Longview Masonic Lodge No. 404 spent time Wednesday evening reviving a ceremony that hadn’t been conducted in East Texas in more than 70 years.
The Walk on St. John the Baptist Feast Day honors the birthday of John the Baptist.
“It simply fell into disuse,” lodge member Claude Hammond said. The 150-year-old lodge is located at 436 N. Center St. in downtown Longview.
Hammond said some of the younger Masons sought to bring back the event because “they see the deep spiritual significance of Free Masonry.”
Hammond said the last East Texas procession that he knows of took place in the 1940s in Kilgore.
A majority of the estimated 150 lodge members are 50 or older, Worshipful Master Larry Ferguson said.
Lance Kennedy, a Mason in his 30s who joined while attending Harvard University but is not a member of the Longview lodge, is one of the younger Masons who helped to revive the event, Hammond said.
“We wanted to resuscitate it because it is a traditional Masonic event,” Kennedy said when he gathered beforehand with about 19 other Masons and guests Wednesday evening at the Oil Horse Brewing Co. in downtown.
“This is a becoming a more popular event, and we wanted to bring it here,” Kennedy said. “This is a very important event, because in every country of the world, this is what Masons do on June 24.”
Kennedy said he, Hammond and Ferguson discussed the idea of the walk about a month ago while having dinner with their wives.
The Masons and their guests gathered at the Oil Horse before forming a parade to the Gregg County Courthouse.
The members wore their ritual aprons and proceeded to the courthouse carrying Bibles and staffs topped with symbolic emblems. One member led the way with the Texas flag, accompanied by a tyler — the Masonic term for an outer guard — bearing a small sword.
Once at the courthouse steps, Hammond explained the significance of St. John the Baptist Feast Day, which Masons observe in June, and St. John the Evangelist Day, observed Dec. 27.
Hammond also spoke about the importance of brotherly love in society today and freedoms that Masons learned: freedom of thought and freedom to assembly.