Order of the Eastern Star

From Academic Kids

The Order of the Eastern Star is the largest fraternal organization in the world that both men and women can join. It was established in 1850 by Robert Morris, a lawyer and educator from Boston, Massachusetts who had been an official with the Freemasons. It is based on teachings from the Bible, but is open to people of all monotheistic faiths. It has approximately 10,000 chapters in twenty countries and approximately one million members under its General Grand Chapter. Members of the Order are aged 18 and older; men must be Master Masons and women must have specific relationships with Masons. Originally, a woman would have to be the daughter, widow, wife, sister, or mother of a master Mason, but this has been expanded throughout the years as the membership shrank.

The emblem of the Order is a five-pointed star. The character-building lessons taught in the Order are stories inspired by Biblical figures:

There are 18 main officers in a full chapter:

  • Worthy Matron - presiding officer
  • Worthy Patron - enforces the rules of the order
  • Associate Matron - assumes the duties of the Worthy Matron in the absence of that officer
  • Associate Patron - assumes the duties of the Worthy Patron in the absence of that officer
  • Secretary
  • Treasurer
  • Conductress
  • Associate Conductress
  • Chaplain - leads the Chapter in prayer
  • Marshall
  • Organist
  • Adah
  • Ruth
  • Esther
  • Martha
  • Electa
  • Warder - Sits next to the door inside the meeting room, to make sure those that enter the chapter room are members of the Order.
  • Sentinel - Sits next to the door outside the chapter room, to make sure those that wish to enter are members of the Order.

Traditionally, a woman who is elected Associate Conductress will next year be elected to Conductress, than the next year Associate Matron, and the next year Worthy Matron. A man elected Associate Patron will usually the next year be elected Worthy Patron. Usually the woman who is elected to become Associate Matron will let it be known who she wishes to be her Associate Patron, so the next year they will both go to the East together as Worthy Matron and Worthy Patron. There is no male counterpart to the Conductress and Associate Conductress. Only women are allowed to be Matrons, Conductresses, and the Star Points (Adah,Ruth, etc.) and only men should be Patrons; however, occassionally there is no male member of the chapter and thus the position must be held by a female.

The Order has a charitable foundation and from 1986-2001 contributed $513,147 to Alzheimers disease research, juvenile diabetes research, and juvenile asthma research. It also provides bursaries to students of theology and religious music, as well as other scholarships that differ by jurisdiction. In 2000 over $83,000 was donated. Many jurisdictions support a Masonic and/or Eastern Star retirement center or nursing home for older members; some homes are also open to the public.

The Order is not to be confused with the Order of the Star of the East, a messianic organization created in 1911 by the Theosophical Society - Adyar and dissolved in 1929 by J. Krishnamurti.

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