Monday, February 27, 2023

Attending Greenwood's Chili Cookoff 2023


By Tonya Martin a Participant

Sixteen teams battled it out at the Greenwood Shrine Club for the 15th Annual Chili Cook-off.  

The day was perfect for chili – overcast & 50 degrees and the air was filled with amazing smells all around.  There were quite a few unique chili’s in the crowd with sausages, game and most of all secrets!  

As the GWD team came around and collected the 24 oz containers of test chili to take to the judges, the “Tasters” began making their rounds.  With 16 samples, no one would go home hungry for sure.  By the time I was at #8, I was down to taking 1-2 bites.  

Back in the judging area, the tasting and passing of each chili (with a swig of a cold beverage and a saltine palate cleanser) was in full swing looking at aroma, consistency, color, taste and aftertaste.  About an hour later, a winner would go home with the GOLDEN SPOON and the loser would take home the GOLDEN PLUNGER.  

My chili, sadly, fell somewhere in the middle.  All the prepping, tasting, spicing was not enough to win “the spoon”, BUT I did win the day.  I was enjoying something I love (cooking) with friends by my side.  You can ask for more than that!  

1st and Tasters Choice 
Chris Wade and Jason Crawford
2nd Jeremy Davis, Chris Griffin, Johnny Hanna 
3rd  Travis Costello and Michelle 
4th  Richie Williams 
5th  Denny and Dena Hendrix
6th  Director staff 
7th  3-way TIE Juanita Smart, Double R Cooking Crew- The Rushton’s and Rush’s, Trina Hughes 
8th  Katelyn Smart
9th  Chris Crumpton, J-Bo Jennings 
10th Caroline Nave and Jason Brooks 
11th Kathy Knight 
12th Tonya Martin 
13th Tipsy Jalapeños Angie and Patrick Moore 
14th  Paul Skelton 
15th  Spice Girls Lisa Tharpe, and Stacey Jennings 
16th Parrot Heads Sharon and Rene

Southeastern Shrine Association Midwinter 2023


Made a visit to Orlando to attend the SESA Midwinter meeting on Friday Feb 24th.  Hejaz's Jason Turner, PP is on the SESA Board and was part of the planning team for the SESA Annual Meeting in August this year.  Imperial Sir Richard Burke also spoke during the meeting.  

The SESA Board solicited ideas from the attendees and disseminated some information to bring back to Hejaz.

While in Orlando, we also took the time to visit Egypt Temple in Tampa, FL and Bahia Temple in Orlando.  I received a tour of Egypt Temple from Jamie Frye a past Hejaz Noble who as recently relocated to Tampa.  Their new Temple is very nice and has a lot of modern features and also honors their past with a museum of well stocked memorabilia.  Very Impressive!

I also spent time with several Director Staff members of Bahia Temple and enjoyed a nice night out at their club on Friday and treated them to a night out on Saturday.  

Nobles, travel is a cornerstone of being a Shrine - Mason.  If you are not traveling then you are not getting the value in your dues card.  See you on the road!

Bahia Temple - Orlando FL

Egypt Temple - Tampa, FL

Wayne Helms Receives 50 Year Shrine Award

Congratulations to Noble Wayne Helms on his 50 year award tonight. Great turnout for Wayne, Congratulate him When you get a chance.

Installing New Shrine Bowl Officers


Installing our new SBOC Nobles from Hejaz!  Congratulations to Jamie Smith, Game Chairman and Franky Suttles, 4th Vice President
Recorder Gene Parker

2023 SBOC Meeting at Jamil is in the books!!! We had a great turnout and Hejaz was well represented!!!
to Franky Suttles, 4th VP, Clautus Champion, Brian Moss, and Don White who were recognized and received their Emeritus status and Jamie Smith again being named Game Chairman at this gathering!!! Great job and
to all!!!
Ain’t No Jazz Like Hejaz!!!
Illustrious Sir Byron Sheppard

Reverend Caldwell - The Order of the Palmetto Award

Yesterday a great man, Mason and Shriner was awarded the ORDER OF THE PALMETTO!!! This is the highest honor that can be awarded to a civilian! If anyone would seek out someone to emulate and model themselves after…’s your man! Reverend Carrol W. Caldwell congratulations on a job well done sir!!! We are honored to have you and grateful for all that you have done in representing Hejaz!!!

Illustrious Sir Byron Sheppard

Reverend Caudwell received the highest award that any citizen can get in SC , The Order of the Palmetto Award. This was for his service in the church pulpit and the work he’s done in Masonry and in the Shrine.

Recorder Gene Parker

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Oriental Guide - Commentator March 2023


As the newly elected Oriental Guide for Hejaz Temple, I am writing here today to thank everyone who came out for the election and placed their ballot.  Whether you voted for me or Noble Dennis Broome, you participated and you helped in moving Hejaz Temple forward.

