The most worshipful Brother, James E. Pierre, 320 Grand Master of Masons, Republic of Liberia, The Deputy Grand Master of Masons Right Worshipful Brother Anthony Deline, II The Acting General Grand Matron and Grand Patron of the Order of Eastern Stars of The Republic of Liberia, The Rector of St. Thomas Episcopal Church, The Rt. Rev. James B. Sellee, Officers and Members of this Church, Officer and members of the Grand Lodge of Mason of Liberia, Worshipful Master, Officer, and Member of the Subordinate lodge, Matron and Patron of Subordinate Chapters of the order of Eastern Stars, Brothers and Sisters.
Today we celebrate one of two days in craft Masonry that Masons holds dearest to their hearts.
Firstly, we would like to thank The Most Worshipful Brother James E. Pierre, 320 Grand Master of Mason of the Republic of Liberia, The Deputy Grand Master and all officers and member of the Grand Lodge, The Worshipful Masters, Officers, and Members of Subordinate Lodges under the Leadership of King Solomon Lodge #20 headed by Worship Brother Joshua Doe-Smith for the Opportunity given me to serve as orator on this auspicious occasion. This gesture will forever remain embalmed in my heart. I am most grateful and humbled by my selection, and hope this occasion will be commendable to all of us.
Brethren and Sisters, guests, one and all. Today we will endeavor to glibly speak to you on the topic, The Role of the Free Masonry in “the new Liberia.” We will give you a narrative of this day with special emphasis on Saint John the Baptist himself. Next we will give you a brief historical analysis of free Masonry in Liberia Past and Present and finally what we envision the role of Free Masonry will be in the New Liberia.
Brothers and Sisters,
Today is set aside by the Subordinate Lodges in the Liberian Jurisdiction to pay homage to Saint John the Baptist, one of the Patron Saints of the Masonic craft. This day is celebrated worldwide by Masons. Craft Masonry holds St. John the Baptist as well as St. John the Evangelist in extreme high esteem. While researchers have not been able to give any solid explanation as to why St. John the Baptist, a Christian Saints was chosen, researchers are of the shared opinion that the selection of this noble Saint was no mistake but rather a wise decision. Not only was he a saint, but he was wise and imparted knowledge through his teaching, preaching, and most importantly his exemplary life and works which made him a suitable candidate for this honor.
This patron Saint along with St. John the Evangelist symbolizes almost everything in Free Masonry. That is from its, history, custom, tradition, to it ritualistic requirement. What we are doing here today is fulfillment of what is requires of true masons, as it indicative of our commitment to the past and our dedication to the tenant of Free Masonry.
History tells us that the celebration of this day goes as far back as 1717 when the Mother Grand Lodge was formed. As early as 1717, Masons gathered to hold festival meeting on June 24, honoring the memory of this Noble Saint. We as Masonic Brothers must not search for the history of John the Baptist in Masonic doctrines or writings as very little is found. But rather we must concentrate our effort on the doctrine of Christianity, as St. John the Baptist was firstly a Christian Saint and later as Masonic brother.
History tells us that, that in the Middle Ages, it was a common practice for craftsmen to place themselves under the protection of a Saint of the church. Craftsmen of different likings were under the banner of various Saints depending on their crafts. It is rumored that merchants tailors, selected and adopted St. John the Baptist. There cannot be any direct parallel link to Free Masonry
However, St. John the Baptist was considered a stern, and just man. He was believed to be intolerant of sham, of pretense, or weakness.
It is said that he was a man of strength, and fire, uncompromising to evil or expediency but yet he was courageous, humble, sincere, magnanimous. The greatest teacher described him, and I quote
“Among them that are born of woman, there has not arisen as greater than John the Baptist.”
We must be reminded that there is no historical evidence that clearly state that John the Baptist was a member of the craft. Yet we can say with certainty that he was adopted as one of our Patrons Saints. Lodges and institutions have all been dedicated to this man.
By his doing he is mystified today, until we have conceptualized a sacred lodge in honor of John the Baptist. And I quote. “So, naturally, there came the idea or ideal, of a Sacred lodge in the Holy City presided over by the Saints John” No such lodge ever existed in fact, and yet it is not a fiction, it is an ideal, and without such ideals our life would be dim and dark. The taught back of the question and answer, then, is that we come from an ideal or Dream Lodge into this actual work-a-day world wherever ideals are to be tested”.
