KSLOR Reboot

Dear Scholarly Brethren,

As you may have heard there have been some changes made to the overall structure of the Kansas Lodge of Research.  We are undergoing a full REBOOT to maximize the value of KSLOR to the Craft as a whole.  These changes will be revealed to you very soon, but for the time being, rest assured the new leadership team of KSLOR is hard at work constructing a new quality new program that we will be launching in the near future.  Are you Ready for it?!

 

Most Sincerely & Fraternally,

Alex G. Powers

Director, Kansas Lodge of Research

 

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Kansas Masonic Online Collection

Mr. Dylan Sweyko-Kuhlman, Archivist of our Kansas Masonic Library and Museum, provided an update about our online collection to the annual meeting of the Kansas Lodge of Research (KSLOR) in Topeka on Thursday, March 15, 2018.   As a reminder, KSLOR is the group that made the online collection possible through our donations for the PastPerfect archiving software Dylan uses to catalog our holdings.  A button labeled Library & Archives has been added to the menu above so you’ll be able to easily find the collection as long as your remember KSLOR.org.

Sample of items available in the online collection.

Per Dylan, the next series of priorities is to scan in the most requested or needed books in the collection so you’ll be able to access them online.  These would be the books that are not available elsewhere: The out-of-print, rare ones, and one-of-a-kind. For those books currently available for sale at, say, Amazon or Macoy’s, we’ll need to find them in catalogs of local libraries where they can be read online or ordered delivered to your local library for check out. Maybe a revamped Research Committee can start posting links to the libraries and repositories of Research Lodges and grand Lodge libraries of the other jurisdictions in the US (hint-hint).

The collection can also hold your digital artifacts.  Several KSLOR members mentioned having pictures of key events or historical figures in their lodge.  These are important parts of our heritage and should not be neglected.  I recommend that you call Dylan at 785-234-5518 and coordinate how to get those artifacts into the online collection.  It is my dream that someday we will be able to research and find the golden gems that are currently quietly reposing in dusty lodge archives across the state.

There was mention that the Grand Lodge office is attempting to digitize all the membership records.  This is excellent when tracing a family’s Masonic history.  Our eventual digitized collection of both Grand Lodge and local lodge holdings will take the family tracing to the next level.  You’ll not only know who in your family was a Mason, but what they did as a Mason and their impact on their lodge and community.

History has a way of repeating itself and the glory days of men seeking Masonic membership en masse is not behind us.  It is ahead of us.  As younger generations begin to look for a solid rock in the rough seas of anti-establishment, pursuit of the profane, and distributed electronic societies, they will discover what we have and come to us in numbers.

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Historical Light – Illuminates Our Past

One of our brothers and fellow members of the Kansas Lodge of Research is doing his part to ignite the Masonic Explorer in all of us.  I recommend frequently checking Historical Light, a Masonic show devoted to illumination our past hosted by Brother Alex Powers, Worshipful Master of Gardner Lodge #65.  About twice monthly, Bro Alex provides a very insightful look at a historical aspect of our beloved fraternity.  I think you, too, will enjoy this perspective provided with video and narrative.

Alex has a great philosophy with his site, “There are so many tales to be told between our Buildings, Members, Events, and Family History.  With this show, we aim to share, preserve, and Honor these memories for years to come.  See: http://www.historicallight.com

Sample page from Historicallight.com hosted by Bro. Alex Powers.

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Annual Meeting Announced!

Kansas Lodge of Research will hold its Annual Meeting on Thursday, March 15, 2018 at the Capitol Plaza Convention enter and Hotel in Topeka.   The meeting will commence at 3:00 pm, R:. W:. H. Wayne Rector presiding.  The meeting will immediately follow the Kansas Masonic Foundation’s Meeting with the Lodges and precede the 162nd Annual Communication Welcome Reception.  Check the hotel marquis to find out which room we will bet in.

BRING YOUR KSLOR Dues Card.  You will need this card to be able to vote at the meeting.  If you have not yet paid your 2018 dues, you can do so online, but do it by March 6th to ensure there is time to get your dues card to you.

