For the 112th time since it received its charter from the Grand Lodge of California, Burbank Masonic Lodge 406 installed its elected and appointed officers last Saturday evening.
Instead of holding their traditional black-tie gathering at the Masonic Lodge, local Masons and guests gathered virtually via Zoom to show their appreciation to outgoing Master Gary Glass and their support to Armen Khalafyan, who was sworn in as the lodge’s Master for 2021.
Prior to last week’s installation ceremony, Glass reflected on the theme “Choose Masonry,” which he had hoped to enact during his term as the head of the Burbank lodge.
“I only had 2½ months before the pandemic hit to implement my program, which I wanted to be a call to action for my local Masonic brothers to help them gain a deeper understanding of brotherly love, relief and truth, the three principal tenets of Masonry,” said Glass.
“I consider Masonry to be one of the best personal development programs for men, and I wanted our members to get a better understanding of the history and meaning of Masonic work — the craft and our fraternal bond that is based on ritual and symbol,” Glass added. “As it was, we only got to have two meetings in which every member had the opportunity to discuss our rituals on a deeper level and share with one another what they personally mean to them.”
Glass — who said he “grew up in Masonry,” having been a member of the Masons’ youth group, the Order of DeMolay, since 1973, and then becoming a Mason in 1982 – explained that because of the organization’s beliefs that secrecy is a way of enveloping bonds of fellowship in solemnity and sacredness, they can’t hold traditional meetings from a virtual standpoint.
“We aren’t allowed to use Zoom because it is not a secure system,” said Glass. “We can have speakers come and do talks on general subjects using Zoom, but we can’t do anything as far as our rituals. We have also been able to get together and just shoot the breeze, which has proven to be very important from a social standpoint during this time of isolation.”
While Glass had less than three months to roll out his agenda, Khalafyan has even more of a challenge, in that he now takes over during what seems to be an unrelenting pandemic.
Having become a Mason in 2014, Khalafyan went through the Masonic ranks with exceptional speed.
“I wanted to have a connection with the brotherhood and a spiritual connection,” said Khalafyan, a small business owner. “I have been very dedicated to Masonry and its rituals, so I moved up very quickly through the ranks to become Master of this lodge. I’m honored to have this opportunity. It really means a lot to me.”
Asked how he will handle his leadership role during this unique time, Khalafyan said one of his goals is to bring in more speakers via Zoom to educate the brethren in issues pertaining to all walks of life as well as learning more about Masonry.
Hoping the Masons will once again be able to physically gather during his term, he said that when that time comes fundraising events will be at the forefront of what he hopes to accomplish.
“Our fundraising efforts have been impacted by the pandemic, so when we can open up again that will be important,” he said. “We all miss one another, so it would be great for us to all be back together doing events that will also raise funds for our programs. Giving back to our community, especially to our youth, with programs, scholarships and opportunities. That is the most important thing to me.”
Last week’s installation ceremony was presided over by installing officer Art Weiss and installing chaplain Chris Barnes, with Jhairo Echevarria serving as master of ceremonies.
The event also saw the installation of Nishan Matossian as senior warden, Benjamin Lupu as junior warden, Peter Babaian as treasurer, Echevarria as secretary, Jim Laage as chaplain, Rick Cervantes as senior deacon, Sheldon Mazo as junior deacon, Armen Hovanessian as marshal, Kevin Fitzgerald as senior steward, Cameron Wardlaw as junior steward and Armin Schulhof as tiler.
Burbank Lodge 406 held its first preliminary meeting in 1908, even before Burbank had been chartered as a city.
The Grand Lodge of California granted a dispensation to the Burbank Lodge on June 28, 1909, and the first meeting was held on July 1, 1909, while under dispensation.
Initial membership applications were received from five ranchers, five farmers, a doctor, a carpenter, a teamster, a butcher, a teacher, an oil driller and a railroad worker, and the lodge continued to grow.
Today, with more than 200 members and more than a century of service to the community and charitable organizations, local Masons are currently supporting the causes of the national Masonic organization as well as local groups and organizations.
Specific groups that the Burbank Lodge supports include the Raising a Reader and Masons4Mitts charities as well as their youth orders, the L.C. Kelley chapter of the Order of DeMolay and Bethel 97 Job’s Daughters International.
David Laurell may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (818) 563-1007