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Posts Tagged ‘Mason’

Living Democracy in Bayou La Batre: Week Nine

In Bayou La Batre on August 7, 2013 at 3:05 pm

grand bay lodgeMasons of Lodge No. 767 form ‘family’ that serves community

By Laney C. Payne

Grand Bay Lodge No. 767 F. &. A.M is a secret society with open doors to the community they serve and love. Celebrating their 100year anniversary this past April, Lodge No. 767 is an organization of motivated men proud to be a brotherhood of service-driven individuals.

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Lodge hosts monthly community breakfast. (Photo by Laney Payne)

“From the bottom of my heart, I tell you it’s second to Christianity. If you find yourself a good Christian and a good Mason, you got yourself a mighty fine man,” said Mosspoint Mill retiree and 33rd degree Mason Butch McKeithes.

Founded on the basis of moral standards, mutual understanding and the belief in a brotherhood where all men are created equal, the Masons of Grand Bay aim to serve their community in whatever way they are needed. To these men, the brotherhood goes deeper than memberships and meetings: it’s family.

“It’s hard to keep up with what we do. We keep the lights on at the service station, we help the ball teams, we take care of our own. This is family here,” said McKeithes.

What seems like an average one-story brick building with simple lettering on the side to most is the meeting ground for the Masons in this small coastal community. Over a southern meal of sausage, grits and eggs at the lodge’s monthly community breakfast, I learned first-hand about the love this group of men has for the place they each call home. Although previously intimidated by the mystery that often follows the Mason name, I found myself immediately at ease within the wood-paneled walls of the lodge filled with the small town humble heroes who are the Freemasons of No. 767.

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Blaze Everette

“We aren’t better than anyone else. We just pride ourselves on making a good man better. This is the best thing that has ever happened to me,” said southern Choctaw County native Mason Blaze Everette.

Everette, an eight-year member and past Worshipful Master, lives and breathes Masonry. With a wedding band on one hand and his Worshipful Master ring on the other, Everette said he enjoys teaching others what it means to be a part of the Freemason family.

“From John Hancock on one side and Grover Cleveland on the other, we have always been Masons. I always knew it was something I wanted to be a part of,” said Everette.

J.D. Barrow Laney

J.D. Barrow

Involved in everything from child identification programs to helping the local Alma Bryant High School volleyball teams and serving as a local hurricane refuge site, Lodge No.767 never ceases to keep the community moving towards a sunnier Grand Bay.

“My favorite thing we do is hand out Constitutions to the youth here. I love seeing their faces when we teach them what it means to be an American. It’s something they need to be proud of and now a days, they don’t know enough about their roots,” explained Everette.

But their work doesn’t stop there. The Masons of Lodge No. 767 make sure each veteran headstone in the community is honored with wreathes each year and commit themselves to education and serving their neighbors.

Outside of community service, Masons offer opportunities to individuals of all ages. Whether you serve as an Eastern Star for women, Rainbow Girls for youth, or the DeMolay Association for young men, everyone can find a way to get involved in Freemasonry. However, membership takes time, dedication and even a strict investigative period before one can claim the name of Mason.

Butch Masons by Laney

Butch McKeithes

“You have to really work your rear end off, but it’s something real special,” explained McKeithes.

McKeithes, a past Worshipful Master, has climbed his way to 33rd degree Mason, a venture that makes up only one half of one percent of all Masons in the world.

“You gotta’ be a good type person, and people have been so kind to help me get here. I don’t even think I’m worthy of all that,” said McKeithes, proudly wearing his red, white, and blue Mason ball cap.

I have found the Masons of Lodge No. 767 far from what I expected to find behind their heavy wooden doors. After I was greeted with sweet southern hospitality and a plate of grits, the men of 767 showed me they are there for each other and for the community they call family.

The motto of the Masons is 2b1ASK1, or “To be one, ask one.” With just a few simple questions, you may be surprised at the kind, down-to-earth and service-driven individuals you will find.