Ubar Grotto is an organization for members of the Masonic fraternity. It is a constituent body operating under the Supreme Council of the Mystic Order of the Veiled Prophets of the Enchanted Realm, having been constituted on July 23, 2011. The Grotto is officially located in Elizabethtown, PA, and meets on the fourth Sunday of each month, at the Spring Garden Conference Center in Middletown, PA. Meetings start at 6 pm. Questions and comments can be sent using the Contact page.
The anticipation had been building for months. Prophets were excited and enthralled. Hours of planning and work were to be paid off. And the best part? It had nothing to do with George!The weekend of February 22 and 23, 2014, was a big one for Ubar Grotto. Where to begin? Well, let’s start chronologically, because that’s normal, right?
First up, on Saturday the 22nd, members of Ubar’s Lancaster County Grotto Club gathered at D&S Cigar Lounge in Lancaster for a Master Mason night. More than a dozen Prophets were in attendance and a contingent of Master Masons joined them to learn what Grotto is all about. Sympthay and Good Fellowship prevailed as Brothers and Propehts united and built a fraternal bond over good eats, good smokes, and liquid refreshment. A total of two petitions were garnered from the event, making it well worth while.
Then, on Sunday then 23rd, Ubar had a momentious occasion. First, the Grotto was pleased to host the Inagurual Installation of Officers for the Colonial Grotto Association, which was performed by Pro. Otto Thiergart, Grand Monarch, of Zelica Grotto, and Pro. David Chambers, President of the Ohio Grotto Association, acting as Chaplain. Newly formed, the CGA brings together Grottoes from the Mid-Atlantic region to offer intervisitation, joint activities, and even more Good Fellowship. Prophets from as far away as Richmond, VA, and Columbus, OH, came to Ubar for the occasion. No less than seven Grottoes were represented, hailing from four states. Ubar has two men serving as officers in the CGA – Pro. George “Yes, that George” Hindson will be serving as First Vice President, and Pro. Seth “he can’t say no” Anthony will be acting as Secretary – Treasurer. We wish the best of luck to these officers and look forward to working with the new Association.
Following the Installation, Ubar welcomed all to a Convivial Meal of Prime Rib with all the trimmings. While Ubarians dined free, along with the dignitaries, the Azimian contingent was forced to pay for their meals, as noted by Pro. Eric Fritsch, Chief Justice of Azim Grotto. His complaints were met with derision, contempt, and little sympathy, just as they should be.
With full bellies, it was time for the meeting of Ubar Grotto to begin. Pro. Tim “the Tyrant” Settlemyer took charge of Ubar and welcomed the Grand Monarch to the East. Even Tim’s bearded glory could not outshine the brilliant fez of our Grand Monach and he demured, surrendering his station to our national president. Pro. Otto thanked the Grotto for their courtesies and spurred the Grotto to continue to do what it takes to grow our beloved fraternity. Travelling with Pro. Otto was Pro. Ray Suarez, our Supreme Council District Deputy, who also performed his official visit the same evening. A total of 11 new petitions were received, all of which will be initiated at our Ceremonial next month. Ubarians can also be proud of the amount of money donated to our charity, the Humanitarian Foundation. In total, the Grotto donated $1250 to the cause, along with several Prophets who pledged individual donations at the same time. As of this writing 61% of Ubarians are holders of the Enchanted Lanterns, of which the Grotto is quite proud.
It was an amazing evening of Sympthay and Good Fellowship for all. Ubar was happy to welcome all of the visitors and we look forward to bringing cheer throughout the Realm for years to come!
On Sunday, January 26, 2014, Pro. Tim “the Tyrant” Settlemyer took the throne of Ubar to lead his first meeting as Monarch. Prior to the meeting, the Prophets enjoyed a delicious meal and a talk by Pro. Dan Loughin, regarding home brewing. The most important lesson presented by Dan was the you should never clean your equipment with soap. Duly noted. Pro. Settlemyer also installed the two remaining officers – Pro. Shaun “Spooner” Sponagle as Captain of the Guard and Pro. Jeff “el Duce” Fulton as Marshal.
