In 2009, the predominantly black Ancient Egyptian Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine of North and South Jurisdictions Inc. brought suit against the MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Virginia, stemming from what was essentially a battle over the Grand Master's and Grand Lodge's authority over the Shrine. Some 49 suspended members of Prince Hall-related organizations sued the 5,000 member Grand Lodge and the related Order of the Eastern Star for $50 million.
Now, the April 21-23, 2011 issue of the Richmond Free Press reports that the two sides in the dispute have finally settled after a court-ordered mediation. Under the terms of a March 28th agreement, the MWPHGLofV and the OES agreed to pay the Shrine $300,000, and to re-instate all suspended Masons and Star members. The money is essentially to cover the Shrine's court costs.
The MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Virginia was founded in 1875. The national Ancient Egyptian Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine of North and South Jurisdictions Inc. was founded in 1893, and is headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee. (It is not related in any way to the Tampa-based mainstream Shriners International). In 2009, the AEAONMS in Virginia had 718 members, and another 309 members of the related Daughters of Isis. Just like their mainstream Masonic counterparts, to be a member of the Shrine, one first has to be a Prince Hall Freemason.
According to the lawsuit, the trouble stemmed from an incident in 2006 at a benefit football game in Norfolk sponsored by the Shriners. Then-Grand Master Curtis S. Vaughan Jr. allegedly became upset that he was not treated with proper respect by the Shriners. As a result, the Grand Lodge exerted a claim that Shrine Chapters in Virginia were required to seek the Grand Lodge's permission to meet and hold programs in the state, and that the Shrine ignored the GL's authority. Vaughan and his successor, MW Larry D. Christian were accused by the plaintiffs of illegally suspending more than 100 Masons who refused to give up their Shrine membership. Likewise, the PHA-related Order of the Eastern Star suspended members who refused to give up their Daughters of Isis memberships.
In September 2010, newly elected Grand Master, M:.W:. Herman Eggleston Jr. made efforts to settle the case by revoking GM Christian's edict, and acknowledging the Shrine was a body independent of the Grand Lodge.
See: Lawsuit Between Virginia's Prince Hall Grand Lodge and Shrine
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