- 1 SINIM LODGE (CHINA)
- 2 REFERENCES IN GRAND LODGE PROCEEDINGS
SINIM LODGE (CHINA)
Location: Shanghai, China; Tokyo, Japan (1952)
Chartered By: Baalis Sanford
Charter Date: 09/14/1904 1904-105
Precedence Date: 12/02/1903
Current Status: Active. Relocated to Japan following the 1949 Chinese Revolution.
The original petition of dispensation for this lodge bore the name Cathay, as shown below.
The original petition.
The petition was approved as shown below:
HISTORICAL NOTES, 1989
From TROWEL, Summer 1989, Page 2:
SINIM LODGE ALIVE AND WELL
in Land of Rising Sun
In the lobby of the Masonic Temple in Boston is an exhibit of memorabilia of Sinim Lodge, once of Shanghai, China, and now meeting in the Tokyo Masonic Temple in Japan. Among the artifacts displayed are programs, jewels, the collar of an officer, books, and reminders of visits by Past Grand Masters Arthur D. Prince in 1922, Herbert W. Dean in 1930, and J. Philip Berquist in 1983. In company with Robert P. Beach, then Grand Secretary, R. W. Robert C. Patey, Grand Marshal, and their ladies, Bro. Berquist visited Tokyo as part of the 250th anniversary of our Grand Lodge.
What vision Grand Master Baalis Sanford had for Sinim Lodge at the turn of the 20th century we shall never know, but judging from M. W. Thomas S. Roy's Proclamation on April 9, 1952, he might have had a dream of "extending the jurisdiction of Sinim Lodge of Shanghai, China, to include the city of Tokyo in the Country of Japan," in order that further light for the Craft be cast toward a prosperous recovery from a war-torn world. His dream has reached fruition. "Sinim Lodge is alive and well and we are happy to share some pages in TROWEL and shed some light about a Lodge that is probably unknown to most Massachusetts Masons," writes R. W. Joe A. Diele, District Deputy of China for our Grand Lodge.
The word Sinim is taken from the 12th verse of the 49th chapter of the Book of Isaiah, which is generally understood to mean China. It also means silk or the land of silk, signifying continuity. Little wonder that, among the Lodges in the China District, Sinim Lodge is the only one currently in operation.
While darkness now hovers over Freemasonry in Communist China, perhaps there is hope for the future. With the youth of the world denouncing military conflicts as a modern means of settling international strife, and opposing the teachings of Karl Marx to govern people, democracy may — slowly but surely — emcompass the world and permit its people to freely express themselves in their chosen religious convictions and social lifestyles, like Freemasonry. Although Masonry still exists in Hong Kong, its future is uncertain once the Chinese government takes over in 1998. The International, Ancient Landmark, Shanghai, and Hykes Memorial Lodges chartered by the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts have been in recess since communism became the way of life in mainland China. Our Caribbean Naval Lodge at Guantanamo Bay will meet the same fate when the Castro government takes over the naval base in Cuba at the end of the century.
There is no written record of the reasons Sinim Lodge was formed. Ancient Landmark Lodge in Shanghai was chartered by Grand Lodge in 1864. From its membership records we find two bodies of Brethren applying to Grand Lodge in July 1903, for dispensations to form new Lodges in Shanghai. One, originally called Orient Lodge, is now Shanghai Lodge (in recess), and the other is Sinim Lodge, originally called Cathay Lodge. The dispensation to form Cathay Lodge was held Jan. 28, 1904 at the old Masonic Hall, 30 The Bund. At that meeting, a letter was read from the District Grand Lodge of Northern China, English Constitution, requesting that the name "Cathay Lodge" be changed because in 1901, a Lodge in Hankow was constituted under the name "Far Cathay Lodge No. 2855, E.C." When the seventh meeting was held on June 15, 1904, the Lodge voted to ask the Grand Lodge at Boston to change its name to Sinim Lodge. Sinim was regularly chartered by the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts on Sept. 14, 1904, but the document contains the following paragraph: "And we do hereby declare the proceedings of the said Lodge, in the Grand Lodge and elsewhere, to commence from the second day of December, A.D. 1903, A.L. 5903."
In October 1922, M. W. Arthur D. Prince was the first Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts to visit China, despite the fact that Ancient Landmark Lodge had been on the Grand Lodge rolls since 1864. Bro. Prince visited Ancient Landmark and International Lodges, installing the officers of each Lodge. The first Chinese member accepted by Sinim Lodge was Dr. Hua-Chuen Mei. He was initiated on Feb. 27, 1923. Later, he was active in the organization of Amity Lodge No. 106, Shanghai, working under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of the Philippine Islands.
On June 12, 1930, Sinim Lodge was honored by the presence of M. W. Herbert W Dean who was accompanied by R. W. Charles C. Balcom, Grand Marshal. He witnessed the First Degree by Sinim Lodge, the Fellow Craft Degree by Shanghai Lodge, and on the third night Ancient Landmark Lodge worked the Master Mason Degree. While he was there, the Grand Master officially dissolved the Lodge of Instruction that was started in 1913, and on Jan. 9, 1932, a new type of Lodge of Instruction was created in all of the Lodges in the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts.
Lodge records of the Japan area begin with the "Minutes of a meeting of the China Square and Compass Club of Japan held in the home of Bro. Joseph N. Sbath on July 16, 1952." The business included the reading of the Proclamation by M. W. Thomas S. Roy, dated April 9, 1952, declaring "the jurisdiction of Sinim Lodge of Shanghai, China, to be extended to include the city of Tokyo in the country of Japan..." and directing, "that Brother Roger Sears Ormberg shall be Worshipful Master, Brother Herman Bylandt, Senior Warden, and Brother Anselm Chuh, Junior Warden of said Lodge until the annual election of officers..." Bro. Ormberg sought permission of the Master of Lodge No. 125 of Tokyo to use the Masonic Temple. At another meeting conducted by the "present acting officers" on July 22, 1952, it was decided to pay Lodge No. 125, $50 per month for six months to rent the Lodge rooms and after six months, if Sinim Lodge was solvent, to increase the amount to $150 per month, retroactive to Sept. 1, 1952. Early in the 1953-54 Masonic year, Lodge No. 125 decided that Sinim Lodge would not be required to pay monthly rental for use of the Masonic Temple as of December 1953. Sinim members then decided to contribute the equivalent of three months' rent to purchase 15 chairs for the Tokyo Masonic Center; some of these are still in use. Sinim and three other Lodges meeting in the temple still do not pay rent.
Sinim Lodge has held a strong relationship with the Tokyo Masonic community. At its first installation on Sept. 16, 1952, the Grand Master's Deputy for the Grand Lodge of the Philippines, R. W. William J. Eichorn, took part in the qualification of the Master-elect. At the 1953 installation, M. W. Carlos R. Jiminez, Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Venezuela (and subsequently the first Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Japan), was present. R. W. Eichorn again qualified the Master-elect (Bro. Anslem Chuh) and gave the charge. Wor. George Mesnooh, Lodge Star in the East No 640, Scottish Constitution, was the installing Marshal. Bro. Eichorn was elected an Honorary Member on Jan. 19, 1954.
At a First Degree meeting on Feb. 2, 1960, M. W. George Horiguchi, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Japan, was present. He was an Honorary Member of Sinim Lodge. Bro. Osmo Lares, Finnish ambassador to Japan, was present at the June 18, 1974 meeting. On Sept. 21, 1976, M. W. Floren L. Quick, Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Japan, gave the charge to the new Master and the Presiding Grand Master of Japan, Shi-geru Nishiyama, charged the Wardens. Among the visitors at the Sept. 22, 1979 installation were M. W. Howard M. Voss and eight other officers from Grand Lodge of Japan, R. W. Phillip M. Lassleben, District Grand Superintendent of Japan, District Grand Lodge of Hong Kong and the Far East, Scottish Constitution, who presented to R. W. Joe A. Diele, a commission as Hononary District Grand Marshal, Grand Lodge of Scotland. As can be read, the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Japan attends most of the Sinim Lodge installations and drops in occasionally at other meetings. Sinim Lodge members are frequent visitors at meetings of other Lodges in Japan. Sinim has had visitors in recent years from 13 countries and Massachusetts members have been present from King David, Brookline, The Harvard, and Dalhousie Lodges.
During the 1957-58 Masonic year, Presiding Master Alphonse Rigod was directed by the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts to investigate the legitimacy of the formation of the Grand Lodge of Japan. A committee was formed and carried out its work, returning to Boston with a favorable report. Recognition of the Grand Lodge of Japan was officially recorded on June 11, 1958. R. W. David T Carleton of Brockton is the Grand Representative to Japan at the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, and Wor. Myron G. Bettencourt is the Grand Representative from the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. Sinim Lodge members played an important role when the Grand Lodge of England recognized the new Grand Lodge of Japan.
When M. W. Lord Cornwallis, Pro Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of England, visited from the Far East in April 1984, R. W. Joe A. Diele and Sinim Presiding Master Keith L. Hager joined with the Scottish Constitution's District Superintendent for Japan, Phillip M. Lassleben, in hosting a dinner for the Pro Grand Master who was accompanied by R. W. Christopher Haffner, District Grand Master for Hong Kong and the Far East, E.C. Bros. Diele, Hager, and Wor. Robert F. Connelly, Past Master of Sinim Lodge, traveled to Kobe to attend a meeting of Rising Sun Lodge No. 1401 with Lord Cornwallis where the latter announced he was hoping that the problems created for the members of the English Constitution by the non-recognition of the Grand Lodge of Japan, would be put before the Grand Lodge of England. Recognition finally came on March 13, 1985.
As of Feb. 10, 1989, Sinim's 112 members were widely dispersed over the face of the earth: 37 in Japan, 68 in the U.S., 26 in other nations, and one unknown. The youngest member of Sinim Lodge is 35, the oldest 94, with the average age being 64, which is in line with most grand jurisdictions in the United States. There are also four honorary members, including R. W. Henry D. Ramm of Methuen.
Sinim's first Japanese Master was Wor. Saburo Matsui who presided during the 1988 Masonic year. He was born in 1937, attended Kawagoe High School in 1952-56, and received a B.A. in economics in 1960 from Aoyama Gakuin University. Living in Oiso City, Kanagawa Prefecture, about an hour by train from his office, he has a wife, Yasuko, and two children. He was elected to receive the degrees on March 17, 1981, and signed the by-laws on Dec. 15, 1981. He had held the offices of Senior Steward, Junior and Senior Deacon, and Junior and Senior Warden before being installed Worshipful Master.
Each year, to commemorate its origin in China, Sinim has a Chinese dinner. The first was held in 1954 when 58 members and guests attended. The cost was 95,000 yen: 75,000 for the restaurant, 13,500 for the orchestra, and 6,500 for the entertainment. A total of 87,000 yen was collected at the restaurant, leaving 8,000 to be covered by Sinim Lodge. The dinner this year was on Feb. 4th at the Fu-Ling Restaurant on the first floor of the Daimon Hotel in the Shibakoen district of Tokyo. The 18 attendees were charged 5,000 yen ($38.50 at today's exchange rate of 130 yen to the dollar), which is relatively expensive for Tokyo prices. Bro. Tommy Chien, who claimed he had not been informed about the dinner, was at the restaurant dining with a guest. He is the last born-in-China Sinim member living in Japan.
