Brethren, please take note of the following:
Recently there have been a number of scams going around requesting Gift Cards as fundraisers for many charities and other things. The Grand Lodge of South Dakota, Grand Master Jason Swindler, and the South Dakota Masonic Charities will never send a request to members requesting gift cards be purchased and sent in or numbers used as Masonic Fundraisers.
If any of you receive such a request, please call the Grand Lodge office, or the office of any group requesting, to let us/them know and to confirm the request. Do this for all gift card requests. Better to be safe than sorry.
Fraternally,  
Jason Swindler, Grand Master of Masons  

 

The Other Masonry...

Mt. Rushmore Lodge #220 takes a field trip to learn and practice some operative masonry. EA Jeremy won the “Chip-Olympics” and won the Rough/Perfect Ashlar.

 

Civility: A Continuing Masonic Community Conversation

On Saturday, September 26, from 1:00 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. (Pacifiic Time) there will be a discussion with an exploration of the difference between racism and prejudice and bigotry. We will then hold smaller group discussions where participants will have the opportunity to share their perspectives and needs. To register:
To see a flyer with more information on this event, click:

 

Brothers one and all,
We have an amazing Public Awareness Committee (PAC) this year, built from Brothers across the state who are energized and ready to start taking on some challenges. We are looking at some interesting projects to get the message out that we are proud to be Masons and we want our communities to know that too.
There will be more to come on our efforts, but this will give you a little flavor of what we are working on:
- “Proud to be a Mason” program
- Grand Lodge website redesign
- Gathering, preserving, and sharing our current and past Masonic history and inspirations
- Furthering the interests of Masonic Civility within the state
- Begin building a statewide Masonic directory
Are we going to fail at some things? Absolutely! Will we learn from that and find a better or different approach? Absolutely! We are also looking for input from the body of the Craft. If there are things you feel the PAC can tackle, we are very open to hearing them and getting them into a plan for the future.
Please keep checking the Grand Lodge website for the list of members of the committee and their contact information. Feel free to reach out to any or all of us with your ideas, thoughts and Brotherly advice.
For now, we leave you with this from Simon Sinek, “The goal is not simply for you to cross the finish line, but to see how many people you can inspire to run with you.” We sincerely hope you will be inspired to run with the PAC!
Fraternally,  
Brian Pulling, PAC Chair  

 

Olive Branch #47 Installs Officers [posted August 2020]

The installation of Officers took place at Olive Branch #47 in Sturgis on August 30. Participants included members of the Grand Lodge, Demolay, Rebecca’s Daughters, Spearfish Lodge #18, and Olive Branch #47. Attendees were from both South Dakota and Wyoming.

 

Three Generations of Freemasonry [posted August 2020]

Here is a picture from degree work in Mitchell showing three generations in Masonry. To the right of MWB Denny Robinson is his grandson, Cooper Vermuelen, who received his MM Degree, and his son-in-law, Jon Vermuelen. Cooper recently graduated from Mitchell Sr.High and is now heading to the South Dakota School of Mines for Mechanical Engineering. He was raised at a One-Day Conferral at Resurgam Lodge #31 on August 8, 2020.

 

GRAND MASTER’S EDICT REGARDING COVID-19

Effective July 13, 2020, and until further announcement from the Grand Master the following guidelines will regulate activities of South Dakota Lodges and Freemasons during the continuing COVID-19 pandemic

From: MWB Jason D. Swindler, Grand Master of Masons in South Dakota
To: All Masonic Lodges and all Freemasons under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of South Dakota

Although the State of South Dakota has been slowly getting back to business as usual while under guidelines and recommendations on the CDC, I have up to this point been reluctant to rush in making a decision on the next step of our reopening. The time has come to take the next step. With that being said, we must continue to practice “social” (physical) distancing; wearing masks when having to be closer than 6 feet from another person; and washing hands and using hand sanitizer often. It is everyone’s responsibility to use our best judgement to keep the Brothers and families of Masons protected from the spread of COVID-19 in our Jurisdiction.
The following are the requirements for Lodges that are comfortable with opening and holding a Stated meeting or conducting Degree work. If your Lodge is located in a part of the State where there are increased cases of COVID-19 please use good Masonic common sense and judgment. If you are experiencing symptoms (i.e. fever, cough, shortness of breath, dizziness, etc.) please STAY HOME! Masons in the high-risk category are the sole decision makers whether or not to attend Lodge.

