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Posted: 1/3/2012 9:05:18 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/3/2012 9:05:45 AM EDT by OlKev]
There is an ongoing thread on a masonic forum talking about "Why is it so hard to get Masons to join the Commandery?"

When you look back at this whole thread, many have referred to the expenses involved in joining a Commandery; the uniform, chapeau, sword. Others have referred to the drills. Several comments regarding the beauty of the degrees. So, it would seem that some of the issues keeping people away don't have anything to do with the work. One person in Kentucky remarked:
We have no problems getting Masons to join the Commandery. We do not ask them to shell out money for "uniforms" because we wear mantles which my commandery furnishes . We voted down the uniforms and silly chapeaus for two reasons , we did not want to wear them and we do not want our new members to have to shell out all that money . We came to the conclusion , that we do not want to create Sir Knights and then tell them they have to go out and spend all this money to be active, it is not fair. We also supply the swords for those who do not want to buy them . Some buy their own. I for one do not when we have so many in our storage room.

If you become a Sir Knight in my Commandery , we will supply you with everything you need to be active . Just pay your dues , we will take care of everything else
.
I thought the uniform and feathers was universal in the United States. I did not know that wearing mantles and all of that associated with it was an option in some areas.

I have always heard positive comments regarding the York Rite degrees, especially the Knight Templar degree. But, for the sake of discussion, let's look at the points raised. If, for the survival of all of Freemasonry, it requires new members and youth within our ranks, I would think that looking at some of this from a marketing or image perspective may be helpful.

Jacques DeMolay


Canadian Knights Templar



American Knights Templar



1. Which one of these modern groups would offer a more attractive image to younger, other non York Rite brothers within Freemasonry?
2. Which one of these modern groups offers a more attractive image to older, other non York Rite brothers within Freemasonry?
3. Would other non York Rite brothers within Freemasonry see a connection of drill and ceremonies to the tenants of Freemasonry?

I am not a Sir Knight, but, my personal take in looking at this, I like the mantles and the accompanying regalia much better. It seems more appropriate to me for Freemasonry.

Just thinking out loud here looking for comment.
Link Posted: 1/3/2012 11:26:50 AM EDT
Link Posted: 1/5/2012 4:05:16 PM EDT
I'm very active in York Rite. I'm in my phone now. I'll try to address these points from a real computer tomorrow.
Link Posted: 1/6/2012 6:59:42 AM EDT
We (I) absolutely refuse to do Festival Degrees in Y/R as our S/R counterparts do. As one who experienced the in S/R Reunion, After about 11:00am on the first day, everything started to runtogetherandbecameablur.

I'd have to admit I wasn't as impressed as I probably should have been. In my personal opinion, it cheapens the experience, and I do know why they do it. The pure Logistics of a Reunion is alot to deal with.

Link Posted: 1/6/2012 7:34:51 AM EDT
Originally Posted By OlKev:
1. Which one of these modern groups would offer a more attractive image to younger, other non York Rite brothers within Freemasonry?
2. Which one of these modern groups offers a more attractive image to older, other non York Rite brothers within Freemasonry?
3. Would other non York Rite brothers within Freemasonry see a connection of drill and ceremonies to the tenants of Freemasonry?


OlKev,

It's not really a matter of pick and choose which is the better image. The Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the United Sates of America is the governing body for the Grand Commanderies of the 50 states, DC and the Philippines. The Grand Encampment sets the uniform standard for all these bodies. There are different items of apparel for portions of the different Orders conferred in a Commandery, but deviation from the proscribed uniform requirements is not allowed. That a Commandery has a modified uniform is either the case of their having dispensation to do so for some things; or, they are doing so in violation of Grand Encampment Regulation. I'm not saying they are, I obviously don't know. There is a Commandery in Indiana (I think) that has dispensation to confer the Order of the Temple in armor. Now that would be cool!

The Masonic Order of Knights Templar uses portions of the legend and lore of the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon. But makes no claim of being a descendent of them. It is simply a Masonic Order founded on Christian virtues. While still holding to all the precepts of Freemasonry.

