Open day to attract members

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‘‘INSPIRING’’: Milner Jacob is encouraging people to an open day at the Masonic Centre in Ashburton this Saturday.
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Mid Canterbury Freemasons based at the Masonic Centre in Ashburton want to attract new members.

They are holding an open day on Saturday, inviting people to come along and learn all about Freemasonry.

The non-profit international organisation is for men over the age of 18. They can be of any religion, but must believe in a supreme being and eternal life, and strive to live by the fundamental principles of integrity, goodwill and charity.

Among longest serving members is Milner Jacob, 88, of Ashburton.

He is keen to share the benefits of the organisation he has been involved with since he joined Lodge Erewhon in 1963, following in the footsteps of his father John.

‘‘It’s been quite inspiring,’’ Milner said.

‘‘It’s given me confidence, it’s made me aware of other people, it makes you practice a certain amount of discipline to be a better person,’’ he said.

It was rewarding to participate in the charitable side of the organisation, which nationwide annually gave hundreds of thousands of dollars in tertiary scholarships and in support of medical research, as well as grants at a local level helping in times of need, and sponsored the Westpac Rescue Helicopter.

He was also proud to belong to one of the world’s oldest organisations which provided a code of living in today’s society based on moral standards.

Milner said sometimes Freemasonry was misunderstood as a secret organisation. However, there was a secret element involved in the rituals of gatherings, such as words and a handshake.

‘‘We are an organisation with secrets, not a secret organisation,’’ he said.

Lodge Erewhon is one of four Masonic lodges based at the Masonic Centre. The others are Harmony Lodge, Thistle Lodge and Ashburton Lodge EC.

The four lodges have a combined membership of about

200.

The membership had dropped dramatically in recent years as older Freemasons passed away.

* Masonic Open Day will be held at the Masonic Centre, 111 Havelock St, Ashburton, April 6, 10am to 2pm