BEGINNING JULY 13, 2020 THE REQUIREMENTS FOR REGULAR STATED MEETINGS AND CONDUCTING DEGREE WORK ARE AS FOLLOWS:

1. Regular Stated Lodge meetings will be allowed:
- Contact your District Master and inform him of intention to hold regular stated meetings. The District Master has the authority to veto a Lodge reopening if, in the District Master’s discretion, he believes the Covid-19 rate within his district, or within the Lodge’s immediate community, is too high to allow a safe reopening.
- A “social” (physical) distance of 6 feet must be maintained.
- Any Brother required to be closer than 6 feet from another Brother is highly encouraged to wear a mask. Lodges are encouraged to provide masks or encourage Members to bring their own
- Hand sanitizer must be available in numerous places in the Lodge building including entrances and exits of the building and of the Lodge room(s)
- All restrooms must contain liquid hand soap

2. Conducting Degree work will be allowed with the following stipulations:
- Contact your District Master and inform him of intention to conduct degree work with his approval under the guidelines set forth in 1., above.
- All Candidates, Conductors (including the SD & JD) must wear masks for protection and use hand sanitizer before and after putting the mask on or taking it off
- Any Brother required to be closer than 6 feet from another Brother or Candidate must follow the same requirements
- Hand sanitizer must be used before and after each Section
- A “social” physical distance of 6 feet must be maintained by ALL others

THESE REQUIREMENTS WILL REMAIN IN PLACE THROUGH SEPTEMBER 30TH, 2020.

In my professional duties as a Registered Pharmacist I am constantly monitoring the Covid-19 situation in South Dakota.
As Grand Master I reserve the right to update this edict at any time if the need arises. I understand this is not what we are used to as Masons in South Dakota but it is in our best interest to do whatever it takes to move forward without risking our Brother’s and their family’s safety. In this world of uncertainty, we must stand out as a Fraternity of Leaders both in our Lodges and, maybe more importantly, in our Communities.

Continue to search out Light, be the Light and shine your Light my Brothers. Use the tools we have been given to be the best Masons we can be.

Fraternally,  
Jason D. Swindler, Grand Master of Masons in South Dakota  

 

One-Day District Master Meeting: August 29 [posted August 2020]

As discussed in the DM and Appointed Officer meeting on August 4, we will do a one-day District Master Meeting on August 29. Leadership training will be a separate event, most likely a virtual event. This was to allow travel to and from location without having to stay overnight. If you cannot make the meeting and would like to watch via Zoom please let me know, as I can accommodate virtual meeting.

Who: District Masters (appointed Officers invited)
What: District Master Training and Round Table
When: August 29th 10am-4pm CDT
Where: Pierre Lodge (201 W Capitol, Pierre)

Pierre Lodge #27 will provide lunch ($10 donation)

Schedule of Events:
10:00-10:30: GM welcome and remarks
10:30-11:15: Dep GM code requirements for DMs
11:15-12:00: SGW recognition program and District Meetings
12:00-1:00 Lunch
1:00-1:45: GTS reporting requirements and expectations
1:45-2:30: JGW membership
2:30-3:30 Roundtable Discussions (Please submit or be prepared to submit a Topic)
3:30-4:00: GM closing remarks

Jeff VanCuren
Deputy Grand Master/Grand Master Elect
(703) 217-3001

 

Masons Supporting Widows and Orphans [posted August 2020]

