Masonic Revival and Unity

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for Brethren to dwell together in unity!”

 Psalm 133

On October 21, some 150 Freemasons assembled at Masonic Hall in New York City for the first Metropolitan Region Table Lodge, a ritualized communal meal exemplary of Masonic tradition. Actually, as Master of Ceremonies Sam Kinsey explained, Table Lodges are tiled, like our lodge meetings, and this event really was a Festive Board, but this didn’t confuse the conviviality of the night’s wholly Masonic experience.

The tradition of Accepted Masons dining together in ceremony predates the formation of the Premier Grand Lodge of London and Westminster in 1717. Ritual, ceremony, and education, whether esoteric or exoteric, had been communicated behind guarded doors of taverns and private homes by Speculative Masons in the seventeenth century.

In attendance at Masonic Hall were dignitaries including R∴W∴ Steven Adam Rubin, Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of New York, who delivered an inspiring speech on the values of our fraternity; R∴W∴ Kinsey, Chairman of the Custodians of the Work; R∴W∴ James W. Gregg, Grand Sword Bearer, who performed a wonderfully impassioned rendition of “The Dash,” a poem by Linda Ellis; and R∴W∴ Wilber J. Salazar, Grand Representative of the Grand Lodge of Peru Near New York, one of the night’s key organizers.

The catering for the evening was on point and there were plenty of libations to go around, but I am still at a loss for words to describe how powerful it was to be in the presence of those 150 Masons singing “God Bless America” and Bro. Robert Burns’ “Auld Lang Syne” in concert. For many in the room, this was their first big Masonic event since the pandemic, and they delighted in reuniting with their brethren. For many more brothers admitted after 2020, myself included, this was the first opportunity to see the Craft celebrated in such a traditional fashion on such a wonderfully attended scale.

In this kind of setting, the progenitors of Speculative Freemasonry literally traced early designs upon the trestleboard we know today. Employing chalk, they drew the symbols on tavern floors while enjoying food and drink with their fellows. As the popularity and culture of Masonry grew, so did the number of lodges where they assembled. This tradition of dining together became the bedrock on which the sublime cornerstone of our speculative tradition was placed.

What made the formation of the Premier Grand Lodge in 1717 so enduring wasn’t a need to establish a governing body for the regulation of lodges; it was intended to unite the brethren to celebrate and uphold Brotherly Love. This Grand Lodge emphasized enjoying the fraternity in meaningful and beneficial ways, extending past the walls of any individual lodge to a broader network that served as a reminder that we are all members of the Universal Lodge, which extends to the four corners of the globe under the magnificent starry-decked heaven.

The Communication held by the Grand Lodge on June 24, 1717 was not the beginning of Speculative Masonry; it was a revival of Craft tradition. Speculative Masonry in London had seen a lull in activity and decline in leadership, as massive social and political upheaval shook England since the Civil War. By bringing together four local lodges of Free and Accepted Masons, and committing to strengthening the fraternity’s network and bonds in celebration, Freemasonry began to flourish and spread around the world so that we inherit it today.

And today our Craft requires revitalization again. It is commonly thought that this must start in our lodges, and I agree, but I also see so many lodges struggling for direction. Though it is critical to offer education and quality events in lodge, I believe it is imperative for the brethren to travel and engage with the fraternity at large. Encouraging attendance at events like the Metropolitan Region Table Lodge, Grand Lodge Communications, Masonic conventions, or the upcoming Grand Jurisdiction Unity Day are ways to strengthen our fraternal ties and pay homage to the traditional celebrations that united our fraternity three centuries ago. Events like these are where we glean the most valuable insights and experiences which help enlighten, engage, and inspire us, especially brethren new to the fraternity. It is by embracing in the Masonic bond that we become more than just members—we keep our Craft valuable, vibrant, and vital to our communities and to the human family at large.

Written by: Bro. Jason W. Short

Presently, Jason is the Treasurer of Aurora Grata-Day Star Lodge No.647, a Royal Arch Mason with Nassau Chapter 109, and 32º Sublime Prince of the AASR Valley of NYC.

Jason Short