Elevator Speeches

There will come a time when you need to explain what the heck Masonry is. Sometimes, you won’t have very long. It’s best to come up with an “elevator speech” for those occasions. My answer is a little dramatic:

The world is an awful place, and there’s not much that we can do about that on the macro scale. What we can do, however, is give men the opportunity to change and improve themselves using moral tools and teachings centered around love of God and love of one another in order to better implement the moral values they already had. By doing this, a man not only changes himself, but the world immediately around him – and sometimes reaching even further than that. So, we can’t change the world on a macro scale, but we can change it many, many times on a micro scale. Masonry is an organized effort to save the world through love, one man at a time.

M∴I∴ Jason Mitchell – Funding a Lodge from the Ground Up

This was all originally written by M∴I∴ Companion Jason Mitchell in the comments of this post. All I’ve done is format it for easier sharing – many thanks to Brother Mitchell for writing this in the first place.


Funding a Lodge/Organization is something that is important to me. I’ve started a Mark Lodge, two AMD Councils, a Black Hat Club, an SRICF College, and been part of the planning for bodies for Athelstan and Acon.

In all that time, I’ve seen:

  • seven ways to incorrectly fund a an emerging Masonic body;
  • seven ways to incorrectly fund a brand new Masonic body;
  • and at least a dozen incorrect ways to continue funding an established body.

Unlike your existing Lodges, the ability to see and take a Masonic organization from idea, to conception, to charter, to sustaining, and probably death, in the case of the Mark Lodge, has been fascinating, because I’d argue less than 1% of masons have ever seen a Masonic organization established from the ground up.

For me, it comes down to this: I don’t care about your sentimental attachments to your (misquoted) ritual, I don’t care about your statistical outliers of that one guy who is great but broke, etc.

I care about funding an organization that is self-sustaining, at least financially, for two, or three, or four generations in advance – with the foresight that there will be expenses and needs thenk, that I cannot even conceive of now. By that, I mean try explaining powered light to someone in the 18th century, or websites and online payments to someone in the 1950s, and so forth.

For me the measure of success, regardless of the actual dollar amount, is that all money coming into the Lodge today, is spent 30, 40, or 50 years from now. The paycheck-to-paycheck cash flow (if you can honestly call it that) is wrong. We are living, we’re barely sustaining – it’s scarcity survival.

What that does mean for Masons today, is whatever that dollar amount is that it takes to fund your Lodge as is, double it – at least – so you’re putting money back into the bank.

Use the following formula to find out what you need to get the Lodge off the ground:

Initial Funding = (Total funding from Part 1) + (Three times the double of the total from Part 2)

or

Initial Funding = P1 + 6(P2)

This will give you everything you need to get the Lodge off the ground, and three years of projected operational costs in the bank. There should be no further purchases to kit out the Lodge, and all the money coming into the Lodge is spent at a later time. If you never spend more than 80% of your income (no zero-sum budgeting), then as a function of time, you will be growing financially.

Oh, and most importantly – build in an exit strategy! Determine now, not later, financial performance thresholds that automatically trigger closing the lodge.

Part III is suggested on-going operational assumptions.

Part I: Getting Started – Outfitting

Here is where you decide, “do I want a solid gold apron, or is a shiny brass one enough, or do I want shiny plastic?” You need to determine:

  • what it will cost to legally establish the body, be it fees to the sponsoring/chartering masonic body, legal fees (if incorporation is necessary), bank fees, etc…
  • the total price to outfit the body. Using a Lodge, and assuming you have a building to meet in, and that building has chairs already, that means everything: from aprons to altars, to rods, to jewels, to patents, to ballot boxes, to ritual books – I mean literally everything. You’ll want at least one of everything, possibly two on things that may wear or get dirty.
  • prices for boxes to securely store and transport all those things in, unless the building comes with storage, but even then, boxes help protect them in storage, so it’s good to have.
  • if you need to insure these effects against loss or damage, and if so, and it requires a down payment, get that number too.
  • the total price on all administrative tools: Dues cards, folders, paper clips, pens/pencils, laptop, printer, paper, ink, filing cabinets, desk, pens, envelopes, postage, business/calling cards, website, accounting software, etc – everything the Secretary, Master, and Wardens will materially need to have in their possession for their job (bearing in mind, we’re not talking about having 100 pencils for Brothers who suddenly need one in Lodge).

