admirably by three brothers. One of which was RW Ruggles. The discussions that ensued were extremely educational and sometimes entertaining. The conversations were sometimes so in depth that we filled the entire evening. The Brothers agreed that there was much more that could have been covered, but vowed to listen to the MCL with a new awareness.
RW Ruggles asked if there were at least three Brothers willing to take on the challenge of the MCL so that the district could become stronger in the future. I hope that the gauntlet he laid down was picked up with zeal.
Finally, congratulations to Canandaigua 294 and John Hodge 815 for qualifying for the Potts Award. It was a great time with great friends. Discussions on the MCL continue to become more and more involved.
Ontario County is a county in New York State. The county seat is Canandaigua. Ontario County is part of the Rochester, NY Metropolitan Statistical Area. In 2006, Progressive Farmer rated Ontario County as the “Best Place to Live” in the U.S., for its “great schools, low crime, excellent health care” and its proximity to Rochester. This area was long controlled by the Seneca people, one of the Five Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy, or Haudenosaunee. They were forced to cede most of their land to the United States after the American Revolutionary War.
When the English established counties in New York Province in 1683, they designated Albany County as including all the northern part of New York State, the present State of Vermont, and, in theory, extending westward to the Pacific Ocean. On July 3, 1766 Cumberland County was organized, and on March 16, 1770 Gloucester County was founded, both containing territory now included in the state of Vermont. The English claims were their assertion; the Five and then Six Nations of the Iroquois occupied and controlled most of the territory in central and western New York until after the Revolutionary War.
As New York was more heavily settled in the 18th century, the colonial government organized additional counties, but European settlement did not proceed very far west past Little Falls, about halfway through the Mohawk Valley, until after the revolutionary war. This area was temporarily part of Montgomery County, renamed after the war for an American officer. Seth Reed, a Colonel in the Battle of Bunker Hill, moved here with his family as a pioneer between 1787 and 1795. see also Geneva (town), New York.
Land-hungry settlers from New England swept into upstate and western New York after the Revolution, as nearly five million acres of new lands were available for purchase since the Iroquois were forced to cede most of their territories to the United States. Four tribes had allied with the British and were mostly resettled in Canada: the Mohawk, Onondaga, Seneca and Cayuga.
In 1789, Ontario County was split off from Montgomery. The territory first organized as Ontario County was much larger than at present and ran south from the shore of Lake Ontario. As the area was settled, new counties were organized. The following counties were rapidly organized from this territory in the first decades after the war: Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Niagara, Orleans, Steuben, Wyoming, and Yates counties, and parts of Schuyler and Wayne counties.
In 1796, Ontario County was divided and Steuben County was organized. In 1802, Ontario County was reduced when Genesee County was split off. The new county was originally very large, including the present Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Niagara, Orleans and Wyoming Counties and parts of Livingston and Monroe counties.
In 1821, portions of Genesee County were combined with portions of Ontario County to create Livingston and Monroe counties. In 1823, a portion of Seneca County was combined with a portion of Ontario County to create Wayne County. The same year, a portion of Steuben County was combined with a portion of Ontario County to create Yates County.
Joseph Smith, founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, lived in Manchester in the 1820s on the border with Palmyra. Several events in the early history of the movement occurred in Ontario County. Hill Cumorah in Manchester is where Smith said he discovered the Golden plates said to contain the writings later known as the Book of Mormon. Smith visited the hill each year on the fall equinox (September 22) between 1823 and 1827, and claimed to be instructed by the Angel Moroni. Smith said he was finally permitted to take the record on September 22, 1827. He published the Book of Mormon in Palmyra in 1830. The 110-foot (34 m) hill (which was then unnamed) is on the main road toward Canandaigua from Palmyra to Manchester (modern State Route 21); it was a few miles from Joseph Smith’s home.
Since the 1930s The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has held the Hill Cumorah Pageant annually here. It regularly attracts thousands to its performances. The church also maintains a visitors’ center at the hill, the Palmyra New York Temple, and the former Smith property and homes. The latter property straddles the border between Ontario and Wayne counties.