When the Grand Lodge of Japan holds its annual festival for orphans and handicapped children, Sinim members can be seen working the booths, taking pictures, and entertaining the children. "In 1982 we began sending $50 a month to a distressed Brother and when he died in 1984, we began sending the same amount to his widow. We also paid for our Brother's funeral expenses. We are financially contributing to another Brother as well as giving 25,000 yen each to the local chapters of DeMolay, Rainbow Assembly, and Eastern Star; 150,000 yen (through Kyoto Masonic Lodge No. 5) to the Japan Eye Bank Program; 100,000 yen (through Lodge Hiogo and Osaka) to help a blind girl attend school for a year in the U.S., and 75,000 yen to the Grand Lodge of Japan for the Children's Festival.
Fees for the degrees in Sinim Lodge are 30,000 yen or dollar equivalent; for affiliation, 10,000 yen, with dues for the current year due and payable on signing the bylaws; for rejoining members, 5,000 yen. Annual dues (resident) are 7,500 yen, plus $15 for Grand Lodge dues.
Wor. Brian E. Heger, a native of London, England, and a resident of Tokyo, is the presiding Master. Among the other 37 Masters who have presided, only five have died. Four have demitted and one has been suspended. Bros. Diele and Connelly have served in the East three times and six other Brothers have served twice. Bro. Diele was born in Primero, Colorado, and Bro. Connelly is a native of Los Angeles. Both men make their homes in Tokyo.
(Acknowledgement: "Brief History of Sinim Lodge," 1939. by Won Frank Dufford Drake and Wor. Raymond Gladstone Viloudaki; R. W. Joe A. Diele, D .D. G. M., China District.)
Thanks to Bro. Rob Chan for help in compiling this list.
In Shanghai, China
- Edward Clinton Jansen, 1903, 1904
- Charles S. F. Lincoln, 1905; N
- Peter Charles Sturmann, 1905
- Stacy Anson Ransom, 1906
- Carl Ludwig Seltz, 1907
- John M. Darrah, 1908
- Thomas F. Morrison, 1909
- Offley Crewe-Read, 1910
- Harry E. Gibson, 1911
- Richard C. Morton, 1912
- Offley Crewe-Read, 1913
- Sidney R. Sheldon, 1914, 1915
- Norman G. Harris, 1916
- Frank J. Seeman, 1917
- Horace A. Vanderbeek, 1918
- Harry E. Pulver, 1919
- George F. Ashley, 1920
- George T. Armstrong, 1921 (Apr)
- James S. Dolan, 1921
- Arthur Q. Adamson, 1922
- Charles G. Irons, 1923
- John S. Potter, 1924
- Thomas C. Britton, 1925
- John R. Trindle, 1926
- Frank D. Drake, 1927
- Donald H. Wythe, 1928
- Lewis C. Hylbert, 1929
- Bruce S. Jenkins, 1930
- Philip W. Giovannini, 1931
- Edgar W. Wise, 1932
- Robert J. Gregg, 1933
- Chester V. Manney, 1934
- Harold E. Case, 1935
- John P. Baston, 1936
- Restel O. Scott, 1937
- Raymond G. Viloudaki, 1938
- Irving S. Brown, 1939
- Henry F. Kay, 1940
- T. H. Peter Chao, 1941, 1949
- Lodge in Recess, 1942-1946
- Edwin H. Himrod, 1946
- William M. Awad, 1947
- Arno F. Kerske, 1948
- Lodge in Recess, 1950-1952
In Tokyo, Japan
- Roger S. Ormberg, 1952, 1958
- Anselm Chuh, 1953
- Joseph N. Sbath, 1954
- Kenneth C. Miller, 1955
- Hawklin Chuh, 1956
- Alphonse Rigod, 1957
- Edward G. Freeman, 1959
- Harold Oppenheim, 1960
- Joseph F. Screen, 1961
- Jan I. Shram, 1962
- Walter C. Arnold, 1963
- Clifford C. Topliff, 1964
- Roscoe C. Triplett, 1965
- Alvin M. Slaton, 1966
- Paul Herman Wilhelm Jauer, 1967
- Hans R. Suhr, 1968, 1969
- Chandanmal P. Nandwani, 1970, 1979
- Joe A. Diele, 1971, 1972, 1986; N
- Edward G. Freedman, 1973
- Jonannes Wolfgang Glauche, 1974
- Frederick Harris, 1975
- Dudley J. P. Freeman, 1976
- Richard Louis Hein, 1977, 1982
- Robert Frederick Connelly, 1978, 1984, 1985
- Spencer Lee Alexander, 1980, 1981
- Keith Leon Hager, 1983
- Saburo Matsui, 1987
- Brian Ernest Hedger, 1988
- Christopher John Earnshaw, 1989
- Chikara Sekine, 1990, 1991
- H. Robert Ryker, 1992, 2013, 2014
- J. Peter McIllwain, 1993
- Allan Huies, 1994
- Richard E. Dyck, 1995
- Janos Cegledy, 1996, 2001, 2010
- M. Harold, 1997, 1998
- Dominique N. G. Conseil, 1999
- Frederick I. Shane, 2000; N
- Henk Dennert, 2002, 2004
- Jean Felix Rigod, 2003
- Anand Jairam Murti, 2005
- Brian Norman Watson, 2006; DDGM
- John Vernon Clarke, 2007-2009
- Jack M. Witt, 2011, 2012
- Douglas Eames, 2015
- Roberto di Candido, 2016
- Dennis Frank, 2017
- Chad D. Kreller, 2018
REFERENCES IN GRAND LODGE PROCEEDINGS
- Petition for Dispensation: 1903
- Petition for Charter: 1904
- Petition to Revise Charter to meet in Japan: 1952; approved 1953
VISITS BY GRAND MASTER
- 1922 (Prince; Special Communication, Shanghai)
- 1930 (H. Dean; Special Communication, Shanghai)
- 1983 (Berquist; Special Communication, Tokyo)
- 2010 (Pageau; Special Communication, Tokyo)
HISTORY OF SINIM LODGE, 1962
From an original manuscript deposited at the Samuel Crocker Lawrence Library.
Note: certain sections of the history were crossed out in the original manuscript, presumably to be excluded from the version to be published. They have been included in the text below.
A SHORT HISTORY OF SINIM LODGE, A. F. & A. M., Tokyo, Japan,
under the Jurisdiction of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, U. S. A.
1903 to 1962.
by ANSELM CHUH, P. M.
To All My Brethren of American Masonic Lodges of the China Masonic District, of the Most worshipful Grand Lodge of Masons of Massachusetts, U. S. A.
Greetings! The following pages were written at the request of the Worshipful Master and Officers of Sinim Lodge, A. F. & A. M. in connection with an elaborate program made by our brethren in Japan for the celebration of the 10th Anniversary of the transplanting of Sinim Lodge from Shanghai, China, to Tokyo, Japan, under a special dispensation granted by our Grand Lodge in Boston on April 19, 1952.
Sinim Lodge is the only American Symbolic Lodge now operating in the Far East. It was reactivated ten years ago for the specific purpose of holding together members of all the China Lodges under the Jurisdiction of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Masons of Massachusetts then sojourning in far away Japan whose Mother Lodges had been ordered by our Grand Lodge to suspend operations since 1950 for fear of Communist encroachment and infiltration. I have been called upon to write a short history of Sinim Lodge not because I would presume to know more of its past proceedings or the history of American Freemasonry in the Far East in general but only because I am the oldest man and oldest Mason known personally to the Brethren of Sinim Lodge in Japan and the fact that I did make an attempt at writing such a historical sketch several years ago when my son, Hawklin Chuh, was Master of Sinim Lodge at Tokyo and many had seen my first rough draft which I, myself, considered unsatisfactory. It is largely due to his continued encouragement and assistance that I have accepted the present assignment.
It is unfortunate that all the Lodge records, including the minutes of almost seven hundred regular and special meetings of Sinim Lodge in the old country are hopelessly lost, or were left behind in Shanghai as it happened to all our other American Lodges which are now in darkness more or less indefinitely. It would be tedious reading if I have tried to present to you a bare recital of dry and dead facts of past events gleaned from the minutes of the Lodge which is impossible in my case as I am situated several thousand miles away from the Far East and our Grand Lodge in Boston, Massachusetts. I have endeavored to give you only the highlights of American Freemasonry in China and a short history of Sinim Lodge in particular with emphasis placed on the reestablishment and rebirth of that American Lodge as a whole rather than biographical sketch of any individual or individuals whose connection with our organization in the recent past may have been honorable alike to themselves and to American Freemasonry in general.
In a work of this kind, in which the writer has to mention both the living and the dead, while there is very little or nothing official to depend upon, the result will obviously fall short of general expectation. English is not my mother-tongue and, so far as I can tell, I am the first Chinese member of the Masonic Fraternity to write such a historic treatise which, to say the least, would lack the usual literary charm of an experienced American of English writer. If I have written anything or omitted something the presence or absence of which may prove occasion of offense to any Brother, I can honestly say I have tried to avoid giving such an offense. Some of the problems and local events that occurred in our Lodge at Tokyo during the past ten years are purposely left out because of their temporary nature the mentioning of which would not be of any benefit to the great majority of our members who are far away from Japan where the Lodge is working. It is hoped that what has been written in the following pages will be useful to our older members for reference purpose and lead our younger brethren to emulate the zeal and faithfulness of those before them and that some better informed among our great number of Past Masters may use the present necessarily short and incomplete treatise as a basis upon which to add and build a more presentable history of American Freemasonry in the Far East in the not too distant future.
My authority for most of what will be found in the present short history of Sinim Lodge, at Shanghai, China, and Tokyo, Japan, between 1903 and 1962, are a few of the older members of our own Lodge, particularly Rt. Wor. the Rev. Charles S. F. Lincoln, our oldest Past Master and only surviving Charter Member, who will be ninety-three years of age on July 13, 1962 on which date the 10th Anniversary of the reactivation of Sinim Lodge in Japan is now scheduled to be held. Rt. Wor. Bro. Lincoln kindly claimed me as one of his two favorite students in China in a letter written in August, 1959, to the Secretary of Sinim Lodge after ha had read and corrected a portion of the first rough draft of my short treatise on the history of Sinim Lodge; the other favorite student of his was the late Most Wor. David W. K. Au, first elected and installed Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Masons of China, a life-time friend of mine, to whom I am indebted for a good deal of the information on the history of American Freemasonry in China.
I wis* to express my gratitude also to Wor. Bros. Edgar S. Wise, Frank D. Drake and Charles G. Irons, Past Masters of Sinim Lodge, who kindly answered our call for assistance sent to all the living Past Masters of Sinim Lodge in February, 1962, for information on the past proceedings of our Lodge back in China. I wish to take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks to Rt. Wor. Earl W. Taylor, our Grand Secretary at the Grand Lodge in Boston, who has kindly read and given the necessary corrections to this present paper for me before presentation to Sinim Lodge at Tokyo, Japan, for perusal and publication in connection with the celebration of the reactivation and rebirth of our Lodge this Summer.
Yours sincerely and fraternally,
Anselm Chuh, P. M.
July 4, 1962,
Honolulu, Hawaii, U. S. A.
HISTORY OF SINIM LODGE, A. F. & A. M.
Massachusetts Constitution, 1903 to 1962.
