The Independent United Order of Mechanics (IUOM) on Sunday celebrated St. John’s Day in Brooklyn.
Members in the New York City metropolitan area, along with members from the five District Grand Lodges in the area, celebrated the event with a Thanksgiving Service at St. Peter Claver Roman Catholic Church in Brooklyn.
According to Hyacinth Robinson-Goldson, IUOM’s Jamaican-born community liaison officer, the fourth Sunday in June is usually set aside in the Mechanics Order throughout District Grand Lodge jurisdictions around the world for the celebration of St. John’s Day.
She said St. John’s Day commemorates the memory of St. John the Baptist, the Patron Saint of Sir Knights of the Order.
Deacon Richard “Ritchie” Hurst substituted in officiating for Fr. Alonzo Cox, rector, who was scheduled to preside at the service.
But, because of other urgent responsibilities, he “had to cancel at the last minute,” Robinson-Goldson said.
The Rt. Hon. Errol Collins, IUOM’s Deputy Master, represented Rt. Hon. Walter L. Benjamin, Most Worshipful Grand Master of the Order, who also had a last-minute cancellation, Robinson-Goldson said.
Before delivering the Most Worshipful Grand Master’s address, Collins thanked Deacon Hurst for “pitching in” at the last minute, stating: “Today is a day of deputizers,” evoking thunderous applause from the large gathering, according to Robinson-Goldson.
In his address, Guyanese-born Benjamin called on Sir Knight Companions to “practice the essential virtues of knighthood — courage, justice, mercy, generosity, faith, nobility and hope” — so that their families, friends and the community can be “impacted by the presence of these qualities in our lives.”
“Each of these virtues is important,” he said. “However, when blended together, serving with integrity, our families, friends and associates will observe and experience the true qualities of a Christian Knight, reflecting like a shining armor in us.
“On this St. John’s Day, ‘let our light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father, which is in Heaven,’” he added, quoting a popular Scripture verse.
“I call upon all Sir Knights of the Order to continue to be ‘Beacons of Hope’ and to protect and defend the gospel of our Lord and Savior, thereby honoring our Patron Saint, St. John the Baptist,” the Most Worshipful Grand Master continued.
Robinson-Goldson said the theme of “Living together in Love and Unity” continued throughout Deacon Hurst’s sermon.
He also reminded Sir Knights of the “good news which St. John the Baptist brought to the people of his time” and that “we can share what we have to create an atmosphere where love can grow, especially in a world where there is so much suffering and chaos.”
John the Baptist, he said, “kept it basically simple.”
“Just follow the simple rule of loving each other, and we will be building the community of unity we so desperately strive for,” Deacon Hurst urged.
Robinson-Goldson said members of the New York City Combined Encampment Choir, accompanied by organist Luc Dorsinville, gave “a beautiful rendition” of “Worthy is the Lamb”, composed by Darlene Zschech, and “God and God Alone,” written by Steve Green.
Hon. Donald Cameron, District Grand Master of the Composite District Grand Lodge #2 and host for the 2019 St. John’s Day celebration, made a presentation to, and thanked, Deacon Hurst for consenting to officiate at the service.
Cameron also thanked Dorsinville, “who continues to bless us with his gift of music over the years.”
A reception followed at the Mechanics World Headquarters, 65 Putnam Ave., Brooklyn, during which the Rt. Hon. Cecilio Leacock, executive grand secretary of the order, presented a gift to Howie Prince, consul general of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to the US.
In his brief remarks, Prince thanked “the brothers and sisters for the token of appreciation,” according to Robinson.
“He felt honored to be in the presence of brothers and sisters and Sir Knights of the Order, challenging each Sir Knight to ‘live the creed of the knighthood’ because ‘it is good and pleasant when brethren dwell together in unity,’” Robinson-Goldson said.
“With the mass injustice reported in recent news, and, as immigrant men and women of the Order who helped to build this country,” she quoted Prince as saying, “it is your right to do everything you can to make those phone calls to each other, to your elected officials, to ease the pain and suffering of your brothers and sisters, especially the children.”
Robinson-Goldson, past eminent commander and program coordinator, donated a “perpetual plaque” that she said “will be proudly displayed conspicuously at the Mechanics World Headquarters.”
She said Sir Phillips Grand Christian Encampment, under the jurisdiction of Composite District Grand Lodge #2, was the first recipient of this plaque for “having the most members in attendance at the service.”
The plaque was presented to Companion Clarence Simms, Eminent Commander, by Collins, who said that “this is an excellent way of motivating members of the various Encampments to come out and enjoy the St. John’s Day celebration.”
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