Hadji Temple is proud of its accomplishments and proud of all of it's members. Prior to receiving a charter for establishing Hadji Temple, most of the Shriners in Northwest Florida were members of Morocco Temple in Jacksonville. Historically Morocco is the mother Temple of all Shrine Temples in Florida, Georgia and Alabama. Morocco Temple was granted a charter dated March 30, 1888 and was the 42nd Shrine Temple chartered.
Hadji Temple received its dispensation, with the cooperation and approval of Morocco
Temple, on July 13, 1967, at 11:10:30 AM in Washington, D.C., at the 93rd Imperial Council Session of the Ancient Arabic Order of the Noble of the Mystic Shrine of North America. One thousand forty-eight were involved in the dispensation and great joy was in the heart of all those who had worked so hard in the birth of Hadji Temple. Though there was love and respect held for the mother Temple of Morocco, the challenge of building a Temple to serve the 12 Northwest Florida counties was great.
What led up to Northwest Florida having its own Temple would take too much space to tell about, but briefly, the idea commenced in 1945 at a meeting of Pensacola Shriners at the San Carlos Hotel. The ultimate aim of having a Shrine Temple in Northwest Florida commenced at the meeting. Although less than 30 were present, plans were discussed of having a Shrine Club chartered under Morocco Temple, which came about; and on June 5, 1945, a charter was granted to the Pensacola Shrine Club by Morocco Temple of Jacksonville. Noble J. A. Alvarez was appointed to serve as Chairman or President of the new club for the remainder of the year 1945. The first elected President was W.A. “Andy” Hibbert, who served in 1946.The first Ceremonial to initiate candidates was held in Pensacola in 1946, and this was the first time there had ever been a Shrine Ceremonial in Northwest Florida. Through the years, Pensacola Shrine Club flourished and, later, Morocco Temple chartered Panama City Shrine Club and Fort Walton Beach Shrine Club. The three Shrine Clubs in Northwest Florida grew and operated successfully. Pensacola Shrine Club became Morocco Temple's largest Shrine Club and, in later years, was one of the largest Shrine Clubs in all of North America. Many Temples throughout the United States were represented in the membership of the old Shrine Club or Morocco Temple in Northwest Florida.
Over the years, under Morocco Temple, the three Shrine Clubs in Northwest Florida accomplished much for Shrinedom, no small accomplishment of which was approximately #$50,000 being donated to the Greenville Unit of the Shrine Hospitals for Crippled Children.
There was a good bit of talk throughout the Northwest Florida area about ultimately having a Shrine Temple; and on one occasion prior to the birth of Hadji, a petition for dispensation to have a temple in Northwest Florida located in Pensacola was circulated and several hundred signature were obtained, fut the effort was not successful and was dropped. On another occasion , the Shriners in Panama City made tentative plans to obtain a Shrine Temple for Northwest Florida located in Panama City, but this effort was unsuccessful and dropped.
In the fall of 1966, under the leadership of the first Potentate of Hadji Temple, J. B. Hopkins, Pensacola's Shrine Club membership went to work to obtain the signing of petitions for dispensations to have a Temple in Northwest Florida to be located in Pensacola. Panama City and Fort Walton Beach Shrine Clubs memberships cooperated and worked on the project. A thousand Shriners, in good standing, were required. The task , though difficult, was successfully concluded with 1048 Shriners certified,who came from 68 different Temples in addition to Morocco Temple, with 897 Nobles coming from Morocco and 151 Nobles from the other 67 Temples.
At the granting of Hadji Temple's dispensation on July 13, 1967, J. B. Hopkins was then on Morocco Temple's elected Divan, where he had served for a number of years through the appointed Divan Chairs into the elected Divan. He was the Assistant Rabban and became Hadji Temple's first Potentate,serving through the dispensation year and until the Temple elections in 1969. Hadji Temple's official charter, following its dispensation year, was granted at the 94th Imperial Council Session in Chicago, Illinois, on July 11, 1968. the following, were members of Hadji's first Divan: Potentate J.B. Hopkins; Chief Rabban Ray Henry Schmidt; Assistant Rabban Preston E. McArthur; Recorder C. Ed Woods; 1st Ceremonial Master Herbert N. Mizell, Jr.; 2nd ceremonial Master Carlos G. Murr; and Captain of the
Guard John R. Bray.
Hadji Temple worked hard and prospered and by JANUARY 1, 1985 could proudly claim a membership of over 4,300 Nobles. During the preceding two years, with the cooperation of Hadji Temple, a group of Nobles from Panama City Shrine Club had been collection signatures on a petition to form a new Temple. This effort, which was spearheaded by Hadji past Potentate W. C. Hales and Divan member Roy . Bobo, culminated in July 1985 when, during the Imperial Session in Atlanta,dispensation was granted to form a Temple in Panama City, to be known as Shaddai. When the dispensation was granted, Hadji automatically lost 1,000 members and eight counties.
At this time Hadji has approximately 1,000 members and has exclusive jurisdiction over
Escambia, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa and Walton counties, with three Shrine Clubs – Fort
Walton Beach Shrine Club, Old Spanish Trail Shrine Club and Walton County Shrine Club.
Hadji's beautiful Temple is located on 35 landscaped acres at 800 West 9 Mile Road. We have the facility, we have the Nobility and we have the will to grow and perpetuate the world's greatest philanthropy, Shriner's Hospitals for Children. Our future looks bright.