Letchworth District Grand Lecturer Convention
November 9, 2016
The newly formed Letchworth District had its first Grand Lecturer Convention on November 9. The new district is a combination of the Genesee Wyoming and Livingston Districts. The convention was hosted by Constellation Lodge No 404 and was held in Perry. The day’s events began with a dinner meeting at the historic Lumberyard Restaurant. I met with the current district leadership where they expressed some of the trials of the combined district and many of the problem-solving techniques they used to solve them. It appears as though this new district will be a success.
Upon entering the lodge building, I met with many brothers of the district who were enjoying light refreshments and finger foods. The atmosphere for a GLC could not be any better. As we moved up the stairs for the convention, I took some time to soak up the beauty and history of the building. Many of the pictures I took are on Facebook. The first order of business of the convention covered the Grand Master’s edict for lodges proving their proficiency for opening and closing. There was then a demonstration on the new additional open lodge proficiency program. The Middle Chamber Lecture then began and was performed by three brothers. The ritual was presented in a very professional manner and the brothers traded off their roles as the lecture processed. As we discussed the esoteric meanings of the many passages in the MCL, it was apparent that the brothers could readily see how this lecture was integral in their personal lives. They also understood how the MCL supported our Grand Master’s motto “Masonry: A Way of Life.” I was extremely pleased at both the work and thought provoking comments that developed throughout the convention. No one seemed to mind as the conversations lasted past the appointed closing time. When it came time for the group shot, we decided on a shot from the West so everyone could see that the seats in the balcony were also filled to capacity. Great Time, Great Education, Great Brotherhood!
I was pleased to award Hesperus Lodge, Eunice Lodge, and Warsaw Lodge for qualifying for the Potts Award.
Letchworth State Park
Letchworth State Park is located in Livingston and Wyoming counties. The park is roughly 17 miles (27 km) long, following the course of the Genesee River as it flows north through a deep gorge and over several large waterfalls. It is located 35 miles southwest of Rochester and 60 miles southeast of Buffalo, and spans portions of the Livingston County towns of Leicester, Mount Morris, and Portage.
In 1859, industrialist William Pryor Letchworth (1823-1910) began purchasing land near the Middle Falls, and started construction of his Glen Iris Estate. In 1906 he bequeathed the 1,000-acre estate to New York, which soon after became the core of the newly created Letchworth State Park. The park prominently features three large waterfalls — the Upper, Middle, and Lower Falls — on the Genesee River, which flows within a deep gorge that winds through the park. The rock walls of the gorge, which rise up to 550 feet in places, prompted the area’s reputation as the “Grand Canyon of the East
The territory of the park was long part of the homeland of the Seneca people, who were largely forced out after the Revolutionary War, as they had been allies of the defeated British. The Seneca called the land around this canyon Sehgahunda, the “Vale of the three falls” the Middle Falls (Ska-ga-dee) was believed to be so wondrous it made the sun stop at midday.
Having first viewed the gorge that was to become the park from the nearby railroad trestle in 1858, William Letchworth purchased an initial 190 acres of land near the Portage Falls in 1859 and subsequently began work on his Glen Iris Estate. By purchasing the land, Letchworth successfully halted plans to install a hydroelectric dam in the gorge that would have altered the flow of the river and diminished flows over the large waterfalls. He enlisted the services of the famous landscape artist William Webster to design winding paths and roadways, rustic bridges, glistening “lakes” and a sparkling fountain.
Letchworth spent the following years expanding his land holdings in the area. In 1906, Letchworth granted the Glen Iris and the surrounding 1,000 acres to the State of New York as a public park, intending to deter commercial businesses from damaging the fragile nature of the gorge and surrounding woodlands. He further required that the land be managed by the American Scenic and Historic Society. A plaque near the gorge contains a dedication written by Letchworth’s niece in 1910, and reads:
“God wrought for us this scene beyond compare
But one man’s loving hand protected it
And gave to his fellow man to share.”
George Kunz, president of the American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society of New York, was an enthusiastic supporter of the park. Dr. Kunz helped with the organization and preservation of the library of William Letchworth when the Society took over the management of his estate in New York. In 1907, it was stated, “The library embraces one of the finest, if not the finest, private collection of book on charities in the country. It contains also a good collection of local histories, books about Indians, and a miscellaneous assortment of standard literature. His mementos – personal gifts and testimonials – are extremely interesting. It is most desirable that these should be kept together and adequately preserved in a new library building, as part of the monument to the generous donor of Letchworth Park.”
