One day last week I visited the Subway on Penn Avenue in Wilkinsburg. It is one of the extremely limited number of franchises owned by Blacks, and the owners are Marlin and Wanda Metz.
I had been procrastinating for some time about paying them a visit and doing an interview about the difficulties they encountered and how they addressed them. Throughout the first half hour as Marlin explained some of the business problems and how they overcame them, he mentioned his wife, Wanda, six times. It was obvious that he loved and respected his wife and partner and men are generally not that open about their feelings.
I then questioned him about his church affiliation and he said he and his wife frequent a number of churches, but have not settled on a permanent church home yet. The next question was going to be do you have any outside interest, but he interjected that all of his adult life he wanted to belong to the Prince Hall Free and Accepted Masons, and a year ago his lifelong dream became a reality.
I said, “Tell me why?” Metz said he is a devout believer in the central theme of the Free Masons, that moral behavior, constant self-improvement and the established fact that they have an overwhelming sense of dedication to charitable acts.
My response to him was that those I deal with, myself included, have very limited knowledge about the Masons, but everything we do know indicates it is an organization that epitomizes positiveness. I know several long time Masons and I asked them about the organization, but I failed to get any answers, just general statements. I asked 40 people who do not belong to the Masons how they perceived the Masons and 98 percent said good, but no facts to substantiate their statements, so off to the library I went to do some research.
I discovered that since 1717 there have been more than 50,000 books, pamphlets and articles written about the Masons, pro and con. One author wrote about famous people who were Masons such as Noah and Moses. Another wrote that some others became Masons solely because of the potential privileges and considerations that could enhance their position and income. There was an author who referred to the Masons as a cult shrouded in mystery. A couple of authors stated that the Masons truly symbolize brotherly love and truth.
There is no question in my mind that the Prince Hall Free and Accepted Masons is an organization that has stood the test of time with many positive contributions and good works, but for whatever reason are rarely made public.
The Bible is replete with stories of the master doing public relations. Example: The sister of Lazarus came to Jesus three days before Lazarus died and implored the savior to hurry. Jesus said no. After Lazarus had been dead three days Jesus raised him from the dead, and when questioned why He allowed her brother to die, Jesus responded, “To show the world the power of God.”
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(Louis “Hop” Kendrick is a weekly contributor to the Forum Page.)