The Reverend Larry M. Melton, 32, K.C.C.H.
King, North Carolina

Family values are caught more often than taught.

When I was 16, my uncle, the late John H. Lance, 33, decided he would give his old car to me and buy himself a new one. He grinned and said, “Larry, I’ve decided to sell my car to you for one dollar. What do you say?” I was stunned. I said, “Wow! That’s great! Can I borrow a dollar?” In a minute or two I had bought myself a 1954 Chevrolet and learned a lesson in generosity and caring that would outlast the car and be passed on to my children. That’s how family values are taught and also the reason family can be the strongest influence in our lives.

Today I am a Pastor. I meet a lot of people, and some ask questions about Masonry. Generally, I find myself explaining that we are neither a religious cult nor a garden variety civic group, but now and then I have the chance to talk about what we truly are. I like those times best because my experience with our Gentle Craft has as much to do with good deeds and family-style relationships as with history and Degrees. Some say family values are caught more often than taught.

The Reverend Larry M. Melton, 32, K.C.C.H.

If so, I caught Freemasonry at an early age. I remember the night my father, Marvin O. Melton, 32, became a Master Mason. I had no idea what he had experienced, but I recall the excitement as if it were yesterday, and I knew that something important had happened and someday would happen to me.

That day came in July of 1967. I came home on a short leave from the Air Force and, with the help of my family, made good use of the time. I was initiated, passed, and raised in three consecutive Tuesday nights. Then I recited the Third Degree proficiency two days later. The fact is, I could never have accomplished such a feat except for the selfless devotion of my father, my uncle, and two Brother Masons, Arthur Wilburn and Roy Ellis.

These four men were my coaching team. They paved the way for me. They scheduled the Lodge meetings, arranged for the lectures, took turns teaching me every day, and cheered me on when I was weary. Their confidence in me and love for Masonry inspired and motivated me even before I learned a word of the catechism. Here, in my opinion, was Freemasonry and family at their best.

I believe we Masons are the oldest active fraternity in the world because we, like the best of families, value the highest and noblest ideals and work in deliberate and personal ways to present them to our successors. We seek to teach moral lessons and strive to encourage one another in practicing what we preach. Sometimes, we miss the mark, but virtue remains our goal and charity our watchword. We can all be proud to be a part of such a family.

The Scottish Rite Research Society is one of Freemasonry’s fastest growing research societies. If you are or become a member in 1998 (current membership began September 15, 1997), you will receive a complimentary copy of the second edition, greatly expanded and updated, of Masonic Philanthropies: A Tradition of Caring by Dr. S. Brent Morris, 33. In addition, you will receive the society’s quarterly newsletter, The Plumbline, and for those joining between September 15, 1997 and December 31, 1997, a hardbound copy of Heredom, Vol. V, the society’s annual collection of essays by members, available in late fall 1998 (those joining after January 1, 1998 will receive Vol. VI in late fall 1999). Membership is a bargain at $20 annually, and life membership (individuals only) is $300. Send checks payable to the society to: Scottish Rite Research Society, 1733 16th Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20009-3103.