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Ohio Freemasonry

In Conversation with the 2024 Grand Treasurer

An image of Grand Lodge of Ohio 2024 Grand Treasurer and hs wife, Rebecca.
Bro. Cokonougher and his wife, Rebecca.

Please introduce yourself. Tell us your name, title, home lodge, and how long you’ve been a Freemason.

My name is Steve Cokonougher, Past Grand Master and current Grand Treasurer of the Grand Lodge of Ohio. I belong to Linden Lodge No. 637 in Columbus, Ohio. I was raised in Pataskala Lodge No. 409 but now spend my time at Linden Lodge. I have been a Mason for 45 years.

Tell us about how and why you became a Grand Lodge Officer? When did you join? 

I was appointed as a Grand Lodge officer in 2007 by Most Worshipful Brother Ron Winnett. Prior to joining I had been working for several years as the chairman of the 2008 bicentennial committee. I had also been a District Deputy Grand Master and District Education Officer under MWB Winnett’s tutelage. We bonded almost immediately and when the time came, he asked me to start the line as Junior Grand Warden.

What is the role of the Grand Treasurer? What are your responsibilities?

The Grand Treasurer carries a great deal of responsibility. The primary role of the Grand Treasurer is to oversee the Investment Committee and determine how Grand Lodge funds are invested. This includes the Grand Lodge operating funds, endowed membership funds, and the various funds of the Grand Lodge Charitable Foundation. The Grand Treasurer also oversees the proper accounting of the income and expenditures. This process is mostly looking at the accounts online and verifying their accuracy. The Grand Treasurer is also on the Advisory Committee for Grand Lodge. This committee reviews suggested legislation and gives recommendations on said legislation. This committee is considered the board of directors for the Grand Lodge and acts as an advisory council for the Grand Master.

Image of Bro. Cokonougher and Past Grand Masters.
Bro. Cokonougher and Past Grand Lodge of Ohio Masters

What does it mean to you to be part of the Grand Lodge of Ohio leadership?

For me, Freemasonry is an important part of society. Our fraternity cannot rest on its laurels and our leadership must be cognizant of what our membership and lodges need to prosper.  Doing the same things over and over and expecting different results will not work. I think that my most important role is evaluating what we are doing and developing plans to move in the right direction. Just saying our principles such as “Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth” is not enough. We must live them everyday and set examples for our Brethren.

What do you hope for the future of Ohio Freemasonry?

It is my hope that our members realize that the important relationships in Masonry are all local. Our future depends on Lodges understanding that Grand Lodge and its officers are only in place to help them be successful. Grand Lodge programs are only meant to help the lodges prosper. 

My vision is for the Brothers to get excited and promote their lodge in the community, to their friends, and other acquaintances. I am not saying we should take just anyone into our ranks, but we all know good men who would make good masons. We need to get busy and let them know they would make good masons.   

Do you have any advice for members looking to get involved? 

My advice would be to find something that you like to do, and offer your skills and interests to your lodge. If you like to cook, fix dinners at your lodge. If you are a handyman, help the lodge keep the building updated. If you are good at public speaking, there are numerous opportunities to help lead. If you just want friendship with like minded and good men, then attend your lodge and enjoy the fellowship. Do not, and I repeat do not let someone talk you into something you are sure you do not want to do. Being an officer is a great experience.  I think anyone can learn about degree work and lectures. But if the time is not right, don’ t do it.  There is always time in the future. You would be better sitting on the sideline and learning a part, lecture, or charge. Your lodge would really appreciate it and it will make you feel a great deal of accomplishment.

I also would caution new members from jumping into too many organizations too fast. Having said that, yes I am a 33rd Degree Mason and a Knight of the York Cross of Honor. I have headed several other organizations. However, this journey has been over 45 years.  Take your time and learn about your Blue Lodge first. There are years of study and learning in this body. If and when you do join other lodges, don’t just be a dues payer; ask questions, learn the meaning of each degree you see. The knowledge you acquire, the friends you make, and confidence you gain are priceless. 

Anything else you’d like to share? 

The time is now! Our fraternity is at a crossroads and it is a crucial one. My question to all Masons is, “Where do we go from here, and how do we get there?” If I had the answer to these questions we would already be doing them. Like it or not, we are a membership driven organization, with high moral and ethical standards. If we fail to bring in new members to replace those who leave us for whatever reason, we will fail ourselves and our fraternity.  

A great deal of young men today don’t have a circle of friendship such as Masonry. Many are working from home and do not have a lot of social connections with other like minded men and we have the opportunity to offer that social connection. We can offer them an organization of men who are trustworthy, caring, and truthful. The education we offer, public speaking, memorization, and leadership are priceless.

It has often been said that it only takes two excited men to set a lodge on fire and make a difference. It is also true that two negative members can destroy a lodge. I would pray that every lodge finds two members who will excite the other brothers and get the lodge to become the fraternity of choice in their community.

Read more of our interviews with Grand Lodge Officers like the Junior Grand Deacon and Grand Chaplain!