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Origin of Ritual Competitions

In the days before Job’s Daughters competed for awards in ritual competitions, members attended Grand Session with very little to do. At best, they sat through Grand Bethel meetings and watched the ritual performed by Grand Bethel officers.

      However, there was unrest at Alliance (Nebraska) Bethel #3. The adult leaders of Bethel #3 already emphasized good ritual work. Donna Akert, Director of Epochs, had very strong ritual skills. She demanded excellence of the members in performing ritual, and was backed by the Bethel Guardian Council who believed in its importance.

      Joining Bethel #3 as Guardian in 1976 was Julie Reno. As Honored Queen at St. Paul Bethel #71 in 1971, she was well-schooled in Job’s Daughters ritual work under the excellent tutelage of Guardian Elvera Rohman. Julie and Donna shared a love for the ritual and discovered they agreed on nearly all aspects of its performance.

      Good ritual work in Alliance wasn’t limited to Bethel #3. Year-after-year, the Alliance DeMolay Chapter won many trophies for their ritual performances at state and international competitions. Often, a large international team trophy towered over all the other awards won by the chapter.

      While both organizations performed top-notch ritual, the difference between the two was the DeMolay trophy case was filled with trophies while Bethel #3’s case had none.

      The Alliance DeMolay members enjoyed pointing out that fact to the members of Bethel #3. Their regular taunts about the Chapter’s prowess in ritual work irritated the members, who brought it to the attention of Julie. She also didn’t understand why the young women didn’t have an equal chance to experience the challenges and benefits of speaking competition. After all, she had fared very well against young men in speech and debate in school and while in 4-H. Donna, too, agreed that Job’s Daughters should have similar opportunities.

      The two set out to change the situation. After developing a few ideas, Donna used her contacts with the Grand Guardian Council leadership to inquire whether they would be agreeable to starting a team ritual competition. The GGC liked the idea and asked them to return with more details about how a ritual competition could be conducted.

      That was followed by weeks of Donna and Julie collaborating on judging criteria, score sheets, registration and communications about this new, exciting activity at Grand Session. With minor changes, their work was approved by the GGC and registration forms were distributed about the first ritual competition in Job’s Daughters at the 1977 Grand Session in Chadron.

      The only detail remaining unfinished was the trophy, which was left to them to design and to find the funds to pay for it. With the DeMolay trophies a constant goad for the girls, Julie and Donna already had a design in mind to make the Job’s Daughters trophy every bit as impressive as anything in the DeMolay trophy case.

      They met with a local jeweler, who also sold trophies, and whose daughter was a member of Bethel #3. He provided an estimate to their exact specifications. Julie and Donna were surprised at the cost and concerned about raising enough money to pay for it.

      The Alliance Scottish Rite supported both youth organizations, so it was only natural for Donna and Julie to approach the Alliance Valley first. During their discussion with the leadership, they were asked about the high cost of the trophy. They admitted the trophy was enhanced. When asked why, they responded that it would be just as wide and one-inch taller than the tallest DeMolay trophy. The chairman of the committee, whose daughter was a Past Honored Queen of Bethel #3, chuckled and moved that the Alliance Scottish Rite pay for the trophy even though it was for a state-wide competition and not for local use. The vote was unanimous. (The name of the Alliance Scottish Rite is still on the Large Bethel Team trophy.)

      In 1979, when the Obligation Ceremony was performed, a Mother Mick Ceremony was added to the competition for smaller Bethels.

      In 1980, the ritual competition was divided into large and small bethels that performed the same ceremony. Tehama Shrine’s Big Sky Shrine Unit in Northwest Nebraska purchased that trophy.

      Alliance won the first three team competitions until Ainsworth took the trophy in 1980. Their win reflected the impact of Nebraska’s ritual competition, which elevated the quality of ritual work across the state among participating bethels.

      Seeing the benefits of the ritual competition – improving members’ presentation skills, and giving them pride, confidence and poise – it was expanded to include individual competitions in 1985, when Donna was Grand Guardian.

      In 1987-88, a record 16 bethels took part in the team competition, when Julie was Grand.

      The enthusiasm of the Nebraska ritual competition was contagious and caught the eye of the Supreme Guardian Council. They inquired how Nebraska organized and judged its ritual competitions and Nebraska’s criteria and forms were sent to them.

      The subsequent success of ritual competitions at Supreme Session prompted its spread to other jurisdictions in the Job’s Daughters world, which extended the influence of ritual competition that originated in Nebraska.

About Us: History
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