Experiencing a Table Rite
by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB. Greg J. Knott
Over the holiday break, I attended my very first Table Rite, held at Bridgeport (IL) Masonic Lodge No. 386. Bridgeport Lodge joined together with the Bridgeport York Rite bodies: Henry Godeke Chapter No. 38, Harold R. Greer Council No. 55, and Gorin Commandery No. 14, in hosting this festive occasion. These bodies came together in the name of promoting unity within the craft, a celebration of the season and an occasion to celebrate with family and friends.
The dining room was arranged in spectacular fashion. In the center was the triangular altar used in the Knight Templar Order of the Temple degree. The altar was set with candles and wine goblets and the holy bible in the center. The guests were seated at tables around the perimeter of the room, so that all had a great view of the proceedings. This particular table lodge was open to family and friends (more than 40 were in attendance), which is an excellent setting for those who are not Freemasons to learn more about our fraternity.
A customized Table Rite script was put together by Jason Kinsolving, Right Illustrious Grand Principal Conductor of the Work of the Grand Council of Cryptic Masons of the State of Illinois. Each of the presiding officers of the four bodies had speaking parts, which was used to emphasize the unity of all the brethren. Bruce Rhinehart, PMEGHP of Illinois, presided over the evening and he provided the guests some context with the ceremonies that were taking place. Incorporated, was a history lesson on St. John the Evangelist, whose memory is traditionally celebrated on December 27 of each year and a series of readings from the New Testament on the story of the birth of Jesus Christ.
Most impressive was the Christmas Libations, a series of toasts given in the honor of the Most Worshipful Grand Master of Illinois Tony Cracco, RAM Most Excellent Grand High Priest of Illinois Sean P. McBride, Grand Council of Cryptic Masons Most Illustrious Grand Master Larry E. Raglan, and the Illinois Grand Commandery Right Eminent Grand Commander Enrique J. Unanue.
A final toast was given in honor of Duane Lee Vaught, Grand Master of the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the United State of America. The toast, written by the Most Eminent Grand Prelate Reverend William D. Hartman, was read and I was given the honor of reading the response prepared by Grand Master Vaught. We ended the evening with a prayer and closed the gathering.
I know there are several versions of table lodge programs out there. I would highly encourage any masonic body to incorporate this into your year. It was a wonderful way to celebrate the season with brothers and friends.
I extend my heartfelt thanks to the Bridgeport brethren for inviting and welcoming me as a participant in their evening. Special thanks to Bridgeport Lodge WM Todd Gray who prepared some fantastic food. This was an experience I won’t soon forget.
WB Gregory J. Knott is the Past Master of St. Joseph Lodge No. 970 in St. Joseph (IL) and a plural member of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL), Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL) and Naval Lodge No. 4 in Washington, DC. He’s a member of the Scottish Rite, the York Rite, Eastern Star and is the Charter Secretary of the Illini High Twelve Club No. 768 in Champaign-Urbana. He is also a member of ANSAR Shrine (IL) and the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees. Greg serves on the Board of Directors of The Masonic Society and is a member of the Scottish Rite Research Society and The Philathes Society. Greg is very involved in Boy Scouts—an Eagle Scout himself, he is a member of the National Association of Masonic Scouters.