High Priest's Address

High Priest’s Address | Jun 2013

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Greetings Companions, 

At our April Communication we held our election of officers for the 2013-14 Capitular Year. I am proud to say that Companion Thane Domrase, the current Worshipful Master of Olive Lodge in Chelsea has been elected to the start the officer line as our Royal Arch Captain.  His leadership skills and enthusiasm will be a fantastic addition to our dedicated line of Officers.  I would like to thank all of our officers for committing to another year of service. 

Our own, Excellent Companion Brandon Mullins, PHP has been elected to serve as President of the Southeastern Michigan York Rite Association. We know he will serve this regional service body well and bring many new ideas and energy to that organization as he did with our Chapter and other York Rite Bodies.  I wish him well on this new endeavor.  The next meeting of this body for all York Rite Masons is on the fifth Monday or July 29 at Milan Masonic Temple at 37 Tolan St in Milan.  

It’s an honor to be elected to a second term as High Priest of Washtenaw Chapter.  I am looking forward to another great year of Capitular Masonry with the finest group of Royal Arch Masons in Michigan.  Although we may be small at this moment, we have proved time and time again that we can do great things and we are on the long term path to growth. As a York Rite team we will be able to go far and restore our place as a premiere York Rite organization. 

On Monday, June 17 we will confer the Mark Master Mason degree, opening at 7 pm for brief business and then confer this thought provoking degree. I hope you can attend this night of fellowship and ritual work whether you come every month or if this will be your first time back in a while.  We meet at Calvary United Methodist Church, 1415 Miller Avenue, Ann Arbor, MI 48103-3758. For up to date information visit us on Facebook or at www.aayorkrite.org where EC Brandon Mullins maintains a fantastic website. 


Corey F. Curtiss, PHP 

High Priest’s Address | Apr 2012

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Greetings Friends & Companions,

Two years has gone by so fast. It was in April of 2010 that I, with much anticipation was elected as High Priest of Washtenaw Chapter No. 6. At the time I had a 3 week old son, and an excitement only tempered by the sleeplessness that comes from a colicky infant and his 15 month old sister. Now as I prepare to celebrate my son’s second birthday, I with mixed feelings see my term coming to an end. On Monday, April 15th a new High Priest will be elected and I hope that I’m able to present him with a chapter that’s grown stronger over these past two years. In this time we’ve gained 6 new members including brother Thane Domrase, and Brother Robert Blackburn who received their Past Master Degree last month. We’ve started a practice of providing our new members with a newly designed chapter penny that has their personal mark engraved on it, restarted the practice of giving out ornate membership certificates, created a new website and social media pages for the Ann Arbor York Rite as a whole and reclaimed or replaced much of our regalia we lost with the Ann Arbor Masonic Temple. And though I certainly know there is more I could have done I’m proud at what we’ve accomplished not only in providing a better experience to our new candidates but meshing as a fraternity even while saying goodbye to companions whose travels took them elsewhere.

So to end my last letter as High Priest, I will end it how I’ve ended all of them, with Dominus Vobiscum, Lord be with you. Often ignored, but at times controversial, I’ve signed off on nearly every official correspondence as High Priest for the past two years with the phrase Dominus Vobiscum. To translate it simply, it means LORD be with you, and has its roots in the Vulgate translation of the Bible. The phrase is spoken by Boaz, Saul and the Spirit of the LORD himself in the Vulgate, and can still be heard today in Latin or another language in a number of Catholic and Anglican churches across the world, and the Hebrew version specifically, Adonai Immachem is often heard in Synagogues as a man comes up to read the Torah. I, growing up protestant never heard the phrase in church, but when I came across it in my studies it immediately resonated with me and I grew attached to it. I suppose I could speak it in any language, but in its Latin form its global usage, from the Catholic Church down the street to the churches of Kerala in India appealed to me along with the simple sound of such a strong Latin phrase. As a salutation it has never carried the wide spread usage of other cultural and religious greetings like Namaste or As-Salāmu `Alaykum, but I find I have an appreciation for it none the less, and find it particularly appropriate for the Royal Arch. The motto of Royal Arch Masonry is Holiness to the LORD, a reference to the phrase inscribed on the Tzitz, or crown of the Kohen Gadol, or Jewish High Priest. This was worn to atone for haughtiness to remind both the wearer and the audience that no matter the circumstance we owe all things to the LORD. In that sense Dominus Vobiscum is not dissimilar, because to wish for the presence of the LORD to be upon someone you are doing so in recognition of the LORD, as you know him being the source of every good and the architect of every gift. In that sense I find Dominus Vobiscum to be all encompassing wishing every good upon a person because without the LORD no such things are possible.

I’ve enjoyed the past two years and I hope I’ve served you well, but remember companions, the chapter cannot stand without your help so if you have been waiting for the opportunity to join or become active within the chapter, this is that time. Elections are next month, and with them a renewal that fits the spring season in which they take place. So if you are able, I hope to see you take part in this process and begin a new year for Washtenaw Chapter No. 6, Royal Arch Masons.

Dominus Vobiscum,

Brandon Mullins, HP 

High Priest’s Address | Mar 2012

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Greetings Friends & Companions,

On Monday, February 24th The Mark Master Mason Degree was conferred on Brother Thane Domrase, of Olive Lodge No. 158 catching him up with Worshipful Brother Robert Blackburn who also now awaits the Past Master Degree. We plan to confer the Past Master Degree with Allegory on March 19th at our home, Calvary United Methodist Church in Ann Arbor at the usual time of 7:00pm but we’re going to skip the pre degree dinner to make time for a Council school of instruction starting at 6:30pm. For the upcoming Most Excellent Master and Royal Arch Degrees we may mix things up. The scale of the Most Excellent Master Degree has us looking for other possible locations to host it and for the Royal Arch Degree I’m working on something really special, an outdoor degree. But nothing is set in stone yet but I just wanted to give you a little taste of some of the exciting things we’re planning for Washtenaw Chapter.