Modern Speculative Masonry was introduced to the Far East from England by way of India almost two hundred years ago. The first English Masonic Lodge was formed by members of the East India Company at the Traders' Square in Canton in the year 1767, A. D., under a Charter or Warrant granted by the Grand Lodge of England, known as Amity Lodge No. 407. Membership in that first English-speaking Masonic Lodge in China was necessarily small. It did not remain in operation long and left no records behind. The official history of English-speaking Freemasonry in China began with the consecration of Zetland Lodge No. 525, English Constitution, at Hong Kong, on March 21, 1846, almost immediately after the loss of Hong Kong by China to the English as a direct result of the first Opium War of 1840-1842. The Royal Sussex Lodge, No. 735, E. C., organized at Hong Kong in 1845 but was not officially warranted until it moved to Canton, China in 1848, and there it remained in operation until 1863 when it was moved up to Shanghai, where it became Lodge No. 501, English Constitution, in a general renumbering of Lodges under the Jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of England. In that year, the first American Lodge of Freemasons was formed at Shanghai under a Special Dispensation granted by Most Worshipful William Parkman, then Grand Master of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Masons of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. That was the Ancient Landmark Lodge which has been in darkness since 1950.
Sinim Lodge was organized in Shanghai at the turn of the present century by twenty members of Ancient Landmark Lodge, the Mother Lodge of American Freemasonry in the Ear East. The Boxer Uprising had just been put down by the armed forces of England and her allied powers, including those of Japan and the United States of America. China was then a helpless victim of European aggression and virtually a nation left in name only, cut up and divided into spheres of foreign influence. There was a popular book just published in London England, entitled These From the Land of Sinim, the Chinese Question or How to Treat China, written by Sir Robert Hart, C. G. M. C., Inspector General of Chinese Imperial Customs and Post, a well known British Agent in Chinese Government Service, who controlled the financial life blood of China for forty-seven years, himself an English Freemason. The last foreigner who held the same position of Inspector General of Chinese Maritime Customs was an American, Mr. L.K. Little, also a Freemason, a member of Ancient Landmark Lodge above mentioned. Sinim Lodge was organized by members of that first lodge of American Freemasonry in the Far East under almost the same unpleasant circumstances and for the same reasons as those which prompted the founders of Ancient Landmark Lodge to leave Northern Lodge of China, English Constitution, established in 1849, which was the oldest and only Masonic Lodge in Shanghai until 1863. In those bygone days, Freemasons in China were exclusively Europeans and Americans among whom were many a diehard businessman and politician who were true to their personal opinions outside of the Lodge rooms to insist on more and more treaty rights and heavier indemnities to be imposed on the Chinese Government. In 1902 and 1903 as it happened in 1862 and 1863, the much hated Manchu Government in Peking was at the mercy of the Allied Powers whose armed forces had marched into Peking but chose to maintain that tottering alien Government of China as a useful tool for the development of trade and the spread of Christianity in China.
When the first American lodge of Masons was formed in Shanghai in 1863, the citizens of the United States of America were in the throes of their great Civil War. So, also, were the people of China who had been fighting against their alien rulers, the Manchu Tartars, under the leadership of members of the "Triad Society" which had striking similarities with English Freemasonry of those days, both in aim and working details. The world famous English Masonic historian, Robert Freke Gould, was then one of the three principal officers of Northern Lodge of China, No. 570, E. C., at Shanghai, of which he was elected and installed Worshipful Master in the following year, 1864, when he was Chief of Police at the International Settlement at Shanghai. Previous to that, Robert Gould served under Lord Hope Grant as commander of a British expeditionary force in the Second Opium War of 1860 and was personally responsible for directing his troops in the wanton destruction of everything within their sight from Tientsin to Peking in North China, including the burning of the Summer Palace and the looting and pillaging of the City of Peking. He, Robert F. Gould, then turned around to fight the Chinese people's revolutionary armies under the British General Stavely and personally took part in numerous engagements against the Taipings for and on behalf of the Manchus between Shanghai and Nanking in 1861 and 1862 before settling down at Shanghai in 1863 after Charles Gordon, another young British army officer, took over the command of the so-called 'Ever-Victorious Army' formed originally by an American named Ward at Shanghai.
It was largely because of a general dislike of Robert F. Gould and differences of opinion on the problem of How To Treat China after the Second Opium War of 1860 that the American members of Northern Lodge of China, E. C., decided to break off from that pioneer English Lodge to form a lodge of their own in 1863. It was because of the same reason 40 years later when members of Ancient Landmark Lodge in Shanghai were divided on the problem of How To Treat China after the Boxer Rebellion in Peking at the turn of the present century that the founders of Sinim Lodge decided to leave Ancient Landmark Lodge in 1903.
The founders of Sinim Lodge included three Past Masters of Ancient Landmark Lodge who were later commissioned by the Grand Lodge in Boston to be Deputy Grand Masters and Grand Masters of the China Masonic District: Rt. Wor. Bros. John R. Hykes, George Alonzo Derby and John Goodnow. Our first installed Worshipful Master and only surviving founding member today, Rt. Wor. Charles S. F. Lincoln succeeded Rt. Wor. Bro. John R. Hykes as District Grand Master in June, 1921. When Sinim Lodge began operations, Bro. Hykes was D. G. M. in China and acting Vice-Consul-General of the United States of America at Shanghai as well China representative of the American Bible Society at Shanghai. He was commissioned by the Most Worshipful Grand Master of Masons in Boston as District Deputy Grand Master in China on December 31, 1902, and regularly installed as such on April 21, 1903, and served as American Consul General at Shanghai from 1902 to 1905. It was under his leadership and at his request that Sinim Lodge commenced operations and obtained its original Dispensation and Charter in 1903 and 1904.
It took our founders more than a year to obtain the consent of Ancient Landmark Lodge at its Monthly Stated Meeting in October, 1905, for a new Lodge. A petition was sent to the Grand Lodge in Boston by Rt. Wor. Bro. Hykes as D.D.G.M. for the China Masonic District for our original sponsors with the suggested name of 'Cathay Lodge' and Bros. E. Clinton Jansen, Charles S. F. Lincoln and Charles Stuarman, recommended for appointment as Worshipful Master, Senior and Junior Wardens, respectively.
A Dispensation was granted by Most Worshipful Baalis Sanford, Grand Master of Masons in Boston on December 4, 1903, when Bro. E. Clinton Jansen was back in America on account of serious illness and Bro. C. S. F. Lincoln took charge of our Lodge as Senior Warden-Acting Master. In the meanwhile, several other Masonic Lodge were organized under the Jurisdiction of the United Grand Lodge of England, including one at Hankow by the name of 'Far Cathay Lodge, No. 2855, E. C. At the request of the District Grand Master of the District Grand Lodge of Northern China, E. C., who shared the same open Masonic Territory in China with us those days, the name 'Cathay' under which our own Lodge worked under probation, was changed to 'Sinim' when our Charter was granted in Boston on September 4, 1904.
Some of the old-timers in Shanghai say that besides the desire of our own founders to respect the wish of the English Free-Masons to avoid confusion with their newly established Lodge at Hankow, they were pleased to change the name of our Lodge to 'Sinlm' in preference to the Tartar word of 'Cathay' which carried too much of a Russian flavor in its usage among the Europeans since the time of Marco Polo. The Russian menace in Asia, if not the whole world, was already rather disturbing in the mind of all who were concerned with the peace and order in the Far East those days. In fact, on the very day Sinim Lodge held its first regular meeting under dispensation, January 28, 1904, war broke out in Manchuria, an integral part of China, between Russia and Japan. The Russians deliberately provoked the Japanese into an international war in order to divert internal attention of their own people to foreign relations. The Czar himself, as well as the officials under him, saw unmistakable signs of brewing revolution and dissatisfaction in Russia, and considered war with Japan then highly necessary and an easy affair. To go into details of that war would be foreign to the purpose of this work. The change of the name of our Lodge originally was considered not only necessary but also very wise. The word Sinim is taken from the 12th verse of the 49th chapter of the Book of Isaiah, and is generally understood to mean China. It also means silk or the land of silk, signifying continuity. No wonder that among all the American Lodges in the China District of the Massachusetts Grand Masonic Jurisdiction only Sinim Lodge remains in operation today. I have a copy of a poem which was written by an unknown author at Shanghai in 1923 which may not be uninteresting to quote here:
Hail To The Sons of Sinim
Hail to the sons of Sinim,
Who, centuries ago
Fathered the man child, Science,
And taught him how to grow;
Gave him a place on their bosom,
Stroking his drooping head,
And oft arousing and saving
This feeble child from the dead.
Long did he hang in the balance
Near to the brink of death,
Till the Sons of Sinim nursed him
Back to a vital breath.
Long was this breath their motive,
Long did his clear bright eye
Inspire them to nobler effort,
The truth to amplify.
At length the youth grew sturdy,
And held in his youthful hand
Seeds to be sown to the ends of the earth
To grow at man's command;
Seeds of truth were his burden,
Truth of the arts of life,
Truth of the unknown spaces
Beyond this ken of strife;
Powder to arm him for battle,
Compass to sail o'er the sea,
Porcelain and silk delighting the eye,
These and more has he given,
Spanning the centuries,
Borne as a torch across the years,
Hail to the sons of Sinim, Who, centuries ago,
Fathered the man child, Science,
And taught him how to grow.
Sinim Lodge prospered from the very beginning of its operations at Shanghai in January, 1904, fully two years after the thought of a new Lodge, the second oldest American Lodge in the Far East, was brought to the attention of our Grand Lodge in Boston and a charter prayed for. The original Charter of our Lodge which is in safe custody in Tokyo, Japan today, was granted on the 14th day of September, 1904. The new Lodge was duly consecrated and its first Officers regularly installed by the Rt. Wor. Rev. John R, Hykes, D. D. G. M., on the 30th day of March, 1905. As Bro. E. Clinton Jansen, the Master Elect, was ill and away in America, never to return, the senior Warden-Acting Master, Bro. Charles S. F. Lincoln, was Installed as the first Worshipful Master of our Lodge under instructions from the Grand Lodge, with Bro. Charles Sturmann as Senior Warden and Bro. Murray Warner as Junior warden.
The following brethren were Charter Members of the Lodge in 1903/05
- Edward C. Jansen
- John R. Hykes
- Charles S. F. Lincoln
- John Goodnow
- Charles Sturmann
- Charles Wesley Hykes
- Stacy A. Ransom
- John Davis Robnett
- Carl L. Seitz
- John De Witt Jansen
- Pervine Wm. Irvine
- Arthur Hammond White
- Harvey Eldridge Gibson
- Thomas Frederick Earle
- George Alonzo Derby
- Arthur Bowman Hykes
- Mason Edward Mitchell
- George Mooser
Notwithstanding the fact that Sinim Lodge has been in operation for sixty long years from the date of its first formation in Shanghai, China, 36 out of 54 of our Past Masters, or two-thirds of them, are still living; at least one-third of these old-timers are personal friends of mine fromfrom whom I, myself, have learned a great deal of Freemasonry in general and Sinim Lodge pastana present.
