Historic events might be defined as a point in time whereby we can point to what was, and then we can point to what followed. Some are rather sudden and unexpected, while others are planned. In this case, on Saturday, April 2, 2022 years of planning and hard work were realized by Masons throughout the region. Plans ensued, visions communicated, some not as well as others, suggestions, arguments, agreements, occasional hurt feelings all vented over the years, but as with all great endeavors compromise and unity won the day. The St. Louis region consecrated the first new building in decades: a new Masonic Temple in Ellisville, Missouri. For those not familiar with the area, the new location is in the West County area, or put another way call it roughly 20 miles southwest of downtown. The outside edifice changed little, but the interior was worth the wait.
The new temple was a gutted and refurbished church and school property in a great, high traffic location bringing together the Naphtali #25 lodge and a couple of York bodies that originally partnered on the “New Temple” built in St. Louis city almost 100 years ago. That building had been sold, and the lodge/bodies were displaced until this new location could be purchased and renovated.
The invitations went out last summer. Then canceled. Plans for finishing had been tied up with pending inspections, lack of available labor, and with delays, more frustration ensued. Ironic that patience can be difficult with a multi-year project when our Fraternity hasn’t been in the operative building mode in so very long. The invitations went out again, this time for the first Saturday in April, and the call was answered.
We were beyond capacity and standing room only. A call went out for additional chairs, and a second call and third. Grand Lodge officers barely had space to circumnavigate, much less ceremonially circumambulate, the Lodge room. The crowd well exceeded 100, 125 were counted at lunch, and more continued to show up for the actual ceremony. Worshipful Brother Joe Stewart led a kitchen crew that rivaled any professionals anywhere and turned a modest initial estimate into the excess that fed the unexpected crowd. The brass band sounded terrific, but the crowd was such they had to play from an open hallway. Still, the sweet sounds of a live brass band cannot be duplicated. The Templars, all 6 of them, did close order drill in full dress uniform with a wonderful flag presentation, and the crowded lodge room allowed for them to squeeze into and out of it single-file. I was both fortunate and honored to grab a chair beside Illustrious Bob Cockerham, 33rd degree, and SGIG for the Orient of Missouri. We chatted about the coming reunion and a speech he recently gave at the last local 4 Bodies meetings. I fully agree with his remarks, and I look forward to how the Valley responds later in the year.
The ceremony began with the Worshipful Master of the home lodge making opening remarks and calling for the consecration of the building. Most Worshipful Grand Master Dr. Ty Treutelaar (no, nobody pronounces it correctly the first dozen times) had the crowd in the palm of his hand. We clapped, we cheered, we roared with laughter, and then the consecration began in earnest. The full Grand Lodge officers were in their stations. How often do you see that except at the stated Grand communication? The Grand Lodge had previously opened in a separate area meeting in a different room in the building, and the consecration ceremony then began immediately.
Worshipful Brother Mike Hartnett approached me after the ceremony remarking that (paraphrased) Wentzville #46 and Naphtali #25 were well represented. Naphtali being onsite and the home lodge of the new temple, and Wentzville #46 led and closed the Grand officers. Puzzled, I asked Mike how he came to that observation. It turns out this year’s Grand officers include Wentzville Past Masters in the positions of Grand Sword Bearer and Grand Tyler. In all processions, one leads, and one follows closing the procession.
Right Worshipful Brothers Jake Thompson and Terry Coppotelli met with me briefly and discussed additional consecration activities in the parking lot as they both scooted off to another Grand Line event, and I headed back home after enjoying the day of momentous ceremony and excellent fellowship. If elected, I will most likely be installed as Worshipful Master of Naphtali #25 in this building in the summer of 2023, and I look forward to seeing many familiar faces. Please hold off on throwing the tomatoes until AFTER I’ve been obligated to, and sworn into office…
Randy and his wife Elyana live near St. Louis, Missouri, USA. Randy earned a Bachelors Degree in Chemistry with an emphasis in Biochemistry, and he works in Telecom IT management. He volunteers as a professional and personal mentor, NRA certified Chief Range Safety Officer and enjoys competitive tactical pistol, rifle, and shotgun. He has 30 plus years teaching Wing Chun Kung Fu, Chi Kung, and healing arts. Randy served as a Logistics Section Chief on two different United States federal Disaster Medical Assistance Teams over a 12 year span. Randy is a 32nd degree KCCH and Knight Templar. His Masonic bio includes past Lodge Education Officer for two symbolic lodges, Founder of the Wentzville Lodge Book Club, member of the Grand Lodge of Missouri Education Committee, Sovereign Master of the E. F. Coonrod AMD Council No. 493, Co-Librarian of the Scottish Rite Valley of St. Louis, Clerk for the Academy of Reflection through the Valley of Guthrie, and a Facilitator for the Masonic Legacy Society. Randy is a founding administrator for Refracted Light, full contributor to Midnight Freemasons, and an international presenter on esoteric topics. Randy hosts an open ongoing weekly Masonic virtual Happy Hour on Friday evenings. Randy is an accomplished home chef, a certified barbecue judge, raises Great Pyrenees dogs, and enjoys travel and philosophy.