Each year we hold these elections and candidates like Dennis and me put ourselves out there for your consideration.  It takes a great deal of courage, effort and investment to put yourself forward and I want to emphasize to the Nobility how valuable it is to the fraternity to have individuals like Dennis, Charlene, Tammy and myself who are willing to make this effort for the Temple and our future.  We are blessed again this year to have Dale Wilson and Everette Whitmore to once again step forward and put themselves forward for your consideration.  Please give them your attention as they come to visit your clubs and units and recognize and thank them for the courage that it takes to put themselves forward.    

My wife Tammy is not accustomed to being out in front of groups and with both of us being from York County, we are meeting and learning many new faces across Hejaz. We would like to especially thank Lady Michele, Lady Tonya and Lady Rhonda for making both of us feel like family and so welcomed as we traveled together in January.  It is very appreciated!

We have jumped in with both feet and we have already traveled to Jamil and Omar for official functions.  Given the opportunity to meet the new Oriental Guides from both Temples, we are already working on new relationships that will be beneficial to our Temple over the next five years. Inside Hejaz we have traveled to visit a number of clubs and units over the past weeks.  Next week, I will travel to Orlando to represent Hejaz for the Southeastern Shrine Association's Midwinter meeting along with PP Jason Turner and Hospital Board member Everette Whitmore.  And again, next month, I will travel to Tampa for the Oriental Guide Leadership Conference.  

I am just beginning on the Divan, and I am already seeing a great amount of time and effort involved with the job.  Each year will be a little more and the level of commitment by the Divan members and especially by our Potentate, Byron Sheppard is amazing to see.  Each one commits a great deal of time, effort and capital into our philanthropy.  I know they don't do it for the thanks or recognition, but when you see them, please take a minute to thank them for their service.  Until I started this journey, I had no idea how much they give of themselves each and every week.  Even the little things like today, I visited Jackson Shrine Club for their Catfish Stew Fundraiser and tomorrow I will jump in a cold lake for the Polar Bear Jump.  All in a day's work and for a great cause.

I am your Oriental Guide, and I am at the service of all Hejaz Nobles.  Please call anytime I can do anything for you.  My number is 803-517-4215 or you can email me at .  Let me know how I can help!


Stephen Schram, Oriental Guide 

Membership Update - March 2023


In 2021 I was approached and asked to think about taking over Membership and developing a new innovative strategy for growth.  The current status quo was to accept taking 10% decline in membership year over year.  Per historical data in 2018 the membership was at 3307.  In the beginning of year 2022 there was an overall decline of 635 nobles to 2672.  In a period of 4 years membership decreased by 632 members (average of 158 members a year).  Roughly 10-20% overall. In 2022 we focused hard on a different strategy to decrease the loss and then work on growth.  Overall, in 2022 we decreased by only 64 Nobles.  This is only a 1.98% decrease in membership.  This is a step in the right direction.  

 After studying the current membership system, the membership committee realized that we needed to step back to basic and follow the 5 basic core pillars of membership.   Those 5 pillars of membership are Recruitment, Retention, Restoration, Masonic Relations, and Mentorship. These 5 pillars are simply the basic methods needed to grow a positive membership program.  If you recruit the Nobles, you mentor them, you retain them, you bring back the ones that left, and you work with the Blue Lodge to gain new members you will move to a Temple with positive growth.  

Members of the Membership Team and Divan recently attended a Shriners International Membership and Marketing Conference in Grapevine, TX.  There is a drive International wide to grow membership through the 5 core pillars of membership and how we can drive membership and marketing of the temples.  There is lots of information to unpack and apply to our current strategy.  With the current members of the team and in addition to whoever wants to help Hejaz Shriners succeed we can end the year being a Gold Temple for 2023.  I look forward to working with every Noble and Lady to drive membership to the forefront of every conversation, and event.    


David Willliams 

2023 Hejaz Nobility Gala Stampede


The 2023 Hejaz Nobility Gala Stampede is one for the books!  From the absolutely amazing Hospitality Room to the Elegant Western Décor to a headliner band Cody Webb – This Gala had it all!  Amazing job to all that planned and worked on this event!

Jenna is a Shriners Kid

 With consistency and focus, Jenna proved that nothing would slow her down. “I’ll never forget the first time my daughter’s knee ‘went out,’” said Jodi, Jenna’s mom. Jenna was 9. “She was simply playing in the neighbor’s yard when she just stepped wrong.” It would not be the last time Jenna’s knees popped out of the socket. 

Jenna has patellar instability of both knees — a condition that occurs when the kneecap moves out of the groove at the end of the thighbone that holds it in place, causing either partial or complete dislocation of the knees. Only 50 to 77 of every 100,000 Americans are estimated to have some degree of patellar instability. This often r results in knee pain, stiffness and swelling. If left untreated, the individual will often need a complete knee replacement to treat severe arthritis from the recurrent dislocations. 

