History

Guilford Lodge 656 saw first light on April 25, 1922 when Dispensation was granted by the Grand Lodge of North Carolina.

Then on January 17th, 1923 it received its Charter.

Why Guilford 656 came to be:

A contribution from WB Terry Cox:

As relayed to me many years ago by WB Joe Nesbitt, PM of Guilford Lodge, and who was regarded as the go to guy about Freemasonry in Guilford County, it was told that Greensboro Lodge 76, recognizing that the membership had outgrown the Lodge room, and realizing that their sister Lodge had the same problem, petitioned their members to ask for dispensation to form a third Lodge.  Approximately 75  members agreed to move to the new Lodge if the dispensation was approved by Grand Lodge, which it was.  Once under dispensation, members of Corinthian Lodge also moved to the newly formed Lodge, making an initial membership of about 140 members.  During those days, there was very little social life, thus members of any organization looked forward to the camaraderie of their respective organizations.  Freemasons enjoyed a prolific groundswell of members during the 20's, 30's and 40's, and to some degree even into the 50's and 60's.  Therefore, Lodge meetings were well attended, and participation was great.  As we now know, during the latter part of the 60's, and moving on until today, membership has dropped vigorously.  Technology, to include T.V. , moving pictures, veterans organizations  and dance halls took members away from the Lodge, attendance dropped, and thus, new membership reduced.  Where once we were a Lodge of several hundred members, holding dinners and other fund raising activities, the oldsters who worked at these tasks became too old to carry on, and, with a reduction in new, younger members, fund raising became difficult, and today, we are a Lodge struggling to maintain 150 or so members.

Popularity of the Shrine played a part in reduced participation.  Many younger and middle aged men wanted to be Shriners, but the path to membership was through the Blue Lodge and the Scottish and York Rites.  Shrine Centers enjoyed a swell of members who worked actively to raise money for the Shriners Hospitals for Children, their one cause, and played hard at their functions where they could take a drink of alcohol, dance and socialize with no repercussions.   But the Blue Lodge did not realize the participation of many of their new members, since their reason for joining was to become a Shriner.   As witnessed by the fact that the Scottish Rite lost approximately 40% of their members when Shrine International members voted to eliminate the requirement that a man be a member of the Scottish or York Rite in order to be a Shriner.  The York Rite did not lose as many members, which can not really be explained.  There was, a few years ago, a movement at the yearly Imperial Shrine Communication to put forth an amendment to the Shrine Constitution eliminating the requirement that a man be a Mason in order to join the Shrine.  The amendment was rejected, even before it was introduced.  A large group, enough to make a huge difference, indicated to the Imperial Divan that, if that amendment passed, they would choose Masonry over the Shrine.  Shriners were faced with a loss of a majority of their members on principle only.  Therefore, the Imperial Potentate declined to hear the motion.  It has never been brought up again.