The subject I wanted to talk about in this article is one that has affected me directly and given the vast variety of duties I’ve taken on in life will certainly continue to. With the various activities in life that vie for our time, and the poor state many of our Lodges are in, how can one justify their involvement in an appendant body? I suppose the obvious and most common answer is to receive and confer additional light in Masonry. While this is a noble pursuit indeed if we truly believe the Lodges are the core of our institution it seems to reason that with so many in such a poor state if a brother is strapped for time he should focus his efforts on them, rather than appendant bodies to make sure the foundation of our fraternity doesn’t crumble. Some men may have the time for both and that is certainly fine, but in the 21st century where wages are low, and both parents in the household must work to pay the bills a family man rarely finds himself in that position. I struggled with this for a long time. In my lodge I tried to stay active, and began my journey down the officer line but my busy schedule insured that I missed far more than my fair share of meetings, and while I know I was doing my best to serve the fraternity I constantly felt like I was failing, and felt as much shame as I did pride in my involvement. In the Royal Arch on the other hand I where the meetings where monthly rather than weekly, though time was still an issue I felt like I could greatly concentrate my efforts into providing a good program for candidates, and though in that capacity I have certainly run into problems, the ability to make it to every meeting and give each one my all gave me greater confidence and greater passion for Masonry. After years of trying to stay involved in Lodge, my work schedule finally changed this January making further attendance impossible, and I had to drop out of line. And though I’m sad I’ll no longer be able to take part in their meetings and degrees I think I can be comfortable in saying that perhaps it has been for the best. Right now I know I have enough time for the York Rite. I can attend our monthly meetings and not feel over extended or overwhelmed. This is a good niche for me today. Tomorrow may change and I’ll once again have more time for Masonic activities, but for now a part time job in the quarries fits me quite well, and I think others may be able to benefit in the same way. So many brothers get the feeling that because they cannot attend every meeting, four to eight times a month that Masonic involvement is beyond their reach, but I say send them our way, let them know that there are institutions in Masonry where they can still be involved, still take part. And in all honesty that’s how I justify my involvement in the York Rite, despite the limits on my time. I like it, and I can dedicate the time I need to be active in it.

I hope you have enjoyed this article and I hope to see you at our next meeting that in spite of several challenges in organizing it will be our first Past Master Degree with Allegory in a very long time.

Dominus Vobiscum,

Brandon Mullins, HP 

High Priest’s Address | Feb 2012

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Greetings Friends & Companions,

This month, one year ago we packed up our regalia and headed out to Belleville to put on the Mark Master Mason Degree, the first in a set of degrees we would confer there. We had a lot of fun and made three new Mark Master Masons that day. Those Mark Masters have gone on in the York Rite and this year we’re conferring another Mark Master Mason degree in February here in Ann Arbor. On February 20th at Calvary United Methodist Church with a meal starting at 6:30pm and us opening at 7:00pm we will be conferring the Mark Master Mason Degree on a brother from Olive Lodge No. 158. We will be catching him up with Brother Blackburn who has already received the Mark Master Degree and will be able to participate in the festivities. This should be a great evening and I invite all who can attend. Also the day before the degree, Zion Lodge No. 1 is holding their annual wreath laying at DeLue’s “George Washington as Master Mason” at Mariner’s Church in Detroit. They will be meeting up at the Renaissance Center at 2pm. All Masons are invited so I’ll try to be there and I hope to see some of you there as well.

In addition to the usual announcements I’d like to take a little time to talk about an object not unfamiliar to the Royal Arch Mason, the Arc of the Covenant, and more specifically the Cherubim that adorn it. The prophet Ezekiel describes Cherubim as a tetrad of living creatures covered in eyes and resembling living fire, with each cherub having four faces: a man, a lion, an ox, and an eagle. They are said to have the stature and hands of a man, feet of a calf, and four wings each. Two of the wings extended upward, meeting above and sustaining the throne of God; while the other two stretched downward and covered the creatures themselves. Images of Cherubim were a common feature in the architecture of King Solomon’s time and Bazaleel and Aholiab no doubt made many for the First Temple. The significance of such creatures is widely debated with explanations ranging from the theological to the philosophical, but what I’d like to bring up today is a potential astronomical and perhaps astrological connection.

In depth research on the subject is slim, and I certainly haven’t made my mind up on the matter but housed at the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem is an Ivory carving of a Cherub that has been described as a miniature map of the stars. 

This particular Cherub, dated to around 8th or 9th century BC, was thought to have once been part of a throne’s ivory inlay and represented some of the finest ivory carving of the era. Though beautiful to look at there is a belief that perhaps there is more to this Cherub than meets the eye. What may have spurred on the idea that this carving was not just a simple royal affectation comes from the concept of the wheel within a wheel  described in the Inaugural vision found in Ezekiel chapter one, and the various circular designs that can be easily found when looking at the Cherub. These circles if properly drawn are said to give us a map of the night sky from the time of Ezekiel and serve as an astronomical and astrological chart.

One such believer of this theory, Mr. H. Peter Aleff has done the compasswork and has overlaid these circles both over an image of the Cherub, and over the night sky as the northern night sky would have appeared from a rough idea Ezekiel’s location and time, and the way they sync not only is an indicator of the location of various stars but apparent magnitude as well. An interesting theory to say the least and not only explains the astrological significance of the animals that make up the Cherub but the Maimonidite theory that Angels such as the Cherub allegorically represent scientific truth which further backs up the belief that men like Ezekiel were not only prophets but students of the advanced arts and sciences. I could go into this subject more deeply but I just wanted to provide a little food for thought this February making sure that we’re ever mindful to deeply investigate and understand the symbols around us, and though like the Arc and adorning Cherubim we may have a symbol or tool resting on our shoulders a deeper meaning may await us if continue our search for light.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this month’s article and hope if at all possible you will join us for our Mark Master Mason degree this month, and help our brothers at Zion Lodge honor our worth companion. 

