The Time Is Now - The 1998 Scottish Rite
Leadership Conferences

The 1998 Scottish Rite Leadership Conferences provided a vision of our Order in the 21st Century and how it might be achieved.

In his welcoming remarks at each of three meetings, Sovereign Grand Commander C. Fred Kleinknecht, 33°, set the keynote for the 1998 Scottish Rite Leadership Conferences: "Communication is a two-way street. We at The Supreme Council want to hear from you, what you are thinking, and what you believe the direction of our Rite should be today. To cite the motto of these conferences, The Time Is Now. Unless you take hold, energize, and guide our Order from the grassroots up, there will be no future for the Scottish Rite. Yes, we need seasoned leadership. Even more, we need new blood, new ideas, new ways to do things and, most of all, new members. How do we accomplish these goals? Only you can say, and that is why all of you are here today."

Over 1,500 Brethren took up the challenge of this message during three conferences held in Greenville, North Carolina (Northeast and Southeast Sectors) March 6-7; Little Rock, Arkansas (North Central and South Central Sectors) March 20-21; and Albuquerque, New Mexico (Northwest and Southwest Sectors) April 3-4. Each gathering began with a Secretaries Meeting on the Friday afternoon before the all-day general session on Saturday. Many Actives, Deputies, and Personal Representatives also attended the Secretaries Meetings, which were conducted by Ill. William G. Sizemore, 33°, G.C., Grand Executive Director of The Supreme Council. He was ably assisted by Mrs. Martha Bell, Office Manager, Grand Executive Director’s Office, who updated all present on the subject of membership management and answered questions on a myriad of questions relevant to the day-to-day functions of The Supreme Council and each Valley. Other subjects and their presenters at the Secretaries Meeting were: Financial Management by Ill. Paul T. Million, Jr., 33°, Grand Chamberlain and S.G.I.G. in Oklahoma; Insurance, Bro. Thomas J. Casey, 32°, Vice President, Thompkins & Co.; and Valley Billing, Mrs. Martha Bell. This very helpful session, held from 1:00 to 4:30 p.m. each Friday afternoon, was followed by a meeting of all Actives and Deputies with Grand Commander Kleinknecht.
Ill. William G. Sizemore, 33°, G.C., 
Grand Executive Director, poses in front 
of the 1998 Scottish Rite Leadership 
Conferences banner: 
“The Time Is Now, 
Scottish Rite Freemasonry, 
A Vision Of The Future.”

The agenda for the Saturday general session of each conference was the same though, given their availability, some speakers varied at each conference. At the Greenville, South Carolina, Leadership Conference, for instance, at the 8:15 a.m. start of the meeting, all attendees were welcomed by Ill. H. Wallace Reid, 33°, Grand Minister of State, S.G.I.G. in the "Palmetto State," and host of the conference, Inspector Reid asked Ill. G. Ray Marsh, 33°, P.G.M., Grand Secretary, Grand Lodge of South Carolina, to give an invocation.

Then the Legion of Honor of Hejaz Shrine Temple (left) presented the colors in a very well conducted and moving ceremony. Following the opening remarks by the conference host at each subsequent conference -- at Little Rock, Ill. Dwane F. Treat, 33°, S.G. I.G. in Arkansas, and at Albuquerque, Ill. Monroe K. Alexander, S.G.I.G. in New Mexico -- Grand Commander Kleinknecht welcomed all attending and highlighted the vision and purpose of the meeting. He then recognized by name, asking each to stand as he was called, all present Active Members and Deputies, Grand Masters, and Grand Secretaries.
Pictured (l. to r.) at the dedication of the Scottish Rite Children’s Language Center at Little Rock, Arkansas on March 20, 1998, are Beth B. Eaton, Clinic Coordinator; Ill. Dwane F. Treat, 33°, S.G.I.G. in Arkansas; Ill. C. Fred Kleinknecht, 33°, Sov. Gr.Cmdr.; Dr. Hope Keiser, University of Arkansas at Little Rock chair of the Audiology and Speech Pathology Dept.

