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)
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.
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.
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.
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”
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 Knappbefore December 21st.
Thirty-four Masons from as far away as Canada were present to see Brother Gregg Pappas Passed to the Degree of Fellow Craft. The lecture was delivered by Brother Bobby Burkett and the Charge by RW Howard Knapp. Congratulations Brother Pappas!