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Freemasonry in Afghanistan - Swisher Lodge


Swisher Lodge U.D. Operational in Afghanistan

By W.B. Patrick Barger, Personal Representative of the Grand Master

Nebraska Masonry is Alive and Afghanistan! The travelling men of Nebraska Freemasonry flew that well-known pseudonym to renewed heights in the last few weeks. Swisher Lodge Under Dispensation was open once again in the war-torn country of Afghanistan, half-way around the globe. Acting under dispensation from Most Worshipful Brother Bruce A. Baker, Swisher Lodge opened its doors in Kabul, Afghanistan in early December 2011. The Grand Lodge of Nebraska shipped the famous "Swisher Kit" containing all tools and accessories necessary to conduct a lodge communication to me and all items were put to good use.

As you know, Swisher Lodge was named after Bro. (SSG) Christopher Swisher of Lincoln Lodge No. 19, killed in Iraq in 2003. Everything we do is dedicated to him.

This lodge formed and I was installed Worshipful Master, WB Ritchie Inns of Cotner Lodge No. 297 as Senior Warden, and Brother Blair Talley of Lancaster Lodge No. 54 as Junior Warden. It was nice to have the top three officers of this lodge be Nebraska Masons, as all three of us are currently stationed at various locations across Afghanistan. The three of us extend our Masonic greetings to all of you.

The lodge currently has fifteen members hailing from all corners of the earth. Besides Nebraska, the Phillipines, Nova Scotia, Texas, Virginia, Germany, Washington, Colorado, and South Dakota are represented.

Since the lodge was formed, we initiated and passed Brother Phil Holguin, a retired Command Sergeant Major and Army Ranger in the U.S. Army. As the lodge continues to grow in numbers, we hope to have enough members to perform the entire Master Mason degree for him. We were very fortunate to have WB Ritchie Inns in attendance on the evening of the Fellow Craft degree, as he delivers a flawless rendition of the Middle Chamber lecture, as many of you already know. Without Ritchie present to do that, we could not have performed the degree. This, however, is the first time he has delivered the lecture using pictures of the staircase, pillars, and orders of architecture printed on cardstock (there isn't room in the Swisher Kit to roll up a twenty-foot long canvas or two 18 cubit-high pillars). An ammunition box with a towel on top served as the kneeler for the candidate, and a wooden stand used to hang our Individual Body Armor and helmet served as the square that supporte d his left elbow. Three more of these stands served as the pedestals for the top three officers as well. Brother Phil Holguin is pictured in the center with WB Patrick Barger on his left and WB Ritchie Inns on his right. Bro. John Gruehl of Virginia is on the far left and Bro. Mark Buechler from South Dakota is on the far right.

I am pleased to report that we have a number of people stationed here who are interested in joining Masonry. Perhaps it is true that many (if not most) of them will return to their homes and join local lodges. No matter our very existence in Afghanistan is evidence that Masonry is a worldwide fraternity and they will always remember their first experience in Masonry was in a Nebraska lodge.

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