The Churchill Project - Creating a Model Lodge

Our intent since inception is to form a mentoring lodge, in support of - not in competition - with the other lodges of the state of Minnesota.

Reinvention.   Clarity.   Civic engagement.   History.   Morality.

Through these aims, or methods, we attempt to distill the Essential Core of Masonry. Topics of our discussions tie to these concepts. The brethren of our little lodge want to understand, “what makes a good lodge, 'good'?”
 

We knew at the start that we wanted a British theme, honoring the roots of the fraternity which began there. We knew we wanted a strong social component. Yet social interaction is not the only sturdy leg of a good lodge. We are an historically-minded bunch, so it was natural that Churchill, an extraordinary man and a Mason, was an easy choice as our patron. We wanted a strong philosophical grounding, signaling real engagement and depth. With all these in place, by happenstance, we struck up a relationship with several Grand Lodge of DC Masons who introduced us to Cuba, and the opportunity for international connections. Wouldn't Churchill himself have applauded such a venture? Finally, and back to the concept of mentoring, we wanted to understand and offer a vision for the future of Freemasonry; and because Masonry is experiential, we sought to build it, then share it.

Whenever possible, we open our events to guests, including with delight any Masons from other lodges who are active officers or who have the benefit of years of experience. We seek to include them in the conversation, to learn from them and to share our ideas, which they can take back home. Where they would seek to better their own lodge.

We are convinced the affinity concept can be useful for existing lodges, whether they be healthy traditional lodges or when a few brethren take it upon themselves to restart a sleepy lodge. Our British/Churchillian ideas work for us, today, but we are learning that there are simply hundreds of other affinity ideas available. If you seek to better your home lodge, think about 'specializing' in some aspect of interest to your brethren... For example, we've heard of lodges formed for men who work third shift, meeting in the morning. Or groups of Civil War buffs. There are many Historians' Lodges, encouraging the study of any aspect of history. Spanish speakers have lodges in many states. In Wisconsin there is a German-speaking lodge. We certainly could support such a group here, or Finnish-speaking for that matter, or Norwegian, Swedish, or one of the many immigrant languages that are present in our state. How about a group of police officers forming a lodge? Or firemen? Or lawyers? Call those Guild Lodges... A University Lodge would be a fine addition, or lodges that adopt a nearby school. There is room for a "Traditional Observance" lodge in each of our big cities, or perhaps an artists and poets lodge, or one for the construction trades... More ideas may be found here.

Churchill men support lodge formation as a healthy exercise for a grand lodge. Many of us are already Past Masters, and several have served in statewide volunteer offices. Still, working through Sir Winston Churchill Lodge, we want to do more. If you feel similarly moved to help the Craft, we welcome your participation with us.

A printable brochure for those interested in membership.

We have discovered that an affinity lodge, in the formative years, may benefit from regular discussions of its purpose. Out of these discussions we have developed a Culture of the Lodge document to clarify expectations of our members.

Wait a moment. Can someone explain Masonry to me?

Yes. First, you should know that the founding brethren of Churchill Lodge come from several strong Twin Cities lodges. Almost all of us maintain membership in both lodges, called a “Dual“ or “Plural“ membership. It isn't surprising that we're loyal in this way: a hundred years ago, the British poet, Rudyard Kipling, wrote a poem about his “Mother Lodge” in India, long after returning to London. Though he joined a second lodge, Brother Kipling never forgot his roots.

Thus we take inspiration from other good lodges and attempt to blend these insights together with many new ideas into our new lodge. In keeping with that philosophy, we will direct you to one of our fellow lodges' website, where they have written extensively on "What is Masonry." The three short articles following are found on Lake Harriet Lodge's website. They do a nice job explaining more about Masonry to those still unfamiliar with the Fraternity:

About Freemasonry

What it Means to Join a Masonic Lodge

How to Join

How petitioning works, and steps in the process - an essay from Lake Harriet Lodge's website

We'll see you back here when you get done reading these links! When you are ready, here's how to join Churchill Lodge.

Do you use Minnesota's or a British ritual?

