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Local Mason Lodge to Celebrate 200th

February 11, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

By Jesse Reilly
The Public Spirit/Globe Times Chronicle

Officers of Hermann-Humboldt Lodge No. 125.

Monthly meetings at the Hermann-Humboldt Lodge No. 125 are far from casual affairs. Members must wear ties, officers don tuxedos and the master of the lodge is required to wear a top hat.

And that’s how it’s been at the country’s oldest German Masonic Lodge for the past 200 years.

“The most important thing in the life of a lodge is ritualistic work,” Pierre Han Rausch, master of the Warminster lodge, said.

To honor its historic 200th anniversary the lodge is kicking off a yearlong celebration Feb. 12 with an open meeting and German feast.

“I think it’s an enormous, unbelievable milestone,” Rausch said. “To have the German language used in a 200-year-old fraternity in a country that speaks English is remarkable. It took a lot of hard work to maintain it this long.”

The Hermann Lodge was chartered in 1810 but did not hold meetings until 1811, Rausch said, adding that his lodge merged with the Humboldt Lodge in 2002.

The goal of the lodge, according to its website, is to “cherish and honor the sacred heritage of its founders, further the Masonic principals, preserve the German language in ritualistic work and continue active interest in all German endeavors and fraternal benevolence.”

All the lodge’s rituals are conducted in German, Rausch said. Some non-German members are being taught the rituals in German in an attempt to preserve the lodge’s tradition.

Currently, the lodge has 188 active members.

“Most people are in it for life because it becomes a way of life,” Rausch said. “When someone joins they find interest in what is going on whether it is good work, good speeches, good excursions or good fellowship.”

Men older than 18 and with a good reputation may become members if they are recommended by two Masons.

Once they are initiated Masons go through several degrees where, according to Rausch, they are guided and put on the path to learn about the mysteries and secrets of free masonry.

“We have secrets but we are not a secret society,” the master continued.

Although the Masons are the largest fraternal organization in the country, Rausch said membership has been stagnant for the past 30 years.

“It’s a sign of the times,” Rausch said of the decline. “Masonry was created when men needed to bond with other men; it offered something different than a club or other organizations.”

But the long guest list for the anniversary celebration shows that the organization is still strong. About 280 people are expected to attend the open meeting on Feb. 12.

Guests include the grandmaster of the United Grand Lodges in Germany, the grandmaster of Grand Lodges in New Jersey as well as representatives from lodges in New York, Canada, Connecticut and Atlanta.

Women and children are allowed to attend the meeting that will be followed by a traditional German meal at the Cannstatter Volksfest Verein, a German club in Northeast Philadelphia.

The dinner will also feature a brief history of the two lodges’ history.

Although this month’s event is the anniversary’s kickoff, Rausch said the lodge will be hosting a traditional Johannisfest Jubilee in June.

“It’s a very formal affair where we honor our ladies,” he said. “Because without our ladies’ support we wouldn’t be able to be away from the home so much.”

Although the summer event, set to be held at the Springmill Manor in Ivyland, is already in the works, Rausch said he is focusing on the most recent one for now.

“It took us a few years of planning to get here, but we’re very excited,” Rausch said. “There’s going to be music, speeches and some surprises.”

Republished with the permission of The Public Spirit/Globe Times Chronicle

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