It is hard to believe that another year is coming to a close. While life has many memorable milestones, serving as a Masonic officer remains among the highest honors. It has been rewarding, and at times admittedly challenging, sitting in the East this past year.
I appreciate the confidence shown in me from the day I first knocked on the digital door, to advancing through the chairs, and to eventually sitting here in the East, in a chair no doubt warmed by better men. As any Past Master, or dignitary, will attest, the lodge looks different from here.
From this seat, I see a group of men united by a common purpose of finding a means, a structure, to elevate their character from the mundane. Men who look to the past for moral lessons and insights that will help them to perfect their own spiritual structure, and in doing so, stand tall in their homes and society in an age when most people don’t look past the digital device in their hand delivering trivia in 140-character bursts.
The “work” done by us, whether here in lodge or privately, carries us each on a journey, as we travel the level of time. It is my belief that the world is a better place for our efforts. Even if we’re often focused just on day-to-day life, doing so in an upright manner can inspire those around us.
In this past year, we carried on our recent traditions as defined during the previous Hudson regime, with an emphasis on Masonic education. Here, I am truly grateful to Worship Brother Steve for his willingness to continue to share Masonic light. We have benefited many evenings from his well-considered teachings.
Many lodges track the number of degrees presented as a performance metric. I would much rather reflect on the quality of the degrees, as well as the quality of the men who received them.
I couldn’t be more proud of the degrees portrayed this year, with the raising of Brothers Cole and Carlos, and recent passing of Brother Paul. Proficiency this year has been top notch, befitting the character of these new brothers.
All three, as well as others, have traveled with me this year to visit other lodges in the area. Jerusalem Lodge has attended degrees at all lodges in our district, participated in District Deputy and AGM installations, and also partaking in the multi-lodge Past Masters degree. In addition, members have been attending functions, Blue Lodge Council meetings, and informal gatherings, giving our small lodge strong representation in the region. But more importantly, ensuring our members are engaging in Masonry.
We had outreach this year with our 2012 officers’ photo and 4th of July advertisement both published in the local newspaper. And at the Halloween Walk, we again greeted hundreds of families from our front porch, contributing to cavities in about 1,000 local children. As those who participated will attest, the Halloween reception is truly overwhelming, and it is about the most satisfying couple of hours one could spend. Like other lodges in the state, we hosted an Open House. We will soon schedule an EA degree for a candidate who filed his petition that day.
We also had our first Table Lodge in a few years, engaging in a classic ceremony and merriment, and in the spring, we enjoyed a family dinner at a local restaurant.
This fall we also enjoyed an Esoteric lecture by a visiting speaker, Worshipful Brother Steven Canada.
Many of these activities were inspired by the survey conducted last spring, and I encourage open dialogue among the brethren as to what works and what doesn’t so that we can ensure that lodge thrives and keeps the members engaged.
After all, the lodge is ours. It is not the plaything for the guy in the top hat. It is for all brothers, figuratively young and old.
While much of the year is remembered as high points, there was also sadness as we lost beloved members of our Masonic family. As Masons, we must remember to support and love those in need. I thank those who rallied to assist with funerals and other needs.
And while thanking…
I want to thank Senior Warden Mark Stumacher for his counsel and support this past year.
Junior Warden Joey Hudson for his exemplary ritual and dedication to satisfying our refreshment needs.
To my right-hand man for a second year, Senior Deacon Don Leavy for always being there, for stepping up and conquering ritual, and for ever being supportive.
To Junior Deacon Ben Morehead for ever wielding the trowel that unites us into one common band of brothers, for providing measured perspective, and good humor.
To Treasurer Charlie O’Neill, a hearty thanks for both the written checks and the reality checks that helped maintain balance.
And I want to thank Right Worshipful Brother Bill for his tireless dedication to the lodge, for seeing through the Secretary duties for another year, for his attentive ear and instructive tongue, and his friendship.
To Walter, for ensuring the smooth operation of the lodge, continuing to impress with his large pieces of ritual, and for giving us more to contemplate when we look up at the heavens, thanks to his thought-provoking presentation on Astronomy.
And to all the brethren, thanks for the ongoing support, participation, and fellowship.
As this year draws to a close, I’m reminded of my mother stating both last January and again this past month that my grandfathers would be proud. Among the many gifts Masonry provides, I find a special solace in how its principles reach across the ages, both to the past and to the future.
Thanks again for this opportunity to serve. I look forward to the years ahead, as brothers advance and Masonry continues to thrive right here in Ridgefield.

Jeff Bartlett
Worshipful Master 2012
Jerusalem Lodge #49
Ridgefield, CT

From the East – December 2012

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