"The Masons are scary old men who walk around downtown in black cloaks knocking on people's car windows," said Brent Bartz, a sophomore at Free State High School.
Bartz and many other people may not know a whole lot about the Masonic Temple and the organizations that meet in downtown Lawrence at 1001 Mass. St.
Some think that the Masons are "scary old men," while others think that these men participate in satanic animal or human sacrifices. The reality is that they are husbands, fathers and sons who meet to discuss charity, community and a strong set of values. These men spend hours serving those in need and raising money to help others in the community.
Service is not the only thing these men do, they do have ritualistic ceremonies, and sometimes dress in costume. Just as any actor would dress in costume to add meaning to a play, a Mason may dress in costume to add meaning to a certain ceremony.
Many think that the Masonic organizations should be more open about what they teach and what they do. Many people also believe that the Masonic groups are secret organizations.
Henry Johns, a Lawrence Mason, explained, "Masonry is not a secret organization; it is an organization that has secrets."
Some nonmembers think Masonic organizations should involve the community more in the events by advertising and inviting the community to participate. The Masonic organizations have tried to involve the community more each year. They have bazaars and dinners, and this summer they held an open house. The International Order of the Rainbow for Girls from Lawrence Assembly No. 79 helped show the public around the meeting room and explained the history behind the temple.
Although the organizations may have secrets, they do not keep secret the fact that they want to help others. All of the organizations have service projects. The Masons offer scholarship opportunities for school-age children. They also collect money for several causes, including the Childhood Language Disorders Clinic. All the adult groups help utility support and food to the needy during winter months, as well as help with the Lawrence Boys and Girls Club. Each Thanksgiving they serve the club a turkey dinner.