Grand Lodge of Southern New England installs new officers for 2012


Message from MWGM Gary Arseneau:

It is a new Masonic year but the journey itself is not new. My thoughts for this year center around learning and education. Our fraternity, unlike any other, provides the tools to learn to make ourselves better men. Our fraternity is filled with symbols and a great many volumes have been written about these symbols. The hidden meanings, the allegories, do they provide a means to make ourselves better, to work for the common good? We live in a society of instant gratification, moving from event to event. Is this our life’s journey?

I would submit that Masonry and its lessons through its symbolism helps us to realize that we need to continuously learn and improve ourselves. As represented by the ashlars, the rough shows us in our current state, struggling to smooth that rough exterior. By doing so we are improving ourselves to become better men. Men representing that which the public will look at and aspire themselves to the same lofty goals.

This is our journey through life, and for each of us it is a personal journey. I have designed my pin to incorporate the idea of using the tools we are presented with to make ourselves better. The center piece is a man using those tools to break out of the rough stone and make himself whole and smooth. The pillars represent that we, as a fraternity, are established in strength. The three is for the 3rd degree, and the most important title we ever receive, “Brother.”

With this in mind I would like to continue to provide the resources and programs to assist each of us, especially our officers, so that we learn to be resources for our new brothers.

We are implementing programs to assist our brothers. The Perfect Ashlar program, the Traveling Man program (Masonic passport), and the Hiram the Builder program are just a few. We will also be stepping up our Zombie Expulsion Training, and I have instructed the District Deputies to encourage our newest members to attend the seminars.

I have come to realize that we, all of us, are Masonry in Connecticut and the former Grand Lodge of Rhode Island, and that the brothers of both states, represented by their Masters and Wardens, help direct Grand Lodge of Southern New England. But this only gives them a voice at the Grand Lodge sessions. Just how can you as a brother give your individual input to the programs of Grand Lodge of Southern New England? The Deputy Grand Master and I will again be holding a series of town hall meetings to give everyone an opportunity to talk with us directly.

These meeting are a set up as a casual conversation with the Grand Master for you to express your thoughts, brother to brother, about you concerns, improvements, programs, and resources that will help your Grand Lodge plan for our future. I welcome and greatly appreciate your input.

I plan on doing my best to keep Masonry in front of me, and with your help make our fraternity the best it can be. I would like to humbly thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve the brothers of Connecticut, and, by the grace of God, and with your help, we will succeed.

State of Rhode Island to shorten official name.

AP – FILE – In this Jan. 21, 2000, file photo, the seal of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations …

FILE - In this Jan. 21, 2000, file photo, the seal of the State of Rhode Island

By RAY HENRY, Associated Press Writer Ray Henry, Associated Press Writer
Thu Jun 25, 9:53 pm ET

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The country’s smallest state has the longest official name: “State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.”

A push to drop “Providence Plantations” from that name advanced farther than ever on Thursday when House lawmakers voted 70-3 to let residents decide whether their home should simply be called the “State of Rhode Island.” It’s an encouraging sign for those who believe the formal name conjures up images of slavery, while opponents argue it’s an unnecessary rewriting of history that ignores Rhode Island’s tradition of religious liberty and tolerance.

The bill permitting a statewide referendum on the issue next year now heads to the state Senate.

“It’s high time for us to recognize that slavery happened on plantations in Rhode Island and decide that we don’t want that chapter of our history to be a proud part of our name,” said Rep. Joseph Almeida, an African-American lawmaker who sponsored the bill.

Rhode Island’s unwieldy name reflects its turbulent colonial history, a state that consisted of multiple and sometimes rival settlements populated by dissidents.

Banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony for his unorthodox religious views, minister Roger Williams set out in 1636 and settled at the northern tip of NarragansettBay, which he called Providence Plantations. Williams founded the first Baptist church in America and became famous for embracing the separation of church and state, a legal principle enshrined in the Bill of Rights a century later.

Other settlers made their homes in modern-day Portsmouth and Newport on Aquidneck Island, then known as the Isle of Rhodes.

In 1663, English King Charles II granted a royal charter joining all the settlements into a single colony called “The Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.” The name stuck. Rhode Island used that royal charter as its governing document until 1843.

Opponents of the name charge argue that “plantations” was used at the time to describe any farming settlements, regardless of slavery.

Rhode Island merchants did, however, make their fortunes off the slave trade. Slaves helped construct Brown University in Providence, and a prominent slave trader paid half the cost of its first library.

Still, Stanley Lemons, a professor emeritus of history at Rhode Island College, said changing the state’s name ignores the accomplishments of Williams, whose government passed laws trying to prevent the permanent servitude of whites, blacks and American Indians.

“There are different meanings for this word,” Lemons said. “To try to impose their experience on everyone else wipes out Roger Williams.”

No word as yet on how this will impact the Grand Lodge of Southern New England.

Grand Lodge merger on hold until further notice

On Thursday, April 2, 2009, the Grand Lodge of Connecticut and the Grand Lodge of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations announced that plans for the merger of those Grand Lodges were on hold until further notice.

