Tell us about York Lodge.
York Lodge No. 563 was chartered on October 21, 1891. Brethren from the four existing Columbus lodges, seeing the need for a new lodge to serve the expanding community on the North Side of Columbus, came together to form a lodge that would strive to engage with Brethren from all around the Columbus area. That idea, relatively unique at a time of geographically-specific lodges, continues to be a core theme for our Lodge, as we draw members from all corners of the city, inside and out of the outerbelt.
Our Lodge has always attracted men from all walks of life, who come together to enjoy fellowship and create those bonds of friendship that extend throughout the years and beyond the bounds of the Fraternity.
The pride of York’s members has always been apparent in all the work of the Lodge and in the experience provided to the new members. By these efforts, York became the example of Ohio Freemasonry during its boom.
While many of its members have made many achievements in Masonry, it is the recognition and honor given by its members that York Lodge’s own take true pride and humble appreciation from. Its members have always felt invested in the Lodge and sought to give that back through their efforts, helping the Lodge achieve its work and promote its image and reputation in the community. Members truly take to heart the notion that they are a reflection of York Lodge in their individual actions and endeavors.
What is the community of Columbus like?
Columbus is a community of communities. The downtown is supported and enjoyed by those that live in the communities inside and outside of the outerbelt. York Lodge has always been a reflection of this notion, drawing members from all these communities, who come together to support the Lodge and the greater community it serves.
As the times have changed, the activities of the Lodge have adjusted according to its changing membership. York Lodge has always supported the leaders and achievers of tomorrow through its Scholarship Program, which continues today. Additionally, the Lodge seeks to assist and engage the greater Columbus community through its various Community Outreach projects, such as our recent trip to prepare and serve meals at the Ronald McDonald House.
Tell us about your education series, York Yarns.
York Yarns (Weaving a Tapestry of Education) is an online Masonic education series that we have been hosting since the summer of 2020. In that time there have been six separate installments, thirty-five presenters, and forty-three unique presentations. Each installment of the series allows a handful of presenters to share a short presentation on any topic of their choosing. Our presenters and attendees have come from York Lodge, the 14th Masonic District, around the state of Ohio, and even from other Masonic jurisdictions around the country.
York Yarns has been ever evolving since its inception. The first installment featured ten presenters, each sharing a five-to-ten minute presentation. Since that time, both the number of presenters and the length of presentations has varied. The format that we have settled into consists of events twice a year (summer and winter), featuring roughly eight presentations, each ten-to-fifteen minutes in length. This short presentation format allows both for the audience to get a sample of educational topics and for the presenters to prepare a shorter, perhaps less daunting, presentation than the typical Masonic education piece.
The topics presented have been as diverse as the Brothers presenting them. We have had everything from esoteric and occult topics, to academic lodge histories, to personal stories and practical life advice. The hope here again is twofold. First, that the presenters will feel free to share whatever topic they may have been thinking about. And second, hopefully, that each member of the audience will be able to find a topic that piques their interest.
How did this education series begin?
York Yarns began in the summer of 2020, in the midst of the pandemic. Our Lodge had been closed since that spring and I had been turning heavily to online sources, such as podcasts, presentations, and workshops, for Masonic educational content. While the landscape contained plentiful opportunities for learning, I observed that most of these formats required longer, in-depth presentations. In thinking about this, I came to the conclusion that it would be interesting to get multiple shorter format presentations on a variety of topics, all in one single event. This would allow the Brethren to have a creative outlet without as heavy of an investment in their respective presentations.
I first floated the idea amongst a small group of Brothers and quickly received support and encouragement for the endeavor. WB Chad Simpson came up with the name York Yarns, playing on his love for knitting and for storytelling, and I added the tagline. From there, I then set about to figure out the technical side of hosting such an event, recruit presenters, and design a logo. Somehow, we managed to pull that first event together in less than one month.
What does this series mean to the Brothers of the lodge?
From the very beginning, York Yarns has received great support from the Lodge. The Brethren have always been quick to both praise the events and offer constructive criticism. This support has been critical in the growth and success of the series.
These virtual events also have allowed our Brothers living out of state, and unable to typically engage with the Lodge, to both attend and present. This has permitted them to renew fraternal bonds that may have otherwise gone dormant.
Further, the series has allowed Masons of all levels of experience to take part and helped to encourage our newer Brothers to engage in their own paths of discovery.
Are there any upcoming events or lectures you’d like to share?
The next installment of York Yarns (Weaving a Tapestry of Education) is currently in the planning stages. We are looking to hold the winter 2023 event in either January or early February. More details to come.
If anyone is interested in presenting at this or future installments, please contact the Secretary of York Lodge No. 563.
What about this Lodge made you want to be part of it? What type of Mason does it attract?
I came to York Lodge No. 563 initially as a plural member. The Lodge I was raised in many years before had since closed and my membership in another had been almost completely inactive, owing largely to geographical constraints. After determining several years back to become an active Mason and find a new lodge to join, I decided to visit several lodges around the Columbus area.
When I visited York, I was immediately struck by the sense of fraternalism and energy. The Lodge was full of Brethren who were engaged not only with York, but with Masonry in all of its facets. These Brethren worked hard within our Fraternity and took great pride in representing it well. This continues to be the case as many of our Brethren hold leadership positions throughout the Blue Lodge and the multitude of appendant bodies, hold leadership roles within their respective professions, and remain engaged with other civic and service organizations. Despite these often-substantial commitments, our Brethren always take great pride in their home Lodge and the quality of the work that they put in for it.
I believe that it is exactly this type of man that our Lodge continues to attract. Men who take pride in working hard with others of the same mindset, building personal bonds, and seeing their beloved Lodge represented well.
Want to read other Ohio lodge blog features? Read our recent interviews with Arts & Sciences Lodge and Forest City Lodge!