Page 69 - Education Programs
P. 69

                                           By Bishop Carl J. Sanders

                                            United Methodist Church; Dothan, Alabama
Published in THE NEW AGE; Grand Lodge of Iowa; Republished in THE TRACING BOARD; GRS; March, 1987.

I AM A MASON! This plain and simple statement is said with pride, not apology! But to make
such a statement is not enough. Reasons are expected and I give them briefly and almost in outline

Because of the Friendships the Fraternity has Offered Me. These friendships reach back 50
years to a rural community in Virginia where I was raised a Master Mason. Those plain, simple
men took me into their circle of friendship and sustained me through many of the difficulties a
young minister will find in his first year out of the seminary. Across half a century, my life has
been blessed by friends from all walks of life and many denominational groups. Freemasonry is
truly ecumenical in its membership. In a day of mistrust, suspicion, discrimination, separation, and
even hatred. Freemasonry removes the distance between men. Friendship, morality, and brotherly
love are the hallmarks of our relationships. There is a basic integrity in the Fraternity so often
lacking in many of life's relationships.

Because of the Beautiful Ritual Rooted in Biblical History. These Rituals relating to each
Masonic degree are not forms without substance. Out of the ancient landmarks they come with
honored words that plumb the depths of human emotion. As one who loves the beauty and
meanings of words, I never tire of watching and listening to the granting of any degree, the opening
and the closing of lodge meetings. Ancient Biblical history comes alive in the drama and language
of Freemasonry. The beauty and order of a Masonic lodge, added to the symbols so familiar to the
Fraternity, have meant so much to so many.

Because of the Practice of Brotherhood & the Charitable Endeavors. Masons are not interested
in shallow social activity, although they need and enjoy good fellowship. They are not interested
only in a community service club, although they want to be proud of the service record and
community image of the Fraternity to which they belong. Masonic homes, hospitals, and
institutions are rendering a service to "the least of these" in such a manner that underscores the
care and the devotion of the people called "Mason". No hospital offers quite the care for crippled
children or burned children as do those that bear the name of "Mason". At no cost to the families,
these hospitals open their doors and lives are restored and made whole again.

Because of the Deep Religious Tone. Let me quickly and emphatically say that Freemasonry is
not and has never been a religion, however, Freemasonry has always been a friend and ally of
religion. In 50 years as a minister and a Mason, I have found no conflict between my Masonic
beliefs and my Christian faith. I have not found and do not now find that Freemasonry is
"incompatible with Christian faith and practice".

Freemasonry has never asked me to choose between my lodge and my church. Masonry has never
and will never usurp the place of God. Never has anyone dared to say: "Thou shalt love Masonry
with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind". There can be only one ultimate
loyalty, and the Living God is the only worthy object of such loyalty. Possibly there are those who
have made a god out of Masonry. You can make a god out of anything - your business, your labor

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