Karsceal Turner – I Got NEXT!
A major masonic celebration was observed by members of various lodges across Central Florida. Each September, around the United States and abroad, Prince Hall masons come together to celebrate the man who made the organization available to Blacks.
On this particular occasion, Districts 16 and 17 under the Most Worshipful Union Grand Lodge (MWUGL) converged at Christian Fellowship Baptist Church located at: 1701 S. Bell Avenue in Sanford where Rev. Otis Raines is Pastor. The church is actually situated in the Historic Goldsboro section of the city. Look that up on Google.
A parade of masonic brothers and eastern star sisters were led into the church sanctuary by District Deputy Grand Master Randolph M. Harris. It is always a sight to behold behind the lens of my camera. I also get to see the reaction of church members as the brothers and sisters file in. I assure you, they were looks admiration as these men and women, who happen to be believers were welcomed to fellowship with like-minded individuals.
Rudolph Bradley #706 served as host for the occasion. The speaker for the afternoon was our own Grand Worthy Patron, Rev. Ronald E. Williams, who was in attendance as a Past-Master. Williams stressed true brotherhood and sisterly love. He knows a thing or two about how important those are.
After services, everyone was treated to the regular after-church fare we are all familiar with consisting of; Fried chicken, green beans, potato salad, and cake.
Lodges in attendance included: Espanola #161, Bunnell, Boaz #212, Ormond Beach, J.C. Reese #429, Mims, Rudolph Bradley #706, Sanford, Deltona #756, Deltona, and Beehive #779, Apopka.
Also in attendance were sisters of the Order of the Eastern Star (O.E.S.) including: Essie M. Giddens #96, Bunnell and Serenity #118, Ormond Beach.
Yours truly was in the house serving as Patron of Serenity Chapter with camera always at the ready. More on Serenity later this week.
Rounding out the attendance were members of two Knight of Pythagoras councils to include William S. Dennis #56, and B.J. Lane #117. Members of this organization filled nearly half the side of the church. They looked sharp next to the other side of the sanctuary, which was filled with members of the PHA masonic family. Their members hail from Deltona, Apopka, Sanford, Deltona, Daytona, and Bunnell.
The Knights of Pythagoras are a youth masonic organization which takes young boys between the ages of nine and twenty and help to develop them into young men. It promotes family values, provides educational scholarships, and plays a significant role in the uplifting of humanity. I had to give the young men a shout out. One day, they may become my brothers in the lodge although they are already my brothers ethnically. Just know this.
Why celebrate Prince Hall?
Fact: Black Freemasonry predates the Declaration of Independence in this country. Look it up, I did.
Prince Hall was a Black man noted as a tireless abolitionist. He is lauded for his leadership in the free black community in Boston, and as the founder of Prince Hall Freemasonry. He lobbied for education rights for black children.
Prince Hall was involved in the Back-to-Africa movement and approached the legislature to request funds for voluntary emigration to Africa. In January 1773, Prince Hall and seventy three other African-American delegates presented an emigration plea to the Massachusetts Senate. This plea contended that the African Americans would be better suited to the warm climate of Africa and would better endure the African lifestyle. The plan failed obviously.
Prince Hall made a mark on masonry as a whole. He was an educator, an abolitionist, a veteran, an educator, and one of the first Black men recognized as a Master Mason.
As an abolitionist, Prince Hall was an advocate of freedom and was a civil rights torch-bearer. He sought, and achieved civil rights for freed men in New England. He adamantly filed petitions preventing free men, viewed as runaway slaves from being deported to the Deep South. As an educator, he established the first Black school in New England.
As a Master Mason, On March 6, 1775, Prince Hall and fourteen (14) other men of color were initiated, passed and raised to the degree of Master Mason in a Military Lodge attached to an Irish Regiment of the English army. This was the early beginning of what has become the oldest and largest Black Fraternity in America. African Lodge was organized on July 3, 1776, with Prince Hall as the worshipful master.
As a veteran, Prince Hall was a volunteer in the Revolutionary War, joining more 5,000 other Blacks fighting for a freedom that would not come to them, although the war was successful.
Prince Hall Day is one of two celebrations observed by Prince Hall masons in the state of Florida, the other is Saint John’s Day, which is held regularly in June.
Atmosphere of worship
One thing I can say about the Most Worshipful Walter Gulley, Jr. (our Grand Master), the man is fanatical about worship, and fellowship within the Prince Hall masonic family here in Florida. I don’t think I’ve attended as many church functions since I’ve been a Past Master. I’m certain he will be pleased at how full the house was Sunday. I truly could feel the increase brotherhood and sisterhood as I traveled around the venue shooting pics. The camera caught everything.
Worshipful Master Donald Jordan of Boaz Lodge #212 commented on the occasion. “I am always blown away by the opportunity to dwell in unity with my brothers and sisters, not only within the lodge and chapter, but also in a worship setting,” Jordan said.
Shalonda Montgomery of Serenity Chapter #118 was happy to fit in the service amidst a weekend full of activities. Montgomery is involved in activities related to pop warner football, cheerleading, and mentoring. “I’m just really glad to fit this in with all that I have going on,” It is testimony to the dedication we are called to exhibit,” Montgomery said.
Thus ends another venue in which members of the masonic family as a whole and Prince Hall masons specifically come together with the church community as believers in Christ.
There was not an air of occult but one of fellowship in the church that afternoon, and then everyone broke bread together and shared stories and memories. It was a good look and I’m humbled and honored to write about it and expose the positives of the order.
The Holiday season fast approaches and you know I’ll have it covered. In the meantime. Stay tuned for more stories and examples of the good works of my Masonic brothers and sisters of the Order of the Eastern Star. By now everyone knows that if I have camera in hand, you’ll likely see it in print for all to see. It is an unspoken duty I assume as an up-right masonic man to give positive publicity through the column I regularly author.