SILENT TEMPLE LODGE No. 3254

SILENT TEMPLE LODGE No. 3254

The consecration Ceremony of Silent Temple Lodge was held on Tuesday January 28, 1908 at Freemason’s Hall, Church Street under the sponsorship of Mount Olive Lodge, whose Master W. Bro. Joseph Arnold Alkins and Officers opened the Lodge in three degrees before the R. W. Bro. Dr. J. E. Godfrey, District Grand Master and the District Grand Lodge were received.

The first Officers to be invested were all members of Mount Olive Lodge and W. Bro. John Cheong who had already twice served as Master of Mount Olive Lodge in 1902 and 1903 was installed as the first Master of Silent Temple.

            Bro. John Cheong                                         WM

            Bro. Benjamin Hunter Ho-A-Hing            SW

            Bro. John Augustus Too-Chung                JW

            Bro. Evan Wong                                           Treasurer

            Bro. Job Wong                                              Secretary

            Bro. Manuel U Hing                                      SD

            Bro. Joseph Mason Hunter                         JD

Six Brethren of Mount Olive Lodge were summoned to a meeting at the home of John Cheong at 90 Smyth Street, on July 2, 1907 at 8:00pm, ‘having spoken as the necessity of another Lodge … and to consider form and Warrant applied for.’ This inaugural meeting was chaired by J.S. Barnard in the presence of John Cheong, Evan Wong, Job Wong, Joseph Mason Hunter and John Augustus Too-Chung.

The minutes of the meeting revealed that the necessity was as a result of:

–    the working of the present Lodge is not quite up to mark

–    young Masons cannot obtain promotion in the present Lodge owning to cliques formed to prevent the promotion of deserving young Brethren

The motion ‘to start a Lodge and to apply for a Warrant to work as early as possible’ moved by John Cheong and seconded by John Augustus Too-Chung was carried unanimously. John Cheong and JS Barnard were then appointed to:

–  interview the District Grand Secretary and Deputy District Grand Master and obtain all the information they could give on the subject.

–  get up an estimate as to the probable cost of furnishing and all other expenses in connection of the starting of the Lodge

–  select a suitable site or building and negotiate for the renting of same.

Two weeks later on July 16, 1907. John Cheong chaired the meeting having announced that ‘JS Barnard has on account of business troubles, withdrawn from the movement’. He reported that the District did not see any pressing need for a new Lodge but was not averse to recommending it, provided it used the ‘Emulation’ working. A list for the furniture and Charter was estimated at $140.00 and the seven members pledged to pay $20.00 each and further monthly sum of $2.00 for the upkeep of the Lodge in addition to $1.00 as the monthly subscription. A building at 34 Green Street was found to be suitable at a monthly rental of $15. The meeting proceeded to nominate the Officers for the Lodge followed by the appointment of John Cheong, JM Hunter and MU Hing to select a suitable name.

On July 24, 1907, the Petition, desirous of forming a new Lodge to be named ‘Silent Temple’ was prepared, sent to the District Grand Secretary, Dr. WF Law on July 25, 1907, who apparently directed that it be sent to the Master and Wardens of Mount Olive Lodge for their recommendation.

Since this was the first Petition being processed since the newly formed District Grand Lodge, the formality and procedures were vague in that the Minutes of Mount Olive Lodge do not record the receipt nor recommendation of the Petition. Nevertheless, a letter dated October 18, 1907 from the Grand Secretary to the District Grand Secretary, forwarded the Warrant dated September 19, 1907. A request for the payment of 17 Founders Fees at 2/6 totaling 17s/6d was also included in the letter.

In December 1907 Mount Olive Lodge held a special meeting and approved the application by Silent Temple to use its building without charge.

The first meeting of Silent Temple was held at Masonic Hall, Carmichael Street, by dispensation on Sunday February 23, 1908 for the purpose of attending Divine Services at Christ Church, and on their return to the Lodge, W. Bro. J. Wood Davis presented the Founders Jewels. Seven candidates were initiated, six of whom were raised to the 3rd Degree in 1908. All the ceremonies were done at 8 Emergency Meetings outside of the 11 stated monthly meetings which were well supported by the Brethren of Mount Olive Lodge who acted as Inner Guard and Tyler.

  1. Bro Cyril Victor Too-Chung, who was initiated in June 1940, was appointed Deputy District Grand Master from 1964 until 1980 when he migrated toCanada. He was the nephew of W. Bro. John August Too-Chung, one of the founders.

The brevity of the minutes leaves us to surmise that ‘York Rite’ as practiced by Mount Olive was adopted for Ceremonies from the inception and it was unfavorably commented on when the Rt. Rev. Alan John Knight, Lord Bishop of Guiana, Dist. GM, addressed the Lodge in his foreword of the Lodge’s Golden Jubilee Historical Retrospect in 1958. The Retired Grand Secretary, Rt. W. Bro. Sir James W. Stubbs PSGW, while attending a Communication of District Grand Lodge in 1980, also tried to convince the Brethren that the ‘York Rite’ is not part of English Freemasonry, and should not, therefore, be practiced in an English Lodge.

The banner received in October 1909, was replaced by the present silk banner which first graced the Temple in June 1927 and faithfully records the names of the seven Founders.

The Lodge now meets on the second Friday of each month with its installation meeting in January. For many years, the by-laws remained unamended and the January installation meeting was not provided for.

The Lodge initially sought membership from suitable persons of Chinese ancestry many of whom did not have English as their mother tongue. This has since been changed, although there is nothing in any official document which restricted membership to those with Chinese ancestry. There are, however, indications that Silent Temple was asked to restrict its membership to avoid competing with the activities of Mount Olive. For several years Silent Temple was issued special dispensations to summon Emergency meetings on Sunday to attend Divine Services at St. Saviour’s Anglican Church during the month of February, St. John’s Day, as part of its Anniversary celebrations.

Silent Temple sponsored the formation of Kara Kara Lodge no. 8349, consecrated on November 27, 1970 after its Warrant was issued in September 1970.

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