SAVE THE DATE!
Friday, September 6 – Saturday, September 7, 2024
This Conference is open to ALL York Rite Masons. Indeed, our newer members are encouraged to come! We promise good speakers, educational opportunities, and especially the chance to meet like-minded Companions and Sir Knights from around the North East.
NORTH-EAST YORK RITE CONFERENCE 2023
The Annual Conference of the York Rite for the North-East Region was held at the Desmond Hotel in Albany, NY over the weekend of September 7 – 10, and included some 120 Companions and 28 ladies. On the Friday a joint Chapter-Council meeting was held, and on the Saturday a Commandery session was held alongside the Educational Courses offered by Grand Encampment.
The hotel was comfortable and the meals excellent – especially the famous Bread and Butter Pudding at the buffet dinner on Friday evening! There was also a hospitality suite and Commandery items and polo shirts sold by Milford Commandery.
The Conference has developed over a number of years. Initially it was divided into two half days, one being devoted to Chapter and the other to Cryptic Since this meant both halves were nearly identical, Companions tended to stay for half a day then leave, which defeated the whole object of bringing people together from a number of States to mingle and share ideas. Once a program for a unified day had been created, it was found that, since the program was identical every year, this also put off younger Companions, and the attendees tended to be a small loyal group of red and purple jackets, more often than not with white hair! It was time to make it more interesting!
The program now includes some of the most interesting speakers in our region, who talk on a wide range of topics, ranging from historical and symbolic through practical and esoteric. There are dynamic sessions seeking to use the experience and enthusiasm of the delegates to consider some of the bigger issues facing Capitular and Cryptic Masonry today, using facilitated breakout sessions and plenary sessions, and mixing the delegates up so that people find themselves working with Companions from other States and at all levels of the Craft. We still find time to talk about our Charities, and hear from our leadership, but our new format is intended to appeal to the newest Companion, and to give a refreshing and dynamic approach to what had become a dull and repetitive event.
The Friday program included four speakers on various topics, and a bookstore was also provided where Companions could procure books on a number of subjects, including the Capitular Development Course (since the Conference is all about education). Sessions introduced how to use the well-known business technique of the SWOT Analysis to challenges facing our organization, and how to brainstorm possible solutions. This wasn’t meant to solve all the problems of Freemasonry in a couple of hours, but rather to introduce business techniques which Companions could take back to their States to use on their particular problems. We heard updates on our Charities, and inspiring words from R.E. Chadwick Burks, M.E. Teko Foley and M.P. Tom Taylor, and had ample opportunity to discuss what we had heard and learned with new friend over lunch a dinner. In the meantime, our ladies enjoyed a tea party with a twist in the hospitality room, and also an outing to the local Shaker Center.
In addition to the Emerging Leadership courses provided by Grand Encampment, on Saturday the Grand Master, the Elected Grand Line, and others gave presentations on some of their charities and projects. As well as the Eye Foundation charity and membership building, they spoke about MMS and the new Commissioned Templar Chaplain’s program. MMS (Masonic Membership Solutions) is a database maintained by Grand Encampment that is updated by Grand Recorders and Recorders. It can generate reports based on almost any topic, is a very useful tool, and several Grand Chapters and Grand Councils have chosen to be included in it. The Commissioned Templar Chaplain program is interactive, with both reading and writing aspects. To make us someone who does more than simply read prayers. Several Knights of the Northeast Department have already completed this, many of whom are not Prelates!
The feedback from the event was overwhelmingly positive. A couple of Companions lamented the lack of segregated sessions and giving up a ‘formula’ in favor of more talks, and one even decried the fact that we were selling and promoting Masonic books – at a Conference! Change is hard, but if we are going to appeal to a new generation we must move with the times, and the majority of the Companions understand this.
Next year we hope to raise the bar even further and encourage yet more newer Companions to attend. We have already secured Ryan Flynn, noted Masonic artist, to give us a talk on his work and an insight into the relationship between fine art and Masonry over the ages. In the meantime, if any Companion has anything they would like to see at the event, has a paper they would like to present or an issue they would like to see debated, please feel free to contact us through this website.
Milford Commandery will have a small “travel” store onsite. If you have specific items that you are looking for, please contact Milford Commandery via their website and they can have your order ready for pick-up at the conference. A limited number of shirts will be available for sale at the conference, and order forms will also be available for “display-only” items.