Part II: Get Going – Operational

Don’t go cheap here. Don’t try to cut corners. Again, you want real costs for real results. This will be expensive.

  • What is the total cost of rents for the year? Stated and Special meetings, Educationals, Officer meetings, Everything.
  • Are there dining costs the Lodge must absorb? Example: will there be refreshments at officer meetings? If so, there is an operational cost.
  • What is the cost of education and training? What books and materials will you need to have for the first 36 months to fully train and prepare candidates, and officers, into Masonry, and the culture of the Lodge? Does your GL require officers to participate in any training/course, etc? This is one of the first places we start cheating ourselves and others. Prepare for the future. Is digital truly equivalent to physical for a new candidate?
  • Do candidates get patents and/or presentation Bibles? You’ll need a supply on hand. What is your expected number of EA, FC, and MM?
  • What other materials will Candidates receive from the Lodge, to commemorate their Initiation, Passing, and Raising, if any? Again, another number.
  • What is the total cost for Lodge communication to members? I’d argue you need physical mailing, plus at least two other forms of communication (email, social media, texting, etc).

Part III: Preparing for the Worst and Other

  • Always put 10% of your income into long term savings.
  • Always set aside an additional 10% of your income as a buffer for a given fiscal year to cover cost overruns. Unused portions should go into long term savings.
  • Assume you’ll never receive any money for degree fees.
  • Assume you’ll have 30% voluntary dues compliance before the due date.
  • Assume you’ll have an additional 20% within 60 days following the due date.
  • Assume you’ll receive an additional 30% dues compliance with costs, 12 months late.
  • Never assume more than 80% total dues compliance after any length of time.
  • Always match your dues to a firmly establish economic indicator: DOW, COLA, etc., something. Increase dues constantly.
  • Never, ever, ever, ever, take cash.
  • Always take credit card payments – never pass on the processing fees, that’s a cost of doing business these days.
  • Take ACH payments.
  • Take EFT payments.
  • Take checks.

Destroying the 24-Inch Gauge

It’s been kind of a crazy period of time. Lately, I’ve been really stretching the limits of my 24-inch gauge. I am really enjoying it, but it’s not easy. I love pouring my efforts into all things, especially Masonry, but I definitely need to make sure I take personal time now and then.

I’ve done a less than stellar job of balancing friend groups. There’s more than a few friends who I think about every once in a while and realize, “wow, [X] and I haven’t hung out in a while.” I’ve been pretty good about keeping the vast majority of my commitments, but the problem, I feel, now lies in actually arranging those commitments to begin with.

It’s very easy to keep commitments when they’re at lodge. That’s where I’m expected to be, and where I enjoy being. It is a breeze to be there! Having a central location to do stuff makes things very easy. I feel like right now we are also in a huge busy season right now. We’ve had a bunch of raisings and plan on having another one soon, followed by at least one passing, and at least two initiations. There are many brothers in need of instruction, and many ritual parts to be learned.

I feel like I arguably don’t sleep enough. I usually feel like I’m super busy, and that’s why I go to bed so late even though I have to wake up early. That also seems like a ridiculous excuse to try and cover up a severe lack of discipline. Maybe one of these days, I’ll figure it out.

On a more positive note, the Commandery Orders were incredible. This was last month, on the 15th. We had/were a bunch of candidates. I really enjoyed the Order of the Red Cross. The story behind it was really entertaining in both a serious and a light-hearted way. The Order of Malta kind of threw me for a loop, though. It felt like it was super-packed with information that just flew by at astronomical speeds. I will have to sit down with a copy of the ritual and a highlighter in order to properly “unpack” all of that.

