En:Harmonie Lodge No. 699
Harmonie Lodge No. 699
Steter Tropfen höhlt den Stein
By the 1840s German-Americans made up one-third of Buffalo’s population and were the largest foreign-born group in the city. In 1848 dispensation was granted to form a German lodge known as Concordia Lodge No. 143, which name represents the Goddess of Concord; “Agreement by Stipulation”; and “Freedom of Peace”. Concordia Lodge’s charter was granted June 13, 1849.
In July 1854, a charter was granted to what Modestia Lodge No. 340, which name refers to one of the patron saints of Masonry, namely John the Evangelist, known as “the modest”. The founders of this Lodge added the two letters “I” and “A” to the end of the “modest”, according to the Latin, meaning “promoters of ”. Therefore “Modestia” means “promoters of Modesty”. This was the second German Lodge to be formed in Buffalo.
No doubt the flourishing condition of our two German sister Lodges in the late 1860’s prompted 17 of their members to petition the Grand Lodge of the State of New York for the formation of yet another German Lodge. Dispensation was granted November 30, 1869, and our lodge, known as Harmonie Lodge No. 699, named after the Greek Goddess of Harmony (Harmonia), came into existence. “Harmonie” is the German spelling of Harmony. The Latinized version of Her name is “Concordia,” which is also the name of the first German Lodge in Buffalo, NY. Concordia provided Harmonie with half of her founding members.
The Charter Members
, with their parent Lodge and original position in Harmonie Lodge, are here noted:
Sebastian C. Keine – Concordia Lodge No. 143 – 1st Worshipful Master
Henry F. Juengling – Modestia Lodge No. 340 – 1st Senior Warden
Henry Breitweiser – Concordia Lodge No. 143 – 1st Junior Warden
Christian Kurtzmann – Modestia Lodge No. 340 – 1st Treasurer
Frederick Traenkle – Concordia Lodge No. 143 – 1st Secretary
Frederick H.C. Mey – Modestia Lodge Ho. 340 – 1st Senior Deacon
John J. Holser – Modestia Lodge No. 340 – 1st Junior Deacon
Henry Kraft – Modestia Lodge No. 340 – 1st Master of Ceremony
Adam Cornelius – Modestia Lodge No. 340 – 1st Steward
Jacob Behm – Concordia Lodge No. 143
Joseph Timmermann – Concordia Lodge No. 143
Robert Hager – Modestia Lodge No. 340
Casper A. Kuster – Modestia Lodge No. 340
Julius F. Schwartz – Modestia Lodge No. 340
Henry D. Keller – Concordia Lodge No. 143
Henry Nauert – Concordia Lodge No. 143
Frank Schaeffer – Concordia Lodge No. 143
The first candidates initiated into Freemasonry at Harmonie Lodge on January 15, 1870 were Bernhardt F. Gentch, William Jaeger, Wemer Nachbar, and Henry D. Zittel.
The first meeting under dispensation was held over Charles’ Ladies Apparel Store at 416 Main Street, just south of Court Street, in Buffalo, New York. Later this became C. A. Weed & Co.’s place of business, and eventually Liberty National Bank, known today as the Liberty Building. This first meeting took place December 15, 1869. The Charter for Harmonie Lodge was granted June 13, 1870.
In 1888, elaborate plans were made for the financing and erection of the Masonic Temple at 43 Niagara Street, Buffalo, New York. The building contract was awarded for the sum of $130,541.00 for labor and material, except the cost of the brick, which was furnished by Brother Louis Kirkland of Concordia Lodge No. 143. Harmonie Lodge had a prominent part in financing the new Temple and owned an equal interest in the Temple property with the other owning bodies. Because of the changing community and the reconstruction of our inner city, the Masonic Temple was razed in 1971. Today, it is the site of the New York State Family Court building of Erie County. When it became necessary to vacate the Temple property, the equity of each owning body was prorated and then paid to each owning body of the Temple. After which, Harmonie Lodge rented lodge room space from Ancient Landmark Temple at 318 Pearl Street for two years, and, in 1973 took up Lodge room rental of Depew Masonic Temple. In September 1994 a move was again made, to Sweet Home Temple in Eggertsville, New York, which is the home of Harmonie Lodge No. 699 today.
Harmonie Lodge, keeping in mind all of which that name implies, was well known for its Octet singing at the beginning of the 20th century. Vocal music being quite popular, some members of Harmonie Lodge also belonged to “Buffalo Orpheus”, that famous German singing society which featured their splendid rendition of “Gott Gruese Dich”. Brother Fritz Erfling was the organist, director and choir master of Buffalo Orpheus for many years.
Throughout the centuries, Freemasons of all Lodges, as well as Harmonie Lodge, assisted at the cornerstone laying ceremonies of many public buildings in Western New York. Harmonie Lodge attended said ceremonies for the City and County Building on June 24, 1872; Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Forest Lawn on October 21, 1880; Masonic Temple, 43 Niagara Street, Buffalo on June 26, 1890; United States Government Building Post Office on June 19, 1897; 74th Regiment Building on July 14, 1898; 65th Regiment Building on May 30, 1903; Asbury Methodist Church on June 13, 1871; State Asylum (the H.H. Richardson Building) on September 18, 1872; Soldiers & Sailors Monument in Lafayette Square on July 4, 1882; as well as Elmwood Music Hall on October 3, 1888. A significant cornerstone laying of more recent date was that of the Ismailia Temple Mosque in 1965. This cornerstone was laid with the same working tools used for the laying of the cornerstone at our Nation’s Capital Building. Many of the Harmonie Lodge brethren took part in this ceremony.
On June 19, 1895, Harmonie Lodge celebrated its 25th anniversary, titled in the German language “25 Magringer Stifftungs Feier”, held at the Masonic Temple, 43 Niagara Street, Buffalo, New York. The keynote address was given by Most Worshipful Christopher G. Fox, Past Grand Master of Masons in the State of New York.
Harmonie Lodge in the 20th Century
Not until the year 1914, did Harmonie Lodge change from using German to English. This modernization opened the Lodge’s doors to many non-German speaking sons and relatives, giving them that opportunity to ask for Masonic membership petitions, and increasing our roster membership to nearly 475 Masons.
The 50-year Golden Jubilee was celebrated in 1920, beginning on Sunday, June 13th. Worshipful Master Frederick Woelfinger, officers and members, first attended Divine worship at St. Paul’s United Evangelical Church. The address and sermon were given by Reverend Christian G. Haas, who was also the Chaplain of our Lodge. Reflecting over the past years, he stated, “Good has been our past, as were the material and spiritual accomplishments. We also know we have not attained perfection in our daily life. There is always work waiting for our Brethren, for a continued desire to be faithful to mankind.” Monday, June 14th, Brothers and their wives attended dinner, entertainment, and dancing at the Ellicott Club. Many notable Masonic dignitaries of various Lodges and concordant bodies were invited. They expressed their charitable views of Harmonie Lodge’s first 50 years in the Masonic field. On Wednesday, June 16th, a regular communication for members and their Masonic friends was held, wherein W:. Frederick Woelfinger presented the history and formation of Harmonie Lodge.
R:.W:. Howard M. Bommer served Harmonie Lodge as Worshipful Master in 1937, was honored by Grand Lodge as Steward of the Grand Lodge of the State of New York, Past Vice President and Past President of the Erie County Wardens Association, Director of the Past Masters’ Association, Past President of the Masonic Service Bureau, and the Masonic Bowling League and faithfully served as treasurer of Harmonie for 30 years.
The 75-year Diamond Jubilee celebration
began October 17, 1945. Worshipful Master John W. Williams, officers and brethren, attended Divine worship at Trinity Evangelical Church of Christ. The address and sermon were again given by our then Lodge Chaplain, Reverend Leon K. Molter. He outlined the high ideals of our Lodge during the past 75 years, evaluating our blessings, and humbly asking that our Symbolic working tools always be kept bright and shining, for a continuity of service to our beloved Craft. On Wednesday, October 20th at 8:00 PM, a regular stated communication for members and Masonic friends was held, wherein W:. John W. Williams and the officers presented an ideal 75th anniversary program. A few weeks later, on November 10, 1945 at 6:30 PM, a dinner, entertainment and dancing for members, their family and friends, was held at the Buffalo Trap and Field Club, to conclude the Diamond Jubilee celebration.
It is important to our history to give recognition to the brethren of Harmonie Lodge who went on to extend the fraternity by playing prominent parts in the founding of other Lodges. Mention should especially be made of the connection between Harmonie Lodge No. 699 and the founding of Eggertsville Lodge No. 1157 and Cheektowaga Lodge No. 1163.
