I’d first like to start out by thanking the you all for sticking with me for another year. I’d like to think our commandery has made some improvements over the past year, but we still have a long way to go. So I deeply appreciate your confidence in me, and hope to have another amazing year in templary. In addition I’d like to apologize of not writing enough of these letters. A busy life and last minute changes in plans have kept me from getting them out on time if ever, and while updates to our website, calendar and Facebook page are nice, the importance of a personal letter is not lost on me and I pledge to get them out with more regularity this year.
It seems I’ve had no shortage of opportunities to don my uniform this spring. On Palm Sunday we took part in Ypsilanti Commandery No.54’s Easter Observance at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Ypsilanti.
The Wednesday following Easter I was up in Toronto and visited Cyrene Preceptory No. 29, where by pure happenstance was I able to visit them on a night when they were conferring the Order of the Temple, and come to find out this was the first time they had conferred the order in over two years. On top of that I had the honor of filling in as Sword Bearer!
And on Friday, April 12th my Junior Warden and I were fortunate enough to attend Detroit Commandery No. 1’s installation of officers, where Reverend and Sir Knight Pat Thompson was installed as Eminent Commander.
Now, you might think that attending all these events would give me my fill of commandery for a while, but if anything they compel me to take part in more. Funny how it works that way. Speaking of which we have a few important things coming up for commandery: For starters our Right Eminent Grand Commander, Cortland Rule has invited us, and the rest of the Southeastern Battalion to commemorate the ascension of Jesus Christ at Holloway Raisin Presbyterian Church for Adrian Commandery No. 4’s Ascension Observance, Sunday, May 5th. We will assemble at 9:15am, and the church service will begin at 9:30am. This is a full uniformed event and your families are invited. So we hope to see every Sir Knight who can make it in attendance.
We also have some work of our own to do. We have two Knights of Malta in waiting to receive the Order of the Temple. Adrian Commandery has agreed to help us with one of the knightings and the way it’s looking we’ll save the other for our inspection. A scheduling conflict caused our original date to fall through so we’re currently looking to set up another, so please keep an eye on our website and calendar for the latest information. In addition, inspection season is right around the corner so dates for practices and the inspection itself will be popping up soon, so once again, be sure to keep an eye out for those. Speaking of our calendar we recently had to change calendar services so our new calendar is located here as well as our website, aayorkrite.org.
April’s meeting was in fact a very busy one. In addition to elections, and annual reports we voted on two honorary statuses which will be officially announced later, and voted to at long last produce new commandery jewels for the members of our commandery. Because of that, for this letter I had hoped to provide you with a history of our jewel complete with who originally created it, and the timeline of production. Well, after digging through our records I’m sad to say most the details are probably lost to the ages. However I was able to put together a few images of our jewels evolution, and will give you a little insight into the meaning behind it.
The earliest record of our jewel I could find was an article in the “Ann Arbor Argus” newspaper dated August 19, 1892 which was in fact a summary of a “Denver Times” article from August 8, 1892 which detailed Ann Arbor Commandery’s trip to Denver and gave information on the commandery as a whole. In it they described the armorial crest which makes up the jewel and our legend upon it, Deo duce ferro comitante which signifies ‘God for my leader, my sword for my companion.’ The phrase itself is often credited as the official motto of the Earl of Charlemount, Ireland but it’s thought to be much older, and served as traditional motto for Sir Knights throughout Ireland and beyond.
The jewel itself is known to have had at least two versions. One of which is a copper stamping, and the other cast in silver with portions plated in gold. I’ve yet to find a date on a copper version, and the only one known to be in masonic hands is on display at the Detroit Masonic Temple, but the silver and gold design dates back to at least the 1920s, and is believed to have been produced for far longer than any other. In heraldic tradition the use of silver and gold on an armorial crest signifies peace & sincerity along with generosity & elevation of the mind, and the swords in saltire behind it pointing upward signifies a readiness to fight evil. That along with the traditional Templar symbol of the red cross, and the crown above it makes for both a handsome and meaningful crest. The colors of the ribbon are unsurprisingly said to represent the University of Michigan, which has obvious implications of education and support for our local community but given the definition of “maize and blue” has changed over the years, the blue on the ribbon was much lighter.
When we began discussing which version to reproduce, the silver and gold design was the obvious choice, but we didn’t ignore the older versions entirely and took cues from them on some of the finer details and updated the colors of the ribbon to match contemporary University of Michigan colors. The jewel is currently being worked on Hattrick’s Merchandise and Service located in Arizona which also recently reproduced Northville Commandery’s jewel, so I have every confidence in their abilities, and they should be available for June’s stated conclave.
Speaking of upcoming conclaves have decided to cancel May’s conclave due to it falling on the annual Grand Lodge session, but remember we still have the Ascension Service on May 5th, and Ann Arbor Council No. 86 will be taking a road trip up to Pontiac for their Council All Degree Day, so don’t think for a second that the Ann Arbor York Rite is taking the month off. We have plenty to do and plenty to plan for.
So, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to read this letter, and I’d just like to remind you to keep up with our website, keep up with our calendar, and keep reading the Ann Arbor Masonic News as we have a lot going on these days and we’d love to see you there.
Deo duce, ferro comitante,
Brandon Mullins, Commander