According to a book printed privately by Kelly & Walsh, Ltd. in 1938 with the approval of the principals of the various Masonic Bodies in China, called to my attention by Worshipful Brothers Frank D. Drake (W. M. 1927-28} and Edgar S. Wise (W. M. 1930-33): Sinim Lodge shared the use of the old Masonic Hall formally located at No, 30 The Bund, Shanghai, until early in 1928. The old building was sold to the Japanese shipping Company, N. Y. K. Line, in April, 1926. In the meanwhile, a new American Masonic Temple was planned and built under the personal supervision of Rt. Wor. Bro. Arthur Q. Adamson (W. M. of Sinim Lodge in 1922-23, D. D. G. M. 1926-28) who has the distinction of having been the first and only Past Master of our Lodge personally installed by the incumbent Grand Master, Most Worshipful Brother Arthur D. Prince, on Oct. 3, 1922. M. W. Bro. Prince was the first Grand Master of Masons of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, U. S. A. to honor the brethren of the China Masonic District with a personal visit. Ha paid a second visit to Sinim Lodge at a special meeting held on Oct. 4, 1922 when he presented the "Henry Price" Medal to our beloved oldest Past Master, Rt. Wor. Dr. Charles S. F. Lincoln, then District Grand Master. The new American Masonic Temple at 178 Route Dufour (later changed to Ti Hwa Road), Shanghai, was dedicated according to ancient Masonic custom on the 23rd October, 1928.
It was not until June, 1930, that another Grand Master of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Massachusetts visited our Lodges in China. For the second time in its sixty years of existence, Sinim Lodge received the honor of a visit from a presiding Grand Master from Boston when, on the 12th June, 1930, Most Worshipful Bro. Herbert W. Dean visited our Lodge, accompanied by Rt. Wor. Bro. Charles C. Balcom, Grand Marshal. Both the Most Worshipful Bro. Arthur B. Prince and M. W. Bro. Herbert W. Dean conferred the Henry Price Medal on Masonic Dignitaries in China. The following account of the origin of the Henry Price Medal will, undoubtedly, be of interest to us:
"In 1723 a young Englishman came to Boston and settled there and went into business. He became fairly prosperous, and in 1733 he returned to his mother-country for a visit. He was a Mason, and while on this visit to his native country the Viscount of Montague, who was then Grand Master of Masons in England, gave him a Commission to establish Masonic Lodges and to rule over them as Provincial Grand Master in New England. He came back, and on July 30, 1733 at the Bunch of Grapes Tavern on King Street, Boston, he organized the First Lodge. He became our first Provincial Grand Master, and held office for three years. He retired from it, and a successor was appointed, and that successor lived but a short time and died, and again this man took up the reins of Grand Master. And that happened on three successive occasions, so that for four different periods in the formative days of our Grand Lodge in Massachusetts this man held the office of Grand Master for a total of approximately nine years.
"About fifty years ago the Brethren in Massachusetts decided that it was time that something be done to strike a medal to commemorate the virtues of that noble Mason; so they struck off and adopted by the Constitution of Massachusetts a medal bearing his name, known as the Henry Price Medal. That medal at first might be worn by the members of Henry Price Lodge and certain others who were given that privilege; but as time went on that medal became a more and more cherished possession, not for its intrinsic value but for what it represented, as the highest honor that it was within the power of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts or its Grand Master to bestow; and by virtue of that our Grand Lodge by an amendment to its Constitution in 1916 restricted the use of that medal, and again in 1918 they further restricted it, and again in 1926 - all by amendments to our Constitution - so that the Henry Price Medal may be worn only by those who have previously acquired that right, and by such distinguished Masons as the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts or the Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts by virtue of his authorization as such may determine to be worthy of special Masonic recognition.
"That medal it has been my pleasure during my term of office to present in but very few cases. Three of those cases were to the King of Sweden, the King of Denmark and the King of England." By M. W. Claude L. Allen, Grand Master of Masons of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, at the 200th Anniversary celebration of the Grand Lodge of New York, on May 5, 1937.
At one time we had as many as ten Lodges in China working under the Jurisdiction of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. Of these, only Sinim Lodge is in operation today transplanted at Tokyo, Japan. As far as we can tell, all English speaking Masonic Lodges in the Communist dominated mainland of China hare suspended operations by order of their respective Grand Lodges; the last was the Northern Lodge of China, English Constitution, which kept on working in Shanghai till the end of 1961. Our own Lodges in China were instructed to stop operations in China as early as 1950 to prevent communist infiltration into the Masonic fraternity.
Sinim Lodge has always been a friendly and harmonious Lodge as well as being really international in its membership while working at Shanghai, China. We were the first among thirty-nine Lodges working under as many as seven different Grand Jurisdictions in China to accept Chinese applicants into our membership. The first Chinese member of Sinim Lodge was the late Bro. Mei Hua-chuan, an American citizen, born in Oakland, California, initiated in our Lodge at Shanghal on February 27, 1923, when Wor. Bro. Charles G. Irons was Worshipful Master. There was strong opposition, of course, but there were already several distingulshed Chinese Masons who were members of Masonic Lodges in America, including such scholars as Dr. Chengting C.T. Wang (then Minister of Foreign Affairs in Peking who was later Chinese Ambassador to the U. S. A. during the Second World War); Dr. Wang Chungphui (President of the Judicial Yuan of the National Government of China, then Prime Minister of the Chinese Government In Poking and Judge of the International Court at Hague); and Dr. Chow Tsz-chi (Chinese Government Minister of Finance, one of the founders of International Lodge, Massachusetts Constitution, in Peking in whose private residence that particular Lodge held its meetings for almost two years before it moved to 98 Wang Fu Ching Ta Chieh in 1918). Dr. Mei Hua-chuan (better known as H. C. Mei) was a prominent lawyer in Shanghai, a Judge of the Mixed Court of the International Settlement, and President of the Rotary Club of Shanghai.
The making of the late Dr. Mei a Mason and a member of Sinim Lodge in 1923 was, indeed, an outstanding and Important event in the annals of modern Freemasonry in China. Since then, Sinim Lodge as well as other Lodges of the China District of Massachusetts Grand Constitution and a few Lodges under the English, Scotch and Irish Jurisdictions have accepted Chinese members. The second Chinese gentleman accepted into membership of Sinim Lodge was Mr. Yolay Young, a graduate of Harvard University, initiated in our Lodge on April 24, 1923. He was then a bank manager and later General Manager of the Farmers Bank at Hong Kong. The third was Bro. Victor Hamilton Yu, also an American University graduate, initiated in Sinim Lodge on May 2, 1924. The next was Dr. Way-Hung Hew, M. D. (Harvard), F. A. G. S., F. I. C. S.(Geneva), initiated in Sinim Lodge in 1926, then Surgeon-General of the Chinese National Army, later a founder and first Tyler of Amity Lodge, No. 106, Philippine Constitution, at Shanghai, and founding member of both Hanking Lodge, No. 108 and West Lake Lodge, No. 113, Philippine Constitution.
Those early Chinese members of Sinim Lodge held various offices in their Mother Lodge for several years before they sent a petition to the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts in 1929, for the formation of a new Lodge mainly for the benefit of Chinese applicants for degrees in Freemasonry, which petition was refused. Our Grand Lodge considered too early for the formation of a Chinese Masonic Lodge then, knowing for certain that it would eventually be the corner-stone of a sovereign Grand Lodge of China. The Grand Lodge of the Philippine Island, an offspring of the Grand Lodge of California, stepped in and issued a dispensation on the 28th day of October, 1930 for the formation of Amity Lodge, U. D., and a charter was issued on the 27th of January, 1931. The original sponsors of that pioneer Chinese Lodge of modern Freemasonry and most of its first elected and appointed officers were members of Sinim Lodge, with Bro. H. C. Mei as Worshipful Master until he was promoted to the position of District Deputy Grand Master of the District Grand Lodge in China, Philippine Constitution, on March 27, 1933.
At a meeting held on June 20, 1933, a ruling was read in our Lodge requiring our members to retire from meetings of Lodge Lux Orient!s, Grand Lodge of Vienna, Shanghai, China, at which members of jurisdictions not recognized by the M. W. Grand Lodge of Masons of Massachusetts were permitted to be present. Then, the suspension of relations between the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts and the Grand Lodge of the Philippine Islands was reported at a meeting of Sinim Lodge held on December 19, 1933, and members holding dual membership v/ere required to demit from one or other Constitution. Eventually, early in April, 1938, instructions were received that fraternal relations had been restored, and Brethren were notified that dual membership would again be allowed. To mark their satisfaction at the restoration of fraternal relations, Wor. Bro. Restel O. Scott, then Worshipful Master of Sinim Lodge, supported by many of our Brethren, paid an official visit to Amity Lodge, No. 106, P. C., on Tuesday, April 12, 1938, and a week later the visit was returned by the late Wor Bro. S. Henshaw Jee, accompanied by officers and members of Amity Lodge. By that time, there were already six Chinese Lodges in the China District of the Philippine Constitution and Dr. H.C. Mei was commissioned District Grand Master with the late Most Worshipful Bro. David K. Au, as D. D. G. M.
Bro. David W. K. Au was the first elected and Installed Grand Master of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Masons of China consecrated on March 18, 1949, at Shanghai, China. In a letter to the Worshipful Master of Sinim Lodge in August 1959, Rt. Wor. Bro. Dr. Charles S. F. Lincoln, our only living founding member and oldest Past Master, claimed the writer and M. W. Bro. David Au as his two favorite Chinese students in China, Rt. Wor. Bro. Charles Lincoln was the first Honorary Member of Sinim Lodge elected on February 15, 1921. Bro. David Au was the only Chinese Mason elected an Honorary Member of our Lodge. Until the fall of Shanghai to Communist domination in 1949, the only other Masonic dignitary elected by our Brethren to be an Honorary Member of Sinim Lodge was the late Wor. Bro. Harry E. Gibson, Wor. Master of our Lodge in 1911-12;
There was a standing rule from our Grand Lodge restricting our Lodges in China to the initiation of not more than 20 candidates in each Lodge to its membership in any one Masonic year and requiring Honorary Members, if previously subscribing members, to continue paying Grand Lodge dues, unless unable to do so. There was another important ruling from Grand Lodge in that a Brother is not a member of a Lodge until he has signed its By-laws, which he is not allowed to do until he is raised to the degree of Master Mason and has proved satisfactory proficiency.
With the foregoing necessarily brief and incomplete notes on the early history of Sinim Lodge in the old country, we now pass on to the transplanting of Sinim Lodge from Shanghai, China, to Tokyo, Japan, and its progress and rebirth during the past ten years. The suggestion which led to the reactivation and rebirth of our Lodge arose from a visit I had with Bro. Joseph N. Sbath in Tokyo, Japan, in January, 1950, when the British Government had Just given diplomatic recognition to the Communist Chinese Government in Peking. The two of us were in Hong Kong together that following summer when we had a luncheon with. Wor. Bro. Peter T. H. Chao at the Parisian Grill on Queen's Road, Central, Hong Kong, on August 11, 1951. Bro. Chao had just came out of Shanghai, and we were told that he had the original Charter of Sinim Lodge as well as the Lodge records with him then and there. He was acting Secretary of Sinim Lodge at Shanghai in 1950 and 1951 according to a letter we received from him in Tokyo during our first year of operation there. Bro. Chao deserves credit for having saved our original Charter for us on a previous occasion during the Japanese occupation of Shanghai from 1941 to 1946. Sinim Lodge has had very few Chinese members throughout the past 40 years since the making of Br. H. C, Mei a Mason in February, 1923, but like the late Brother Dr. Mei, all our Chinese Brethren have been very active in Masonic circles and faithful to their Mother Lodge.