I don't see why there wouldn't be a connection between ritual work in other portions of Freemasonry and Commadery Drill. Each portion of Lodge has a proscribed "drill" as part of the work. Where to go, the number of steps, where to turn, how to turn, rod work, etc. etc., etc. No different with Commandery. It's just different. Floor movements are based on cavalry drill. It's different and fun. Even if you were in the military, you haven't drilled like this since WWI. And it's a display of discipline, just like proper ritual work always is.

Nothing in Freemasonry is modern and flashy for today's hip youth. It's not supposed to be. Freemasonry is tradition. If it were to change with the times, it would lose what it's all about.

Originally Posted By The_Beer_Slayer:
honestly i have a couple of things that have kept me from joining the york rite here....

first and foremost is time. i haven't been able to attend ANY SR meetings since we sold our temple and began having meetings at the YR temple. it's on the other side of the county from me now.

Activity... the YR here and sadly even the SR have become horribly lazy when it comes to anything but degree work. they simply offer no real incentive to join beyond going through the degrees. the SR here is equally guilty of this now. We wonder why membership is down in this area yet no one understands without some visible presence in the community and and chances for people to be involved there is no incentive to join. there is virtually no masonic education available here anymore. Everything i have done has either been through the master craftsman course by correspondence or seeking information on my own with little guidance.

Cost is certainly an issues but lets be honest, i am expected to pay almost 200.00 for the initiation and degrees over the course of a day and a 1/2, then it's pretty much thanks for your money come to lodge if you feel like it. Just like the SR i was neither qualified nor educated enough to call myself a 32nd SR mason after the reunion. I am told it is pretty much the same here for the YR. If i was in an area with an active group i'd be pretty eager to join and take part in the degrees. Everything i have read points to not really being a complete mason until you have obtained the royal arch degrees. I will do it someday.


Beer_Slayer,

Let me start by saying there are four bodies in the York Rite of Freemasonry: Blue Lodge, Chapter of Royal Arch Masons, Council of Royal and Select Masters and Commandery of Knights Templar. Many people don't emphasize that fact. They are inseparably intertwined.

Time is the one resource we can't get anymore of. We all must make choices of what to do with the little we have. If any portion of Freemasonry detracts from what's most important to you, I'm a big believer of not going down that road.

As we all know, Freemasonry is a quiet fraternity. (I much more prefer quiet to secret) Blue Lodge, and Shrine, are the organizations most recognizable in our communities. But do not think York Rite is not equally involved in philanthropic endeavors. Each York Rite body has their own philanthropy(ies).

Chapters of Royal Arch Masons provides funding through Royal Arch Research Assistance (RARA) in support of the Center for Central Auditory Research at Colorado State University: the world's leading philanthropy dedicated to helping children with Central Auditory Processing Disorders.

Councils of Royal and Select Masters fund the Cryptic Mason Medical Research Foundation (CMMRF) located at the Indiana Center for Vascular Biology and Medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine. This research is developing gene, cell, drug, and energy-based therapies to combat the effects of vascular diseases and Diabetes. This research has even recently developed a method to harvest adult stem cells from body fat.

The Knight Templar Eye Foundation (KTEF) provides assistance to those who face loss of sight due to the need for surgical treatment and to provide funds for research in curing diseases of the eye.

Here in Wisconsin, we also have a Foundation in each of the three bodies for other causes that the Foundation sees fit to help fund.

If your York Rite bodies aren't pounding the pavement for these charities, have them contact me and I'll give whatever assistance I can and get them pointed where they need to go.

Yes, cost is a factor in all things Masonic. Our three local York Rite bodies combined annual dues are $105. Fortunately we a plethora of Commandery uniforms and regalia. A new Sir Knight typically can be outfitted from the stores in our armory. Dress for Chapter and Council is the same as Blue Lodge. We also have dozens of costume pieces for the Chapter and Council degrees.

Any Masonic organization is only as active as it's members want it to be. Maybe your's needs an injection of new, enthusiastic blood to jump start it back to life. Maybe the transfusion it needs is you. Ritual work in the York Rite is just as involved and important as Blue Lodge. IMO it's much more difficult. You still have to know everything from the first three Degrees, plus four Chapter Degrees, two (and one optional) Council Degrees and three Commandery Orders. The number of raps on the door are sometimes elusive. And in a Council of Select Masters you've got nine DGs and Ss.

