It was on May 28, 1919 that the Grand Lodge of Michigan granted a charter to a fast growing young lodge. Our archives hold records of early meetings to discuss forming another lodge in Flint, and an early history tells us that the first stones were laid by Brothers Charles Reid and Hugh Miller. Following a conversation over dinner at Brother Miller's home, they decided to enlist the aid of Brother Dan Neil, who made application to Grand Lodge for dispensation to form a lodge.
Through the efforts of these brothers, a meeting was held in the offices of Buick Motor Company on the evening of November 6, 1918, at which 28 brothers gathered to discuss the possibility and feasibility of forming this new lodge. Brother Howard J. Clifford was elected chairman, and Brother William E. Jackson, secretary, for this and subsequent meetings which were held to further this thinking.
The majority of those present believed a third lodge was needed to work out of the Flint Masonic Temple. Flint Lodge No. 23 and Genesee Lodge No. 174 were overworked, the Masons argues. Some brothers cautioned that the time may not be right for a new lodge. But, it was the overwhelming opinion of the majority that another lodge would be beneficial to the then fast-growing post war community. Thoughts became actions when committees were formed to contact brothers in the city who might be interested in this undertaking.
On November 25, 1918, another meeting was held in the Buick offices when 40 brothers met to select a name for the new lodge and to elect officers to act under dispensation, if this should be granted. Worshipful Brother Cady B. Durham was elected to serve as Worshipful Master, Brother Howard J. Clifford as Senior Warden, and Brother Forrest W. Boswell as Junior Warden. A list of 14 names was submitted to this group: Sincerity, Mystic Tie, Victory, Liberty, Friendship, Fellowship, Anchor, Benevolent, Gemeco, Rainbow, Auto City, Harmony, Navajo and Fidelity. After two ballots were cast, it was between Fellowship and Navajo. The final tally was in favor of Fellowship, 17-11. Thus, on November 25, 1918, our lodge's identity was established. Through the years, our history has shown that Brother Charles A. Reid was truly inspired when he suggested the name of Fellowship, for that has been the feeling and spirit of this lodge to this day.
The next month, the lodge established its initiation fees and dues. Like the earlier vote on the lodge's name, the masons considered a variety of rates, finally voting to charge an initiation fee of $75 and annual dues of $10. Well, those were the fees for the moment. It seemed the fledging lodge had not followed the Blue Book, thus all business handled at that meeting was out of order. It was decided that the Worshipful Master set the rates, which he did at $60 for initiation and $7 for annual dues.
Interest in the creation of a new lodge was high. On January 21, 1919, C.W. Hunt, vice president of The Ohio Buick Company in Cleveland, sent a telegram to Flint, inquiring about the Fellowship's first meeting. The response was interesting, yet underscored the mission of the Masons. "We regret to inform you that it has been decided by the officers that when we open under dispensation, that we will not have any sort of a banquet or blow-out, but would simply open in a very quiet and unassuming manner and proceed with the work as quickly as possible, which we must do in order to procure our charter in May," wrote an unknown member of Fellowship Lodge.
Grand Master Hugh McPherson wrote to W.M. Cady Durham on January 31, 1919, to inform him that he had that day signed and was enclosing the dispensation to work for a new lodge. Worshipful Brother Durham lost no time in bringing the craft together. An enthusiastic group of Masons met on February 7, 1919 to transact the business appearing before the lodge, which included 34 petitions to be read the first night.
Through hard work, the new lodge overcame the lack of uniformity of ritual work due to the many different lodges and jurisdictions represented by the 79 charter members. The zeal of Fellowship Lodge is reflected in the fact that by the time the Charter was granted by Grand Lodge on May 28, 1919, they had taken in 87 new members. Also, the Grand Lecturer, Frank O. Gilbert, expressed praise for the manner in which the work was performed, and how well the brothers had coordinated their knowledge of Masonry and Michigan ritual.
On June 13, 1919, Fellowship Lodge met to read the new Charter into the minutes and elect the first officers under charter. Brother Tom Rogers was elected Worshipful Master, Brother Forrest W. Boswell, Senior Warden, and Brother Hugh Miller, Junior Warden. So eager were the members of Fellowship to get on with business that they seemed to forget that their officers were not officially installed by the Grand Master. In a letter written June 19, 1919, Grand Master Charles B. Eddy admonished Fellowship Lodge for getting the "cart before the horse." He offered to come to Flint that July and conduct the installation himself.
During this post-World War I period, Flint grew by leaps and bounds, and Fellowship Lodge grew with it. During this boom period, Fellowship Lodge missed very few weekly meetings, which were held on Fridays until April 6, 1923, when the meeting night was changed to Mondays.
The 79 charter members laid the first stones of their building well, for over the years - through depression and recessions in the economy, wars which which have called many to the service of their country, and a decline in membership in the order over the whole country - Fellowship Lodge has remained strong.
In July, 1919, Fellowship Lodge officially joined the brotherhood of Masonry. Its addition was warranted. In a letter written on December 2, 1921, to the Grand Master, Fellowship Lodge reported that on one night, 39 brothers gave their proficiency in the Third Degree. But, such growth was not to endure. During the Lodge's 50th anniversary, Past Master Leonard Batz lamented about the changing times. "Because of so many outside activities by each member, desire as we old-timers were aware of is not so apparent. The lack of attendance in all lodges attests to this condition." Batz ends his comments with something that could hold true today as it did in 1969. "Let us not despair. In a short time the suppressed desire for the Brotherhood of Man will again emerge and Masonry will again, as it has in the past, rise to the occasion to fulfill man's desire."
Ours has been a history of service to Masonry and community, but, above all, a history of fellowship.