Speaking of the KMF’s Meeting with the Lodges … It is highly recommended that every lodge in Kansas have at least one representative there.  Guest speakers from many of the 50th Anniversary “Building Kansas” campaign beneficiaries will be there.  The opportunities for Kansas lodges to enhance their ties to their community, become a benefit to their neighbors, and grow their membership cannot be overstated.  Any lodge can succeed wildly by taking advantage one or more of the programs that will be detailed at the meeting.

See you in Topeka, Brethren.

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Membership has its Privileges!

$10 Dues – “Ten bucks” Ten smackeroos.

As we twist your arm (and your hand toward your wallet) remember that your membership dues have gone for the initial effort to electronically catalog the great holdings in our Kansas Masonic Library and Museum.  You can now view our Online Collection!  Your continued membership is necessary so that the only portal remains funded and available as our archivist, Dylan Sweyko-Kuhlman, begins to gain speed (and volume) of our heritage, you’ll be able to peruse the collection online.  Eventually, this effort will expand to collections and libraries in each lodge.  This is a great way to catalog the history of achievement of our brothers both now and those who blazed the Masonic trails into Kansas even before Kansas became a state.

Your continued membership is vital to this effort.  Give up that double-expresso-latte for one day and help preserve your Masonic heritage beyond your lifetime.  Renew Now!

Picture of the Grand Lodge Library and Museum online.

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DOOZERDOO – 2018 Dues are Now Due

Greetings brothers!  The calendar has flipped to 2018 and the means your dues are due for KSLOR.  Those not current as of February 1st will no longer have access to the member area of the KSLOR site and may be dropped from distribution of meeting information.

Your support for KSLOR is an imperative.  Last year, we funded the Grand Lodge Library & Museum archiving software.  This year, your dues will support making that archive available to KSLOR members via the web.  You’ll be able to see the inventory of amazing artifacts of  your Kansas Masonic heritage from the comfort of your cozy lair.

Your dues also support the web site you are currently using, maintains our KSLOR address, secures the site with feature such as https, and supports online payment capabilities.

Brothers, your earliest and prompt attention to the trifling detail of your dues would be most appreciated by the Secretary who does an outstanding job for us all … voluntarily!

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Did Leadership Academy 2017 Make the Grade?

The November 2017 Leadership Academy in Topeka boasted the largest turnout in its seven-year history.  Attendee feedback would lead you to believe that Masonic gold had been mined in Kansas.  Short of a death in the family, most would not miss these events; they are just that good.  Having had time to stand back and take a more objective look, I thought it was time to determine if the salve of the Academy was soothing the right itch.

The demographics of Leadership Academy show that we are attracting a greater audience of leaders and potential leaders at the Grand Lodge level.  Nearly all Area and District Deputy Grand Masters, as well as a huge contingent of line Grand Lodge officers were present.  So, too, were the leadership of the successful lodges and those lodges with bright hopes for a long, prosperous future.  Those visibly absent were representatives from the struggling lodges, the smaller lodges, troubled lodges, and the lodges that find themselves on the so called “death map”.  In other words, the Wardens about to assume the East and in the most need of this information were the least present.  Puzzling is the reason that the very officers who need this information the most are the least likely to attend.  Maybe a look at the genesis of Leadership Academy is in order.

For years, Grand Lodge operated a Wardens School with the intention of arming near-term Worshipful Masters with all the basic information needed to assume the Master’s duties.  Presumably, this would give the elect enough time to understand their duties and make plans for their year.  However, leadership of a lodge is the paramount attribute that determines success of a lodge.  The demands of a lodge Master and the officers of the progressive line are numerous and extremely weighty.  Event planning, annual budgeting, volunteer management, paid personnel management, facility management, meeting facilitation, and new member programs are just the start of required knowledge.  The leaders must also be proficient in degree work, keepers of the landmarks, officers in all committees, lodge spokes persons, fundraisers, and dispensers of charity.  Additionally, they are members of the Grand Lodge and liaisons to outside organizations, subject matter experts in their lodge bylaws and those of higher authority, keepers of the charter, and must stay well appraised of legal, social, moral, and civil matters affecting the lodge.  The lynchpin is a plan to guide the Master elect through it all.