Grand Commander Kleinknecht then turned the podium over to Ill. William G. Sizemore, 33°, G.C., who introduced the conference participants to the assemblage. Presenters and their subjects at the morning general session of all three conferences were: Dr. Forrest D. Haggard, 33°, G.C., President of the Scottish Rite Research Society, speaking on the society; Ill. Paul T. Million, Jr., 33°, reviewing progress on the revision of the Scottish Rite Degrees; and Ill. C. B. Hall, 33°, Chairman, Subcommittee on Strategic Planning, discussing the key importance of the Subcommittee’s report as a vision of the future for the Rite. Ill. H. Wallace Reid, Vice President of the Scottish Rite Research Society, spoke to the general session about the society in place of Ill. Haggard at the Little Rock conference.
At the Albuquerque Leadership Conference, Grand Commander Kleinknecht (l.) visited with M.W. Dan F. Irick, 32°, K.C.C.H., Grand Master, Grand Lodge of New Mexico.

In his presentation to the general session in Greenville and Albuquerque, Ill. Haggard advocated a program whereby every Valley would have a designated representative of the Scottish Rite Research Society, possibly selected from the Valley’s Committee on Education and Americanism, to attend every Reunion as well as other significant Masonic assemblages. This Brother would explain the purpose and benefits of the Research Society and help continue the society’s deserved reputation as Freemasonry’s fastest growing and largest Masonic research group. Presently, the society has over 6,000 members, and continued local as well as national leadership will be necessary to meet the society’s goal of 10,000 members by the year 2001, the bicentennial of The Supreme Council.

A good start toward achieving this milestone was made during the 1998 Leadership Conferences. Responding to Ill. Haggard’s presentations for the society at Greenville and Albuquerque and that of Ill. H. Wallace Reid (left), Vice President of the Research Society, at Little Rock, a total of 208 new members were accepted, 81 of these being Life Members. Key to this success was the very effective work of Ill. Raymond L. Bunnell, 33°, Executive Secretary/Treasurer of the society. Ill. Bunnell manned a very popular Scottish Rite Research Society desk, complete with banner and displays of all the gift, bonus, or other books published or distributed by the society.

In his report to all three general sessions regarding the revised Rituals, Ill. Million, Chairman of the Ritual and Ceremonial Forms Committee, updated the Brethren regarding this very important subject. He pointed out that many of the Degrees being used now are, in effect, not Pike’s Degrees. Over the years, well-meaning Brethren have elaborated and edited the Degrees to the point that there is little consistency across the Jurisdiction regarding Ritual text or presentation. "Since, Ritual is the most distinguishing characteristic of Freemasonry and, in particular, of the Scottish Rite," Ill. Million observed, "it is essential that this important work be handled carefully and thoroughly in order to return to the integrity of the Pike Degrees."

All the mandatory Degrees, he announced, are now completed; staging and technical notes are being prepared; and the other Degrees are moving steadily toward completion due to the good work of Dr. Rex R. Hutchens, 33°, G.C., and his Resource Team of Brethren seasoned in Ritual. All drafts are submitted for the careful review and, if accepted, approval of the Ritual and Ceremonial Forms Committee. Select trials in diverse Valleys with different staging capabilities are being arranged. After thorough review of input from these trial presentations, final revisions will be made, and the Ritual Committee will forward the new revised Degrees to The Supreme Council as a whole for review and, as appropriate, approval.

Ill. C. B. Hall’s presentation followed that of Ill. Million to the general sessions of each Leadership Conference. It had as its theme the report of the Subcommittee on Strategic Planning as the keystone to Scottish Rite Freemasonry’s success in the future.

Ill. Hall (left) began his remarks by reading the "Vision Statement." (Complimentary copies suitable for framing are available from the Office of the Grand Executive Director.)

The statement has been formally adopted by The Supreme Council as its definition for what the Rite should be and stand for in the next century. Now it is the duty of each Scottish Rite Mason to do what he can to make sure the Rite becomes, in reality as well as in rhetoric, what it says it should be in the future. The purpose of the 1998 Leadership Conferences, Ill. Hall noted, is to "jump start" this process so that by knowing where we are and how we can get to where we wish to go, we will, in fact, arrive at our goal.

