"To preserve the reputation of the Fraternity unsullied must be your constant care."

Sunday, February 03, 2019

Piers A. Vaughan Announced As 2019 Blue Friar

The Society of Blue Friars was founded in 1932 for the express purpose of recognizing outstanding Masonic authors. Authors like Arthur E. Waite, Harold V.B. Voorhis, Arturo de Hoyos, Thomas Jackson, Mark Tabbert, Robert G. Davis, Alton Roundtree, Michael R. Poll and Josef Wäges are just a few prior Blue Friar honorees. They even inducted this Dummy as Friar No. 101 back in 2012. Since 2004, the Grand Abbot of the Society has been Dr. S.Brent Morris, Masonic author, and editor of the Scottish Rite Journal and the Scottish Rite Research Society's annual Heredom collection.

Breaking with prior, longstanding tradition of announcing the Blue Friar at their annual meeting during Masonic Week, the Grand Abbott has announced the 2019 Blue Friar ahead of time as Piers A. Vaughan.

Worshipful Brother Piers Vaughan has one of the most diverse and fascinating backgrounds for the study and understanding (and explanation) of Masonic, appendant, and other esoteric orders you will ever encounter. Originally, he is from England, and he belongs to lodges in England, Canada, and the U.S. Throughout his life he has lived in several European countries, Canada, and now resides in New York. He has a Master's degree in Divinity and another in Experimental Psychology; experience in both the Anglican and Catholic denominations and traditions; an MBA in Business Studies; a teaching diploma in Music; and much, much more. 

Piers has made extensive studies in history, alchemy, language (he has translated many texts from French to English), symbolism, cultures—truly what anyone would acknowledge to be a "Renaissance Man." Appropriately, one of his most recent books is 2017's outstanding Renaissance Man & Mason.

He is also is the proprietor of Rose Circle Publications that is a source of other fascinating books along similar explorations of esoteric thought that mirror his eclectic mind and interests. 

Upon being named a new Friar, each inductee is expected to present a short paper at the Masonic Week gathering. Piers' topic will be "Did St. Martin Influence the RER Rituals?" 

If you are at Masonic Week on Friday February 22, 2019 be sure to stop in for 10:30 AM-11:45 AM - All are welcome to attend.

For info on Masonic Week go to: Masonic Week 2019

Saturday, February 02, 2019

GL of Utah Suspends Recognition of Prince Hall North Carolina


Oh, the troubles that arise when grand lodges dabble in foreign lands. 

The Grand Lodge F&AM of Utah has voted at its annual communication this past week to suspend recognition of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of North Carolina over its chartering of lodges in foreign countries. 

(NOTE: My original headline was slightly misleading, as recognition was suspended by Utah, not completely withdrawn, as I originally stated.)

Utah recognized the Prince Hall Grand Lodge in North Carolina back in 2009, and in fact, extended recognition before it was even requested. The current issue is one of irregular activity that North Carolina's new Grand Master has undertaken in Africa and France.

The current website of the MWPHGLofNC lists among its chartered lodges: My Brother’s Keeper Lodge #847 in Lille, France; , Lafayette Lodge #851 in Paris; Heart Of Africa Lodge #852 in the Republic of Cameroon, Africa; Nelson Mandela Lodge #854 in Paris; and The Faith Lodge #855, also in Cameroon. 

This all came up at the Conference of Grand Masters of North America in Indianapolis last year in the 2018 meeting of the Commission on Foreign Recognition. They were informed that the sovereign jurisdictions of the Grand Lodges of the Congo, Cameroon, and Ivory Coast had been invaded by the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of North Carolina. It's gone a bit further now.