R:.W:. George A. Richter many times spoke to brethren regarding his idea of lodges being numerous and of small memberships. He often spoke of lodges that would consist primarily of brothers of the same professional fields such as doctors or lawyers, firemen or engineers. With this in mind he proceeded to convince the Grand Master that more lodges were needed in the Erie Districts.
Being a member of Harmonie Lodge, it was only natural that he call on many brothers of Harmonie Lodge to assist him in this undertaking. Harmonie Lodge at this time had a very active Fellowcraft team, and many members were very proficient in exemplifying the various degrees. He enlisted the aid of R:.W:. Harry Saxton to help him start a square club to eventually become Eggertsville Lodge. By July 1957, the Sweet Home Square Club was operating and many of Harmonie’s members were participating therein. The preponderance of charter members were from Harmonie Lodge. Seven of the charter members of Eggertsville Lodge were members of Harmonie No. 699 (Rowland Williams, Harry Saxton, Robert Cochrane, Theodore Shamp, Frank Hendry, James Thompson, Richard Harris and George Richter – honorary). W:. Rowland Williams, Master of Harmonie Lodge in 1949, became Eggertsville Lodge’s first Master. When dispensation was granted, R:.W:. Henry Z. Lang, Jr. sat as Master for the evening prior to the officers taking their stations under dispensation. R:.W:. Harry Saxton became Eggertsville Lodge’s second Master. Although Eggertsville Lodge was sponsored by Christopher G. Fox Lodge, none of the charter members were from Christopher G. Fox Lodge.
On the occasion of the granting of the charter to Eggertsville Lodge, the Fellowcraft Club of Harmonie Lodge presented a complete set of officers’ aprons to the new officers of Eggertsville Lodge.
As Assistant Grand Lecturer, W:. Harry E. Saxton was called the “Conscience of Cheektowaga Lodge”. He developed the line of officers and worked on the organizational meetings. Here again the hand of R:.W:. George A. Richter was shown, whereby many Harmonie brothers became charter members of Cheektowaga Lodge No. 1163. W:. Medford E. Hampe, a Harmonie brother, became Worshipful Master of the Lodge in its early years. Harmonie is most pleased to have been instrumental in the formation of these Lodges through the interest of our brothers. Although Cheektowaga Lodge was sponsored by Hiram Lodge No. 105, the influence of Harmonie Lodge No. 699 was noticeably present.
R:.W:. Frederick Woelfinger served as Worshipful Master in 1920, having the honored record of raising 50 Brother Masons, was honored by Grand Lodge of the State of New York as Representative to the Grand Lodge of Australia. Being a very successful businessman, and known for his generosity, he left a legacy of $1,000.00 each to 22 charitable Institutes and an unconditional gift of $40,000.00 to the Masonic Home in Utica.
Our Lodge was granted the special privilege by the officers of the Liberty Bank, to hold our 100 year anniversary Lodge meeting on December 3, 1969, at the site of our first meeting; the afore-mentioned Liberty Building in downtown Buffalo. At this meeting, Charles W. Weiftheimer was elected Worshipful Master, together with the officers for 1970.
In keeping with the tradition of marking important Lodge anniversaries, a Gala Banquet at the Ismailia Shrine Mosque was held to celebrate our Centennial. We were honored by an address by Most Worshipful Grand Master William R. Knapp. Worshipful Donald R. Coe, introduced many Masonic notables while warmly serving as Toastmaster.
R:.W:. Joseph E. Smeller, Jr. served Harmonie Lodge as Worshipful Master in 1975 and 1976, as Secretary, was appointed Grand Sword Bearer 1996; and elected President of the Masonic Service Bureau, Inc. in 1988. He was a Charter Member of the Western New York Lodge of Research, where he served as Master in 1988.
A special tribute should be made to W:. Alois Altendorfer who served as Master of the Lodge for a record 11 terms.
After 97 years of a relative absence of inter-Lodge social intercourse, a “German Night” was re-introduced to Erie County lodges in 1979. It was aimed primarily to embrace all Lodges, reminding all Masons of the rich German culture which influenced the three Erie districts. Modestia Lodge No. 340 was selected as the host for the first meeting, as being a part of that Lodge’s 125th Anniversary celebration held at Sweet Home Masonic Temple on April 23, 1979. A special German dinner was served at 6:30 PM, followed by the opening of Lodge at 7:30 PM for a special communication and a welcoming address by R:.W:. Carl A. Luther. After which was given choral solos and concert by the Buffalo Zither Society, and the special event was concluded with an hour of harmonious Masonic fellowship.
