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Monett, MO Times: Masonic efforts explained for Kiwanians

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The Monett Times

Masonic efforts explained for Kiwanians

Friday, July 26, 2013

Murray Bishoff

The activities of the Monett Masonic Lodge were described for the Monett Kiwanis Club at a recent meeting.

Skip Smith, Worshipful Master of Masonic Lodge #129, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, in Monett, reported Monett's lodge was chartered in 1890. The lodge has held meetings ever since, making it the oldest organization in Monett with continuous meetings.

The AF and AM is one of the oldest fraternal organizations in the world and has six million members. Free Masonry has been documented for more than 1,000 years, back to England in 950 A.D. The Grand Lodge is the state administrative body, sponsoring charity activities and coordinating events statewide

One of the more prominent programs conducted by the local lodge is the Missouri Child Identification Program (MoCHIP). For the last five years, the Monett lodge has sponsored the program, gathering information for families about their children on a disc. The information is compatible with the national Amber Alert system.

The lodge keeps no records of the children's identifications, only the consent form from the parents. Around 150,000 children have been documented by the program. The information has helped to find eight missing children who were returned to their families.

Participation in Free Masonry begins at the Blue Lodge level, Smith said. Applicants are accepted regardless of race or religion. Progressing in rank requires completing levels of study. Studies follow the medieval stone mason guilds, starting as an apprentice, then following the craft on the way to becoming a master.

"It's a beautiful system of moral values in allegory, illustrated by symbols," Smith said. "The model of Free Masonry is taking good men and making them better."

Women are not allowed into the Free Masons. They instead have their own organization, the Order of the Eastern Star.

A Master Mason is entitled to participate in the appended bodies of Free Masonry, such as the Shriners, Scottish Rite and York Rite.

Shriners are known for operating six burn centers nationally and 17 orthopedic centers. The Scottish Rite sponsors medical clinics for children with hearing and speech impediments. The York Rite sponsors vision clinics.

To advance into these upper levels of Masonic activity, candidates have to be as Master Mason first and then complete three degrees.

Free Masons must believe in a higher being, Smith said. Religious affiliation is not significant. The Fraternal organization has a prominent spiritual aspect, more than most civic groups, Smith noted. There are 11 principles of Free Masonry, including benevolence, charity and integrity.

The Masonic Home Foundation of Missouri operated two retirement homes, one in St. Louis and another in Kansas City, for people of the order or spouses and their families. Today the foundation funds services to local communities for its members.

The local lodge also provides scholarships to Monett High School graduating seniors annually, Smith said. The Pierce City lodge supports the backpack program for children in food challenges families.

Masons have a number of health related programs. Their efforts taken on diabetes, heart disease, multiple sclerosis and lung disease. Other organizations within the Masons have specific missions. The Masonic Service Association in Silver Springs, Md., for example, sponsored veterans home visitations.

Anyone interested in Free Masonry can contact the Monett Lodge at 501 13th St. or speak to a mason.

Gordon Brown, Kiwanis president, presided at the meeting. Jon Suit was the program chairman.

The Monett Kiwanis Club meets at noon on Tuesdays for a meal and a program, usually at Happy?House restaurant.

Further Reading:

Travelling Men - Fraternal Associations

The F..W.. 'Tyler'