REPORT OF THE TRIAL COMMISSIONER
It has been an interesting year. Unfortunately, two Brothers have been expelled from our Craft: Jesse B, Glen Avon #306, for misappropriation of Lodge funds; and Jerry W, Helios #207, felony conviction of Murder in the First Degree.
Two other matters came before the Trial Commission that are worth noting. Because of the nature and results of these matters, I am withholding both Lodge information and names of those involved: A metro area Lodge was reported to be having some internal dissension among the officer corps that threatened the peace and harmony of the lodge. The Grand Master suggested that mediation may be helpful. Arrangements were made and both the Lodge’s DR (thank you. You know who you are.) and I attended. After a full airing of grievances and misunderstandings, an agreement was formed to move forward. The Lodge completed a successful and cooperative year. My thanks to the brothers who participated. My particular thanks to Grand Master Krall for his innovative handling of the matter. Mediation has become a mainstay in our Civil Court system. This approach is one the Grand Lodge may consider expanding. While time and manpower intensive, appropriately used, this may be a solution to some matters before they erupt into disruption or Masonic charges.
In the second matter, charges were filed by a Lodge. A request was made for more information before the charges were formalized. The Lodge junior warden (again, no names) was very effective in completing a very thorough investigation, in concert with suggestions from both the Trial Commissioner and the Grand Master. Thanks to those efforts, the Grand Master permitted charges to be withdrawn and the matter was concluded without disruption of the Lodge and in a manner satisfactory to all involved.
These matters demonstrate that cooperative efforts and consultation are an important component of the process. Feel free to call your district representative and your trial commissioner when questions arise.
As my occupancy of this chair draws to a close, I’d be remiss in not thanking Grand Masters Brian Beermann, David Olson, James Christensen, John Gann, Robert Darling, John Studell, Steven D. Johnson (for far too short a time), Ethan Seaberg (twice), Rolf Widstrand, and Tony Krall for allowing me to be of service. I have learned important lessons from each of them and am privileged to call them “Brothers”.
My admiration and respect for this group is boundless. The time and effort each has volunteered for Masonry is so much more than we imagine. I’ve also been privileged to work with Grand Secretaries Douglas Campbell, Keith Reierson and Assistant Secretary, Peter Van Osdol. Exemplary Brothers, all! Thank you all. I will always treasure your friendship and the memories of my tenure in this office.
As you know, the Masonic Code is designed to protect Masonry. We have adopted this Code to govern our actions, and to protect the reputation of Freemasonry and its members. Our teachings also require that we treat Brothers fairly, to provide good counsel, to assist a brother when he needs assistance, and whenever possible, to aid in his reformation.
From the vantage point of my soon-to-be- vacated position, I’d like to make a few suggestions and observations. First, take seriously the admonition, “Guard well the West Gate.” While we all would like to increase our membership and bring good men into our Craft, the initial investigation is a critical component. It is not the purview of the Trial Commission to repair lapses in this area. Respect and protect your Lodge and the public opinion of Masonry by taking this duty seriously.
Secondly, to avoid problems and conflicts is often deceptively simple. As Master Masons, you have been presented all of the working tools of our profession and taught their uses. Use them. Think about them.
Most importantly, as my friend and Brother WB Don Nolley has often reminded me, “The Trowel is an instrument…”. A frequent, conscious, and generous use of this instrument, in particular, is highly recommended!
Finally, I want to thank you all, Brothers, for your friendship, your activities in Masonry, in your communities, in your families and in our society. Freemasonry is, always has been and always will be what we make it. The responsibility is ours. In Minnesota, it is in good hands and good hearts. May God continue to bless our endeavors.
Monte M. Miller
Chief Trial Commissioner