Brooklyn Mechanics ‘Light Up the Temple

Hyacinth Robinson-Goldson

“Light Up the Temple” was the theme for a short program last Tuesday night of the annual Independent United Order of Mechanics’ (IUOM) Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at IUOM’s headquarters in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn.  

The Mechanics Order is a worldwide fraternal organization. 

According Sis. Hyacinth Robinson-Goldson, IUOM’s Jamaican-born community liaison, the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony is synonymous with the American story and has been a symbol of the beginning of the Holiday Season since 1923, when President Calvin Coolidge turned the lights on the first Christmas Tree in the Whitehouse.  

“The tradition continues even today, despite the terrible COVID-19 and Omicron pandemic,” Robinson-Goldson, who coordinated the program, told Caribbean Life, adding that “it was very cold outside but warm inside” Tuesday night.  

“Attendees were decked out in red tops, black bottoms and fancy Christmas hats to ring in the festive season,” she said. “Santa Claus also paid a surprise visit; and, in contrast, to the tradition of gift giving from Santa, as a charitable organization, gifts were collected for a local charity.”

Robinson-Goldson said Grand Deputy Master of the Order Rt. Hon. Glenver Jones represented the Most Worshipful Grand Master Rt. Hon. Errol G. Collins, who unfortunately had to cancel his attendance at the last minute.

She said members, families, friends and community residents were present Tuesday night to witness the annual tradition at the Mechanics lodge temple in Brooklyn. 

In keeping with the protocols and guidelines for the current pandemic, masks were mandated for attendance, Robinson-Goldson said.  

She said the ceremony began with an invocation by Venerable Armando Cardew after which she welcomed attendees. 

Robinson-Goldson said the relatively short program was planned at the request of the Rt. Hon. Collins, despite the pandemic, and in keeping with an almost 10-year tradition of the Order in Brooklyn.  

She personally thanked Hon. Sheldon Brown, caretaker of the headquarters, for his tolerance and assistance with decorating the temple and the Christmas tree. 

Sis. Gloria Lewis-Francis led the audience with vibrant singing of popular Christmas carols such as “Jingle Bells”, “Deck the Halls” and “Silent Night”, Robinson-Goldson said. 

She said four District Grand Masters were present and brought greetings on behalf of their District Grand Jurisdictions in New York City. 

District Grand Master Kenneth Ponder, of King Solomon District Grand Lodge #1, said: “I am happy to be a part of this celebration and be given the opportunity to donate these toys on behalf of my membership.”  

District Grand Master Joseph Morgan, of the Composite District Grand Lodge #2, offered support and congratulate the Most Worshipful for the thought of continuing with the tradition of the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. 

“Despite the pandemic” he said, “our members are here, and we just want to be safe and be happy especially throughout this holiday season.” 

District Grand Master Daniel Roden brought greetings on behalf of his District Grand Jurisdiction, with best wishes for the New Year, hoping that we will “have a good year” and to continue to “love each other”, according to Robinson-Goldson. 

District Grand Deputy Masters, Hon. Derrick Elvery and Hon. Gary Miller, District Grand Master of the Alpha District Grand Lodge #1, also addressed the ceremony. 

Elvery extended greetings, saying that he hoped “2022 will be much better for us, so that we can once again see each other’s face.” 

Miller alluded to the number of members “we have lost during the pandemic, adding: “This is the season of giving, so let’s take care of each other.  

“Continue to take care of yourselves and each other”, he urged. “And make every effort to take your vaccines to keep safe.” 

Executive Grand Treasurer of the Order `Rt. Hon. Casper Edwards, brought greetings on behalf of the Executive Committee of Grand Council, noting the survivability of “those who have gotten the shots”, compared to those “who have not received the shot”.

He said “because science rules the world, we must pay attention and listen to the experts and try to stay safe.

“We must adjust to the new norms, and do the best we can to enjoy life as we go” he urged. 

Rt. Hon. Jones reiterated the reason for collecting the toys and invited Police Officer Christopher Kenny, of the Community Relations Department of the New York Police Department (NYPD) 88 Precinct, to address the ceremony. 

“We try our best to be of service to the community, and its good when we can depend on organizations such as yours to assist us to assist others,” Officer Kenny said. “The toys will be given to daycares, schools, shelters, and hospitals in the local communities. 

“We welcome all donations, whether large or small,” he added. “This is what we do to help our communities.  On behalf of Captain Malcolm and staff at the 88th Precinct, thank you for your generosity”.   

Robinson-Goldson said the toys were turned over to Officer Kenny for distribution. 

In referring to the number of lives lost during the pandemic, Rt. Hon. Glenver Jones said “we all have choices”, and that “because God created us to make good choices, we must do the right thing to protect our families, coworkers and loved-ones”.  

He extended Christmas wishes on behalf of the Most Worshipful Grand Master and members of the Executive Committee of Grand Council, and thanked Robinson-Goldson for coordinating the program. 

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