Sunday, July 14, 2013

A More Noble and Glorious Purpose: Gauging the Impact of the 110th Annual Communication of the MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Washington and its Jurisdiction

Dias of Grand Masters for the 110th Annual Communication of the MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Washington and Jurisdiction

All over the Jurisdiction of Washington, leading up to the initial gavel of the 110th Annual Communication, there was a magnified East Wind of change swelling over Prince Hall Freemasonry in the State. After some time, holding together a split Jurisdiction at the seams, and a growing indignation among the Craft, it was clear and inevitable that this Annual Grand Session would become one of historic proportion; we were not disappointed.

Given the circumstances and issues prior to, and the work necessary to restore the harmony and peace of the Jurisdiction, it is my sincere belief that this present Administration, under the Grand Mastership of MW Patrick L. Hughes, serves to be one of the MOST IMPORTANT Grand Lodge staffs in the history of our Grand Lodge. It is the next two years that will either MAKE or BREAK the Jurisdiction.

We now rest our feet on the summit of a new chapter in the history of the Organization here in Washington; we can't waste time thinking or cheering for the transition in leadership-THIS moment is greater than that. We can't waste time trying to wait and see the downfall of the present Administration, so that we can have the opportunity to say, 'I told you so!'. THIS moment is greater than that.

Fifteen days from the day of the elections, I wrote the article, The Prepared Heart, which stated:

Our belief in a Supreme Being will lead us to the logical conclusion that this Supreme Being has invested us with a Purpose from birth to eternity. It is equally understood that all of life's trials, tests, accomplishments and failures serves as supports that assist us in reaching and attaining that Purpose. The principles that evolve from these life lessons are supplements to the Divine revelation provided us from the Supreme Architect of the Universe. These supplemental principles can be found in various forms and vehicles, freemasonry being one of such. It is Creative Fate and the government of Universal Law that we encounter the opportunity to obtain these supplemental principles so vital to the unfoldment of the Original and Divine Purpose inherent in us."

What we bore witness to on Wednesday is the manifestation of the spirit of Freemasonry operating in the context of a specific time and space. Despite who won or lost, I believe that every Master Mason in the room loved Freemasonry. And, embedded deep within the recesses of our Prepared Hearts there is a burning desire to see the GREATNESS of the WASHINGTON JURISDICTION on display. It was from the nexus of this unseen, but most predominant desire that created the atmosphere for transition.

There was a paradigm shift that preceded the Annual Communication, that was a foregoing sign of things to come. Lodges with long standing rivalries came together, Districts were unified, sentiments were established and drawing us all toward the inevitable encounter with Creative Fate.

With the Masonic family of the Prince Hall Washington Jurisdiction coming from all over the World, there was a constant element of landmark events to take place. I had the distinct honor of being selected to serve as Senior Deacon in opening the 110th Occasional Lodge, along with the following Masters and Wardens of District #1, for it had been several years since the Annual Communication was held in District One:

WM-Brother Dana Norwood (Master of #2)
SW-PM Willie Lowe (SW of #53)
JW-Brother Jerry Linear (Master of #17)
SD-Brother John L. Hairston (JW of #53)
JD-Brother Terrell Forrest Paramore (JW of #43)
SS-Brother Dwight Berry (SW of #17)
JS-Brother Raymond Trice (JW of #17)
Marshall-Brother Jesse Dailey (Treasurer of #17)
Chaplain-Brother Greg McNair (JW of #37)
Tyler-PM Byron Saunders (Master of #45)

After a splendid opening, the gavel was turned over to the District Deputy Grand Master of District #1, RW Steve Harrington, who ushered in the Grand Lodge Officers. One The Grand Master of Masons took the East, we were shown just how significant the Prince Hall Washington Jurisdiction is; hate or love him, Past Grand Master Gardner M. Torrence brought stars out from the Prince Hall Masonic constellation.
Honorary members of the MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Washington and its Jurisdiction

Here is a listing of the Grand Masters, Deputies, and delegated Attendees:
(L to R):

VWB Sam Roberts, DGM Grand Lodge of WA
MW Donald E. Stutts, GM Gran Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon
MW Cleveland K. Wilson, GM MWPHGL of Arkansas
MW Anthony T. Stafford, GM MW Union GL of FLA
MW Arvin Glass, GM MWPHGL of Tennessee
Most Ill. SGC, Deary Vaughn, Southern Jurisdiction
MW Wilbert Curtis, GM MWPHGL of Tx, President of the Commission of Grand Masters
MW John E. Miller, GM MWPHGL of Arizona
MW Bruce Vesper, GM of MW Grand Lodge of WA
MW Curtis Harris, GM MWPHGL of Alaska
MW Melvin M. Thorpe, GM MWPHGL of MD
MW W. Michael Murphy, Representative for the MWPHGL of California
MW Glenn Marshall, HGM of MWPHGL of Rhode Island
MW Michael Harper, GM MWPHGL of Oregon, MT, ID

This within itself provided me with the opportunity to make direct in-roads for research and networking having also been appointed to the Committee of Foreign Correspondence and Recognition of Non-Prince Hall Masons.

This show of foreign, yet sister Jurisdictions proved how valuable a Jurisdiction Washington State is. We have witnessed and marked some very important history here, and the limitless potential of our Jurisdiction should now be evident to all; we should now take care to truly realize how our actions and conduct is viewed in the light of the Nation. We should also recognize the great responsibility that has been entrusted to our care, never should we deem light the seat we are custodians of in this global organization.

Many of the States represented by these giants in Freemasonry, hold friendships of Brothers I have met and share bonds with, and to have their Grand Masters made honorary members was a sign of strategic and vital connections that have been made there.

