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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Cleveland is Burning Again

The hot Masonic news making its way across the internet today is about Cleveland, Ohio's Halcyon Lodge No. 498:
On Monday, November 12th, at 8:10 PM, Halcyon Lodge No. 498 voted unanimously to surrender its charter to the Grand Lodge of Ohio and cease to recognize the authority of that Grand Lodge. Several of the brothers reassembled later that same evening for the purpose of forming amongst themselves a new Masonic lodge unaffiliated with the Grand Lodge of Ohio.

More news of the new lodge will follow.

Almost as quickly as it was announced on its website, the site seems to be down today, but according to a post on thebluelodge.org, it is now Halcyon Lodge No. 2 — although no purported Grand Lodge affiliation is claimed yet. Former Georgia Mason Jeff Peace has been associated with Halcyon over the last year – both philosophically and physically, as a speaker, webmaster and honorary member. Speculation is that Halcyon No. 2 is probably now part of the United Grand Lodge of America, if there is such a thing outside of the Internet and a few participants' wishful dreams.

This event is scarcely a surprise, given their activities over the last year or so. "Halcyon Charities" was set up in December 2006, and if I recall a flurry of postings by one of its more outspoken members, ownership of their impressive Temple was transferred to their charity – a somewhat transparent preemptive move to keep the building from reverting to the Grand Lodge of Ohio's ownership if they lost or gave up their charter. I do hope there is some mechanism by which Halcyon members who did not agree with giving up their charter can be allowed to transfer membership to another lodge. On the other hand, these men have not been shy or coy about what they were clearly planning to do, and shame on any Halcyon member who was too uninterested to make themselves aware of the impending change and plan accordingly.

The website for Halcyon Charities (again, shut down as of this writing) said that their goal was to "make this facility the cornerstone of a multi-faceted charitable enterprise focused on youth development. . . We already house youth athletic programs and will be initiating other youth-oriented cultural programs, including theatre, art, and music education. We will also support other charitable entities by opening our facility for their activities." I wish them the best in this noble purpose, even if I disagree with their methods.

An unknown Mason has posted a blogsite dedicated to the loss of several Masonic lodges in the Cleveland area. This is clearly the fate the Halcyon men are struggling to avoid. The odds are against them, given their most recent actions, but it's not my fight. Maybe they'll show us all. Maybe they'll be the first to show us a different path to the future of Masonry. I doubt it.

I hope they find what they are seeking by opting out of the GL of Ohio. As with all new ventures, there will be no one else to take the bows and credit from their successes, and no one to blame but themselves if they fail.

Having said all of that, I expect the full weight and wrath of the Grand Lodge of Ohio to now come down on them, with much legal precedent. I have suspected from the day I heard it that their transfer of assets to "Halcyon Charities" was illegal. And if the GL does NOT accept their charter back, it leaves open the very real possibility that the GL will appoint new officers and simply evict the young turks who started all of this mess. And it is likely that, given the sort of revolution they have tried to start, they have probably doomed the building they sought to save, by their own actions. The next few days will be . . . interesting.

19 comments:

  1. I agree with you Chris. It certainly is interesting to hear your insight into this matter.

    RickB
    www.goldenstatemasons.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have linked to this comment a longer discussion than I thought should be put in this space. I have questions about this action by Halcyon Lodge, which goes beyond this one incident, so I have put up a couple of articles with my thoughts in them. Not answers. Questions and thoughts.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I misunderstood the process. My link to my article is:
    http://freemasonfromthefreestate.blogspot.com

    Sorry

    ReplyDelete
  4. Bottom line, you simply can't do the things that Halcyon Lodge has done and expect your Grand Lodge to sit idly by. That the Grand Lodge of Ohio has waited this long to do anything is a testament to their willingness to find common ground. Unfortunately, as soon as Jeff Peace came on the scene, any attempted rapprochement with the Halcyon powers-that-be was doomed to failure.

    As Chris says, now the Grand Lodge of Ohio will have to act, and frankly I don't see where Halcyon Lodge has a leg to stand on.

    ReplyDelete
  5. This is an interesting question.... Should all the members of Anytown Lodge #100 choose to leave their Grand Lodge, what happens to their assets? Personally, I feel that if every member is truly unhappy with their Grand Lodge, yet still wishes to practice "Masonry" they have the right to leave their GL and go off to whatever GL they may choose or who would choose to have them. On the other hand, those assets were acquired while under the jurisdiction of that particular GL and if their Masonic Law is similar to Indiana's, the assets become the property of the GL. If they have been planning to leave their GL and they moved assets to a location where they might shelter it from the GL, that's un-Masonic in my opinion. Their GL should go back through that Lodge's books and look for those assets and take time to see if every member is in agreement with breaking from the GL. Those assets were obtained under the jurisdiction of that GL. They should remain within it.
    That's my $.02.
    Fraternally,
    Chris Kimmel, WM
    Vincennes Lodge #1

    ReplyDelete
  6. I don't know anything about Jeff Peace or Ohio Masonry, but, as Mason's, I'm relatively confident that they swore to uphold the laws, by-laws, and edicts of the Grand Lodge...