Dominus Vobiscum,

Brandon Mullins, HP 

High Priest’s Address | Jan 2012

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Greetings Friends & Companions,

Welcome to 2012. For me it means a new job, working as a District Executive for the Boy Scouts in the Mahican district. For the Chapter it means a new Past Master, and a new candidate waiting. And for everyone it means the chance for a new beginning. New Year’s resolutions often get a lot of attention, and catch a lot of flak. You see online and in the papers, stories inquiring as to what people’s New Year’s resolutions are but with the qualifier that far more often than not they fail and the criticism that after all New Year’s Day is “just another day” and if you “really wanted it” you wouldn’t wait until the New Year to start. But as Masons I feel that we have a unique insight into the power of symbols, and can clearly see why they should not be so quickly discounted. The New Year is a line in the sand, recognized by the world as a new beginning, and people can’t help but be aware of that distinction. It may just be another day but that focus, that emphasis on the world starting anew can be immeasurably powerful when trying to make a change in your life. Symbols help us mark our lives, and allow us to justify what otherwise may be considered too difficult or best to be saved for later. I personally recommend everyone to use the opportunity that the New Year gives us and when they hear Brother Robert Burn’s famous poem, Auld Lang Syne know that they now have another to chance to make a change, and improve themselves in this New Year of 2012.

A genuine Past Master of Ann Arbor-Fraternity No. 262, F&AM, Robert Blackburn will be taking a moment to sit in the East once again as he receives his Past Master Degree with the optional allegorical section. As discounted as the degree often is we can never too often be reminded of the fact that at any time in life we may be called to lead and we have to be ever ready for such an opportunity and responsibility. The degree which was previously postponed is now set for January 16th with a small meal starting at 6:30pm, us opening at 7:00pm, and the degree starting no later than 7:30pm. In addition to Brother Blackburn’s degree we will also be discussing the dates for a new candidate, and a plan to set aside some time to organize some of our materials now that we should have everything back in our possession. I would also like to apologize to everyone who has ordered shirts so far. The embroiderer has been unavailable to make any new shirts, but should be back on schedule soon. In other Royal Arch news there is a Michigan Grand Chapter Royal Arch Masons Education Seminar on Saturday, January 28th at the Best Western Hospitality Hotel in Grand Rapids at 8:30pm. This year’s seminar will focus on “Vision” and will involve interesting presentations, discussions, group participation, and hopefully you will leave with something useful. Once again I hope to see anyone who can make it out for our Past Master degree on the 16th, and hope you all have a wonderful start to your New Year. 

Dominus Vobiscum,

Brandon Mullins, HP 

High Priest’s Address | Dec 2011

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Greetings Friends & Companions,

When December rolls around I’m never quite sure if it feels like the longest or shortest month of the year.  It can feel long when you think of all the holidays and winter events you have to prepare for but short when you realize you have to get it all done in a mere 31 days. For Masons we have Lodge and Council installations along with Lodge Christmas parties in addition the regular duties of the holidays. But as stressful it can be I love the holiday season.


And this season is particularly special as Hanukkah overlaps both Christmas and the Winter Solstice as it only does every few years creating a great opportunity for interfaith fellowship. 

But as High Priest of this Chapter one of my primary duties involves visiting the surrounding lodges for their installations and presenting the incoming masters with their master’s pin for the insuring year. This yearly presentation is to remind us of the intimate connection between the lodge and chapter reminding companions to be involved in their local lodges and informing brothers of light that awaits those who chose to join the Royal Arch. 


When attending these events you’ll see me in my full Royal Arch regalia and while many Royal Arch jewels are similar to those you’ve come to know in lodge I thought it might be nice to take time and explain the meaning of the High Priest’s jewel, which isn’t seen in any other Masonic body. As you may or not know the High Priest in Royal Arch is an allegorical representation of the Kohen Gadol, or Jewish High Priest, member of the order of priesthood descended from Aaron. Among the strict guidelines High Priests were required to follow there was a specific set of bigdei kodesh, or eight holy garments that the High Priest was required to wear when ministering at the Tabernacle, and in fact these men were not even granted the title of High Priest unless they were wearing their garments at that time.  Among these holy garments was the mitznefet, commonly translated as miter, which could better be described as a broad flat topped turban upon which was attached the Tzitz, a golden plate inscribed with the words “Holiness to the LORD.” It is this particular vestment that was chosen as the jewel of a High Priest in the Royal Arch. The High Priest’s jewel often simply called the miter does in fact better resemble a western miter worn by bishops and abbots today with the exception of still including the Tzitz and being topped with the Triple Tau, symbol of Royal Arch Masonry, but putting the issue of translation aside the modern miter does find the roots of its design in the mitzenfet and is a commonly known western heraldic symbol which is likely why that particular design was still chosen as the High Priest’s jewel. Each part of the High Priest’s bigdei kodesh had a deep symbolic meaning and the miter was no different. The Miter was made to atone for haughtiness and the Tzitz to atone for arrogance, two similar but distinct concepts, but appropriate for the role of the Royal Arch High Priest as those are among the sins that come most often with leadership. And like in all Royal Arch jewels encompassing the jewel is the triangle which serves a symbol of the three attributes of deity. I hope this gives you a little more information on why we wear what we wear and gives you a little something to think about when I come for an installation visit.

Taking these visits into account along with the other business that comes with this festive month we will not be having a Chapter meeting as we usually would on the third Monday. However, Ann Arbor Council No. 86, R&SM will be meeting for their public installation so I greatly encourage all companions attend and show their support. Also as the month draws to a close at my Mother Lodge, Myrtle Lodge No. 89, F&AM I will be hosting a Brother Rudyard Kipling Night at the Belleville Masonic Temple on December 29th at 6pm. There will be a dinner, a viewing of “The Man Who Would Be King” and a reading of Kipling’s famous Masonic poetry.  Come January we will return to our regular meeting schedule kicking off the New Year with a Past Master Degree with Allegory so expect more details on that to come soon. 

I hope you’ve enjoyed this month’s address, and have a merry Christmas, happy Hanukah and a joyous New Year. 

Dominus Vobiscum,

Brandon Mullins, HP 

High Priest’s Address | Nov 2011

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Greetings Friends & Companions,

Welcome to the busiest time of the year! There’s Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Lodge & Council elections, the kickoff of the Christmas season, and all the while it’s getting colder every step along the way. I have personally been very busy starting a new job while my wife peruses her Master’s Degree at the University of Michigan, and the chapter has been busy as well, having just welcomed Companion, Jason Bryce over the summer we now start Worshipful Brother, Robert Blackburn on his path through the capitular degrees with his Mark Master Mason degree in taking place on October 17th and his Past Master degree with allegory taking place on November 15th. 

