St John's No. 1 Providence and Ezekiel Bates

During the summer of 2016, I was approached by R∴W∴Richard Lynch with the interesting idea of a joint meeting of St John's No. 1 Providence and Ezekiel Bates Lodges

sj1p01St Johns
During the summer of 2016, shortly after being installed as the Worshipful Master of St. Johns Lodge No. 1 Providence, I was approached by R∴W∴Richard Lynch with an interesting idea. He suggested that since our Lodge and Ezekiel Bates Lodge of Attleboro, MA had the same meeting night that we hold a meeting at each other’s lodge during alternate years. The purpose of the joint meeting location was to allow brethren from each state to observe the different ritual forms and promote fellowship between the lodges and the brethren. Dispensations were obtained from each state’s Grand Lodge for a December meeting to be held at St. Johns Lodge No.1 Providence in Cranston, Rhode Island.

On the evening of the meeting well over one hundred brethren from both lodges were in attendance. St. Johns opened its meeting in due form and conducted its business portion of the meeting. During the meeting our District Deputy Grand Master for the Metro District, R∴W∴Gary S. Kaufman entered the lodge with a large suite of Rhode Island and Massachusetts brethren. Included in his suite was District Deputy Grand Master of the 16th Masonic District in Massachusetts, R∴W∴Christopher J. Lindsay. R∴W∴Kaufman was escorted to the East and introduced R∴W∴Lindsay and those accompanying him for the evening. We continued with the work of the evening until a loud knock was heard at the door and in came the Grand Master for the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, M∴W∴Stephen T. McGuire, announced by his Grand Marshall, R∴W∴Elliott R. Greene. The Grand Master was received in the East and accorded Grand Honors befitting his office. After a few remarks by the Grand Master, St. John’s Lodge closed its meeting in due form.

During refreshment, while the brethren were at dinner, the lodge room was reset. It was in a much different form than I had seen before. I had never seen a Massachusetts lodge set up or an opening and closing of a Massachusetts lodge. Upon returning from dinner, W∴Keith Goblin opened Ezekiel Bates Lodge in long form. The opening in the Entered Apprentice degree involved the officers of the line stating what their positions were and their associated duties. After a short business meeting, a knock at the door was heard and the District Deputy Grand Master of the 16th Masonic District in Massachusetts, R∴W∴Christopher J. Lindsay was announced. He was escorted into the lodge by a group of Past Masters along with our Grand Master and our District Deputy Grand Master R∴W∴Gary S. Kaufman. Introductions and remarks were made by each along with a basket of Massachusetts delicacies presented by Ezekiel-Bates Lodge to St. Johns Lodge and me as Master.

While watching the opening and closing I was surprised to see the Marshal go from his seat in the South, across the East, between the Worshipful Master and the Altar. It seems that he is the only one allowed to cross as all other movements and escorts followed the usual circular movement around the altar. The meeting continued and the lodge was closed.

After the meeting, all joined in collation and spent the remainder of the night enjoying the brotherhood between our two lodges. We are all looking forward to next year when we get the opportunity to do it again. Next time, at Ezekiel Bates Lodge in Attleboro, Massachusetts. I for one can’t wait! ?

Ezekiel Bates
sj1p02 Last June in a discussion with members of Ezekiel Bates Lodge, one of the Brothers asked how we completed the Rhode Island Passport program if St. Johns Lodge No.1 Providence meets on the same night as we do. We explained that we went to one of the special Saturday 3rd Degrees as a large group and were promptly recruited to be Fellowcrafts. After my story one of our members said, so the only way to get the stamp is to wait for a third degree? This got us thinking, why not try and start a tradition like the Council Triangle meet and do a joint meeting.

Knowing R∴W∴Rick Lynch well, we reached out to him and the brothers of St. Johns Lodge and they were receptive to the idea. Obviously both lodges would need to get dispensations to perform work in another’s jurisdiction, which was gladly approved by both Grand Lodges.

So, on December 21st the members of Ezekiel Bates Lodge loaded up their Masonic furniture and made the trip during rush hour to Cranston, RI. With the amazing technology of “apps” like Waze we could bypass much of the traffic and make it in time.

St. John's Lodge opened first and received their District Deputy Grand Master, Right Worshipful Gary S. Kaufman and held their business meeting. As the lodge was about to close, Most Worshipful Grand Master Stephen T. McGuire made his entrance. This allowed Rhode Island to present “Grand Honors” to the office of the Grand Master which is also different from Massachusetts.

Several other lodges were represented from the 16th District of Massachusetts and many of them had not seen Rhode Island ritual and were very impressed, which in turn led to some excellent conversations during dinner, which was fantastic.

Having seen Rhode Island ritual several times we knew there would be adjustments for our meeting. Most notably in Massachusetts we must circumnavigate the altar which caused a few moans when our Rhode Island Brethren saw us doing it. Obviously in Rhode Island brethren never cross the altar and essentially walk in a U shape, which walking counter clockwise is considered Masonic “J-Walking” in Massachusetts.

Receiving our District Deputy Grand Master also forced a slight adjustment, mostly because we do not have a lodge with the tiled door in the North. With our ritual different we had to keep the suite a certain size or we would have been forced to make a lap to get everyone in the room.

Another notable difference is in Massachusetts the highest-ranking officer wears a top hat (or Tri-Corner hat for the Grand Master of Massachusetts). When the District Deputy crosses the threshold, the Master will take his top hat off. In Rhode Island that is not the case.

sj1p03Following dinner Ezekiel Bates Lodge opened in our long form on the first degree. Then received our District Deputy R∴W∴Christopher J. Lindsay. We presented a friendship basket to Worshipful William DeLuca full of Massachusetts delicacies such as Cape Cod chips, Marshmallow Fluff, and Fig Newtons. W∴DeLuca was again brought to the East when he claimed the Ezekiel Bates Travelling Gavel. Upon closing the meeting, we all enjoyed an excellent collation which went well into the evening.

There were several other differences, however many are not meant for print. There are plans to hold a joint meeting again next year, this time at Ezekiel Bates Lodge in Attleboro.

While so many things are different between our jurisdictions (and yes our brothers are still talking about them), we are all Brothers. It showed that night, many friendships were made, or reinforced. We must remember our fraternity is based on traveling, leaving your lodge, and visiting others. I cherish the friendships I have made the past few years whether it is in Massachusetts, Rhode Island or beyond.