BLAZING STAR LODGE No. 26
(The First 30 Years)
The cornerstone for Blazing Star Lodge No. 26, working under the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons, Jurisdiction of Massachusetts, was laid by Bro. William B. Green at Camp New Amsterdam, The Netherlands, in early 1971. Bro. Green enlisted the assistance of other Master Masons, notably Brothers Gerald Hitch and B.J. Henderson in pursuit of this
The first communication of Blazing Star Lodge No. 26 U.D. was held January 8, 1972. Many problems faced the new Lodge. Some of the immediate ones were:
- Building a treasury capable of supporting charitable and other Masonic work.
- Providing the regalia and paraphernalia required in the Lodge.
- Establishing a favorable public image.
The brethren set off right away with ideas for fund raisers to obtain money for our treasury. They had two public formal dinner/dances; food concessions at athletic and social events; and an automobile repair team. This not only provided financial help, but it also helped us to establish a favorable public image. All of these activities were very successful. Most of our regalia and paraphernalia were built or otherwise hand-made for the Lodge. One brother was a carpenter who made our truncheons, staffs, rods and other items, one was a tailor who made our first officer collars and we had three mechanics who supervised the work and repaired automobiles.
The activities of the Lodge proceeded at a rapid pace not only in Masonic work, but also in charitable work. The first charitable endeavor was the presentation of a scholarship to a military family member at the AFCENT School in Brunssum. The Lodge also supported the Athletic Youth Activity (AYA) Chapter, made contributions to the base dining facility, and donated monies to various individuals in distress. We also sponsored the Soesterberg chapter of the Boy Scouts of America.
The highlight of that year was a visit of the Most Worshipful Grand Master Brother Richard W. Richardson, other Grand Lodge Officers and their families. Following his visit, the Most Worshipful Grand Master recommended that Blazing Star Lodge No. 26 U.D. be granted a Charter granting them full operating rights and privileges in accordance with the Constitution and General Laws of the Jurisdiction of Massachusetts; and hereafter be known as Blazing Star Lodge No. 26. This recommendation was approved and a Charter issued December 4, 1972.
The first regular communication of the newly established Lodge was held on December 16, 1972. On that date, five Fellowcraft were raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason. These brethren were: Ernest Allen Jr., Michael A. Delgado, Nathaniel Goodall, Sidney T. Mobley and John B. Williams. These brethren immediately started to work and helped the Lodge considerably in their efforts.
The efforts and labors of Blazing Star Lodge No. 26 did not go unnoticed. A letter was received from Bro. Arn Bloeman, Worshipful Master of Jacob van Campen Lodge, Jurisdiction of the Netherlands at Amersfoort, requesting an appointment to discuss mutual visitation of our Lodge with Lodges of the Netherlands. Little did the brethren know that this would be the beginning of a long, varied and fruitful relationship between Blazing Star and Dutch Lodges.
During a District Conference in April 1974, Blazing Star was selected to host Saint John’s Day Services. This program required a lot of planning and coordination. On Saint John’s Day, the fruits of our labors were evident. Representatives from the Grand Lodge districts throughout Europe were present along with other concordant bodies. During that time we were also preparing to host the Western Europe Little League Baseball Tournament. On opening day, the field was beautifully decorated with flags from all the participating countries contributed by Blazing Star with a flag of the host nation. We also sold food at the tournament and this was again a very successful endeavor.
September 14, 1974 was yet another memorable day in Blazing Star. At that communication, WM Sostand stated that he, Bro. John B. Williams and Bro. Michael A. Delgado had been meeting with our Dutch brethren and had located a Lodge building in the city of Amersfoort and this temple was beautifully designed was available for our use. After much discussion about leaving Soesterberg, the Craft consented to move the Charter and approval was granted by our Most Worshipful Grand Lodge. On September 23, 1974 Blazing Star Lodge No. 26 opened for the first time at its new home, Jacob van Campen Lodge, Amersfoort, The Netherlands. This was truly a beautiful new beginning for our Lodge.
The temple has a Masonic history of more than 75 years and is fitted with all the glamour and niceties expected of a Masonic Hall. During early November 1974, Blazing Star enjoyed visitation with Jacob van Campen. This proved to be a very beneficial relationship between two foreign jurisdictions and elevated Masonic togetherness. However, on March 8, 1975, due to higher Masonic authority, visitation with Prince Hall Masons was ruled unconstitutional by the Grand Master of the Netherlands. This was a disastrous blow to both Lodges, as they had worked so hard to establish recognition between the two jurisdictions.