With all that’s been going on personally I’ve hardly had the time to write a proper article but given we’ve just held a Mark Master Mason degree I’d like to take some time and talk about the concept of one’s mark. The idea of having an individual mark to distinguish your labors dates back millennia and continues to this day. Societies have long seen the benefit of making sure a person’s work could be identified in order to praise or admonish the person responsible. Such practices resulted in the trademarks of today’s modern marketplace, and we still give our signature to mark our intentions. But before there were signatures there were marks. An older friend of mine still tells the story that when he started at Ford if you were illiterate in lieu of your signature you were asked to make your mark. We, in a lodge of Mark Master Masons request all incoming brothers to make their mark before they receive their Royal Arch Degree. We ask them to make this mark in our Book of Marks that will identify them as a Mark Master Mason. So what’s in a mark? Looking over Washtenaw Chapter’s Book of Marks I’ve seen no shortage of variety. Symbols of faith, working tools, and any number of designs that could have meaning to a man grace its pages. Some are as simple as a set of initials while others are so complex they can hardly be etched on a coin. Knowing many of the companions, I often smile after realizing how fitting many of the marks are. This is true of even one of our most famous Mark Masters, George Washington. 

Companion, George Washington's Apron

Companion, George Washington's Apron

As you can see by looking at #42 on the diagram, Companion, Washington’s chosen mark was the beehive, a long held Masonic emblem of industry. How fitting a mark for the father of our nation? But whether your mark has a strong symbolic meaning or not isn’t actually what’s important. The important part of your mark is found in making it. Our operative brethren may have been forced to mark their work but in modern society it’s easy to hide poor workmanship. You may be just one man in a company of thousands, in a community of millions, but I think should be the goal of every Mark Master Mason to happily mark all of their deeds and when asked if it is indeed their work, answer with pride. When I was young I was a member of AWANA which is an acronym that references 2 Timothy 2:15, Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed. I find this particularly appropriate for the Mark Master Mason as well. Work diligently and skillfully, marking it without shame, so when it comes for approval, you can present it joyfully. 

As I stated before we’ll be conferring the Past Master degree on Worshipful Brother, Robert Blackburn on the 15th with allegory, so if you know a part in the degree, or are simply interested in attending please feel free to drop by. Dinner will be at 6:30pm, Council elections are at 7:00pm and we’ll be starting the degree at 7:30pm. Our next degree will probably not be until February so this should be a great time of fellowship for all. Also our Ann Arbor York Rite shirts are in. They are $25 and have two designs. One design featuring, Lodge, Chapter, and Council, and the other featuring Lodge, Chapter, Council and Commandery. You can order them at the meeting or just send me an e-mail to highpriest@aayorkrite.org specifying how many you want, which design you want and your size. They will also be available soon at http://aayorkrite.org. And remember on November 5th at 7:30pm the Corner Brewery in Ypsilanti Ann Arbor-Fraternity No. 262 is hosting the Freemason Party for Food Gatherers, so you should come and show your support! Thanks for reading and happy Thanksgiving!

Dominus Vobiscum,

Brandon Mullins, HP 

High Priest’s Address | Sep 2011

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Report of the Grand Convocation

August 17th, 2011

Lexington Hotel

Lansing Michigan

Congratulations to Michael Whiting who was elected and installed as Grand High Priest of the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons. Most Excellent Companion Mike has been in Masonry since 1979 in Pontiac Lodge and has served admirably and with distinction in all of his Masonic Bodies.

M. E. Comp. Mike served as Grand Master of the Cryptic Masons in Michigan in 2004-05. Has served as Royal Patron of the Order of Amaranth for 4 terms. He is one of the most well-traveled Brothers in the state for all of the Masonic Bodies. He will do an excellent job for the Royal Arch in Michigan, however, as he has noted he cannot do for you. He can give guidance and support. You must do the work in the trenches.

The Junior Past Grand High Priest, Most Excellent Companion Robert E. Cooper of Cedar Springs won the election as Grand Secretary, Paul Howell stepping down after 12 ½ years in that position, having taken over from our own Ralph Raiford. M.E.C. Cooper will operate the Grand Chapter out of the Grand Rapids Masonic Temple. 233 E. Fulton St., Grand Rapids 49503.

Elected to the position of Grand Master of the 1st Veil was Michael Roberts of River Raisin Chapter No. 22 in Monroe, MI. Elected to replace Fred Schneider as the Right Excellent Grand Sentinel was Eldin Miller, Secretary of Mt. Vernon Chapter No. 37 in Samaria. 

Most Excellent Companion Paul Howell was voted to receive the distinguished title of Right Excellent

Grand Secretary Emeritus of the Grand Chapter and Excellent Companion Fred Schneider was voted the permanent title of Right Excellent Grand Sentinel of the Grand Chapter.

At the Thursday night Banquet they were each presented with the appropriate Aprons for the new rank.

3 Ladies were awarded the honor, title and rank of General Grand Chapter Sweetheart Award: Sharon Cooper, Nancy Helm & Janet Schneider.

Special recognition goes out to Joseph Medved of Lapeer Chapter No. 91 and Jerry Ritzert for St. Ignace Chapter No. 134 for being awarded the rank and title of District Deputy Instructor Emeritus of the Grand Chapter for their long and distinguished service to the Companions by serving as a District Deputy Instructor for over 7 years with distinction.

Ex. Comp. Frank James Huey was awarded the General Grand Chapter Bronze Award. The Region 3, Michigan Meritorious Service Award was awarded to our own Companion Arthur W. Davidge. Congratulations Art.

There was one Amendment to the Red Book of Capitular Law that was proposed this year. It was to reduce the number of required meetings for a Chapter from 10 to 8 per year. That motion passed but it was made known that that was the minimum number and that each Chapter could and should have one each month along with a Special for the purpose of rehearsal, Degree conferral or special Dinners and functions.