During the Torii Oasis Shrine Club and Nile Temple Ceremonial held in Tokyo, Japan, on Saturday, Nov. 9, 1951, several old members of Sinim Lodge met for the first time since those hectic years of 1948 and 1949. They got together to talk over old times in China and among other things discussed was the hope that the light of Freemasonry might again shine in one of the China Lodges of Massachusetts Grand Jurisdiction. We were fortunate to have the guidance and leadership of Wor. Bro. Henry F. Kay (W. M. 1940-41) who was then Manager of the Tokyo and Yokohama Offices of the American President Line. Wor. Bro. Joseph Sbath (W. M. 1954-55) was elected Acting Secretary of our group. He and Bro. Kenneth C. Miller located a number of former members of China Lodges of the Massachusetts Constitution in the Tokyo and Yokohama Area and we formed ourselves into a Masonic Club with the object of getting one of our own Lodges transplanted from Shanghai to Tokyo, Japan.
Wor. Bro. Henry Kay and Bro. Joseph N. Sbath both started writing to our Grand Lodge in Boston. The following is the copy of a letter written byWor. Bro. Kay on January 14, 1952 and countersigned by Brothers Gordon B. Ball, Sterling S. Beath, Nafeh J. Sbath, Joseph N. Sbath, Roger S. Oraberg, Kenneth G. Miller, Anselm Chuh, Herman Bylandt, James H. Browne (members of Sinim Lodge), T. I. Lee, Hawklin Chuh, Alphonse Rigod (members of Ancient Landmark Lodge) and Bros. Fred W. Bender, Donald M. Hykes, Joseph Morris and Louis Wulfson (members of Hykes Memorial Lodge of Tientsin, North China). Wor. Bro. Henry Kay's letter reads:
Rt. Wor. Bro. Frank H. Hilton
Grand Secretary of the M. W. Grand Lodge of Mass.
Mason^Tenple, Boston, Massachusetts, U. S. A.
Dear Sir and Worshipful Brother:
I am writing to you on behalf of a group cf Massachusetts Masons, formerly residents of China. On two occasions recently, we gathered at the homes of Brethren (Bros. Joseph Sbath and Kenneth C. Miller) and, after dinner provided by our hosts, discussed informally our Masonic future. Cut off from our own Lodges, here in Japan for an indefinite stay, most of us not in good standing, we have no direct Masonic connections and wonder what to do about it.
We understand that, because of conditions in China, all Masonic Lodges have been closed. We would greatly appreciate it if you would advise us what is the status of members of these Lodges.
As you are probably aware, there are only two Lodges operating in the Tokyo/Yokohama area, namely; Tokyo Lodge No. 125, Philippine Constitution, meeting in Tokyo, and Lodge Star in the East No. 640, Scotch Constitution, meeting in Yokohama. Although a few China Brethren have already joined one of these Lodges, many of us do not wish to do so while our own future plans about remaining in this country are uncertain.
It has oocurred to us that possibly Grand Lodge would consider our operating one of the China Lodges in Japan for a while. It would, of course, be understood that, when conditions in China will permit, the Lodge would return to its original home. In the meanwhile, we would be keeping one of the Lodges alive while having an American Lodge of our own to attend. And, if Grand Lodge should ever consider extending to Japan, this transplanted Lodge would be ready to serve your purposes.
As most of those interested are from SINIM LODGE, it is suggested that Sinim Lodge be temporarily transferred here. I am a Past Master of Sinim Lodge and believe that I am the only Massachusetts Past Master in this area at present. I mi willing to undertake responsibility for the Lodge for the time being. Our idea is to hold monthly meetings at which the Lodge would be opened and closed In the prescribed form. We would seek able speakers to address us. Agendas could be pre-arranged if necessary but the desire is to carry on as informally as permissible. Naturally, no degree work will be attempted but some rehearsals would be beneficial. None but proven Masons would be admitted to our meetings.
Without giving the matter any publicity, we have already located the following members of Sinim Lodge and a few of Ancient Landmark and Hykes Memorial Lodges here in Tokyo. We have planned to hold our next informal meeting on January 31. Incidentally, we will be the guests of two Chinese Brethren of the Philippine Constitution who came from Shanghai and are anxious to John us. There are several others.
At this meeting we will discuss our problem further. It would be greatly appreciated if we could have your reply by then. Please advise us how Grand Lodge reacts to our suggestion and if there is any hope of their approving of this or some similar schemes. And, if the idea does meet with approval, please advise how we are to proceed.
Soliciting your kind and prompt co-operation and with cordial greetings and best wishes, I am,
Yours faithfully and fraternally,
Henry F. Kay,
P. M., Sinim Lodge.
Of course, none of us then in Tokyo had any idea that Rt. Wor. Bro. Frank H. Hilton, our former Grand Secretary in Boston, had retired from office at the end of 1951, only a few weeks before the above letter from Wor. Bro. Henry F. Kay was written. In fact, only Bro. Kay and I knew Right Worshipful Bro.Hilton personally. He accompanied the Most Worshipful Arthur D. Prince on their official visit to the American Masonic Lodges in China during October, 1922 and was, for that particular reason, especially interested in the welfare of our China Lodges throughout those years when he was Grand Secretary in Boston from May, 1940 to the end of 1951 when he retired on account of bad health. He kept correspondence with members of our China Lodges during the many years of the Pacific War. At the time of his resignation in 1951 he was really sick away down South in Florida but later returned to Belmont, Massachusetts, much improved in health, according to Rt. Wor. Bro. Earl W. Taylor who succeeded Rt. Wor. Bro. Hilton as Grand Secretary in December, 1951.
Rt. Wor. Bro. Dr. Taylor was Senior Grand Warden of our Grand Lodge during the Masonic year of 1941. He was the Senior Master of Roxbury Latin School, Roxbury, Massachusetts, where he taught students for forty years before his retirement in 1951 in order to devote full time to his new duties as Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Masons of Massachusetts in Boston. Bro. Taylor is a very active and enthusiastic man at the age of 70. We are fortunate to have him as our unfailing guidance at our Headquarters in Boston. He was always most sympathetic to our needs and never once failed to give our problems and correspondence his immediate attention. May the G. A. O. T. U. bless and keep him so that he may continue to teach and lead us for many, many years more!
In the meamhile, Wor. Bro. Henry Kay was transferred to Osaka, Kansai, Japan. Bro. Roger S. Ormberg, elected Senior Warden at Shanghai in 1950, was chosen Chairman of our group in Tokyo at a meeting held in February, 1952. Cross correspondences were exchanged between Bro. Ormberg and Rt. Wor. Bro. Taylor and we were instructed to write again officially for a Special Dispensation for the reactivation of Sinim Lodge in Japan. Thus, on March 15, 1952, the Brethren met again at a dinner given by the writer, attended by all the Brethren mentioned in Wor, Bro. Henry Kay's letter of January 14th. Bros. Henry J. Zimmerman and his brother, Alfred L. Zimmerman, members of Tokyo Lodge No, 125, P. C., and Bro. Lawrence M. Tilton, a member of Prospect Lodge, Roslindale, Mass., who were also members of the Tokyo Bodies of the A. and A. Soottish Rite, were also present. It was largely because of those zealeous Brethren and the efforts of Bros. Joseph Sbath and Joseph Morris that we were assured of the use of the facilities of the Masonic Temple in Tokyo. Bro. Sbath wrote to our Grand Lodge on March 19, 1952 as follows:
Right Worshipful Grand Secretary
Grand Lodge of Massachusetts,
Boston, Massachusetts, U. S. A.
Dear Sir and Rt. Wor. Brother:
I refer to a letter dated January 14th addressed to Rt. Wor. Bro. Frank H. Hilton by Wor, Bro. Henry Kay. I further refer to the two letters you have sent in reply to Brothers Henry Kay and Roger S. Ormberg.
At a luncheon meeting held on March 15th, attended by members of Sinim Lodge, both your letters were read and discussed. Having acted upon our brothers' request, as Secretary of our Group, I have been instructed to write to you officially on their behalf.
We first of all wish to thank you heartily for your interest in our plans and are most grateful to you for your encouragement. We have the pleasure of proposing the following Brethren for your appointment:
- Worshipful Master: Bro. Roger Ormberg
- Senior Warden: Bro. Herman Bylandt
- Junior warden: Bro. Anselm Chuh
They will be assisted by Wor. Bro. Henry Kay, Past Master of Sinim Lodge. Bro. Roger Ormberg (elected Senior Warden in 1950) while a resident of Yokohama comes into Tokyo (40 miles by car) regularly and has attended our monthly meetings these past few months. Bro. Herman Bylandt (elected Junior Warden at Shanghai in June, 1950) and Bro. Anselm Chuh, live in Tokyo.
Immediately upon the receipt of your official appoints, we shall call the Lodge together and thereafter hold regular meetings.
We hare been invited by Tokyo Lodge, No. 125, Phillipine Constitution, to make use of their Lodge room located in the Masonic Building. The address of our Group will be c/o Joseph H. Sbath, Sbath Overseas (Japan) Co. Inc. Kishimoto Building, Karunouchl, Tokyo, Japan.
Together with your official appointments and with your reply to this letter we would appreciate receiving a list of names and addresses of all Sinim Brethren. We would then regularly circularize them with our notices.
I am enclosing a cheque for US$8.00 on behalf of Bro. Louis Wulfsohn, Hykes Memorial Lodge, Tientsin. He wishes to be put in good standing and receive his 1952 card, should he be further in debt please send me his card anyhow letting me know the amount and I shall cover you by return mail.
Our next regular dinner meeting is on March 26, 1952 and the one next will be sometime during the last week of April. We would all be very happy to be able to hold our April meeting in a duly constituted Lodge and would therefore appreciate your acting at your earliest convenience on our request.
Before closing I wish to extend, on behalf of all Massachusetts Brethren in Japan, to all Massachusetts Brethren in the United States of America and to you our fraternal greetings.
Yours faithfully and fraternally,
Joseph N. Sbath, Secretary
Upon the receipt of the above letter, M. Wor. Rev. Thomas S. Roy, then Grand Master of our Grand Lodge in Boston, most graciously granted us a Special Dispensation under the date of April 19, 1952, authorizing Slnim Lodge to be transplanted in Tokyo with its Jurisdiction extended to include Japan which was an open Masonic Territory. Bro. Hawklin Chuh (W.M. 1956-57) designed and supervised the making of a complete set of regalia^, including a beautiful silk banner, jewels and aprons of the officers and gavels, visitors' aprons and other necessary equipments locally in Tokyo, Japan, plus a regular size Bible and a complete set of working tools made of sterling silver from Hong Kong for use of Sinim Lodge in Japan which are still in use by our Lodge in Tokyo for which we have reason to be proud.
Indeed, it was not easy for us to get started again in a new territory where we had practically no one qualified to represent our Grand Lodge thousands of miles away and all of our Lodge records were lost or left behind in the old country, Wor. Bro. Henry Kay was unexpectedly called back to San Francisco for business at the Head office of the American President Line. The only official document, if it could be so called, was a printed circular of Sinim Lodge in Shanghai (Circular No. 226, meeting No. 658 held on Tuesday, January 27, 1949) which was found in my own file and from which we reproduced the Sinim Lodge Seal. That is why our Lodge emblem still shows "Sinim Lodge, Shanghai, China, 1903". Bro. Hawklin Chuh deserves almost as much credit en any of our five original sponsors of the reestablishment of Sinim Lodge in Japan; namely, Wor. Bros. Henry. F. Kay, Joseph N. Sbath, Kenneth C. Miller, Roger S. Ormberg and the writer of this short historic account of Sinim Lodge. It was he who reminded us of the presence of Wor. Bro. Henry Kay in our immediate neighborhood in the winter of 1951. He and Bros. Sbath and Miller did most of the groundwork for the reactivation of Sinim Lodge in Japan ten years ago.
