479 Tuscany Drive
Portage, MI 49024

Tel: 269-365-0401
Cell: 518-222-6622

Whew! I suspect that for many of us, since about mid-March, there have been some trying times. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it fear, concern over the loss of certain rights, and a somewhat higher emotional level for many of us. Each of us has our own specific concerns during this time, and it is not always easy on any given day dealing with the stress. Mother Nature even seemed to be emotional as the Midland floods caused many to lose their homes, and severe storms left people without power for up to four days.
Following, or at about the same time, a series of significant events have led us to consider another topic that is emotional for everyone, no matter what your personal beliefs and feelings are. Our country continues to grapple with its relationship with race.
As Lecturer, I am tasked with providing education and presenting factual information, so far as that is possible. I took some notes this afternoon regarding the topic, but came upon the National Grange statement released and posted to the National Grange Facebook page and the website on June 9. Since many of you may not have easy access to either of these, I decided to copy that post below and forego additional comments.
I hope that each of you has the opportunity to think about the statement below, and what it might mean to you as we move forward, as a country and as the Grange.
The National Grange unequivocally opposes racism. The voices of Grange members across our country join those who cry out in sorrow for the lives lost to racist actions, for the divisions racism has cleaved between us and for the inequality that racism has spawned across our beloved nation.
Since our founding in 1867, we have lived by our motto, “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.” We have always welcomed and invited people of all races, creeds, religions and nationalities into our membership. We have asked none to join us who cannot see good in their fellow beings, who are willing to put to work their generous hearts and open hands to raise all their neighbors and communities.
Our Grange founders provided us a Declaration of Purposes for our organization that addressed a need for unity and civil discourse: “We shall constantly strive to secure harmony, good will, and brotherhood… We shall earnestly endeavor to suppress personal, local, sectional, and national prejudices… We desire a proper equality, and fairness; protection for the weak; restraint upon the strong; in short, justly distributed power.” These words still guide us today.
One does not merely join the Grange, but lives by the principles of faith, hope, charity and fidelity and loving their neighbor as themselves.
We have a deep commitment to the freedoms of speech, expression and peaceful protest enshrined in our Constitution for all people. The Grange’s Declaration of Purposes also teaches us that “…difference of opinion is no crime. Progress toward truth is made by differences of opinion, while the fault lies in the bitterness of the controversy.” Therefore we urge everyone to exercise their individual rights of expression in a civil and respectful manner. Each day, law enforcement officers must uphold the law equally while exercising good judgment and compassion.
Just as we do in each of our meetings, we must meet the peaceful expressions of various opinions with open ears and open hearts.
In this time of social unrest and anxiety, Grange members renew our pledge to combat prejudice and racism and will continue to strive to do better. We continue our 153-year-old tradition of welcoming all to our membership, building an inclusive family fraternity and providing our communities with a place for civil discussion and proactive, positive change.



Creative Writing and Photography Contest Deadline Extended
As we move through the COVID-19 pandemic and all of its underpinnings, one thing that we are becoming accustomed to is change. Schedules, events, and activities all seem to be “tentative”. Initially, the date of September 10 was set as a deadline for the online submission of entries into the Lecturer’s Program Creative Writing and Photography contests. I have decided that more entries might be received if a extend that deadline.
The new deadline for entries into the contests will be September 28. I look forward to your entries. As a reminder of the revised program, which some of you might not have learned about. I am including it here.
The rules are the same as printed in the Program Booklet. All entries must be submitted as an attachment to an e-mail (files no larger than 100MB please). The entries must be received by September 28 to Jacqueline_bishop@hotmail.com. (Note that between my first and last names is an underscore, not a space.) Entries will be judged, and 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners will be announced at the Michigan State Grange session. In addition, the first-place winners in each class will have their entries printed in the Michigan Grange News. There will be no Best of Show, as National Grange is not holding their contest in the same way as in the past.
1) Creative Writing Contest (1 class)
A. Story: My Favorite Holiday (400-600 words)

​2) Photography Contest (3 classes)
A. Animals
B. People in Action
C. Scenes (no people or animals in the photo)

​Election Thoughts
Now that the Republican and Democratic conventions are over, it is certain that we will all be bombarded with all kinds of information. Sadly, in my opinion, many of the ads and social media posts will be bashing the other party for any number of reasons. It is clear that many of us are passionate with regard to what we wish the future to hold with regard to our government and its emphases. I have witnessed, from the media and individual posts an intensified negativity and even meanness towards “the other side”. In the current environment, where it is difficult to discern what is fact and what is “fake news”, it is ever important that we seek out multiple sources of information from multiple viewpoints in order to make our decisions when we vote. 
In the Third Degree of the Grange (Harvest), the opening by the Steward says: “We must reap for the mind as well as for the body, and from the abundance of our harvest, in good deeds and kind words, dispense CHARITY.” Let us all keep the concept of charity in mind as we participate in “promoting the welfare” of our nation. From the Fourth Degree (Home), we find this: “Let the agate be to you and emblem of FIDELITY. May your principles of manhood and womanhood be as firmly impressed as the lasting colors of the stone, and may our friendship be as firm as the stone itself.” In the salutation of order, remember these words as we move through the Presidential Election process: “A good Patron … dispenses CHARITY and is noted for FIDELITY.
And then, we must register and vote. Every vote does count!