140 year of Shriners

140 year of Shriners

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Meet the Masons: Charity open house next week at Utah's Masonic temples and meeting houses

By JaNae Francis (Standard-Examiner staff)

The public is invited to a statewide open house at 10 of Utah's Masonic temples and meeting houses next Saturday, May 22.

The event is designed as a project to help support the Utah Food Bank. All those who arrive at a temple between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. with a non-perishable food item will be admitted for a tour.

There are four Masonic lodges in the Top of Utah circulation area. They are: Ogden's at 1240 20th St. (at the corner of 20th Street and Harrison Boulevard); Bountiful at 143 W. 1000 North; Brigham City's at 305 S. 100 East, and Clearfield's at 452 E. 700 South.

The Freemasons are not a church, but a fraternity of men who all believe in a higher power.

"This is a great opportunity for anyone curious about Freemasonry to walk in, tour our lodge rooms, and ask questions," said David L. Smith, a member of the Ogden Lodge.

"Everyone is welcome to visit. We look forward to this chance to openly discuss Masonic activities and contributions to the community."

"We're trying to demystify to the public," said John Liley, public relations chairman for the Grand Lodge of Free Masons in Utah. "We are a public group. We are a charitable organization."

Liley said public tours of Freemason temples and meeting houses are not rare.

"Throughout the year, you can call and get a public tour if you wanted to," he said.

Those interested just need to visit the Utah Masonic website, utahgrandlodge.org, to get a list of secretaries of the respective lodges.

Liley said only the Salt Lake Masonic temple has a full-time staff, so he encourages sending e-mails to request an appointment.

But the statewide organization hopes next Saturday will draw a big crowd.

"Doors will open to the public for tours and to meet local Freemasons who will be happy to answer questions about our ancient fraternity," states a news release on the event.

"We try to do this every year," said Liley. "Last year, it was kind of neat. We had folks that went to two different buildings."

Liley said the public tours also a good opportunity for those men interested in joining the fraternity to get more information about the group.

"We have 2,000 members in the state," he said. "We are seeing an upswing in membership."

The Grand Lodge of Utah was formed in 1872 and has since worked diligently toward supporting and improving communities and in general of promoting the ancient landmarks and values of Freemasonry, which have provided a positive influence in the development of our country, according to the statewide website.

"In today's complicated and fast world, the ancient traditions and values of Freemasonry provide a much needed source of moral strength and honest friendship among its members," it states.

"The Ogden Masonic Lodges moved into this building in September 1967." Smith said. "At that time we had three Lodges with 116 members. We now have two Lodges with 218 members."

Smith said Utah Masonic Temples house 29 constituent lodges from Logan to St. George.

The more than 80-year-old Salt Lake Masonic Temple houses six lodges in addition to the Grand Lodge of Utah and activities of the York Rite, the Scottish Rite, The Shrine, Eastern Star, and other organizations, he said.

"Freemasons have an accomplished history in Utah dating back to 1859," Smith said. "They continue to be active in community and charitable initiatives, such as the Shriner's Hospital for Children, the Masonic Foundation of Utah, with donates $250,000 a year to Utah charities, and Children's Learning Centers, which treat children with speech disorders in Ogden and Salt Lake City."

For more information, call the Salt Lake Masonic Temple at (801) 363-2936.

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