While the Wardens School was well organized and refined over the years to “put some meat on the bones”, it garnered a reputation for being dry, and, as it has been said many times, was like “drinking from a fire hose”.  Attendance dropped and Wardens School became uneconomical to sustain.  A common conclusion from Wardens School was that getting all this information as a Warden was too late.  Real learning and shaping oneself for the successful term as Master had to be done over a course of many years.  A new approach to longer term lodge leadership ramp-up in a more adult-style, academic environment was needed.  Leadership Academy was born.

The historical treatise of the genesis of Leadership Academy was necessary to state that, unlike Wardens School, a single event cannot be judged independently.  The learning, interaction, discussion, sharing, and participation has to be looked at over time to see if, like getting regular nutrition over a course of meals, builds the patron into a healthy specimen of good leadership.  Evaluation of Leadership Academy 2017, therefore, has to be done in context of the whole series of academies.  In that case, the 2017 event wildly succeeds.  Forty-five minute sessions throughout the day covered a wide array of contemporary topics such as leadership, entrepreneurship, charity, insurance, Grand Lodge initiatives, and the Masonic experience.  Yet, there was still plenty of basic ‘block and tackle’ topics such as duties of the Secretary and Treasurer, conduct of audits, perpetual life membership, and the Lodge Officers Manual.  Valuable content, not on the syllabus, is the sharing of best practices and innovative ideas over lunch, Table Lodge, and breaks.  Anyone attending the last three years of academies would have been asleep the entire time if they did not come away each time with at least three golden nuggets; three great ideas that, if implemented at their lodge, would greatly increase the value of the Masonic experience for their brothers.

While Leadership Academy attendance growth is one marker of success, missing criteria are those markers that show how well an attendee destined for the East is prepared to make the ascent to the third step.  A demographic study along with a more focused evaluation will be required but necessary to ensure that the long-term intent of the academy is met.  Information needed would include whether the attendee has ever served in the East before, from what lodge position in their progressive line did they start attending the academy, did they come away with at least three golden nuggets each time, and, the ultimate test of success, how prepared did they feel they were just prior to assuming the Master’s role.  The same survey needs to be sent to the Master at 6 months during their tenure and again within 30 days after they transitioned out of the Master’s chair.  The main purpose on the latter survey should be to ascertain a list of subjects in which the immediate Past Master felt most deficient and, from Leadership Academy attendance, most prepared.

Short of a prolonged and probably costly 3rd party evaluation, a well-crafted and managed survey with demographic data such as age, years a Mason, professional background, topics taken at Leadership Academy and years attended/lodge position at the time would help future academy planners visualize the most needed subjects by lodge position and person attending.  With empirical data that hopefully shows continued achievement by its attendees, the academy can be better marketed to the officers in those lodges that need the education the most.  It would set the standards by which academy success is measured over time.

In a society of friends and more especially brothers whose primary pursuit is further light, it is disheartening that so many of our brothers in lodge officer positions fail to attend Leadership Academy.  There, light is diligently prepared, caringly shared, brotherly love not spared, to lighten burdens bared by leadership dared.  Leadership Academy 2017 made the grade and from this vantage point scores an A-.  Quantifying its contribution and better marketing to the lodges that need what Leadership Academy offers are the next steps toward ‘Best in Class’.

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Live Blogging from Leadership Academy 2017

The Best Show Up.  Recorded attendance at the Leadership Academy held on November 4, 2017 in Topeka was 215.  While this number is impressive, it represents less than one member per lodge.  If just the wardens of each lodge came, there would be 436 in attendance plus the usual cadre of Area and District Deputy Grand Masters and Grand Lodge officers.  It is reflective of the state of Masonry in Kansas.  If you assume that 100 lodges are dead or disconnected from Masonry, then we’re pretty close to an average of 2 members from each breathing lodge.  The reality is that those gathered in Topeka are the heart of Kansas Masonry; those interested in actually seeking Masonic light and learning ways to raise the value of Masonry for their lodges.  Thanks to those brethren who made the trip.  You are truly the top 1.26%.

