Article placed below by: Bill Buchholz
There are some pamphlets available from: Masonic Information Center 8120 Fenton St. Silver Spring, MD 20910-4785
There have been many studies made and guesses as to when or why the Masonic Fraternity was founded. Suffice it to say no one knows, for sure. There are those that believe it started out during the building of King Solomon's Temple as part of the craft of building the temple. "In 1717, Masonry created a formal organization in England when the first Grand Lodge was formed. A Grand Lodge is the administrative body in charge of Masonary in some geographical area. In the United States, there is a Grand Lodge in each state and the District of Columbia. In Canada, there is a Grand Lodge in each province. Local organizations of Masons are called lodges. There are lodges in most towns, and large cities usually have several. There are about 13,200 lodges in the United States." Masonic Information Center, Silver Springs Md. 16th printing. The Blue Lodge Mason, referred to as Craft Masonry the first 3 degrees is open to all men who profess a belief in a Supreme Being. At one time to become a member you had to ask a member for a membership application. It was forbidden by to solicit applicants. A father wasn't allowed to ask his son. It was expected that a young man would observe the life and actions of a mason and thus would want to become a member of the same organization. Too many members were so engrossed in the secrecy of the organization that they frequently hid there good works from others. At Grand Lodge last year I mentioned that "We were so secret that we sometimes didn't know what we did." There were some chuckles among the attendees. We are now advertising on the radio, TV, and Bill Boards. We can now ask men to join our ranks, however they still must profess a belief in a Supreme Being. Blue Lodge Masons (3rd Degree members are Master Masons) have several charities, one of the main ones is support of widows and orphans of masons and then support of the Masonic Homes. I will complete my year as Master of the Lodge next week. In my year as Master our Lodge donated money to the USO on two occasions, Monetary Donations to two different food pantries in North St. Louis, and at our 150th Anniversary Party the attending members sent over $800 to the victims of the Oklahoma and Kansas Tornados this last spring. Couple this with food donations to the Catholic Marydale Center for children. We also participated in the Old Newsboys day collection and sent money to families of men who died from the effects of cancer. Note, not one of these charities were to Masonic members or their families. We went out into our community. There are so many allied Masonic Organizations, it is difficult to remember all of them. A couple of the major ones are: Scottish Rite Masons, 4th thru 33rd degree. You must be a Blue Lodge Member (Master Mason) to become a Scottish Rite Mason. One of the main charities of the Scottish Rite are Language Disorders in children. (The 33rd degree is an honorary degree). These Language Disorder Clinics are FREE. No charges are ever made for care. York Rite Masons, I am not too familiar with the York Rite, however the degrees are Royal Arch Masons (Capitular Degrees), Royal and Select Masters (Cryptic Degrees) the Commandery Knight Templar, they were a uniform, sword and plumed hat. The York Rite is basically Christian Oriented, while the Scottish Rite is more ecumenical, i.e. for all religious beliefs. As I mentioned above my personal knowledge is limited when it comes to the York Rite. They also have several charities that they support. You must also be a Blue Lodge Member (Master Mason) before you can petition the York Rite. Shriners, probably the most recognizable Masonic Organization. There are few people that are not aware of the Shriners Orthopedic Hospitals and the Shriners Burns Institutes. Both of these charities are again for children and FREE. The only requirement one needs is the signature of a Shriner. You don't have to be poor to receive treatment, the philosophy is that if you have a child that requires care, and if you must pay for the care you will be poor. Some of the themes of the Shriners "The Circus with a Purpose", "No man stands so tall as when he reaches down to help a child." Notice all this is for children. To become a Shriner a man must be a Master Mason and either of Scottish Rite or York Rite Mason. The Shriner wears a Jeweled Red Fez, for recognition. Believe it or not some rather influential people were rejected for membership in the Shrine because they didn't want to go through the Blue Lodge and the Scottish Rite or York Rite. Then there are the Grottos of North America. I am the 1997 Past Monarch of Alhambra Grotto of St. Louis. The Grotto is looked upon as the fun group of Masons. You must be a Master Mason to belong, this is the only requirement. We wear a Black Jeweled Fez for recognition. Our main charity is Dentistry for the Handicapped Child. In the past 5 years we have managed to obtain over $30,000 each year, in free dental care, in the St. Louis area. Not bad for at last count 99 members. Yes you will see us out looking for handouts, but we give away a Colgate Toothbrush to each child. This care is also FREE. The only requirement is that you contact a member of the Grotto to start the paper work, we call him "Dr. of Smiles". There are also other organizations such as the The White Shrine of Jerusalem The Tall Cedars of Lebanon The Eastern Star Your Organizations: Jobs Daughters Rainbow Girls DeMolay (for young men) Somewhere in this mess of mine I have listings of other allied organizations, but for the life of me I can't find them. Hope this is a bit clearer. Bill Buchholz firstname.lastname@example.org
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