With the other business out of the way, the meeting of the Grotto was called to order, or what passed for it at the time. Pro. George Hindson, PM, was especially rowdy, with several Prophets talking about investing in a muzzle for him. Instead, they just told him to pipe down… alot. The Monarch, carrying a large pronged stick, ruled over his meeting with vitriol and disdain, ensuring that no Prophet would contemplate rising up against his awesome bearded visage. Business was discussed and plans made for the visitation of Grotto Otto – our Grand Monarch, Otto Thiergart, who is coming to visit Ubar in February. As it was too cold for Pipes Papers, the Monarch forced Pro. Brent Richards to sing the Barley Mow, to the enjoyment of the Prophets present.
We hope to see all the members in February for our Convivial and the Installation of the Colonial Grotto Association! Until then, down with the Tyrant Tim!
It was the “End of an Error” and the beginning of a “Reign of Terror,” for on December 21, 2013, the officers of Ubar Grotto were Installed for the coming year. George is out – Tim is in. The king is dead, long live the king… and all that rot.
The Prophets gathered at 6 PM at the Spring Garden Conference Center for social time and light refreshments prior to the Installation. Many took this opportunity to get their final jabs in at George before the end of his reign. The mood was festive as everyone was looking forward to the holiday season.
At 7 PM, the officers declared the Grotto open and the ceremonies began. Pro. Hindson delivered his final remarks, many of which were very heartfelt. The Prophets, however, were not swayed by this showing of emotion, finding it a sign of weakness instead. Calls for George’s impeachment were loud, but short lived.
The first item on the docket was the presentation of the newest Sheik of Ubar. The officers of the Grotto chose Pro. Russell W. Baker for his outstanding service and spirit of good fellowship. Many remarked that choosing Russ was the best decision the Monarch had made all year and everyone was pleased with the selection.
The Installing team then took the floor, comprised of Pro. Seth C. Anthony, PM, Installing Officer; Pro. George H. Hindson, PM, Installing Marshal; and Pro. Kimber D. Smith, PM, Installing Chaplain. Using the proscribed ceremony, the officers were each installed in solemn form, presented with their fezzes and jewels, and escorted to their seats. The Grotto was now under the control of the dictator known as Potent Monarch Timothy Ralph Settlemyer, the “Tyrant Tim,” and the Prophets were fearful for the future.
In a show of great humility, Tim let the retiring Monarch make a few special presentations, known as the Monarch’s Award of Distinction, which were well received by the crowd. His final duty being performed, Pro. Settlemyer presented George with his Past Monarch’s fez and jewel, telling him to go sit on the sidelines, where he belongs.
The formal ceremony being concluded, the Prophets enjoyed a time of refreshment, including cigars in the gazebo and good fellowship inside.
The year of George is at an end and the year of Tim is just beginning. A toast, to the future of Ubar Grotto!
The year 2013 is winding down and Ubar Grotto is a just a little over two years old. As a Grotto, we’ve come a long way in that time. However, any fraternal organization is really just a conglomeration of people; it’s the people that make up the organization, give it direction, and bring it to life. Understanding who we are is a key step to continuing our growth. As we finish this year, let’s take a look at the numbers and discover just who the men of Ubar are.
In the first 30 months of operation, Ubar Grotto has counted 107 men as members. Some of those have demitted. Four were suspended for non-payment dues and unfortunately two have passed away. After subtracting those, our final membership count, as of December 9, 2013, is 90. All the statistics presented use those 90 members for calculation.
The average age of a member of Ubar Grotto is just under 47 years old. Our youngest member is 21, while our oldest is 77.
Ubarians hail from eight different counties within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. We also have one member residing in the District of Columbia.
The members of Ubar represent 38 different Masonic Lodges, located in ten different Masonic Districts. The average Ubarian has been a Mason for just a little under 13 years. The Grotto tops out with a 41 year member of Freemasonry, while some of the guys have been members of the craft for less than 12 months. 35% of the members of Ubar are Past Masters. Six Ubarians are also 33rd Degree Masons.
