Iowa Freemasonry is a personal journal of a Freemason in central Iowa. This blog documents my Masonic research interests, experiences, and reflections. Welcome!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Operative Lodge Christmas Party 2012

Operative Lodge #308 in Polk City, Iowa hosted its annual Christmas Party on Monday, Dec. 10. Worshipful master for the 2012 year Darrell Fremont welcomed over 75 Freemasons and their families to the event. The dinner included turkey, ham, potatoes, gravy, stuffing, and much more; the deserts alone required an extra table! Special thanks go to the Eastern Star chapter at Polk City for their beautiful decorations.

Santa and his "elf" also made an appearance, much to the delight of the children, and Masons, in attendance! A few pictures are posted below.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Polk City Square Lighting 2012

The city of Polk City held its annual Square Lighting on Monday, Dec. 3. The town square is decorated with a wide assortment of lights, holiday characters, and decorations and on Dec. 3rd the lights were all turned on.

Operative Lodge #308 in Polk City hosted an open house along with businesses on the square. We served 1 gallon of punch and 3 1/2 hot pots of hot chocolate to about 30 folks who stopped by, including the winner of the 2012 Operative Lodge North Polk High School scholarship. He said school at ISU was going well and he expressed thanks for the scholarship; he has already spent the money on expenses and that it went fast! He is majoring in Ag Business with a minor in law enforcement.

Pasted below are a few pictures of the square lighting from the Des Moines Register.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Polk City Square Christmas Lights!

Join Operative Lodge #308, Polk City businesses, and the public for the annual Holiday Square Lighting in Polk City Tuesday, December 4. North Polk Elementary band students will perform at 5:30 PM at Miller Hall in the the Big Creek Historical Society museum (next door to the Lodge). The lights on the Square will be turned on at 6 PM and local businesses will host an open house. Santa will make an appearance at City Hall!

Operative Lodge will have its doors open and be serving punch and cookies. Please stop by the Lodge and say hello! Special thanks go to the Polk City Eastern Star for decorating the Lodge!

More information can be found on the Polk City website by clicking here.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Lefsa stick or Knight Templar sword?

Never had lefsa before? Be sure to attend the Operative Lodge #308 Christmas party- details TBA.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

York Rite Fall Festival

The Des Moines York Rite bodies hosted the 2012 Fall Festival this past weekend. Over sixteen candidates were knighted including candidates from Ottumwa, South Dakota, and Albia. The Most Illustrious Grand Master of the Grand Council of South Dakota Roger Kehm was among the many guests at the festival.

Pictures of the set-up, festival, and banquet are below:

Saturday, November 17, 2012

York Rite 2012 Fall Festival

The 2012 Fall York Rite Festival begins this morning with the Mark Master Degree and continues through the Order of the Temple this afternoon. Times and location are below:

Chapter Degrees
7:45 AM  Mark Master
8:30 AM Past Master
9:15 AM Most Excellent Master
10:15 AM Royal Arch Mason

LUNCH 12:00

Council Degrees
12:45 PM Royal Master
1:30 PM Select Master

Commandery Orders
2:15 PM Order of the Red Cross (Short Form), Order of Malta (Short Form)
3:00 PM Order of the Temple

519 Park Street
Des Moines, Iowa

Monday, November 12, 2012


November is election time for more than just political offices such as the president and congress; Masonic Lodges also elect their officers during this month. Officers in a Masonic Lodge are of two general types: elected and appointed. Elected officers include the Worshipful Master, senior warden, and junior warden (secretary and treasurer are also elected). The Worshipful Master is the leader of the Lodge and he appoints two stewards, junior steward and senior steward, as well as two deacons, junior deacon and senior deacon.  Typically, a Freemason progresses through the “line” of officers starting with junior steward and continuing through the deacon positions then the wardens and ending as the Master of the Lodge; each officer’s term lasts one year. For example, if a man starts as junior steward and is reappointed by succeeding Masters and then elected to the positions of the wardens, he will reach the position of Master of the Lodge in seven years.