    Very un-Mason like actions on Halcyon's part.

    Bart L. Brown
    Moody Lodge #719
    Valdosta, GA

    ReplyDelete
  7. It seems they have done a foolish thing indeed and will pay the price for their hubris in time. What I don't get is how the linhk to gingerman's page has anything to do with this or am I just obtuse and not seeing the subtext? As always, Brother Chris, I am gratefu to you and your blog for appraising me of Masonic affairs outside my own Lodge.
    Fraternally,
    Rich Gaspers Jr.
    Upland/Mt. Baldy Lodge #419 F & A.M.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Cleveland is burning and I guess you can see the light of our taper in Indiana...

    Enjoy the light you may learn something,

    Halcyon Free Mason

    ReplyDelete
  9. I agree. The Grand Lodge of Ohio should spare no expense in retaining the Lodge building, and should rally remaining Halcyon members, appoint new officers, and trademark the name "Halcyon Lodge."

    ReplyDelete
  10. The Grand Lodge of F & A M Ohio code:

    Sec 11.09 Property Surrendered with Charter.

    When the Charter of a Lodge is arrested or surrendered, the Charter, records,
    and all other personal property of such Lodge strictly Masonic in character,
    execpting money and securities other than unpaid Grand Lodge Dues, shall
    be vested in The Grand Lodge, and be at its disposal.


    You may breath now.