Ubar Grotto is proud to be a fantastic cross section of the fraternity, as well as being a gathering place for dedicated Masons. Huzzah!
Theme for the Year
Manly things! Sportsmanship! Cigars! Libations!
- Sunday, January 26, 2014 – Speaker TBD
- Sunday, February 23, 2014 – Visitation of the Grand Monarch & Convivial
- Sunday, March 23, 2014 – Ceremonial of the Order
- Sunday, April 27, 2013 – Speaker TBD
- Sunday, May 25, 2013 – Speaker TBD
- Sunday, June 22, 2013 – Ceremonial of the Order
- July – Summer Break
- August – Picnic Party at the Monarch’s Castle (Tim’s house)
- Sunday, September 28, 2013 – Speaker TBD
- Sunday, October 26, 2013 – Costume Night, Ceremonial of the Order, and Convivial
- Sunday, November 23, 2013 – Election of Officers
Planned Visitations (Dates TBA)
- Abaca Grotto – Fredericksburg, VA
- Azim Grotto – New York, NY
- Delco Grotto – Philadelphia, PA
- Zafar Grotto – Williamsport, PA
They say you can never escape your past. Pro. Dennis Berry, Past Monarch of Abaca Grotto in Fredricksburg, VA, served as State Master Councilor of Virginia DeMolay in 1976-1977. During that same year, Pro. Tom Labagh, Sheik of Ubar, served as State Master Councilor of New Jersey DeMolay. Their fraternal paths have intersected occasionally by email and more recently, Facebook, throughout the years. But, thanks to the great things happening at Ubar Grotto, Dennis was curious enough to bring his Virginia District Deputy bling to PA for an opportunity to share a “prophetable” fraternal experience. Says Pro. Labagh “I am glad I didn’t escape this reminder of my Active DeMolay years! It was great to see him again. (He STILL talks funny!)”
In many ways, Ubar Grotto ended 2013 the way it started – with a whimper and a toast!
On Sunday, November 24, 2013, Ubar Grotto held its final meeting of the year; this also marked the last meeting with Pro. George Hindson at the helm as Monarch. November, being the traditional month for an Ubar Convivial, saw an amazing meal of Prime Rib, cut thick, to the liking of all of the Prophets. Following the meal, the members heard remarks from Pro. Tim Settlemyer, Chief Justice, on his plans for the following year. With full bellies and a full glass, the meeting started promptly at 7:00 PM.
The Monarch was pleased to start the meeting by welcoming two visitors from Abaca Grotto, located in Fredricksburg, VA, which included their Chief Justice, Pro. Tony Rutter, and Pro. Dennis Berry, PM, a District Deputy of the Supreme Council. The Monarch worked through business efficiently, finalizing his year and securing the finances of the Grotto. The most noteworthy item was the rather large donation that was made to the Grottoes of North America’s charity – the Humanitarian Foundation. Ubarians sponsored more than $1300 worth of Enchanted Lanterns, the proceeds of which go directly to help children with special needs get dental care. With the business out of the way, it was time for the real show of the evening – the election of officers.
With only one exception, the officers of the Grotto were elected by a unanimous ballot cast by the Secretary. This left the office of Venerable Prophet, contested by four members, to be elected. Running for the office were Prophets Mark Mattern, Shaun Sponagle, Dave Werner, and Andrew Sterling. No majority was reached on the first ballot, after which Pro. Werner was dropped. The second ballot also failed to reach a majority, with Pro. Andrew Sterling being dropped. The final ballot, between Prophets Mark Mattern and Shaun Sponagle was incredibly close – a one vote margin divided the winner! When the dust settled, Pro. Mark Mattern, of Lebanon, was elected Venerable Prophet. All of the officers will be installed at the annual Installation of Officers, to be held Saturday, December 21, 2013, at the Spring Garden Conference Center.
All that remained was for George to make his closing remarks as Monarch, which were heartfelt and immediately dismissed. Such is the fickle beast of Ubar.
Congratulations to Pro. Hindson on a great year as Monarch, and congratulations to Pro. Settlemyer, and all of the other officers on their election. A toast!