Many of us are aware that our Grand Lodge experienced a devastating downturn during the 1960s-1980s. Membership suffered and Lodges found themselves in endless cycles of debating minutes until midnight. Our noble institution found itself resembling a pie and ice cream fraternity, run solely by Past Masters, with an emphasis on ritualistic floorwork and word perfection without consideration for substance. To top it all off, our Grand Lodge continued to be segregated. While the situation was unquestionably dire, our esteemed Brethren confronted the challenge head on and laid the groundwork for our Grand Lodge as we know it today.
The principles of Brotherly Love and Truth, with the underlying aim to exemplify the masonic ideal of universality, propelled our Grand Lodge from disaster to dynamism. Luminaries of our jurisdiction looked to the ritual as their philosophy of life to drive the necessary change and reinvigorate our institution.
Priority number one was unquestionably integration, for Brotherly Love transcends race, creed, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, and sexual orientation. With the affiliation of WB George Nicol to Albert Pike Lodge No. 33 and the concerted efforts of esteemed Brethren such as MWB Stewart Miner, MWB Jerold Samet, MWB George Adams, and WB Victor Adegbite, among others, the color barrier in our Grand Lodge was finally broken.
Accompanying these efforts was a recognition of our unique position, the District of Columbia, as a universal masonic bridge across the United States and the world. This recognition was due in large part to the efforts of MWB Charles Iversen, MWB Robert Heyat, MWB Dan Frederick, and MWB Mansour Hatefi and was sparked by the consecration of Mehr Lodge No. 90. It was the first bilingual lodge in the jurisdiction since Arminius Lodge No. 25 was founded in 1876 and provided a venue where Iranian American Brethren could practice the Craft in their mother tongue and ritual. Several lodges followed suit and provided the foundation for the masonic tapestry that we see represented today. This was and continues to be a testament to the principle of Truth. As MWB George Adams says, “If you want to know how spiritual you are, ask yourself, ‘How universal is my consciousness?’”
The pillars of Brotherly Love and Truth further strengthened our universal temple with the establishment of mutual recognition and amity with the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia. While many Brethren contributed to this historic achievement, our MWB Dan Frederick was instrumental in laying the footing in 1999 and MWB Mansour Hatefi presided over the concord in 2000 to bring harmony to the two Regular Grand Lodges in our nation’s capital.
Continuing to expand on consciousness was the third pillar that needed to be erected to ensure that our temples grew on a true foundation. At the core, our leaders strived to ensure that every Brother left with knowledge that they did not have before coming to lodge. Diving a level deeper, our esteemed Brethren looked to prepare lodges for when a Brother was awakened, that the Lodge may be prepared to foster the esoteric or spiritual dynamic that Freemasonry offers.
As recent events have reminded us, times of hardship bring many to act on their base instincts. We Freemasons, however, must remember that we are equipped with the working tools and sound teachings to guide us in our resolve. As evidenced by those who paved the way, a due diligence to our Craft will enlighten us to emerge with a greater sense of universal love, truth, and strength from any crisis that we may encounter.
*Special thanks to MWB George Adams for taking the time to share our Grand Lodge’s history with me in support of this article.