Time flies when you're busy, having fun, deliberating over what educational pieces to include in your next Stated Meeting. I have spent the past 5 years going from Entered Apprentice all the way up to Master of the Lodge and becoming a 32nd Degree Scottish Rite Brother on top of all of those pursuits. I am in my early 30's so this was a relatively easy task to accomplish while my mind is still sharp and full of vigor. I must say that lessons were learned and a true accomplished feeling has set in as I presided over my final Stated Meeting this past November and as I watch my successor begin to lay out the foundation of his year in the East. Some of the biggest takeaway advice that I can glean from being the Worshipful Master of a Lodge of Freemasons, is that you can't herd cats successfully. Every decision you make and feel that might be good for the Craft, is not always met with warm welcome by the Brethren. I managed to successfully schedule Special Meetings called "Moon Lodges" which fulfilled my desire to honor to ancient Masonic ways of holding special counsel under a moon lit night. Those nights ended up becoming Degree nights for us as we passed several Masons through the 3 Degrees on those Moon Lodge nights. My two principal officers kept up the pace with me when i wanted to travel to other Lodges to spread the cement of brotherly love and we managed to steal the "Galloping Gavel" from Garfield Lodge over in La Conner, WA. The time honored tradition of passing that Gavel off to the most deserving Lodge (usually one principal officer or a contingency of Masons who are well represented as guests of the current Gavel holding Master). That was a lot of fun and brought some good bonding for the Officers of San Juan Lodge of the year 2017.
Throughout the year, I was able to impart several Masonic Educational pieces for our Stated Meetings, at one point even calling the Lodge from L to R and having the brothers meet me in the Dining Hall to present them with a slideshow of my own personal research into the symbolism of Freemasonry. While going through my Officer positions and places, I was able to help rally 13 of my brothers to become Scottish Rite Masons, with the help of the Valley of Bellingham brethren and all of us that became Scottish Rite Brothers now have our 32nd Degree caps and are deeply honored to be part of the "college" of Freemasonry. I had to reprimand a Brother or two on un-masonic conduct, but nothing that warranted any true punishments, as it is our duty to remind a brother in the most friendly manner of his faults and endeavor to give that brother a chance to make amends. I even had a Past Master walk out on my Lodge on two occasions, mostly in disagreement with the way that certain topics of discussion were handled. What I learned from both of those times is that you can not make all the people happy all of the time or please every Past Master all of the time. Mostly, I learned to lead by logic and compassion, with extra wiggle room for very human mistakes to be made. Accomplishments aren't always achieved for a Master in a first term, but one that I can proud of is the nomination and award of the Hiram Award to one WB John Kurtz, for outstanding performance as a pillar of our Lodge and as a wonderful Freemason in both effort and knowledge. This award along with a few others and a 50 year pin or two, and I had a pleasant experience rounding out the year as Master.
All in all, as Master of a Lodge of Freemasons. I feel that I now know myself better, I am a more confident public speaker, I feel that I helped the community in a few beneficial ways through monetary and emotional support. We marched for the first time in 10 to 15 years in the San Juan Island Independence Day Parade and fully represented the Masonic Brothers of San Juan Island as a result. I loved being the Master of a group of amazing individuals that continuously bring San Juan Masonic Lodge into the forefront of outstanding Lodges on the roster of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of F & AM of Washington State. Thank you all for a great year and I hope to continue to be of service to the Lodge and the Grand Lodge going forward into my years on this planet Earth.
WB Ian t. Welch .:. 32nd°
Past Master -San Juan Lodge # 175 (2017)