Then, acting as a bridge from the each morning’s three brief reports, Ill. Hall introduced two outstanding Brethren who, as Discussion Leaders, conducted the rest of each morning’s general session. In Greenville, these were Ill. Robert D. Davis, 33°, Secretary, Valley of Guthrie, Oklahoma, who sketched the present state of the Order, and Ill. John E. Beaumont III, 33°, author of Over the Top, an excellent book on Masonic leadership, who outlined various Masonic renewal techniques that have proved successful in his home state of Louisiana.

In subsequent Leadership Conferences at Little Rock and Albuquerque, Ill. James T. Tresner II, 33°, G.C., noted author, lecturer, Director of Work in Guthrie, Oklahoma, and Director of the Masonic Leadership Institute in Oklahoma, joined Ill. Davis for this part of the program. Ill. Tresner’s dynamic and motivational presentation set the tenor of the rest of the day which was dedicated to three breakout sections where Brethren participated in group discussions on subjects drawn from the report by the Subcommittee on Strategic Planning.

At the conclusion of the morning program, Ill. William Gene Sizemore, 33°, G.C., previewed the afternoon schedule and noted that each Brother, while leaving the auditorium to enjoy lunch, would receive a complimentary souvenir of the conference, a desk clock emblazoned with a Scottish Rite double-headed eagle logo in color and the conference motto, "The Time Is Now."

Discussion Facilitators at the breakout sections in Greenville and Little Rock were Ill. Bros. James E. Vann, Robert E. Winterton, Sr., and James T. Tresner II, G.C. In Albuquerque, due to Ill. Vann’s necessary absence, Ill. John W. Boettjer, G.C., Managing Editor, Scottish Rite Journal, was a Discussion Facilitator. Brethren were appointed to act as official Recorders. At to each breakout section, they recorded the comments of the Brethren to assure an accurate record of the conferences. Then, at 3:45 p.m., all Brethren gathered for a wrap-up meeting where each of the three Recorders summarized, within a 15-minute period each, the specific comments gathered at their breakout sections. Recorders in Greenville were: Ill. Bros. John E. Beaumont III, Dr. William L. Fox, and Robert G. Davis. Alternate Recorders were Ill. Bros. John W. Boettjer, G.C., in Little Rock and C. B. Hall in Albuquerque.
Scottish Rite Fellows, Albuquerque, New Mexico, Leadership Conference, April 4, 1998

Following the reports of the Recorders at each conference, Grand Commander Kleinknecht reviewed the day’s activities and asked an Active Member and a Grand Master to share their views of the meeting. In Greenville, South Carolina, Ill. H. Lloyd Wilkerson, 33°, S.G.I.G., spoke for the Actives and Deputies. He noted: "In recent years there has been a definite and beneficial movement toward self-evaluation in the Scottish Rite. This Leadership Conference is proof of this direction and an effective means of presenting to our Order’s most dynamic leaders ways to become fraternally engaged both within the Rite and in their communities."

Responding in Greenville for all attending Grand Masters, Grand Secretaries, and other Grand Lodge Officers, M.W. D. Samuel Tennyson, 33°, Grand Master, Grand Lodge of South Carolina, thanked all concerned for their gracious hospitality and commented that he had learned enough at the Leadership Conference to benefit Freemasonry in general until the year 2000 when the next such meeting will be held.

Respondents at the Little Rock and Albuquerque gatherings were equally positive about the conduct and result of the Leadership Conference. In Little Rock, the respondents were Ill. Earl K. Dille, 33°, S.G.I.G. in Missouri and Grand Prior of The Supreme Council, and M.W. William H. Brown, 33°, Grand Master, Grand Lodge of Louisiana. In Albuquerque, respondents were Ill. Thomas C. Raum, Jr., 33°, S.G.I.G. in Kansas and Grand Chancellor of The Supreme Council, and M.W. Dan F. Irick, 32°, K.C.C.H., Grand Master, Grand Lodge of New Mexico.

