Counselor James Elijah Pierre, Grandmaster of Freemasonry in Liberia, last weekend was given the royal treatment at a benefit dinner planned and organized in his honor by members of Amos Lodge No. 10 of St. John River City based in Grand Bassa County.
A pavilion full of Brothers from other Lodges, colleagues, relatives, friends and guests toasted the Grandmaster heartedly as he sat back and, for once, enjoyed recognition and praise for what many summed up as a ‘lifetime of achievements that produced a cascade of flowers, kisses, plaques, slaps on the back and more attention than the guest of honor could stand for one evening.’
The Grandmaster was roundly praised as a hardworking leader for Free Masonry who had toiled tirelessly building on the successes of his predecessors.
In welcoming the guests to the black-tie occasion, Worshipful Brother Curtis R. Findley, Worshipful Master of Amos Lodge No. 10, called on the Almighty to lead and bless the Craft and its members.
He informed the organization’s brothers and sisters, guests, and relatives, that the dinner already had been paid for, and the monies raised would go toward charitable work in St John River City, and directed at students’ needs in equipment, supplies, food, a local clinic and aid to farmers.
In his introductory remarks, Worshipful Brother Eden Reeves ll, reminded Freemasons to remember that the fraternity to which they have given their allegiance is designed to be the great moral force for breaking down barriers which separate men from each other; and most importantly, for the creation of charity as broad as the human race.
“We as Masons are taught to honor those that work long and hard in the service of Freemasonry. So we have gathered here tonight to say “thank you” to the Most Worshipful Brother James Elijah Pierre, Grand Master of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Masons and Freemasonry in Liberia,” Brother Reeves explained.
“Your wisdom and strength have edged us into a new era as you have…taken Craft Masonry to higher heights,” he told Grand Master Pierre, referring to the conference of the exalted, high degree of Grand Inspector General 33rd degree on Liberian Freemason in more than 40 years.
On his feet to respond to the trophy, flowers and other gifts and expressions of affection and devotion to their leader and the Craft, the Grand Master thanked the hosts, friends and loved ones, for the honor bestowed on him.
“This is a great opportunity to express our intent to advance our projects of charity,” he continued. “A large portion of the public does not understand what we are about. We need to be active, but we have to be seen to be active.
“We have much work to do in dispelling negative comments against our fraternity – misinformation. No one person can organize, control or lead. Many have helped in the achievement of our goals.”
Counselor Pierre thanked Amos Lodge NO. 10 for its initiative and hoped other lodges would follow its example.
But the highlight of the occasion had come earlier in the program. And as one after the other, friends, colleagues, or loved ones put the Counselor through something he probably had avoided for a long time: A royal roasting that hailed James E. Pierre as an exceptionally nice person, was underway. Would it nail him for his legendary ‘sweet temper’ and an easy-going persona? You’d better believe it!
One by one, the Grandmaster’s friends and relatives served him some of his own medicine – their collection of funny anecdotes (short stories) related to J. Elijah Pierre’s self-effacing style, and that ‘charming’ way he has when dealing with people, things and circumstances that get out of hand.
And so, a Toast was not out of place; but neither was a Roast! A roast is a facetious (not meant to be taken seriously) ceremonial tribute in which the guest of honor is both praised and, in a sweet way, criticized, teased, and sometimes even insulted.
Listening to the roasters recall some of their experiences with their friend and brother, James E. Pierre, it was clear that the guest-of-honor was pretty close to being a taskmaster – both to himself as well as to any wanting to ‘form the fool’ (inclined to tomfoolery). He was portrayed as not caring a hoot about being billed the nicest person who ever walked the earth as most who know him continue to say…even though, they say, “he has his ways.”
According to Worship Brother N. Oswald Tweh, a co-partner of the Grand Master’s at the Pierre and Tweh Law Firm, “Counselor Pierre is a hard worker and one of the smartest people in Liberia.” The Lodge’s Grand Secretary suggested that when he and Counselor Pierre first began working together, people had wondered aloud how they would ever be able to get along. “But, he is a soft man; a compassionate person; and we have come a long way. But 70 is a lot years and there might be a need to slow down,” he concluded.
Taking the podium, the Grand Master’s sister, Carmena, had this to say about her brother, among other things: “James is tough, understanding; he is special.”
Said Deputy Grand Master Tony Deline: “At 150 years, ours is the oldest Grand Lodge in Africa. We are happy to have Worthy Brother Pierre as our Worshipful Grand Master.”
“I know the man.” explained Brother Benoni Urey. “I got to know him through my brothers. He crushes, but you should listen to him. I always listen to him. His problem has always been that he cares for his fellow man. We all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God. But we are a loving fraternity – a good fraternity that teaches the good of all. We love and appreciate you. God bless you Jimmy.”