Why did you become a Freemason?
Date: Tue, 11 Feb 2003 15:31:08 EST
From: "Walter E. Lee, Jr." <WalterLee@aol.com>
Subject: Why I Joined Freemasonry
"Why I Joined Freemasonry"
By Walter E. Lee, Jr.
In 1979 I married the love of my life and moved to the small town of
Orlinda, Tennessee. Orlinda is little more than a wide spot in the road
these days, but once upon a time it was a nice-sized town. It once had
its own department store, drug store, two grocery stores, a car lot,
dentist and doctor's offices. It was nearly a self-sufficient
community. But, with the modernization of the world and the interstate
highway system, Orlinda became the simple bedroom community it was when
I moved there in 1979. The only businesses in town were a flour mill, a
couple of gas stations, and one country grocery store (above which was
held a Masonic Lodge). There really was not enough of a town left for
the city council to govern.
Somehow, I got it into my head in 1990 that I wanted to run for the
office of City Commissioner in this little town. I did and I won. The
meetings were boring and useless at worst and challenging on occasion.
I always looked forward to any time I could spend helping my community,
but I was often discouraged at the roadblocks that were always put up to
stop progress and the apathy of the citizens. The absolute best thing
that came out of the job was that I became friends with Russel Moore,
the city manager. Russel was old enough to be my grandfather, and
perhaps I saw him as the grandfather I never had. We tended to agree on
most things, even when the other commissioners disagreed with both of
us. We often put our heads together to solve problems that had remained
unsolvable for many previous years.
One day we were discussion the impending purchase of a new fire truck
with the mayor of our small town. We were planning on driving to
Elizabethtown, Kentucky to look at a new stainless steel water tank. I
mentioned that I was available on Tuesday evening. Both the mayor and
Russel said that Tuesday evening would not work, because they both had
to attend lodge that evening. We made plans to go another day, but for
the first time in my life I wondered, "What is this lodge thing?"
Later, while Russel and I were sitting alone in his office,
discussing important and trivial matters, I asked him about Freemasonry.
He explained to me what Freemasonry is all about and gave me a rough
outline of what happens at the meetings. Then I asked that fateful
question: "How does someone become a Mason?" Russel smiled and said,
"You just did it" He told me to meet him at the office the next day and
he would give me a petition.
The next day, I met Russel at the office as promised. In his hand he
held a petition. As he handed it to me, and I reached for it, he
retained hold of it and said, "By taking this petition, I want you to
promise that you will try to never again do or say anything that would
be displeasing in God's eyes. I don't want you to promise me this, but
I petitioned the lodge and got my degrees within about five months.
I was raised in October, and in December I was elected Junior Warden of
Crystal Fountain Lodge #282. Membership at that time was a staggering
33 members. The next year I was elected Senior Warden and we moved from
the old lodge hall above the grocery store to a brand new brick
structure paid for by the proceeds from selling the old lodge building
to the guy who ran the grocery store, several fundraisers and a lot of
donations. I spent two years as Senior Warden before being elected to
two years a Worshipful Master. During my second year as Worshipful
Master, Russel passed away from lung cancer. He had been a long-time
Secretary of the lodge. The next year, I replaced him as Secretary and
have been Secretary ever since.
Russel once told me, after I had become a Master Mason, that there
would come a time when there would no longer be a Masonic lodge in
Orlinda, and he expressed sadness at his own opinion. The membership
had been dwindling for years and actually got to an all-time low of only
30 members. I asked him what could be done to prevent this from
happening. He told me that since most of our members were past
retirement age, it would take some young members embracing the ideals of
Freemasonry to take charge and turn the trend around. Crystal Fountain
Lodge did not have anyone willing or capable enough to even confer any
of the degrees. We depended on other local lodges to come and do our
work for us. I started learning and started teaching almost the same
things I had just learned. Within a short while there were several of
us learning and teaching. We asked other members to get more involved.
We visited other lodges. We held fundraisers, not so much to raise
funds, but to portray the lodge favorably in the community. We spent
money for community improvement. We donated money to schools and
Today, our lodge has 44 members, and we are once again growing as a
lodge. And we all try to never do or say anything that would be
displeasing in God's eyes.
Walter Lee, PM
Crystal Fountain #282
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