Thursday, January 31, 2019: Open Lodge of Sorrow

Gulf  Beach Masonic Lodge, located at 14020 Marguerite Dr. in Madeira Beach held its annual Lodge of Sorrow on Thursday January 31st to honor and remember those members of the Lodge who passed away during 2018. Prior to the ceremony the brothers and guests enjoyed a wonderful meal prepared by the Junior Warden, Mark Sawa-Szostak, after which they retired to the Lodge room for this special ceremony of remembrance. This ceremony, over 150 years old, was open to the public and attended by Masons and non-Masons alike. Unlike the solemn funeral services rendered by a Masonic Lodge at the death of a brother, this ceremony is designed to honor their memory and to pay respect to the many things they accomplished during their lives. The Worshipful Master and officers of the Lodge are dressed in black with white gloves and Masonic aprons. After introductory remarks by the principal officers a procession is formed and symbolic emblems are placed on the altar in remembrance of our departed brothers.  Gulf Beach Lodge remembered five departed brothers from 2018, Steven Fetherman (Past Master), John Denehan (Past Master), Craig Cramer (Past Master), Ed Villiaume III (Past Master/Past District Instructor) and Steven Goodman (Master Mason).
(Photo: L-R Howard Knapp, Buck Owens, Steve Johnson,Patrick Lynch, David Neville, Mark Sawa-Szostak, Joe Sosa, Craig Hunter, Don Harriott, Howard Feldman)

Thursday, January 24, 2019: Empty Chair Ceremony

Gulf Beach Masonic Lodge, located at 14020 Marguerite Drive in Madeira Beach, performed their Annual “Empty Chair Ceremony” in presence of forty members, family and friends from as far away as Ohio and Canada. The Empty or vacant Chair ceremony dates back to 1875, a decade after the close of the American Civil War when it was used in Masonic Lodges to pay tribute to those who did not return from the war. Since then it has been used by many Lodges at Remembrance Day to pay homage to those Brother Masons who fell during WWI, WWII, and other wars; or it may be adapted to remember Past Masters, Law Enforcement Officers, Fire Personnel, EMS and other first responders.

Prior to the ceremony the guests enjoyed a wonderful dinner prepared by Junior Warden, Mark Sawa-Szostak. Following the meal everyone retired upstairs at the Masonic Lodge where the Worshipful Master, David Neville, led the Officers in the rendering of the solemn ceremony.

A chair was draped in black and placed in the center of the Lodge room and after a Masonic apron and acacia sprig were placed on the chair, members, family and friends placed memorabilia on the chair to honor and remember their fallen comrades and brothers. Some of the items placed on the chair in remembrance were a Marine’s helmet, a WWI equipment belt, a Firefighter helmet, a Naval and Air Force cap, a Vietnam war hat, a Police Badge, and a Paramedic ID Card.

Thursday, January 17, 2019: Stated Meeting

Everyone enjoyed a great night at Lodge last night. Here is what went on.

  • The members of Gulf Beach Chapter No. 241, O.E.S. prepared a dinner of white beans and ham soup with corn bread, which was well enjoyed.
  • Cards went out to our sick and distressed members.
  • The altar was draped in honor and memory of departed brother Lloyd Lance.
  • Br:. Brian Ellis received his certificate for completing the Masonic Leadership Training (photo).
  • The craft donated $150.00 to Gulf Beach Chapter 241, O.E.S.
  • The craft donated $100 to the Remember, Honor and Support Organization.
  • R:.W:. Howard Knapp gave Masonic Education on the three first Masters of Gulf Beach Lodge.

It was a wonderful evening! We hope you will plan on attending next Thursday for our ‘Empty Chair’ Ceremony.