Defibrillation for KSLOR

KSLOR Leadership Meets. With the departure of Bro. Crary from Kansas and two KSLOR meetings canceled due to lack of coordination, the remaining leaders and interested Masons met over lunch in Topeka to discuss the way forward.  R:. W:. Wayne Rector assumed the role as Worshipful Master, Bro. Frank Keedy assumed Senior Warden, and M:. W:. Daren Kellerman agreed to and was appointed Junior Warden.  The next meeting was tentatively set for Saturday, February 4, 2018 at Emporia State University the evening of the Grand Lodge Officer Orientation.  KSLOR will develop online synopses for each of the 12 brothers who responded to the Speakers Bureau solicitation for speakers.

Grand Lodge Building.  The concluding session was a well-researched and delivered summary of where we are in the decision-making process whether to preserve or abandon our 100-year-old Grand Lodge landmark at 320 SW 8th Ave in Topeka.  MW Cole did an amazing job giving the leaders all the puts-takes.  The bottom line: We Kansas Masons need to commit to an average of $365 per Mason donation within a year in order to proceed.  Knowing that only 10% will likely invest in their own hallowed legacy means we few-proud Masons will need to donate $3650 per Mason.  That’s a huge chunk.  And we still need to finish the 50th Anniversary $20 million Kansas Masonic Foundation campaign.  I have learned – “Never fall in love with a building.  It will not love you back.”  So it is with the Grand Lodge building.  We Kansas Masons who participate in the Craft comprise the Grand Lodge.  Where the administration, operations, archiving, and artifact display takes place is immaterial as long as it is effective for the Craft.  If we err, let’s err on the side of preserving the Craft and move to a building we can afford.  Maybe we can obtain another Masonic landmark in Kansas for the purpose before it either gets sold or falls to ruin, like the Masonic temple in Salina or the Scottish Rite building in Topeka.  In ALL cases, Kansas Masons need to express their opinion NOW through the Grand Lodge web site Grand Lodge Building Survey page.

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We Did That! Kansas Masons help advance Cancer Treatment Services

Kansas Masons and Kansas University have had a long, well known relationship in the battle against cancer.  Brother Dr. Roy Jensen is quick to extol Masons’ early and sustained contributions that bolstered the Kansas Masonic Cancer Research Institute and led to their ultimate designation as a National Cancer Institute designated facility.  The latter makes it possible for funding that dwarfs our continued endowed support.  So, what’s the next challenge?  Supporting the Midwest Cancer Alliance (MCA).

Midwest Cancer Alliance

We’ve already begun that partnership by offering cancer screenings at our lodges throughout the state.  Through the MCA, Kansans now have access to the resources of KU Med and the KMCRI without having to travel to Kansas City.  MCA endeavors to add designated cancer care facilities throughout the state which not only provide a connection to the KMCRI but also significantly enhances the power of research, medical collaboration, clinical trials, therapy, and cures through cooperation between all the MCA designated hospitals and clinics.  MCA has recently added another community to the network which gives patients local access to the best cancer treatment nexus available when screenings find scary results.

Dr. Gary Doolittle and Dr. Ogundipe welcome groups to the tour through the Cancer Treatment Facility.

On November 1st, 2017, I had the fortune to accompany Hope Krebill, Executive Director, and other members of the MCA team to an Open House of Cancer Treatment Services at the Tatman Cancer Center in the Coffeyville Regional Medical Center, the newest member of MCA.  Coffeyville area residents and hospital staff were able to tour the facility, meet the oncology team, learn about their comprehensive program, and their new partnership with the Midwest Cancer Alliance.  Others in the MCA traveling team were Ashley  Spalding , Jim Coulter,  the “Bio Bank” coordinator Hanuen Quo, and one of our favorite friends of Masons and founder of the MCA concept, Dr. Gary Doolittle.

One of many groups taking the evening tour.

The tour revealed two things.  One was the cancer care already available at CRMC, which was formidable.  Second, was how valuable both CRMC and MCA saw their new partnership.  It was clear that Dr. Akin Ogundipe, Medical Oncologist and Hematologist, Dr. Michelle McGuirk, General and Trauma Surgeon, Dr. Nathan Uy, Radiation Oncologist, and the rest of the amazing doctors and staff at CRMC are committed to the advancement of cancer care and what the new partnership brings to southeast Kansas.

