Many of you know that I have spent the last two years serving as Temple Recorder and as a Trustee of Shriners Hospitals for Children on what is referred to in the Shrine fraternity as the ‘Joint Boards’ composed of the Imperial Officers and those of us serving as Trustees. I stepped down from the Trustees position in June and have spent the last two months catching up on my Saladin Shrine responsibilities and personal life. To say you keep busy on the Joint Boards would be an understatement.
The experience gave me an opportunity to see our fraternity and philanthropy as very few get to see it. I imagine it must be a bit like being a Grand Lodge Officer, just multiply everything by a factor of 100 or maybe a 1,000 in terms of the number of members, dollars, problems and politics. At the same time the great possibilities, opportunities, and ideas are magnified by those same numbers. It was without a doubt the most fulfilling experience I’ve ever had in my life. I came away from it with a new way of looking at not only the Shrine fraternity and philanthropy, but at the entire Masonic movement.
How has my perspective changed? I’m not so hung up on things I might have once seen as important or critical. In some ways I think things in Masonry are much more dire than most of us are willing to even let on to ourselves. That being said I think we are part of something in Saladin that has the potential to move past the negative trends we see in the fraternity. That movement, however, cannot be measured in traditional ways we’ve used in the past or even with an eye towards preserving what we think we still have in the Shrine and the fraternity. I ask myself often, do I love the core of what we are enough to shed some of its outer trappings in order to preserve what it is at its heart? So that it can become something new? Something that will survive? Everytime I ask that question I find myself answering yes.
In terms of the future, what does this mean you can expect from me? I plan continue to provide my input to our Divan’s strategic planning process. I also promise to think and communicate with you more deliberately about the future. You will see me spend my time split between the immediate duties I have as your Recorder and taking up efforts that I believe will change things. Efforts that will be aimed at preserving the core of who we are, the essence of what we love about the Craft, but not necessarily traditional approaches to our problems. Thats not to say those have been ineffective for Masonry in the past, but rather that we need to think beyond them. Thank you for being a Saladin Shriner.