Leroy H. Lieder was elected Worshipful Master in May 1994 and immediately put our 125th Anniversary program into effect. November 9, 1994, which date closely coincided with our dispensation date, was chosen for a stated communication and champagne dinner. This was held at Sweet Home Masonic Temple with Bro. William C. Schugardt as chairman. Gary W. Neureuter was chosen as Toastmaster in keeping with historical precedent.
Harmonie Lodge invited the brethren of Eggertsville Lodge No. 1157, Cheektowaga Lodge No. 1163, and Concordia Lodge No. 143 as our guests for this event. It is important to note that our sister-Lodge, Modestia No. 340, had previously merged with Concordia Lodge No. 143. This was a Masonic event highlighting the interconnection between these four lodges. On this occasion three Dewitt Clinton Awards and one Douglas MacArthur award were presented to non-Masons.
The 125th anniversary dinner was the traditional German Dinner, with remarks made by the four Masters and our District Deputy Grand Master, Griffith Jones III. It was an evening enjoyed by over 200 Masons in attendance, who joined with us to celebrate this landmark in the history of Harmonie Lodge.
Many professional, business and dedicated workmen of our Lodge have contributed in no small measure to the growth of our fine City of Buffalo. So unquestionably the great lesson our Brethren have learned is in the true meaning and sanctity of the 133rd Psalm: “Behold how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in Unity.” In the Spirit of those Brethren who led the way, through the last century, we sha1l continue that work for still higher and nobler achievements for the future.
Shortly after the celebration of our 125th Anniversary in 1995, there was a new vigor within our ranks. Many lodges were already merging, with different combinations put together. Cheektowaga Lodge No. 1163 was merged into Hiram Lodge No. 105; Grand Island Lodge No. 1138 merged with Eggertsville Lodge No. 1157; Modestia No. 340 was merged into Concordia No. 143.
In many cases the brothers did not feel the strong bond to their new body. Slowly many recognized the unique character of the brothers of Harmonie and began to ask for affiliation in our Lodge. A great number were impressed with our friendliness and our new venue of meeting from April through the summer into the first meeting of December. We were most pleased to share our heritage with the new members. Our new members, who joined through affiliation, became totally involved in the promotion and government of our Lodge. We began to get new candidates to join our Lodge.
Our most important event at the time was our Dewitt Clinton and MacArthur Awards night. We have invited several lodges as guests and we have given these awards to Buffalo’s outstanding non-Masonic citizens over several years. The times since our 125th Anniversary have been extremely fruitful for our Lodge. Our finances and administration have been outstanding.
Our 130th Commemoration was arranged for August 29, 2000 at the Airport Raddison Hotel. The Grand Master, Most Worshipful Carl J. Smith, was our special guest for this most memorable occasion. W:. William J. Ernst was again chosen by the Master to chair the festivities. Many of the Grand Master’s staff were in attendance as well. The brothers of Harmonie considered this an event without recent comparison. In October, we again invited the same group of Lodges as our guests to enjoy the social intercourse of the 130th Anniversary. These were Eggertsville Lodge No. 1157 and Concordia Lodge No. 143. We added Hiram Lodge No. 105 as it now has in its ranks many of the members of Cheektowaga No. 1163 after said previous merger. The date was again near our charter date of 1870. The traditional German Dinner was served and Dewitt Clinton and Douglas MacArthur awards were presented.
Harmonie Lodge in the 21st Century
The beginning of the 3rd Millennium has seen a world-wide resurgence of interest in Freemasonry. Much of this can be attributed to popular culture’s recent fascination with our Craft. Books such as Dan Brown’s DaVinci Code and Solomon Key; high profile articles in U.S. News & World Report and the New York Times; movies such as National Treasure; History Channel documentaries; an explosion of Masonic websites; and even the Simpson’s Stone Cutters parody have fueled this resurgence.
