ST. JOHN’S LODGE (ONITSHA) - No. 3780 (1916)
St. John’s Lodge No. 3780 was the second Lodge to be formed in the former Eastern Nigeria, the first being Calabar Lodge No. 3434. Ten Masons signed the petition for the formation of the Lodge sponsored by Lagos Lodge No. 1171.
The Warrant to form the Lodge was issued on 30th October, 1916, and the Consecration took place at Onitsha on 24th September, 1917. The Consecrating Officer was H. J. Hyde-Johnson, D.D.G.M.
The first Master of the Lodge was W.E. Blackett. The first Senior Warden was E.W. Parkinson and the first Junior Warden was G. A. Albert Barnes.
Shortly after the formation of the Lodge, many of the original Founding Masons left Onitsha, but the few who were left behind persevered in building a Temple which was dedicated on 27th October, 1932 by the D.G.M., Dr. G. Munn Gray. Prior to this, meetings of the Lodge were held in “the garret of a building owned by J.M. Stuart-Young.” On 24th September, 1938, the 21st anniversary of the Lodge was celebrated. Chief I. A. Mbanefo, MBE, PDJGW, PG STD B., one of the early initiates of the Lodge was the ruling Master.
On 24th September, 1967, the Golden Jubilee of St. John’s Lodge was celebrated with fanfare. But shortly after this memorable occasion, the Nigerian Civil War forced the Lodge to go ‘into exile’ away from Onitsha. A. O. Erokwu, PDJGW who was the ruling Master of the Lodge, retrieved the Charter of the Lodge from the Temple which had already been set ablaze during an ‘air raid’ attack on Enugu.
Erokwu ruled in 1967, 1968 and 1969 – during the war period. On 27th December, 1969, S.B.C. Osakwe was installed Master of the Lodge. Besides the very important role played by the Late Louis Mbanefo (Rt. OSM) PDDGM in Masonry in Nigeria generally, he also worked relentlessly to sustain St. John’s Lodge No. 3780 in particular. He was the ‘live-wire’ of the Lodge in that during the period of the Nigeria Civil War he procured Durumbia Hall in Nkwerre for use as the meeting place of the Lodge during the war period.
The Civil War ended in January, 1970 and St. John’s Lodge No. 3780 returned to Onitsha and commenced meetings regularly. Members again rallied round, and started in 1972 to build another Temple on the spot where the former stood. A more magnificent and beautiful Temple was completed and the Temple was dedicated by N. S. Sole, D.G.M. on 11th August, 1973. The Lodge grew in strength and the Annual Return for 1977 reflected 137 members on its role.
Since Onitsha is a very big commercial town, hotel accommodation became a problem to Masons who live quite a distance from Onitsha. In order to reduce the hardship, it was decided to provide some accommodation within the premises of St. John’s Lodge, thus in 1979 a ‘two-bedroom flat’ was erected.
At a later date, it was agreed between the brethren of Lodges in Onitsha to add another floor to the building for the purpose of having a Masonic Library. This exercise was eventually carried out and the Library was officially opened on 26th December, 1981 by Chief Dr. G. C. Mbanugo, C.F.R., DDGM, and the Ogene of Obosi. On that occasion, Justice Adewale Thompson presented a paper, titled, “The place of Masonic Library in a Developing Country.”
Lodge Venue and Meeting Days
Second Saturday in January
to December. Installation on
last Saturday in December.
35 Egerton Road,
Mail: P.O. Box 224, Onitsha 43001, Anambra State.