Monday, December 29, 2008


Last Saturday we conducted a rehearsal for the upcoming Installation of Lodge officers scheduled for this coming Saturday, January 3rd at 1:00pm. This will be open to the public. The rehearsal went off fine and we have everything ready for the ceremony, including programs, a copy of our Bylaws, the Digest (Florida governing docs), working tools, and the Holy Bible. I even had the officers try on their aprons so they fit properly (nothing more embarrassing than an apron that doesn't fit while putting it on during the installation - I have even seen some Brothers deliberately open up the belts prior to the installation as a gag).

Normally, we have Past Masters from the Lodge preside over the ceremony, but I wanted to do something slightly different. It will, of course, follow the ceremony as prescribed by our Grand Lodge, but I assembled a different team of officers for the installation:

W:.Jarvis Woods, PM will be the presiding officer. W:.Woods succeeded me as Worshipful Master at Sutherland Lodge No. 174 in Palm Harbor and he did a wonderful job. He has been a Mason for over 40 years and we have developed a strong kinship as a result of the fraternity. I have valued his advice and friendship for years. In fact, he taught me my first lesson about being a Lodge officer (although I'm sure he has probably forgotten telling it to me); it was simply that "every chair in the Lodge is an important responsibility." Very true. Bro. Jarvis is originally from Virginia and has a smooth southern voice with a touch of southern aristocracy in it. Plus, he knows what good pork barbecue is all about!

Our Marshall will be R:.H:.Ed Street, PM, PDI (for those of you outside of Florida, R:.H:. means "Right Honorable" to denote a Past District Instructor; this is a new title enacted by our Grand Lodge just a couple of years ago). Bro. Ed is one of the hardest working Masons in our area. He doesn't think twice about helping a Lodge or a Brother with either a degree, a lecture, or whatever. Because of his hard work, Dunedin Lodge recognized him by making him an Honorary Member of our Lodge as a small token of thanks for all of his efforts. I am lucky to secure his services.

And finally, my Installing Chaplain will be R:.W:.Ed Phero, PM, PDI, PDDGM from nearby Clearwater Lodge No. 127 F.& A.M. I have been fortunate to know Bro. Ed for a long time now. He was District Deputy when I became a Mason and I have enjoyed his humor and advice ever since. I have always know R:.W:.Ed as a man of integrity. A Mason's Mason. This has not gone unnoticed by our Lodge either as we voted him an Honorary member of our Lodge last year.

I selected these three Brothers because I have developed a bond with them over the years while traveling throughout the area. This is not a slight against any Past Master from Dunedin (who customarily installs our officers), but I do hope to accent the need for expanding our vision and to think of Freemasonry as a bigger concept than just the four walls of our Lodge room.

In addition, I have secured the services of Bro. Steve Andrews who will be our bagpiper for the start of our ceremonies. This has become an important tradition at Dunedin Lodge, particularly to the many Scots in our area (including yours truly). I've asked him to pipe us in with "Scotland the Brave" (what else?).

Following the installation service, a reception will be held immediately afterwards at my offices which are just a couple of miles from the Lodge.

Aside from all this, I've closed the Secretary's books for 2008 and have everything ready to turn over to my successor, W:.Bob Matheson, PM. We've cleaned up the office and have it ready for a new Masonic year. Should be fun.

Until next time...

All the Best,
Dunedin Lodge No. 192 F.& A.M.
Dunedin, FL, USA
"For the Good of the Order"

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

December 23, 2008 - CHRISTMAS

Since all is quiet before the holidays, I thought I would leave you with a column I wrote last year as to my feelings about Christmas. I hope you enjoy it.

