It is my great privilege and honor to serve as the 172nd Grand Master of Masons in Virginia in the 239th year of our Grand Lodge. In that role, I welcome you to our website.
Good men are attracted to Freemasonry in their search for enlightenment and to become better men. Masons believe in a God, religious tolerance, freedom and equality. We teach and practice temperance, fortitude, prudence and justice. We express our brotherly love and respect for each other and practice charity. Masonic charity extends not just to members of our Fraternity and their families, but to all mankind. We take seriously our duties to our God, our country, our neighbors, and our Fraternity. The charity of Masons and appendant groups composed of Masons is well-known worldwide.
Freemasons are great supporters of young people, recognizing the rare and precious opportunity given to responsible adults to attempt to lead, guide, and mentor them in paths of good citizenship. This Grand Lodge and Masonic Lodges in Virginia and elsewhere give vast numbers of scholarships to deserving students. There are also character-building and leadership organizations for young people that are sponsored and supported by Masons. We hope to assist and support these young people in ways that will benefit everyone’s future.
Although much of our ritual has a scriptural basis, we are a Fraternity, not a religion. Our symbols and teachings are largely based on the operative art of ancient stone masons, who worked in quarries and used hand tools and knowledge they had earned to build cathedrals and other magnificent works of architecture. Even the term “Worshipful” used as part of the title of the Master does not reference a religious characteristic. It is a remnant of our long history, documented in writing from the early 1700s in England when “your worship” was an honorary title of respect.
We pride ourselves on doing what is right, treating others as we ourselves would like to be treated, and striving for excellence in all we say and do. An added benefit is that we can travel in this country and around the world, and in almost every place we can be with a Brother in Freemasonry. That is the “Free” part of Freemasonry: free to travel among Masons and to practice our –now symbolic- craft as did Masons of the past after they had completed their apprenticeships and other training.
You also are “free” to roam the pages of our website. Find the Lodge in Virginia nearest to your home and learn who to contact there. Learn about our Grand Lodge Officers and programs, the things we do as a Fraternity, our publications and some of the benefits of being a Mason in the Commonwealth of Virginia. We are delighted to offer you more information about our gentle Craft.
You can contact the Grand Master through the Grand Secretary
Most Worshipful Vernon Stuart Cook was born in Richmond, Virginia on April 9, 1943, and has been a life-long resident of the Richmond area having spent the last fifty years in Hanover County. He was educated in the public schools in the City of Richmond and graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a Bachelors and Masters Degree in Administration of Justice and Public Safety. He is also a graduate of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's National Academy. Colonel Cook joined the Richmond Bureau of Police in June 1965, and worked his way through the promotional system to the rank of Major. During his twenty-five years with the Richmond Bureau of Police, he worked in every Division and served as Deputy Chief of Investigative Operations for twelve years. On August 1990, Colonel Cook was appointed Sheriff of Hanover County by Judge Richard H. C. Taylor and throughout his career, unanimously won re-election five times. Under his watch, this agency achieved its first international and state accreditation. He retired on September 16, 2010. In addition to his law enforcement career, he served as an adjunct faculty member at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College and at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Brother Cook was made a Master Mason in Metropolitan Lodge No. 11 on March 17, 1966. He is a 50-Year Masonic Veteran and a Life Member in Perpetuity and served as its Worshipful Master in 2009. He affiliated with Washington and Henry Lodge No. 344 on December 13, 2004, where he is also a Life Member in Perpetuity and served as its Worshipful Master in 2008. He was District Deputy Grand Master of Masonic District 15C in 2010. He has served on the Grand Lodge Committee on Finance and the Grand Lodge Committee on Security. Also, he was a member of the Commission on Background Investigation of Candidates. He was elected Grand Junior Deacon in November 2011 and was elected to the Office of Grand Master on November 12, 2016.
Brother Cook is a member of the Valley of Richmond, Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite and was invested Knight Commander Court of Honour in 2011 and coroneted a 33°Inspector General Honorary in 2015. He served as Venerable Master in 2013 and was appointed Personal Representative to the Sovereign Grand Inspector General in 2014. He is the President of the Richmond Scottish Rite Childhood Language Center. He holds membership in Washington Royal Arch Chapter No. 9, St. Polycarp Conclave, Red Cross of Constantine, Acca Shrine Center, Richmond Court No. 16, Royal Order of Jesters, and Fort Lee-Chapter No. 72, National Sojourners.
His professional and community involvement includes service on the Advisory Board for Curriculum Development at the Community College for the Criminal Justice Program, the Board of Directors at the Rappahannock Regional Criminal Justice Academy, and the Board of Directors for the Hanover Adult Care Center, where he currently is a member on the Honorary Board. He is a member of the Mechanicsville Businessmen's Association. He is also an active member of Enon United Methodist Church.
Brother Cook is married to the former Barbara Tyler, and they have three grown children, who were raised and educated in Hanover County, and they keep active with their six grandsons.