2022-23 Annual Report
The primary focus of the Executive Committee during this past year has been on Member Engagement. This, of course, is not a new phenomenon, as this has been the foremost concern of our Valley, as well as just about every Masonic body for many years. Our goal has been to provide the most diverse and inclusive array of activities that we possibly could, to suit the needs of our members and families. It was in this spirit that our reunion themes were chosen. In the Fall, our theme was Masonry on the Western Front, allowing our imaginations to take us to old saloons, poker games, and the Oregon Trail. This event was highlighted by a masterful presentation from our keynote speaker, Kyle Gafstrom, historian and author of the book, ‘Freemasonry in the Wild West’. Both our Explore the Rite Night and our reunion kickoff parties provided the membership the opportunity to get in full character with live music and dancing, vintage whiskey, and a costume contest. The fall reunion yielded us 37 new members and a memorable experience for many of our current members as well. Our Spring theme took us to the exploration of Masonic Treasures. This brought the membership another opportunity to delve into their imaginations to engage in the mysticism of treasure hunting. This event was highlighted by a compelling address from our keynote speaker, Mr. Timothy Draper, Treasure Hunter and author of the book ‘Unchartered Expedition’, which led to a healthy and lengthy discussion with the members present. The Spring Reunion resulted in 34 new members joining the Valley.
Masonic education is another avenue for member engagement. With this in mind, we held a stated meeting and invited a speaker to present a topic. The floor was then opened to the members present. This led to meaningful discussion amongst the members in an intimate setting. Robert Burns Night was another educational opportunity to learn some historical facts about Scottish heritage and gain some back story on the Scottish Rite. The Double Eagle Con was our signature educational event. This symposium presented 5 prolific Masonic speakers who gave discourses on varying Masonic topics, from Masonic ritual, to symbolism, to poetry. This event was very well received and well attended.
Our biggest conduit for outreach to the Blue Lodges in the area is through our Ancient Craft Degree Team. Performing the Master Mason Degree for the area Lodges in a most impressive and impactful way, inviting these Lodges into our facility, and reinforcing the connection between Blue Lodge and Scottish Rite Masonry is a sure-fire way to garner interest in our Rite. Another great source of outreach is the awarding of the Chicago Cup to the Lodge that brings in the most members at each reunion. Explore the Rite Night and other family events also provide outreach to not only Masons, but to non-Masons, friends and family members who may gain or already have interest in Freemasonry and our Rite.
Charities and Youth Group Support
This committee continues to support our charities by donating funds and participating in their programs. A certain Thrice Potent Master participated in the Dyslexia Center 5K Walk-A-Thon this year. Our Most Wise Master is also our Almoner. We awarded many scholarships to well deserving students and future leaders at our Scholarship Night. Our Masonic youth groups are an extremely important investment into the future of our order. We have provided support to our local DeMolay Chapter, as well as the International Order of the Rainbow for Girls, by attending their Northern Rite Pilgrimage.
Valley Award and MSA Recipients
Our 2022 Valley Award recipient was Dave Koss. Dave has worked tirelessly for the upkeep of our Valley and was very deserving. At the ICOD in Springfield this past June, we witnessed Kurt Rubin and Steve Schenk receive the Meritorious Service Award for their great contributions to our Valley. This year’s recipient will be Bob “No Hair” Kogut. We offer our congratulations to him for this well-deserved award.
Reunion Class Honorees
Our Fall class honoree was Illustrious Bro. Willam E. Tienken, 330. Ill. Bro. Tienken served as Sovereign Prince of Chicago Council Princes of Jerusalem in 2009-2010 and is well known to executives and past executives of the Valley, as the main orchestrator of our move into our new facility while serving as President of the Cathedral Association.
Our Spring class honoree was Illustrious Bro. Russell L. Schlosser, 330. Ill. Bro. Schlosser served as Commander-In-Chief of Oriental Consistory in 2008-2009 and is also well known for developing his own unique style of ritual and stage presentation. His list a Masonic accolades and accomplishments is extremely large, and so is his personality.
These brethren are true examples of the finest that Masonry has to offer, and we honor them for their contributions.
Finally, our thanks to President Behm for his undying commitment to the Association. Our legal counsel, Dave Martin, the committee chairmen and the entire board for your hard work and diligence in protecting our assets and providing a worthwhile experience for the Valley membership.
Reuben M. Owens
Executive Committee Chairman