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Knights Templar in Michigan

A few days after the first half of the nineteenth century had been told on the dial of time, organized Templar Masonry began its existence in Michigan, to be a colaborer with Lodge and Chapter in diffusing the sublime principles of Masonry, and to shed upon the ancient craft degrees the light and life of the orders of Christian Knighthood.


On the eighth day of January, 1851, the first Commandery was organized in Michigan. A dispensation had been granted by the Most Eminent Grand Master of the Grand Encampment of the United States, to the petitioners in Detroit, to form and open in that city an Encampment of Knights Templar and its appendant orders, under the name and style of Detroit Encampment, No 1. First among those who were active in securing it, was E. Smith Lee, who had been one of the foremost workers in other departments of Masonry. This enthusiastic Mason was the first Eminent Commander, and under his wise leadership the new Commandery prospered from the start, and laid the foundation for its worldwide reputation as the leading Templar organization of the world.

After six Commanderies began working in Michigan, deriving their authority from the Grand Encampment of the United States. These Commanderies concluded that it was now time to organize a Grand Commandery. Accordingly a call was issued for a convention to meet in Detroit on January 15th, 1857, to inaugurate the movement looking to the forming of a Grand Commandery. In response to the call sixteen Sir Knights, representing all of the six Commanderies, met in Detroit, at seven o’clock on the evening of January 15, 1857, and organized by choosing John Gilbert, Jr., E. C. of Detroit Commandery, No. 1, as chairman and James Darrah, of Monroe, as Secretary.

Every preliminary having been attended to, the necessary authority was asked from the Grand Master of the Grand Encampment, and in due time they received a warrant approving their request to form the Grand Commandery of Michigan. The convention reassembled at Detroit, on April 8th, 1857, at which time there were present sixteen representatives from Detroit Commandery, two from Pontiac Commandery, two from Eureka Commandery, and two from DeMolay Commandery.

Today there are 32 commanderies active in the State of Michigan which serve as home to valiant sir knights across the state who wish to live out the high ideals of piety, fraternity, and beneficence and are bound to wage war against the enemies of innocent maidens, destitute widows, and the Christian Religion. What is Templary?

The Knights Templar is a Christian-oriented fraternal organization that was founded in the 11th century.

Originally, the Knights Templar were laymen who protected and defended Christians travelling to Jerusalem. These men took vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, and were renowned for renowned for their fiercenessand courage in battle.

Today, the Knights Templar display their courage and goodwill in other ways. They organize fund-raising activities such as breakfasts, dinners, dances, and flea markets. They support Masonic-related youth groups, send pastors to the Holy Land and they raise millions of dollars for medical research and educational assistance.

Currently, Templar membership consists of people from all walks of life, including doctors, lawyers, clergy, businessmen and entertainment personalities, all of whom profess a belief in the Christian Religion.

All Knights Templar are members of the world’s oldest fraternal organization known as Freemasonry. However, not all masons are Templars.

The Knights Templar operate on a local, state and national level. But their religious activities extend across international borders as well. Nationally, there is The Grand Encampment of Knights Templar. This unit defines the 11 rituals and laws governing state and local level organizations. The state level is called a Grand Commandery of Knights Templar. This organization represents members of a state or an area of equivalent size. Finally, the local level unit is called a Commandery of Knights Templar. There are almost 1,600 Commanderies in communities across the United States, Germany, Italy and Mexico, with over 260,000 members. Similar bodies exist in other countries as well.

To petition a Commandery of Knights Templar for membership, you must first be a member of a Masonic Lodge and other pre-requisite bodies, and must profess a belief In the Christian Religion. Commanderies organize many social activities, including Ladies Auxiliaries, Drill Competitions, Public Divine Services, Family Picnics, Organized Trips, Dinner Parties and Entertainments, Christmas Observances, Easter Sunrise Services, and Memorial Services.

Since its inception, the Knights Templar Eye Foundation has spent more than $35 million dollars to help provide medical treatment for those unable to afford it. Today, over 44,000 people have directly benefitted from this financial assistance. And as always, treatments are provided regardless of race, color, creed, age, or national origin.

Research grants, totalling over $2.5 million dollars, have been made to institutions working in the field of Eye Research. Informative films are also available through local commanderies for presentation to churches, PTA meetings and other interested organizations. To its end, the Knights Templar, through the efforts of all its members, is committed to “Helping Others To See.”

The Knights Templar Educational Foundation, the first program of its kind, was organized in 1922. Since then, more than $32 million dollars has been loaned to students to complete their last two years of college. This finnancial assistance is given without regard to race, color, creed, age or Masonic affiliation.

In addition to the many religious observances throughout the year, The Grand Encampment of Knights Templar sponsors an annual “Holy Land Pilgrimage”. The purpose of the pilgrimage is to send a Christian Minister to The Holy Land. Masonic membership is not required and the Minister can be male or female.

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