Cleveland Advocate (Cleveland, Texas)
Tradition and transition at Masonic ceremony
By Carole Price
On July 9, in a solemn ceremony peppered with wit and wisdom, the Masonic Lodge of Shepherd No. 866 A.F.& A.M. recognized an esteemed member for 50 years of service and inducted l3 officers, including master of the lodge.
District Deputy Grand Master John Lovett, Jr., representing all the masons of Masonic District 27 presided over the lodge ceremony where members honored Arlis R. Williams with a 50-year pin for his exemplary service to the lodge and masonry. Horace "Bubba" Wright was inducted as master. Wright succeeds outgoing Master Steve Howeth, who served for two years; one year as elected master and year as interim master.
Lodge leaders inducted to their respective offices are: Kenneth Rollins, senior warden; Joe Odom, junior warden; Steve Howeth, treasurer; John Dunn, secretary; Chick VanWagner, chaplain; Bill Katz; Jr., senior deacon; Randy "Skeeter" Crowder, junior deacon; Randy Crowder, Sr., senior steward; Ed Trapp, junior steward; and Norm Dow, master of ceremonies. Watching the ceremony were their families and friends, including several wives who were members of the Eastern Star, the women's independent organization allied with the Masons.
Among the highlights of the event was a letter to the Shepherd Masonic Lodge members from U.S. Representative Kevin Brady. The letter praised the lodge and members for their philanthropic contributions to the community, including commitment to public education. In the letter, Brady took the opportunity to congratulate and commend Kacey Flint, winner of the lodge's 2005 academic scholarship. Public officials attending were Mark Price, criminal district attorney of San Jacinto County, who read aloud the letter from Congressman Brady; Lou Rogers, constable, precinct four, and Joe Johnson, San Jacinto County commissioner, precinct four.
"Charitable works are our main emphasis," Wright says. "Supporting public education, aiding widows and orphans, contributing to Masonic hospitals and doing all-around charitable works is what we're all about." Wright and Howeth along with other members regularly convey Masonic history. "Did you know that George Washington was a mason?" they'll ask. You'll hear that most of the founding fathers were masons, as were many U.S. presidents and Texas hero Sam Houston. A stroll down Masonic history is part of the fun at the Shepherd Masonic Lodge - including a poster depicting famous Masons, photos of the original Masonic lodge in Shepherd and photo portraits of each master since 1903.
"We are not a "secret" society by any means," says Wright. "Our books are open, and some of our meetings are open. Certain knowledge is 'secret,' known only to fellow masons, and passed to each other only by word of mouth."
Masons throughout the world trace their origins to 700 BC to the building of the King Solomon's Temple. Originally a secretive "trade society" Masonic members were craftsmen in various building trades from the Greco-Roman Empire to the Renaissance, having built the great cathedrals of Europe. In the 13th Century membership was opened to men outside those trade. Since then, the process of building character and personal integrity, as opposed to building with brick and mortar, became the cornerstone of the organization. Tools of the building trade, such as the plumb line and T-square, today are applied symbolically to integrity in the minds and hearts of fellow man. Lodge No. 866 of Shepherd was founded in l903, and the group was housed in a wooden two-story building for decades. A new lodge home was built in 1948, the historic structure on Hwy. 150 next to the railroad tracks in Shepherd and still serving as lodge home today.
For more information about masons in Texas, check out the Grand Lodge of Texas website at www.grandlodgeoftexas.org. For information about Shepherd Masonic Lodge No. 866 contact John Dunn at 936-298-3757 or H.R. Bubba Wright at 936-377-3343.