The 2012 Grand Convocation will be held at the:

Doubletree Hotel

Bay City, Michigan

August 22nd, 2012

High Priest's Address | Aug 2011

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Greetings Friends & Companions,

We’ve had no shortage of activity lately, welcoming new friends into companionship as we bid farewell to those who traveling on roads that will lead them several states away. In July our King, George Lucero completed his move to New Mexico, and though he won’t be able to complete his term as Thrice Illustrious Master we presented him with his Past Illustrious Master’s apron. July was also Paul Howell’s last meeting with the Ann Arbor York Rite before he heads out to Arizona. Paul leaves enormous shoes to fill and in consideration of the amazing work he has put into supporting the York Rite in the Ann Arbor area and beyond the Ann Arbor York Rite bodies have awarded him the Ann Arbor York Rite distinguished service award. But as we wish these companions well on their journeys we welcome in our new companion, Jason Bryce into our chapter who received his Royal Arch Degree on the 27th at the Detroit Masonic Temple with help of Monroe Chapter No. 1. He certainly had to travel a rough road to get there, but we’re happy to have him with us. 

As usual there’s a subject I’d like to discuss this month. I’ve noticed that when I am talking to someone about Freemasonry and mention that I’m the head of a Chapter of Royal Arch Masons in Ann Arbor people tend to take it at face value. But there are times, especially when I begin to mention one of the Ann Arbor Lodges, or the fact that my Lodge is in Belleville, that I get a few follow up questions. Usually along the lines, of “Well I thought you said you were the head of the Masons, in Ann Arbor” and continuing with “So what’s a Royal Arch Mason then?” And I find that while I’m good at explaining Blue Lodge, and what Freemasonry is in general, I’m bad at explaining Royal Arch to someone without confusing them with details on our organizational structure or the nature of our work. Appendant bodies in general are a complicated subject. The whole idea of having these degrees and bodies that are considered higher yet at the same time equal and in many ways subordinate to Blue Lodge make for no short discussion. Military rank, or corporate structure serve as poor comparison, and Royal Arch is in all likelihood the most complex of the appendant bodies to explain given its position as a completion of the third degree, and the whole subject of the Antients and Moderns. 

I’ve always thought of a Royal Arch Mason as a curious Mason who is unsatisfied with substitution and has an interest in following the path that history has taken our craft. It may not be a simple explanation but when someone asks me why I joined the Royal Arch, going as far as to become a leader of a chapter I find myself driven to give them an explanation that simply says the craft lodges, give you a part of the story, and the Royal Arch continues it. Such a vague explanation may lead to more questions, on the Royal Arch and the initial story Craft Masonry tells, but if they want to know, I guess they’ll just have to petition a Lodge and find out.

Now there are plenty of activities this month so remember to keep these things in mind. On August 15th we have our regular meeting, and among other things we will be ordering our new Ann Arbor York Rite polo shirts. The shirts are $25 and have two designs. One design featuring, Lodge, Chapter, and Council, and the other featuring Lodge, Chapter, Council and Commandery. You can order them at the meeting or just send me an e-mail at highpriest@aayorkrite.org specifying how many you want, which design you want and your size. I’m also working on making them available to buy online at http://aayorkrite.org but that will take a little time. On August 17th is Grand Chapter so if you’d like to come once again mention it at the meeting or send me an e-mail and we can ride together. August 28th is the Annual Ann Arbor Freemason’s Tri-Lodge Picnic at Gallup Park. I know I’ll be there and I’d love our members there out supporting Ann Arbor Freemasonry. And last but not least we are hosting the Southeastern Michigan York Rite Association meeting this month on August 29th with the aid of York Chapter at the Milan Masonic Temple. There’s plenty going on this month so make sure to mark your calendars and I hope to see you there!

Dominus Vobiscum,

Brandon Mullins, HP 

High Priest's Address | Jul 2011

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Washtenaw Chapter has been very busy, so far, this year. We had a lot of fun and a great experience for our members by doing the work in Belleville on Myrtle Lodge of Belleville Brothers. in February, March and April. It was great to be doing the work for ourselves and we do really appreciate all of the help and assistance that we have received from the surrounding Chapters. 

We exalted 3 new Companions and all have had nothing but good things to say about the degrees, work and lessons taught (learned). 

In expanding our out reach program we have made arrangements with Monroe Chapter in Detroit for them to put on the Degrees for us with the next class of Brothers going through. This group is currently all, three, members of Ann Arbor-Fraternity Lodge. We can, and would be pleased, to increase this number of candidates to receive these beautiful and impressive degrees. 

The times will all be with the degrees beginning at 7 pm. Dates and locations:

Mark Master Mason Degree – Wed., July 13th in Detroit.

Past & Most Excellent Master Degree – in Ann Arbor at Calvary Methodist Chuch on Miller Ave., Mon., July 18th. (For the Ann Arbor candidates) 

Past & Most Excellent Master Degree – in Detroit at Detroit Masonic Temple, Wed. July 20th. (For the Detroit candidates) 

Royal Arch Degree – Wed., July 27th in Detroit.

There will be a light meal prior to the Degree on all dates.

The Southeastern Michigan York Rite Association will be having their final meeting prior to the Grand Convocation on August 17th in Lansing. The Meeting will be preceded by a Pot Luck Picnic at the Tecumseh Masonic Temple at 700 Bishop Reed Dr., in Tecumseh.

July will be my final meeting with the York Rite in Ann Arbor. On Mon., Aug.16th at our August Business Meeting I will be performing the final phases of getting all of the materials ready for the Grand Chapter Convocation.

On Monday, August 29th we, Washtenaw Chapter will be in host and in charge of the Southeastern Michigan York Rite Association. We will be hosting it in Milan. Dinner will be served at 6:15 and the Meeting will take place at 7:00 pm. I will not be at the Aug. 29th meeting as I will be visiting with Al & Deb Christ and attending the General Grand Council and the General Grand Chapter. 

Wishing each of you a very happy, safe and enjoyable 4th of July, Independence Day celebration. Enjoy the fireworks. Remember all those who have assured us of our Liberties, and continue to thank all of those who are currently serving to insure the continuation of those liberties and our Independence.

Paul Howell, PHP

High Priest's Address | Jun 2011

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Greetings Friends & Companions,

Before we begin I’d like to congratulate Companion William Green on being made an honorary member of Washtenaw Chapter No. 6, Royal Arch Masons. His work with the chapter has been greatly appreciated and I hope he enjoys further adventures with us as he takes part in future degrees and continues his journey through the York Rite.

