In the 18th century William Preston, a leading English ritualist of Freemasonry, traveled around the world instructing and educating Freemasons on different topics. His lectures, officially termed the William Preston Lectures (later known as the “Prestonian Lectures”), were given annually in the Quatuor Coronati Lodge of Research in London, England. Since 1925, the annual Prestonian Lectures have had the unique distinction of being the premier contributions to the stream of Masonic thought in the world; and since the 19th century, lodges have commemorated his memoirs by holding annual lectures. In 2006, then-Brother (later Worshipful Master) Roberto M. Sanchez, along with Past Masters Lex Leckie and Greg Weisinger, explored the introduction of a “Prestonian Lecture” at Gray Lodge, named after our charter Master Alfred Stephens (A.S.) Richardson. In October 2006, the A.S. Richardson Lecture Series was born.
A.S. Richardson, the charter Master of Gray Masonic Lodge #329, was our first Past Master to have served as Grand Master of Masons in Texas. He received his Masonic degrees in Orphans Friend Lodge #17 in 1857. He later demitted from there and affiliated with Holland Lodge #1 in 1858. Brother Richardson served as Worshipful Master of Holland Lodge in 1861 and again in 1869. After serving as designated Worshipful Master of Gray Lodge from June 24 to December 27, 1870, he was installed as the elected Master for the full 1871 calendar year. He was elected Grand Junior Warden of the Grand Lodge of Texas in December 1886, and became Grand Master of Masons in Texas in 1889.
Annually, Gray Lodge invites a Mason of such prominence as would befit Brother Richardson’s name to present a lecture on any Masonic subject of the lecturer’s choice. The Richardson Lecture has become a forum for the presentation of thoughts that will chart the future course of Masonry, and stand for the propositions of free speech, free thought, and free conscience. The express purpose of these lectures is to challenge the minds of Masons. The Richardson Lecture series is not designed for the barren intellect. On the contrary, it is for those eager to learn and to think.
Each October, Gray Lodge invites a renowned Mason, Masonic author, or Masonic historian to speak at our Lodge. The A.S. Richardson Lecture is a unique tradition because most lodges do not hold an annual lecture. Gray Lodge considers it vital to be a leader in Masonic thought and education.