Harmonie Lodge has benefited greatly from this exposure and has seen an up swell in young, enthusiastic, new members. These neophytes are often the grandchildren of Masons and the children of that generation of men who decided that Masonry was not the hip thing to join. Thus, we have brought back into the fold many family lines nearly lost to Masonry. With this breath of fresh air Harmonie has overcome the demographic problems still plaguing most Lodges throughout the United States.
We owe a great debt to the old guard who carried the Lodge through the lean years of the late 20th century and into the new millennium. Their institutional knowledge and wizened leadership helped pass the torch to a new generation of leaders. As the 21st century progressed, we saw an explosion of worthy and well-qualified young men petitioning Harmonie Lodge. These enthusiastic new brethren have been drawn from a diverse set of professional backgrounds including law, medicine, business, banking, government, and information technology. This proliferation in young talent has also brought about an increase in Masons affiliating from other Lodges.
A common thread among out new brethren is their voracious quest for knowledge. These curious lifelong learners have access to information that the previous generations of Masons could not even dream of. Masonic websites offer the most ancient medieval manuscripts to the most recent articles on the Craft – and all at the click of a mouse. With this access to knowledge Harmonie has had a renaissance of learning and a new focus on Masonic history and philosophy.
In 2004, R:. W:. James M. Kipler was appointed Grand Sword Bearer of the 1st Erie District. He served in this capacity from 2004 to 2006. R:. W:. Kipler is well-known for his excellence in ritual work, benevolence, and fellowship. He has been an inspiration to our newest members through his commitment to leading by example.
In 2005, V:. W:. Ronald J. Keel was appointed Assistant Grand Lecturer of the 1st Erie District, after a sudden vacancy. He was well known throughout WNY for his knowledge of Masonic ritual and stellar Middle Chamber Lecture. V:. W:. Keel had been sought after for many years to be a Grand Lodge officer and finally decided that it was his time to more widely spread his knowledge. When V:. W:. Ronald J. Keel was untimely called to the Celestial Temple on December 31, 2005 the brethren of Harmonie Lodge were deeply affected by his loss. On January 11, 2006 they established the Ronald J. Keel Fellowcraft Club to honor his memory.
The Ronald J. Keel Fellowcraft Club affords new members the opportunity to learn, socialize and work together in a relaxed, casual atmosphere. The Club is dedicated to charity, education, and fellowship. The founders of the RJK Fellowcraft Club were Bro. J.C.L, Bro. John P. Balk, and Bro. Frederick G. Clark II. It should be noted that Bro. Balk displayed tremendous leadership in his two terms as president. The Club continues to grow and has attracted members from Lodges across Erie County. It has turned into the proving ground for Lodge leadership, by thoroughly cultivating the potential of each of its members.
In the spring of 2006, R:. W:. John L. Leszak was appointed Grand Director of Ceremonies for the 1st Erie District by Grand Master Neil I. Bidnick. In his position R:. W:. Leszak spearheaded educational efforts from 2006 to 2008 throughout Erie County.
In September of 2006 the Lodge celebrated the 225th Anniversary of the founding of the Grand Lodge of Free & Accepted Masons of the State of New York. R:. W:. James Kipler presided over the Lodge rededication ceremony, in which the brethren renewed their obligations to the Craft.
W:. Gerard E. Schultz was installed for the third time as master in June of 2007. The year was full of rich educational programs, important charity work, and a renewed commitment to fun and fellowship. The Master Mason Degree was performed by the brethren Harmonie Lodge in its entirety for the first time in recent memory. W:. Schultz was the last of the transitional brothers who worked to pass the torch from his predecessors, the WWII generation, to his successors, the generation made Masons in the 21st Century. He is well known for his commitment to visiting our sick and elderly brethren.
In June of 2008, R:. W:. Henry Zip Lang retired as Lodge Secretary after sixteen years of dedicated service. It was chiefly through his investment strategies that Harmonie Lodge has remained fiscally solvent. He is a past Grand Steward of the First Erie District and is well-known for his charitable works and knowledge of the Craft.
On June 11, 2008, W:. J. C. L was installed as the first master of Harmonie Lodge to be raised in the Twenty-First Century. W:. J.C.L has distinguished himself with degree work, Masonic scholarship and education. As the Lodge’s first webmaster, he has been at the forefront of our modernization campaign. The newest technologies have been integrated into all aspects of our operations, from Lodge business, Masonic education, and degree ceremonies. Wireless Internet, surround sound, and multi-media presentations have greatly increased the efficiency and beauty of our enlightenment based enterprise. It was during W:. J.C.L’s administration that the formations of ”Janusian Masonry” would formalize.
