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Sunday, July 26, 2020

Masonic Service for Congressman John R. Lewis Wednesday 7/29

by Christopher Hodapp

NOTE: This story has been updated as of 12:01AM 7/28 to reflect corrected information about John Lewis' Masonic record. Thanks to Derinique Kendrick in Georgia for the correction and Doug Evans III for providing more details.

Illus. Brother John Robert Lewis 33° passed to the Celestial Lodge on July 10, following a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 80 years old. The Hon. John Lewis served as the U.S. Representative for the 5th District of Atlanta more than three decades, from 1987 until his death, and he was one of the last living 'leading lights' of the 1960s civil rights movement.

John Lewis was the last surviving speaker from the famous civil rights 'March on Washington' in 1963 (the occasion of Dr. Martin Luther King's celebrated "I Have a Dream" speech) — at the age of 23, Lewis was the youngest person to give a speech that day.

John Lewis was made a Prince Hall Mason 'at sight' in 1999 at H. R. Butler Lodge 23 in Atlanta, Georgia, by then-Grand Master Benjamin Barksdale of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge F&AM of Georgia

In addition to his lodge, Brother Lewis was a Scottish Rite Mason in Atlanta Consistory No. 24-A, Orient of Georgia (PHA). He was coroneted a 33°SGIG in 2011 at the United Supreme Council Session in Atlanta. And he was a Shriner in the Prince Hall-associated Khedive Temple No. 16, and later in Mecca Temple No. 10, in the Ancient Egyptian Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine.

John Bazemore/AP
On Sunday, a horse-drawn carriage carried his flag-draped casket on a final trip across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. Congressman Lewis' body will lay in state in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda Monday and Tuesday so that lawmakers and many others can pay their final respects in Washington, D.C. He will then be taken to the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta.

John Lewis' body laying in state in the US Capitol Rotunda
(Photo: Jonathan Ernst/Pool/Getty Images)
MW Corey Shackleford, Sr., Grand Master of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge F&AM of Georgia (PHA), has announced that the last rites for the late Congressman and Mason will take place Wednesday, July 29 at 8:00 p.m., at the Georgia State Capitol in the Rotunda area. Masonic services will be performed by the officers and members of H.R. Butler Lodge No. 23 (PHA) under current COVID guidelines and restrictions.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution website is covering the almost week-long series of tributes as well as funeral and memorial services. The Masonic service might be broadcast or live streamed. Check that website on an ongoing basis for more information.

In May of 2008, then-Grand Master Akram Elias of the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia honored John Lewis for his lifelong commitment to civil rights. This ceremony took place as part of the 9th World Conference of Masonic Grand Lodges at the Renaissance Washington D.C. Hotel.

It is no small irony that Lewis' own grand lodge, the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Georgia, was not then, and is not today, recognized as regular by the 51 U.S. 'mainstream' state grand lodges, including the Grand Lodge of Georgia. Masonic protocol dictated then as now that he could not have accepted GM Elias' presentation in open lodge as a Brother Mason. 

Nothing has changed in a dozen years. And there's no way to defend that situation any longer.

His column is broken, and his brethren mourn.

Requiescat in pace.

NOTE: An earlier version of this story incorrectly named St. James Lodge No. 4 as Lewis' mother lodge, as well as membership in Nabbar Temple No. 128. I regret the errors.



  1. It is not a small irony that Masons proclaim and aspire to Union and we still cannot achieve it even to briefly honor one of our own...

    1. We have kept a perpetual distance for far too long. It's time for reconciliation and unfettered inclusion.

  2. Rest Well in the Celestial Grand Lodge friend and brother. Thank you for your life and sacrifice to humanity.

    MWPGM Melvin M. Thorpe

  3. Please correct the information stated in this article.... He passed on July 17, 2020 at the age of 80. I can't even stomach to read the rest of this....

    1. I made several corrections to this story early this morning, including verified info about his Masonic career that I got wrong. However, getting his age wrong was entirely on me and my typing inability.

    2. While you are correct about the Grand Lodge of Geoergia, I believe, that as of 2019 44 State Grand Lodge jurisdictions recognize Prince Hall Masons. At the very least I know personaaly of one and that is New Jersey.

    3. As of this moment, there are presently still seven U.S,. states that have not authorized joint recognition with their Prince Hall grand lodge counterparts. With the exception of West Virginia, the other six are all below the Mason-Dixon Line. They are: Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia. The first state to recognize its Prince Hall counterpart was Connecticut in 1989. Since then, 44 out of 50 states and the District of Columbia have all done so. As the years stretch on, the last holdouts of the Old South stubbornly refuse to even let the matter come to floor votes time and again without even permitting discussion in their sessions.

    4. It is about time for those Grand Lodges to enter the 21st Century.

    5. Traduce not my brethren

      Our fraternity should lead and yes we must straighten out our own house before that can really happen

      Remember justice not just us

  4. A last my brother

    WM Darnell Hawe
    McBride Lodge No. 390

  5. And when at last you stand before the great throne....

  6. The grand lodges that remain segregated are irregular, and the recognition of them by the other grand lodges and by grand bodies such as the Scottish and capitular rites continues to shame the entire fraternity. What a hypocritical bunch of bigots claiming brotherhood in states like Georgia.

    1. Bro anthony wardJuly 29, 2020 10:43 AM

      You do know ancient&accepted scottish rites was here before princehall even thought about being a mason but if iam wrong please do correct me if iam wrong.

    2. Not even remotely true Anthony. Prince Hall and his fourteen free black brethren became Masons no later than 1778. And what Paul is referring to is that both of the Scottish Rite Supreme Councils in the US recognized the Prince Hall Scottish Rite Supreme Councils long ago, as have the Grand York Rite bodies. Which means that PH Masons belonging to the York or Scottish Rite can attend their meetings, degrees and functions, yet cannot visit or sit in mainstream blue lodges in the last remaining 7 states.

  7. Thank you Sir for your service and commitment RIP . Evergreen Lodge #31 PHA

  8. God bless brother.

  9. Powerful. Rest in Peace Brother Lewis

  10. P.H.A Masons are recognized by ENGLAND & SCOTLAND & IRELAND AS AASR and they have the same lights and RITES.

    1. Not true. The Home Lodges in the UK only recognize those Prince Hall grand lodges that have already achieved amity with the mainstream state grand lodge in each state. That means in the seven remaining states where Prince Hall hasn't been recognized locally, UGLE, Scotland and Ireland don't recognize them, either. They depend on each state to sort out the issues of sharing sovereignty before they will grant recognition to both.

  11. Its a complete disrespect to Freemasons worldwide to not recognize brothers of all colors especially since we claim to be fraternal. It is one thing to black cube/ black ball someone for a character flaw or criminal background but to do the same because of skin color is absurd.
    I'm glad Maryland recognizes Prince Hall members.

  12. Actually, the GL of GA GM Johnie M. Garmon and his delegation were in attendance and participated with the Last Rites for Bro. John Lewis.

  13. Bro Harold BlackJuly 30, 2020 6:07 PM

    Good Evening Brethren,
    I have a question that I am sure others have. If those states who do not recognize or respect Prince Hall Affiliated Masons, why do we recognize them? We all know the true story behind the division, and we know how to end it. Lets just do it

  14. It's about time, thank you brothers. This is a wonderful thing and hopefully it will show the rest of our nation and the world that we can live together as one.


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