Let's set the stage. A committee of expert ritualists, Minnesota's Board of Custodians, is responsible for the ritual used within our Grand Lodge. "The Minnesota Masonic Ritual" is similar to that used in most US states. It is often called the American Preston/Webb Work, after a British writer and summarizer of the lectures and content of his era, the early 1700s, and after an early 1800s traveling lecturer who taught it around the US. At one point in US history, traveling lecturers were very much in demand during a time when Masonic rituals were only transmitted mouth to ear, or in group 'lodges of instruction.' Over time, very small variances between states have crept in, due to the influence of a mistake-ridden exposure written by a fellow named Lester, and other such errors over the years. But by and large, Minnesota's ritual looks much like that used in Wisconsin, or New York, or Arizona.

Churchill is no different. We open, close and do degree work using our standard state ritual. However, in addition to this, Churchill Lodge is set up to practice and share the "Emulation Work," a version of the Masonic ritual practiced in about 60% of the lodges in England, along with most of Canada, also Australia and New Zealand, and in the other English Constitution lodges around the world. Emulation is also the basis for the ritual in many other languages, among these, Spanish, and therefore it is no overstatement to say that it is the most popular ritual in the world. --We practice Emulation and will show it as part of an exemplification program. With the help of friends from England and Canada we've pretty well learned the First Degree, and are beginning work on the Second.

Learning and performing this British-style ritual is an opportunity to learn about our roots, and better see the meaning of our own ritual by comparison. It is different from ours, and wonderful to watch.

As indicated earlier, when we raise candidates, we will do so with the Minnesota Work, unless or until down the road a future Grand Master grants a dispensation to do otherwise.

There is much precedent for this: Other US states allow several ritual variations, including the option for a Spanish ritual, or for use of Emulation or some other more exotic text. Our neighbors in Wisconsin permit Ben Franklin #83 to use the Emulation Work to raise candidates. Wisconsin also has a German-speaking lodge. DC has several Emulation lodges and multiple languages permitted, as do other states. New York and Louisiana allow multiple rituals. So do many Canadian grand lodges, just across our border. Pennsylvania's ritual is markedly different, adhering to an older style than that used by most other US jurisdictions. In England herself, lodges operating under the United Grand Lodge of England choose from among over seventy different rituals, some of which are maintained by semi-autonomous schools of instruction, and some of which are maintained only by their proponents or users. For example, we are told the ritual used and maintained by lodges in and around the English city of Bristol, “Bristol Working,” is profoundly beautiful. Ireland and Scotland too enjoy several ritual variations. The fact is, throughout the world, English Constitution lodges work side by side under the Emulation or other ritual, while local jurisdictional lodges work their own forms, possibly in English, or in the vernacular of the land.

In the United States, in order to slow the process of unintended ritual change or variance, many jurisdictions have opted to publish the ritual in 'cypher' form that ensures consistency and serves as a memory tool. The cypher may reduce words to a single letter, or two letters. A handful of states continue the mouth-to-ear tradition, keeping only a single hand-inscribed copy safe in the Grand Lodge archives, to settle arguments.

Most of us here are Past Masters from active lodges. We are proud to know our own Minnesota work. Learning the Emulation ritual just helps us reflect on the deeper meaning that connects all these rituals with the larger message of Masonry. Here's how to join us.

If Emulation degree work interests you, the brethren of Churchill Lodge regularly show our skill at it. We are available to perform the Work at your lodge for an educational program to coincide with our quarterly meetings.  All Master Masons in good standing are welcome to join us at any of our events.  Click HERE for further information.

Churchill Lodge's Foreign Connections...

Through the Grand Lodge of Minnesota, Churchill Lodge is in amity with the United Grand Lodge of England, and all recognized grand lodges in the world. Yet we have special, and personal friendships that have been improved by regular visitation, by correspondence, and by mutual aid.

1. Led by PGM Rice, many of us have a relationship with brothers from The Martello Lodge #7121, Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, UK, of the United Grand Lodge of England.

2. PGM Jackson serves as an Honorary Past Grand Master of The Grand Lodge of Cyprus, and supported their efforts to gain Masonic recognition worldwide.