Our first General Meeting was held in the Tokyo Masonic Temple on Tuesday, September 16, 1952, when the original Charter of Sinim Lodge was brought up from Hong Kong for us by Rt. Wor. Bro. Hyman Hodes, Past Master of Hykes Memorial Lodge in Tientsin. The following brethren were regularly elected and appointed in accordance lie our Constitution and Bylaws:
- Worshipful Master: Bro. Roger S. Ormberg
- Senior Warden: Bro. Anselm Chuh
- Junior Warden: Bro. Donald Hykes
- Treasurer: Bro. Kenneth C. Miller
- Secretary: Bro. Joseph N. Sbath
- Chaplain: Bro. Lawrence M. Tilton
- Marshal: Bro. Michael C. Sodano
- Senior Deacon: Bro. Henry J. Zimmerman
- Junior Deacon: Bro. Louis Wulfsohn
- Senior Steward: Bro. Joseph Morris
- Junior Steward: Bro. Hawklin Chuh
- Inside Sentinel: Bro. Alfonse Rigod
- Organist: Bro. Paul Jauer
- Tyler: Bro. Alfred L. Zimmerman
The above mentioned first officers of Sinim Lodge in Japan were installed by Rt. Wor. Bro, Hyman Hodes, Acting D. D. G. M. for North China commissioned by our Grand Lodge to supervise the rekindling of Masonic Light in Sinim Lodge that year. Bro. Herman Bylandt, our Senior Warden under Special Dispensation, was at the time moved to Los Angeles, California, U. S. A., with hie family and away for three years before he again returned to Japan in 1955. Bro. Donald Hykes, a nephew of the late Rt. Wor. Bro. John R. Hykes, was then Assistant Manager of the First National City Bank of the First National City Bank of New York in Tokyo.
Our first year officers were installed at an impressive open ceremonial witnessed by 350 visiting Masons and their ladies and friends, with Rt. Wor. Bro. Hodes as Installing Master and Rt. Wor. Bro. William J, Eichorn, D. G. M. for Japan, P. M. of the Far East Lodge No. 124, Philippine Constitution, as Marshal. A special banquet was given at the American Club located near the Central Railway Station downtown Tokyo with dancing and floor show and music by "Tommy Palmer and His Orchestra" which lasted into the wee hours of the morning. As far as the writer is aware, there was never before an open Installation Ceremonial or more sumptuous Masonic Party in Japan. Toasts were drink to our Grand Lodge, to the Most Worshipful Grand Master and other Grand Officers of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts and greetings were received from visiting Masonic dignitaries and from Rt. Wor. Earl W. Taylor, our Grand Secretary in Boston, and from our Senior Past Masters Worshipful Brothers Harry E. Gibson, Charles S. F. Lincoln, Sidney R. Sheldon, George F. Ashley, Arthur Adamson, John S. Totter, Frank Drake, Bruce S. Jenkins, Edgar S. Wise, Restel 0. Scott, Henry Kay, Peter T. H. Chao and Irving S. Brown, who were all informed beforehand of the auspicious occasion and very much interested in the reactivation of Sinim Lodge which they loved and served so well in the past back in good old Shanghai. The Lodge membership totalled 272 of whom 23 were resident in Tokyo including seven accepted by regular balloting for affiliation at our first regular business meeting held in Tokyo, Japan, on September 16, 1952. The Lodge started very well in Japan and has maintained a very high standard of efficiency throughout its operations in the past ten years. Our hearty thanks go especially to Rt. Wor. Bro. Earl W. Taylor, Grand Secretary, and Most Worshipful Dr. Whitfield W. Johnson who succeeded Rev. Dr. Thomas S. Roy as Grand Master of Masons of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts almost immediately after the reactivation of Sinim Lodge in far away Japan. Both of them have taken personal interest in our welfare all these past few years under review.
At the time of writing the shocking news of the passing of Wor. Bro. Ormberg came to hand. He was called to the Celestial Lodge Above on March 3, 1962 at his home in Yokohama by another heart attack. He was initiated in Sinim Lodge on December 17, 1946 when the writer joined by affiliation. He was very active in Sinim Lodge as well as Torii Oasis Shrine Club at Tokyo and the various Masonic bodies in the Tokyo-Yokohama area in the past twelve years during which period of time he served twice as Worshipful Master and thrice as Chaplain of our Lodge – always leading the way and always willing and ready to help in Masonic affairs. During the years when he was Master of the Lodge under Dispensation and reestablishment, he never failed to be present except when he was called off on special duty with the U.S. Navy for which he was a civilian marine engineer. His untimely death is a serious loss to Sinim Lodge and our Brethren in Japan.
During Bro. Ormberg's first year as Master of Sinim Lodge in Japan our fraternal relationship with sister Lodges under the Jurisdictions of the Grand Lodge of the Philippine Islands and the Grand Lodge of Scotland who shared the then open Masonic Territory in Japan was well cemented. Our fraternal relationship with neighboring Lodges in Japan has ever been very pleasant and harmonious throughout the past years since our reactivation, particularly with the officers and Brethren of Lodges under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Japan and Lodge Star of the East, E. C.
Sinim Lodge was crowned with success in the first year of reactivation under the able leadership of Wor. Bro. Ormberg. We had difficulties of one kind or another, of course, but that was mainly with internal readjustment. Bro, Henry Zimmerman, our first appointed and Installed Senior Deacon, never once worked at his own station in the Lodge but, instead, proved himself an able substitute for Bro. Sbath as secretary while the latter filled the important position of the J. W. in the South, left vacant by Bro. Donald Hykes who was transferred by his Bank to Singapore, never to return to the Lodge in Japan again. Bro. Hawklin Chuh was assigned by the Worshipful Master as his proxy, acting S. D. which office he held for the entire first year and succeeded himself in the following year of our rebirth and reestablishment. Bro. Alfonse Rigod (W.M. 1957-58), another enthusiastic young man and faithful member of our Lodge, filled the station near the S. W. with great ability and was elected and installed Treasurer of the Ledge the following year. In the meanwhile, Bro. Kenneth C. Miller (W.M. 1955-56) had set up an excellent system of accounting and bookkeeping for the Lodge which has been followed by all his successors in Sinim Lodge so far.
One of the outstanding events in the first year of our reestablishment in Japan was the celebration of the Golden Anniversary of Sinim Lodge at a Special Meeting held on May 22, 1952, at the American Club which was attended by more than 300 visiting Brethren and their ladies and friends who were so deeply impressed that many of them subsequently sought admission and were accepted into membership in various Masonic Lodges in the Tokyo-Yokohama area.
The writer was elected Master of Sinim Lodge in June, 1952, with Bro. Joseph Sbath as Senior Warden, Bro. Kenneth Miller Junior Warden, Bro. Rigod Treasurer and Bro. Henry Zimmerman, Secretary which position he continued to hold until he left for retirement in America in 1956. His brother, Alfred Zimmerman, was again elected our Tyler because of his popularity among fellow Masons and Masonic dignitaries in Japan. Each and all of the above mentioned principal officers of the Lodge elected for ray tens of office as Master of Sinim Lodge were chosen by unanimous vote with Wor. Bro. Ormberg appointed and installed Chaplain to "look to Heaven and lead the way" but he was absent from the Lodge most of the time that Masonic year and his position was filled by the Rev. Bro. Dr. Sterling S. Beath, who was Chaplain of our Lodge in Japan for the next two or three years until his retirement and return to Los Angelas, California, in 1956. The value of a Masonic Lodge is not judged by million dollar buildings, costly and beautiful regalia nor even the letter-perfect performanoe of its ceremonials, lectures and degree work but rather by the quality of its members as real good men and good Masons – better fathers, better sons, better husbands, better friends and better citizens in which respect our predecessors in Sinim Lodge had set the good example and carried out the high standard of Masonic principles which our Grand Lodge always aims to maintain.
As an old member raised in Sinim Lodge at Shanghai where he was for many years a good missionary educator, Dr. Sterling S. Beath gave our brethren in Japan a great deal of spiritual inspiration and he deserves special mention in this short historic account. We had many a good member such as Bro. Beath, but time and space would not allow me to go into details. Suffice it to say that Sinim Lodge, the only American Lodge of Freemasons in Asia today and most likely the only American Symbolic Lodge that ever will again be established on the western shores of the Pacific in the future, deserves the whole-hearted support of us all as a common meeting ground for American Masons - a place to crystallize their ideals and morals in dealing with their fellow men, a spiritual home away from home and a closer tie to hold and bring together all of the sojourning Masons who eventually wish or have to return to their own countries.
The Lodge was honored by the Most Worshipful Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts with a personal letter, the first of its kind since our reestablishment at Tokyo, Japan, which is considered as of historical value. It was read at our monthly stated Meeting held on May 18, 1954, and placed in the permanent file of the Lodge at the Tokyo Masonic Temple for for future reference. It reads:
Wor. Anselm Chuh, Master
Sinim Lodge, Tokyo, Japan.
Worshipful and Dear Brother Chuh:
I was very pleased to receive your letter of January 25th in which you send me the sincere greetings and salutations of Sinim Lodge upon my election and installation as Grand Master, and I am indeed sorry that the pressure of my new duties has delayed me in acknowledging your letter,
I have followed with a great deal of interest the difficulties of our Lodges of the China District and was very happy to learn that Sinim Lodge, under its original Charter, is now meeting regularly in Tokyo. Your Proxy, Right Worshipful Fred H. Hitchcock, is a very close and personal friend of mine of long standing, and I can assure you that you are very well represented in our Grand Lodge.
Right Worshipful Brother Taylor, the Grand Secretary, is also very active in looking out for the interest of our Brethren outside the geographical jurisdiction of Massachusetts, ani I am sure that you will continue to find him very helpful. As a matter of fact, he has just recently returned from a visit to our Lodges in the Canal Zone where I am sure he was able to become acquainted with our Lodges that are working at a distance from our Grand East.
Most Worshipful Thomas S, Roy, my predecessor, returned last fall from a visit to our three Massachusetts Lodges which are working in Chile, and on his way he stopped for a second visit to our Lodges in the Canal Zone.
I realize full well that it has been a great many years since any of our Grand Masters have officially visited any of our Lodges in China. The condition in China have precluded such a visit, and I am sure that you realize that it would be impossible for a Grand Master to visit Sinim Lodge; but that does not mean that we will be the less interested in your welfare and prosperity.
The nature of your Lodge is such that we hope some of your members will find it possible to visit us here in Massachusetts from time to time, and it is possible that we may hear of some Brother who is going to be in Tokyo who can carry a personal word of greeting from us to you.
In this way, through Right Worshipful Brother Hitchcock, your proxy, and through Right Worshipful Hyman Hodes, the District Deputy Grand Master, I shall hope to keep actively advised aid informed of your progress.
It is perhaps a little difficult for us to anticipate your problems, but please be assured that we will to the very best of our ability answer any questions that arise and give you such instruction and guidance as is possible. We have always placed a great deal of confidence and reliance in the men who are charged with the responsibility of conducting the affairs of our overseas Lodges, as we realize that their problems are bound to be somewhat different than 1be problems confronting the Lodges here. Therefore we have confidence to believe that the officers of Sinim Lodge will carry on the high standards which hare been set by their predecessors, but we wish to assure you that we stand ready to give you every possible assistance that lies within our power. As you have probably learned from your Secretary, I wrote him recently with regard to Captain Edward Frank Wittel, a cousin of Most worshipful A. Douglas Smith, Jr., Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Virginia, and a very close personal friend of mine. It will indeed be very pleasing if Captain Wittel should decide to place his application in your Lodge.
