Kerbela History

During the 1915 Imperial Council Session held in Seattle Washington, a group of Shriners belonging to Alhambra Temple and residing in the Knoxville area appeared before the Imperial Session requesting dispensation for a new Temple to be known as Kerbela and to be located in the city of Knoxville, Tennessee.

Prior to this time these Nobles traveled from Knoxville and other cities of Upper East Tennessee to Chattanooga for Shrine meetings, frequently by charter car on Southern Railway. Because of the distance involved it soon became apparent to these Nobles that they should have a Temple of their own.

The request presented in Seattle was granted. Dispensation to organize was approved on June 15, 1915. On the following July14,1915 the charter was approved.

There were 430 Charter Members, and the first election of officers was held on October 1, 1915. An elaborate program had been arranged for that day and Imperial Potentate J Putmn Stevens commissioned Past Imperial Potentate William B Melish to act as his special deputy at the constituting of Kerbela Temple and election of officers.

During the forenoon an informal reception for the visiting Nobles was held at the Hotel Imperial, and at noon Imperial William B Melish was the guest of honor at a luncheon held at the Cherokee Country Club. In the afternoon the members of Kerbela Temple were entertained at the Grand Theatre and by an open house held by the Knoxville Board of Commerce. At 6:30 pm the Nobility gathered to the number of more than eight hundred at the East Tennessee Building in Chilhowee Park where a barbeque dinner was served.

The ceremony of constituting the Temple under it’s charter was performed in Ancient Arabic form.

At 8:00 pm the first ceremonial session of Kerbela Temple was performed with a class of more than 20 members initiated as Nobles of the Mystic Shrine.Since that time Kerbela has prospered, and almost 60 years to the day Kerbela assisted in giving birth to Jericho Temple in Kingsport, Tennessee, when dispensation was granted to them at the Imperial Session in Toronto, Canada, on July 4, 1975.

Skyline of downtown Knoxville, Tennessee, USA.The major event of the last decade occurred in 1982 when Knoxville hosted the Worlds Fair “Expo 82”. the Imperial Council decided to display Shrinedom to the world and place a booth in the Fair for the six months run. The booth was manned primarily by Nobles from Kerbela Temple and was visited by more than 1 million people.

There have been lean years and full years and today Kerbela Temple stands on the threshold of a bright future!

Since Shrinedom is the playground of Masonry, the members fully realize the great value of fellowship and hospitality. They not only have a desire to play, but they have proven they are interested in those children who come into this world with twisted limbs and who sustain serious burns. These children look to their Big Brothers for necessary treatments that they might walk and assume a useful place in society.

In other words the motto of Kerbela Temple is : “The Shrine Plays and Pays that Crippled and Burned Children May Walk and Live a Normal Life”.