Elections in Masonic Lodges are quite different than elections for political office. Carl Claudy writes about this in A Master’s Wages. His writing illustrates one of the biggest differences between elections for political office and our elections: the lack of electioneering. Masonic elections are intentionally structured in such a way that electioneering, politics, and lobbying are not just discouraged but inherently ineffective. Claudy writes: “…many lodges do not hold elections for the lower positions, but leave these to be filled by appointment. If succeeding Masters reappoint those already appointed, when they have faithfully served, they eventually get, in line, to whether they must be elected or dropped. Which depends entirely on the man.” I teach American Government to high school students and I can assure you that American elections are not similarly structured!

Operative Lodge #308 held its elections at the November Stated Meeting this evening and the following officers were elected:
Worshipful Master: John Whitaker
Senior Warden: Keith Gordon
Junior Warden: Scott Nemmers
Secretary: Jim Trotter
Treasurer: Bob Koss

Congratulations to WM John Whitaker, the Wardens, and the Secretary and Treasurer!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Operative Lodge and Star Lodge: common work for an uncommon purpose

Star Lodge #115 in Madrid raised a brother to the sublime degree of a Master Mason yesterday evening. This small town Lodge has been quite active the past several years with new brothers joining and more experienced brothers passing the test for their Masonic Instructor’s Certificate. (Past Master Brian Ahrens is the most recent member of Star Lodge to have received this honor). Last night’s Third Degree was well attended with visitors from five Lodges in attendance including Operative #308 in Polk City and Mt. Olive #79 in Boone. 

Operative Lodge #308 and Star Lodge #115 have an especially close relationship. Operative Lodge was formed by several brothers from Star Lodge #115. In 1857, Star Lodge held its first meeting in what was then known as the town of Swedes Point, now Madrid. In 1871, brothers from Madrid, with the permission and encouragement of Star Lodge, applied to the Grand Lodge of Iowa for a charter to begin a Lodge in Polk City. Today, several brothers of Operative Lodge are also members of Star Lodge, including Operative’s Worshipful Master and Senior Deacon.

Freemasonry is a brotherhood which draws us closer together and builds community. We each experience this in different ways, even when we are engaged in a common goal. The Third Degree is one way to extend the meaning of this brotherhood simply by participating together as a community of men in a common work for an uncommon purpose. Star Lodge and Operative Lodge share these strong bonds of community, work, and purpose and it was an honor to be a part of this 140 year relationship yesterday evening.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Grand Master's Area Meeting- Home Lodge #370 Nov. 6th

I attended the Grand Masters Area Meeting (GMAM) at Home Lodge #370 in Pleasant Hill, Iowa last night. The GMAMs are held by the Grand Master to communicate with local lodges as well as give Freemasons from around Iowa the opportunity to learn more about the Grand Master’s program. This year, Most Worshipful Bryce Hildreth has established “The Ties That Bind” as his theme.

The GMAM at Home Lodge was well attended and the program lasted approximately 90 minutes. Lodge Service Committee member Greg Spooner opened the evening and welcomed all to Home Lodge. Kurt Hoffman told the audience about the Grand Lodge’s new program to reach out to those interested in learning more about Freemasonry through a website: Iowa Freemasonry. The site is aimed at those who are not Freemasons and features video as well as crisp, clean graphics related to the Craft. If you haven’t yet seen the page, check it out here. Grand Lodge encourages local lodges to use the site as an introduction for any local men who may be interested in learning more about Freemasonry.

The Grand Master then made a brief presentation on his program and answered questions from the audience in an informal atmosphere. He emphasized that Grand Lodge is here to serve the local lodges; without strong local lodges, Grand Lodge will not be strong. Specific issues discussed included past proposals to end the remission of dues for 50-year Masons, the importance of ritual as a way of teaching good men how to become better men, and one-day classes.

