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.
Full Member Texas Lodge of Research, Curator of the Houston Masonic Library Museum. Brother Roberto M. Sanchez was the first A. S. Richardson Lecturer with his presentation “The Square the Compasses and the United States”. It encompassed several vignettes involving Masonry and the history of the USA.
Grand Historian for the Grand Council Royal and Select Masters of Texas visited Gray Lodge at its October 2007 stated meeting and gave the second A.S. Richardson Lecture. He spoke about the first documented Masonic meeting in colonial Texas held on February 11, 1828 and the Ancient York Masons who met at San Felipe de Austin.
Author of A Bridge to Light and world-renowned scholar gave the 2008 A.S. Richardson Lecture; he spoke on the deep philosophies of Freemasonry.
Author of The Texas Mason, Past Master of Texas Lodge of Research and Fellow in Masonic Research, Chairman, Valley of Houston, Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite.
Past Grand Master of Texas and Past Grand Presiding officer of several invitational bodies, who presented the 2010 A.S. Richardson Lecture entitled “Masonry and the Young Man”.
Brother Hodapp, best known for his book Freemasons for Dummies, gave the sixth A.S. Richardson Lecture. Brother Hodapp has written many books on Freemasonry and frequently appears on the History Channel’s specials on Freemasonry.
Grand Abbot of the Society of Blue Friars, Founding Fellow of the Scottish Rite Research Society, Fellow of Texas Lodge of Research; author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Freemasonry, Committed to the Flames and many other books, gave the seventh A.S. Richardson Lecture: “Itinerant American Masonic Lecturers”.
Grand Master of Masons in Texas. He was raised a Master Mason on May 27, 1978 in Bedias Lodge No. 651, where he served as Worshipful Master in 1980-1981, and as Secretary three times for 10 total years’ service. He was awarded the Golden Trowel in 2003. He has qualified for an “A” Certificate of Proficiency since 1979, and is an endowed or plural member of several lodges in Texas and Oklahoma.
R.W. Rogers was appointed District Deputy Grand Master for the 1981-1982 Grand Lodge year. Additionally, he has served as Assistant State Coordinator in 1983, 1985 and 1987, and as State Coordinator in 1989 and 1999. He served as Grand Junior Deacon in 1985, Grand Senior Deacon in 1999 and Grand Orator in 2002, and has been Grand Representative of the Grand Lodge of Connecticut since 1985 and was appointed Grand Representative of the Grand Lodge of Missouri in 2010. He was awarded the William M. Beck Award in 1999 and is a member of the Grand Lodge Library and Museum Sam Houston Hall of Fame.
William Michael “Mike” Gower II, the 161st Grand Master of Masons in Texas was born on August 8, 1938, in Atlanta, Georgia. A fourth-generation Mason, as a young man he was a member of the Order of DeMolay, selected to its Legion of Honor in 1984.
R.W. Gower was raised a Master Mason on February 12, 1974 in McAllen Lodge No. 1110; first qualified for his Certificate of Proficiency in 1979, and served as Worshipful Master of McAllen Lodge in 1980-81. He was selected as District Deputy Grand Master in 1982, and was appointed Grand Junior Steward in 1986 and Grand Orator in 1988. He was elected Grand Master of Masons in Texas in December 1998.
Brother Gower has received the York Rite and Scottish Rite degrees, was coroneted a 33* Inspector General Honorary in 1993 and a Knight York Cross of Honour in 1998, and is a mamber of the Shrine, Grotto and Texas Lodge of Research, among other organizations.
Past Master Sanchez, now author of countless works and articles, became our first “encore” Richardson Lecturer by presenting an intriguing and challenging presentation regarding his newest book, The True Masonic Experience.
Bro. John Tolbert is a Past Master of San Marcos Lodge #342 and a member of Robert Burns Lodge #127. He served as District Deputy Grand Master of District 52 in 2014 and is a 33rd Degree Scottish Rite Mason belonging to both the Valleys of Austin and Guthrie, Oklahoma. He has also been a member of the Grand Lodge of Texas Masonic Education and Services Committee since 2015. Bro. Tolbert enlightened us with a presentation entitled “Freemasonry, Distant Cousin to the Cult of Mithras”.