I was privileged enough to be the exemplar candidate for the Order of the Temple. I have never experienced anything quite so mind-blowing in terms of ritual. There were parts where I had to keep myself from laughing, parts where I was deeply moved, and parts where my heart was pounding, ready to leap out of my chest in excitement and awe. I once heard the OOT described as “everything you ever thought a Masonic degree would ever be,” and I have to say, that’s not wrong. Oddly, I wouldn’t describe it as “life-changing,” as I have heard before. This experience profoundly resonated with emotions and convictions that I have held for a while now. There is no course in direction – if anything, there is now only fuel added to the fire in the engine. IN HOC.

A Cryptic Message

Wow, what a wild ride. I had been given some “hints” regarding the Council degrees, but I still wasn’t prepared. The Royal Master degree in particular was very beautiful! The solemnity of the soliloquy gave me shivers. There’s a lot that I would like to discuss, but unfortunately most all of that is stuff that I can’t talk about publicly! It was a great experience and I’m still digesting it, so to speak.

Instruction Certification & the Royal Arch Degree

Well, it seems that I finally went and got myself official. As of Saturday (the 25th), I am officially certified by the Grand Lodge of Texas to teach the memory work for degree proficiencies, and the opening of all four lodges (the fourth being the Lodge of Sorrows).

Initially, I drove all the way to Phoenix Lodge in Weatherford. When I got there, just before the forum (degree exemplification and general Q&A) at 9 am, I was asked, “Hey brother! Are you here for the Commandery Work Day?” My confusion must have beeen pretty evident. I quickly explained that I was there for the exam certification, and was then told that it had been postponed to next weekend. The paper copy of the schedule posted up in the dining hall had been the same one as on the PDF I had on my phone; however, the paper version had a correction on it, in pen. The PDF, naturally, did not have this change.

At this point, I settled in the hallway, hanging out with some brothers I knew and some brothers that I didn’t know, chit-chatting about memory work, Commandery, and a few other things. One brother pointed out to me that Krum (and therefore Krum Lodge’s certification exams) was only an hour and fifteen minutes away. If I hustled, I might still be able to catch the last 20 minutes of the forum, and make it in time for the certification exams.

So I hustled!

I managed to get to Krum Lodge and had a great time. I met some District Instructors, members of the Committee on Work, and all sorts of other brothers. One brother had even heard of the podcast that I put out with some of my lodge brothers! The exams went well, and when I left, I was officially “C-certified.”

Last night (Monday, March 27) was also pretty eventful. I managed to double-book myself for both Blue Lodge and Royal Arch Chapter. We had four profiencies in two different degrees in Blue Lodge, and I had my Royal Arch degree scheduled! I had to excuse myself before the last EA profiency, because it was time to go to Chapter. I was really bummed about that, because I am usually the examiner during proficiencies, and I was really looking forwards to this Brother delivering his work.

The Royal Arch degree was absolutely incredible. It was incredibly immersive and I’m still digesting it. I am looking forwards to the next time – when I can participate in it. I would write more about it, but to be quite honest, I have to let it settle a bit before I can competently talk about it! It’s got to be one of my favorite degrees so far, though. I might actually like the experience of this one as an initiate even more than the Master’s degree (although the Entered Apprentice degree still remains my favorite). This was a very physically-involved sort of experience, which I thought was awesome.

Super happy with my experience. I even bought a RAM emblem to put on my car! Very psyched to see what happens in Cryptic Council.

Advanced to the Honorary Degree of Mark Master

Today I was advanced to the honorary degree of Mark Master Mason! I was one of three candidates. It was a fun and interesting experience. The degree team did a great job despite having a bunch of people missing – those filling in did very admirably. There was joviality (something very strange compared to my Blue Lodge experience) and quiet, solemn moments. Overall, it was a pretty wonderful time. Next stop: Virtual Past Master and Most Excellent Master!

Handley Lodge Captures the Travelling Gavel

Where the magic happens: the Fort Worth Masonic Temple

Last night was pretty great.

Fort Worth Lodge had its stated meeting night, and I was pleasantly surprised to see so many visitors – at first only minorly so, then majorly so. I shared the elevator with three or four brothers from Handley Lodge on the way up to our dining hall… Then I quickly realized, as the time went on, that they were coming out in force! Our little dining hall was packed. Handley Lodge brought out 15 brothers to come help take the travel gavel.