Thursday, January 10, 2019: Master Mason Degree

Fifty-four Masons from around the U.S. and Canada attended the Gulf Beach Masonic Lodge Annual Past Masters Master Mason Degree on January 10th for Brother Tracy S. Livingston. Prior to the degree the brothers enjoyed a wonderful dinner prepared by Junior Warden, Mark Sawa-Szostak. Of the fifty-four in attendance, twenty-four were Past Masters, thirteen of those were from Gulf Beach Lodge. W:. John R. Cone III was recognized and presented a certificate for this being the 50th Anniversary of his Installation as Master of Gulf Beach Lodge.

The lecture was delivered by R:.W:. Howard Knapp; the Charge by R:.W:. John Hickey. Brother James Bahn of Tampa Bay Lodge presented Br:. Livingston the District 18 ‘Unity’ gavel, which is passed from one newest Master Mason in the District to the next newest Master Mason.

Saturday, January 5, 2019: Installation of Officers

Gulf Beach Masonic Lodge No. 291, located at 14020 Marguerite Dr. Madeira Beach, held its 69th Annual Installation of Lodge Officers on Saturday January 5th at the Masonic Temple. The Installation of the 2019 Lodge Officers was open to members and public alike. The new Lodge Officers for 2019 are David Neville, Worshipful Master; Patrick Lynch, Senior Warden; Mark Sawa-Szostak, Junior Warden; Howard Knapp, Secretary; David Webster, Treasurer; Steve Johnson, Senior Deacon; Joe Sosa, Junior Deacon; Buck Owens, Senior Steward; Craig Hunter, Junior Steward; Donald Harriott, Chaplain; Bob Meeks, Marshal; and Mark Niceley, Tyler.

 The Installation was led by Right Worshipful Howard W. Knapp, Past District Deputy Grand Master of Gulf Beach Lodge assisted by Right Worshipful Derryl B. O’Neal, Past District Deputy Grand, Installing Marshal; Worshipful Donald T. Harriott, Past Master, Installing Chaplain; and Worshipful Joseph R. Finocchiaro, Past Master, Installing Musician. Also in attendance at the Installation was the District Deputy Grand Master of the 18th Masonic District, Matthew B. Winters and the Grand Marshal of the Grand Lodge of Florida, Right Worshipful Robert Lambert.
Refreshments followed the program and were prepared by the ladies of the Gulf Beach Chapter No. 241 Order of the Eastern Star.

Thursday, January 3, 2019: Stated Meeting

It was a wonderful night of Masonry last night at Gulf Beach Lodge! The 2018 Lodge Officers put on their last meeting prior to Installation coming up this Saturday at 1.00pm. Here are the great things that were accomplished.

  • Brother Craig Hunter returned his Master Mason Catechism and was presented his Lambskin Apron and Proficiency Card.
  • Brother Tom Sulek was elected into membership
  • W:. Jim Charrette was elected a Plural Member
  • Br:. David Chestnut received his Perpetual Membership Certificate, card and pin
  • Br:. Ted Nelson received his 50 year certificate, card and pin
  • W:. Chuck Carter received his 50 year certificate, card and pin as a courtesy for Kathleen Lodge.
  • Money was advanced to the OES for Installation Refeshments
  • The Master, Treasurer and Secretary gave their 2018 annual reports and received a standing ovation from the craft.
  • Two members were elected to be placed on Emeritus Status
  • The craft donated $100.00 to the MSA Green Envelope Campaign
  • A recognition plaque was approved for a deserving brother.
  • A gift card was approved for a deserving brother.
  • Masonic Education was given by R:.W:. Howard Knapp on the “Book of Constitutions”

Saturday, December 22, 2018: Food Basket Delivery and Masonic Home Gift Giving and Lunch

Gulf Beach Lodge will be delivering the Holiday/Christmas Food Baskets this Saturday December 22nd. We will meet at the Lodge at 10:00AM (note the new time) and leave about 10:15AM on the deliveries.

Please email R:.W:. Howard Knapp to state if you will be attending the delivery on the 22nd, and also if you are able to drive.