W:. J.C.L served two- consecutive terms as Master, from June 2008 to June 2010. Under his aegis the Lodge saw unprecedented growth and revitalization. Attendance doubled at Meetings from 2008 to 2010. The Lodge raised 11 master Masons and affiliated 11 brothers from other Lodges. In total 22 new members were brought into the Lodge. Ten degrees were conferred in total, for which we received the highest marks from our Assistant Grand Lecture and District Deputy Grand Master.
Twenty-eight lectures, seminars, and other educational programs were presented by the brethren of Harmonie Lodge from 2008 to 2010. Eight scholarly articles and one poem on Freemasonry were published on our website. The quality of these programs led to several invitations to lecture at the WNY Lodge of Research and Erie County School of Instruction for Master Masons.
In 2009, the officers of Harmonie Lodge formalized and named the Masonic educational programs that he had been developing since 2004. The Lodge named this system of Masonic education: “Concordia Collegium: Academy of the Progressive Science of Freemasonry.” Four courses of study were made available: (1) Candidates Course (Prospect through Master Mason), (2) Officers Course (Junior Steward though Junior Deacon), Masters Course (Senior Deacon through Worshipful Master), and Continuing Masonic Education (Master Mason through Past Master).
If that were not enough the Ronald J. Keel Fellowcraft Club presented the Masonic University of New York’s Masonic Development Course, albeit with a 699 flair, in three parts in January, February, and March of 2010. The faculty for the MDC were R:. W:. James Kipler as head proctor, Bro. Nathan Shoff, Bro. Ted Clark, and Bro. Daniel Di Natale. There was a large turnout from both Harmonie and the other Lodges in the Erie Districts.
The first “Outstanding Service Award” was presented to Bro. John Balk in June 2008 for his exemplary service as Senior Deacon, President of the Fellowcraft Club, and for his tireless work in the kitchen. In 2009 the number of merit awards increased to four. Bro. Ted Clark received the Outstanding Service Award for taking the Ronald J. Keel Fellowcraft Club to the next level in his two terms as President and for his exemplary work as the first Junior Warden to preside over a regular Festive Board. Bro. Nathan Shoff received the Albert Pike Award for Masonic Scholarship for his papers, “The Ancient Landmarks: Our Indefinite Boundaries” and “Hiram Abiff, Man & Myth.” Bro. B. J. Lyons received the “Ward A. Peterson Award for Masonic Benevolence” for his work with the Masonic Safety ID Program. Finally, R:. W:. James M.Kipler received the “Ronald J. Keel Award for Superior Masonic Ritual” for his memorization skill and eloquence of diction.
W:. Milton C. Keim received the Dedicated Service Award (DSA) from the Grand Lodge of the State of New York for his 50+ years of dedication to Harmonie Lodge and the Craft. W:. Keim served as Master in 1964 and has at one time or another sat in every officer’s chair. He most recently served as Chaplain and has been an inspiration to our newest brothers. It was an especially heartwarming presentation, as W:. Keim’s grandson Bro. Joshua Keim, a newly initiated Entered Apprentice, was on hand for the award ceremony.
At the May 2010 Investiture Ceremony, keynote speaker R:. W:. Jeffery Williamson recognized Harmonie Lodge for being on the cutting edge of the Masonic Renaissance movement. He pointed to our Ritual, Education, and Festive Board as examples of maintaining high standards and interest in the Craft. The brethren of Harmonie 699 were greatly honored by his remarks.
In June 2010 W:. Nathan A. Shoff was installed Master at a very propitious time, that of Harmonie Lodge’s 140th Anniversary. June 13, 2010 marked the 140th Anniversary of receiving our charter from the Grand Lodge of New York. The anniversary party was held on July 14th to coincide with our annual German Table Lodge. R:. W:. James Sullivan, Deputy Grand Master of the State of New York, was in attendance as our honored guest along with 50 of our most beloved brothers. Special thanks should go out to Bro. Daniel Di Natale, whose fundraising efforts allowed for purchase of new officer jewels and aprons, just in time for our 140th Anniversary.
