LOGAN, W.Va. — It was a very special day at Logan Middle School when members of the Scottish Rite were joined by many others for a unique and patriotic endeavor.
For many years the STVOL has had an annual dinner as part of their Americanism essay project, and this year the Masonic fraternity decided to host their Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps awards ceremony for local teens involved in the ROTC with the Ring Ceremony for new members who recieved their 14th degree rings.
The event was quite a success with over seventy people in attendence including special dignitaries such as Sovereign Grand Inspector General Jack Yost 33°; West Virginia State Senator Senator and retired US Army Major Richard Ojeda; Logan Mayor Serafino Nolletti along with many local law enforcement officers, teachers and educators including the cadet award recipients and the Scottish Rite Leadership Team. It was also a special night for one Brother Mason who was honored as well for his dedication and hard work.
Brother Charles Ream was recognized as the 2016 Scottish Rite Freemason of the Year in the Valley of Logan by his Masonic brothers in thanks for his dedication and service to the community and in the Scottish Rite Valley of Logan. “Brother Charlie” as he is more commonly known, is the Almoner for the Scottish Rite Valley of Logan, a position which provides relief for brethren in the fraternity who are faced with hardships.
New Scottish Rite Members who had been initiated into the fraternity also recieved their 14th degree rings. The rings are gold in color and feature a Hebrew letter on the front and the names of the individual member and the date he was initiated on the inside.
Scottish Rite JROTC Programs for High Schools have been a part of the Scottish Rite for decades. Commencing in 1998 and approved by the Assistant Secretary of Defense, the Scottish Rite Supreme Council (Southern Jurisdiction) initiated a program of recognition for outstanding Junior ROTC students. This initiative recognizes high school youth enrolled in the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps units for their scholastic excellence and patriotism and display of Americanism. The origins of Scottish Rite Masonry remain one of the great mysteries of the fraternity. There is mention in the early 1730s of “Scots Master Masons,” in England, as a possible step after the Master Mason Degree. Ironically the Scottish Rite has it’s roots in France- not Scotland! In 1742 in Berlin there was talk of “higher or so-called Scottish Masonry” degrees and the Grand Lodge of France adopted a regulation limiting the privileges of “Scots Masters” in lodges in 1743. The higher degrees (4th -14) proved popular when they were introduced to French Masonry. In August 1761 merchant and importer Stephen Morin received a patent from the Grand Lodge of France authorizing him to establish Scottish Masonry “in all parts of the world.”
Through a convoluted series of circumstances, Stephen Morin wound up in England where he conferred the degree of Deputy Inspector General upon Dutch merchant Henry Andrew Francken in the mid-1760s. When Francken traveled to Albany, New York in 1767 the Scottish Rite had made its way to the New World with the first American Lodge of Perfection established in 1767.
Morin appears to have taken the higher degrees he received in France and refashioned them into the Order of the Royal Secret, creating additional degrees along the way, via a governing document, the “Constitutions of 1762.” The now 25-degree Order of the Royal Secret proved popular and these French high degrees were initialy conferred by traveling Inspectors initially. The lack of central authority caused concern within the Masonic fraternity and on May 31, 1801, the first Supreme Council of the Thirty-third Degree was formed, introducing a 33 degree system of higher degrees incorperating the 25 previous degrees adding eight more, including the soon to be famed 33°. This organization had jurisdiction over Scottish Rite Freemasonry in North America.The Charleston Supreme Council was the only one in the US at that time. The Constitution provided for one Supreme Council in each country, except that the United States which was allowed to have two. However, at that time there were two higher degree systems were operating out of New York.
Eventually an officer of the Charleston Supreme Council ruled in favor of one of them in 1813, transforming it into the second Supreme Council for America, otherwise known as the “Northern Masonic Jurisdiction” consisting of 15 mid-western and northeastern states from Wisconsin and Illinois northeast to Maine.
The original Supreme Council or “Southern Jurisdiction” is composed of the other 35 states. All regular Supreme Councils today descend from the Supreme Council of Charleston.There are about 1.7 million Masons in the United States today and about 550,000 of those are Scottish Rite Masons.Scottish Rite Freemasonry has several charitable outlets including the Scottish Rite Childhood Language Program, organized in 1950 to assist children with speech and language disorders; scholarships, such as the Sam and Millie Hilburn Scholarship, Public School Administration Scholarship, Shepherd Scholarship and the Admiral James J. Carey/Washington Scholarship.