On November 17, 2016 Deputy Grand Master of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Texas F & AM Michael T. Anderson spoke at Jewel P. Lightfoot Lodge No. 1283, Grand Lodge of Texas AF & AM upon the invitation of Worshipful David Bindel. Worshipful Bindel remarked that he thought this could be a historic moment being that this might be the first time a Prince Hall Grand Lodge Officer addressed a Lodge of the Grand Lodge of Texas.
The Lodge opened on the Third Degree at 7:15 PM with a procession of Lodge officers and visitors marching into the Lodge. The Lodge was promptly taken from Labor to Refreshment whereupon Worshipful Bindel announced that this Special Communication was one of a series labeled “Building The Temple,” whereby the Lodge focuses on engaging in dialogue to construct something useful and grow together in Masonic light and in our appreciation of each other.
Without further ado, Worshipful Bindel introduced DGM Anderson reciting his brief Masonic biography after which he gave him the floor.
DGM Anderson began his address by admitting that he had not prepared a formal presentation. He then proceeded to speak from the heart starting his remarks with the importance of the Altar in the Lodge. He went through the meaning and moral teachings of the Three Lessor Lights and the Three Great Lights. Anderson asked those assembled where else could they find an organization that taught such high moral standards.
Anderson spoke about how when he was young, he was a bit on the wild side, and that it was the lessons of Freemasonry that made him into the man he is today. He told us all that he rarely read the Bible when he was young and rarely went to church, but that Freemasonry and the study of its morality, not only made him a better man but led him to studying the Bible and a regular attendee at church.
Anderson stressed the importance of the Masonic philosophy that it is the internal not the external characteristics that recommend a man to be made a Mason. He was emphatic that this one tenet of Freemasonry was responsible for bringing together men of many different walks and stations in life. Can you not see how much more peace and harmony there would be in this world if this tenet was universally adopted, he asked?
He spoke briefly on Prince Hall Freemasonry saying if you want to know about us look at me. I am a product of what we are all about. In contrasting the number of years Masters and Grand Masters serve in each Grand Lodge, he said that he thought five years was the right number for the time of service. The first year, he said, the Master tip toes around not wanting to offend anyone. In the second year he begins to formulate his programs and the stamp he wants to put on his Lodge. Then he has three years to implement his vision. Anderson said he served ten years as Master of Pride of Mt. Pisgah No. 135 but he only intended to serve five. But after five years, some of the Brethren of the Lodge came to him and implored him to continue otherwise many would become inactive.
Taking questions from the Brethren, he articulated the importance of the 24” Gauge. He remarked that eight hours in the service of God did not involve going to church, but rather was all about helping others, doing God’s work in the world. He further expounded that if a man doesn’t work he doesn’t eat. Anderson told us that he had taken a lot of jobs in his life he didn’t much care for but that it put food on the table.
Another question had Anderson expounding on the symbolism of the Point Within A Circle. Anderson said that the point was you and I and the circle was God, that which had no beginning and no end. In our journey through life, if we listen, if we have an open mind, if we are attentive, then we will touch God and God will touch us as we venture out to the outer edges of the noble life.
There were a couple of questions that followed about what can we do as Masons to promote peace and harmony in the world. It seems to many that we are becoming more and more divided and at odds with each other. Anderson went right back to the theme that it is the internal not the external that a Mason looks at in another. It was at this point that Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Texas, Elmer Murphy, rose and came out to Anderson and put his arm around him and related an old story in his family about a Black man who helped his father to pick up body parts after an explosion at a chemical factory. He was a big man, Murphy said and then something about his being in the Navy. I loved that man, I heard him say.
I don’t even know if I have that story right since I was concentrating on what I saw before me rather than what was being said. Here was a PGM of the Grand Lodge of Texas and the DGM of the most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Texas arm in arm reinforcing the concept that it is the internal not the external part of a man that is important. And when PGM Murphy completed his tale he hugged DGM Anderson, whereupon every Brother in the room rose to give them both a thunderous applause.
Back in 2006 both Grand Lodges did not recognize each other. In 2007 a Compact of Recognition was signed, but without intervisitation and Masonic intercourse. Just last year those last barriers were removed. And this evening witnessed further progress in Masonic closeness.
The speech being over introductions of all visiting Brethren were made. It was duly noted that we had a Brother from the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Maryland, and a Cuban Brother who was a member of a military Lodge in South Korea.
Worshipful Bindel then presented DGM Anderson with a gift of a gavel and a certificate that made him an honorary member of Jewel P. Lightfoot. Lodge was left to expire at midnight and we all took off for the Komali Mexican Restaurant.
At the restaurant, we satisfied ourselves with good food and libation. But most of all we experienced that Masonic tenet of Brotherly Love and Affection. There were many toasts offered and many new friends made. When we finally parted it was midnight and I returned home with the knowledge that this had truly been a historic occasion.