Wilson K. Wilder
Most Worshipful Grand Master
Good Afternoon! It means so much to me that you have taken time out of your schedules to be here. Thank you. When I was Grand Pursuivant I was told by then Grand Senior Warden, Brother Chris Stout PGM to always establish protocol before addressing the Grand Lodge, and it always begins with the Most Worshipful Grand Master. It just does not seem possible… I guess it takes a while for it to sink in. So Right Worshipful Grand Lodge Officers, Most Worshipful Past Grand Masters, Worshipful Appointed Officers, Worshipful District Deputies, Worshipful Grand Lodge Committee Men, Brothers all, Ladies and Guest, what a humbling experience. Only the Supreme Architect of the Universe could humble a man more than this honor that has been bestowed upon me with this beautiful ceremony herein.
I was a little older than some when I started my Masonic journey. Like most people I knew what Masonry was but I was too focused on my family and vocation to pay much attention to it. Back then it was a bunch of old men meeting in a musty building that had oyster stew in December and fried oysters in June. It wasn’t until my mother passed away and we had to clean out her house that I first considered joining the Fraternity. Mom was a proud member of the Eastern Star and on the first Thursday of each month you could find her at the Paris Marie Chapter in Paris where she was a charter member. But when we cleaned out her house I found volumes of Masonic books, Masonic jewelry, and other Masonic paraphernalia. It was then that I decided someone in the family should continue this tradition. I knew my mother’s family had all been Masons and if you walk through the Grinnell plot in the Paris cemetery you will notice Masonic emblems on the grave markers. So I asked my father in law Brother J. T. Brannock, who we lost in July at age 85, how to become a Mason. The next thing I knew I was signing a petition. I joined Amity Lodge in Millersburg because J. T. was a member there and I assumed my father had been a member there as well, so I thought it would be a good fit for me. After all the trials and tribulations that are a part of taking the degrees and returning proficiencies I became a member. I attended meetings, got elected to offices, and enjoyed the food and fellowship. Somewhere along the way I realized Masonry was the missing piece of the puzzle in my life. What I wasn’t getting from church and other organizations I found in Masonry. I embraced it and have tried ever since to live my life by the teachings of the fraternity to improve myself and become a better man.
As I stand here before you I realize how many people I owe a great debt of gratitude to for helping me reach this summit. First I would like to thank the Craft of Kentucky for having the confidence in me to elect me to the exalted position. Thank you Most Worshipful Pat Grand Masters for conducting the installation ceremony of the Grand Lodge Officers together with the District Deputy Grand Masters. To the Grand Lodge Officers I have had the honor of serving with, Terry Bowman PGM, Chris Stout PGM, Rick T. Nation PGM, Joe Conway PGM, Keith Drier PGM, and Tom Larimore Grand Treasurer Emeritus, thank you for your dedication to the craft of Kentucky and raising the bar a little higher for the rest of us. Also, Cloyd Bumgardener and Todd Jones it has been a pleasure working with you two and I know this year will be no different. My brothers of Amity Lodge # 40, I am so grateful for the help and support you have given me over the past few years. The other day I was in a lodge and a man said “can you believe our next Grand Master is from little Amity lodge in Millersburg”? With all the great brothers in that lodge I’m surprised I’m the first.
There is a special bond between a man and his son when they can call each other Brother in this great fraternity. And Brother Will G I am extremely proud of you for what you have accomplished in your short life and happy to call you Brother. And I saved the best for last, to my beautiful wife Sally, time is too short to credit you for each and everything you do for me, so I’m just going to say thank you and I love you.
Sally and I have decided to do a charitable program for Sally’s Garden at the Masonic Homes. We wanted to do something specific and we chose to raise funds to buy new furniture for the outside area so the residents will have a nice place to sit and enjoy the weather. We are working with the homes to develop some unique fundraising programs to accomplish this.
I also decided to keep some of the Grand Lodge programs that have been successful and well received over the past few years so I decided to keep the Archives Program, Masons Helping Masons, Masonry Matters, and the Veterans Programs. There are a couple of new things I plan on trying this year: first I plan to turn the District Meetings back to the District Deputies and call them the “State of the District Meeting”. Each lodge will have a representative or delegate to give the state of his lodge at the District Meeting. I have a fun program to promote visitation called the Grand Master’s Traveling Gavel which I hope makes it to every lodge across this great commonwealth. And finally the most exciting program is the Education Conferences which will be video conferenced all across the state. To my knowledge this has not been attempted by any grand jurisdiction in the United States. We must embrace technology and this is just one way we can push further into the twenty first century. Several Brothers have worked long and hard to make this dream become a reality and I believe it will have a tremendous impact on our fraternity as well as a huge cost saving.
In closing let me say I have touched on many topics without going into a lot of detail because if I did we would be here all night. I am looking forward to this year, and with this great team I know we will be able to accomplish anything we set out to do. Finally it is my hope and prayer that when this year is over I will leave this Grand Lodge a little better than it is today.
Let your Masonic light shine. Let the world know who we are and what we stand for!
God Bless each one here, God bless the United States of America and her military forces.
Wilson K. Wilder
Grand Master 2014-2015