Greenville Conference Highlights

There were several highlights worthy of note during each conference. As part of its outreach to the Brethren in Greenville, for instance, Ill. Forrest D. Haggard, 33°, G.C., hosted a Scottish Rite Research Society complimentary Sunday breakfast and devotional service, starting at 9:00 a.m. The program was open to all Brethren and guests, whether society members or not, and consisted of a brief religious service followed by a speaker. In Greenville, 42 Brethren and guests were present to hear an eloquent invocation given by Bro. Jay A. Pearson, 32°, K.C.C.H. Then Bro. Wallace A. Mullinax, 32°, K.C.C.H., used as his devotional text the Ten Commandments, viewing the Decalog as a code of perfection regarding how man can worship God and love his fellowman. The morning’s speaker, Ill. William L. Fox, 33°, Grand Historian and Grand Archivist of The Supreme Council, gave a very interesting presentation on the genesis and development of his recent one-volume history of the Scottish Rite, Lodge of the Double-Headed Eagle: Two Centuries of Scottish Rite Free-masonry in America’s Southern Jurisdiction.
Ill. William M. Benson, Sr., 33°, Secretary, Portsmouth, Virginia, (holding a “Kruger Bear” sweatshirt) presented a “Kruger Bear” stuffed animal to Grand Commander C. Fred Kleinknecht, 33°, at the Greenville, North Carolina, leadership conference. Named after Ill. David Kruger, 33°, Grand Secretary of The Supreme Council and S.G.I.G in Virginia, the unique, clothed teddy bear is being used, along with an original children’s storybook, as a fund-raiser for the Scottish Rite Foundation of Virginia and its support of Childhood Language Disorders Clinics, Centers, and Programs in the “Old Dominion State.”

Also in Greenville, an excellent Ladies Program featured a visit to the Sacred Art Museum at Bob Jones University. This museum houses one of the most highly recognized collections of religious art in America. Paintings on display from the 13th to 19th Century include works by Rembrandt, Rubens, Titian, and VanDyck.

Little Rock Conference Highlights

Similarly, a highlight of the Little Rock meeting was a ladies program which consisted of a lively bus tour of several contemporary and historic sites, including the city’s historic Quapaw Area, the birthplace of General Douglas MacArthur, 33°, the Governor’s Mansion, and the Pike-Fletcher-Terry Mansion which was originally Albert Pike’s home in Little Rock. This stately structure has been restored and now houses the Little Rock Arts Center’s Decorative Arts Museum. A delicious luncheon and colorful shopping stop provided breaks in the day-long tour.

While in Little Rock on Friday, March 20, for the Leadership Conference, Grand Commander Kleinknecht was pleased to be able to join Ill. Dwane F. Treat, 33°, S.G.I.G. in Arkansas, along with many other S.G.I.G.s and Masonic dignitaries, at the dedication of the Scottish Rite Children’s Language Center on the campus of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. The newly renovated and expanded facility was made possible by a $60,000 donation from the Scottish Rite, this in addition to more than $84,000 in scholarship support the Little Rock Brethren have donated since 1987. The event merited an illustrated color story in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on March 21, 1998.

This high public profile for the Rite, a theme of the 1998 Leadership Conferences, followed closely upon a March 13, 1998, St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial praising the St. Louis Brethren, whose representatives were attending the Little Rock conference, for their determination to maintain the magnificent Scottish Rite Cathedral in midtown St. Louis. The editorial ends noting: "So great a building has been allowed to earn its keep [via rentals to cultural events and civic occasions] and thus survive by creative thinking, entrepreneurship, and openness to change. That’s a model for the region, one designed and constructed by capable Masons." Clearly, the Little Rock and St. Louis Brethren have taken many of the themes of the 1998 Scottish Rite Leadership Conferences to heart and acted on them -- even before the 1998 Leadership Conferences were held!

Another highlight of the Little Rock Conference was the presence of Ill. Sidney Sanders McMath, 33°, former Governor of Arkansas, General U.S.M.C. (Ret.), and distinguished attorney (left). Ill. McMath was unanimously elected a Grand Cross at the 1997 Biennial Session and was at the Leadership Conference both to wish the Brethren well and to confer on Grand Commander Kleinknecht a Arkansas Traveler’s Certificate appointing him an Ambassador of Goodwill for Arkansas and an Honorary Citizen of Arkansas.