W:. Shoff continued the tradition of Janusian Masonry set forth in the previous administration. Over a dozen lectures, seminars, and educational programs were given by the brethren of Harmonie Lodge. The highlight of his tenure was the announcement that Harmonie Lodge had won Mark Twain Award for Excellence in Masonic Awareness for 2010. This prestigious award was announced at the Annual Conference of Grand Masters in late February 2011 and was presented to Harmonie Lodge by M:. W:. Vincent Libone, Grand Master of Masons in the State of New York in May. Only 17 Lodges in North America received this honor. Harmonie was recognized for having the number one Masonic Education Program (Concordia Collegium) in Western New York, its Website and Digital Library, as well as its Tour of Masonic Buffalo.
The merit based awards for 2010 went to the following brothers. Bro. Dan Di Natale received the Albert Pike Award for Masonic Scholarship for his educational lectures, seminars, and for his back to back victories in Masonic Jeopardy. Bro. Ted Clark received the Ward A. Peterson Award for Masonic Benevolence for leading charitable efforts at the RJK Fellowcraft Club, and W:. J.C.L received the Alois Altendorpher Award for the Preservation and Promotion of Harmonie Lodge, for revitalizing Harmonie Lodge during his two terms as Master.
W:. Shoff continued the tradition of exemplary degree work, with a stellar Third Degree Ceremony. Eight worthy and well qualified brothers were raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason on March 19, 2011. And another six Master Masons affiliated with Harmonie Lodge, for a total of 14 new members.
In June 2011, W:. Frederick (“Ted”) Clark II was installed as Master. He has been a key figure in the Masonic Renaissance experienced at Harmonie Lodge having been one of the first students and faculty members of Concordia Collegium. His benevolent and diplomatic leadership raised Lodge morale to an all-time high. He has maintained high standards in ritual, education, benevolence, and fellowship. W:. Clark continued the modernization campaign moving to quarterly e-newsletters. He streamlined Lodge business meetings, reducing them to 30 minutes in length, with the implementation of new administrative procedures.
On July 13th, R:. W:. James Sullivan returned as our honored guest for our 141st Annual German Table Lodge. A grand time was had by all. Special thanks to Bro. Stephen Kelly and Bro. Gabriel Krebs who labored in the kitchen to help make this an event to remember.
In August, W:. Clark presented the Harmonie Lodge merit awards. R:. W:. Henry Zip Lang, Jr. was bestowed the Cornerstone Award for his exemplary lifetime of service to the Master, Wardens and Brethren of Harmonie Lodge No. 699 and the Western New York Masonic Community (Master of Harmonie Lodge – 1957, Grand Steward of the GLNY – 1968, Secretary of Harmonie Lodge – 1992 to 2008). W:. J. C. L was bestowed the Albert Pike Award for Masonic Education and Scholarship. Bro. Daniel J. Di Natale was bestowed Ward A. Peterson Award for Masonic Benevolence. He was the president of the Ronald J. Keel Fellowcraft Club for two years. In his tenure, he has reestablished the Ward A. Peterson Benevolence Fund while also leading fundraising efforts, allowing for major donations to the Food Bank of WNY in 2010 and the Masonic Medical Research Laboratory in 2011.
In October, Bro. Ryan Bonnett won our 3rd Annual Masonic Jeopardy contest. This event has become so popular for the enjoyable manner that it teaches Masonry that we have taken it on the road. Our Masonic Jeopardy PowerPoint was borrowed by the Erie Districts, who ran the V:. W:. Ronald J. Keel Tournament, named in honor of one of our past masters, to benefit the Masonic Care Community. Harmonie’s version of Masonic Jeopardy has since been used by Lodges and Districts across the State.
The first Harmonie Lodge distinguished speaker series kicked off on October 26, 2011. W:. Andrew Hammer, past master of Alexandria-Washington Lodge No. 22, graced us with his presence. He presented a lecture based on his recent book, Observing the Craft: The Pursuit of Excellence in Masonic Labour and Observance. Observing the Craft is a manifesto of sorts for the observant Mason, who seeks quality over quantity in every aspect of Masonry. It is a stringent argument for the Symbolic (Blue) Lodge as the ne plus ultra of the Craft, asking that Masons put actions behind their statements that “nothing is higher than the third degree.” It is a book that calls for nothing but the utmost personal effort and commitment to be put into the operation of a Masonic Lodge, and the experience of a Masonic meeting, in search of the transformational experience which Masons define as “making good men better.”
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