“I do set My bow in the clouds”

Genesis 9:13

In the previous verse, God says there will be a sign of the new covenant promise He has made. God vowed to again never destroy the earth or wipe out all living things with a flood. Now He reveals that sign: the rainbow. More specifically, God says that He has set His bow in the cloud. The word for bow can be used as a battle bow, but the description of the bow being set on the occasion of clouds and being visible on the earth—along with the fact that the same word can be used for rainbow—makes it clear God is speaking of the rainbow. Genesis 9:1–17 continues God’s interaction with Noah and his sons following the flood. First, God blesses them and gives them specific instructions about how to live in this remade world. God commands them to reproduce and fill the earth, among other things. Next, God establishes His unilateral covenant to never again end all life on earth with a flood, offering the rainbow as a sign of this promise.

Thus, the context for in the spring of 1922 in McAlester at the former First Christian Church (now Apostolics of McAlester) Reverend W. Mark Sexson founded the International Order of The Rainbow for Girls. Rainbow prepares girls, ages 11 to 20, for responsible and purposeful adulthood by teaching leadership skills, encouraging unselfish service and promoting teamwork.

One evening in the spring of 1922, Rev. Sexson was asked to address members of South McAlester Chapter No 149, Order of the Eastern Star. Because DeMolay (young men’s Masonic organization) had come under his close study and observation during his Masonic activities, Rev. Sexson had become more and more aware of the fact that an organization for girls setting forth some of the truths of Masonry was necessary. His belief became a stirring appeal to the chapter for such an organization. This belief was shared by Sarah Church, the Worthy Matron, who urged him to write the ritual and whose officers first conferred the degrees of Rainbow on a class of 171. The degrees were first exemplified on April 6, 1922.

The Rainbow Founder Rev. Sexson was born in Arnica Springs, Missouri on July 8, 1877. By his, own definition he was a minister, poet, philosopher, naturalist, lecturer and world traveler. He was also a respected Masonic scholar and author who was firmly rooted in fraternal life. He was raised a Master Mason on April 26, 1902, at Bloomfield Lodge No.84, Bloomfield, Indiana. He affiliated with South McAlester Lodge No.96 in 1912 when he moved to Oklahoma to become the first Secretary of the Scottish Rite Bodies in McAlester. Rev. Sexson was a Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Oklahoma and a Past Grand Patron of the Grand Chapter of Oklahoma, Order of the Eastern Star. He was a Thirty-Third Degree Mason and a member of the Knights Templar, Royal Arch Masons, Royal & Select Masters, the Shrine, Grotto, and many other fraternal Orders. Rev. Sexson was also active in his community. He served as pastor of the First Christian Church from 1921-1923. He was also very active with the Red Cross. During World War 1, he was chairman of the Home Service Section of the Red Cross for Pittsburg County. He continued his association with the Red Cross and again served in many capacities during World War II.

As Rainbow continued to grow and prosper during the 1940’s and into the 1950’s, the headquarters at 319 East Washington Ave. was becoming too crowded for a growing organization. Plans began for the construction of the Supreme Temple in McAlester. These plans were approved by the House of Gold at the Biennial Session held in July 1950 in Long Beach, California. Two lots were purchased from Mrs. Mary B. McAlester and construction began on the new location at 315 East Grand Ave. (now Carl Albert Parkway.) The architects were Black and West of Tulsa, and the general contractor was Dewey Loveall of McAlester.

Construction on the building started in September 1950 and was completed in November 1951. Termed “the only building of its kind in the world,” the Supreme Temple is a three-story brick, steel, and concrete structure flanked on either side by half circle wings (symbolic of the Rainbow) composed of seven sections of glass windows representing the seven colors of the Rainbow. Materials for the building came from throughout the world. The red granite came from Minnesota, the brick from Texas, the stone from Indiana, the marble from Vermont, terrazzo chips from Italy, the hardware from Connecticut, the tile from California, the doors from New York, the windows from Florida, and the roofing and soil from Oklahoma. When construction was completed the cost of the building was $500,000, paid for with donations by Rainbow Girls from around the world. An open house for the McAlester community was held on November 18, 1951. Approximately 1,000 persons, including Masonic, Eastern Star and Rainbow dignitaries and members, as well as citizens of McAlester and surrounding communities, attended the open house and had the opportunity to tour the new Supreme Temple.

The most common symbols associated with the Rainbow Girls are a pot of gold, a rainbow, and two hands clasped together with the initials “BFCL” (for Bible, flag, constitution, and lambskin). Lambskin is a reference to the lambskin aprons worn by Freemasons.

The Seven Boy Stations from the Rainbow Girls ritual teach lessons about the colors of the rainbow and their corresponding virtues: Love (red) In all its forms, Religion (orange) The importance of religion in all its forms (based on love and forgiveness), Nature (yellow) Its importance in daily life, Immortality (green) The understanding of death is a part of life, Fidelity (blue) Emphasis on being honest and reliable, Patriotism (indigo) Encouraging citizenship to your country, Service (violet) Service to others which bind all the colors together.

In 2022 the International Order of the Rainbow for Girls will celebrate its’ 100th Anniversary and the Supreme Temple will be celebrating its’ 70th anniversary.

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