From One Member of a GREAT Team!

Stephen Balke
General Grand Recorder

Balke Council
Stephen A. Balke
General Grand Recorder

Never Doubt that a thoughtful and concerned group of citizens can change the world, you know why?” [answered] “It’s the only thing that ever has.”1

Companions and Friends of the Cryptic Rite,

Masonry has a high percentage of intelligent and hardworking type “A” personalities. The Craft attracts these men because they are the ones most likely to be looking to improve themselves and/or the world around them. These same men are also typically the ones within the fraternity who aspire to and hold the leadership positions. The real trick is to find a group of them who have REALLY adopted the teaching “… to best work and best agree”2 enough to synergistically work as a team.

In 2012, I experienced Masonry outside of my jurisdiction for the first time at a York Rite Conference, where I learned that there was a program that bridged the lessons I had been teaching for years (Stephen Covey and Zig Ziglar) with the activities of Masonry. In 2013, I was asked to help the General Grand Council with technology and automation, to bring better tools to the Craft. In 2014, I attended my first Triennial Assembly. Throughout this time and the Triennium that followed, I was exposed to A LOT of both the positive and negative aspects of so many “A” personalities being in the same place. Many ideas and many obstacles.

Fast forward to 2017 – Most Puissant Companion David Grindle is elected and appoints me Chair of Technology, with the promise that there will be a great deal of work to be done, and the expectation that I would put my best foot forward to bring ideas to fruition. What he didn’t tell me was how he was going to interact with his officers. In November, faced with a great deal of push back from Constituents, the three Trustees not only addressed the complaints with a positive and solution-oriented attitude, but they also included me and anyone who would invest the time in their conversation.

As the Cryptic Year progressed, starting from zero, the leadership implemented habits that supported the efforts that were made by many Companions on their behalf. They continuously solicited assistance from talented Companions, they aligned the duties of the appointees with the communication and information goals, and they encouraged and supported their people as much as possible; even when there were issues both for them personally and with the abilities of people to dedicate time to Cryptic work.

On September 1, 2018, I was honored to become the General Grand Recorder by a vote of the Trustees of the General Grand Council. In all previous offices and honors bestowed upon me in Masonry, I have been asked if I would – In this case, I wanted the job, and to work as a member of this team. Amidst the whirlwind of new responsibilities, working directly for the guy who previously had this job for almost a decade, and no shortage of personal challenges for all of us; I continue to see positive progress in spite of circumstances. No kidding, one person in radiation therapy, one moving 6000 miles while still working, one who lost a close companion and is still working – the reaction: not status quo – they implemented a more focused and regular Trustees meeting to ensure the business of Cryptic Masons International was done.

This is a small and dedicated group of your Companions that want the best for the General Grand Council. Most Puissant Companion David is encouraging the continued work toward our plans and goals, while also continuing to adapt to feedback given and planting the seeds for the coming Triennium. Right Puissant Companion Monty has begun to develop a strategic plan for the next Triennium and is including (fully) everyone who is willing to work for the betterment of the Craft. Right Puissant Companion Bill is working diligently to complete his committee work and inspire the Companions with his research. In addition, several other Companions have stepped up to the plate and you will start seeing the fruits of their labor! I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of an effective team dedicated to accomplishing great things, as the Deputy General Grand Master stated.

I would therefore be honored to stand for election as your General Grand Principal Conductor of the Work at the coming Triennial Assembly, and respectfully ask for your support for the privilege of continuing my service to Cryptic Masons International for the coming Triennium.  

Fraternally and Sincerely,

Stephen A. Balke
General Grand Recorder


1.  “Inauguration: Part 2 – Over There” The West Wing: The Complete Fourth Season. NBC, 2003. DVD.
2.  Publications Committee, Grand Lodge of A. F. & A. M. of New Mexico. Official Monitor and Ceremonies. 2007.

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