In October 2009, with the permission of the Grand Master of Masons of South Dakota, Master Mason motorcycle enthusiasts formed the South Dakota Widows Sons Masonic Motorcycle Riders Association as a Square and Compass Club. Subsequently, the Grand Chapter of South Dakota Widows Sons Masonic Motorcycle Riders Association was chartered on November 27, 2009. The SD Widows Sons Masonic Motorcycle Riders Association (SD WS) continues to grow in popularity and membership. As a result, a second chapter, The Mystic Brotherhood Chapter of South Dakota Widows Sons Masonic Motorcycle Riders Association was formed, and we are working on a third chapter in southeast South Dakota.
In celebration of its tenth anniversary in 2019, the SD Widows Sons celebrated its founders with a meeting and a ride to an Alexandria car show led by the new Grand Master, Most Worshipful Jason “Swinny” Swindler and his wife, Dee, on June 20, 2020 in Mitchell, SD. The Founders Fathers of the SD Widows Sons awards were presented to Jason Swindler, Denny Robinson, and Neil Kotas. In addition, Jason and Dee were celebrating their 23rd wedding anniversary and a successful Grand Lodge virtual installation. Most Worshipful Swindler provided opening comments for the meeting. It was exciting to listen to the awesome goals and the exciting plans for the future of SD Masons and the SD Widows Sons.
The SD WS’s mission is to support widows and orphans, and Masonic “helping people” events and charities. This is our third year of working supporting the Sacred Heart Children’s Services in Eagle Butte. The SD Grand Chapter and the Mystic Brotherhood Chapter are continuing to work with the Eagle Butte Lodge to support the annual Children’s Home Christmas Gift Presentation, a children’s event, like the Masonic Child Identification Programs (CHIP) that we did in 2018, a Children’s Bicycle Give Away, and a community ham charity (last year, 84 hams) in December. Throughout the year, we continue to provide clothing, school supplies for the children. The Scared Heart organization has set up a thrift store this year to support the “mothers and children in need” facilities, and they need our help.
SD WS support events for many causes and provide support to widows, children and brothers in need; e.g., $1000 to the Nebraska Flood Relief, $1000 to Worshipful Brother Dave Saunders’s widow, $4,700 for Sioux Falls Masonic Building Association, Veteran’s Health Event, Ride for Survivors, charity funds for Scottish Rite, York Rite, Daughter of Nile, Demolays, Job’s Daughters, Lodge, and others. We will continue to support many more in the future. The SD Widows Sons Chapters are excited about riding motorcycles and working to keep Masonic Charity efforts going and growing. If you are interested in supporting Masonic charities and Widows and Orphans and love to have fun riding your motorcycle, contact Greg Stensaas at sdwidowssons@gmail.com.

 

Spearfish Lodge Holds “Pasturized Lodge” [posted July 2020]

Thursday, July 25, 2020, high on a Northern Hills ranch in the Black Hills of South Dakota, Spearfish Lodge No. 18, hosted a genuine “Pasturized Lodge” where a herd of cattle had grazed a short time earlier.
The boys are sitting on mineral cattle feed tubs that were partially cleaned for the event.

Needless to say you also watched where you stepped. Only the Master wore his hat when the gavel sounded. In attendance with this select group is present Grand Master of North Dakota, MW Bob Wedberg, and Immediate Past Grand Master of South Dakota MW Harold Ireland. This place is the Bear Ridge Ranch, owned by the present Master of Spearfish No. 18, and is designated as a South Dakota Centennial Ranch, with family ownership of over 100 years. Four states were represented; three other Past Grand Masters (two from out of state) were also present. Twenty miles to the west is Devils Tower, the first national monument, established by Brother Theodore Roosevelt in 1906. This is true cowboy Masonry, many from working ranches, and some of the best men and Brothers you can find. Living proof right here you don't have to wear a tuxedo to be a great Mason, neighbor, and friend to all.

Here was our sunset over the Bear Lodge near Sundance, WY, that looks over Devils Tower from the east and (below) the boys standing together with Crow Peak, a well-known landmark just west of Spearfish.

 

Mount Rushmore Lodge #220 [posted July 2020]

Mount Rushmore Lodge #220 takes things outside. This is a picture of their officers after their second outdoor lodge of the new Masonic Year: District Master - Pete Isaacs, WM - Alex VanCuren, SW - Bryant Stokes, W - John McKninght, Treasurer - F. Reed Foster, Secretary - Jeff VanCuren, Chaplain - Ken Kundel, SD - Greg Still, JD - Jessie Thomas, SS - Chris Thames, JS - Jim Jackson (not pictured), Marshal - Brian Cole, Tyler - Dave Meltz

 

Big Week for Deserving Brother [posted July 2020]

Imagine traveling back to June 29, 1950, and attending lodge at Sheridan Lodge #0008 of Sheridan, Wyoming. You would have witnessed the raising as a Master Mason of Lloyd Kenneth Salisbury. We affectionately know him as Ken these days, and we were able to give him a suitable celebration for achieving the distinction of becoming a 70-Year Member of the Craft. That’s right, 70 years as a Master Mason. That is longer than most of our readers have been alive.
The week started off on Tuesday evening, June 16, when Ken was presented the City of Sioux Falls “SuperHero” Award by Councilman Pat Starr and Mayor Paul TenHaken. In attendance that evening was Ken’s better half, Arta, his daughter, Tally, and her family, as well as his son, Chuck.

