Thursday, May 25, 2006

THE MUNCIE TEMPLE

I had the honor of speaking to a small gathering last night of Delaware Lodge in Muncie, Indiana. The event was to honor their 50 year members, and the excellent dinner was held in Muncie's beautiful Roberts Hotel. WM Tim Brinkmeyer also invited Senior Grand Warden Jeffrey Zaring and his wife Margie for the evening, and it was truly outstanding. The dinner was the highest quality, the surroundings were elegant, befitting the honors being presented. Everyone had a wonderful time. Everyone who came.

But what I saw after dinner gave me a long, sleepless night. The Muncie Masonic Temple is without question one of the most beautiful and majestic ever constructed for the fraternity. It was built largely by the gifts of the Ball family, creators of the Ball jar, and the patrons of Ball State University. The temple association sold the building in 1999, and today the first two floors are operated as a community center by the Cornerstone Center. The third floor remains home to two Masonic lodges, an OES chapter, and a Job's Daughter's Bethel. A new DeMolay Chapter is getting underway in the old Red Cross room, and the old Commandery asylum is there as well. But it is the two lodge rooms that literally take your breath away. The identical rooms are decorated with massive hand-painted murals depicting Old Testament scenes. The rooms are painted in a rich golden-ochre scheme, and are without the question the most beautiful I've ever seen anywhere in the world. The third floor of the Muncie Temple is one of the greatest treasures of Indiana Freemasonry, and few people know it. If the students of Ball State knew it, the college men would be lining up in droves to join. And if the Muncie Temple Association would start thinking like new members, perhaps they could see it with a fresh outlook and realize that this place must be saved at any cost. To let this majestic place simply wither and die from apathy, or worse, inaction and stubbornness, would be a disgrace.

We don't have too many lodges. We have too many buildings. There are at least seven lodges in Delaware County. Instead of everyone paying to keep up five different buildings, why aren't they pooling their resources to preserve the best and most centrally located facility? As numbers decrease, we can no longer sustain a lodge building in every neighborhood.

More important, this is a rare moment in time when the new public awareness of Freemasonry, a university town, a large group of young men and fate could all collide to protect and grow these downtown lodges. The is no reason why Muncie Freemasonry should not flourish with Ball State University right in its midst. One or two lodge officers can't do it alone. Their lodges need to act, and act fast.

No comments: