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Masons and Eastern Stars Family & Friends Day
Members of Truelight Lodge #6 at Bay Vista Park on July 7
BY HOLLY KESTENIS, Staff Writer
ST. PETERSBURG – The Brotherhood of Masons have a reputation for being mysterious in their meeting rituals. One of the oldest and largest fraternities in the world, the brotherhood of masons is more than two million strong.
Men of all ages and all walks of life are welcome to join, but they must be of good will, have good character and believe in an almighty creator set on practicing the spirit of universal brotherhood.
Truelight Lodge #6 is a new Masonic organization in St. Petersburg set on bringing back the old ways and getting youths involved with becoming part of the Mason organization. To prove their dedication to the youths, they plan to get involved with local schools and organizations aimed at helping boys in need.
“We just want to do the right thing; we want to get back into the community,” said Worshipful Master David Witherspoon. He sees youths on the street playing ball every day with their mothers, kids with no or limited male role models. Witherspoon doesn’t want them falling into favor with drug pushers who frequent the neighborhoods. “They need more positive men.”
Witherspoon hopes to entice younger men to Lodge #6 so that local Masons will continue to give back to the community after established members are too old to run around. They currently have a few school teachers, a professor at St. Petersburg College and a couple of coaches that have agreed to join.
Grandmaster Mark S. Jordan is over all the lodges in Florida. Although his home base is Orlando, he attended the family and friends meet and greet. With roughly 150 chapters and 75 lodges spread from Pensacola to Key West, the Ancient Free and Accepted Masons are making a difference throughout the state.
“We’re helping one another, helping others,” said Jordan. “Basically, going about doing the right thing, bringing up people the right way; and we’re starting with the youth.”
Guests of the community get together enjoyed ribs, chicken, collard greens and cornbread Truelight hopes their attempt at community building will bring about more men willing to give back, and also help them in the process of finding their own building. Lodge #6 is currently meeting at other lodges in the area.
Solomon James is one of the recent men to show an interest in the new chapter. A historian, he has been a member of the fraternity for about 40 years. Although not officially a part of Truelight yet, James arrived while the group was forming and discussed the history of the Masons with its members.
“I share my perspective because I used to travel,” said James. His lodge used to visit Egypt and revels in the history of the Masons. “It goes thousands of years back, so when you see a pharaoh, you’re looking at a Mason.”
James feels being a Mason is a way of life that should begin as early as possible. The fraternity helps its members understand how to get along with others and lead by example. Requirements for induction are simple. You must be male, have a sound reputation, believe in a supreme being (regardless of religion) and be willing to give of yourself to the community.
Witherspoon hopes by the end of the year to start helping the youth. Truelight hopes to implement a fishing ritual with local boys to pass on not only the sport but the opportunity to have meaningful conversations and positive time with kids.
Bethel Community Church’s Rev. Manual Sykes, also a member of Truelight and third in charge, has a school next to his church. He wants to teach youths about the boundaries of life, how to be a better man and how to deal with humankind.
Witherspoon describes being a Mason as chipping off the old and revealing a better person for the community. He wants to teach other Masons how to not only better themselves, but to also be better for their significant others, be a better neighbor and how to be humble.
“It has to be in your heart and your mind to make yourself better,” he said. “Whatever your mind is thinking, the heart does.”