At the Little Rock wrap-up session, Ill. Earl K. Dille, 33°, S.G. I.G. in Missouri, said the conference was "the best he had ever attended -- except for the one held two years ago in Missouri." Responding for the four Grand Masters attending, M.W. William H. Brown, 33°, Grand Master, Grand Lodge of Louisiana, said it was a "fantastic weekend of timely topics presented by capable facilitators."

In Little Rock, Sunday’s Scottish Rite Research Society devotional service was hosted by Ill. H. Wallace Reid, Vice President of the Society. An eloquent invocation and message from Ill. Robert A. Vowell, 33°, was followed with a scholarly presentation by Ill. Rex R. Hutchens, 33°, G.C.. Ill. Hutchens cautioned the society to avoid a focus on merely increasing membership. Numerical success should not turn the society away from its real purpose which it is now fulfilling so well. The society’s purpose, he felt, was to define what Scottish Rite Freemasonry is by continuing to publish quality articles in the society’s newsletter, The Plumbline edited by Ill. Pete Normand, 33°, and the society’s transactions, Heredom edited by Dr. S. Brent Morris, 33°.

Today’s Masons all too often lack historical understanding, he noted. Thus the Scottish Rite Research Society must sustain and prove the thesis that history is both interesting in itself, useful for understanding today, and essential to determining our future. Ill. Rex R. Hutchens, 33°, G.C., delivered the principal address at both the Little Rock and Albuquerque meetings of the society.

Albuquerque Conference Highlights

Highlights of the Albuquerque meeting included a Sunday devotional service hosted by Ill. Forrest D. Haggard, 33°, G.C., President of the Scottish Rite Research Society. He introduced the Rev. Charles E. Price, 32°, who selected his text from Micah, "Love kindness, do justice, and walk humbly with thy God." Bro. Price offered suggestions on how to enhance one’s prayer life and make a positive difference in the world by being the best role model you can be in whatever you are doing. Personal anecdotes from his service as a minister at St. John’s United Methodist Church in Albuquerque and his 25 years as a Police Chaplain gave an especially moving and insightful cast to Bro. Price’s remarks. Nearly 100 Brethren and guests attended the Albuquerque service, making it the largest such Scottish Rite Research Society occasion during the 1998 Scottish Rite Leadership Conference series.

The Albuquerque meeting also featured the presentation of a plaque to Grand Commander Kleinknecht signed by M.W. T. Michael Fegan, 33°, Grand Master, Grand Lodge of Kansas. The plaque records Grand Commander Kleinknecht’s unanimous election, by the 142nd Annual Communication, Grand Lodge of Kansas, as Honorary Past Grand Master of Kansas (photo right).

Also in Albuquerque, another fine Ladies Program included visits to the city’s new Botanical Garden which features two glass-dome-enclosed environments and an impressive Aquarium. There was also a shopping stop at Albuquerque’s historic Old Town.

At the close of the Albuquerque meeting, Ill. Thomas C. Raum, Jr., 33°, S.G.I.G. in Kansas, responded during the wrap-up session for all Actives and Deputies. He noted: "I have attended a number of such conferences, but, in my opinion, and from what I have heard from those attending, this is one of the most outstanding. Participation has been inspiring, educational, and motivational. Special thanks are due to Ill. Brothers Bob Davis and Jim Tresner who are not only regional but also national Masonic treasures and whose talents should be shared across the nation." This comment brought a loud and deserved round of applause.
Also in Albuquerque, Grand Commander Kleinknecht (l.) received an engraved silver Nambé dish from Ill. Monroe K. Alexander, 33°, S.G.I.G. in New Mexico, as a remembrance of Ill. Kleinknecht’s visit to the “Land of Enchantment” state.

Also during the wrap-up session, Ill. Monroe K. Alexander, 33°, S.G.I.G. in New Mexico, commemorated Grand Commander Kleinknecht’s visit to the "Land of Enchantment" by presenting him a beautiful silver Nambé bowl to be suitably engraved. Grand Commander Kleinknecht graciously received the bowl and noted it would be put on display at The Supreme Council headquarters in Washington, D.C.