The evening concluded with refreshments served by Home Lodge members. I took several (bad and blurry) pictures below.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Fall Reunion and Double Eagle Gala

Pictures from the Des Moines Scottish Rite's Fall 2012 Reunion and Double Eagle Gala:

Friday, November 2, 2012

Des Moines Scottish Rite Fall Reunion Schedule: Weekend Two



6:00 PM 20th DegreeMaster of the Symbolic Lodge
7:10 PM 21st DegreeNoachite or Prussian Knight
8:20 PM22nd Degree Knight of the Royal Axe
8:00 AM23rd Degree Chief of the Tabernacle
8:40 AM24th Degree Prince of the Tabernacle
9:25 AM26th Degree Prince of Mercy
10:20 AM 27th DegreeKnight of the Sun
11:25 AM 28th DegreeKnight Commander of Temple
12:10 PM LUNCH

1:05 PM 29th DegreeScottish Knight of St. Andrew
1:50 PM30th Degree Knight Kadosh
3:05 PM 31st DegreeInspector Inquisitor
4:15 PM32nd Degree Master of the Royal Secret(1st Section)
5:10 PM 32nd DegreeMaster of the Royal Secret (2nd Section)

Saturday, October 27, 2012


Members of Operative Lodge #308 in Polk City made almost 300 pizza's for the fall pizza fundraiser. Over a dozen brothers helped make the pizzas Saturday morning and even a couple of ladies helped out, too!

The Lodge uses the proceeds from the sale to fund their scholarship program. In addition, North Polk elementary music students earned money for each pizza they sold.

Enjoy the slide show of pictures below from this fall's sale.

Pizza prep Friday Night

Isn't he a little young to be a Mason? Yes, but not to eat pizza! Check out Operative Lodge #308 Polk City, IA on Facebook for more pics of this fall's pizza making.

Friday, October 26, 2012


Operative Lodge #308 holds its semi-annual Pizza Sale this weekend. Proceeds from the sale go to help fund the Lodge scholarship program. Each year, the Polk City Lodge awards a scholarship to a graduating senior of the North Polk School District.

Look for more pics of this fall's pizza making fun later this weekend!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Scottish Rite Reunion is underway!

The first weekend of the 2012 Lyle C. Smith, 33° Fall Memorial Reunion is underway! The new class was welcomed Friday night with a pork chop dinner followed by the opening ceremonies complete with bagpipes. Four degrees were performed Friday evening and over the course of this two weekend Reunion,  the class will see twenty seven of the twenty nine Scottish Rite degrees.

I was able to see many old friends and make some new ones. I assisted the president of my class from two years ago, Danny Beyer, with the opening ceremony as a member of the Des Moines chapter of the  Knights of Saint Andrew. One of the reasons we have reunions is to reconnect with those Brothers we may not see often as a part of our other Masonic activities. I enjoyed visiting with Danny and hope to catch up with other members of my class tomorrow.

The reunion continues with the eighth through eighteenth degrees on Saturday. Following the degree work, please join the class for a social in the fourth floor Billiards room.

Saturday Schedule
8:00 - 8th Degree
9:00 - 9th/10th Degree
9:50 - 11th Degree
10:40 - 12th Degree
11:25 - 13th Degree
11:50 LUNCH
12:45 - 14th Degree
1:45 - 15th Degree
2:45 - 16th Degree
3:40 - 17th Degree
5:00 - 18th Degree
6:10 Social Hour

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

New Entered Apprentices at Operative Lodge

Welcome to Operative Lodge's two newest Entered Apprentices: Jason Salts and George Storm! Jason and George were initiated as Entered Apprentices on October 15, 2012 and for at least the evening, were the newest Freemasons in the state of Iowa.

