GREENSBURG — The Lois Chapter of the Eastern Star is celebrating their 125th anniversary in Greensburg with a program followed by a dinner at 1 p.m. Saturday (Oct. 5) at the Greensburg Masonic Lodge.

The Order of the Easter Star is the largest fraternal organization in the world to which both men and women may belong. Worldwide, there are approximately 1 million members of the General Grand Chapter.

According to Eastern Star literature, it’s a social service organization comprised of persons with spiritual values.

And, according to the Eastern Star website, “[it’s] the wholesome relationship of sisterly and brotherly love brought about through high principles that make the brothers and sisters so endearing to one another.”

The emblem of the Order is a five-pointed star with the white ray of the star pointing downwards towards the manger. The letters FATAL surrounding the center pentagon in the emblem stands for “Fairest Among Thousands, Altogether Lovely,” a reference to Song of Songs. In all Chapter rooms, the downward-pointing white ray points to the West.

Established in 1850 by lawyer and educator Rob Morris, a noted Freemason, the Order of the Eastern Star was adopted and approved as a division of the Masonic Fraternity in 1873. The order is based on teachings from the Bible, but is open to people of all religious beliefs. It has approximately 10,000 chapters in 20 countries.

Members of the Order of the Eastern Star are aged 18 and older; men must be “Master Masons” and women must have specific relationships with Masons. Originally, a woman would have to be the daughter, widow, wife, sister, or mother of a Master Mason, but the Order now allows other relatives as well as allowing Job’s Daughters, Rainbow Girls, members of the Organization of Triangles (in New York) and members of the Constellation of Junior Stars to become members when of age.

Originally an order of professionals with knowledge of mathematics and science, membership was extended only to those referred by current members and was surrounded in secrecy.

With the general decline in membership of social organizations, fraternities and sororities like the Eastern Star and the Masons have opened their doors more to perspective members since latter part of the 20th century.

Lois Chapter #147 was ratified as a chapter in good standing in Greensburg on April 25, 1894.

Though there is no clear confirmed explanation of the name “Lois,” but it is believed to have been a Biblical reference to the grandmother of Timothy. The apostle Paul credits Lois with being the matriarch of the family who perpetuated the teachings of the Old Testament in the household.

The Lois Chapter has met in various locations in Greensburg.

In 1928, Greensburg Lodge #36 of the Fraternal Order of Masons purchased the vacant Methodist Church on Washington Street and the Lois Chapter met there for 34 years until a new temple was erected at the current Central Avenue location, behind Greensburg Community High School.

The lodge was built with donations by the Howard, Mowrey, Hazelrigg and Riley estates on land given to the Masons by Elbert Richardson. The finished building was dedicated on Dec. 29, 1962.

In 1977, the Bethlehem Chapter #362 consolidated with the Lois Chapter. In 1990, the Milford Chapter #521 followed suit.

Contact Bill Rethlake at 812-663-3111, ext 217011 or email bill.rethlake@greensburgdailynews.com

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