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Nobles, I want to personally thank all of you who gave your time and effort to help contribute to the success of the Mizpah Shrine Circus. We once again joined together to host Northeast Indiana’s longest running family tradition. The Mizpah Shrine has been bringing wholesome family fun, at an affordable price, to the children of our community for generations. The circus is our chance as Mizpah Shriners to show the world what we believe in. Throughout the year we give unselfishly to bring joy to children. Perhaps the greatest reward for our efforts is being in the Memorial Coliseum with thousands of laughing children. The wonder in their eyes should be a reminder to us what the circus really means to all of us. Too many times as we grow older we lose our sense of mystery and wonder. We forget how to let go of our cynicisms and doubt. The circus provides us all a chance to once again be free to dream without restrictions just as we did as children. Congratulations to Steve Trump, Phil Wade, Bill Hartman, and all of Mizpah on a job well done.

Over the past few months many of you have approached me and said, “If you need anything, just ask.” Well I am asking. Simply put, we need more Shrine Masons. I have never been one to dwell on negative numbers. All too often the Nobility has been presented the membership numbers followed by some scolding and a frown. We all are intelligent men. We can see the decline in our membership numbers. We all see the problem and know we have to get serious about solving it. Believe it or not there is some good news. I want you to recognize that we are turning a corner on the dilemma. Our hard work is paying off. Together we can create an atmosphere of success that will lead us into the next chapter of Mizpah Shrine history. Let’s stop complaining and start getting busy fixing our decline in membership. The Time is Now. No excuses, just actions. I am asking for your help in three ways.

The first ways to help be a part of the solution is to talk to the Masons you already know. The only men who are eligible today to become Shriners are in your Blue Lodge. I am not naive. I know that some Lodges do not support the Shrine . The honest truth is that those feelings probably stem from some misspoken words by a current Shriner. I personally recommitted myself to attending my Lodge this year. I promised myself I would promote the virtues of becoming a Shriner by first being an exceptional Mason. By acting in a dignified manner in a room full of true gentlemen, we all open the door for discussion. When other Masons see our conviction to be better men they will want to know our interests and beliefs. We can mend many broken fences by simply being better Masons. We cannot force our beliefs on our brother Masons, but we can show them what being a Shriner means to us.

The second way to contribute to the future success of Mizpah is to spread the word on what being a Mason means to you. We all have friends that live a Masonic life, but are not yet Masons. Why are we so afraid to tell them what being a Mason has done for us? Our Masonic Brotherhood appeals to any man who wants to become a better husband and father. We need to reach out to the men in our lives and tell them what being a Mason has given us. Let’s not be so selfish that we do not invite our friends, sons, and grandsons to join the greatest fraternity in the world. The greatest gift I have ever been given is when a friend pulled me aside to tell me how being a Mason change him. Let’s all give that gift to someone we know.

The final piece of the puzzle is to take care of the men who already call themselves Mizpah Shriners. The greatest heartbreak I face is calling a current Shriner about their decision to demit. Almost every time someone leaves our ranks it is because they were never made to feel welcome. This represents a failure by all of us. Why would we work so hard to get him in the front door only to push him out the back? My Potentates pin this year represents the action all of us must be better at making. A simple handshake can work miracles. Just by gripping another man’s hand you let him know you respect him and acknowledge his Masonic beliefs. My challenge to you is to take the opportunity to introduce yourself to a Shriner you do not know. It’s as simply as walking up and offering your hand. You already have something in common. You are both Masons.

In closing I want to remind everyone that we have our Spring Ceremonial April 13th at 6pm. Each club and unit will have a chance to set up a display booth to show what they do. The night will feature a ladies program open to all Ladies of current Shriners. This will be a great chance for them to learn more about the Shrine. Let’s all extend a hand to the members of our Blue Lodge as well as our friends and tell them how great it is to be a Mizpah Shriner. The Time is Now.

Your Humble Servant, Michael Hardiek, Potentate 2013