With June here and the warm weather it brings it seems that there is something going on every weekend keeping all the brethren as busy as possible. For me the most notable are Milan Lodge No. 323’s First Annual Feast of St. John the Baptist Featuring Worshipful Brother Andrew Hammer which takes place on June 11th at the Comfort Inn Chelsea; the Belleville National Strawberry Festival on June 17th-19th where my blue lodge, Myrtle Lodge No. 89 will be selling the best strawberries and strawberry shortcake in town; and the 4th Annual Detroit Windsor International Film Festival which is hosted at Wayne State University on June 22nd-26th. Throw Father’s Day in there on June 19th and it makes for a very busy month.

But with all these activities going on I hope you find the time to come visit us on June 20th at Calvary United Methodist Church for our monthly business meeting. We have a small meal at 6:30pm and we open at 7:00pm, and we have all sorts of events to plan out! Currently we have three petitioners for the capitular degrees, four for the cryptic degrees and 3 for the chivalric orders.  It’s a lot of work, and a lot to prepare for but with the help of our members and those from the other York Rite bodies in the area I’m sure we can give these brothers and companions a great experience in the York Rite!

As some of you may know my wife’s family is up in Toronto and as such I take several trips up there a year. This last trip I took in May was particularly special because it allowed me to visit King Solomon’s Chapter No. 8, Royal Arch Masons of Canada in the Province of Ontario. It happened to be election night that evening and I was able to witness Excellent Companion Obafemi Adiete elected as First Principal, the equivalent of High Priest. It was a great experience and I was able to learn a little bit about how Royal Arch Masonry operates in Canada. One specific thing I paid particular attention to was the Companion’s Jewel worn by all Royal Arch Masons in Canada. 

Canadian Royal Arch Jewel Thumb.png

The jewel itself is wrought with symbolism, some of which your average American Companion would be well aware of, but some of which they would not and it’s best explained in a video the Royal Arch Masons of Canada produced which can be found at http://jointheroyalarch.com/?page_id=72. While I have a great appreciation for Masonic symbolism and feel it should never be overlooked, the jewel’s intrinsic symbolism isn’t what I’d like to talk about today. What really interested me is the symbolism of how and when it’s worn. See when you receive this jewel not only is it to be worn at all convocations of your Chapter but it is also permitted and expected to be worn in Blue Lodge as well. This was very surprising to me given the fact that in Michigan while from the standpoint of ritual Royal Arch Chapters and Craft Lodges are irrevocably intertwined there is a firm disconnect in administration separating the Royal Arch as if it was any other appendant body. The Royal Arch degree in fact is the completion of the 3rd Degree and I think through a subtle use of regalia the Canadian system better represents that truth. The Companion’s Jewel serves as a badge of honor for those who continued seeking light not satisfied with a substitution and traveled the rough road to find the right. It begs the new brother to question, and motivates them to wonder leading them on a journey to find answers.

But as we are in Michigan and have no such jewel to wear and show our connection to Capitular Masonry so can we do? Well we can talk about it. Talk to your brothers about the Royal Arch, and the process of completing their 3rd Degree. Let them know that the story is not yet over and they still have much to learn. Spark their curiosity and try to deeper build the connection between us and the Craft Lodges leading our brethren to further experiences, and greater light. 

Well I hope I’ve been able to pass on a bit of light I picked up from a foreign jurisdiction, and hope a little insight on their unique ways have motivated you the way it has motivated me. Once again keep in mind we do have a number of candidates ready to continue their journey and could use all the help we can get, and as always we’ll be at Calvary United Methodist Church in Ann Arbor every third Monday, and would love to have you. 

Dominus Vobiscum,

Brandon Mullins, HP  

High Priest's Address | May 2011

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Greetings Friends & Companions,

First and foremost, for this month’s address I would like to congratulate our three newest companions, Adam Smith, James Piper, and Kenneth Landstrom, as well as the multichapter degree team which made it all possible. It was a great night, and I wish these companions a multitude of blessings on their continued journey with us. 

Spring is making its final bumpy decent into Michigan, and for Royal Arch Masons spring means elections and installations. Well as you may have previously read the officers of Washtenaw Chapter will be serving a second term so if you want to attend one of our installations you’re just going to have to wait till next year. Sorry. But there have been two very notable lineup changes. As many of you know Al Christ has moved out of state for work, but has still maintained many duties as secretary. Well given it’s pretty difficult to do the job hundreds of miles away Art Davidge has graciously agreed to take over as secretary for the insuring year. Along with Art, George Lucero has also taken over the position of King for Walt Howarth whose health has made it difficult for him to attend as of late. So given there will be no lavish installation ceremony, our newly elected companions will have to settle for my sincere thanks for taking these new positions, and hope that they will take as much joy sitting in those positions as I have in seeing them there. 

In preparing for last month’s degree I found myself in want of a certain ring which I was unable to find. After a time I decided upon a suitable ring for my purposes, but it did leave me wondering why the heck I was looking for it in the first place. The ring I was looking for was the signet of Zerubbabel. So who is Zerubbabel and why is his signet so important?

Well while he isn’t someone you run into during the first three degrees, continue your search for light and you’ll find that he’s a bit of an appendant body celebrity. Whether you go York or Scottish Rite his influence on a number of degrees cannot be avoided. So who is he? Well Sometime in the 6th century, BC, Zerubbabel, the Jewish prince led the Jews out of Babylonian captivity, and traveled a rough road of his own which involved standing up to a king, becoming the governor of Judah and laying the foundation for the second temple. Religious texts don’t give us all that much to go on but his importance cannot be understated. 

So what’s the deal with his signet ring? Well for starters a signet ring is a ring which was historically used by those in authority to place an official seal upon wax in order to deem documents genuine. Meaning whoever carried the ring carried the authority that came along with the seal. Well Zerubbabel, being a ruler of antiquity may have very well carried a signet ring for the afore mentioned purpose, but as is often the case, we have to go deeper than that. 

“Zerubbabel the LORD’s Signet Ring

The word of the LORD came to Haggai a second time on the twenty-fourth day of the month: “Tell Zerubbabel governor of Judah that I am going to shake the heavens and the earth. I will overturn royal thrones and shatter the power of the foreign kingdoms. I will overthrow chariots and their drivers; horses and their riders will fall, each by the sword of his brother. “‘On that day,’ declares the LORD Almighty, ‘I will take you, my servant Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I will make you like my signet ring, for I have chosen you,’ declares the LORD Almighty.” 

