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Turlock’s Freemasons to host first-ever open house
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Turlock Masonic Lodge #236 will be hosting an open house on Sept. 7, giving the community a chance to tour the nearly 100-year-old building and learn about some of the Masonic traditions, like cornerstones (SABRA STAFFORD/The Journal).

Google Freemasons and it won’t be long before the search turns up some wild conspiracy theories. In an effort to dispel those falsities and shine a light on what the organization actually does and the principles it follows, the Turlock Masonic Lodge #236 is pulling back the proverbial curtain and hosting their first ever open house.

Community members are invited to the Masonic Lodge at 108 S. Thor Street from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 7 for the open house. The event will include tours of the Masonic Lodge, questions and answer sessions with current members and light refreshments.

The Turlock Masonic Lodge #236 has been a part of the Turlock community since 1874, said William Bart Sargenti IV, the Turlock Masonic Lodge #236 secretary. The Lodge was built in 1920 and is a stunning example of craftsmanship from that time period.

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Freemasonry is the world’s first known and largest fraternal organization and is based on the belief that making a man better improves the world at large (SABRA STAFFORD/The Journal).

The Turlock organization celebrates local community members, law enforcement and emergency responders each year with their Heroes Night Dinner. They also sponsor a Little League team, donate backpacks to local students and award three scholarships to high school seniors. Every school and municipal building in Turlock has a cornerstone that was checked with the ancient tools of the Freemasons, Sargenti said.

The Eastern Star chapter, which is for women, also will be at the open house and will have information about their organization and charitable endeavors.

Freemasonry is the world’s first known and largest fraternal organization and is based on the belief that making a man better improves the world at large, said John Matter, the Senior Warden at Turlock Masonic Lodge #236.

“Our motto is improving the community one man at a time,” Matter said.

The Freemasons originated with the stone masons operating in the 14th century who wanted to oversee who was working in the trade and what information was shared. It is steeped in oral tradition and has several symbols that are significant to the members, some of which will be explained during the open house.

“We want people to come and ask the questions they’ve been curious to know about Masons,” Matter said.

For men wishing to become a Freemason, the first step is to ask to join. Masons can encourage someone to join, but never invite. All candidates are interviewed and will need to be found of good character before accepted into the Freemasons.

Once becoming part of the Freemasons, the Mason works on completing three degrees — Apprentice, Journeyman and Master Mason.

There is no political affiliation linked to the Freemasons and in fact, discussions of politics and religion are banned within the Masonic Lodge. Members don’t have to be of any particular religious sect, but must declare a belief in a supreme being.

The open house is a free event. Attendees are asked to RSVP, though it is not a requirement to attend the open house. To RSVP or for more information visit