PORT HAWKESBURY: The weather might have been chilly and unsightly, but spirits in the Lodge Rooms of St. Mark’s United Church were warm and inviting as local Freemasons gathered to celebrate a milestone.
“Our charter was originally given to us 150 years ago, and it was time to honour it,” said Phillip Jennex, Worshipful Master of Solomon Lodge 46.
On January 6, the local Lodge celebrated its Charter Night.
Talking with The Reporter a few days after the event, Jennex said his group has a great deal of history since the local group was granted its charter, back in 1868.
“When the town was Ship Harbour, we were down close to the waterfront,” he said of the early days. “We had to take that building down because it was very old and no longer usable. It was a business district and a happening part of town, and the ferry would come across. All of the traffic from that had to use Granville Street.”
Across the province, and indeed, across Canada, membership to groups like the Masons are in decline, as home entertainment makes it so easy for folks to stay in their living rooms. Membership isn’t a hassle for the folks at Solomon Lodge 46. This has been a growth year for the Port Hawkesbury group.
“We’re thriving,” Jennex said. “This year saw a major growth spurt. We have seven people in the system now working on their third degree, and we have people ready to start their first degree. This coming month, we have people doing their second degree.
“It’s a very exciting time for us.”
Jennex said that a lodge brings a great deal to a community, so it would be great to see Solomon Lodge 46 grow even more.
“We’re not a charity, but we do charitable works,” he said. “We give out bursaries; we give to the food bank. We do everything we can, and if we build the lodge up, we can do even more.”
The only requirement to be a Freemason, Jennex said, is to believe in a supreme being. With that, the group is open to people of faith outside of Christianity. Anyone who believes in a supreme being is welcome.
Moral standing, honesty, and being a good member of society are the values Freemasons hold, Jennex said.
“Our motto worldwide is ‘We take good men and make them better.’”
A misconception, Jennex said, is that Masons are a group that’s for men only.
“The basic lodge is for men only, but we are not strictly a male-only organization,” he said. “We have lodges for couples, lodges that are run by women, and lodges that suit the needs of any sort of group you can imagine.”
Anyone wishing to join is welcome to tap the shoulder of any Freemason in the area. That person will be happy, Jennex said, to point newcomers in the right direction.
The Grand Lodge of Nova Scotia (grandlodgens.org) is also a resource people can visit for more information.