Stephen A. Balke
Grand High Priest

01 GHP2

Stephen Andrew Balke was born September 17, 1971, in Chicago, Illinois.  He moved to New Mexico in 1974 with his mother, Kathleen M. Balke. He has a half-sister, Jan, who lives in Illinois.  In 1997, he married Michele Carter; they now have, and are raising their five children in Estancia, New Mexico.

Stephen is a Business and Information Technology Consultant, Trainer, and Project Manager whose projects and engagements have afforded him much travelling and experience. He previously acted as both a Custom Course Developer and Trainer and Community Outreach Consultant for the University of New Mexico, a Business Analyst for the Department of Information Technology for the State of New Mexico, and as a Consultant for Conway, Inc. and Site Selection Magazine, an economic development consultancy. Currently, Stephen is a Managing Partner of Decision Forward, LLC, a Principle in Studio Balke, and works as the General Grand Recorder for Cryptic Masons, International.

Brother Stephen's Masonic career began at Edgewood Lodge No. 82 in 2006. With MWB Ernie Hazelwood as his Coach, he learned many aspects of Masonry early in his Masonic experience and served as a Worshipful Master of Estancia Lodge No. 33 (2009); and is a Past Master (2011) and Past Secretary (2012 - 2016) of the Lodge of Research of New Mexico. He also maintains plural membership in Zia Daylight Lodge No. 77.

Right Worshipful Brother Stephen started his service to the Grand Lodge of New Mexico with his appointment by MWB David Baker as Editor of the New Mexico Freemason. While serving in this capacity, he was appointed Webmaster for the Grand Lodge web site (www.nmmasons.org) and, by MWB Gary Deck, to a seat on the Jurisprudence Committee, continuing in this service under MWB Bobby Arther. His tour on the Jurisprudence Committee ended in 2012, and MWB Josh Lightle placed Stephen on the Publications Committee and appointed him Senior Grand Steward. He served MWB William R. L. Childers as District Deputy Grand Master for the Fifth Masonic District in 2014.

May of 2007 saw Brother Stephen's introduction to the York Rite of Freemasonry when he took the Degrees and Orders at the Albuquerque Festival and became a member of Rio Grande Chapter No. 4, Hiram Council No. 1, and Pilgrim Commandery No. 3. He has worked at Festivals, held Offices in the Albuquerque Bodies and has taught the classroom portion of the Degrees and Orders at several Albuquerque Festivals. In 2010, Companion and Sir Knight Stephen became a plural member of the Santa Fe Bodies and served in each of the bodies. He served as Eminent Commander of Santa Fe Commandery No. 1 in 2012, Excellent High Priest in 2013, and Illustrious Master in 2014.

In 2009, the Santa Fe Conclave of the Red Cross of Constantine elected Knight Companion Stephen to receive its Degrees, and he is a Past Puissant Sovereign (2016) and currently serves as Recorder. He is a member of the Allied Masonic Degrees and was invited into the Societas Rosicruciana in Civitabus Foederatis (Masonic Rosicrucians), where he is currently serving as First Ancient.  The York Rite Sovereign College (New Mexico College No. 145) invited him to become a member in 2010, and Stephen is most recently a Past Governor. Invited into membership of the Knight Masons in 2012, he served as Excellent Chief in 2017. The Holy Royal Arch Knight Templar Priests also extended a welcoming hand to Bro. Balke and is a Past Eminent Preceptor. In 2018, the Knights of York Cross of Honor invited Knight Stephen Balke to join their ranks, and he is serving as Herald.

Brother Stephen and his son Sean were both inducted into the International Order of DeMolay at its 2012 Annual Convention. Brother Sean joined Mesa Chapter, while his father became one of the few Masons inducted into the Kit Carson Honorary Chapter, whose degrees are only given to a man over twenty-one who had not joined DeMolay as a youth. Recently, Sean has started working with Route 66 Chapter, and was elected and served as the Charter Treasurer. Stephen is also the very proud parent of his daughters Ashley, Saoirse, Anya, and Victoria, members of Ashlar Assembly No. 58. The young ladies are also serving as officers in Bethel No. 2, Jobs Daughters.

Stephen was appointed to the Grand York Rite lines by Sir Knight and Most Excellent Companion D.W. Winchester; as Grand Sword Bearer for the Grand Commandery of New Mexico in 2014 and as Grand Master of the First Veil in 2015. In 2016, Most Illustrious Companion Paul A. Brehm appointed him as the Grand Marshal of the Grand Council of Royal and Select Masters of New Mexico. He is a Past Cryptic Grand Master from 2018 and a Past Grand Commander from 2017. He also currently works as Chair of the Technology Committee in addition to his position as General Grand Recorder for the General Grand Council of Cryptic Masons International and as a member of the Western States Easter Observance and Social Media Committees for the Grand Encampment.

On May 1, 2017, Right Excellent Companion James H. Rixon passed away in a traffic accident after just three short weeks as Grand King. On February 28, 2018, Most Excellent Grand High Priest Raymond D. MacDonald passed due to cancer. Stephen ascended and was installed Grand High Priest for the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of New Mexico by Most Excellent Companions Dennis Detrow and Fred Kellogg on March 13, 2018. As this was just two months of service, Companion Stephen continued service in the Grand Chapter in 2018 and was elected Grand King. On April 12, 2019, The Companions of the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of New Mexico elected him Grand High Priest.

Having lost both of his parents before he reached the age of forty, Brother Stephen has found that Freemasonry has, and continues to provide references, resources, and activities that help him be a better man, husband, and father. He is particularly grateful for the opportunities that encouraged a positive growth environment for his family. In his words, "I was told that you will get out of Masonry what you put into it. I would argue that it gives you so much more. Even, or perhaps especially, when you're not aware of it.”