Thursday, June 02, 2011

Freemason Denied Masonic Funeral Service by Pastor

A Mason in Miami, Florida who passed away at the age of 80 was denied a Masonic funeral service by the pastor of his Baptist church, of which he was a member for 30 years.

From the Westside Gazette in Ft. Lauderdale, "Bro. Thomas Hamilton’s death stirs Mt. Carmel dialogue," by Derek Joy:

A curious thing happened when Bro. Thomas Hamilton died April 23, of circulatory and respiratory failure.

Hamilton, 80, was an usher and member of Mount Carmel Missionary Baptist Church in Miami, for more than 30 years. He remained a faithful member of Mount Carmel when the Rev. James C. Kinchen, Jr., was selected to replace Bishop Victor T. Curry who left to form his current church home of New Birth Cathedral of Faith.

“They wouldn’t let us give him his last rites as a Masonic Brother,” said the Illustrious Bobby Meeks, Florida State Grand Master of the International Free and Accepted Modern Masons and Order of Eastern Star. “The pastor said he didn’t believe in it.”

Kinchen didn’t return a call for comment.

“When that happens, you find another church,” said Bro. Tony Williams, a long time member of Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church in Southwest Miami Dade County.

And that is what happened. Hamilton’s funeral services were held at Peaceful Zion Missionary Baptist Church, where the last rites of the Masonic family were held and the Rev. Dr. C. P. Preston, Jr., delivered the eulogy.

“I was very upset,” said Hamilton’s daughter, Noble Lady Patricia Hamilton Dismuke. “He didn’t come or call the entire time daddy was sick and in the hospital. I was very upset about it.

“I thought a minister was supposed to visit the sick and shut in. I thought that was what the church was about. Everybody wanted to know why we didn't have his funeral at Mount Carmel. I tried to keep down confusion, so I just told people we were having his funeral at Peaceful Zion because it’s a bigger church.”

Consequently, the questions surface.

What happens when a deceased church member’s survivors are denied the availability of the church for funeral services? What actions can surviving family members and church members take? Is such an action in keeping with Christian values?

One school of thought was voiced by a Brother who grew up in Antioch Baptist Church of Liberty City and requested anonymity.

“I don’t know if that’s (Masonic last rites) enough to take a tenured member’s Home Going Service out of the church,” he said. “That’s enough to start a riot in the church. Family members will start a riot.”


Don't get bogged down in jurisdictional and regularity arguments in this situation. I'm certain the pastor wasn't objecting on the basis of Hamilton's membership in an unrecognized Masonic obedience. While he was an International F&AMM grand lodge Mason, even the Prince Hall Grand Lodge Grand Chaplain expressed his dismay, as all Masons should.

The Rev. Dr. C. J. Carpenter, pastor of Emanuel Missionary Baptist Church in Miami offers a bit of diversity to the dilemma. Carpenter is also the Florida State Grand Chaplain for the Prince Hall Affiliated Masons.

“No. I don’t think that’s reason to deny the family of a church member to have his funeral in the church,” said Carpenter. “I understand. A lot of the pastors won’t let the brothers come in and give the last rites.

“I know Kinchen. He’s a good teacher and preacher. A lot of the brothers and sisters have left Mount Carmel. You have to understand the Baptist Church. Some of these preachers think the church is theirs.

“It’s not. It’s God’s House. The church belongs to the community. The people in the community make up the church body. By rendering a service you stand to gain membership from the surviving family and friends.”


Amen, Brother. Amen.

6 comments:

The Author said...

While I will most likely not be receiving a Masonic funeral due to the wishes of my spouse, I think it's outrageous that a brother would be denied a Masonic funeral by his church. I recently attended my first Masonic funeral for a brother who had passed, and the only objection that the Pastor could bring (himself also a Baptist) was that the Masonic funeral used many of the great Bible verses on death that he had chosen for his eulogy. I commend the family and brothers for switching the venue, and I know that I would much rather a Prince Hall lodge preside over my funeral if my local church and/or lodge refuse.
Jonathan Krull - Senior Master of Ceremonies, Cuba-Friendship F&AM

Bull Jones said...

As a Deist I, thankfully, don't have this issue! It is a shame that any faith or church would act is such a way towards a fraternity that accepts all faiths.

Lee Love said...

I suppose it is important to figure out these things ahead of time. I'm a Buddhist. Typically, in non-monotheistic societies, multiple ceremonies of different traditions are never a problem. There is a saying in Japan:
"A Shinto Priest christens you,
A Christian Priest marries you,
and a Buddhist Priest buries you."

Nathan said...

All this being said, it is certainly the pastor's prerogative to say "No." The argument that the church belongs to the people and not the minister doesn't really fly, because if the church really belonged to the people, seems like the people would have told the minister where to get off.

I mean, face it, Lutheran ministers and Roman Catholic priests have been telling us "No" for centuries. And about half the Baptists don't like us, either. Do I think it's wrong? Sure. On any number of levels.

But I'm still more upset that the GM of WV spiked a sojourner's funeral for an Ohio brother than I am about this particular event.

Al Tate said...

It is truly unfortunate that there are still hard line religious clergy who think Freemasonry is an occult or are ignorant to the Masonic orders. We held a funeral for a brother several years ago in a Southern Baptist Church in NC and were told not to wear our aprons in "his church". We were respective and all the brethren waited outside. He did not attend the Masonic Funeral that followed in the church cemetery. We told him that some years back the Southern Baptist Convention had publicly stated that they could find no conflict with the doctrines of the SBC and Freemasonry hoping that it might disspell some long held beliefs held by some fundamentalists. But still some remain.
There were about 25 brothers that were also members of that particular church. The end result being that within 3 or 4 months the preacher was "reassigned" to another church in SC.- Al T., PM

Phillip Brown said...

I am sorry for the families lost and that he was not able to receive his last request. Now for the other side. He was not now or ever was a brother mason, he be to the bogus organization if am a fake masonic org. So please do not refer to him as a brother mason.