As most of us should be aware Free Masonry came to Liberia abroad he first vessel that brought wise, fee men, seeking greater opportunities and a brighter future. Abroad this vessel were few craftsmen, all from colored Lodged in the United States of America, under the Prince Hall jurisdiction. We must here pay homage to the works and suffering of Prince Hall a Mason and a Preacher of noticeable distinction. As a review the history of Free Masonry in Liberia today we must give homage to those laudable men, Headed by the Rev. Brother Thomas Amos, The Deputy Grand Master, who championed the cause of opening the grand Lodge. Included in this number was the first President of Liberia, Joseph Jenkins Roberts. These men assemble in solemn convention in Monrovia, and establish the Grand Lode in 1867. In September 22, 1867 the most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Liberia was constituted and consecrated with three subordinate Lodges: Oriental Lodge #1, Monrovia, St. Paul’s Lodge #2, Clay Ashland, and St. John Lodge #3 Monrovia. The first code of officers included the following: Rev. Thomas Amos, Grand Master; Ashbury F. Johns, Deputy Grand Master Beverly A. Yates, Senior Grand Warden; Hilary R.W. Johnson, Junior Grand Warden; Gabriel Moore, Grand Treasurer and John N. Lewis, Grand Secretary.
These men were honorable men who risked their lives to come back home to build a black nation where free men and women would dwell and govern themselves. They brought free masonry with them and establish the fraternity in Liberia. Free Masonry assisted in building Liberia. Masonic brothers participated in governance as well as in the building of the Republic of Liberia. They labor for Liberia; some gave their lives for Liberia. We must never allow their labor to go in vain nor their bloodshed for null.
What we as Masonic brothers and Eastern Star Sisters are plague with today is basically a filthy state with basically a dysfunctional institutions contaminated by and with immoral people.
The Golden Tenets and principles of our Noble orders forbids us from living, working or even existing under such conditions. We as Mason are an upright people. The Golden Tenets of our Order must be practiced by us in Liberia. We must stand up for something or we will die for anything. The blood of all our brothers who passed due to the lack of basic Medical Care is flowing near us daily. The thoughts of our sick brothers and sisters who cannot get Medical attention should be plundering our minds daily.
We must vindicate ourselves and Craft Masonry. We must do what we should have to do as Patriotic Liberians, Humanitarians, Fathers, Mothers, or True Masonic Brothers or we will be held responsible. Now is the time for all Masons to come together and correct the past, change the present and build the future.
Masons are Craftsmen and therefore we must unite ourselves and rededicate ourselves to Building a New Liberia.
We must never be perturbed by Senile Visionaries. These uncompromising agonists, who have not taken off time form there unproductive, schedule to really read and learn about free Masonry. They have come up with unsubstantiated statement against Free Masonry, Religious Organization and traditional Societies. They have issued unsubstantiated statements, castigating laudable institution that have existed for centuries. We believe that the time has come for these statements to be challenged. We believed that it is incumbent up our Grand Master, to respond to these statements. We have kept quiet too long and “silent” in most instances means consent. We believe as Masonic Brothers, we must respond to these false allegations and statement. Liberian must be educated on the true principles of the Craft. If not we might find ourselves in another 1980 situation. Out of ignorance, one of the charges against Elected Government officials was that they were Masonic Brothers. Only after the execution of these laudable men did they find out the truth and came begging on their knees for forgiveness and seeking membership into our Noble institution. Yes, it was mere ignorance, but we must ensure that it never happens again. We must embark on a campaign to educate the Liberian people on the true principles of Craft Masonry. Our lives and that of our children depend on this.
Misinformation has become an integral part of our society and we must fight as our Masonic obligations says, “my life you may take; my integrity never”. We must fight for our integrity disregarding every situation.
Today I stand before you as a member of Most Fraternity in Liberia, The Masonic Craft, The Eastern Star, the UBF Poro, Sande, Malah, ect. All of these fraternities preach brotherhood and sisterhood.
Most of them are deeply religious. What differs is the mode of initiation. We as a people must stop making absolute statement about fraternities and traditional institution, when we do not know the facts. We must admit that due to the change in time and technology we believe that there should be some modification in our traditional societies, but never abandon it. All of these institutions are deeply religious. These are institutions that molded the character of great men in the history of our nation. It was good then, is good now and will be good in the future.
