By Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Bill Hosler, PM
Recently I had the distinct opportunity to attend what, I believe, was a near perfect Masonic event. One day I received a Facebook invite to attend the 2016 Spring Reunion of the Guthrie Scottish Rite in Guthrie, Oklahoma. I had heard so much about this Valley since I moved to the Southern United States and I really wanted to attend.
Maybe it was the Grand Architect of the Universe smiling down upon me, or it was just pure luck, but a few days later I was informed my Fiancé's niece was playing in a softball tournament in a town near Guthrie on the same weekend! We decided to book a room before we changed our minds!
This was going to be a unique experience for me. I was made a 32° Mason in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction. I had attended a few reunions in my home valley but I had only seen a few degrees and a few of the ones I had seen, by now had been rewritten. My valley only shows a select number of degrees each year and for the remainder of the degrees the candidate is just given an obligation for those remaining degrees which aren't going to be performed. Guthrie was going to perform all 29 degrees over the course of this reunion. I promised myself I would see as many as I could over this three day event.
Last year I became a plural member of the Southern Masonic Jurisdiction within the Valley of Dallas. Due to certain issues in my life, I have never really been able to take advantage of this membership, so this was my first real Southern Jurisdiction experience.
As we pulled up to the front of the temple I tried to take in the entire building. I was in awe of the pure size and majesty of the edifice. I knew the building once served as the Capitol for the territory of Oklahoma but I wasn't prepared for it's beauty. I walked up the steps of the building trying to take in everything I could. I opened the heavy door and took my first steps into the ornate lobby.
I walked into the lobby and registered for the event. I then found the office and asked to borrow a prayer cap. Being a Northern Jurisdiction Mason I didn't own a cap. I was under the assumption only 33°’s and men who had been honored with a Meritorious Service awards wore caps, because that's kinda how it works in the north. I have been told recently it's up to the individual valley in the north. Either way I didn't have a cap so I needed to borrow one.
I found my way into the auditorium by the sound of the beautiful organ being played. In the cathedral was a Kimball organ which was installed in 1926. It still sounded brand new. I found an empty seat and waited for the event to begin. I spent the time looking all around me. The room was so huge, I couldn't stop looking at everything.
I was impressed by the number of candidates which began to file into the room. It was the largest class of any Masonic event I had seen. I was told (But I didn't verify) the class had 88 members. I don't know if that is typical in the south but to me, it was impressive.
The class was welcomed to the valley and was introduced to Illustrious Brother Jim Tresner. Brother Tresner is one of my all time favorite Masonic authors! I had hoped to see him there. I wanted to meet him but I was afraid I would say something silly like some Masonic groupie. (I know that sounds silly but I could see it happening.). Brother Tresner told the candidates to “Enjoy the degrees, because you will never be able to see them again for the first time”. Even though I have been a Scottish Rite Mason for over a decade I knew he was right and since this was my first time seeing the degrees of the a Southern Jurisdiction I felt like a candidate all over again.
I had seen as many of the degrees as I could that weekend. I was truly impressed with the meanings behind each one. They were well written and the actors did a fantastic job. I had heard the Scottish Rite considers itself to be “The university of Freemasonry.” I can totally see why now. I was motivated to dig deeper into the meaning and symbolism behind these degrees. The Valley of Guthrie has a correspondence course entitled the “College of the Consistory”. After seeing these degrees I know I will have to enroll in the "college" in the future.
I was totally blown away by the stage crew. They changed sets quickly and quietly while surrounded by the darkness and the stage effects were amazing. Almost like a Broadway show! Watching these men performing their duties in such a professional way, I was saddened to think how future candidates in the Northern Jurisdiction won't experience anything like this since they are giving up the stage craft and instead, showing videos.
I spent the rest of the weekend watching the degrees, wandering around the facility admiring the beauty and visiting the Oklahoma Masonic Museum and engaging with other Brethren in the Cigar room. I also got to meet Illustrious Brother Bob Davis who is retiring as General Secretary for the Valley of Guthrie. I have corresponded with Bob many times but this was the first time had the honor to meet him in person.
I have been told by several Brethren that Guthrie was on their “Masonic bucket list”. I was able to meet Brethren from all over the country. I spoke with Brothers from California and Massachusetts, Missouri and Texas. All of them had one thing in common; they all had either transferred their Scottish Rite membership to Guthrie or purchased a plural membership there. I was told they found something special in this small Oklahoma town. They attend the reunion every year as one brother put it to “Recharge his Masonic batteries”. I totally get that. I can honestly say the entire time I was at this event I heard not one gripe, complaint or negative word. I have had some amazing Masonic experiences but this is the first time I can honestly say that.
I also got to spend time with an old friend, Brother Lance Kates. Guthrie is Lance’s home valley and had a part in the 23° degree. We got to hang out and have an amazing dry aged steak at a local restaurant. It is always good catching up with Lance in person instead of reading his thoughts on the glowing screen of a cellphone.
As we drove home to Texas my fiancé and I were both in good spirits. I had an amazing Masonic experience and my Fiancé's niece won most of her games while showing off her pitching abilities. I am so glad I was able to attend and I would encourage you to visit if you get the chance.
By the way. While I was in Guthrie I decided to purchase my very own prayer cap. I know I will be back because I found a home in the Valley of Guthrie.
WB Bill Hosler
was made a Master Mason in 2002 in Three Rivers Lodge #733 in Indiana. He served as Worshipful Master in 2007 and became a member of the internet committee for Indiana's Grand Lodge. Bill is currently a member of Roff Lodge No. 169 in Roff Oklahoma and Lebanon Lodge No. 837 in Frisco,Texas. Bill is also a member of the Valley of Fort Wayne Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite in Indiana. A typical active Freemason, Bill also served as the High Priest of Fort Wayne's Chapter of the York Rite No. 19 and was commander of of the Fort Wayne Commandery No. 4 of the Knight Templar. During all this he also served as the webmaster and magazine editor for the Mizpah Shrine in Fort Wayne Indiana