 MW Michael Harper, newly elected Grand Master of the State of Oregon

No one in the Washington Jurisdiction would be caught without knowing what part Oregon has played in Prince Hall Freemasonry in the State of Washington. One of the first lodges in the constitution of our Grand Lodge is none other than Enterprise Lodge #1 of Oregon, which gave us three Grand Masters, including our First Grand Master, John C. Logan, after whom my mother lodge is named-J. C. Logan Lodge #53:
The Banner of J. C. Logan Lodge #53

MW Deary Vaughn, GM of Oklahoma and the Most Illustrious Sovereign Grand Commander of the A. A. S. R., Southern Jurisdiction

After beginning studies on the origins of certain rituals, I ran across videos by Honorable Joseph A. Walkes which gave some details about Scottish Rite Masonry in America. I found the history of both the Northern and Southern Jurisdictions on both, PHA and Mainstream, to be most intriguing. It was a grand day to meet the Sovereign Grand Commander for the Southern Jurisdiction, RW Louzaine gave me much history on the Brother himself, and to place an actual person with that information was most beneficial. Oklahoma's own, MW Amos T. Hall was vital in our crusade against Clandestine Masonry in the early '60s, as well as to the entire Prince Hall organization. Much of that detailed story can be found on this Blog.

MW Arvin Glass (GM of MWPHGL of Tenn.)
and MW Cleveland K. Wilson (GM of MWPHGL of Arkansas)

In light of the various researches I have conducted, one most vital, concerning the National Grand Lodge, much of what is documented in the archives of these two Jurisdictions, Tennessee and Arkansas, is crucial to explain the story of the National Grand Lodge's last days as a legitimate organization. it was good to sit down with them and ask a few questions and make in roads into these two states.

VWB Sam Roberts,  Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Washington (Mainstream)

I feel as if the MW Grand Lodge of Washington Jurisdiction is a second home. I have been working closely with my good friend Todd Johnstone, the Chairman of the Grand Lodge Library and Museum of the MW Grand Lodge of Washington. With the election of MW Bruce Vesper, it will get a lot closer for the Jurisdictions. I had the opportunity to speak extensively with Grand Master Bruce Vesper, who laid on the table his sentiments of what has to be done in this Jurisdiction to further secure the legacy of Freemasonry as a whole. He extended to me the access to whatever help needed to restore our archives and establish our own Grand Lodge Library.

The presence of these powerhouses of Freemasonry in the house could not diminish the permeating feeling of a shift in the Masonic paradigm. There were open wounds that needed to be exposed to open air, and be given the proper attention that the healing process could begin. With the opening of the ballot, there was an impending fork in the road for the Jurisdiction, many were eyed the ballot box with a knowing revelation, that in that box, all counted votes and results, held the future of this Jurisdiction and which direction would be taken. As the Election Committee read the results, there was a charge of energy that surged through the entire facility; whether you agreed with the results or not, there was no denying the impact of the decision of the most important seat in the Jurisdiction-that of Grand Master of Masons. 
The Election results being read

With the results in, given the whole lot of events leading up to the announcement of the results, the Craft had spoken, MW Patrick L. Hughes would don the Hat and Gavel, and be given the opportunity to take the Craft into this next chapter.
With all of the odds against him, in a situation that many believed insurmountable, MW Patrick L. Hughes rose from the ashes as the new Grand Master of Masons for the Jurisdiction of Washington State (PHA).

You could see a great burden lifted from his shoulders as the announcement was read. As a man of spiritual understanding, I believe he recognized the honor, but also the great task at hand. He would be handed not just the Hat and Gavel, but Jurisdiction that was wounded and in a real need of healing.

There is no doubt in my mind the passion that this man possesses for the Craft, and the deep acknowledgement of what has to be done to return Prince Hall Freemasonry in this state back to former glory.

I could see a sense of instantaneous responsibility as he took the obligation and charge of the Grand Master, I saw that look that said, "At all cost we must heal and become great again".

                                                                                There is a new direction, a new vision, a renewed purpose in the Jurisdiction, it is this writer's sincere and solemn hope that we can put aside differences, and do away with PERSONAL ALLIANCES, so that the CRAFT may operate in the fullness of its regarded potential.

If we are Master Masons FIRST, then we owe the CRAFT our loyalty, and NO MAN is to be preferred above the NEEDS and PROGRESSION of the Craft. Leaders come and go, they are elected, serve and pass on, the Craft is Forever.

The newly elected Grand Master addresses the Masonic Family

As the Grand Master addressed the Craft, the Masonic Family as a whole on the close of the Annual Communication, he placed a level amongst us and charged us to step on it, in the name of Freemasonry and for the good of the Craft. Leaders have changed, faces have changed, but the ultimate of objective remains the same...To be beacons of light for our community and families, to make the work of the Craft effective and to safeguard this Sacred and Honorable Institution. We can voice our opinions, have our disagreements concerning the 100th Annual Communication, but we must LIVE OR DIE TOGETHER!

Congratulations to all the newly elected Officers of the MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Washington:

MW Patrick L. Hughes-Grand Master of Masons
RW Gregory D. Wraggs, Sr.-Deputy Grand Master
RW Julius Brown, Jr.-Grand Senior Warden
RW Jimmie Jordan-Grand Junior Warden
RW Lester Dixon-Grand Secretary
RW Robert D. Cassidy-Grand Lecturer
RW George Hampton-Grand Trustee

May God be with you all as we embark on a restoration and healing of the mightiest of Jurisdictions in the Prince Hall Constellation.
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This article is the expressed views of Worshipful Brother, John L. Hairston, newly appointed Worshipful Grand Chaplain of the MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Washington and its Jurisdiction, and in no way reflects the views and sentiments of the MWPHGL of WA.