I always enjoy attending Grand Lodge Session at The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Texas. We meet twice per year, a four day session in the summer and a two day gathering in the winter. This year the summer session ran from Thursday June 25th through Sunday June 28th.
I was only able to attend the last two days this year on Saturday & Sunday. I missed the various workshops, officers meetings and Past Masters degree for all the new Masters on Thursday along with the Gospel Festival at night. I also missed the Heroines Prayer Breakfast and the welcoming of all visitors and the bulk of the business conducted by the Grand Lodge on Friday along with the St. John Day Service & Memorial followed by The High Twelve Club dance at night.
Saturday morning is traditionally set aside for the Grand Master’s Allocution followed by election of Grand Lodge officers. There was no exception this year. The Grand Master told us all that he was so glad to see a full house because he had been worrying about attendance in these tough economic times. Civil economic recession and depression do have a detrimental effect on the Craft. The Grand Master in his sixth Allocution reported on the accomplishments and the losses of the previous year along with the state of the Craft. Some of his address is private and confidential but I can tell you that he issued three dispensations for the laying of cornerstones, dedicated a Prince Hall cemetery for us in Texas and reported on the raising of 56 Master Masons at the previous Winter Session. He also had to remind us that Grand Lodge had withdrawn recognition of Texas Prince Hall Shrine.
This Allocution was delivered before the entire Prince Hall Family including the Heroines of Jericho and the OES who also addressed the combined Body. Prince Hall Texas always gathers as a family. OES conducts their Grand Session on the same days as Grand Lodge does, meeting in the same building and likewise the Heroines of Jericho who hold their Grand Session at the hotel where all who desire have rooms and where all members of the family gather for our banquets.
So Saturday after the Grand Master’s election we elected the Grand Lodge officers for the ensuing term, finished up the business of Grand Lodge, closing in a record early time this year. Lunch was a feast at the Headquarters Hotel where all three Bodies presented awards to their members and scholarships to deserving high school graduates. I always manage to meet someone new at Grand Session and this year was no exception. I had a long, enjoyable conversation with four Brothers from El Paso. I asked them how long a drive it was and they replied nine hours. Texas is a pretty big state and many come from long distances for Grand Lodge Session.
Saturday night the traditional Masonic Family Banquet is held at the hotel always with a prominent guest speaker. All members of the Prince Hall family gather to celebrate. It’s open to the public so many bring non member spouses and friends. This year’s speaker was Past Grand Master of South Carolina, Alonzo Haynes.
His message to us centered on, “If we will do our part, God will do his part.” The family banquet opened with the Pledge of Allegiance followed by the singing of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” and then opening prayer. Along the way between some official greetings we were all entertained by two soloists. The last one had the entire gathering on its feet joining in to the rendition of “I am a Living Testimony.” Grand Master Curtis brief closing remarks followed by prayer closed the Prince Hall Masonic Family Banquet for 2009. All that was left was a Sunday morning prayer service followed by the Installations of all three Houses.