Sometime at your convenience I would enjoy very much hear ing from you with regard to tie condition of the Masonic set-up in Japan. I realize that there is no Grand Lodge in Japan, but I am informed that there are Lodges working in Japan holding Charters from various jurisdictions. Perhaps you would find it possible to give me a more complete picture that I would be able to get elsewhere.
Sincerely and fraternally yours,
(Signed) Whitfield W. Johnson,
The initiation of Captain (now Major of the U.S.Air force, S23-D operation Squadron J Edward F. Wittel, a nephew of M. W. Bro. A. Douglas Smith, Jr., Past Grand Master (1949) of the Most WorshipfulvGrand Lodge of ¥irginia, U. S. A., was one of the most pleasant duties I performed as Master of Sinim Lodge in 1954, never to be forgotten. Bro. Wlttel's application for degrees in Sinim Lodge was balloted and unanimously approved at our Monthly Stated Meeting in May, 1954, with Bro. Sbath (then S. W.) and the writer as co-sponsors. I had the distinct honor of acting as personal representative of Bro. Wittel's family and M. W. Bro. Douglas Smith's proxy at Bro. Wittel's raising later that year, when Wor. Bro. Sbath succeeded me as Master of Sinim Lodge, to express their congratulations as well as that of the Brethren then present and give him the official charge of a Master Mason.
It may not be uninteresting to quote a portion of Most Worshipful A. Douglas Smith's letter to us on that occasion; our younger Brethren may be led to emulate the great zeal and faithfulness of those older eminent leaders of our honorable fraternity whose connection with Freemasonry has been honorable and pleasant as well as important to themselves and us all:
Freemasonry has been of great interest to me for more than twenty eight years. I have made some of the most wonderful friendships all ever the world thru its genius. In the years past, I edited a Masonic publication in the state in which I live, which had wide circulation.
It is interesting to me that altho we have different religious beliefs and being of modest circumstances, different economic positions, that our hands can stretch half way round the world, and we can calL one another "Brother", because of the magic of Freemasonry. This is one of the things that\continues to make me want to give much of my life in its advancement. With money I can buy most of the things of life excepting peace of mind, ultimate happiness and to me these are the most important, so with Freemasonry I can earn them.
I have had the happiest association with the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts and count among my dearest friends Past Grand Masters Keith, Roy, Wragg and Dr. Whitfield Johnson. Your Grand Lodge graciously presented me with the Henry Price Medal when I was serving ay own Grand Lodge in 1949.
You will be interested in knowing that Captain Wittel's father assisted in teaching me the catechisms of the degrees and that I assisted in raising his five brothers and his brother-in-law. As I remember, ay own father endorsed the elder Wittel's petition in Masonry. Edward has been a fine lad, and we are deeply grateful that ere his Dad is called to his fathers, that thru the generosity of Sinim Lodge and its Master, the dream and prayer of this good man could be realized, that all his sons follow him in the Craft.
Needless to say that ours was not altogether a bed of roses during those first few years of reactivation in Japan, Our resident membership was composed Brethren of various Lodges in Shanghai, Tientsin, Peking and Manchuria plus several old-timers hailing from Lodges in Massachusetts and other Masonic Jurisdictions in America and the Philippine Islands with no less than sixteen racial and cultural backgrounds. Thus, our problems were mainly of internal nature which case mostly from the so-called "Old China Hands" who gave us a good deal of headaches in the beginning but we must say that on the whole our problems were those of administration rather than Masonic principles.
I received three important rulings from our Grand Lodge during my year as Master of Sinim Lodge in Japan; the first concerned smoking in Lodge which according to long-established custom of all Massachusetts Lodges should never be allowed in a Lodge meeting under any circumstances; the second was that no member of Slnim Lodge nor a visitor should be allowed in the Lodge room while under the influence of liquor; and the third concerned applications for degrees in Sinim Lodge situated so far away from our Headquarters. We were advised that while Freemasonry stands for universality in matters of religion, race, or social position, extreme care should always be taken that the harmony of a Lodge is carefully preserved – a harmonious Lodge of earnest-minded Masons must always be maintained without regard to the number of applications that might otherwise be entertained. It is always the exclusive prerogative of the Master himself to determine whether or not any given application should be received and presented to the Lodge. The Master of the Lodge should retain custody of the application papers and personally hand them to those applicants whom he considers desirable material for our degrees. After the Lodge receives the application from the Master of the Lodge, then the Lodge decides after due notice by unanimous ballot whether or not to accept the applicant as a candidate, we were reminded that a Lodge is always engaged in the serious business of making real Masons, a continuous process which is far more than the mere conferring of formal ritualistic ceremonies, an important Masonic principle which the writer and his fellow members of Sinim Lodge from Shanghai believed in and always tried to uphold while some of our affiliated members objected as contrary to practices said to be common in their mother Lodge elsewhere. To us a Lodge is never to be considered a mere degree-mill; that is why our Grand Lodge insists on a limitation of the number of candidates that nay be initiated at any one meeting of a Lodge under its Jurisdiction, and upon the suitable proof of proficiency of the candidates in each degree before permitted to advance.
It was most fortunate for me in having competent and dedicated officers elected and installed for my term of office as Master of Slnim Lodge. Their devotion, experience and interest in the Lodge relieved me of much of the Master's responsibilities while giving them sufficient practice and preparation for the Master's chair. I had the honor and privilege am participate^ in the initiation of Bros. Ormberg, Sbath, Miller, Hawklin Chuh and Alphonse Rigod at Shanghai in 1947 and 1948 and their advancement to the oriental Station in Sinim Lodge later on at Tokyo, Japan. Brother Joseph Sbath succeeded the writer as Worshipful Master of Sinim Lodge in Japan in September, 1954, supported by Bro. Kenneth Miller as senior Warden and Bro. Hawklin Chuh as Junior Warden. All three enjoyed unanimous acclaim by our resident brethren and our Lodge prospered under Wor. Bro. Sbath's leadership with fifteen fellowcrafts waiting on the Trestle-Board for raising at the end of the Masonic year, according to Sinim News dated June 6, 1955. On June 21, 1955, Bro. Kenneth Miller was unanimously elected Master of Sinim Lodge, with Bro. Hawklin Chuh chosen Senior Warden and Bro. Alphonse Rigod, Junior Warden.
During Wor. Bro. Kenneth Miller's term of office as Worshipful Master of Sinim Lodge, we lost one of our officers and a faithful member, the late Brother Atlas O. Adams, a former member Of St. John's Lodge No. 9, California Constitution, voted into Sinim Lodge Membership at our first general meeting in Japan held on September 16, 1952. At the request of Mrs. Adams, we held our first "Lodge of Sorrow" at the Tokyo Masonic Temple and, when the brethren were called off from labour in the regular iLodgeroom, we repaired separately and quietly to the Tokyo Union Church on Yoyogi Street where the sad duties of the day were resumed. A solemn Masonic funeral service, the first ever held in post-war Japan, followed, with the writer acting as W. M. supported by Bro. Ken Miller acting as Senior Warden, Bro. Hawklin Chuh, Junior Warden, and Wor. Bro. Ormbarg, Chaplain. Wor. Bro. Joseph Sbath had just moved to his new business assignment in Switzerland where he remained several years before he was transferred to London, England. Before Wor. Bro. Miller had finished his term of office as Master of Sinim Lodge that year, we lost another valued member of our Lodge – the older Bro. H. J. Sbath, one of our original group in Tokyo, Japan.
In both oases, the following Spiritual Lesson was given by the writer:
Spiritual Lesson Given at Lodge of Sorrow
at Tokyo Union Church, Tokyo, Japan,
January 26, 1956.
The Grand Master of the Universe having been pleased, out of His mercy, to remove our beloved Brother ____ from the cares and troubles of a transitory existence in this world to a state of eternal duration, and thereby to weaken the chain by which we are united, man to man, may we who survive him anticipate our own approaching fate and be more strongly cemented in the ties of union and friendship, that during the short space allotted to our present existence we may wisely and usefully employ our time, and in the reciprocal intercourse of kind and friendly acts mutually promote the welfare and happiness of each other.
Our present meeting and proceedings will have been vain and useless, if they fail to excite our serious reflections, and strengthen our resolutions of amendment. Be than persuaded, my Brethren, by this experience, of the uncertainty of human life and the unsubstantial nature of all its pursuits, and no longer postpone the all important concern of preparing for eternity.
Let us each embrace the present moment, and while time and opportunity permit prepare with care for that great change which we all know must come, when the pleasures of the world shall cease to delight, and as a poison to our lips; and while we may enjoy the happy reflection of a well-spent life in the exercise of piety and virtue, will yield the only comfort and consolation. Thus shall our hopes be not frustrated, nor we hurried unprepared into the presence of that all-wise and powerful Judge, to whom the secrets of all hearts are known.
Let us resolve to maintain with sincerity the dignified character of our profession. May our faith be evinced in a correct moral walk and deportment; may our hope be bright as the glorious mysteries that will be revealed hereafter; and our charity boundless as the wants of our fellow creatures.
And having faithfully discharged the great duties which we owe to God, to our neighbour, and ourselves – when at last it shall please the Grand Master of the' Universe to summon us into His eternal presence, may the Trestle-Board of our whole lives pass sucih inspection that it may be given unto each of us to "eat of the hidden manna" and to receive the "white stone with a new name" that will insure perpetual and unspeakable happiness at His right hand.
We are told that Sinim Lodge conducted many Masonic Services back in the old country, not only for its own members but also for brethren of other jurisdictions whose ceremonial does not provide for such services. The same has been done by our Lodge in Japan since 1956; our impressive ritual has been adopted by other Masonic Lodges in the Tokyo-Yokohama area, I am told.
Now let us turn back to the history of Sinim Lodge and have a look at the bright side of affairs. Perhaps the most pleasant experience the writer has had during his six or seven years of life in Japan was acting as Master of Sinim Lodge at the installation of his own son as Worshipful Master of the same Lodge which he loved so much and himself once served as its first servant. Wor. Bro. Kenneth C. Miller kindly gave me the special privilege and honor to install his successor, Master-elect Hawklin Chuh, at an open ceremonial on Tuesday, September 18, 1956. We had the signal honor of having Most Worshipful Bro. Carlos R. Jimenes, P. G. M. of Masons of Venezuela, first elected Grand Master of the newly organized Grand Lodge of Masons of Japan, and Rt. Wor. Bro. William J. Eichorn, Past District Grand Master of the District Grand Lodge of Japan, Philippine Constitution, acting as Wor. Senior and Junior Wardens respectively at our Lodge of Qualification as well as during the first part of our open installation ceremonial. Rt. Wor. Bro. Raymond Bedilion, D. G. M. of the District Grand Lodge for Japan, P. O., Deputy of the Supreme Council 33° A. & A. Scottish Rite in Japan, Okinawa, Korea and Taiwan, acted as our Marshal that evening although he was unable to remain for the great installation ball later in the evening because he had to leave for Osaka for urgent business purpose. Wor. Bro. Ormberg took over as Acting Marshal. The Oct. 6, 1956 issue of Sinim News carried the following remarks:
The Installation of Wor. Bro. Hawklin Chuh and his Officers was considered by many visitors to be the most successful in Japan. A record turnout of approximately 280 people packed the Lodge Hall. M asonic dignitaries who attended that night included M. W. Bro. Carlos Rodriguez-Jimenez, P. G. M. of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Venezuela, Rt. Wor. Bro. Raymond L. Bedillon, P. M., Acting District Grand Master for Japan, Philippine Constitution, Rt. Wor. Bro. Willam J. Eichorn, P. G. M., District Grand Lodge for Japan, and a dozen reigning and Past Masters of neighboring Lodges. The Installation Ball was held at the American Club in Tokyo. Good food, drinks, music and shows pleased everyone. Toasts were drunk to the Most Worshipful Whitfield W. Johnson, Grand Master of the M. W. Grand Lodge of Massachusetts as well as to our absent members.