I don't want to sound like Scrooge or the Grinch, but Christmas is not one of my favorite holidays. I see it more as something for the kids as opposed to adults. Before I get started though, I want to make something perfectly clear; I still refer to this season as "Christmas" as opposed to the "Holidays" which may sound more politically correct, but to me it's an admission that Christians are in retreat in this country. I am not a super-religious person mind you, but it bothers me that we have turned the celebration of Christ's birth into a marketing bonanza. To illustrate my point, consider the following:

  • We spend millions on lights and decorations around the house as opposed to investing in our planet and conserving energy resources.

  • Instead of helping the less fortunate, we give opulent gifts to people who really do not need them. Last time I checked, there are still places in the world where people are sick and hungry, and need an education or a roof over their heads.

  • As opposed to trying to replenish our forests, we kill trees to do nothing more than decorate our homes for a few scant days.

  • Instead of promoting Christ's words of peace, we are still at war with ourselves, particularly at the checkout counter.

If this has all changed, I must have missed the memo on it.

In the workplace, we exchange superficial gifts more because we feel we have to rather than because we want to. I would much rather have a heartfelt handshake than most of the gifts I have received in the office. But then again, this probably isn't politically correct either. I have even seen people compete over who is going to give the most extravagant gift to someone for political purposes as opposed to the generosity of their heart.

It is also customary to hold office parties this time of year, much to the delight of caterers, restaurants, hotels, entertainers, etc. But I wonder if the substantial money expended here would be put to better use by rewarding the employees with a bonus instead.

Following Thanksgiving, the media immediately shifts its programming into the Yule tide swing with Christmas music on the radio, and specials on television. It seems a little like brainwashing to me to force you into the Christmas spirit weeks before the actual holiday. I'm sorry, but I don't like being coerced into anything.

I wonder what Jesus would say about all of these shenanigans. First, he would probably wonder who the jolly fat guy was in the red outfit. I imagine he would tell us that we all have our priorities wrong. I can even hear him say, "Hey guys, you even got the day wrong!"

If Jesus were to come back, I'd bet he would be kidnapped by the marketing people for at least the month of December, maybe longer.

With this said, I sincerely wish everyone, be you a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim, or whatever, a very merry Christmas, not because I'm trying to force my religious beliefs down your throat, but because I genuinely wish you Peace on Earth, good will toward men. Maybe I do have the Christmas spirit after all.

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Copyright © 2007 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

December 17, 2008 - 1ST SETBACK

I had my first minor setback today. I received a letter from my appointee for Junior Steward that he would be unable to serve in 2009. Fortunately, he bowed out before the installation of officers scheduled for January 3rd. I was able to find a fine young Brother to replace him and made all of the necessary changes to our records.

I guess what disturbs me though is the first candidate really bent my ear saying he wanted to get into line. Although he didn't attend Lodge frequently, he was quite adamant about serving as an officer. It's not often you have someone banging down your door to serve a position so I saw no problem in appointing him. In hindsight, it was the wrong decision. I should have selected the person who demonstrates his commitment to the Lodge, not just someone who bends my ear.

Interestingly, I should have learned this lesson last year as we had another Steward who adamantly wanted to get into a chair, was installed, and we never saw him again.

Don't get me wrong, both Brothers are nice guys, but I guess the lesson here is that "ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS."

Monday, December 15, 2008

December 15, 2008 - FESTIVUS

My wife and I held a "Festivus" party this past Saturday, the purpose of which was to have a year-end holiday party. The name "Festivus" comes from TV's "Seinfeld", a nutty non-denominational holiday. I figured there were enough Christmas/Holiday parties going on, so I wanted something different (go figure).

Nonetheless, I invited friends, neighbors, and as many Masons from my Lodge as I knew. The party ran from 6:30pm, and the last group of people left about 1:00am. I had an open bar for libations, plenty of food, some games of chance for charity (a 50/50), holiday music, and of course the aluminum "Festivus" pole. Everyone had a great time. Alcohol was present, but nobody seemed to go away intoxicated. Yes, we gambled, but nobody seemed offended, especially since it benefited Masonic charity. In other words, all of the vices Masonic lodges seem to worry about never surfaced and it made a great social. To this day, I still do not understand the hangups Masons have with having a good time (but I'm sure there are some Masonic fuddy-duddies out there who could probably show me where it says in our governing docs that fun is not allowed).

