Spring, July 9 – South Montgomery County Fire Station #3’s Cornerstone Dedication was a huge success on Saturday, July 8, 2017, as several hundred firefighters, command staffpersons, board members, captains and officers of the Fire Department, as well as local business leaders and their families attended the event. Representatives of the Grand Masonic Lodge of Texas and the community’s Oakwood Masonic Lodge #1444, located just north of the intersection of Interstate 45 and State Highway 242 led the Cornerstone Dedication. Oak Ridge North Mayor Jim Kuykendahl, a Freemason, participated in the ceremony.
Oakwood Lodge Master Daniel Barnes explained, “We lay cornerstones as a way to stay active and involved in the community, and to ask God to bless the building and its occupants. Cornerstones have been laid by masonic lodges in the US at least since 1732. Art Galloway had been deputized by the Grand Master of Texas Masons to perform the ceremony. Freemasons have been involved in their communities for centuries.”
The ceremony, which Galloway and his Brother Freemasons followed is the same one which Masons have used to dedicate a building since the eighteenth century. Barnes added, “We were very honored to present the stone and dedicate it for the Fire Station.”
The Golden Hammer took this opportunity to ask Master Barnes some questions about Freemasonry:
GH: What does it mean that you are the “master” of the Lodge?
Barnes: “The lodge has 5 elected officers. The leader is referred to as the ‘Master.’ He is not called the President or Chairman, because his authority and responsibility are so much greater. It also refers to the roots of Masonry and the building of the cathedrals in Europe where there was always 1 ‘master builder” or stonemason who was responsible for the project.”
GH: Aren’t Masons some sort of secret society?
Barnes: “Hardly, While we do have some parts of the initiation ritual that are ‘secret,’ we are not a secret society. Our buildings are clearly marked. Our rosters (through the Grand Lodge of Texas) are published. Many members wear a ring or have an identifying decal on their cars. We do not hide.
GH: Isn’t Freemasonry a religion?
As Barnes made the comment that rosters of Freemasons are public, The Golden Hammer conducted an investigation into whether certain people in our community are Freemasons. There are a number of Freemasons in leadership roles in Montgomery County.
Freemasons include Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley, Precinct 4 County Commissioner Jim Clark, Precinct 1 Constable Philip Cash, Precinct 4 Constable Kenneth “Rowdy” Hayden, former Sheriff Tommy Gage, Sheriff’s Department Captain and Jail Administrator Oliver Coward, and hundreds of the certified peace officers and firefighters in Montgomery County.