The 1998 Scottish Rite Leadership Conferences
have charted new paths for
the success of our Order in the next century.
"Honoring the Past, Imagining the Future." I heard that phrase on television a few weeks ago, and it seemed to me a perfect way to sum up the 1998 Scottish Rite Leadership Conferences we recently completed.
For those who may not know, in even-numbered years, the Supreme Council hosts Leadership Conferences in three locations across the Jurisdiction, usually East Coast, Midwest, and West. This year’s conferences were during March and April in Greenville, North Carolina; Little Rock, Arkansas; and Albuquerque, New Mexico. The conferences were particularly important this year since they were focused on the 1997 Biennial Session report of the Subcommittee on Strategic Planning which is chaired by Ill. C. B. Hall, 33°, Grand Herald and S.G.I.G. in West Virginia. The report shows where the Rite is today and what we can do today to bring our Order into the 21st Century as a dynamic and growing Masonic Fraternity.
The response to the conferences by the Brethren attending was especially positive this year, and we have decided to devote the entire July 1998 issue of the Scottish Rite Journal to the Strategic Plan itself and to essays from the Brethren who attended the conferences.
Personally, I found the 1998 Leadership Conferences exciting. Some of the best minds in Masonry wrestled with the questions of the future of the Rite. We were, truly, “imagining the future.” Ideas came from many sources, including younger members, designated Scottish Rite Fellows, who attended the meetings.
And I was impressed that most of the Brethren, young or seasoned, were not only “imagining the future” but also “honoring the past.” We have a great history, one of the most impressive in Masonry. No one can read Ill. William L. Fox’s new one-volume history of The Supreme Council, Lodge of the Double-Headed Eagle: Two Centuries of Scottish Rite Freemasonry in America’s Southern Jurisdiction, without an intense pride in our accomplishments. Scottish Rite Masonry has made a difference. The challenge, now, is to continue making a difference into the future.
It is not an easy task. We all know that the world has changed and is changing ever more rapidly. We sometimes fail to consider that people have not changed. The same basic physical, social, religious, and spiritual needs which motivated the ancient Egyptian on the banks of the Nile motivate the Masonic Brother today on the banks of the Potomac or the Mississippi or the Cimmaron or the Colorado. The expression of those needs may have changed and the ways in which we try to meet those needs may have changed -- but the needs, basic to humanity, have not.
That is why the Scottish Rite can be relevant to the new Millennium. Our business has always been to help satisfy some of those needs. For the same reason that a farmer will always be relevant to the physical needs of man, no matter how much farm equipment or fertilizers or food processing may change, the Scottish Rite will always be relevant to man’s needs, no matter how much the expression of those needs may change.
The past we honor proves we have been successful -- the future we imagine will determine our success in that future.
It is like the buggy manufacturers in the late 1800s. Those who thought their job was to manufacture buggies fell by the wayside. Those who understood that their job was to provide transportation, thrived.
The world will move toward and into the Millennium. The calendar will advance, the days will pass. It will come. The only question is whether we will be ready.
I think we will. If you could have seen the creative energy, the determination to make a difference from the Brothers attending the 1998 Scottish Rite Leadership Conferences, you would know that, too. These were young men -- some young in years, some young in spirit. They worked at the future. They created ideas and new paths to the future. They were determined to create a future in which the Scottish Rite plays a full part and leads Masonry on to even greater heights. There were few stars in their eyes. They knew it would be difficult. But like Lewis and Clark, they journeyed into the unknown with undaunted courage.
That same courage will be required from us all. We must not lose our heritage -- the future of a tree is not assured by cutting off its roots. But we must not fail to see the future. Museums are filled with artifacts which once met needs but failed to change with new expressions of those needs.
We can do it. We are smart enough and determined enough and dedicated enough to do it. The rest of this July issue of the Scottish Rite Journal will help to chart the way.