Notes from "The Northern Light": July-August 2010

Symposium a Huge Success

Freemasonry in its current form dates itself to the early 1700s but, in spite of – or maybe because of – its antiquity and resilience, there is always room for re-examination and a look at new perspectives. This was proved at Lexington, MA, on April 9 as several international scholars convened to discuss the Brotherhood in America.

The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, located at Supreme Council headquarters, hosted a symposium which examined certain aspects of the fraternity in this country. Funded in part by the Supreme Council and titled “New Perspectives on American Freemasonry and Fraternalism,” it featured the delivery of papers on a wide range of topics by a host of scholars.

The keynote address was given by Dr. Jessica Harland-Jacobs of the University of Florida. Called “Worlds of Brothers,” she examined the international reach of Freemasonry.

Other papers dealt with Freemasonry in the 19th century, Masonic artwork, and the fraternity’s brushes with the Ku Klux Klan.

Museum staff members who organized the event were satisfied with the outcome and felt it will help stimulate further examinations of the fraternity, its past, and its direction.

All Hands on Deck

The New Jersey Council of Deliberation found a unique way to present the 23°. The “Four Chaplains” degree was done on the fantail of the Battleship New Jersey. According to Bro. Moises I. Gomez it was “performed on May 15 – Armed Forces Day – in honor of all veterans.”

The retired USS New Jersey is now a museum, located at Battleship Place in Camden, NJ. According to the ship’s web site it was launched on Dec. 7, 1942 – exactly one year after the attack on Pearl Harbor. It saw action in the Pacific throughout the Second World War and was later used in Korea and Vietnam. Once again it was put back into action, in the 1980s, off the coast of Lebanon during that country’s civil war.

Several years after decommissioning it opened as a museum and memorial.

Bro. Sid Baxter

Ill. Sidney R. Baxter, 33˚, was a familiar name, not only in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction but also throughout the Scottish Rite world. Bro. Baxter, who passed away on March 10, served with six Sovereign Grand Commanders, and during his tenure he visited with the fraternity’s leaders around the globe.

He began his career in 1950 when the headquarters were still located in downtown Boston. Two years later he was appointed secretary to Sovereign Grand Commander Melvin Maynard Johnson. He continued his service well into the 1990s, attending frequent biennial meetings of the Southern Jurisdiction and yearly meetings in Canada. Bro. Sid and his wife Mona were well known among the leaders of Scottish Rite Masonry.

For more on the life of this Masonic icon, visit