Wor. Bro. Anselm Chuh, P. M., took great pleasure in giving the official charge to his son, the new Master, Wor. Bro. Hawklin Chuh. The audience applauded loudly when he addressed the Master as "Son and Worshipful Brother." This is probably the first and only time in the history of Freemasonry in the Far East that a father installed his son as Master of a Lodge.
A letter of felicitation to Wor. Bro. Hawklin Chuh was received from M. W. Bro. David W. K. Au, P. G. M. and Grand Secretary of the M. W. Grand Lodge of China: "I regret that news of your preferment came too late for me to send you a cable of congratulation on the occasion of your installation. Let this belated message express my hearty congratulations and warm greetings to you and your officers for a very successful year of office…"
Wor. Bro. T. H. Peter Chao wrote from Hong Kong, saying: "This is a message of felicitation and esteem on your ascent to King Solomon's Chair. Had I received any advance information, I would most certainly have sent you a congratulatory cablegram on the eve of your Installation, as I did your Worshipful father. Indeed, it is very unique to have both father and son to reach the Oriental Chair of the same Lodge, and I doubt If Sinim will again enjoy this distinction. It was really regrettable to me that I was away from this happy and august event."
Speaking of Sinim News, which started appearing regularly in the second Masonic year of our operations in Japan in the monthly bulletins of our Lodge, it has been very much appreciated by all of our absentee members widely dispersed all over the world, something we always look forward to receive even though it comes to hand often two months late; it contains news about our Brethren with whom we sat in Lodge together back in China or in Tokyo, Japan, whose fellowship we very much enjoyed. An important section of our monthly circulars under the title "Know Your Laws & Regulations", continued throughout Wor. Bro. Hawklin Chuh's term of office as Master of Sinim Lodge, has since disappeared, much to the regret of many of the absentee members of our Lodge to whom the Book of Constitutions is not readily available for reference purpose and the copies of our By-laws previously received may even be lost. Our Constitution and By-Laws should tea carefully read by each and every member of the Lodge, more especially the Master and officers whose duty it is to govern the Lodge and teach their Brethren.
In that Masonic year, Sinim Lo&qe held its first, and so far the only Past Masters' Night Meeting on February 27, 957, with Wor. Bro. Anselm Chuh in the East, Wor. Bro. Kenneth Miller in the West, Wor. Bro. Roger S. Ormberg in the South and Wor. Bros. Hawklin Chuh and Alphonse Rigod acting as Senior and Junior Deacons. Bro. Rigod, like his two immediate predecessors, served in almost every station of our Lodge before he was elected Worshipful Master in June, 1957. He was well supported by Wor. Bro. Kenneth Miller who served as Secretary of the Lodge that year, and by Bro. Paul H. W. Jauer, a former member of Shanghai Lodge and a faithful Brother among us since the very beginning of the reactivation and rebirth of Sinim Lodge in Japan, as Senior Warden.
Bro. Rigod was away from Tokyo, Japan, for a couple of months during his own term of office as Master of Sinim Lodge, for business purpose in Paris, France, but his duties in the Lodge were well taken care of by the Senior Warden with the strong support of Wor. Bro. Kenneth Miller as Secretary, and by Bro. L. C. Tsao, a fellow banker, as Treasurer. Bro. Tsao was succeeded by Bro. Nai-leong Tem, another Chinese banker in Tokyo, initiated in Sinim Lodge at the above mentioned Past Masters' Night Meeting on February 27, 1957, when Wor. Bro. Ormberg was again elected Worshipful Master of Sinim Lodge on June 17, 1953.
The following year, 1959, Bro. Edward G. Freeman was elected and installed Worshipful Master, and another Chinese banker, Bro. Kung Li-Yin, District Manager for the Bank of China in Japan, was elected Treasurer.
Bro, Edward G. Freeman was regularly installed on Tuesday, September 15, 1959, by his immediate predecessor, Wor. Bro. Roger S. Ormberg, who was in fact our Senior resident Past Master during whose first ter of office as Master of Sinim Lodge in Japan Bro. Freeman was initiated, passed and raised in our Lodge. Wor. Bro. Alphonse Rigod acted as Marshal, Bro. Harold Oppenheim, a newly affiliated Brother who was also a member of Far East Lodge No, 124, P. O., Yokohama, was elected and installed Senior Warden, with Bro. William C. Kinsett, a well known electrical engineer and a faithful member of our Lodge who never failed to attend our regular and special meetings and always showed his willingness to serve in any station assigned to him and did his work well, was elected and installed Junior Warden, with Bro. Herbert B. Gallop, another faithful and well beloved Brother of ours, as Secretary.
In the meanwhile, Wor. Bro. Kenneth C. Miller was transferred to Osaka, Japan, as Manager of Chase-Manhattan Bank there and has since affiliated with Hyogo-Osaka Lodge No. 1401, Scottish Constitution, in which he has been twice elected and installed Rt. Worshipful Master and served faithfully and well to the honor of himself and the Brethren of both Lodges concerned. We of Sinim Lodge are specially proud of him not only because of the wonderful work he has done in Sinim Lodge as well as In our sister Lodge at Osaka but more especially because of his charming personality, a good man and a good Mason who is and has been the senior resident Past Master of our Lodge in Japan since the passing of Wor. Bro. Roger S. Ormberg to the Celestial Lodge above on March 3, 1962.
Wor. Bro. Edward G. Freeman was succeeded by his Senior Warden, Bro. Harold Oppenheim, as Master of Sinim Lodge in September, 1960, supported by Bro. Joseph F. Screen as Senior Warden and Bro. Jan I. Shrom as Junior Warden. Both Wor. Bros. Freeman and Oppenheim worked very, very hard and served our Lodge well. Bro. Joseph Screen served as Marshal of the Lodge during Wor. Bro. Freeman's term of office and as Master of Sinim Lodge in 1959-60 and Senior Warden the following year when Wor. Bro. Oppenheim was Worshipful Master.
Bro. Royal S. Wintemute, our present worthy Secretary, was elected and installed to that important position in the Lodge first during Wor. Bro. Freeman's term of office in 1959-60 and continued to serve in the same capacity during the last three or four years. He was re-elected Secretary of our Lodge for the ensuing Masonic year of 1962-63. Our present Worshipful Master, Wor. Bro. Joseph Screen, was elected and installed at a regular Monthly Stated Meeting of our Lodge held on November 21, 1961, under authority of the Grand Master, Moat Worshipful Laurence E. Eaton, given at Boston, Massachusetts, in a special Dispensation granted by him on the nineteenth day of October 1961. Bro. Jan I. Shrem was elected and installed as Senior Warden and Bro. Walter G. Arnold, who was Senior Deacon for the Masonic year of 1960-61, as Junior Deacon. Wor. Bros. Roger S. Ormberg, Alphonse Rigod and Edward G. Freeman, took active part in Wor. Bro. Joseph F. Screen's administration and gave him very strong support, especially Bro. Ormberg who 'looked to Heaven and led the way' as an experienced Chaplain of the Lodge. It was Bro. Ormberg who gave Wor. Bro. screen the idea of the commemoration of the 10th Anniversary of the reestablishment of Sinim Lodge in Japan this year and the writing of the history of Sinim Lodge for publication and distribution on this auspicious occasion. His untimely death on March 3, 1962 has been a great loss to us but the memory of him who really loved our Lodge and served it well will be perpetuated by the present writing for a long, long time to come.
It is worthy of note that nose of the officers of Sinim Lodge in Japan received a penny for the services they rendered. Instead, they spent a good deal of their time and their own money both in and outside the Lodge room and have been very liberal in contributions to Charity and care of Masons' widows and orphans as well as towards general relief purposes outside the Lodge, seldom with Lodge funds, so far as I can remember.
Sinim Lodge is an old, yet very young Lodge. It has had its birth-pains during the first few years of reactivation and rebirth in a foreign territory but it is getting along very, very well on the whole so far. Our latest printed membership list shows a total of 242 members both resident and absent as compared with 272 in 1952, when the Lodge was first transplanted to Tokyo, Japan. Of the 242 active members of the Lodge today, 44 are resident in the Tokyo-Yokohama Area in Japan as compared with 52 in the Bay Area of California, U. S. A., eight in and near Los Angeles, California, five at Hong Kong, three each at Honolulu, Hawaii, and Taipei, Taiwan, China, and the rest widely dispersed all over the world.
Freemasonry is an organized institution which teavches the tenets of 'Brotherly love, Relief and Truth', the Fatherhood of God, the Brotherhood of men and life everlasting, an ideal way of living based on the dictates of reason. The official Seal of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Masons of Massachusetts clearly show our great motto: "Follow Reason". We accept into our membership only good men and true. We learn to subdue our passions and improve ourselves in Freemasonry and help our Brethren to be better husbands, better fathers, better sons, better friends and better citizens. We seek not to indoctrinate but to educate Freemasons in the virtues, blessings and hopes of man and practice all moral and social virtues ourselves in the end that there may be a really Universal brotherhood of men upon this earth which shall insure lasting peace, opportunities for all and life more abundant for the sons of man, regardless of race, color or creed. This is our imperative and to this task we have set our hands, our hearts and our lives. It is a goal not unattainable in our time. Let us follow the dictates of reason in all our doings both within and without our Lodge-room. Our directive is clear, and challenging and it is our goal and our charge to keep.
So Mote It Be.
- 1939 (Acknowledgement of participation in Chile relief effort, 1939-247)
- 1960 (Mentioned in Grand Master's Address, 1960-137)
INSTALLATION, SEPTEMBER 2003
From TROWEL, Fall 2003, Page 24:
Sinim Lodge, Tokyo, Installs Officers for Centennial Year
In 1903, the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts chartered Sinim Lodge in Shanghai, China; it was moved to Japan in 1952 because of the Communist takeover of China. Still going strong, the Lodge will celebrate its centennial on December 2. The centennial installation of officers took place on September 13, with Wor. Henk Dennert (front row center) being installed for a second term. Reflecting the multi-national character of the Lodge, Bro. Dennert describes himself as "a Dutchman from Curacao in the Netherlands Antilles, living in Japan, Master of the Massachusetts China Jurisdiction-originated Sinim Lodge A. F. & A. M."
GRAND LODGE OFFICERS
- George Alonzo Derby, DDGM, China, 1906-1909; Memorial
- Joe A. Diele, DDGM, China, 1980-2002; N
- Richard E. Dyck, DDGM, China, 2017
- Douglas J. Eames, DDGM, District 32, 2018, 2019
- Charles Stuart Fessenden Lincoln, District Grand Master, China, 1921, 1922; N
- Stacy Anson Ransom, DDGM, China, 1911-1915; District Grand Master, China, 1916-1917
- Alphonse Rigod, DDGM, China, 1974-1979
- Frederick I. Shane, DDGM, China, 2004-2010; N
- Brian N. Watson, DDGM, China, 2013
- Henk Dennert, Biography