- Haggai 2:20-23 NIV

Zerubbabel may have had a unique place as the man who led the Jews out of captivity, and as the governor of Judah but I think it can easily be said that none of those titles compare to signet ring of the LORD of Hosts. It’s isn’t the signet of Zerubbabel we should be looking for, but looking to Zerubbabel as that seal od divine authority.  Zerubbabel, from that day fourth would become a sign of the LORD’s authenticity on this Earth and continue his work with a divine seal of approval. 

Zerubbabel, Governor of Judah, Builder of the Second Temple, Notary of the Almighty. Whatever his title there is no mistaking that this man was of great importance and worthy example for any Mason to follow.

I’ve hope you enjoyed this month’s address and further hope that  if you’re able you might drop in to visit us at one of our meetings on the third Monday of each month at Calvary Methodist Church in Ann Arbor. We have a small meal that begins at 6:15pm and we open at 7pm. And if you are not yet a companion, we’d welcome your petition. It’s a rough road, but well worth the journey. 

Dominus Vobiscum,

Brandon Mullins, HP

High Priest's Address | Apr 2011

Brandon Mullins - Washtenaw No 6 Avatar.gif

Greetings Friends & Companions,

According to my previously set theme this address would be regarding the Royal Arch Degree. But I’ve decided that I’m unwilling to summarize it for the same reasons I would be unwilling to summarize the Master Mason degree. Not only is it a broad degree with a multitude of interpretations but it is meant to be the pinnacle of the body and I would hate to have the experience spoiled for a potential candidate by reading this address. So what I would like to do is to pick a particular aspect of the degree and elaborate upon it. With that plan in mind I’ve chosen the Triple Tau. 

The Triple Tau has been described as the “Grand Emblem of Royal Arch Masonry” and you’ll find it on nearly every piece of Royal Arch regalia.  I’m often asked what it means by people interested in the Royal Arch and most recently by one of our candidates to which I gave a fairly lackluster answer. The Triple Tau is difficult to explain, and even more difficult when you’re attempting brevity. So how do you explain it? Well to explain it you must understand it and to understand the Triple Tau you must first understand the Tau. The Tau or “Τ” is a letter our alphabet inherited from the Greeks which they in turn inherited from Semitic Phoenician Taw or “X” which held a particular significances to the Jewish people which can be seen in the following passage from the Bible. 

“And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.”

-Ezekiel 9:4 KJV

The mark this passage speaks of is the Taw which later evolved into the Tau. In this instance the Taw becomes a symbol of the faithful and distinction from the wicked. The Taw also has a special place in Christianity as well. Early Christian artifacts show an extensive use of the Taw in the Jewish sense, and the cross which tradition states Constantine the Great saw in the sky that motivated is conversion to Christianity was not a Latin cross that Christians often use today but the Chi Rho or “☧” which appears to incorporate a Taw as well. The symbol in its Tau form also takes shape as the Cross of Tau which has numerous Christian allusions. So to say the least this symbol is a religious heavy hitter spanning multiple faiths and several millennia of usage. 

So why three Tau? For this we have a multitude of explanations of which I will describe two. The most prevalent I have found has been the idea that the Tau which is considered to be a symbol of deity is present thrice in our symbol because of the three natures of deity, Omnipotence, Omnipresence, and Omniscience. The other and one I find interesting is the idea that perhaps our Triple Tau isn’t three Taus at all but a Tau and an “H” giving us the initials of Templum Hierosolyma otherwise known as the Temple of Solomon. The Triple Tau then becomes a symbol listing us as servants of Solomon’s Temple which of course is an allegory for that spiritual temple, that house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 

I hope you’ve enjoyed my little piece of the Triple Tau and I hope that you can make it out to the Royal Arch Degree we’re putting on at the Belleville Masonic Temple on Monday, April 11th. We have four candidates going through, three of ours, and one from Excelsior Chapter, and we’d love to have you out. Dinner starts at 6:00pm we open at 7:00pm, and officers should be in tuxes if they have them. So bring your appetite, and bring your support for four new companions taking a journey together I hope they’ll never forget.

The address for the temple is:  515 Main Street, Belleville, MI, 48111, and it’s on the corner of the first right past the bridge, you can’t miss it. I hope to see you there! And don’t forget we still have our Stated Communication every third Monday at Calvary United Methodist Church, right here in Ann Arbor with a small meal starting at 6:30pm so feel free to drop in. 

Dominus Vobiscum,

Brandon Mullins, HP

High Priest's Address | Mar 2011

Brandon Mullins - Washtenaw No 6 Avatar.gif

Greetings Friends & Companions,

I would first like congratulate the new Mark Master Masons of Washtenaw Chapter No. 6, Adam Smith, Jim Piper, and Kenneth Landstrom. They received the Mark Master Mason degree on Monday, February 14th during the first of our degrees to be set at the Belleville Masonic Temple. I would then like to thank the companions hailing from FIVE different chapters who came out in support on St. Valentine’s Day of all days in order to make this degree possible.

But our work is not done yet and in truth it’s just begun. Monday, March 14th we’ll be doing TWO degrees at the Belleville Masonic Temple, both the Past Master, and Most Excellent Master degrees. As you may suspect we could use your support, so I’d like to invite all companions down to the Belleville Masonic Temple, which is at 515 Main Street, Belleville, MI 48111 on Monday, March 14th at 7:00pm for the Past Master and Most Excellent Master Degrees. A small meal will be served after the degrees and if you’re lucky we might even put you to work during them.

So why do we have this Past Master degree? The most obvious answer is a traditional requirement that all Royal Arch Masons must first be Master of a Lodge, and to bring the Royal Arch Degree to a greater number of brothers the Past Master degree was created in order to satisfy that requirement. That is I suppose the textbook explanation, but why then didn’t we merely change the rules and eliminate the requirement, and why do we proceed to confer this degree upon Worshipful Brother Jim Piper who is a two time Past Master, and sat in the East only a few months ago? It’s because the lesson is important. From George Washington to King Solomon never has a mortal man been a perfect leader and the virtues required for good leadership can never be inculcated too often, or practiced too zealously. In addition the Past Master degree teaches us to be prepared to be thrust into leadership unexpectedly, a lesson that as High Priest of this Chapter is very near and dear to my heart. So if there becomes a question of who will lead the craftsmen the Past Master degree teaches the brother what it takes to step forward.