3. We recently lost a founding member, WB Frank Harris, who enjoyed membership in Internet Lodge #9659 under the jurisdiction of the United Grand Lodge of England. We met members of this lodge in the summer of 2011 for fellowship and a shared meeting here in Minneapolis. He was also our former Grand Rep to Malta.

4. We've a relationship with WB Alan Tibbetts of Granite Lodge #446 in Ft. Francis, of the Grand Lodge of Canada in Ontario.

5. We've a relationship with Ben Franklin Lodge #83 of Madison, Wisconsin, of the Grand Lodge of Wisconsin.

6. Many of us enjoy connections through our relationship with Cincinnatus Lodge #76 in Washington, DC, of the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia.

7. Led by PGM Jackson, brothers Berger, Gann, Genz, Blakesley, Kraska and Jackson built a relationship with the Grand Lodge of Cuba when in Jackson's term as Grand Master they delivered a half ton of medical supplies, childrens toys, electronics and other goods to many of the lodges on that island. Not linked here for security reasons.

8. WB Bob S. Davis led a contingent of Churchill brethren to the Dominican Republic during 2013, to forge a relationship with English-speaking Mount Moriah Lodge #52.

9. We've a relationship with Thunder Bay Lodge #618, of the Grand Lodge of Canada in Ontario.

10. PGM Jackson served as Chairman of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota's External Relations Committee in 2011-12, a role which some jurisdictions know as Chancellor. In this capacity he aided the Grand Lodge in determination of potential treaties of amity between jurisdictions.

10. A number of Churchill members have previously served, or have been designated by the Grand Lodge of Minnesota as Grand Reps (~ambassadors) to foreign jurisdictions, many of which are out of the United States. (Masonically, a "foreign" jurisdiction is any outside our borders or outside one of the 160 constituant lodges of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota. Thus even our state's Prince Hall jurisdiction is 'foreign'.) Here is the list of our reps:

             Grand Reps who are Members of Churchill Lodge #351

Africa / Burkina Faso - WB David Johnson
Cuba - WB Jason Berger
District of Columbia - MWB Tom Hendrickson
England - MWB Andrew Rice
Puerto Rico - Bro. Robert S. Davis
San Marino - Bro. Shane Wendt

Previously, many Churchill men have served as Grand Reps, and we thank them for their service. Such appointments change with the requirements of each Grand Master, and our lodge is proud that so many of us are willing and able to serve in these valuable roles. Previous Grand Rep appointments, no longer serving, include:

Alaska - Bro. Gary Twigg
Andorra - WB Bradley Skeel
Arkansas - RWB John Gann
Bolivia - Bro. Steve Genz
Columbia / Bogota - RWB John Gann
Columbia / Cartagena - WB Ted Martz
Cyprus - MWB Thomas C. Jackson
Germany - MWB Neil Neddermeyer
India - WB Daniel F. Akins
Israel - WB Peter Nickitas
Kentucky - Bro. James Martin
Malta - WB Frank Harris (now deceased)
New York - Bro. Paul Kraska (now deceased)
South Carolina - Bro. Chris Taylor

Each of these brethren serve or have served the Grand Lodge of Minnesota as the Grand Rep, or ambassador, assisting travelers who are Masons and who are traveling to or from their assigned nation or state. These men provide guidence and the sometimes vital link of aid for such travellers. Minnesota Masons may contact these men through our lodge secretary, and external Masons may contact them via your Grand Secretary who will contact ours, Rt. Wor. Doug Campbell, in the US at 952-948-6700 or via e-mail at "grandlodge (at) qwest.net". Bro. Campbell will also assist Minnesota Masons to identify Grand Reps serving other jurisdictions not listed.

Note: Unless or until an introduction is made, long-standing Masonic protocol indicates that Masons ought to establish foreign lodge relationships via their own Grand Secretary rather than directly contacting the foreign lodge. An exception is made when you are actually sojourning within the boundaries of another state or nation, and may in an emergency contact the Grand Secretary there, who will extend to you every Masonic courtesy while confirming your affiliation with your home jurisdiction. Some other exceptions are made that allow you to easily join a foreign research lodge, or when encountering Masons during the course of commerce or social events. Once an introduction is made, of course, the relationship is yours to develop and cherish as you wish.

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