In the months following, Jenna’s kneecaps would continue to come out of place. “After several incidents and trips to physical therapy, we were told by a local orthopedist that there was ‘nothing he could do until her growth plates came in.’” The news left Jodi scared that her daughter would have to suffer many more kneecap dislocations, resulting in damaging outcomes. “It was sickening to think she’d have to go through what I did.” Jodi was the same age the first time her kneecap went out and was all too familiar with the pain her daughter would endure if the condition was left untreated.

Fortunately, Jodi’s coworker urged her to get a second opinion. “A friend of mine recommended Shriners Children’s Greenville.” Shriners Children’s Greenville is home to the largest team of pediatric orthopedic surgeons in the Carolinas and served kids from 32 states and 14 different countries in 2022. Jenna’s surgeon, Dr. Whitney Gibson, one of seven orthopedic specialists at Shriners Children’s Greenville, informed the family that he could resolve the issue, but Jenna would need surgery before her growth plates came in to ensure success. 

Four surgeries later, Jenna’s knees are aligned and stabilized. All the while, Jenna was anxiously waiting to get back to doing what she loves — running. Jenna’s love for running began in elementary school and blossomed into running all three years for her middle school cross country team, even when that meant running with braces on her knees. 

Now 17, and almost two years since her last operation, Jenna is back to competing in cross country races with her high school team, surpassing her personal records and placing second in the state. “It’s crazy to think that if we’d listened to the first doctor, she would’ve endured significant damage to her knees, and we would now be looking at much more intrusive and extensive surgeries. We are so incredibly grateful that we found Dr. Gibson and Shriners Children’s Greenville!” 

The Recorders Column - Commentator March 2023

 First, I hope everyone had a great Christmas and a Happy New Year.  As we started 2023 with our first Quarterly Business Meeting and Elections of our 2023 Divan & Area Reps I wanted to take a moment to congratulate everyone on their appointments!  

A special Congrats to our newly elected 2023 Potentate Illustrious Sir Byron Sheppard and Lady Michele!  I know he will have a great year if this year goes as well as his Nobility Gala did!  

As a Temple we have a lot to be thankful for.  Thank you to Illustrious Sir Mark Tinsley and Lady Pam for a great 2022  and thank all of you for your support in electing me as your new Temple Recorder. And most of all – I want to thank Sherwood Kaiser, PP for the job well done for the past two years and the help he has offered during the transition.  

As we start, 2023, the Divan and a good many Nobles traveled to Omar and Jamil Temples for their Nobility events.  Hejaz has a great showing at both.  The Divan is visiting clubs as well.  In recent weeks we’ve been to Greenwood, Newberry, Union, and Mid City and saw great attendance at each one!  

Our Clubs and Units Seminar on Feb. 4th at Newberry Shrine Club was well attended and a big THANKS to the club for the delicious breakfast they cooked up for us all!  I hope everyone left with some useful information!

Our next important task is our Onion Sale.  Let’s make sure all clubs, units and individuals get your orders in.  You can order online at or through the Temple Office.

In closing, I hope to see everyone as I travel to club and unit meeting nights.  If you don’t see me – be assured, I am on the way.  I plan to visit all groups through the year.  If you need anything in the meantime – just call the Temple and ask for me!

Fraternally Yours,

Gene Parker

Hejaz Recorder

Commentator Message - March 2023

Wow!!!! What a great start to 2023!!! We had a great time at our 2023 Hejaz Gala Stampede as all of our Cowboys and Cowgirls came out in full force to “Rise With Me and Rock 23”!!! We enjoyed an evening filled with good food, a great message and great entertainment! 

One of our own, Byron Smith, on behalf of our speaker and huge benefactor Mr. Eddie Wilson, delivered the message sent by Eddie. Eddie works tirelessly with our Laurens Race and is a major contributor to our main Potentate’s Project for this year. Eddie is not only a hard worker for our hospitals and children, but he was a Shriner Child himself.   Next our Shrine Child and Ambassador Wyatt Banks and his mother Abby spoke which is always a treat and a great message that represents our cause. Then came the entertainment from our own Cody Webb!!!  I let all three hairs down as we partied and played into the night!!! A huge thank you to all that came and participated!!!

From there we started traveling. We went to see our friends at Omar first, as Mike Donald was elected and installed as Potentate asking Omar to “Charge The Storm”!!!. They had a great program as well with Mike entering the building on his go cart riding over the hearse representing his unit the Omar Dare Devils! They had good food, the presentation by their Shrine child and the evening moved on into dancing the night away!!! Everyone enjoyed the ongoing hospitality throughout the weekend!