Most Worshipful Brother, James E. Pierre, Brothers and Sisters, we must build a new Liberia. There is a dying need for a New Liberia. Our Ancestors are crying from their graves. We have destroyed what they worked for. We have shamed them. We have disgraced them. We all participated in the destruction of this country directly or indirectly. Our failure to voice out against the ills of this society makes one as guilty as one who participated directly in the destruction. Our children deserve a better Liberia. We must give them somewhere worthy because they do not have a good enough home to come to. Our Brothers are lingering in jails all around the world, because of petit crimes committed in the process of trying to service. Our relatives have died, because of the lack of Medical Care.
We must have a generation that lacks the requisite education to survive in this abhorrent world. The quality of Education is at its lowest ever in the history of Liberia. Dishonesty lying, crime in general has become the order of the day in this country.
Brethren, the day we are celebrating in honor of one of the greatest Saint in the Bible, St. John the Baptist. This man was a just and upright man, was a stern man, compromised nothing for right, and good. As said earlier, he was a man of strength and fire, uncompromising with evil or expediency, and yet, courageous, humble, sincere and magnanimous.
These characters led to his death. What more meaningful way to die, than to stand up for something. Oh, God Almighty, how much I pray for many St. John the Baptist in this abhorrent country of ours.
Finally brethren, as we continue the festivities of this day, and as we remember our Masonic Hero, we must start preparing and thinking about the new Liberian 2018. We must not sit supinely and allow what was not to be, to be. We must get involved in the process to endure that the right people are elected. If we fail to do this, the burden will rest on us. We will have to take the responsibility of the suffering of our people, the sale of our country, the death of our brothers and sisters, etc. and the list goes on and on.
The Masonic Craft over the years have played a significant role in the building and governance of Liberia. We have had approximately five Presidents who were grand Masters of Masons of Liberia.
Namely: MWB, Joseph Jenkins Roberts, MWB William Coleman, MWB Charles D.B. King, MWB William V.S. Tubman, and MWB William R. Tolbert. These men served their country and craft. We have vice Presidents, Speakers of the House, President Pro-temp and an array of High ranking Government Officials as well as eminent citizens of Liberia, including Head of Political Parties, Ministers, Chief Justices, Senators, Representatives, all serving as grand Masters of Masons.
Many problems in Government were settled at the Masonic temple. Good governance decisions were made there; Bad decisions or actions were challenged at the temple. Boys were made men, and girls were made women. This Noble institution was a part of the Governance process. Even though, largely misunderstood, it significantly, impacted the people of Liberia.
The New Liberia we envisage will and must be one with a Masonic Head, This New Liberia must have a God fearing Leader, who love and care for his people. The Leader of this New Liberia must be his brother’s keeper. He must be patriotic, honest, and hard-working. He must be and stay in good moral standing.
My brothers and Sisters, such a character meets the Tenet of the Free Masonry. All that I have said is covered in the statement “A Master Mason must be upright” once upright he will meet all that is required of a good leader.
As we celebrate, this day in commemoration of St. John the Baptist, we must rededicate ourselves to being upright men and women as St. John the Baptist was. We must rededicate ourselves to improving our country, this entails firstly, electing the right leader who valued are as the same as yours. One who have gone where you have been, one who have done what you have done. One who value are similar to yours, and lastly one that have seen the light as you have seen.
Most Worshipful Brother James E. Pierre, 320 Grand Master of the Republic of Liberia, Rt. Worshipful Brother Anthony W. Deline, II 32% Deputy Grand Master, RL, Wardens, Officers, and Members of the Grand Lodge, RL, Worshipful Masters and Wardens, and Members of Subordinate Lodges, Acting Grand Matron and Grand Patron of the Orders of Eastern Stars, Matrons and Patrons, Officers and Sisters of the Subordinate Chapter, distinguish ladies and gentlemen, Oh, how good would it be to have the President of Liberia with us on the festive day of the Craft Masonry what joy and admiration will engulf the people of Monrovia to see the President perambulating with us on the streets of Monrovia, Our dreams must come true, our goal we must achieve, this will go a long way in mitigating the woe and increasing the happiness of every Liberian. The choice is ours, God Bless Liberia and Safe Craft Masonry.
We thank you!