I do find it very sad that your local York Rite bodies push a guy through all the Degrees and Orders in 1 1/2 days.

There are four Degrees in Chapter; Mark Master, Past Master, Most Excellent Master and Holy Royal Arch. The Mark Master and Most Excellent Master Degrees concern themselves with the building and dedication of the Temple. The Past Master Degree is a "Virtual" Degree because historically one cannot be a Royal Arch Mason without having been a Master of a Lodge. And in the Holy Royal Arch Degree the Lost Word is rediscovered. These Degrees are very full and complex. They round out the EA and FC Degrees, and in the RAM the Lost Word is found.

Often Chapter Festivals are conducted to confer the four Degrees. Many Constituent Chapters just don't have the man-power to do them by themselves. The Principle Sojourner's part in the Royal Arch Degree is the longest part in all of Freemasonry. There's probably a half-dozen guys in the state that can pull it off flawlessly. I received the MM and PM Degrees in my home Chapter, and the MEM and RAM Degrees at a festival. I don't think I missed anything by going to the festival.

There are three Council Degrees; Royal Master, Select Master and Super Excellent Master (optional). The Royal Master Degree is set before the second Section of the MM Degree. The Royal Master is kind of split before and after. It portrays how the Word was preserved to the Craft. The two together complete the Blue Lodge lessons. The Super Excellent Master concerns itself with the return from captivity and the rebuilding of the Temple. It's optional because it is outside the story of Ancient Craft Masonry, and it requires a huge cast. With the exception of the Master Mason Degree, the Royal and Select Master Degrees are, in my opinion, the most beautiful and important Degrees in Freemasonry. They complete the story and lessons of Blue Lodge.

Again, there are often Council Festivals to confer the two Degrees. Many Constituent Councils just don't have the man-power to do them by themselves. The Super Excellent Master is usually done once every few years. It's a major production requiring the resources of several Councils and the Grand Council.

Commandery I've talked about some above. Except I'll say it's a crying shame if the Order of the Temple isn't conferred by itself on one candidate at a time. It is very impressive.

As you can tell, I'm extremely enthusiastic about the York Rite of Freemasonry. I'm the Grand Master of the 2nd Veil in the Grand Chapter, and the Grand Conductor of the Council in the Grand Council. Personally, I believe you receive full light in Ancient Craft Masonry in the York Rite.

But, and it's a big but, sometimes guys loose track of the hierarchy in the York Rite. They see it as a progression of "rank" if you will. If you think about it, you can't be a Royal Arch Mason without being a Master Mason. You can't be a Royal and Select Master without being a Royal Arch Mason. You can't be a Knight Templar without being a Royal and Select Master. So which of these bodies is truly the most important?

And never ever forget, all my Brethren here assembled; there is no rank, nor title, higher than that of Master Mason. Anyone who doesn't understand that, regardless of position, needs a little good, brotherly counsel whispered in his ear. Or a punch in the head. But remember to smile while you do it, so you're not striking him in anger.
Link Posted: 1/6/2012 7:42:58 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Knight-Mason:
We (I) absolutely refuse to do Festival Degrees in Y/R as our S/R counterparts do. As one who experienced the in S/R Reunion, After about 11:00am on the first day, everything started to runtogetherandbecameablur.

I'd have to admit I wasn't as impressed as I probably should have been. In my personal opinion, it cheapens the experience, and I do know why they do it. The pure Logistics of a Reunion is alot to deal with.



Here we have also done festivals with other jurisdictions. We have a Chapter Association with Minnesota and Michigan. We do a festival once a year and each state does a degree. One obviously does two, and they rotate around. In the past couple of years we've also done an annual festival with Illinois.

Yes, festivals can be . That's why we use many different Chapters and Councils together so each Degree has different people and the work can be crisp and accurate.

Link Posted: 1/6/2012 8:15:55 AM EDT
Link Posted: 1/6/2012 10:42:56 AM EDT
Originally Posted By PSI:

it's all about.

*BIG SNIP TO SAVE SPACE*



Very well said!
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