In the end, it was a great party. Everybody kicked back, relaxed, shared some laughs and simply enjoyed each other's company. "Another Festivus Miracle!"

Thursday, December 11, 2008

December 11, 2008 - PREPPING FOR THE NEW YEAR

I went to Lodge last night to tend to paperwork. As I am the outgoing Secretary, I want to leave a clean desk for my successor. Among the things I did was to suspend ten Brothers for nonpayment of dues (as we voted on at our last Stated Communications of the year). I understand that people might lose interest in the fraternity, but I cannot understand why they would want to make their exit simply by not paying their dues. This, of course, is a blemish on their records and doesn't help their cause should they ever want to be reinstated. Instead, they should take a Dimit and be a Mason without a Lodge. This looks better on their record.

I also distributed a press release to the local papers regarding the charity work we have been involved with at Dunedin Elementary. This year we have devised a "Bikes for Books" program to encourage student reading. This was an idea based on similar programs implemented by Masonic Lodges in the western United States. To my knowledge, we are the first Lodge in Florida to implement such a program. Hopefully, the press release will generate some good public relations for the Lodge.

In preparation for the next Masonic year, I also did the following:

A. Prepared the name badges for the officers and sent it into a local company who manufactures such items.

B. Wrote my installation speech. Although I tried to be brief, I exhort Masons to be different; to think differently; to act differently; that the "status quo" simply won't hack it any longer. I'll post the speech here after the installation.

C. Firmed up plans for a "Snowbird Night" to be held Monday, February 16, 2009, at Dunedin Lodge beginning at 7:00pm. The purpose of Snowbird Night is to welcome our northern Brothers who have migrated to our area during winter. We will be holding a dinner at 6:00pm prior to the meeting. As to dress code, suit and tie is recommended, but "business casual" is acceptable (sorry, no T-shirts, shorts, jeans, or flip-flops).

I sent notices on this event throughout the Internet, including Guest Books and Discussion Groups in northern jurisdictions.

That's all for today.

Dunedin Lodge No. 192 F.& A.M.
"For the Good of the Order"

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

December 10, 2008 - I'M ELECTED WM

The purpose of this blog is to provide a record of my thoughts and activities as I become Worshipful Master of a Masonic Lodge for the second time. Hopefully, this will be useful for others to plan their year in the East. As a "second timer" I do not want to become complacent as some Masters have been who have been faced with this same situation. Instead, I hope to tackle the job with the same zeal and enthusiasm I had during my first term as Master.

Dunedin Lodge No. 192 F.& A.M. is my mother Lodge where I was raised and served for a couple of years before moving to Sutherland Lodge No. 192 F.& A.M. which is closer to my home in Palm Harbor. Both Lodges operate under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Florida. While at Sutherland I progressed through the chairs as JD-SD-JW-SW-WM and served as Secretary for two years. Sutherland is a much smaller Lodge than Dunedin but I learned a lot about the Fraternity during my tenure there, including its politics. In 2006 I returned to Dunedin where I served as Secretary for the past two years.

Although we had a rather good year at Dunedin in 2008, both the Junior and Senior Wardens had to drop out of line, causing a problem in terms of who would succeed our outgoing Worshipful Master. At our last Stated Communications of the year held last Monday, December 8th, the Craft voted me to the East.

I was fortunate to have a Past Master, who I greatly respect, elected to the West and a young and bright Brother elected to the South. The Treasurer's post remained the same, and the Secretary's job was filled by another capable Past Master.

I wasted little time in appointing my Junior Officers and quickly formed committees. As Secretary I was fortunate to know just about everyone in the Lodge and the Craft appears ready to volunteer to help the Lodge. I sometimes believe sitting as a Secretary should be a prerequisite for becoming a Worshipful Master as you learn a lot about the actual operations of the Lodge.

