Two weeks after the City hosted a grand opening of the Columbus Community Building, a special cornerstone ceremony will take place this weekend thanks to The Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Nebraska and its grand officers.
The ceremony, which commences at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 22nd, 2023, on the third level of the building in the Community Room, is being coordinated by Grand Marshal Eric BenSalah with the help of the local lodge, Lebanon Lodge No. 323, and in particular, local resident and member Bob Wilbur.
“Freemasons are the world's oldest fraternity of men who base themselves on the code of ethics of the buildings of King Solomon's temple. The Cornerstone Laying Ceremony is a symbolic one,” BenSalah said.
In fact, the cornerstone ceremony tradition dates back to the 1700s. BenSalah said the Saturday ceremony will stay true to tradition and be very similar to the one done by the first U.S. president and Freemason George Washington when he laid the cornerstone of the U.S. Capitol on Sept. 18, 1793. According to reports, the cornerstone was subsequently lost and the missing artifacts placed inside it have to date never been found despite repeated attempts. Similar ceremonies were held for the new Columbus Police and Fire departments after they opened to the public a couple years ago.
“The Cornerstone Ceremony is a rite of stability: It has stood the test of time,” BenSalah said.
The Grand Master of Masons of Nebraska, Most Worshipful John L. Millington, will be leading the ceremony when it starts. The City was invited to put a few artifacts inside as a time capsule. Items that will be included are a Columbus Community Building Grand Opening pamphlet, City leaders’ business cards and a survey marker.
City Engineer Rick Bogus said the government agency is excited to be part of the festivities and appreciates the organizers for making it happen.
“A cornerstone placement is a nice ceremony that signifies the substantial completion of an important milestone project,” Bogus said.
Columbus Mayor Jim Bulkley will also speak during the event to help commemorate. He and BenSalah said they’re hopeful the community will attend to be part of a special occasion.
“We don't work as operative stonemasons and thus we heavily rely on symbolism to relay the message and teaching of freemasonry. Cornerstone ceremonies are a part of that symbolism,” BenSalah said. “In the ceremony, we use tools of the builders of King Solomon's temple - e.g. square, level and plumb - to teach us and remind us of moral and ethical virtues.
“The public is encouraged to attend as this is one of the few public events Masons put on and is one of the more beautiful and memorable ceremonies.”
The Columbus Community Building is at 2500 14th St.