The Most Excellent Master degree is one that celebrates the joy of a labors well performed but reminds us that even as our work draws to a close there is never truly an end to our duty, because with every step we take towards completion that is another lesson we are tasked to take to our brothers who may not be so far along. A man becomes an Entered Apprentice, an Entered Apprentice becomes a Fellowcraft, and finally at long last a Fellowcraft becomes a Master.  So does becoming a Master mean your labors have ceased? No! It’s the duty of an Entered Apprentice to learn, a Fellowcraft to practice, and a Master to… teach. The Most Excellent Master degree teaches the valuable lesson that amongst the rewards you’ve earned through your labors in becoming a Master Mason is the right and duty to spread the lessons you’ve learned selflessly working for the benefit of your fellow Brothers.

Companions, I hope to see as many of you ask can make it for our Past Master, and Most Excellent Master degrees, and if you helped with the Mark Master Degree or expressed interest in helping with the coming two, you should expect a call from me very soon.

The Joint York Rite Meeting is still being held at the Calvary United Methodist Church. It is an excellent setting for our Stated Convocations. Looking forward to you joining us for excellent conversation and light refreshments prior to the meeting. Refreshments begin at about 6:15 and the meeting is called to order at 7 pm. Hoping for one and all the best of health and happiness. Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

Dominus Vobiscum,

Brandon Mullins, HP

High Priest's Address | Feb 2011

Brandon Mullins - Washtenaw No 6 Avatar.gif

Greetings Friends & Companions,

“The stone which the builders refused
is become the head stone of the corner
This is the LORD’s doing;
it is marvellous in our eyes.
This is the day which the LORD hath made;
we will rejoice and be glad in it.”

- Psalm 118:22-24 KJV

As many of you may know we will be starting several brothers on the journey though Capitular Masonry in Belleville this month and of course that starts with the Mark Master Mason Degree. In our jurisdiction this ritual makes up first degree of Royal Arch Masonry, and in turn the York Rite but I always find it important to note that in other jurisdictions the Order of Mark Masters is its own appendant organization holding a special distinction within the body of Masonic work. The lessons of the Mark Master Mason degree like many other degrees are varied an open to interpretation but if I think I can share a few take aways that I would hope all can find. The degree teaches us to resist elitism showing the candidate that even the most experienced can be wrong and that even the weakest among us have the capacity for greatness. And as it follows the path of the stone it follows the path of a well lived life, being found, being recognized, and brought into perfection. Indeed the stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.

I hope all who can make it join us at the Belleville Masonic Temple, on February 14th for the Mark Master Mason Degree, and of course the degrees to follow which will continue on the second Monday of each month. I would also like to remind everyone that we will continue having our business meeting on the third Monday of every month at our home in Ann Arbor. Last but not least I would like to thank the companions of Excelsior Chapter No. 25, York Chapter No. 150 and my own companions for making these degrees possible, and of course Myrtle Lodge No. 89 for welcoming us into their home.

The address for the temple is:  515 Main Street, Belleville, MI, 48111, and it’s on the corner of the first right past the bridge, you can’t miss it. I hope to see you there!

Dominus Vobiscum,

Brandon Mullins, HP

High Priest's Address | Jan 2011

Brandon Mullins - Washtenaw No 6 Avatar.gif

Greetings Friends & Companions,

The New Year is a time traditionally thought of as an opportunity for new beginnings, new resolutions, and a fresh start. Such opportunities should never be taken lightly, and I hope you all take advantage of the season allowing it to fill you with invigoration anew.  But when thinking about new beginnings my mind cannot help but be drawn to thoughts of our fraternity’s own beginnings. This is of course a subject of heated debate within circles of members and nonmembers alike. With theories that range from the cathedral builders of the Middle Ages, to the Knights Templar to the builders of King Solomon’s Temple as our ritual would suggest, there are many theories with merit and I would not be surprised if all contained a bit of truth. But I in no way expect to learn the complete truth of our origins while still contained within my mortal shell, so until that fateful day comes I choose to look upon the subject of Masonic origins with a different perspective. How old are the ideas that our fraternity holds so dear? Where do our teachings come from? Equally debated questions, and equally lost in the pages of history, but I find that such research leads us to places we may not have previously considered, and gives us knowledge otherwise unseen. Take a look at the following…

“To accomplish anything whatsoever one must have standards. None have yet accomplished anything without them. The gentlemen fulfilling their duties as generals and councilors have their standards. Even the artisans performing their tasks also have their standards. The artisans make square objects according to the square, circular objects according to the compasses; they draw straight lines with the carpenter’s line and find the perpendicular by a pendulum. All artisans, whether skilled or unskilled, employ these five standards. Only the skilled workers are accurate. Though the unskilled laborers have not attained accuracy, yet they do better by following these standards than otherwise. Thus all artisans follow the standards in their work.” 

 Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Well you may be surprised by the source. This teaching is attributed to a man called Mozi. Not a medieval stonemason, not a Knight Templar, nor Jewish architect, but a Chinese philosopher, born in 470 BC. He was raised as working class artisan but worked his way up bringing his world view, of labor and ingenuity with him. He is also famously known for speaking on the symbolic value of white cloth, another philosophy we as Masons are certainly familiar with. Am I here to claim that Masonic teachings have their roots in the Mohist schools of ancient China? Hardly. But I feel it is important to note that Freemasonry has a shared heritage with the philosophy of the ancient world and while we may never know our true, historic origins I am certain we can consider ourselves in good company.  

Speaking of company I hope to see you all in Chapter this month, and in fact I request it most seriously. We are most certainly meeting for January, and during this meeting we will be talking at length about our degrees in Belleville. Between now and then, also expect me to be contacting many of your trying to nail down your role for the Mark Master Mason degree in February, and this does not just include members of my own Chapter but other Chapters as well. Capitular Masonry has not graced the lodge room of the Belleville Masonic Temple in several decades and I hope to make this event exceptional, so I’m going to need all the help I can get. So think about your possible role and contact me as soon as you can. I thank you all for reading and wish you a happy New Year. 

Dominus Vobiscum,

Brandon Mullins, HP