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Masons gather for Hagerstown convention

November 30, 1999|By

Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau President Tom Riford officially welcomed the more than 700 attendees at the 159th Annual Convention of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge.

Hundreds of Masons from around the world gathered at the 159th annual event in Hagerstown.

"We're pleased to come to Hagerstown, and also pleased to help show the world what free masonry is all about," said Shelton Redden, Maryland Grand Master.

Members were acknowledged and awards were passed out at this year's celebration.

Hagerstown Mayor Robert Bruchey joined with Riford and Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development Assistant Secretary Dennis Castleman welcoming the conventioneers.

Some significant convention honorees included U.S. Senate candidate Kweisi Mfume, the former NAACP president, congressman and former Baltimore City councilman. Mfume is a Mason.

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"I'm just glad to be in the number with everybody else and you see this gathering of free masons around the state and jurisdiction, I might add, from around the nation and around the globe as a testimony to the sense of brotherhood and the sense of community," Mfume said.

Redden pointed out the charitable work that the group is known for. "We're here to do a service for our community. We're here to do a service for our youth, and we're proud of the things we've accomplished since being a fraternal organization."

More than 2,000 people came to Hagerstown during the three-day event. The group came together to discuss and continue their longtime work in the community. While The Clarion Hotel was the host hotel, several other hotels in the area also benefited by providing lodging for convention attendees.

"Prince Hall Masonry worldwide has been at the forefront of Community Service for over one-hundred years," said Redden. "The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge, State Of Maryland and its Jurisdiction commends Hagerstown for its usual great job in hosting our conference."

"Hagerstown-Washington County welcomes conventions and groups, and we are so pleased to have hosted the Prince Hall Grand Lodge in our county," said Riford. "To have Masons from around the world holding an event in Hagerstown speaks well for our community."

The PHGL has existed in Maryland for more than 150 years. There are 102 constituent lodges. Seventy are within the state of Maryland, 22 are in Germany, six are in England, three are in Italy and one is in Belgium. Maryland Lodges and Prince Hall Lodges of other states evolved from Massachusetts and Prince Hall. There are Prince Hall lodges throughout the United States.

According to Prince Hall Grand Lodge history, several prominent African Americans have held membership in the organization. Duke Ellington, Eubie Blake, Count Basie, Alex Haley, Justice Thurgood Marshall, Sugar Ray Robinson and Booker T. Washington to name but a few. The convention included awarding of scholarships for students interested in furthering their education, and also donations to various colleges including to Morgan State and Coppin State.

According to the organization's web site, "the mission of Prince Hall Masonry in Maryland is to provide information to the Maryland Prince Hall Family and to other jurisdictions and to the public in general about the numerous charitable, fraternal, and social events occurring within the jurisdiction, and to raise the moral, social, intellectual, and spiritual conscience of our society by teaching the ancient and enduring philosophical tenets of Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth."

For more information about the organization, and its Hagerstown convention, see: www.mwphglmd.org.

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