The newest Freemason lodge in Charles County is hoping to make big changes in the Waldorf community.
“We’re looking to be more involved in the community; that’s pretty much it in a nutshell,” said Steve Queen, senior warden for the S.T. Kendall Lodge #153.
Freemasonry is perhaps the oldest fraternal organization in the world, it’s history likely going back to stonemasons’ guilds in the Middle Ages, and many of its symbols and rituals date from that time, according to the Masonic Service Association of North America’s website.
Records go back to 1717, when four lodges in London formed the first Grand Lodge of England. From there it spread throughout Europe and colonial America, where Benjamin Franklin, Paul Revere, John Hancock and U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall were counted among its leading members, according to the MSA.
Freemasonry continues today as a service organization with over 4 million members worldwide.
“Masonry is the oldest fraternity in the United States. It’s devoted to charity, community service work, and the betterment of men,” Queen said. “I get a lot of people saying, ‘Oh, it’s a secret society.’ If it was a secret, you wouldn’t know about it. It’s a positive organization for the betterment of ourselves and our community.”
The S.T. Kendall Lodge #153 was chartered in December 2018 by the Right Worshipful Emmanuel J. Stanley, the grand master of Prince Hall masons for the Maryland jurisdiction.
“We’re looking to fit in with the other organizations, the Kiwanis and the Moose Lodge, that work in the community,” Queen said.
Queen said the group actually met for three or four years prior, and studied together before opening the lodge.
“We have a lot of people that live in Waldorf, and in Charles County, and we’ve traveled outside the county to go to lodges. So a lot of the people who live here wanted to do community service work and do work in the community we live in,” Queen said. “We wanted to make a difference where we actually lived.”
The lodge is a Prince Hall Affiliate, a branch of Freemasonry which was originally started by and for formerly enslaved African American men during the American Revolutionary War.
The Waldorf lodge is named for Grand Master S.T. Kendall, who in 1869 risked his life to save the original charter document from a fire at the Prince Hall Grand Lodge in Boston.
Jerome Johnson III is the worshipful master of the Waldorf lodge.
Queen said the lodge has adopted the four high schools in Waldorf, Thomas Stone, St. Charles, North Point and Westlake and are providing a scholarship to graduating students from the four schools. This year, they are providing a laptop.
They have also adopted a road, on Western Parkway near Berry Road beginning this spring.
Queen said they are also developing a partnership with the local Special Olympics.
The lodge can be found on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
“We’re really big into letting the community know what we’re doing,” Queen said. “The work that we do, we want people to see it.”