    ReplyDelete
  11. A Radical Idea
    Imagine, for a moment, a Grand Master armed with both the vision to dream an
    unbounded future for Freemasonry and the courage to pursue the dream.
    Looking around, he sees the glaring disconnect between the mindless repetition
    of today’s rote “tradition” and the core purpose and core values that Freemasonry
    used to represent. Seeking to recapture that which was lost, he creates a new
    haven for experimentation—an at-large Grand Master’s district. The purpose for
    this special district is to create a home for new lodges to creatively explore new
    and innovative ways to practice the timeless core of Freemasonry in a manner
    relevant to today. Freed (by special dispensation) from the weight of rules,
    regulations, and district deputy grand masters, these lodges answer only to the
    Grand Master himself, who in turn, wisely, benevolently, gives them the freedom
    to create, be fruitful, bountiful, and multiply!
    Alas, we all know that the above scenario is all but impossible in the oppressive
    climate that governs grand lodges. So, if grand lodges will not suffer creativity,
    will not suffer successful lodges to orbit their Grand Hairball, then perhaps the
    time has come for those lodges that dare to accelerate to escape velocity and,
    following the challenge of Dr. Harari, start with a new dream, a bold vision with
    audacious goals.13
    The challenge, according to MacKenzie, is to orbit the Giant Hairball, which
    means to actively engage in the opportunities that an organization presents
    without being sucked into the Hairball of the organization.14
    Orbiting is responsible creativity: vigorously exploring
    and operating beyond the Hairball of the corporate
    mind set, beyond “accepted models, patterns, or
    standards”—all the while remaining connected to the
    spirit of the corporate mission.
    To find Orbit around a corporate Hairball is to find a
    place of balance where you benefit from the physical,
    intellectual and philosophical resources of the
    organization without becoming entombed in the
    bureaucracy of the institution.15
    The challenge to the Hairball is to allow people to achieve orbit. But the more
    massive the Hairball grows, the greater gravitational pull it exerts, sucking
    everything into the “nothingness of corporate normalcy made stagnant by a
    compulsion to cling to past successes.”16 In such cases, orbiting may not be
    possible (nor tolerated by the Hairball), leaving one with the stark choice of
    remaining to be suffocated by the soul-crushing rule of what worked in the past
    or flying out into deep space, liberated, but alone.
    A very recent occurrence provides an example of what can happen to lodges that
    dare try to orbit the Grand Hairball. A few years ago, a group of young men
    dedicated themselves to reinvigorating their local lodge in Cleveland, Ohio. The
    newly renamed Halcyon Lodge, #498 F & AM, beholden to the Grand Lodge of
    Ohio, has a rich history going back to 1877. They occupied a magnificent temple,
    which sadly, in a refrain all too familiar to most masons, was deteriorating due to
    lack of attention and money. The building was home to a number of nonproductive
    masonic tenants and little else.
    The young men of Halcyon Lodge decided that it was time to take aggressive
    action. First, they raised their outdated and grossly insufficient annual lodge dues
    to $150. This caused a mass defection of “veteran” masons who apparently did
    not think that their masonic experience was worth 42 cents a day. Had any who
    were truly in distress asked for remission, it certainly would have been granted.
    None did.
    Next, the men of Halcyon Lodge took on their non-productive masonic cotenants.
    They asked them to pay their arrearages and begin contributing to the
    restoration of the Temple building. Their masonic brethren answered this call by
    abandoning the temple to find cheap space in some other crumbling masonic
    edifice. Ultimately, the men of Halcyon were left in sole possession of a tenantless
    building that needed work. So they rolled up their sleeves and set to work!
    They restored the grandeur of their lodge room, the elegance of their dining hall,
    and added amenities like wireless Internet, HDTV, and workout equipment. But
    they did not stop there. Seeing the opportunity in their underutilized asset, they
    endeavored to build out rooms to serve the non-masonic community as well.
    After meeting with their local youth boxing association (a 501(c)(3) charity), they
    built a boxing ring! Their aim was to reimagine their heretofore mostly empty
    temple into a vibrant community center that could once again teem with life.
    Then, this lodge full of enthusiastic young men did the unthinkable: they gave
    their shining temple away! One of the largest budget items for any lodge that
    owns a temple building is real estate taxes. In Ohio, fraternal groups are not
    exempt from real estate taxes; but charities are. So, in an inspired maneuver, the
    young men of Halcyon Lodge formed a charity for the community and gave their
    building and a substantial sum of money to this new charity that was created to
    serve not just masons, but the community at-large. Now they could not only
    claim an exemption from the heavy burden of real estate taxes, but they could
    grant deductions from Federal income taxes for donations made to the entity.
    And as their mission had expanded to serving the community as a whole, they
    could now solicit support from that community.
    Along the way these young men also embraced the Traditional Observance Lodge
    movement, adopting TO practices like use of a Chamber of Reflection and an
    intensive candidate education program. They created an impressive web site that
    quickly became recognized as being one of the best lodge-hosted web sites on the
    Internet.
    So, these enthusiastic, dedicated young men: revived their lodge, attracting new
    young candidates to Freemasonry that had previously not found anything there
    to interest them; restored their magnificent temple building; invited the
    community into their newly restored building, turning a once mysterious
    building into a hub of community activity (and exposing many people to
    Freemasonry for the first time in the process); and solved the intractable real
    estate tax problem by transferring their building to a 501(c)(3) charity. Any one
    of these feats would be impressive, but the young men of Halcyon Lodge did them
    all in less than three years!
    And what was the Grand Lodge of Ohio’s response to their inspired success? Was
    their success acknowledged? Were they asked to share their model as a template
    for other lodges to follow? Were they even given an “atta-boy” from any grand
    lodge officer? No. They were investigated, intimidated, castigated, probated, and
    threatened. Why? Power and control, as always. In Ohio, the grand lodge tightly
    regulates temple companies that own masonic buildings. In the eyes of the grand
    lodge officers, the real estate transaction must have seemed like a plot to free
    Halcyon Lodge from the power and control of the grand lodge, and that they
    could not suffer.
    Apparently, they did not care that the Halcyon Model made good sense or even
    that it was wildly successful; all that mattered was their power and control.
    Ultimately, on November 12, 2007, the brothers of Halcyon Lodge returned their
    charter to the Grand Lodge of Ohio following a visit by a delegation of grand
    lodge officers sent to threaten them into submission.17 Apparently, the Grand
    Lodge of Ohio will suffer no orbiting satellites, no matter how successful they
    may be.
    Perhaps in the end, the need for grand lodges is more illusion than reality. Like
    the Wizard of Oz, grand lodges attempt to project an image of being great and
    powerful, but if you follow Toto and look behind the curtain, all too often you find
    petty men, frantically turning knobs and pulling levers in a vain attempt to
    appear more important than they really are. In order to encourage and organize
    the creation of new lodges, eliminate the artificial divisions of state boundaries,
    and liberate lodges from the whims of petty men vested with a little brief
    authority, perhaps it’s about time we begin exploring a new organizational
    structure for the 21st Century that is independent of the antiquated grand lodge
    system. Exploring this new organizational structure is the topic in the next and
    concluding section, Freemasonry 3.0.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hello Worshipful Chris & Brethren,
    Might you or one of the Brethren give us an update on what has happened with the Halcyion situation. I am curious as to what has happened in the court system? If rightful ownership has been decided and ownership given back to the Grand Lodge of Ohio and those members that were not part of the takeover? How are the real Halcyon Brethren doing and are they meeting regularly? I am sure many of the Brethren are curious. This entire Halcyon situation and the allowing a small group of men to act on behalf of the entire Lodge (without the permission of all the members) needs to be a wake up call to members that pay their dues and do not attend Lodge regularly. Brethren, if but once a month please attend your Stated Meetings. a Try to attend when you can. Your Lodges safety, assets and existance can depend on it.