Sci-fi looking radiation machine used to eradicate cancer

We Kansas Masons should know that we are held in highest esteem for our support to the MCA through our 50th Anniversary Campaign of the Kansas Masonic Foundation called “Building Kansas”.   Once we reach our $5 Million target for an endowment to the MCA, they will rename it to the Masonic Cancer Alliance.  A brother and his lady from both Edna Lodge No. 345 and Keystone Lodge No. 102 were in attendance at the open house.  If they were like me, they were very proud to be Masons who made such a partnership possible now, and hopefully well into the future.

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The Road Ahead: Opinion-R

We’re blocked. When you get to a road block, I imagine several possibilities pass through your mind.  Can we get through the blockage?  Is there an alternate route? Did we take a wrong turn somewhere? Or, is this the end of the road?  We’re at such a decision point with the Kansas Lodge of Research.

Our heritage.  The Kansas Lodge of Research (KSLOR) was established in 1982 under Article IX, Section 15 of the Constitution of the Grand Lodge of Kansas: “The Kansas Lodge of Research is hereby established with the authority to conduct research, hold discussions, gather and preserve Masonic information, assist in the maintenance of the Grand Lodge library, supply papers or speakers at the request of Lodges when convenient, and conduct a program of general service to the Craft in the field of Masonic Education and Information subject to the provision of the law.”

How we got to this point.  In 1982, there were over 66,000 Masons in Kansas.  Even if only 1/100th of 1% of the Masons then were enthusiastically devoted to KSLOR, there would be 6 leaders to carry the load.  As of January 1, 2017, we had 17,281 Kansas Masons and most are over 67 years of age.  Mathematically, we’d be lucky to have one (1) Mason with the leadership skills, determination, vision, and time to dedicate to the advancement of KSLOR.  More importantly, he’d also need to find and groom others for succession of leadership for long-term success of the lodge.  Although the succession training formula has worked well for the Grand Lodge elected leadership through the Deputy Grand Master leadership programs, KSLOR has not been part of the leadership succession training and vetting opportunities.

The way forward. KSLOR is a Grand Lodge entity which has reached a leadership roadblock.  Has it reach the end of its usefulness? Should it have a modified mission?  Should it just be left to die of its own weight? Or should it be injected with hungry, ambitious leaders who would eventually be good candidates for Area Deputy Grand Master or Grand Lodge elected leadership?  I believe it should be the latter with a modification to Section 15.  The demographics of Kansas Masonry has changed over the past 35 years.  Certainly, the ambitious and wide-ranging mission of KSLOR needs to be reduced to a point it can be more easily managed.

Next steps.

  • First, the Council of Administration must step in to make leadership appointments to KSLOR.  Head of KSLOR should be equivalent to an ADGM and earn the title of Right Worshipful during their term. It should be made a prestigious, sought-after position that gives the incumbent the same exposure as an ADGM.
  • Second. The mission should be reduced to simply ResearchPublishSpeak as defined under the KSLOR strategic plan that was gaining much ground in 2014-2015.  Maintenance of the Grand Lodge Library and Museum should be removed from the KSLOR mission.  Even with a highly capable professional archivist on staff, progress to electronically catalog and maintain the library holdings is moving at glacial speed.  If KSLOR can do three, interrelated things well, we’d be light years ahead of where we are now.
  • Third. Integrate KSLOR into everything we do.  If we keep it in the constitution, then its important enough to have presentations for/by KSLOR at Leadership Academy, Annual Communication, and at any time there is a major Grand Lodge event.   For example, if rededication of the State Capital building was important enough to do, what has been done to capture that part of our legacy, add its lessons learned to our Masonic Education line up, and provide knowledgeable speakers to carry that to lodges across Kansas?

The road ahead.  Kudos to those KSLOR members who have made significant contributions. Your efforts have not been for naught. This is not a crisis of membership.  Thanks to the partnership by Kansas Masonic Foundation, our membership reached a high in the past few years.  What’s missing is integration with Grand Lodge leadership with a limited, related, important mission.

Feedback welcome. If you are a member of KSLOR, you have the ability to log into this web site and comment on this article.  If you’d like to make your own posts, click Contact Us and send a note to the Secretary requesting upgraded permissions.

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