The Grand Lodge of Texas (AF&AM) 64th District Traveling Gavel:

Eyes on the Prize

The room was abuzz with excitement. Many of the Fort Worth Members were whispering to each other over the food – cooked on the Fort Worth Lodge #148 Smoker, of course – as we were and are totally psyched to get so many visitors. I pro-tem’d the Senior Deacon’s part, and began running around the dining hall, collecting names and titles as fast as I could.

The time to file into the lodge room came, and we ran out of aprons! We had to dig in the closet for a third box of aprons. We had a total attendance of 54 brothers. Once visitors were introduced, all first time visitors were given a Fort Worth Lodge pin.

One of my little treasures, the Fort Worth Lodge #148 pin that was given to me the night that I was raised:

Light in Pin Form

We blasted through the regular business, with some minor delays during a slightly more free-form portion of lodge, and then got to the presentation of the Travel Gavel. Unfortunately, I don’t have pictures of that, since we were in open lodge at the time (meaning photography is verboten), but it was wonderful. In addition to the travel gavel on the plaque, Fort Worth Lodge has decided to toss in the Mega Gavel as well. Now, in addition to the existing stipulations on the gavel, the Mega Gavel will be travelling with the regular plaque. After our Brother Hando Nahkur played a very stirring piece, we closed out and Hollywooded for the camera. All in all, a great night in Texas Masonry.

A group photo (most of us are in here):

Everyone gather ’round!

14 of the 15 brothers from Handley, with guest appearance by the Mega Gavel (Worshipful Master of Handley Lodge, Haskell Rogers III, is in the middle with the plaque):

Brethren of Handley Lodge

Our pro-tem WM, SW Greg Wright (on the left), poses with some of our brothers from Webb Lodge! We really hope that they are the next ones to get the gavel. Ed (on the right) is a Past Master of both Webb Lodge and Handley Lodge:

The Brethren of Webb Lodge

The Quest for Judas Maccabeus

Founder of the Order of Judas Maccabeus, Brother Herman Sarachan

My latest obsession is one that I’ve touched on before in the article I shared by R∴W∴ Raymond Beardsley. For those of you that have not yet heard of the Order of Judas Maccabeus, it was an order founded in New York State by a group of brothers seeking a non-Christian alternative to Commandery. The founding of the Order did involve Masons from many aspects of the Craft, including representatives and leaders from the NYS grand bodies of Chapter, Council, and Commandery.

One of my goals has been to reach out to brothers that were involved in the Order. This has proved to be very difficult. Many of the men involved in OoJM have passed away, or don’t have an online presence, which makes reaching out a lot more difficult! When I first read the article by Brother Beardsley, I figured that I should try and see if I could contact him. That is when I found out that he had passed away about two weeks before I had found the article. No luck there, unfortunately, and may Brother Beardsley rest easy in the arms of the Creator.

Initially, I thought I had reached a dead end. However, having read the article, I had a jumping-off point: the home Chapter and home Council of the OoJM founder, Brother Herman Sarachan. I sent out emails to the recorder of Doric Council #19 and to the recorder of Hiram Chapter #62. My email to Hiram Chapter was a little bit of a Hail Mary, because I wasn’t sure if this was a reformation of Hamilton Chapter, or if it was a different entity entirely. As of yet, I still have to hear back from their recorder, so my assumption is that it is a different Chapter entirely.

However, I was able to hear back from Brother John Dudley, the Recorder of Doric Council (also the Secretary of Northfield Lodge #426). He informed me that he had been a member of the Order and had watched it slowly die. At the time of his joining, he was the 71st member of the Genesee Valley Assemblage #1, which is is shown on the scan of his last dues card for the Order, which he sent to me:

John Dudley’s OOJM Dues Card

Brother Dudley then put me in contact with (R∴W∴) Brother John Gallant, who was not a member of the Order, but had been in contact with Brother Beardsley. I emailed Brother Gallant to talk to him and see what I could learn, and ended up with an incredible surprise. Not only did Brother Gallant inform me that there was an Assemblage operating in Texas, he sent me a copy of the Texas ritual! I don’t feel comfortable posting/sharing the ritual in such an accessible format, so I will try to describe the document. The “Standard Work” was written by Brother Sarachan in 1974 in New York State, and the Texas ritual’s latest revision, according to the document, was in August 2007, by the late Brother Cliff Cameron. Brother Cameron was a Knight of the York Cross of Honor, and the 2007 Grand Historian of the Grand Council of Royal and Select Masters of Texas.

