The Senior Deacon’s Place

Be the example for the Brethren, visitors, guests, and yourself.

By: James Bungard
Senior Grand Deacon

James E. Bungard Junior Grand Deacon

I am extremely humbled, blessed and honored to be afforded the opportunity to be appointed by Most Worshipful Grand Master Steve Almager to serve the Grand Lodge of New Mexico as the Senior Grand Deacon of the Grand Lodge of New Mexico for the ensuing year 2024.

One of the most important aspect of the Senior Deacon is to LEARN THE RITUAL … and the floor work.

The Senior Deacon position is critical in the performance of the ritual of the Lodge, both in Stated and Special Communications. You are the Custodian of the Three Great Lights of Masonry in attending at the Altar. Your professional and respectful handling of the opening and closing of the Lodge have a major impact in how the Brethren perceive the significance of the ceremony. Do not cheapen or devalue the importance of this act. If you do, you disrespect your position and to a greater extent Masonry as a whole.

In addition to the ritual for opening and closing a Lodge (or moving between degrees) you must learn the ritual for conduction of a candidate for each degree. This is a very important position and you serve as the figurehead for the candidate on his journey into Masonic enlightenment.

How you conduct yourself during this work can have a profound and lasting impact upon how the candidate views Masonry. Treat this work with the utmost respect.

You should also learn the ritual for the Junior Warden during the opening and closing of the Lodge on each Degree. This is essential for in his absence, you may be asked to move up in line to fill in during an absence. Learning this ritual in advance of your potential promotion to that station or place will be invaluable in the following years.

One of your chief duties is to act as a welcoming committee for visiting Brethren. If a Brother has not attended your Lodge before or even if he says he has, but you have not sat in Lodge with him, before the meeting starts, you must find a member of our Lodge who can attest to his good standing in Masonry. If this cannot be done, you should notify the highest-ranking officer you can find, in order that the visiting Brethren may be examined to ensure his acceptability to sit in Lodge. If you are able to vouch for the visiting Brethren (or once he has passed examination) you should act as an ambassador of the Lodge.

You should see to it that he feels at home and engage him in conversation. If he has not sat in your Lodge before, protocol dictates that he should be introduced by the Master during the meeting. It will be your job to inform the Master of the need and to escort him before the altar for introduction. Prior to the meeting commencing you should gather his name, Lodge, Lodge Number, city and state of the Lodge, ascertain if he is a Past Master, and if so in what year, as well as if he is currently a Grand Lodge Officer, or other Dignitary, etc. Learn the ritual for conducting a visiting Brother.

When a vote is taken on the admittance of a new candidate or to accept an affiliation you will be called upon to conduct the ballot box through its various journeys during the voting process.

All eyes will be upon you as you conduct the ballot box and this should be handled with the utmost respect and dignity.

The Senior Deacon is to act as messenger and assistant to the Worshipful Master and Senior Warden of the Lodge and assist them in carrying out their various duties. To carry orders from the Worshipful Master is not just so much language but an actual responsibility. The Senior Deacon is said to “carry messages from the Worshipful Master in the East to the Senior Warden in the West and elsewhere about the Lodge to expedite the business of the craft”.  Report to the Master before each meeting to see if there is any manner in which you may be of service. You will serve as his messenger, which is signified by your chair being placed to his right, in the East, which is his domain.

I believe the progressive/traditional line both at the local constituent level and at the Grand Lodge level serve a purpose: to train and prepare brethren for leadership positions in the lodge while giving the other members ample time to determine if a brother is, or will ever become, leadership material. Just as we have to be physically qualified to be made masons, so should brethren be mentally qualified to become leaders.

As I embark on this new endeavor/opportunity. I am committed to serving and executing my duties as Senior Grand Deacon to the absolute best of my abilities and to represent each of my brethren on this new journey.

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