Free and Accepted Masons of Forest Lodge 166 holds first meeting since March due to pandemic

On Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020, the Free and Accepted Masons of Forest Lodge 166 held their first meeting since closing up in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meeting under strict new guidelines, including the wearing of masks, social distancing and use of sanitizer, (and the toughest part of all for Masons, no handshakes), the lodge conducted its annual communication to elect officers. A closed, private installation of the newly elected officers was held on the same night, in the interest of time.

In this separate, and slightly abreviated ceremony, Richard Newton, district deputy grand master of the Chautauqua District, was present and installed the master and his officers for the ensuing year. Elected officers for the ensuing year are as follows: David Ludemann, master; James Mohney, senior warden; John Morse, junior warden; James Stoll, secretary; Jenness Merrill, treasurer; and for a three-year term elected as trustee was Kurt Maytum. Officers appointed by the master to assist for the ensuing year were: Daniel Virgo, senior deacon; James Emmott, junior deacon; Daniel Aldrich and Charles Dye. masters of ceremony; Douglas Essek and Manuel Padua, stewards; Richard Ryan, chaplain; William Hernandez, marshal; Charles Erbsmehl, organist; and Paul Scheeler, tiler.

In addition to the election and installation of officers, a discussion was held on a finances, and a budget was adopted for the ensuing year. Amongst the discussion was the status of the monthly community family breakfast that the lodge holds from September through June on the third Sunday of the month, which helps to pay for building expenses. The breakfast has been on hold since April, and will continue to be until further notice, but lodge members did decide to put on chicken barbecue to help pay expenses. Plans were made, and the lodge will be holding the drive-through barbecue on Sunday, Sept. 27, from noon until sold out. Members were distributed tickets, to be sold for $12 advance sale, and $13 at the door. The lodge location for the barbecue is 321 E. Main St., Route 20, Fredonia.

Another issue that has been plaguing the lodge over the past few months, has been the inability to take in new members, which involves a process of background checks and interviews, a member vote and a series of initiatory lessons called “Degrees” that the new members must go through. A new plan to be able to accomplish this process in a COVID-responsible, socially distant manner, until such time as things go back to normal has been devised. The lodge able now to take in new members by seeking out a member of the lodge and inquiring. Those who don’t know a Mason can call the master at 672-9464, or by visiting discovermasonry.com for more information, and clicking on the link at the bottom of the page.

The Freemasons are a men’s fraternity, dedicated to the teachings of friendship, morality, and brotherly love, and takes in interested men ages 18 and up in New York who have a belief in a higher power (of any religion), no felony record and be willing to submit to background and reference checks. There are also related organizations for members and their families, (coed adult as well as groups for young boys and girls separately). Involvement in the Masons also opens up the ability to join the Shriners, and help support the Shrine Hospital for Children, as well as opens up scholarship opportunities for children and grandchildren of Masons.

Worldwide the Masons have been supporting various charities at the rate of about a Million Dollars a Day, and Masonry has been around in its present format for more than 300 years.


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