The following Sunday, WM Robert Solorzano of Unity Lodge #130, District Master Kyle Orth, and WB Glendon Rice had the privilege of presenting WB Ken with a pin and certificate recognizing his longevity in the Craft. A parade in front of Ken’s house was held, with many Brothers and their families participating, to congratulate our Brother.
After the parade, some of us stuck around while Ken regaled us with stories of his time in the Army Air Corps during WWII. If you get the opportunity, stop by Ken’s house and sit and chat with him for a while. You will be amazed by the stories and details contained in those stories from his time in the war. You might even ask him about standing in the doorway of the C-47 and dropping hand grenades on the enemy, or trying to take out anti-aircraft guns by dropping the tow rope from the gliders on the guns.
Ken participated in the D-Day invasion by towing gliders with Army Rangers and also had some airborne troops that jumped out of the airplane and into the action. He also participated in Operation Market Garden, which was the military action portrayed in the movie A Bridge Too Far.
Army Air Corps C-47, the type of airplane that Ken was the navigator on during WWII (image from Flying Magazine).

 

From the East [posted July 2020]

I would like to take a few moments to share some thoughts with all of you. I am truly honored to be serving as Grand Master of Masons in South Dakota for the ensuing year. I appreciate all the kind words of support and offers to help with projects when needed. I want to thank my Installing team for all their hard work! I thought for doing most of it remotely things went extremely well! If you were unable to watch the Installation live, you can still watch it if you go the Grand Lodge of South Dakota Facebook page.
We are building a strong team with your Elected Line of Officers. With the help of Microsoft® Teams and Zoom® meetings, we have been in almost constant contact for the last several months. This has allowed us to develop a good idea of how we all want to move forward in the next few years. I sense excitement and motivation which I hope will catch on as the year progresses.
My Brothers, it is imperative that we gather accurate contact information for every Mason in our Jurisdiction. If the “Virtual” Grand Lodge Communication taught us anything, it is that we need to be able to send emails out when important information must be shared. I will personally make one of my missions, with the help of the Grand Lodge Office and the individual Lodges, to get our information in MORI as updated and accurate as possible. We are only as good as the information we have in MORI and currently it is severely lacking. I am confident we can agree that communication and information is key to our success!
I am also excited to roll out a new program for the year. For the last few years Resurgam Lodge #31 in Mitchell, my local Lodge, has been doing Blood Drives and I know several other Lodges do the same. During the initial phases of the COVID-19 pandemic I noticed the Red Cross was advertising a need for blood donations. I realized this is an excellent opportunity for Masons to do what we do best, which is help our communities. This literally costs us nothing but the end result is invaluable. I would love to be able to say at the end of each Masonic year that Masons and Mason driven Blood Drives have yielded “X” amount of blood for our state. We will need Brothers across the Jurisdiction to help get this program off the ground. RWB Jeff VanCuren has worked hard to get the details ironed out and we will be getting out more information in the near future.
Thank you all again for entrusting me to lead this Fraternity that means so much to me. Please feel free to reach out to me or any of the Elected Officers with any questions. I look forward to working with all of you this year.
Fraternally,  
Jason D. Swindler, Grand Master of Masons  

 

From the Deputy Grand Master [posted June 2020]

Brethren, “I am so humbled by my election to the position of Deputy Grand Master/Grand Master Elect” is a response all good Lodge Officers have been taught to say whenever they get elected to a new position. In this case I truly mean it. South Dakota and the United States is in a time when Masonry is desperately needed. We are in scary but exciting times and we need to work together to show the World what diversity and inclusion look like.
Last year I wrote an article about the Tenant of Brotherly Love, and in re-reading it I can see how we can also extend that Tenant to society in general and not just Brother Masons.
Start thinking of how “Your Lodge” can get involved and serve “Your community.” Can you run a Food or Blood Drive? Can you volunteer to read at the elementary school? Can you do a roadside clean-up? Can you maintain a public space? Can you sponsor a youth group? As the Grand Master said at his installment, “Masonry is Local.” The Grand Lodge cannot know what is best for every Lodge and it is our job to assist you in making what you do at the local level as impactful as possible to your community.

Fraternally,  
Jeff VanCuren  
Deputy Grand Master / Grand Master Elect