January 01st, 2023
Greetings from the East,
It is an honor to have been elected and installed as your Worshipful Master of Trenton Cyrus #5 for the 2023 Masonic Year. My journey to the East has been rewarding, challenging, humbling and essential. This journey started long before adulthood. I was born in Jersey City, New Jersey to Ernest and Gloria James. My father journeyed North from South Carolina to find a new life and opportunities. My father is the eldest son of ten siblings. When my grandfather passed away unexpectantly after a long career as a rail-layer with the Virginia railroad company, he left a legacy of continuous learning, hard work, achievement, perseverance, self-reliance and family. The legacy was not based on monetary assets but family, love and diligence. This is what my father brought along as a teenager to the North.
My father worked hard to build a career, life, community, and support his siblings back in the South. He eventually met and married my mother, a born and raised New Jerseyan who shared my father’s dream to build a prosperous family in safety and love. To this point, while my father (unlike his brother who served honorably in the U.S. Army Rangers, stationed in Europe where he became a Mason) never sought nor journeyed up the sublime stairway to become a Master Mason. Nevertheless, his value system, grit, curiosity and goal-oriented focus allowed him to pass on commonsense wisdom, better than yesterday, to me and my brother. Ironically, to this day, even in retirement he routinely connects with his International Teamsters Union shop brothers to stay abreast of new events.
My Brothers, I tell you this because my journey has been influenced by many people and experiences. My father and mother set the value system and environment for success. The community I grew up in provided the cobblestones for the journey. I have been blessed to have encountered many people of different races and nationalities along the way. My gratitude to Sister Mary Thaddeus of Sacred Heart Elementary who preached faith and confidence, Mr. Mathews Principal of McNair Academic High School who instilled in his students the Marine Corp “never say die” attitude, Michael D. Richey (Cyrus #148) my mentor, friend and now passed Masonic Brother and decorated military Vietnam veteran and technical guru, my uncle Sgt. John L. Bolden NJSP, RW Jack Smith, WB John DeSantis and VFW Post 1923 in Weehawken who sponsored my attendance to Boys State New Jersey Class of 1980. In retrospect, the light can come from any direction, be open and accepting.
You see my brothers; the totality of the man is composed of many parts and experiences. It is important that we as Masons, continue to fill our lives with the experiences and people that share our values, that share our experiences and love of the Almighty Architect, family, nation and community. We must guard ourselves against the influences of negative thoughts and influences. This is not to say to become hermits and recluses, but rather to look deeply into a man’s eyes to see the light of the soul, for the opportunity and receptiveness to receive the light. We must watch a man’s actions more than the words. Actions are the measure of the man. Masons are men of action and service.
My Brothers, I reach out to you for your continued assistance and support for our fraternity. We need each of you to continue the history of success that Trenton Cyrus #5 enjoys. This coming year will be filled with events, presentations and fellowship. This is the house that you built through your continued patronage and support.
As you may know, the Grand Lodge has increased the fraternity’s annual assessment and we in turn have increased annual dues. The cost of operating our lodge has increased in parallel with everything else in our society. The value of membership in this fraternity is directly related to your input of resources. I seek to revive and increase the value proposition by planning and executing many of our traditional events.
But this can’t be done alone. I/we welcome and need your active participation in and/or management of events. It has been said “Many hands make the work easier”. I hope to see many brethren that have not recently visited the Lodge return. We are here for you and want to hear your ideas and active participation. We will be holding a New Member Orientation Night for new members in early January, then a Rusty Mason’s Night for our older members, probably in February, as well as other presentations this year. There is so much yet to learn and do.
For now, I will leave you with few quotes from our esteemed brother, serial entrepreneur and hyper-productive Benjamin Franklin:
May you and your family enjoy a happy, warm and safe New Year!
Sincerely & Fraternally
Kent C. James
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