Next, we were off to Jamil. Jeff Snipes had been elected and installed as Potentate the prior weekend while we were in Mt. Pleasant. They had a full stable of cowboys and cowgirls as well! There was a special treat for us there! Yes, they had good food. Yes, they had good entertainment. Yes.....they had a great Shrine talk from none other than Bobbi Jo Wright!!!

For those that don’t know, Bobbi Jo is the little girl in the arms of the Shriner in the Kosair Shriners Silent Messenger! What an honor to be there to hear her and get to spend time with her!!! She was truly a highlight to the evening!!!

Since then, the Divan has continued to stay busy. We have journeyed throughout several clubs and units already and continue to travel and visit. We divide to cover more places and have been to Newberry, Saluda, Laurens, Cherokee, Directors Staff, Union, Spartanburg and several more. 

We had our Clubs & Units Seminar at Newberry Shrine Club with record attendance to show up for a full breakfast and our annual entertaining speaker Mr. John Kirkland from S.L.E.D. 

Most recently a majority of the Divan showed up for the Second Annual Polar Bear Plunge, and yes.....Four of us jumped!!!

Folks again, we are off to a great start! Let’s continue coming together with Unity, Fellowship and Brotherly Love!!! 

We will continue to travel and maintain our momentum with enthusiasm and excitement for what we do!!! Keep working hard for your Temple, Clubs, Units and Hospital, all of which help us take care of our Kids!!!! If we haven’t seen you yet.....We Will!!! Keep the faith!!!!

Please “Rise with Me In 23” because there “AIN’T NO JAZZ LIKE HEJAZ”!!!!

Byron Sheppard

Potentate Hejaz 2023

The Blood - March 2023


The Blood

I remember back to when I was searching for a good church. I went to many different denominations, met many people, with many different titles. Some would be called pastor, reverend, deacon, elder, etc. I got so caught up in religion that I started to lose track of what was truly important. 

Religion can be just as bad of an addiction than anything else. It can be easy to look at all the rules and regulations that denominations have and think you don’t belong or that you are too far gone. But the word of God tells us the exact opposite! 

John 8:12 (KJV) Jesus says, “I am the light of the world: he that followed me shall not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life”. Jesus doesn’t say he that gets their life right first. Jesus doesn’t say he who doesn’t have problems. No! Jesus called on ANYONE that called on him. 

Many of you are familiar with the Old Testament story in the book of Exodus about the Passover. The Lord told the Israelite families to sacrifice a lamb and put the blood of the lamb over their door. So, when God passed through the land, every door marked with the blood of a lamb was safe, but the doors that were clean ended up losing their first born. 

The Lord didn’t stop and check what was inside of the homes with a lamb's blood. He didn’t see if they were good servants of God. He simply checked for the blood. In the same manner, we have the blood that Jesus shed for us! Nothing that we do makes us worthy. No amount of tithes, no amount of scripture we memorize, or quote can save us. Nothing but the blood of Jesus can save us! 

What a God we serve that sent his one and only son named Jesus to live a life just to die for us. None of us deserve it, but I’m thankful for the blood of Jesus. Life can throw so much at us, but no matter what we can always be thankful for him and what he did.   Just like that old hymn goes, “What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood!” 

I’m ready to hear the words well done thy good and faithful servant. Thankfully I’ll be able to hear those words because of what Jesus did for me and you can too if you accept him as your lord and savior. (Mathew 25:11) 

May God bless you all!

Brayden Couch 

Hejaz Chaplain 2023

Saturday, February 18, 2023

2023 Polar Bear Jump

On Saturday February 18, 2023 the Anderson Red Fez Shrine Club held its second annual Polar Bear Jump at Big Water Marina.  It was a chilly day out for the jump, and the water was a warm 41 degrees, but the attendance was amazing. 

We would like to give a big thank you to Big Water Marina for hosting us for our event. We had Palmetto Moonshine there offering tastings of its products as well as Typsy Tavern Bar and Grill with their food truck for great food for all to enjoy. We want to thank all of our sponsors that without whom we couldn't have made this possible. 

So many people gave their time and effort to help set up this event from the planning stage down all the way to the event itself. We plan to continue this great tradition every year. We want to say thank you to the business sponsors that donated prizes that were raffled off at the event. Thank you to everyone who donated to or attended the event and we hope to see everyone again next year. Go ahead and mark calendars for next year as we intend to hold it on the same weekend.


Friday, February 3, 2023


2023 Rose Parade Recap

On January 2, National Patient Ambassadors Katherine and Parker, along with Imperial Potentate Kenny Craven, First Lady JJ, and other Shriners guests rode on the Shriners Children's Rose Parade float Back in the Game. Check out these videos about their experience decorating and riding on the float.

Fire Destroys Hejaz Shrine in South Carolina

 by Christopher Hodapp A devastating fire on Tuesday morning has destroyed the Hejaz Shrine Temple in Mauldin, South Carolina, near Greenvil...