Our Secretary, WBro Andy Green, recently visited the Alamo Lodge No.44 which meets in San Antonio, Texas. This is his account of his memorable visit:
I arrived at the imposing Scottish Rite Cathedral in San Antonio, a multi-use centre for all local Masonic communities, on the evening of Wednesday 10th December 2014 to be immediately and warmly greeted by some of the Brethren of Alamo Lodge No.44.
The Alamo Lodge No.44 of the Grand Lodge of Texas, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons is the first and oldest Masonic Lodge in the City of San Antonio. It was founded in the historic Alamo, the Shrine of Texas Liberty. The lodge was granted a charter from the Grand Lodge of Texas on 15th January 1848 and a plaque on the south wall of the Long Barrack of the Alamo celebrates this.
Unlike English Masonry, an informal supper, prepared and cooked by the Steward, was served in the Banquet Hall prior to the meeting. The Lodge was opened at 7pm by WBro Max Charleswell Jr., who as Master sported a fine Cowboy hat. The Lodge Room was very familiar in its layout although the pedestal (referred to as the Altar) and VSL were positioned in the centre of the chequered floor rather than directly in front of the Master. There were distinct differences in the positioning of officers particularly the Secretary and Treasurer both being stationed either side of the Master.
A three-pronged electric lamp representing the three lesser lights was also in the centre of the room with the light bulbs having very fetching Square and Compasses filaments.
The opening ritual was similar in context to Emulation but with entirely different phrase and wording. An obvious addition was the Saluting of both the USA and the State of Texas flags, perhaps similar to us paying tribute to our Queen and Country when singing the National Anthem.
The Alamo Lodge did not conduct a ceremony on that evening but went through the Business of the Lodge, a mixture of our reports, Risings and Committee Meetings in a light hearted and relaxed manner. A new member was ‘petitioned’ and balloted similar to that in the English Constitution which proved in favour. The Candidate’s Initiation was set for the following Wednesday.
The Master of the Lodge then asked me to say a few words about a English Freemasonry so I briefly spoke about my Mother Lodge, the Wyggeston Lodge No.3448, the success of the United Grand Lodge of England Universities Scheme, our Province and the forthcoming Tercentenary celebrations in 2017. Greetings were then conferred by me from the Master, Wardens and Brethren of the Wyggeston Lodge and also the Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland, RWBro David Hagger which were heartily reciprocated.
I was subsequently presented with a large coin by the Master which I was informed celebrated the new Grand Master who was installed just a week before at their Grand Lodge meeting in Waco, Texas. On the reverse of the coin is a Masonic symbol chosen by the Grand Master which this year is the familiar 47th Problem of Elucid. The Chaplain of the Lodge, Bro James Ollerton, proceeded to give an engaging short lecture on Pythagoras and the 47th Problem.
The main business of the meeting was however discussion regarding the preparations for a forthcoming annual Lodge meeting to be held at The Alamo Mission itself with the newly installed Grand Master of Texas attending to which I was also readily invited to attend.
So roll on two days and I was back with my new found friends from Alamo Lodge in the early evening outside the historic Alamo Chapel. Approximately 200 Masons had paraded through the streets from the Masonic Centre in their regalia to the Chapel. They were joined by the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Texas along with his recently appointed District Deputy Grand Masters (DDGM).
We all filtered into the chapel and sang the National Anthem aided by a lone cornet played by the Grand Musician, WBro Ronald E Lawrence. The Master of Alamo Lodge gave a short but heartfelt address about what Masonry meant to him and how he followed in the footsteps of his Grandfather who was also Mason and that his Masonic Bible had been used in the Master’s Obligations.
The Grand Master, MWBro Michael L Wiggins was introduced who then addressed the Lodge and its visitors on the history of the Alamo and how it represented the liberty of Texans. He proceeded to pay tribute to the Freemasons who lost their lives in the assault by General Santa Anna on 6th March 1836. Those Masons included Jim Bowie, David Crockett, James Bonham, Almaron Dickinson and William Travis. This was followed by a rendition of ‘The Last Post’ on the cornet which hauntingly resonated around the stone chapel. The Grand Master then proceeded to introduce his DDGMs and then concluded the meeting with the National Anthem. More photos of the event can be viewed here.
Visiting is one of those special reasons why I enjoy Masonry, meeting people from all backgrounds but having that commonality in our outlook in life. Visiting across lodges in England is rewarding especially when noting the subtle differences in our ceremonial work. Visiting a Lodge in American is a whole different experience and one every Brother who has an opportunity to do should make it a priority. I felt very privileged to be witnessing a very truly special meeting of the Alamo Lodge and cannot express my thanks enough to the Master and Brethren of the Lodge for their kind hospitality and allowing me to participate in a very memorable occasion.
However, if you wish to visit abroad it is imperative that you contact the Provincial Grand Secretary and check that the Grand Lodge under which the Lodge meets is recognised by the United Grand Lodge of England. It is also important that no attempt should be made to contact the Grand Secretary of a Foreign Grand Lodge until on their territory, for to do so from England would contravene Masonic Protocol.