Further, Dr. Kunz helped with the 1910 memorial to Mary Jemison, “The White Indian of the Genesee”, who is buried at “the ancient Indian Council House of the Senecas” located on the grounds of the Letchworth Park. Letchworth, having earned “life-residence” at the Glen Iris, died there on December 1, 1910. M He was buried in nearby Buffalo at Forest Lawn Cemetery.
The park was the beneficiary of numerous enhancements enacted by workers from the Civilian Conservation Corps, who inhabited a large camp at the park during the 1930s. Improvements enacted by the CCC included the construction of cabins, overlooks, bridges and trails
Found at the north end of the park, the construction of the Mount Morris Dam was begun in 1948 by the United States Army Corps of Engineers under the Flood Control Act of 1944. The dam was completed in 1954. The Genesee River became wider and deeper immediately upstream as a result, but areas downstream were spared yearly flooding which destroyed valuable farmland.
The Mount Morris Dam is the largest flood control device of its kind (concrete gravity) east of the Mississippi River. It is 1,028 feet in length and rises 230 feet from the riverbed. The dam proved its worth during the Flood of 1972, saving thousands of acres of farmland and the city of Rochester from flooding.
The park also contains Inspiration Falls, a ribbon waterfall that is located on a tributary creek a short distance east of the Inspiration Point Overlook, 0.4 miles west of the park visitor center. It has a total drop of 350 feet. While impressive in its height, it is seasonal and often appears as only a water stain on the cliff. The falls faces to the south-southwest and has a crest that is one foot wide.
Second Erie District Grand Lecturer Convention
October 29, 2016
The Grand Lecturer Convention for the 2nd Erie District was held at Western Star Masonic Center in Lackawanna. This was a Saturday afternoon convention and was well attended by many members of the District. The Fellowcraft Club of Western Star Lodge No. 1185 provided a brunch prior to the event and was also well supported by the district.
RW Robert Drzewucki; DDGM opened the GLC promptly at 12:30 and we were off and running. The first item on the agenda was the presentation of the Meacham Award to Living Stone Lodge No. 255, Western Seneca Lodge No. 1111, and Western Star Lodge No. 1185. It was extremely pleasing for me to see that many of our lodges in Erie County were recognized for their outstanding ritual. The next part of the convention covered the edict requiring all lodges to be certified for opening and closing. The new additional proficiency in open lodge was also demonstrated and discussed. All the Brethren believed that both of these changes would be beneficial to the Fraternity and hardily endorsed them.
The work of the afternoon was rendered wonderfully and with great emotion. The Middle Chamber Lecture was divided among five brothers who performed wonderfully as they worked through the lecture. The discussions that ensued on the many teaching points of the MCL were well thought out and provoked extended conversation. Those in attendance agreed that there are many similarities in the MCL that can relate to personal growth and development as well as their Masonic progress. Testimony to the depth of the discussion was displayed when no one complained as the convention extended beyond the normal quitting time.
West Seneca Lodge was also recognized for qualifying for the Potts Award. Just previous to the closing of the GLC, VW Gerald Coleman, Moderator of the Erie County Masonic School of Instruction presented the School’s new traveling gavel. The gavel was designated as the MW Edward G. Gilbert & RW Richard J. Kessler Traveling Gavel. Once again, I have the pleasure of having my name connected to MW Gilbert on a Masonic gavel. I could think of no greater honor. Thanks, Jerry for your thoughtfulness.
In closing, it’s always good to come home!
Steuben District Grand Lecturer Convention
October 28, 2016
Steuben Lodge No. 112 was the host lodge for the Grand Lecturer’s Convention. They meet on the Steuben County Fairgrounds. The Fairgrounds are in Bath, New York; the county seat. There was a warm and friendly atmosphere as I entered the building with the both Assistant Grand Lecturers. The dinner was roast beef on weck and was served to a standing room only crowd.
