Bullard’s Masonic Lodge #785 is under new leadership, as the organization held a ceremony for the installation of newly elected officers for 2017-2018 on Saturday, July 15, at the Bullard Lodge, located at 113 S. Phillips St.
“We had a great time installing our new officers for the 2017-2018 Masonic year,” said Josh Jones, Worshipful Master. “We look forward to serving the community of Bullard as we continue to grow in our commitment of faith, hope, and charity. It is through faith that we find strength, through hope we look for a better tomorrow, and through charity that we will achieve it.”
According to Jones, the newly installed officers were either elected by the entire Masonic lodge or appointed to serve in the position. The new officer board includes a total of four members who have previously served as Worshipful Masters.
According to Jones, the positions of Worshipful Master, Junior and Senior Warden, Treasurer, Secretary, and Tiler are all elected. They are nominated the night of our elections and asked if they’re willing to serve in the roll, and then proceeds to a vote.
Officers sworn into service during the Bullard Masonic Lodge officer induction ceremony included Jones, as Worshipful Master; Scott Lewis, as Senior Warden; Kody Johston, as Junior Warden; Michael Whisenhunt, as Treasurer; Andrew Gulub, as Secretary; Jason Hendrix, as Senior Deacon; Robert Scacci, as Junior Deacon; Matthew Lee, as Senior Steward; John Hendrix, as Master of Ceremonies; Jim Hodge, as Chaplin; Randy McCugh, as Marshal; and Doug Scruggs, as Tiler.
In addition to the induction of new Bullard Masonic Lodge officers, the newly elected officers for the Alex Tulley Lodge #87 in New Salem were also installed.
Officers for the Alex Tulley Lodge #87 included Worshipful Master Troy Sunday, Senior Warden Gary Sutlieve, Junior Warden Larry Irwin, Secretary BJ Best, and Senior Deacon Dee Merritt.
Serving as the Installing Officers for the induction ceremony for the Bullard Masonic Lodge #785 and Alex Tulley Lodge #87 was Installing Master George Hall and Installing Marshall Dee Merritt.
As the new Worshipful Master for the Bullard Masonic Lodge, Jones said is job responsibilities include tending to matters of business both inside and outside of the Lodge.
“It’s really great to be able to serve as Worshipful Master,” said Jones. “Being that I’ve only been a Mason for the past three or four years, it’s an incredible feeling to be elected to serve in this position for the next year. The Worshipful Master is similar to the President of the United States Senate, where it’s his responsibility to address issues, determine whether they’ve been discussed enough, and then decide to bring them up to a vote or hold them until later. Also, when the Grand Lodge in Waco has their forum once a year, the Worshipful Master or a proxy appointed by the Worshipful Master attends and votes on behalf of the Lodge. Not only is the Worshipful Master the internal mouthpiece, but also the Lodge’s external mouthpiece.”
Jones began his tenure as a Mason in August 2013, when he first attended a meeting in search of a tight-knit group of brothers after having moved to Bullard from Alaska and serving in the United States Air Force.
“I limped my way into the Masonic Lodge about four years ago,” said Jones. “One of my mentors was a Mason, but I never knew it until about eight years after I met him. I was at the Air Force’s recruiting station at the Alaska State Fair, and they had a Masons table at the fairgrounds. I wasn’t able to join then, so I didn’t really get involved until we moved to Bullard. This was my first time to live in a civilian community, so it was a big culture shock for me. I needed to find a place that I could ‘have a uniform’ again; I had looked into the Boy Scouts and the Civil Air Patrol, and they both just didn’t seem to fit what I was looking for. When I came to the Bullard Lodge, I ended up meeting about half of the guys on the first day, which got me hooked instantly; the other half of that hook was the focus on the community, even in our rites and rituals. The unofficial goal of Masonry is ‘to make good men better,’ and the purpose of that is to have those men doing great things within their community.”
Despite being often misconstrued as a religious group, Jones said the Bullard Masonic Lodge focuses on giving back to the community through three basic principles of Christianity.
“We’re not a religion, but we do worship God and you have to believe in God in order to join,” said Jones. “Most of what we do is centered on faith, hope, and charity in 1 Corinthians 13. One way we practice this is through the scholarships that our Lodge gives to graduating seniors, as well as our benevolence committee that gives back through various avenues including financial and just lending a helping hand to those who are in need. We look at these instances as an opportunity to serve others and not a feather in our own cap. We use a lot of biblical examples of farming and ranching and we make it about building, which the modern person can understand, such as our symbols in the square, the level, the compass, and the plumb, as opposed to the plow, the seed, the sheep, and the goat.”
Jones said the installation ceremony with the Bullard and Alex Tulley Lodges was done as an effort to keep the latter Lodge open due to declining numbers.
“The reason we had a dual ceremony with our Lodge and the Alex Tulley Lodge was because their numbers were down and the Lodge was in danger of closing,” said Jones. “They ended up putting out basically a call for help to the other Lodges in the area. A Mason is allowed to be a member of more than one Lodge, and we have several of our members who are members at the Alex Tulley Lodge and other Lodges. These men who were installed as officers for the Alex Tulley Lodge volunteered just to keep it from shutting down; the history of the Alex Tulley Lodge is so rich because they were within the first 100 Lodges to open in the state of Texas, where we here in Bullard were the 785th Lodge. It made more sense to hold the ceremony at a central location like Bullard’s Lodge because we have a building large enough to accommodate friends and family members attending the ceremony.”
During his time as Worshipful Master, Jones said he hopes that his time as the head of the Bullard Masonic Lodge will include a more tech-savvy way to get information out about the organization and the work the Masons are doing in the community.
“The main job of a Worshipful Master is to instill an atmosphere of peace and harmony within the Lodge,” said Jones. “That being said, there has been some turmoil in the Lodge which has chipped away at what we should be doing as Masons. It came to a head in the past year, and now we’re past it; we’re the phoenix rising forth from the ashes. We will be establishing a multimedia committee with a new webpage and Facebook page, as well as a marketing team. We also want to get out in the community more, so we’re exploring how to do that, including having a presence at the Red, White, and Blue Festival. We recently joined the Bullard Area Chamber of Commerce, as well. In the past, it has seemed that this Lodge has been internally reclusive, but now, with the officer team that was just installed, I believe we have the right direction for our Lodge in the future.”
Bullard Masonic Lodge meets every first Monday, as well as every Thursday after the first Monday meeting. Dinner is served at 6 p.m., with the meeting held at 7 p.m.