Unforseen circumstances having to do with the tax and corporate status of the new organization on the federal and state levels have caused the respective lodges to review the strategy for such a merger. At the moment there is no news on how long this will take.

We appreciate the support from the members, the Freemasons of both of our great states, and will keep the Craft informed of any change in this status.

Connecticut and Rhode Island to merge Grand Lodges

News item: Connecticut and Rhode Island to merge Grand Lodges

Special to The Hartford Times
Dateline: Farmington, CT.

Citing a budget shortfall due to a lack of membership and the bad economy, and the resultant inability to fund various programs, the Freemasons of the Grand Lodge of Connecticut, and those of the Grand Lodge of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, jointly announced at the Grand Lodge of Connecticut’s Annual Communication their intention to merge into a single entity: The Grand Lodge of Southern New England, A.F. & A.M.

The news was first announced earlier this week at the March 30th Connecticut Grand Lodge Annual Communication in Farmington, and will be officially announced in Rhode Island very shortly. 

“It seemed a perfect opportunity,” said William Rogers, spokesperson for the former Grand Lodge of Rhode Island. “Attrition from old age, death, and retirement have reduced our numbers to a quarter of what they were back in the 1950s. Likewise, mergers and lodge closings have reduced our lodges to about two dozen. It’s becoming an administrative nightmare.”

“He’s not kidding,” said Thomas Ludlow, the Grand Master’s representative from Connecticut. “We have fewer lodges and fewer brothers, but we somehow have a growing number of officers and district officers. In business parlance, you might say that our workforce is shrinking, while middle management has become bloated. So, we’ve decided to merge our Grand Lodges and make some long-overdue staffing cuts.”

Ludlow went on to describe the cutbacks: “The first positions to be eliminated will be the District Grand Lecturers and Assistant Grand Lecturers,” he explained, “We’ve outsourced ritual instruction to college students who are making Youtube videos, which we will then embed on the Grand Lodge website. Anyone who wants instruction can just watch the videos.”

Rogers agreed. “You’ll be able to download those videos to an iPod or Zune, your iPhone, or a netbook,” he explained, “and then you can watch as much instruction as you can handle during your free moments. In traffic, in the bathroom, on plane trips – it’s perfect. There won’t be any excuse for people not to be more improved in their ritual workings.”

Other Grand Lodge dignitaries will also be downsized, said Rogers. “Do you know we’ve managed to acquire more District Deputies and Associate Grand Marshals than we have lodges? These guys are tripping over each other, and we can’t find anything more for them to do. It’s time to start consolidating our resources.”

“Same thing with all these Grand Line officers,” agreed Ludlow. “You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a couple of Grands or Past Grands. There’s way too many of them nowadays, and we figure that nine or ten guys should be able to cover the two state area more than adequately.” When questioned about how well the two states could be covered by so few Grand Officers, he responded. “Hell, lodges in those big square states out west sometimes don’t see a Grand Officer for years; our lodges have gotten spoiled around here. We simply can’t afford to have District Deputies showing up at every other meeting anymore.”

Both spokespersons noted that rumors about spinning off one of the districts into New York were merely persistent, but unfounded rumors. “Those rumors pop up every few years, usually right after we raise our Grand Lodge dues,” explained Ludlow.

Noting the progressive nature of the plan, interviewers asked about whether other states would follow suit.

“Massachusetts has taken notice, and we’ve already begun talks to include them on the merger, but they’re funny up there. News in Boston doesn’t reach the Berkshires for years, if ever,” explained Ludlow. “Besides, we don’t want to wait too long on this – our two states have been ready to merge for a couple of years now. But when Massachusetts is ready to merge, we’ll already have the infrastructures in place for them. The way we see it, it’s not a question of ‘if‘, but of ‘when‘.”

Do any other states have an interest?

“New Hampshire and Vermont are going to be discussing the topic at their next Annual Meetings,” said Rogers. “We sent some snowmobile and dogsled messengers up to Maine in December, and we’re hoping to hear back from them by spring, when they get the power lines back up.”

Both Grand Lodges will close for July and August, during which time they will be packing and moving. No word yet on the location of the new Grand Lodge building, but speculation is that it will be one of the old University of Connecticut agricultural buildings. “I can’t confirm this,” said Ludlow,” but it’s definitely one of the possibilities. Obviously we’d like someplace centrally located. Since most of the people living west of the river think that UConn is in Rhode Island anyway, it seems like a good spot.”

“Yes, it’s perfect,” quipped Rogers, “it’s equally inconvenient for everybody.”

Welcome to the Grand Lodge of Southern New England, AF & AM

On April 1st, 2009, the Grand Lodge of Connecticut, and the Grand Lodge of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations announced the upcoming merger of the two Grand Lodges. The new entity will be known as The Grand Lodge of Southern New England, A.F & A.M., reflecting the geographic and historic background of one of the oldest and most established regions in the United States.

The historic building will serve as the new home of the Grand Lodge of Southern New England

The historic building will serve as the new home of the Grand Lodge of Southern New England

The Grand Lodge of Southern New England is located on the scenic grounds of the University of Connecticut Agricultural Center, with plenty of nearby lodging for visitors during future Grand Lodge Communications.