In a surprise twist on April 1st, what had been promoted as a re-dedication ceremony for the heritage listed Bairnsdale Masonic Centre, now seems actually to have been a dedication ceremony, according to the Most Worshipful Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of Victoria, Don Reynolds.
Masonic buildings are usually dedicated in an age-old ceremony, but in the case of Bairnsdale, it never happened.
Upon the completion of recent refurbishments, the Centres' Management Committee thought it appropriate to re-dedicate the building, assuming it had been done long ago.
So at each major stage of development on the Francis St. site over 130 years, no dedication ceremony was held.
The first stage of the existing Bairnsdale Centre was completed in 1872 when the Union Lodge of North Gippsland was affiliated with the United Grand Lodge of England.
The United Grand Lodge of Victoria was formed in 1889 and the Union Lodge of North Gippsland then became affiliated with the Victorian United Grand Lodge and works, major and minor, occurred at the Francis St. site over the next 128 years.
In a packed Lodge Room with over 150 people present the Grand Ceremonial Team performed the dedication ceremony based on Masonic ritual used over the past 300 years.
Aside from the Most Worshipful Grand Master, other leaders of Masonic Orders, brethren from local Lodges, partners, Lodge widows and guests including, local MLA Tim Bull, witnessed the colourful open ceremony where offerings of corn, wine, oil and salt were used to dedicate the building for Masonic use.
Much to their amazement, two local Freemasons, VWBro. Graham Barnett and WBro. Ken Lloyd who had played significant roles in the refurbishment of the Centre’s buildings were honoured at the conclusion of the ceremony.
WBro. Lloyd was conferred with the rank of Grand Standard Bearer, while VWBro. Barnett was promoted to Past Junior Grand Warden.
He then also presented Right Worshipful Brother Peter Crick, Past Deputy Grand Master, a member of the Mitchell River Lodge, with his 50-year jewel.
Brother Crick is also the First Grand Principal of the Supreme Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of Victoria.
According to Most Worshipful Brother Reynolds, Freemasonry has served Bairnsdale and East Gippsland well for almost 150 years, and provided many civic and community leaders in that time.
“Freemasonry is much more open than it used to be, rather than a secretive society it is now defined as a society of good men who make substantial and meaningful contributions to community and society in general,” he said.
The Most Worshipful Grand Master also read a dedication address in the Banquet Room over the foundation stone which was discovered, below the floor in the north east corner, during the refurbishment works.