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Brass symbols of freemasonry are seen on the doors to a Masonic Lodge in Nashua. (COURTESY PHOTO)

CONWAY — The Grand Lodge of New Hampshire, Free & Accepted Masons has announced that many New Hampshire Masonic Lodges, including the one in North Conway, will be open on Saturday, October 19, 2019 from 9am to 3pm to increase awareness of their Fraternity and encourage the public to learn more.

All are invited to visit their local Lodge to learn about the history, teachings, and mysteries surrounding Freemasonry.

Freemasonry has permeated the cultural consciousness for centuries. It has been portrayed in traditional and social media as a secret society, a drinking club, and a playground for the world’s powerful elite men. Yet the reality of the world’s oldest fraternal organization is far more compelling than any of the fiction that surrounds it.

At its core, Masonry is a system of initiation which is divided into three “Degrees.” The Degrees are rich with symbolism and exemplify lessons of morality and Brotherhood that will be familiar to most, but are presented in a meaningful, dramatic, and personal way. This unique experience is intended to impart serious lessons to the candidate while strongly connecting the individual to every member of the fraternity in a shared experience.

The main qualification to become a Freemason is belief in a “Supreme Being”. While Freemasonry’s lessons come directly from the Judeo-Christian tradition, it is open to men of all faiths, utilizing those traditions as a vehicle to convey the moral and spiritual teachings it contains.

If you ask the question “What is Freemasonry?” to a group of the members of the fraternity - who call each other “Brother” - you will get as many answers as there are men in the room. Why?

It turns out that these men join for very diverse reasons. And often, their purpose for joining is not what keeps them coming back. This may be why Freemasonry is so difficult to describe; even by those that

comprise its membership. The reasons range from practical to spiritual.

In many ways, Freemasonry is the original social network. It is a place where men, regardless of their age, financial status, religion, sexual orientation, or political leanings can meet and relate in a deep and meaningful way. Unlike modern social media however, discussion of religious dogma or politics are strictly forbidden in Masonic meetings.

“In an era where a male-only institution may seem antiquated to most, I find that Freemasonry is one of the last remaining places in our society where a man can learn to be a gentleman. It is an organization where love, equality, and integrity are strongly reinforced”, said Chris Busby who is an officer of the Grand Lodge of New Hampshire and a member of Ancient York Lodge No. 89 in Nashua.

“I sought membership in Freemasonry to be a part of something larger than myself; to connect with community and history. I received so much more than I expected. Your Brothers and their families become a part of your extended family. Its impact on my life has been profound and vast”, he added.

Masonic Lodges are places for personal growth; a place for men of all walks of life to join in harmony for the good of all. For many, Freemasonry is a unique opportunity to share in fellowship and fun with those they might not have otherwise ever met. For some, it is a connection to a family legacy or a historical tradition. All in all, it is a way of life: positive, supportive, and benevolent.

Why have an open house? “It is crucial that our communities know of the important impact Masons have in their neighborhoods,” said Kenneth A. Clay, Jr, Grand Master of Masons in New Hampshire.

“We open our doors to show the world that the real secret of Masonry is the brotherly love and affection we have for those around us. I encourage you to visit a Masonic Lodge near you on Oct. 19 to discover the many positive ways that we are building better men, family members and citizens.”

Although the origins of fraternal Masonry are cloudy, Operative trade guilds of Masons began accepting the first “Speculative” Masons as early as 1634. The first Grand Lodge, or governing body for a group of Masons, was founded in 1717 in England. Freemasonry in New Hampshire began in Portsmouth in the 1730’s with St. John’s Lodge No. 1 which is one of the two oldest continuously operating Masonic Lodges in America. The Grand Lodge of New Hampshire was founded in William Pitt Tavern in Portsmouth in 1789, which still serves as an active Masonic Lodge hall and museum at historic Strawbery Banke.

In addition to Conway lodges in the following New Hampshire towns will be open: Alton, Bristol, Candia, Claremont. Concord, Cornish, Derry, Dover, Jaffrey, Epping, Exeter, Goffstown, Hampton, Hillsborough, Holderness, Keene, Kingston, Laconia, Lebanon, Manchester, Milford, Nashua (Rising Sun Lodge & Ancient York Lodge), New Ipswich, Northwood, Orford, Pembroke, Penacook, Portsmouth (St. John’s Lodge & St. Andrew’s Lodge), Raymond, Rochester, Salem, Tilton (Doric-Centre Lodge), West Franklin and Wolfeboro.

To obtain addresses and additional information regarding the above lodges, go ro bit.ly/nh-lodges. To learn more about New Hampshire Freemasonry, go to nhgrandlodge.org.

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