This month the Adonai Masonic Lodge #718 in Lloyd held a ceremony under the direction of Richard Kessler, Grand Master of Masons for New York State, to acknowledge the lodge’s 150th anniversary.
Secretary Chris Brand opened the formal ceremony to mark this important milestone.
“We will have you know that Freemasonry is a moral institution, founded on the fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of man,” he said. “It is not just a social or ritualistic association but it is also educational and patriotic.”
Brand said, “They are neither a secret society nor a religion nor a substitute for religion. The square and compasses are known and respected from pole to pole and no effort is made to hide our existence. Masons are proud to be known as such.”
Brand said Masonry teaches no secret truth but values the eternal things of faith and beauty and life and death. He said they are a private society in the sense that they are set apart from the “turmoils and pressures of life, where reverence, friendship and love teach manhood and character building. Freemasonry endeavors to teach men about the elements of life that are worthwhile and of lasting value; of the relationships in which men shall stand one to another; that he who gives to those around him those things that are the best and richest in him, receives back in return those same values with added measure.”
In a subsequent interview, Brand said Freemasonry, “is the world’s largest and oldest fraternity and our goal is to take good men and make them better through education, through ritual, and through stories that have symbolism and allegory.” Brand said to become a Mason one must have a belief in a higher power in whatever form they choose to believe; “as long as you believe there is something above and something after.”
Brand said they meet twice a month at the Lodge, “and our goal is to interact with the community and to provide charity. We give out three free scholarships to senior students in Highland, New Paltz and Marlboro, who exemplifies truth, morality justice and has a sense of those things. They don’t have to be a member nor do their parents or family members.”
Brand said they also hold fundraisers to help maintain the building, host a trap shoot in New Paltz to fund the scholarships and are involved in community events such as Spring Fest and participate in town parades.
During the ceremony Bryon Chapman was installed as the Worshipful Master for a 2nd term. He said, “I enjoy the friendship, the brotherly love, how everybody is on the same level and we all enjoy each others’ company.”
Chapman became interested after his brother joined, “and shortly after that he brought me into the Lodge and I’ve been in for about 11 years.” He later interested his father Russ Chapman to join but after passing away 4 years ago an annual memorial trap shoot is held in his honor.
Chapman was supported at the ceremony by his girlfriend Lauren Forstbauer and her son Andrew Bryant.
Fred Pizzuto said the intent of the Masons is to, “invoke fellowship, respect of your family, neighbors and peers, and to follow the meanings that come out of the Old Testament. It teaches you to be a better person and to pass that along.”
Grand Master Kessler closed the ceremony with a few succinct observations.
“You have a strong heritage here and it’s nice to see the strength you have now and the people that have come here on a Sunday afternoon,” he said. “We are a family and don’t let anyone tell you anything different because that’s what we are. I ask you tonight and every night when you put your head on a pillow to think about all those that don’t have what we have. So brothers and ladies I wish you nothing but God’s blessings and may God give you everything you need to have a purposeful life and may he watch over this fraternity and may He bless these United States of America.”