Mysterious Freemason Celebrates 250th Anniversary in Michigan
DETROIT, April 7, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Detroit's Zion Lodge No. 1 Freemasons held it's Charter first from the British next the French and then the United States (New York) and finally from Michigan. Zion Freemason's have been a Detroit institution for 250 years.
According to Wesley Berry II a fourth generation Freemason, "In 1764, the Provincial Grand Master of the Free and Accepted Masons in New York issued a Charter to a Masonic Lodge in Detroit. A Lieutenant in His Majesty's 60th Royal British American Foot Regiment was made Master of Michigan's first Masonic the Lodge. The Detroit Masons first adopted the name Zion Lodge in 1794 when they operated under a new charter from French Quebec. With the American occupation of Michigan, the lodge again came under the Grand Lodge of New York now part of the United States which issued a new charter in 1806 to "Zion Lodge No. 1" of Detroit. This name was retained by the Grand Lodge of Michigan when it was formed in 1826."
Detroit Freemason, Troy Brownrigg says that "Zion's Freemasons will celebrate their 250th anniversary with a Great Lakes Masonic Conclave being held April 25-26th, 2014 at The Masonic Temple in Detroit, Michigan." The Detroit Masonic Temple is the largest masonic temple in the World. The two day Great Lakes Masonic Conclave will encompass degree exemplifications performed by both U.S. and Canadian Freemasons, a masonic historical presentation, masonic temple tours, and their annual Festive Board in the Crystal Ballroom. The annual Festive Board is taking place at 6:30PM on Saturday, April 26th and is open to the public. Tickets are available at www.zion1764.com.
Although Berry says that "Freemasonry cannot claim that it came to the Great Lakes area on any specific date, it is known that it was first brought to the area by the French at a time when it was Indian territory." The earliest documented Lodge west of the Allegheny Mountains was warranted in Detroit on April 27, 1764, by George Harrison, Provincial Grand Master of the Provincial Grand Lodge of New York, with Lt. John Christie of the 2nd Battalion, 60th Royal British American Foot Regiment as it's Worshipful Master. By 1772, there were at least three Lodges functioning at Detroit: Lodge No. I and two Irish Military Lodges, Nos. 299 and 378, warranted to Masons of the 10th Regiment, then stationed at Detroit. The next three Lodges warranted for work in Michigan were also started by members of the visiting military. These were Harmony Lodge in Detroit, St. Johns Lodge No. 15 on the island of Mackinaw and Zion Lodge No. 10 (now No. 1) warranted in 1794 for work in Detroit.
"Big things have small beginnings" said Berry as he proudly recounts one the early philanthropic efforts of Zion's Freemasons. Many historic events are recorded in the well-kept minutes of Zion Lodge but perhaps the most momentous occurred in September of 1817 when the Lodge provided much needed support for the newly-created University of Michigan: The idea first took shape in the minds of Augustus Woodward, a Mason and the first Judge of the Territorial Supreme Court; the Reverend John Monteith, a Presbyterian clergyman and Father Gabriel Richard, a Roman Catholic Priest. On September 15, Zion Masonic Lodge met and subscribed the sum of $250 in aid to the University of Michigan, payable in the sum of $50 per year. Of the total amount subscribed to start the University two-thirds came from Zion Lodge and its members.
The Masonic Commitment to Character:
Many years ago, the famous Freemason Dr. Albert Schweitzer wrote these magnificent words: "It is not enough merely to exist... Every man has to seek in his own way to make his own self more noble and to realize his own true worth." Those words capture the meaning of Freemasonry. As the worlds oldest and largest fraternity, their goal is to build a mans most valuable possession his character.
Freemasons believe that the strength of the family, the church, the community and our country rests with men of strong conviction, firm ethical and moral values and a devotion to the democratic system of government. As Masons, they intensify their concentration on these enduring values.
In a day when it seems that few people really care about rising to the highest and best in life, it is good to know that there is a group where a man can really improve himself. In lodge meetings, there is no talk of politics, no discussion of religious issues, even though every Mason must affirm a belief according to his own understanding in deity and devotion to his country.
Masons are concerned with developing their minds and enlarging their scope of knowledge. In a word, Masons are dedicated to becoming better men. Men of every walk of life belong to Masonic Lodges. They are proud of their centuries of tradition, their belief in brotherhood, country and the many Masonic acts of charity and compassion.
The Founding of Freemasonry:
The origins of Masonry are lost to antiquity however they clearly reach back to Medieval times when the great cathedrals of Europe were built. The stonemasons who created these awe inspiring Gothic structures formed craft guilds to protect the secrets of their trade and to pass on their knowledge to worthy apprentices.
By the 17th century in England, these guilds were accepting honorary members, men of learning and position. These members were not working stonemasons or even associated with the building trades. As accepted Masons, they eventually grew into a separate organization called Freemasonry, a moral and ethical society that taught the 18th century ideals of equality and the importance of education in freeing mankind from prejudice, superstition and social injustice.
Masons continue to use the simple tools of the ancient stonemasons the square and compasses, the trowel, plumb and level as symbols to teach their ideals. A Mason is oath-bound to build his life and character with the same care and precision that stonemasons used to construct the cathedrals and temples centuries ago. Today, there are millions Masons around the world although the exact number is unknown, it is estimated as high a five million.
Masonic Concern for Others:
Freemasonry has an outstanding record for helping others. Along with scholarships and loan funds to assist young people in furthering their education. Masons support many community
based charitable projects. From building free handicap ramps to retirement homes for the elderly and hospitals for cripple children they have a truly huge philanthropic commitment to society.
The Improvement of Life:
Yes, Masons are members of a fraternity that has its secrets, but the many character-building activities of Freemasonry indicate that it is far from a secret organization. Masons are active in their dedication to improve life. Always ready to undertake a difficult task in a quiet, dignified way, todays Masons go about the job of extending the hand of brotherhood. For the man who is looking for deeper meaning in life and who wants to be part of a fraternity committed to his growth and improvement. Masonry is filled with marvelous opportunities with limitless possibilities.
As the saying goes, "you can be judged by the company that you keep" and the illustrious ranks of Freemasonry is a marvelous list from Benjamin Franklin and Voltaire to Shaquille O'Neal. Of the forty-four Presidents of the United States fourteen of them have been Freemasons. A complete list of famous Freemasons would be overwhelming, however a list of a few famous Freemason's can be seen at the official website (www.zion1764.com) of Detroit's Zion Lodge.
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SOURCE Wesley Berry