The Order conferred two degrees, the Order of David and the Order of Judas Maccabeus. There would have been a third order, the Order of the Temple, but Brother Sarachan died before he could finish it. From what I have been told, my understanding is that there were/are some efforts to finish the Order of the Temple, but I cannot verify this.

The Order of David teaches the lessons of love and devotion through the story of Jonathan and David planning David’s escape from King Saul’s grasp. The degree opens the Volume of Sacred Law (VSL) to Samuel 1 18:1. The officers of the Order of David are:

  • Sovereign Master
  • Companion Senior Warden
  • Companion Junior Warden
  • Companion Captain of the Guard
  • Companion Marshall
  • Companion Warder
  • Companion Sentinel

After the candidate is made a Companion of the Order of David and has observed the drama, the new Companion retires without the Assemblage’s room, and the Assemblage resumes labor in the Order of Judas Maccabeus, due to having called down to the Order of David for the purpose of conferral, and the Companion is made a Valiant Prince. The Order of Judas Maccabeus teaches the lessons of fidelity and devotion (to faith) through the story of the Maccabean revolt against the Hellenistic regime of Antiochus IV. The degree opens the VSL to either Psalm 23 or Ecclesiastes 12 (it’s unclear which is used). The officers of the Order of Judas Maccabeus are:

  • Sovereign Prince Commander
  • Valiant Prince Chancellor
  • Valiant Prince Orator
  • Valiant Prince Cohen
  • Valiant Prince Treasurer
  • Valiant Prince Recorder
  • Valiant Prince Captain of the Guard
  • Valiant Prince Marshall
  • Valiant Prince Warder
  • Valiant Prince Sentinel

They are seated in the Assemblage room as such:

Layout of an Assemblage Room

There, dear readers, is where I had to go from. My next step was to find out how to contact Brother Cameron, so I reached out to the Grand Recorder of the Grand Council of Texas. I was informed that he had passed away, but that there was a Grand Chapter/Council History and Preservation Committee. I have yet to hear back from either of the emails that I sent to the committee members, unfortunately. I also reached out to the Grand College of Rites, as I am a member (“Fellow”). No dice there, either. Radio silence.

At this point, I think I stalled out for a two weeks, because I was pretty stumped about what to do next. I talked about it with my brothers in lodge, and online, on Reddit, etc, etc, etc. It was then that someone suggested that I email Brother Arturo de Hoyos, who is an expert historian on most anything and everything Masonic. Brother de Hoyos was very friendly and informed me that this was actually an avenue of investigation that one of his associates was pursuing! The running theory is that the group is totally defunct. If so, the rituals will be printed as Collectanea for the Grand College of Rites. I emailed him what I had in terms of general materials, contact information, and so forth. Hopefully something will turn up soon!

In the meanwhile, I am continuing my search. I’m not sure where this will lead me. Honestly, I am really hoping that there’s still an active Assemblage somewhere in Texas. All you would need is to to grab five companions of the Royal Arch, and then have them inducted into the Order. That being the required number of Valiant Princes for an Assemblage to form and meet, perhaps there is hope for the future of Judas Maccabeus?

The Traveling Gavel

The Grand Lodge of Texas (AF&AM) 64th District Traveling Gavel

Tonight we had the privilege of visiting Handley Lodge. It was a pretty great experience! They had, up to this point, been the holders of the GLoTX 64th District Traveling Gavel. This was a program that was originally started by my lodge (148). In order to capture the gavel, your lodge has to show up with 7 or more brothers. The visit can be either during a stated meeting, or a called meeting. If multiple lodge attempt a capture, whichever lodge has the most lodges present takes it home, with a coin toss being the method used to break ties.

