By Anna Skinner
If there’s anything Dave Hommel wants Carmel residents to know, it’s that there is a free mason lodge in Carmel, and that the group has been very active in the community since 1870, when the city was originally known as Bethlehem.
“There’s a lot of misunderstanding and confusion about how free masonry was set up,” Hommel, the group’s worshipful master, said. “Masons were taught when they became masons to not recruit people. The organization does great things for the community. Three of our tenants are faith, hope and charity.”
To be a free mason, those wanting to join must have faith, although Hommel said the group is non-denominational, and there are a variety of religions among the approximately 220 members of the Carmel lodge, 310 First Ave. N.E.
“‘Making good men better’ is our hope, and when you join the free masonry, we hope its structure and ceremonies lead you into self-improvement,” Hommel said.
The Carmel lodge fundraises for a variety of events, and Hommel said not just one group or organization benefits from the free masons.
Currently, the group is raising money for a woman with cancer, and in the past it has raised money for families in the community that couldn’t afford holiday gifts or a holiday dinner.
“We try to engage in charity wherever we can make a difference,” Hommel said, referencing a food drive the group did this year to stock an Indianapolis pantry.
Freemasonry traces its roots from those who built King Solomon’s temple. The group has been around for thousands of years.
“It’s a fraternity. It’s a brotherhood,” Hommel said. “Our vows are heavily oriented around brotherhood, and a lot of guys that come here are interested in that aspect.”
The Carmel Free Masons will be at CarmelFest selling grilled cheese sandwiches July 3 and 4, and in September, the group is organizing a golf scramble to raise funds.
Meetings are held at the lodge each Thursday. For those interested in joining the group or learning more, Hommel suggests they show up at 6 p.m. for a weekly meeting. For more, visit carmel421.com.