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more light #102

Alabama Historian Address

by Ed Halpaus
Grand Lodge Education Officer
Grand Lodge of A. F. & A. M. of Minnesota


James L. Gossett Grand Historian Grand Lodge of Alabama 1993

Most Worshipful Grand Master, I wish to express my appreciation for my appointment as Grand Historian and to state that I have enjoyed serving as a member of the Grand Lodge.

The 1992-93 Grand Lodge Officers have performed the cornerstone laying of Carbon Hill Lodge No. 494 at Carbon Hill and the dedication of Littleville Lodge No. 881 at Littleville.

Freemasonry is the oldest and largest order in the world. Since Freemasonry is a society of friends and brothers, it fits the definition of a fraternity. For centuries, Masons have opposed preju­dice, spiritual abuse, and political tyranny. Masons have stood for integrity, freedom, and individual dignity. Freemasons take pride in the part which the Fraternity has played in the history of America. Masons have been prominent in government, science, sports, entertainment, and man's newest field of space exploration. Masons believe in a Supreme Being, in morality, and a practice of charity. Therefore, Masons welcome a Christian, a Jew, a Buddhist or a Moslem.

One of Freemasonry's objectives is the making of better men. This is accomplished through teaching. Masonry tries to inculcate in the minds of those who come into it some of those virtues which are recognized as prerequisites for a better life. Its teachings include brotherhood, morality, justice, tolerance, citizenship, education and freedom of ideas, religious choice, and freedom of expression. The primary objective of a Masonic Lodge should be to train its members to understand the truths taught by its rituals and ceremonies. Brothers working individually and collectively toward the objective of Masonry can add much to the fraternity and leave the world in better condi­tion for our brothers of tomorrow.

Freemasonry came to America about the third decade of the Eighteenth Century. St. John's Lodge at Boston, Massachusetts, established in 1733, is the oldest Lodge on the North American Continent. Masonic qualities have been demonstrated by our brothers since the beginning of the fra­ternity. George Washington was proud of his Masonic Membership, saying, "The object of Freema­sonry is to promote the happiness of the human race." Washington's Masonic background was a significant part of his philosophy of life. In fact, when he took the oath of office as President, George Washington was serving as Worshipful Master of Alexandria Lodge No. 22. Despite his overwhelm­ing obligations as Commander of the American Army and later as President of the United States, Brother George Washington was an active member throughout his public life and into his retirement.

Freemasons laid the Cornerstone of the United States Capitol on September 18, 1793. Two hundred years later the Grand Lodges of Free and Accepted Masons of the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia reenacted this historic ceremony in Washington, D. C. to commemorate the bicentennial of the U. S. Capitol on September 18, 1993. Today, with many additions and remodeling, the United States Capitol is one of the most beautiful and widely recognized structures in the world. To the people of these United States it continues to symbolize life, liberty and happiness.

Masonic Light first came to Alabama with the establishment of Madison Lodge No. 21, under a dispensation issued by the Grand Lodge of Kentucky in 1811. Alabama was admitted to the Union in 1819. Madison Lodge No. 21 and Alabama Lodge No. 21 assisted in forming the Grand Lodge of Alabama in 1821 and were re-designated as Madison No. 1 and Alabama No. 2, respectively. The first Grand Lodge of Alabama Annual Communication was held at Cahaba on December 11, 1821. In 1822, Alabama No. 2 changed its name to Bethesda No. 2. In 1824, Madison No. 1 and Bethesda No. 2 combined to form the lodge that continues to exist as Helion Lodge No. 1, Huntsville, Alabama.

The Southern Baptist Convention of June 15 - 17, 1993, was attended by 17,886 messengers in Houston, Texas. Concerning Freemasonry, messengers overwhelmingly approved a Home Mission Board report that stopped short of condemning Freemasonry. This Home Mission Board report had been directed by The 1992 Southern Baptist Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana. The report states: "In light of the fact that many tenets and teachings of Freemasonry are not compatible with Chris­tianity and Southern Baptist doctrine, while others are compatible with Christianity and Southern Baptist doctrine, we therefore recommend that consistent with our denomination's deep convictions regarding the priesthood of the believer and the autonomy of the local church, membership in a Masonic Order be a matter of personal conscience." The recommendation also urged Baptists to "prayerfully and carefully evaluate Freemasonry in light of the Lordship of Christ, the teachings of Scripture, and the findings of this report, as led by the Holy Spirit of God."

The real worth of a Mason can never be measured in the opinion of others or in the Masonic Honors he has attained. The standard by which a Mason must be judged is by his own evaluation of his conduct and by the principles which he knows to be unchanging. As you journey through life, you I will take your cue from the beat of the drum. This feeling has been well expressed by Brother Gordon T. Hallmark in the poem that follows:

The Beat of the Drum
Each life has a beat that it follows; We call it the beat of the drum, And once the rhythm has started, The melody's sure to come.
It may be the beat of another, It may be a beat of our own, It may be a high pitched frequency, Or it may be a lower tone.
And all through our lives we must follow the beat which has come to our mind, To give our lives cadence and meaning, Our purpose in life so to find.
For our purpose is life's direction, Our life's goal it would be for some; So listen as soul and you'll hear it, The beat, beat, beat of the drum.

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