The brothers from Handley welcomed us with open arms and we had an absolutely great time. This was a very well-attended stated meeting! Even Arlington Lodge (438, I think) sent a contingent of brothers in their own attempt to make a capture. At one point, someone from Sweet Home Lodge tried to see if there were enough plural members of Sweet Home Lodoge for them to take it! That would have been a very difficult retrieval as they only open lodge in the Master’s Degree, and as such, would require us to send only our Master Masons.

The food was great – the OES chapter at Handley really knows how to knock it out of the park.

Here we are with the Worshipful Master of Handley Lodge, Haskell Rogers III:

Brethren of Fort Worth Lodge with Brother Haskell Rogers, Worshipful Master of Handley Lodge
Bonus picture of our group in front of the very-appropriate “COME AND TAKE IT” flag.

For more information on the Traveling Gavel, check out the 64th district’s page on it. I sincerely urge anyone in the 64th district to “COME AND TAKE IT,” so to speak, as we will try our damndest to take it right back.

The Order of Judas Maccabeus – Raymond Beardsly

I was trying to find out some more info about this Order when it came up a couple of days ago. Found a PDF called “The Pyramid Texts” and figured it would be useful to have this in a more web-friendly format.

If you want to read more articles like this, I think that the Philalethes Society actually offers an optional CD with a massive back catalogue of articles.


The Order of Judas Maccabeus

by R∴W∴ Raymond Beardsly

The Philalethes – October 1991

In the mid-1970’s, a group of York Rite Masons met in the Rochester area of upstate New York to consider the initiation of a new organization with the purpose of eventually proposing it as a new Body to be incorporated in the York Rite of Freemasonry. The inception of this idea had emanated from the fertile brain of the late Brother Herman Sarachan, often referred to as Mr. Mason in the Rochester area. Brother Sarachan had a distinguished Masonic record, having actively participated in both the Scottish and York Rites, as well as having served as a District Deputy Grand Master in the Monroe County area. He had been the High Priest of Hamilton Chapter #62 and the Illustrious Master of Doric Council #19.

For many years, Brother Sarachan edited a column in the Monroe Masonic News (the monthly Masonic publication in the Rochester area) entitled: “Dear Brother Herman,” in which he answered questions regarding Masonry – history, biography, definition, procedure, law, ritual, protocol, etc. His articles were later incorporated into a book under the same title, published in 1979; in addition, Brother Sarachan had previously published a book on the history of Freemasonry in the Rochester and Monroe County area of New York.

Brother Sarachan believed that there was a need for an additional body in the York Rite for those Masons who either could not for religious reasons or would not for personal reasons join the Commandery of Knights Templar. The first two York Rite Bodies, the Royal Arch Chapter and the Council of Cryptic Masons, like the Symbolic Lodge, are non-sectarian; however, the Commandery of Knights Templar is distinctly a Christian Order of Masonry and is also a military-type organization with uniforms, drills and inspections. As a result, Members of the Chapter and Council who are not Christians or who do not favor the militaristic atmosphere of the Commandery do not have a comparable body to join, which would be more suitable to their religious or personal beliefs and mores. With this in mind, Brother Sarachan proposed that a new body be initiated to meet the needs and desires of these particular Masonic Brethren but which would welcome all Masons who wished to participate. The organization would be known as The Order of Judas Maccabeus.

Judas Maccabeus was the renowned leader of the Jews when they revolted against Roman hegemony in the second century, B.C., particularly after the Romans had desecrated the Temple at Jerusalem by erecting a statue of Zeus over the altar. Under the leadership of Judas Maccabeus, the Jews regained control of Jerusalem and the Temple for a period of time celebrated in Jewish history. Because of his prestige and stature in Hebrew history and tradition, the name of Judas Maccabeus was considered most appropriate for the new body. The Order of Judas Maccabeus would be founded on a non-sectarian basis and without military accouterments, with the goal that it would eventually become a parallel Body to the Commandery.

