By Guest Contributor: Bro. Byron J. Collier
Over the last weekend in September my Lodge road tripped to Washington, D.C. While there, we toured the George Washington Masonic Memorial in Alexandria, VA, which is a pilgrimage I believe every Mason should make at least once in his lifetime. We also visited Lodge Sojourner Kilwinning #1798 at the Takoma Park Masonic Temple of Washington, D.C., where we were treated to a greater understanding of Scottish ritual, and we were treated to genuine fellowship and hospitality by our brethren in the nation’s capital.
Through travel and exposure to the unfamiliar we learn that the differences we believe to be set in stone are not nearly so concrete, and further understanding one’s past allows for its lessons to be learned from and expanded upon.
The George Washington Masonic National Memorial is more than a colossal memorial and museum. It is a tourist attraction and destination; research center and library; community center; performing arts center and concert hall; banquet and celebration site; and meeting site for local and countless visiting Masonic lodges and organizations. However, first and foremost, it is a memorial to honor and perpetuate the memory, character and virtues of the man who best exemplifies what Freemasons are and ought to be, Brother George Washington.
At the Memorial I saw some of the early faces of American Freemasonry, their relics, and depictions of Masonic life from the nation’s inception. From the original charter of George Washington’s Lodge to his and other national leaders’ actual aprons and jewels, I was presented with tangible presentations of our collective Masonic past, American history and how the two twains intertwined. What particularly struck me was how those faces of the past have evolved into my brethren today. There appeared a certain air of contentment on the faces of our Masonic forefathers that permeates the ages, right to the pictures I took of my brethren that weekend. We are the living embodiment of the premise that all men - when on the level, can be brothers and their perceived differences are in fact the glue that binds them together.
The brethren of Lodge Sojourner Kilwinning # 1798 are themselves a unique story in diversity and tradition simultaneously.
Founded in the later part of the 20th century in January 1992 by a special dispensation for the formation of a new Lodge by the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia, with the expressed purpose of serving as a Lodge for foreign Masons living in the Washington area, and especially to "... permit and encourage the preservation of cherished Scottish traditions and practices". Some of the founders of Sojourner Kilwinning had not been active in any Lodge, for some 17 years (!), and the enthusiasm they displayed working in Scottish ritual was inspiring and wonderful to watch.
Most of the founding members of the Lodge are from Africa and the Caribbean, originating from mostly Scottish Constitution Lodges, but also English. It was explained to us that they have a founder from a Scottish Lodge, and several Americans, some of whom joined Freemasonry when in the armed forces while deployed on tours in Scotland and Korea.
The primary purpose of their Lodge is "to bring together Masons whose mother Lodges are in amity with the Grand Lodges of England, Scotland and Ireland". The Brethren who have come together to form the Lodge were described as Sojourners - "those who stay temporarily in another place" while Kilwinning was chosen because of the links held with a small town in Ayrshire, Scotland, that holds a special place in Scottish Masonic history. The number, 1798, was the next number in sequence on the roll of the Grand Lodge of Scotland, but is not a sequential number in DC.
In good Scottish tradition, the festive board held that night was a fine affair with many of us Brethren earning our supper with anecdotes, humor, and the occasional interesting toast!
The world outside our sacred walls is rife with division and strife. Innocent blood is spilled and suspicion drives the machine’s retrograde motion. The simple truths of Freemasonry are low whispers in a din of white noise – but we must listen for those whispers! The example of fellowship itself doesn’t change the world, but it does plant seeds and change the ground in which they rest. By living as brethren for all to see we offer the world a better path by example. I pray fervently that it will be followed.
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BYRON J. COLLIER has over 20 years experience working in the financial services industry. As Founder of Artemis Capital Group, LLC, Byron has served as its President and Managing Member since 2003. He was a Vice President of Investment Banking with Chicago Investment Group, LLC and held management positions within Global Custody at Bear, Stearns & Co. Inc., (JP Morgan), and Consumer Lending at United Jersey Bank (Bank of America). Byron received his baccalaureate degree from Howard University, Washington DC, and continued with graduate studies in International Business and Commercial Finance at New York University, New York, NY.
Byron served on the Business Advisory Board of Datameg Corporation (OTCBB: DTMG) and is actively involved with local community services including his church as Superintendent of Sunday School for the Ebenezer Baptist Church in New Brunswick, NJ. His interest in world history and cultures has led him to extensively study religions, philosophies, and esoteric traditions, which ultimately led him to the Masonic Fraternity.
Byron was raised to Light this past June and is a member of Jerusalem Lodge No. 26, in Plainfield, New Jersey. As a true lover of knowledge, Byron seeks to discover the meaning and Light that is present within the diaspora that is mankind and, applying this Light to his own spiritual path, help others in their journeys.
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