Temple History

History of Rissah Temple # 130

Written by Noble Timothy E. Crisler, P. P.

shriners.icon_copyFrom its very beginning, Rissah Temple #130 has been the hallmark of leadership, provided an opportunity for men of good will to meet and enjoy the pleasures of Noble brothers in the spirit of helpfulness and charity. Guided by certain principles of morality, Rissah Temple encourages its members to practice a way of life that will sustain a high standard in their relationships with their fellow Noble.  The history of Rissah Temple is a short, but fascinating one, and one that is shrouded in mystery and tradition.

The Origin of the Name “Rissah”

Rissah is the name derived from the bible and can be found in Old Testament in the fourth law book of Numbers in the 33 chapter, verses 21-22.  Rissah was a camping place of the Israelites. It was a campsite that the children of Israel used during their wandering in the wilderness.

Numbers chapter 33:1-49 is a brief review of the travels of the children of Israel through the wilderness. It is a memorable history. Thus is that of Rissah Temple. In their travels towards Canaan they were continually on the move. Such is our state as Nobles in this world; the Nobles of Rissah have here no continuing city, and all our moves in this world are but from one part a desert to another.

The Israelites were led to and fro, forward and backward, yet were all the while under the direction of the pillar of cloud and fire. God led them about, yet led them the right way, just as he has led Rissah Temple the right way for 66 years. Thus we ought to keep in mind the providences of God concerning us and our temple, and the many instances of that Divine care which has led us, and fed us, and kept us all our days hitherto.

There are not any periods of Rissah Temple’s history and the lives of the Nobles of our Mystic Shrine that can be thought upon, without reminding us of the Lord’s goodness, and his kindness leaves us without excuse for our longevity. We could not wish to travel over the temple’s hot sands again for the history we have passed, unless we could hope, by the grace of God, to shun the mistakes we then committed, and to embrace such opportunities of doing good as we have let slipped. All Nobles of the Ancient Egyptian Arabic Order of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine especially Rissah Temple know that just like our history, soon will our wanderings end, and our eternal state be fixed beyond recall; how important then is the present moment! Happy are those Nobles whom the Lord now guides with his counsel, and will at length receive to his glory. Behold now is the accepted time, now is the day of looking back and pressing forward.

The Beginning of A Legacy

Rissah Temple was charted on the first day of the month Ramoadon Hegira 1363 which answers to the 20th day of August, 1943 in the Oasis of Jackson, the Desert of Mississippi under the hand and seal of Noble Raymond E. Jackson, Imperial Potentate. Noble T. C. Almore was the charted Illustrious Potentate. His Chief Rabban was Noble Lee Hawkins and his Assistant Rabban was G. L. Anderson.

Much of the archived records and continuity of our local history is unaccounted for due to the untimely death of one of the temples first recorders. Therefore we have obtained some of our facts from the recollections of some of the organizations oldest members in terms of longevity.

Recorded in the sands of time is a list of Nobles who were privileged to have served as Illustrious Potentate of Rissah Temple.

  • T. C. Almore     1943-?
  • E. P. Brumfield    ?-December 1978
  • John R. Archer     January 1979-December 1982
  • George W. Roach     January 1983-December 1983
  • Wesley A. Thompson   January 1984-December 1984
  • Jesse L. Thompson   January 1985- December 1989
  • Osbey W. Beck, Jr.    January 1990-December 1992
  • Rev. Elbrist Mason    January 1993- December 1995
  • Christopher N. Jeffries   January 1996-December 1997
  • Wayne J. Goodwin   January 1998-December 2000
  • Rev. Toney L. Crisler  January 2001-December 2004
  • Glen M. Wilkerson, Sr.  January 2005-December 2008
  • Timothy E. Crisler         January 2009 – December 2012
  • Fredrick K. Wilson         January 2013-

Emerging out of the Temple of Rissah, were three Nobles who ascended to the high ranking office of Imperial Deputy of the Desert, Noble E. P. Brumfield, Noble Jesse L. Thompson and Noble Toney L. Crisler.

During the period from 1978 through 2009 the following Deputies of the Oasis presided: Noble J. I. Martin and Noble Osbey W. Beck Jr.

Other names associated with Rissah Temple that have impacted either the Masonic Community, or the Community at large are Noble Edgar Bridges Sr. Past Grand Master Emeritus of the Most Worshipful Stringer Grand Lodge, F& A.M. of Mississippi, Past Sovereign Grand Commander Emeritus, United Supreme Council of the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Southern Jurisdiction, Prince Hall Affiliated, Inc.

Rissah Temple #130 is primarily a benevolent, charitable and fraternal organization, its membership is dedicated to the principle of fostering civic, economic and educational development programs throughout Jackson and the state.

Throughout our illustrious history, Rissah continues to give extensive charity to its community. Some of the charity includes, but is not limited to; scholarships for three state historical African American Universities and the states two historical African American private four year colleges, the United Negro College Fund, voter education and voter registration drives, hosting a talent scholarship pageant, hosting a Sickle Cell Charity Breakfast, sponsoring a child identification program, participating in the State sickle cell awareness walk, feeding the homeless breakfast on Thanksgiving Day, visiting hospitals, working with youth, sponsoring a Christmas Dinner giveaway for less fortunate families in the community, support funding for the National Diabetes Initiative and the Prince Hall Shriners Foundation, Inc., and being leaders in our communities.

Rissah Temple #130 is the only temple in Mississippi and all over the USA, Alaska, Hawaii and Western Europe to host an Annual Talent Scholarship pageant gear for both young males and females.

During its 66 year, Rissah Temple had the wonderful pleasure of seeing another temple spring off its membership, thus giving birth to Chenzira Temple in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

From looking back and pressing forward our historic vision, mission and legacy remains strong and united. As Rissah Temple continues, it grows stronger and more determined. Currently Rissah has over one hundred forty-five Nobles as members. This fact makes this temple the largest Prince Hall Shriners Temple in the Domain.