M.W. Dan F. Irick, 32°, K.C.C.H., Grand Master, Grand Lodge of New Mexico, had opened the Albuquerque Leadership Conference with a rousing recitation of "A Toast to the Flag." Appropriately, he also concluded the conference by addressing the Brethren on the part of all seven attending Grand Masters. He told the Brethren: "If we had put all the time and money invested in this conference, we might have built 10 homes, aided 100 widows, and served 1,000 children. Let’s take what has been learned here back home and make it build 100 homes, assist 1,000 widows, and help 100,000 children! Take these sparks and build a flame. Make a better place for all mankind."

Then, on a more personal note, he remarked that the Scottish Rite had always seemed to him to be his "father’s organization." After attending this conference, he now considers the Rite "his organization," and he hopes that, with the success predicted by this conference, it will also be "his son’s organization."

Scottish Rite Fellows Program

An outstanding feature of each of the three 1998 Leadership Conferences was the new Scottish Rite Fellows program. On October 31, 1997, Grand Commander Kleinknecht announced this initiative via a memo to all Actives, Deputies, Personal Representatives, and Secretaries. After noting that discussion, not presentation, would be the hallmark of the meetings, he accented the following: "Attendance by our younger dynamic members, the leaders of tomorrow, is essential, whatever the color of their hat." Each Valley was urged to support sending at least two such Brethren to their relevant sector meeting. The response was enthusiastic. Often, Valleys sent several Fellows. At Greenville, there were 90; at Little Rock, 55; and at Albuquerque, 94; for a total of 239 Scottish Rite Fellows. Valley Secretaries were instructed to give a study copy of the report by the Subcommittee on Strategic Planning to each Fellow.

Then, as they checked into each conference, each Fellow received a distinguishing "The Time Is Now" pin with an attached ribbon which read: "Fellow, 1998 Scottish Rite Leadership Conference." Also, he received a invitation from the Grand Commander to a special luncheon attended only by Scottish Rite Fellows. At the luncheon, the Grand Commander welcomed the Fellows saying: "You have already been identified as a leader in your Valley, and in large part the purpose of this conference is to assist you to become even better leaders of your Valley in upcoming years. Everything boils down to leadership. Without direction, no goal can be reached. And our goal at The Supreme Council is a Scottish Rite strong enough to enter the next millennium as a vital force in communities -- your communities -- across America. I am here at this special luncheon to hear from you directly, freely, and clearly. With your input, we can, together, build a Rite that is right for the times."

Grand Commander Kleinknecht then introduced Ill. Bros. William G. Sizemore, 33°, G.C., as the occasion’s Moderator and John W. Boettjer, 33°, G.C. as the Recorder. The Fellows took full advantage of this unprecedented opportunity to ask questions and to communicate their insights directly to the Grand Commander and, through his leadership, to the entire Supreme Council. Similarly, Fellows were asked to sit toward the front in each afternoon’s breakout sections and to participate freely in all discussions. No prodding was needed!

Whether young in age or youthful in mental outlook if not years, the Scottish Rite Fellows provided fresh viewpoints that sparked animated discussion in each breakout section. Though space limitations prevented the groups from being as small as they should be to promote optimal mutual exchange, the Fellows concept, combined with the method of relatively unstructured discussion, proved to be the most popular aspect of the 1998 Scottish Rite Leadership Conferences. Evaluation questionnaires were distributed at each meeting, and 195 were returned at the conferences or later by mail. Many provided detailed comments. Almost without exception, the "cloud-seeding" technique of open, extended discussion was praised as the technique that made these conferences unique and especially productive.

In order to carry back what they learned at the Leadership Conferences to Brethren who could not attend, each Scottish Rite Fellow was urged and expected to give one or more presentations upon return to his Valley. Reports from several Valleys affirm that this has taken place and that the innovative ideas generated at the 1998 Leadership Conferences will not stop in Greenville, Little Rock, or Albuquerque but, instead, receive careful hearing and appropriate implementation in each Valley.

The Fellows concept has opened the door wide for local leadership participation by Brethren eager to effect new ideas and programs. Certainly, by developing and sanctioning this program, The Supreme Council has blazed the way and, by example, encouraged Scottish Rite Brethren everywhere to take heart, look with fresh eyes at the challenges facing Freemasonry, and seek new ways to bring our Order into the 21st Century as a dynamic and growing Masonic fraternity.

As the logo of the Leadership Conferences states, "The Time Is Now"!