Right Worshipful Wade Sheeler and Worshipful Lane Shaver gave the second lecture in question and answer form followed by Most Worshipful D. Dean Johnson who gave a slide lecture. Pictured with Jason and George are Worshipful Master Darrell Fremont and Past Master Lee Preuniger

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Thank a firefighter this coming week!

The Polk City Fire Department hosted a pancake breakfast on Saturday, October 6 to mark the beginning of fire prevention week. My son and I enjoyed pancakes, sausage, and even a ride in a fire truck! Today's PCFD trucks are much different than the truck purchased by the department pictured below. Operative Lodge #308 is in the background and Past Master Harvey Moeckly is also pictured.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Grand Lodge of Iowa Elected Officers 2012-2013

 Elected as the 2012-13 Grand Lodge Officers:
Grand Master Bryce B. Hildreth
Senior Grand Warden William R. Yungclas
Junior Grand Warden Realff H. Ottesen
Grand Treasurer Robert E. Breckenridge II
Grand Secretary William R. Crawford

Monday, September 24, 2012

Grand Lodge of Iowa Masonic Travels Blog

Jeffrey Heimensen, Senior Grand Steward of the Grand Lodge of Iowa A.F. & A. M., has started a blog about his experiences as a Grand Lodge officer. You can find his blog here.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Model Airplane update

Here are 2 pics updating the SIG Senior model RC 
plane I'm building. The tail and wing structure
are not permanently attached- I need to
do some alignment first. Also, a cardboard 
windshield pattern is taped in place to allow
for measurement.

Summer update

It's been a busy Masonic summer, although my blog may not reflect it. My Blue
Lodge, Operative #308, has raised three Master Masons, we've had a one day reunion in our Scottish Rite Valley, and I was fortunate to attend our Grand Commandery for the first time. I'm also proudly displaying my Master Craftsman Two certificate after receiving it at our Valley's worker's dinner.

School has started again and my high school students are busy with assignments so I am busy with checking tests, homework, etc. Our school district is splitting into two high schools next fall and there is a significant increase in administrative meetings to deal with this: no fun for any teacher!

School has a new feel this year, too, since our four year-old started preschool. He attends the local Elementary school every other day for a full day. His teacher is state licensed and has an early childhood Ed degree: it's the real deal!

And the model airplane is is still under construction. I have made major progress adding internal equipment to run the control surfaces (servos, servo rails, cables, etc), and the fuselage and wings have been thoroughly sanded with 60 grit; fine sanding is next up.

Thanks for checking in!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Model airplane interlude: building the SIG Senior kit.

I've been working on building the SIG Kadet Senior radio-controlled model airplane this summer. The plane has a 6 1/2 foot wing span and is made mostly of  balsa wood. Pictures of some of the building are below.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

New Master Mason at Operative Lodge #308 in Polk City

Welcome Joe Heaberlin, new Master Mason at Operative Lodge #308 in Polk City, Iowa. Joe was raised last night, July 2. What made the night extra meaningful was that Joe's grandfather was a Past Master of Operative Lodge some time ago.

Special thanks are due Brothers Jason Fenton of Chariton Lodge and Don Sardeson of King David Lodge in Altoona for their help in raising Joe.

Operative Lodge has two additional Third Degrees scheduled for this month: July 16th and 30th.

In addition, the Polk City Four Seasons Festival is July 20 - 21; look for the Operative Lodge float in the parade on July 21. Come out to Polk City and enjoy the fun! The Four Seasons Festival webpage has more details on activities.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Iowa Masonic Leadership Symposium

Here are a few highlights of the Iowa Leadership Symposium held today at the Des Moines Scottish Rite. For additional information, see my blog entry on the Des Moines Consistory website.

