Freemasonry Overview

Message from our Worshipful Master

Welcome to our website. Freemasonry is alive and well in Mechanicsburg, PA and the surrounding West Shore area. We are an ancient organization of men trying to make ourselves and the world around us better, one man at a time.

How ancient? We started as stonemason’s guilds who traveled Europe building cathedrals using closely held principals and geometric techniques. Our oldest surviving written document dates to 1390, although there are certainly references elsewhere to earlier times. Early documents contain codes of conduct and admonitions of academic study, as well as modes of genteel interaction with nobility and church elders. In time the latter would become speculative or accepted masons, and joined with the operative masons in Lodges where everyone could meet on the level. The concept was that during their meetings all were on an equal footing.

By 1717, various lodges in England organized together under a Grand Lodge. Other countries would soon do the same. The idea of Freemasonry, where men who believed in God could meet together, on the level, without any discussion of specific religious tenets, and enjoy fellowship and personal improvement, spread throughout the world. It flourishes today worldwide in all non-communist countries. Visit our section on History of Freemasonry.

This specific Lodge was established in 1856. The number, 302, refers to the fact that it was the 302nd Lodge to be warranted in PA. It started with just 8 men, and currently has over 700 members. It is one of Pennsylvania’s larger lodges.

What was happening in the world in 1856? The Mormon pioneers were moving to Utah. Dallas Texas was incorporated as a city. Minnesota was about to become a State. Otis built his first elevator. Isaac Singer had produced his home sewing machine. The internal combustion engine was being invented. John Mason patented his airtight jars. And toilet paper was launched!

We are an old fraternity. We try to uphold an ancient and honorable name. We quietly do community service and also attend to our members and the widows of members passed. As to becoming a mason, the old saying is, to be one, ask one. That is what I did and I’m very glad I did.

On behalf of the members and officers of Eureka-West Shore Lodge No. 302, I hope you enjoy your visit to our website and learn something new.

William A. Northey (Worshipful Master)
Worshipful Master
Eureka – West Shore Lodge No. 302, Free and Accepted Masons,
Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania 17055

History of Freemasonry

The Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons is the oldest, largest and most widely known fraternal organization in the world. Volumes have been written about it. Yet, to many, Freemasonry remains a mystery.

History – Some historians trace Freemasonry to the Tenth Century, B.C., during the building of King Solomon’s Temple. Records reveal that Freemasonry was introduced into England in 926 A.D.  Many other historians believe that Freemasonry is directly descended from the association of operative masons, the cathedral builders of the Middle Ages, who traveled through Europe employing the secrets and skills of their crafts.

In the 17th Century, when cathedral building was on the decline, many guilds of stone-masons, known as “Operative Masons” or “Free Masons,” started to accept as members those who were not members of the masons’ craft, calling them “speculative Masons” or “Accepted Masons.”  It was from these groups, comprised mostly of “Adopted or Accepted Masons,” that Symbolic Masonry or Freemasonry, as we know it today, had its beginning.

A more recent theory suggests that Freemasonry grew out of the survivors of the destruction of the Order of the Temple in 1314 by King Philip The Fair of France. Many Templars fled France and hid in England, Scotland and Ireland. To maintain their Order, they developed another organization, giving it a legendary ancient history to contribute to its cover from the authorities who wished it destroyed. John Robinson’s book, BORN IN BLOOD, is an excellent text describing this theory in detail.

Grand Lodges – In 1717, four Lodges of Freemasons meeting in London, England, formed the first Grand Lodge.  The first Grand Lodge chartered Symbolic Lodges and Provincial Grand Lodges in many countries, including the United States.  Today, there are more than 160 Grand Lodges in free countries of the world with a membership of more than 3.6 million. In the United States there are 51 Grand Lodges. There are approximately 1,600,000 Freemasons in the 51 Jurisdictions of the United States.

Symbolic Lodge – The basic unit of all Grand Lodges is the Symbolic Lodge, or “Blue Lodge,” as it is commonly known.  It is the Symbolic Lodge that issues petitions for initiation and membership, acts on petitions and confers the three Symbolic Degrees, known as the Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master Mason Degrees.   There are more than 430 Symbolic Lodges in the Jurisdiction of Pennsylvania with a membership of approximately 130,000.

When is a man, a Mason?

Joseph Fort Newton answers this question in the last paragraph of “The Builders”, probably the most popular of all Masonic books, in these words:

“When he can look out over the rivers, the hills and the far horizon with a profound sense of his own littleness in the vast scheme of things, and yet have faith, hope and courage, which is the root of every virtue.
When he knows that down in his heart every man is as noble, as vile, as divine, as diabolic and as lonely as himself; and seeks to know, to forgive and to love his fellow man.
When he knows how to sympathize with men in their sorrows, yea even in their sins – knowing that each man fights a hard fight against many odds.
When he has learned how to make friends and to keep them and above all, how to keep friends with himself.
When he loves flowers, can hunt birds without a gun and feels the thrill of an old forgotten joy when he hears the laugh of a little child.
When he can be happy and high-minded amid the meaner drudgeries of life.
When starcrowned trees and the glint of sunlight on flowing waters subdue him like the thought of one much loved and long dead.
When no voice of distress reaches his ears in vain, and no hand seeks his aid without response.
When he finds good in every faith that helps any man to lay hold of divine things and see majestic meanings in life, whatever the name of that faith may be.
When he can look into a wayside puddle and sees something beyond mud, and into the face of the most forlorn fellow mortal and see something beyond sin.
When he knows how to pray, how to love, how to hope.
When he has kept faith with himself, with his God; in his hand a sword for evil, in his heart a bit of a song; glad to live, but not afraid to die!
Such a man has found the only secret of Freemasonry, and the one which it is trying to give to all the world.”

Not Just A Man, A Mason