Dunedin Lodge No. 192 was founded in 1916 in Dunedin, Florida (Tampa Bay area). It is a part of District 20 which includes seven Lodges, and Zone 6 which includes four districts (encompassing Tampa Bay). The Lodge is in pretty good shape financially, structurally, and in terms of membership (after years of slow decline, it appears we have bottomed out and we are back on the rise). I attribute this to a few reasons, good management by the Lodge, Masonic Education, and renewed interest in the fraternity by the public, thanks to books such as "The Da Vinci Code" and movies like "National Treasure." Currently we have over 200 members with several young men going through the degrees (about a dozen).

This is not to suggest Dunedin Lodge is perfect, but I think we are doing better than a lot of others in our area. The problems I will need to address this coming year is a young line of officers in need of training, and we need to invigorate Lodge meetings so they are both interesting and fun to attend thereby stimulating the Craft into action. It will be necessary for me to spend more time with the officers to point them in the right direction, and I have a few ideas for changing Lodge meetings.

Beyond that, there is something else that has weighed heavily on my mind lately, namely the deteriorating moral condition of this country. I realize a Masonic Lodge is not a religious institution, but we are supposed to be models of morality and examples to the community (remember our tenets as Master Masons). I have been pondering how we, as Masons, can promote morality, and I am not too sure I have the answer yet. But I am thinking of two possibilities: create a "Citizen of the Year" award, or; establish a "Citizenship" program whereby we recognize people for exhibiting good moral values. My thinking is that people tend to be recognized for immoral behavior, yet moral behavior is overlooked and taken for granted. In other words, I would like to recognize and thank those who practice decent moral values.

As to my management style as Master, you must remember I am a management consultant by profession. As such, I do not believe in micromanagement as I have seen other Worshipful Masters practice. Instead, I like to surround myself with the best people, delegate responsibility, and get out of their way. Because of this, I want to form true committees (not just people with a token title), charge them with their responsibilities, and turn them loose. Of course, I will run interference for them and assist them with any problems they might encounter, but I want to instill a sense of ownership in the Lodge by the Craft. To my way of thinking, viable committees also become the farm club for future Lodge officers. The more people who want to participate, the better as far as I am concerned.

As to meetings; first, we've changed our bylaws so that we have only one Stated Communications a month (the third Monday, beginning at 7:00pm). Dinner will precede these meetings. We will also have Festive Boards once a month off-site at a restaurant, which will be open to the public (including spouses and candidates for the fraternity). The purpose of these meetings will be to celebrate Freemasonry and I will invite guest speakers to talk about a variety of subjects and issues (nothing secret or proprietary of course). Recognizing the need for the Brothers to communicate in this day and age of the Personal Computer, I will be hosting a series of training courses on the use of the PC; e.g., basic use and housekeeping, word processing, Internet, graphics, spreadsheets, etc. These classes will be free and also open to the public (thereby raising awareness in our Lodge as well).

I am now preparing for the installation of Lodge officers which is scheduled for Saturday, January 3rd, 1:00pm at Dunedin Lodge. I am fortunate to have a fine team of Brothers to be my installing officers.

Finally, I have got a jump on the Lodge's "Trestleboard" newsletter and have produced the January/February issue, which you can find at:

You can stay abreast of the activities at Dunedin Lodge by following our website at:


Okay, that's about it for now; this will be what this blog is all about, a running diary of my year in the East for the second time. I am sure I will make some mistakes along the way, but I will not fear to at least try and make a difference. Wish me luck.

If you have any questions or comments about my odyssey, please do not hesitate to post them here or send me an e-mail.

All the Best,
W:.Tim Bryce, PM, MPS, MMBBFMN
Dunedin Lodge No. 192 F.& A.M.