Robert G. Davis
-Gone are the days when only two generations of men run Lodge.
-The true purpose of Freemasonry- awakening consciousness in men. No other organization in the world exists to do this work. We exist to communicate moral integrity and social honor to a younger generation of men.
-Our goal is to make good men better (NOT to discuss how to make old, leaking Lodge roofs better)

Chris Hodapp
-The Lost Symbol (Dan Brown) is a 509 page love letter to the fraternity and we better be ready for a masonic boom of potential members when the movie comes out.
-I was jabbed with an officer’s pike soon after I was raised in 1999: 2 years later I was Master of the Lodge.
-New members won’t tolerate arguing about whether or not to fix the roof or raise dues by $2 a year.
-Freemasonry isn’t just about ritual because face it: who would join a memorization club?

S. Brent Morris
-Freemasons in their thirties and forties started most of the invitational groups that today have high status.
-90% of Lodges in the state of New York were lost as a result of the Morgan affair.
- what’s the next evolution of Freemasonry? It might be up to those younger than us.

Thomas Wilkerson
-I graduated from Top Gun when Tom Cruise was in the 3rd grade.
-Nine of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence died from combat wounds; 5 were POWs.
-all of the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during WW2 were Freemasons

Pictures can be viewed at Bailey's Buddy

Friday, June 29, 2012

Symbolism of the Ashlars: Borglum's View

My first attempt at Masonic research was an analysis of the Rough and Perfect Ashlars, two common symbols found in many Iowa Masonic Lodges. My purpose in writing the paper was to describe different interpretations of these Masonic symbols in part to encourage a broader interpretation. In my research, I found references to the three branches of the federal government, social capital, and even comasonry. Rather than focus on a persuasive thesis as to which interpretation is best, I hoped to merely describe unique ways to view these symbols. As a new Freemason, I can't say that I succeeded in that attempt, but I did add to my own understanding.

 Many of the ten interpretations I wrote about have been published here on my blog, but I left out the one posted below: Brother Gutzon Borglum's interpretation. My travels this month to Utah inspired me to dig out some of my old photos from previous trips and I discovered several from a visit to Mount Rushmore years ago, and so I was reminded of this great man and what he had to say about the symbolism of the Ashlars:

Over three million people visited Mount Rushmore in 2009, a number greater than the total population of the state of Iowa. (National Park Service) This popular, iconic American landmark is itself memorialized on everything from T-shirts to shot glasses. Gutzon Borglum began work on the massive presidential memorial in 1927. His son, Lincoln Borglum, assumed primary responsibility for the project after his father died in 1941. As many members of the Craft know, both father and son were Freemasons. Gutzon Borglum was Worshipful Master of Howard Lodge No. 35 in New York City. Lincoln Borglum, named after his father’s favorite President Abraham Lincoln, was a member of Battle River Lodge No. 92 of Hermosa, South Dakota.  (Leazer, n.p.)

The Borglum view of the symbolism of the rough and perfect ashlar stems from the artist’s insight into his art. Masonic author Carl Claudy writes about this in Introduction to Freemasonry:

"The famous sculptor and ardent Freemason, Gutzon Borglum, asked how he carved stone into beautiful statues, once said, "It is very simple. I merely knock away with hammer and chisel the stone I do not need and the statue is there - it was there all the time."  In the Great Light we read: "The kingdom of heaven is within you." We are also there taught that man is made in the image of God. As Brother Borglum has so beautifully said, images are made by a process of taking away. The perfection is already within. All that is required is to remove the roughness, the excrescences, "divesting our hearts and consciences of all the vices and superfluities of life" to show forth the perfect man and Mason within."  (Pietre-Stones: Review of Freemasonry)

This view of the rough and perfect ashlars compliments other interpretations. Borglum’s analysis of the human condition highlights our capacity for communion with God, and indeed, focuses on the purpose of our life here: to draw closer to Him. Through the practice and principles of Freemasonry, we build on that qualitative human characteristic and apply the work to ourselves for the improvement of all.

New Blog: IowaMason

IowaMason is a new Masonic blog by Matthew Risberg. Brother Matt is a member of Acanthus Lodge #632 in Beaverdale. 

Check out his blog at this link.