Thanks to Joe Elam of Bluffton for sharing the story of the Unanimity Lodge No. 418 on Hilton Head Island as it celebrates its 35th anniversary.
Joe is the lodge's current leader, or worshipful master. He writes the following about the lodge and Freemasonry:
The island lodge was warranted on April 29, 1977, by the Grand Lodge of Ancient Free Masons of South Carolina.
Its first officers were William "Pat" Hodges, worshipful master; Joe Pitts Sr., senior warden; and Joe Pitts Jr., junior warden.
Most of the original members were islanders who had belonged to Hardeeville Lodge No. 248.
They met on the second floor of a commercial building on Mathews Drive before moving the meetings to the St. Andrew By-the-Sea United Methodist Church in 1981. It continues to meet there on the second Monday of each month.
Today's Unanimity Lodge takes its name from an earlier Unanimity Lodge dating to the early 1800s. That lodge, on what is now William Hilton Parkway at mile marker 7 near the old Zion Chapel of Ease, followed the Ancient York Masonic ritual.
As Unanimity celebrates, so does the Grand Lodge of South Carolina, which marked its 275th "Annual Communication" April 25-27 in Charleston. Highlights of the event included a church service and wreath-laying ceremony at the historical Circular Congregational Church, a barbecue, a procession and introduction of dignitaries. Hundreds of visitors came from 40 states and jurisdictions. Attendance for the barbecue was about 700, and there were approximately 1,500 Masons present for the Communication.
In the history of Unanimity Lodge No. 418, Robert Wyatt served as worshipful master four times, Elbert Jackson Jr. and Wolfgang Saenger both served three times, and James Glick and George Chewning each served twice.
Other past masters, in order of service following William Hodges, were Joe Pitts Sr., Joe Pitts Jr., Gary Lee, Lee Sorenson, Jack Best Jr., James Kilgore Jr., Ralph Lynes, Michael Lynes, Bertus Matthews Jr., Carlisle Evans, Kenneth Barrett, Robert Kennedy, David Clisham, John Bowen, Herschel Pittenger, Robert Eberly Jr., William Creighton, Otto Haversat, Michael Graham and Nicholas Mihelic.
Recently, Lodge No. 418 held a fundraiser at the Golden Corral in Bluffton to benefit the Backpack Buddies program of Hilton Head.
Backpack Buddies partners with Low Country Food Bank to provide a weekend backpack of nutritional food to public elementary school children selected by school-based social workers with parental approval.
This ecumenical organization grew out of a communitywide panel discussion held at Congregation Beth Yam in March 2010. After that meeting the Hunger and Homeless Coalition was formed, partnership with Low Country Food Bank was established, and people from all over the island became involved. Several local churches participate actively in this program.
The Masons of Hilton Head Island are proud to be contributing to this relief effort. Providing relief for widows and orphans is one of the basic tenets of our fraternity.
Freemasonry was founded in London in 1717. Its current worldwide membership totals 3.6 million, 1.6 million of whom are in North America.
With almost 40,000 Masons and more than 300 local Lodges, South Carolina has one of the leading Masonic memberships in the country.
As a fraternal organization, Freemasonry unites men of good character who, though of different religious, ethnic or social backgrounds, share a belief in the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of mankind.
The traditions of Freemasonry are founded upon the building of King Solomon's Temple, and its fraternal ceremonies use the working tools of the stonemasons to symbolize moral lessons and truths. For example, Masons are reminded at Lodge to "meet upon the level of equality, act by the plumb of uprightness and part upon the square of virtue."
Like most organizations, one will get out of Freemasonry what he is able to put into it. However, membership in Freemasonry is not meant in any way to interfere with an individual's commitment to his faith, family or occupation. Freemasonry is not and never can be a replacement for these important institutions, but rather it is a positive environment that reminds every Mason of his duty to God, his community, his family and himself.
Freemasonry provides opportunities for sincere, honest, forthright men who believe in God and desire to contribute to the improvement of their communities and themselves. Through our Masonic fraternalism, we reaffirm our dedication and unity to become involved citizens who have a strong desire to preserve the values that have made and continue to make America great.
It has been estimated that all forms of Masonry worldwide contribute an average of nearly $3 million a day to various charities, the most familiar of which to Americans are the Shriner's Orthopedic Hospitals and Burn Centers.
Potential members must ask a Mason for an application as they are required "to come of their own free will and accord."