After dinner, we moved into the lodge room to begin the GLC. The first order of business covered the Grand Master’s edict for lodges proving their proficiency for opening and closing. There was then a demonstration on the new additional open lodge proficiency program. The Middle Chamber Lecture then began and was performed by five brothers. The ritual was presented in a very professional manner and the brothers traded off their roles as the lecture processed. As we discussed the esoteric meanings of many of the passages in the MCL, it was apparent that the brothers could readily see how this lecture was integral in their personal lives. They also understood how the MCL supported our Grand Master’s motto “ Masonry: A Way of Life.” I was extremely pleased at both the work and thought provoking comments that developed throughout the convention.
Congratulations to South Dansville-Wayland No. 478 for qualifying for the Potts Award.
Lackawanna is a city in Erie County, located just south of the city of Buffalo in the western part of New York state. The population was 18,141 at the 2010 census. The name derives from the Lackawanna Steel Company. It is part of the Buffalo-Niagara Falls metropolitan area. The city of Lackawanna is in the southwestern part of the county. It is part of the Southtowns.
Originally part of the Buffalo Creek Reservation, the area was not open to settlement until 1842 when the land was sold by the Seneca Indians. In 1851 the town of Seneca was formed; the name was changed to West Seneca in 1852. The area now known as Lackawanna was then called West Seneca or Limestone Hill.
Lackawanna was a center of steel manufacture throughout most of the 20th century. In 1899 all the land along the West Seneca shore of Lake Erie was purchased by the Lackawanna Steel Company, based in Scranton, Pennsylvania since its founding. Construction was started in 1900 and the Lackawanna Steel Company relocated to the area in 1902. The plant began operations in 1903. Later, in 1909, the residents of the area voted to split off from West Seneca, forming the city of Lackawanna.
In 1922 the Lackawanna Steel Company was acquired by the Bethlehem Steel Company. With the 20th-century growth of the Bethlehem Steel plant, at one time the largest in the world, came the continued growth of the city and its institutions. At its peak the plant employed 20,000 people. It attracted immigrants from many lands to settle here and make their homes. Due to industrial restructuring in the latter half of the 20th century, the steel plant declined in business and eventually closed in 1983, following massive job layoffs.
In the 21st century, efforts have been made to develop the former steel plant brownfields to other uses. The site has a diversity of tenants, some occupying buildings remaining from the former steel plant and a few in newer buildings. Opponents say that the brownfield is not safe and that alleged contamination of the field has caused cancer and other medical issues. United States Environmental Protection Agency reports are still ongoing and contested.
As part of redevelopment, wind turbines were built on the former Bethlehem Steel property in 2007. These initial eight 2.5 megawatt turbines will provide power for up to 9,000 households and are considered a sustainable energy source.
Our Lady of Victory Basilica
Our Lady of Victory Basilica located in Lackawanna, is a National Shrine. Next to the basilica is Holy Cross Cemetery. It has been a parish cemetery since 1849, although burials date back to 1830. Father Nelson Baker was responsible for the building of a working boys’ home (protectory) in 1898. He also supervised construction of an infants’ home in 1907, a maternity home in 1915, Our Lady of Victory Hospital in 1919, and the Basilica of Our Lady of Victory in 1926. Father Baker named the basilica after the shrine of Notre Dame des Victoires in Paris, which he visited as a seminarian in 1874. He was in charge of the basilica and the various institutions of charity until his death at 94, on July 29, 1936.
Father Baker’s social programs have evolved into Baker Victory Services, which care for more than 2,500 children each day. Baker Victory Services Adoption Program has evolved into a renowned resource for a wide range of adoptive services. Their mission is to assist birth mothers, families and adoptees through the often complex and always emotional adoption process. Our Lady of Victory Hospital, closed in 1999, is being converted into senior housing. The Homes of Charity provide the funds to continue Baker’s social programs through donations.
Our Lady of Victory Basilica had its 75th anniversary in 2001. The Catholic Church named Father Baker a “Servant of God” in 1987, the first step towards declaring him a saint. In 1999, Father Baker’s remains were moved from Holy Cross Cemetery and re-interred inside the basilica. This was a recommended step for his canonization process. On January 14, 2011, Pope Benedict XVI approved a document of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints declaring Father Baker “Venerable.” His cause for canonization, as an “apostle of charity,” continues under review by Vatican officials.
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