We will then meet at the Masonic Home at 3201 1st St. NE St. Petersburg between 11:15-11:30AM to present Christmas Gifts to our residents and join them for lunch at Noon. Lunch is optional. If you want to have lunch with us it will cost $6.50 and you need to RSVP to R:.W:. Howard Knapp before December 21st.

Thursday, December 20, 2018: Stated Meeting

What a wonderful night of Masonry last night! Here is what was accomplished.

  • Brother Gregg Pappas returned his FC catechism one week after receiving his degree.
  • A first time visitor from Pittsburgh Lodge No. 45 was in attendance
  • Brother Witstruck announced that we will deliver 10 Christmas food baskets to families in need in our area on Saturday.
  • This Saturday we will be delivering gifts to our Masonic Home sponsored residents and joining them for lunch.
  • Br:. Sawa-Szostak, Masonic Education Chairman, reported that we nearly doubled the points required to receive the Grand Lodge Masonic Education recognition
  • The craft unanimously approved the proposed dues increase for 2020, dues will increase by $15 pending approval of the Grand Master
  • The craft approved sponsorship of a Youth Basketball Team at the Madeira Beach Rec Dept.
  • The craft approved sponsoring four needy youths to take part in the Mad Bch Basketball Season at the cost of $80 each.
  • The W:. Master Elect stated that his Masters Project for 2019 is to recover the officer chairs and to purchase a corner stone plaque to be placed on the exterior NE corner of the Lodge.
  • The craft approved the purchase of a new water heater for the Lodge
  • R:.W:. Knapp gave Masonic Education on the difference between a Funeral Lodge and a Lodge of Sorrow.

The brothers present enjoyed true fellowship and brotherly love….

Just a reminder: Lodge is Dark next Thursday for the Holidays, please enjoy time with your family and loved ones.

Thursday, December 6, 2018: Stated Meeting Including the Annual Election of Officers

It was election night! Here are the 2019 Elected and Appointed Officers

  • Worshipful Master Elect – David Neville
  • Senior Warden Elect – Patrick Lynch
  • Junior Warden Elect – Mark Sawa-Szostak
  • Treasurer- David Webster
  • Secretary – Howard Knapp
  • Chaplain – Donald Harriott
  • Marshal- Bob Meeks
  • Senior Deacon Appointed – Steve Johnson
  • Junior Deacon Appointed – Joe Sosa
  • Senior Steward Appointed – Buck Owens
  • Junior Steward Appointed – Craig Hunter
  • Musician Appointed – Jim Frobe
  • Tyler Appointed – Mark Niceley

Congratulations to all the newly elected and/or appointed officers for 2019. Open Installation will be on Saturday January 5, 2019 at 1:00 PM at the Masonic Temple with refreshments to follow.

Here are the other things that were accomplished last night.

  • Brother Tracy Livingston returned his FC catechism and will be Raised on January 10th by the Past Masters
  • A Petition for Affiliation was read
  • Brother Jim Frobe was elected as a Dual Member
  • R:.W:. Earl Ray was elected as a Plural Member
  • Brother Wittstruck reported that our Thanksgiving Basket delivery went well, we supported eight families.
  • $800 was provided for our Christmas Food Basket program
  • $200 was provided for Christmas gifts for our five sponsored Masonic Home residents
  • It was reported that our Annual Angel Tree event at Tyrone Mall was a success, twenty two members and family took part
  • We passed our quarterly kitchen health inspection with flying colors
  • Masonic Education was given on Lodge Bylaws and amending the same
  • A written proposal to raise Lodge dues was accepted by the members present and after written notice to the craft will come up for ball ballot on December 20th
  • The Senior Warden (Worshipful Master Elect) presented his balanced Budget for 2019 which was accepted by the members present and spread in the minutes.

Upcoming Events:

  • Family Bowling – Saturday December 8th at 11:00 AM (Seminole Lanes)
  • FC Degree – Thursday December 13th (Candidate – Gregg Pappas)
  • Food Basket Delivery – Saturday December 22nd (Start time TBA)