Masons offer public information session |

Masons offer public information session

Group opens up

Zach Fridell

— Hidden in plain sight, at the corner of Eighth Street and Lincoln Avenue in the heart of downtown Steamboat Springs, the Masonic Lodge can be viewed as a secretive organization. To combat that perception, lodge leaders are throwing open the doors literally and figuratively tonight for an information session that is open to the public.

The organization has been in the same location for more than 100 years and in the same building since 1919, but former elected leader, or Past Master, Lee Anderson said the lodge often could go overlooked.

"We're a quiet philanthropic group here in town," he said. "That's primarily why you don't hear a whole lot about us."

The local Masonic lodge has about 60 to 70 members, Past Master Dave Moran said, though many of those have moved away or are not as active. Moran said the lodge hopes to recruit new members who may have had their interest piqued by recent books by Dan Brown, and he wants to dispel the misconceptions that also have popped up as Masonry gained publicity.

"It's all about learning and sharing and dispelling misbeliefs," Moran said. "As Ben Franklin said, the big secret of freemasonry is that there really isn't any secret."

Past Master Greg Keller said the Masons are akin to a fraternity on a college campus. The lodge accepts men of any race or faith, though not atheists, and members work to raise money for charities including the Shriners Hospitals for Children, local scholarships and children identification programs with the police. All Shriners also are Master Masons, the highest of the three levels of Masonic membership.

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There is a separate organization for women, called Eastern Star, with an active chapter in Hayden.

Moran said that Masonry is often confused with a religion, but the organization instead strives to build morals in its members.

"Freemasonry is a system of morality veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols," he said.

It's also a tradition that can run in families. Keller said he has been a member for 30 years, the fourth generation of Masonic members, and his son, returned from Marine service in Iraq, has become the fifth generation.

"It opens up an avenue where you can have interaction with other men, you can exchange and share ideas," he said.

That meeting can inspire connections, friendships and good work.

"When I walk out of that meeting, having that interaction with the guys, it re-levels you, it rebalances you," he said. "You walk out of there better than you went in."

The lodge's open house will start at 7 tonight and will include a tour of the lodge room as it would be set up for a meeting and a short introductory video. The information session is open to everyone, including women.

If you go

The Masonic Lodge will host an information session at 7 tonight at the lodge, at the corner of Eighth Street and Lincoln Avenue. The door is on Eighth Street, under the Masonic sign of a square and compass with a G in the center. Everyone, including women, who cannot become members of the lodge, is welcome at the open house.

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