    Sincerely & Respectfully,
    Manny Blanco,PM
    Moreno Valley Masonic Lodge # 804
    Moreno Valley, CA
    Grand Lodge of California

    ReplyDelete
  13. Dear Chris,
    Thank you also for asking people to sign their posts and explaining how it is viewed when they are not..

    S & F,
    Manny Blanco,PM
    Moreno Valley Masonic Lodge # 804
    Moreno Valley, CA
    Grand Lodge of California

    ReplyDelete
  14. Worshipful Bro. Chris,

    What happened with the lawsuit against HALCYON LODGE vs. the Grand Lodge of Ohio?

    Just Curious.

    David Fernandez
    Worshipful Master
    Lorenzo De Zavala Lodge No.1397
    www.ldz1397.org

    ReplyDelete
  15. Pretrial activity is still going on. No resolution yet.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Just in time for Christmas there's a reason for the brothers of Halcyon Lodge,
    http://www.halcyontemple.org/,
    in Cleveland, Ohio to celebrate. Earlier today the following was posted on the Clerk of Courts website for Cuyahoga County.

    DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT ARE GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART. SUMMARY JUDGMENT IS GRANTED IN FULL AS TO NON-OFFICERS MICHAEL HOWARD, JOEL MICHALEK, CHRISTOPHER MICHALEK, TOME COSTE, HALCYON CHARITIES. SUMMARY JUDGMENT IS GRANTED IN PART AS TO DEFENDANT OFFICERS CHRIS SNOW, TODD WARMINGTON, LYNN ERIC CHIPPS, SCOTT KELLY. ONLY ISSUE THAT REMAINS FOR TRIAL IS RETURN OF "PERSONAL PROPERTY MASONIC IN NATURE AND UNPAID DUES." ALL OTHER CLAIMS FAIL. DEFENDANTS OWED NO FIDUCIARY DUTY TO GRAND LODGE AND DEFENDANTS ACTED IN GOOD FAITH TO PRESERVE ASSETS OF LODGE. THE COURT FINDS THAT THE VOTE TO TRANSFER ASSETS WAS DONE IN ACCORDANCE WITH BYLAWS. IN REGARDS TO NOTICE, ALL HAD NOTICE OF THE STATED (NOT SPECIAL) MEETING AND NO EVIDENCE WAS PRESENTED THAT ANYONE COMPLAINED. THE COURT ALSO DETERMINES THAT WRITTEN NOTICE OF THE ACTION WAS NOT REQUIRED BEFORE THE VOTE ACCORDING TO BYLAW 21.04, WHICH REQUIRES NOTICE ONLY FOR SPECIAL MEETINGS NOT STATED MEETINGS. FINALLY, THE COURT CONCLUDES THAT BYLAW 9.01 IS NOT APPLICABLE AS "ANY OTHER SUCH POLICY OF TEMPLE OWNERSHIP *** SUBMITTED TO TEMPLE COMMITTEE" AS THE ACTION WAS NOT FINANCING OR CREATING INDEBTEDNESS. PRE-TRIAL SET FOR 01/12/2010 AT 02:45 PM. PRETRIAL SET TO SCHEDULE ADDITONAL COURT DATES INCLUDING TRIAL DATE. CLPAL 12/22/2009 NOTICE ISSUED


    Bro Tom Coste

    ReplyDelete
  17. hello?
    Where's all the haters now?

    ReplyDelete
  18. Bro. Chris,

    What was the final outcome on this?? Is it still in the court system?

    Thanks,
    David Fernandez III, PM
    Lorenzo de Zavala Lodge No. 1397
    Houston, Texas

    ReplyDelete
  19. They seem to be doing well. They mention Chris in a favorable light.

    ReplyDelete

ATTENTION!
Kindly sign your comment posts. Anonymous postings on Masonic topics have the same status as cowans and eavesdroppers, as far as I am concerned, and may be deleted if I don't recognize you or if I'm in a grumpy mood.