News From The Ninth Arch

From the Desk of the General Grand Recorder



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From the Desk of the General Grand Recorder
Stephen A. Balke
General Grand Recorder, Cryptic Masons International

Stephen A. Balke
General Grand Recorder, Cryptic Masons International


Greetings Companions,

As we begin February, the items that are pressing include the Annual Returns for our Constituent (read Subordinate for those who are used to the other term) Councils, gearing up for the regular Grand Assemblies (Sessions) for our Grand Councils, and continuing our work in the office to update processes and increase information flow. Since moving the office, we have hit a “reset” and are checking every aspect of each process to ensure it is inclusive and recorded properly while continuing to keep the day-to-day events addressed to our best ability. We are also continuing to implement the communication tools that have been planned and are being rolled out.

Process & Information Updates

To more readily make information available, we have been working in both “high-touch” and “high-tech” areas. We are hosting quarterly Grand Recorder Conference Calls for each Region to encourage conversational updates. We are ramping up our participation and advertisement for Companions to contribute to the Decryption. And, we are putting online tools in place for better availability of records, forms, and reports.

Feedback on the conference calls has been positive thus far, and we are making the notes available through articles to allow for dissemination of the events notifications and news for each jurisdiction. In addition to putting out much of the similar information available in these articles, it is also a way to ensure that the calendar is updated with events within your jurisdictions – in addition to the Grand Sessions, we are highlighting Grand Lodge Annual Communications and Festival work especially. This has assisted us in keeping up with those changes that sometimes happen on dates, locations, and venues.

This newsletter has benefitted from both our conference calls and some recent meetings. In addition to reporting the body of the call, there have been some Companions who have stepped up and will be providing articles in the near future to share ideas and news from their successes and lessons learned. In addition, some have taken something that “should be known” and will provide some more information to you.

As is seen in the previous “Grand Councils and Grand Assemblies” section, we are putting our processes in place and trying to make those available to everyone, but especially to those who have a part in making them successful. We are working to be inclusive and succinct in our forms and storage of data but also to make data available when it is needed. As previously published, we are working to have the online database accessible for our Grand Recorders by February 15, 2020.

Further, as we implement these, our forms are being updated. We are standardizing the look of the General Grand Council across all of our materials to make them easily recognizable and expose our brand. In addition, we are being more inclusive of the information requested on our forms so that we can more easily track and identify (and therefore so can those that need the information in Councils and Grand Councils) our data.

Veterans Medals

This week, we have finally been able to get the orders for Veterans Medals out. If you have ordered one previously and have not received it, PLEASE CONTACT US! Now that we have an answer to having them engraved, we are starting a reconciliation of the orders for the past year and are trying to ensure that all who have ordered also received.

Constituent (Subordinate) Councils

The Councils of the General Grand Council run on a calendar year, so for January, this was our highest priority. By Tuesday, each of the Recorders of record will have received their Annual Return forms. Please get them returned to this office no later than February 29, 2020 with your annual per-capita and fees. If you have not received the form, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

Download the form (click here)

Grand Councils and Grand Assemblies

As we start the season, Grand Recorders are gearing up for their Grand Assemblies across the world! We are working on a system that will keep us on a schedule for successful fulfillment of the usual items. At this point, we are just implementing the system, so we are NOT in line with the dates described but will be using February to catch up. All of the “Days” below are calculated based upon the start date of the Grand Sessions/Assembly for preparation items and the end date of the Grand Sessions/Assembly for the follow up items. For Foreign jurisdictions, any items requiring fulfillment (awards, etc.), please add 30 days advance notice.

Download the backdated schedule (click here)

We have split the form for the Cryptic Mason of the Year and Adult Youth Leadership Awards. This is so that the leadership of each jurisdiction may choose to present the Adult Youth Leadership Award in an alternate venue, such as the Grand Assembly of their Rainbow for Girls, Grand Bethel for Jobs Daughters or Annual Convention/Conclave for DeMolay. Our Trustees are encouraging such activities so that our support of the Masonic Youth Groups is shown while also celebrating those awarded in front of their peers.

Thank you to all of those who are working with us to get these objectives in place!

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