Largest Gathering of Freemasons Takes Place in Baltimore Sunday
Updated: Sunday, February 16 2014, 10:49 PM EST
Leaders of the world's largest and oldest fraternity met Sunday in Baltimore.
The Freemasons, thought of as a secret society, welcomed media at their annual convention near the Inner Harbor.
It's the largest meeting of its leaders for this global organization.
"We're very proud the Masons decided to come to Baltimore. There are over 800-people here," said mason and Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger.
The Freemasons are an ancient fraternity and are known for their extravagant temples like the one on North Charles Street.
Less well known is their charity work giving more than two-million dollars a day to various causes.
Aside from secrecy, Freemasons are also accused of a lack of diversity.
Baltimore County Congressman Ruppersberger disagrees, "We would never be part of an organization that discriminates. We're not gonna do that. We're a fraternity that has history back to the days of King Solomon."
Melvin Thore, who is the Grand Master of an African-American chapter in Prince Hall adds, "It's coming slowly, but we're moving more progressively toward it, especially in Maryland."
As for the secrecy accusation, Congressman Ruppersberger answers, "The 'secret' issue is more a ceremonial type thing and it seems to me that might be hurting the reputation of masons and what they really stand for."
Maryland has about 16,000 Freemasons, all who have played a role in hosting the conference.
Most chapters require members to be 21-years-old however in Maryland, the minimum age is 18-years.