The first contact between the members of Blazing Star Lodge 26 and Masons of the Netherlands had occurred during the administration of WM Joseph Page in 1973, the first year of our chartered operation. The matter of mutual visitation was discussed, but it was not implemented until September 1974. A campaign was launched to bring this matter before the respective Grand Lodges, and during the interim, the two Worshipful Masters on their own authority, authorized visitation between the two Lodges.
In December 1974, the Worshipful Master of Jacob van Campen, Worshipful Brother Adam Broekstra, prepared a lecture entitled “On Our Relation to Our Brethren in the Mason Art Working in the Grand Lodge of Prince Hall.” Bro. Broekstra based his lecture on three tests. They were (1) a quote from the book “Entered Apprentice”; (2) the regularity of the working, and (3) mutual recognition. He concluded that we met the prerequisites of all three tests and that there was no objection whatever to mutual visitation. Also, RW Carl Cain, District Deputy Grand Master, Seventh Masonic District, responded that “he had no objection to full, unlimited visitation between our members and the members of Jacob van Campen Lodge. Although this was not formalized at this time, the Historian of the Dutch Grand Lodge wrote: “A time will come when Prince Hall Masonry will be recognized, but to do so now would threaten the unity of the Craft…” After WM Broekstra presented his lecture to the Grand Master of the Netherlands on March 6, 1975 (two-hundred years to the date after the initiation of Prince Hall), the Grand Master was not convinced that the non-recognition of Prince Hall Masonry by the majority of the American Caucasian Lodges had its origin in racial distinctions. Following the meeting, visits by members of Blazing Star Lodge to Jacob van Campen ceased. It is ironic that this action took place one century to the day after Black Masons were inducted into the Order in America. After that day, the doors of Blazing Star Lodge still remained open to our Dutch brethren who wished to visit, despite the absence of reciprocation and remain open to this date.
In February 1983, Bro. Th. J. de Gier, De Friesche Trouw Loge Nr. 20 at Leeuwarden finished compiling a study he had made relating to Prince Hall Masonry. Bro. De Gier spent considerable time researching and compiling this study and it was one of the most thorough that I have read relating to Prince Hall Masonry. He came to the same conclusion as Past Master Broekstra relating to the regularity and acceptance of Prince Hall Masons. That study is a part of our archives and Lodge history.
In relation to the history of Prince Hall Masonry, the following is submitted: On March 2, 1784, Prince Hall petitioned the Grand Lodge of England, the mother Grand Lodge of the World, for a Charter or Warrant, empowering them to work, agreeable to the usages and customs of Freemasonry. This Charter was delivered to Prince Hall three years later on April 29 1787, by Captain John Scott, brother-in-law of John Hancock, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. On May 6, 1787, Prince Hall and his associates formally began work under Charter #459, as granted by the Grand Lodge of England.
In the fire of 1869, Past Grand Master William Kendall, risked his life to save the Charter of #459 in the Lodge Room in the west end of Boston, Massachusetts. Our Charter still bears the crumpled end where the fire burned it on the corner.
Years later, in 1988, MWGM Richard A. Claytor, petitioned the United Grand Lodge of England for recognition and received no response.
On December 14, 1994, at the Annual Meeting of the United Grand Lodge of England, the following recommendation was presented and approved by the Grand Lodge of England.
“Grand Lodge approved the Board’s recommendation, that notwithstanding its unusual formation, the “Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, should now be accepted as regular and be recognized. The recognition applies only to the “Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. Applications for recognition of other “Prince Hall” Grand Lodges may follow and each must be considered on its merits.”
When we trace our Masonic lineage, we have a tendency to highlight certain dates, events and characters that we know and is important to us. There are many actions that occur that many of us are not aware of and are not documented.
Such an example is the contacts, talks and visits by a few of the brethren of Blazing Star 26. It should be noted that through the diligent efforts of these brethren, this issue was kept alive. It shows that perseverance paid off. I speak of Past Masters Joe Page, Roland Sostand, Michael A. Delgado, John B. Williams, Adam G. Broekstra, PM and DDGM Charles B. Beane and Bro. Th. J. de Gier. On our copy of the
Proceedings, on the last page there is a note that ask “Can you give me Michael Delgado’s address and tel. nr? This shows that they never gave up!
In closing, I would like to leave you with one thought. I have always said that the rules and guidelines in Masonry are simple and easy to follow, although attempts to interpret them sometimes cloud the thinking process. Remember that happiness is a journey, not a destination, as evidenced by where we are today.
Ernest Allen Jr. (P.M., DGL)
Blazing Star Lodge 26
Seventh Masonic District
Jurisdiction of Massachusetts