Thus, in 1974, a group of some 30 York Rite leaders in the local area met in the Rochester Temple to formally consider The Order of Judas Maccabeus. Present were Masons prominent in all the York Rite Bodies, including past heads of all of the Grand Bodies in the State of New York: M∴ E∴ Frank Allen of the Grand Chapter, M∴ I∴ Bruce Dayton of the Grand Council and R∴ E∴ Ward Ekas of the Grand Commandery. All in attendance were unanimously in agreement as to the desirability of instituting a complementary Body to the Commandery that would more appropriately meet the needs of our Jewish and other non-Christian or non-military-minded Companions. It should be born in mind that the majority of York Rite Masons present were Christians and members of the local Commanderies.

The Order of Judas Maccabeus was originally to encompass three Orders: The Order of David, The Order of Judas Maccabeus and The Order of the Temple (referring to the Jewish Temple). The Order of David teaches the lesson of unselfish love and devotion and uses as its framework the story of David and Jonathan, as depicted in the Old Testament in the Book of First Samuel. The Order of Judas Maccabeus teaches the lesson of fidelity and devotion to faith and uses as its framework the revolt of the Jews in 168 B.C. against the Roman hierarchy of Antiochus, who had prohibited the practice of the Jewish faith and had desecrated the Temple, as related in the Apocryphal Books of the Maccabeus.

These first two Orders were prepared under the aegis of Brother Sarachan, and, to date, have formed the basis for initiation into the Order. The Order of the Temple, which ultimately is to form the final phase of initiation into the Order, has not been completed. Brother Sarachan’s health failed and he passed on before he could turn his attention to the proposed Order of the Temple. However, it is now in the process of formulation, and much thought is going into its preparation, in order that it may take its place on a level with such awe-inspiring exemplifications as the Royal Arch Degree of the Chapter, the Super Excellent Degree of the Council and the Order of the Temple of the Commandery.

Members of The Order of Judas Maccabeus are titled “Valiant Princes” and constituent Bodies are termed “Assemblages,” whose principal officers are Commander, Chancellor, Orator, Treasurer, Recorder, Captain of the Guard, Lecturer, Marshall, Warden and Sentinel. The premier Assemblage, inaugurated in the Rochester area, is known as Genesee Valley Assemblage #1.

A number of other Assemblages have been instituted in New York State, specifically in New York, Long Island and Buffalo. Also, Assemblages have been inaugurated in the States of Connecticut and New Jersey. Numerous inquiries have been received from interested York Rite Masons from such States as Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona and California, to name a few.

Although the early years of Genesee Valley Assemblage #1 did not always run smoothly and for awhile the original enthusiasm was somewhat abated, it is now prospering with a large number of new members. Whereas the charter membership was largely Christian, in recent years a number of our Jewish and other non-Christian Brethren have joined. In the meantime, with the emergence of other Assemblages about New York and adjoining States, a Grand Assemblage was instituted a few years ago with the presiding officer designated to be “The Most Sovereign Grand Commander of North America.”

Any inquiries and questions should be forwarded to the above address. Although there may be those who question the desirability of a new Masonic organization, the criterion that should be applied is the need for and function of such a new Masonic entity. Over the past 35 years, we have experienced the inception of two new Masonic organizations which met specific needs and desires and, as a result, have been highly successful. These are The York Rite Sovereign College of North America and The National Camping Travelers. The first originated for Masons active in all four York Rite Bodies, and the second for Masons and their families interested in camping. Both of these Masonic organization have, in a relatively few years, grown tremendously with both of them having well over 100 constituent Bodies throughout the United States and Canada.

In like manner, The Order of Judas Maccabeus was founded to meet a distinct need in York Rite Masonry. Because of this, those of us who have been intimately connected with its formulation and establishment feel that it will play a unique and increasingly important role in The York Rite of Freemasonry.

Raymond R. Beardsley (December 8, 1925 – December 28, 2016) was a member and Past Master of Northfield Lodge #426 F. & A.M. in Pittsford, NY. He was the Past Most Illustrious Grand Master of the Grand Council of the State of New York, Past District Deputy Grand High Priest, Past Commander of Cyrene-Monroe Commandery #12, and Past District Deputy Grand Master 2nd Monroe District. He was a Scottish Rite Mason and a member of Damascus Shrine in Webster, NY.