In 1793, President George Washington laid the cornerstone for the U.S. Capitol building, assisted by Grand Master of Maryland Joseph Clark, in a Masonic ritual.
On Friday afternoon, Officers from the Grand Lodge of Arkansas were in Wooster to conduct that same Ceremonial Cornerstone Laying at the new East Fork Lodge #327.
The cornerstone, constructed by East Fork’s Worshipful Master Tommy Browning and Lodge Member Lynn Hill, was placed in the northeast corner of the new building, as is the custom with all Masonic buildings.
A time capsule filled with items pertaining to both the old and new lodge will be buried alongside it.
Various state and county dignitaries were present for the ceremony, and Wooster Mayor Terry Robinson, County Judge Jim Baker and Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin gave opening remarks of congratulation and praise to the lodge members.
“It’s a big day in Wooster,” said Mayor Robinson. “We are honored to have such a good group of men in our community. The East Fork Lodge members are the backbone of our community.”
Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin thanked the men for being a perfect example of service in the community.
“In a day when there are so many distractions, I am encouraged to see such a strong community that does not set aside the values that come from deep, enduring relationships. Congratulations for keeping the focus on community service not just the social aspects,” said Lt. Gov. Griffin.
Several speakers, including Wooster Elementary counselor, Millie Engeler, talked about the lodge’s backpack program which provides food for the school’s students to take home on weekends, holidays and summer vacations.
Lodge members Lynn Hill said the backpack program has now given over $6,000 in kid-friendly foods through the backpack program.
Money for the program has mostly come through donations. Harp’s Foods recently gave the lodge $2,500 in gift certificates for the program.
The lodge also gives out two $500 scholarships to Greenbrier seniors each year.
Lt. Gov. Griffin commended the men for supporting education, saying: “These scholarships can make a huge difference in some young person’s life, helping them toward a productive life.”
Grand Master Carl E. Nelson conducted the ceremonial cornerstone laying, assisted by Brad Phillips, Deputy Grand Master; J.D. Sexton, Grand Senior Warden; David Bradley, Grand Junior Warden; Ronnie Frizzell, Grand Senior Deacon; Mitch Hensley, Grand Junior Deacon pro tempore; Toby Long, Grand Tyler; Lee Phillips, Grand Orator; and Boyd Ralph Boen, Grand Master’s Personal Representative as well as East Fork Lodge officers.
The ceremony included applying the Masonic tools—square, level and plumb—to the cornerstone to assure its quality workmanship. The cornerstone was then blessed and dedicated.
Grand Orator Lee Phillips concluded the ceremony: “The traditions and values still remain true. Let us rededicate ourselves as well.”