"Story Lodge No.7 Oration" Gavin K. K. Wardrope, W. Grand Orator
Most Worshipful Grand Master, Most Worshipful Past Grand Masters, Right Worshipful Brothers, Worshipful Brothers and Brethren all, Good Evening.
It is always a pleasure to come and visit the Brethren of Story Lodge and to hear and take part in their success stories.
Tonight I want to spend a few minutes talking about what we expect from the Craft but more especially what the Craft expects from us.
I am tonight going to use my own thoughts from Scotland, where I was Initiated, because that's where my education in Freemasonry comes from and I hope that after you have heard them it may give you a chance to pause and think how you could apply them to yourself.
We all joined Masonry for a reason, there is a wonderful start, but can you remember yours. I can, I had been mixing with other Masons at work and my father was one. I saw it as something to be inspired by, not to hide from. My home town was and to a certain extent still is divided by religious bigotry and I thought that Masonry was a place to shelter from it. To this day I have not yet heard politics or religion discussed in a Lodge room and I hope I never will, there is no place for it here, ever.
When I was summoned in front of a Board of Past Masters for my Investigation I was nervous, I didn't know if I would be suitable to join and all the way through the process I always felt that the Lodge was going to make sure that I was suitable for them not the other way around.
I remember being told I had passed the Investigation and that I was to appear at 7pm on such a date to be Initiated a Mason.
I duly appeared and was conducted through the Ceremony but I can assure you there were 2 things that remain to me this day. The first one being the Cable Tow was held by someone at all times until I had taken my Obligation and secondly on having the hood wink removed there was a sword just an inch or so from my throat. The reasons were of course explained to me but even though I can honestly say I could not remember anything of my Degree the impressions of the cable tow and the sword have been ever-present since that evening.
Sometimes I just feel that our Initiations could be more memorable.
Remember Brethren we have joined a Society hundreds of years old, the Ritual is much the same as it was 300 years ago. There is something special, embrace it and support it.
When a new Candidate is Initiated the Lodge has to embrace him, if we don't we will lose him it is as simple as that.
I know there is a lot of talk regarding Lodge Mentoring and this is a step in the right direction. But it must not be left to one or two people it is the responsibility of every Member to Mentor.
I remember saying to a new Candidate when introducing him to his Coach that everyone was his Coach that it was to everyone's advantage to look after him. The Coach, a PM, was not impressed but he got over it. We have to change stand still and we will stagnate.
Of course, conversely the Candidate owes a debt to the Lodge. It is only fair that if the Lodge gives its time to a Candidate he must also recognize that he must give something in return.
I find it distressing on occasion to find a newly raised Master Mason be expected to go straight into a Chair and within 3 years become the Master of the Lodge. This should not happen, I think of how the experience of being a Master of a Lodge is diminished by a lack of experience, wait and you will be rewarded; the journey, I can assure you, is much more memorable.
Equally, is it right to put into the hands of a newly raised Master Mason petitions for Scottish Rite, York Rite, Shrine and Eastern Star.
We should never dilute Freemasonry. All good things come to he who waits.
I have had the pleasure to spend time down here with the good Brethren of this Lodge and I am fully aware of the difficulties that have taken place. Does that mean the Lodge should be cast aside? Yes, I am disappointed that more Members of the Lodge do not support but let us not just blame the Brethren, let us look upon our own actions in not making ourselves available to assist. I can remember one night a couple of weeks ago where there was a Master Mason Degree conducted with only 7 of us present and only 5 of us actively involved in the Degree.
Put yourself in the position of the Candidate, was it his fault, of course not, we let him down, not the Brethren of Story but all of us who were asked, we all let him down.
I must say that the Degree was excellent thanks to the dedication and skill of the Brethren involved, although it was more memorable than I first envisaged and that was to be sworn at, thanks to differences in language, by a Candidate when repeating his Obligation was a first for me.
Let's be honest how many of us take time to learn the history of their Lodge. For instance who knows who Capt. William R Story is? Captain Story had served through the Civil War in the Union Army, where he won the rank of Captain. At the close of that struggle, like many another foot-free young man, who had been shaken loose from his former moorings by that terrific upheaval, when the armies disbanded he came west. He was a saddler by trade, and upon coming to Salt Lake City he again entered the government service at Camp Douglas, where he continued to have his home after he was appointed Deputy U.S. Marshal. When Captain Story came to Utah, Ira M. Swartz was a clerk in the Quartermaster's Department at Camp Douglas. These two young men had much in common, and as local conditions were such as tended sharply to accentuate the division between the majority and the small minority - the Mormons and the Gentiles - and as congenial companions were not numerous at best, the acquaintance of these two men soon turned into a lasting friendship.
May 1, 1870, Swartz saw William R. Story off for Grantsville, Utah, in company with a Deputy Sheriff from Nevada. On Monday, May 2nd, the bullet of a desperado ended the life of Captain Story.
At the time of his death, Captain Story was Secretary of Wasatch Lodge No. 8. The Worshipful Master of the Lodge at that time was Brother O.F. Strickland, two years later the first Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Utah. This is also the time that Utah Lodge U.D. was organized, and Strickland was a resident of Provo, being one of three Territorial Judges presiding over the court there. Ira M. Swartz was clerk of this court. Undoubtedly the change of the Lodge name had been discussed by these two men, both of whom knew Captain Story so intimately and valued his friendship so highly. The Grand Master, hardly less than the Worshipful Master, would be glad to join in honoring the name and the memory of a former associate and very dear friend.
The name of this Lodge should take on a new significance for its members when they are reminded that it stands as a fitting memorial to a worthy character, an honorable man, and a loyal Mason. This is something to be proud of, not to discard. We should as often as is humanly possible remember this hero.
Never forget Brethren that this was the first Lodge Chartered by the Grand Lodge of Utah.
Embrace that history remember the Past Masters and Members who have travelled the road before you and the sacrifices they made. We must make every decision based on who made the journey before us. To be a Member of this Lodge is an honor not to be taken lightly.
Remember you knocked on the door to enter, the Lodge allowed you to enter you must ensure that you leave the Lodge stronger than when you found it.
Being a Mason is not just for 1 night per month for a couple of hours, it is a lifelong commitment that you have made not only to yourself but to this lodge in particular.
Never allow your Lodge to wither the importance of this Lodge in Utah Masonry is too important not to succeed and it is becoming of all of us here to recognize that.
Enjoy the rest of your Visitation
Fraternally, Gavin KK Wardrope PM Grand Orator March 7, 2013