According to a report given in Utah by Past Grand Master Glenn Cook:
On December 28, 2018, the new Grand Master of Prince Hall North Carolina announced intent to consecrate the “Grand Lodge Prince Hall – France” and to “inaugurate the temple of Prince Hall Benin’s Lodge.” This announcement has met with resistance from the Grand Lodge of Ancient Free & Accepted Masons, Republic of Liberia, describing the conduct of Prince Hall North Carolina as unmasonic. Not surprisingly, the Grand Lodge of Benin has described the behavior as irregular. The Grande Loge National Francaise has been equally strenuous in their objection to Prince Hall North Carolina forming a grand lodge in their territory without consent.
The Prince Hall Grand Lodge of North Carolina has clearly violated the jurisdiction of sovereign grand lodges, and is no longer practicing regular Freemasonry. It is therefore the recommendation of your Committee that this Grand Lodge suspend recognition of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of North Carolina until they remedy their illegal actions.
Indeed, on the MWPHGLNC website, there is a 'District France' web page with little information on it HERE.

If the issues are not resolved, there will be further brouhaha over it in the coming year. The Grande Loge Nationale Française will present more objections at the COGMMNA later this month, and at the very least, the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Liberia will certainly be bringing it before the Prince Hall Conference of Grand Masters in May.

I have written to Grand Master Daniel L. Thompson for some sort of statement or clarification that might shed some light on this matter, and will post it when or if he chooses to respond. 

Interestingly, their grand lodge website quotes John Donne, saying "No man is an island entire unto itself..."  Neither is a grand lodge when it comes to territorial claims. Why any American grand lodge or grand master would dip their toe into French Masonic territory,  much less the patchwork quilt of competing territorial claims throughout the various African nations already carved up by various foreign Masonic bodies or that have their own grand lodges, escapes my comprehension. It would just be a shame if the Prince Hall brethren of North Carolina lost amity with more U.S. grand lodges over some quixotic foreign experiment. 

Lest anyone attempt to claim Utah is acting out of some other ulterior motives concerning Prince Hall Freemasons, bear in mind that they recently achieved amity with the Prince Hall Grand Lodge in Texas, and just extended an invitation for recognition with the Prince Hall Grand Lodge in the District of Columbia.  No, this is about regular Masonic conduct that is expected of all Masonic bodies that are in amity with each other and seek to remain so.

(Supporting documents below. Click to enlarge.)

A question asked elsewhere is whether the GLNF or Liberia (or both, or any others) have withdrawn recognition of the MWPHGLofNC prior to Utah taking this action, which is a very fair question. I myself wonder if Utah jumped the shark by taking this action before the two aggrieved grand lodges involved did so. If so, this seems to be an unduly rash action on Utah's part, based on essentially two letters that were presented without any subsequent answers or statements by the PHGL of North Carolina or their Grand Master. Undoubtedly, there will be more information forthcoming.


More documentation has been forwarded to me, and can be seen below. Click images to enlarge.

• Invitation to upcoming consecration ceremony of a new "Prince Hall Grand Lodge - France"  by Grand Master Thompson of the MWPHGL of North Carolina to be held in Paris, set for February 16, 2019:

Former Grand Master of MWPHGLofNC
Toby Fitch (left), declaring Samuel D.
Badinga as the new GM of the Prince Hall
Grand Lodge of Congo (est. 2015).

• An expelled Freemason named Samuel Badinga (expelled in 2017 by the Nationale Grand Loge du Congo) appeared in North Carolina in early summer 2018, and requested authority from the MWPHGL of North Carolina to charter a new lodge in the West African nation of Benin. Apparently, GM Thompson's predecessor, PGM Toby Fitch, was unaware of Badinga's expelled status, and granted the charter. 

Badinga shows up on Facebook pages in July 2018 as the Grand Master of a recently established (2015) 'Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Congo,' which was consecrated by none other than the immediate Past Grand Master of the MWPHGL of North Carolina, Toby Fitch. 

It was PGM Fitch who first embarked on these African expansion plans, and GM Thompson appears to simply be following his lead. (Thompson was elected GM in December 2018.)

The Grand Lodge of Benin's (Grande Loge du Benin) Grand Master Benoît A. K. Kouassi subsequently expressed his strong objections in the following letter to Thompson last month: