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


Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Speaking Tonight at New York's Adelphic-Union Lodge 14 (PHA)

by Christopher Hodapp

I'll have the honor of speaking tonight in New York at Adelphic-Union Lodge 14 of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge F&AM State of New York. The gavel sounds at 7:00PM.

Many thanks to Worshipful Master Wilbert Green and his brethren for their kind invitation. I'm very much looking forward to being there. 

Adelphic-Union 14 meets in The Prince Hall Masonic Temple located at 454 W. 155th Street in Harlem (between Amsterdam and St. Nicholas Avenues.)

Historic Adelphic-Union Lodge was originally chartered as No. 7 on May 11th of 1863 by the United Grand Lodge of the State of New York. It became No. 14 under the present Prince Hall Grand Lodge of New York when the United and National Compact Grand Lodges consolidated in 1878-79. Joint recognition with the Grand Lodge of New York was achieved in 2001.

All Master Masons are welcome to attend. 

For more information and to give the lodge some idea of how many brethren to expect, check their Facebook page for the event HERE. 

Last night, I had a great time visiting John Philip Sousa Lodge 1192 at the Grand Lodge of New York's incredible Temple. Many thanks to everyone for the warm welcome. The lodge was chartered in 2019. 

They meet in the beautiful Renaissance Room of the Temple.

I also had a rare chance to get a glimpse of the private room of Kane Lodge, which has been the Masonic home to countless famed world explorers over the last 150 years or so. The only lodge social room I've ever seen that had its own polar bear.

I keep humming the club song from the Adventurer's Club now... Kungaloosh!

Monday, March 27, 2023

Grand Master Shuts Down Job's Daughters in Michigan

by Christopher Hodapp

The Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Michigan, MW Leonard K. Davis, has just issued an official edict that revokes all support and association with Job’s Daughters International, a Masonic-related youth group for girls within his jurisdiction. 

Edict 2022-2 reads, in part:

That no Master Mason within the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Michigan can or will be allowed any office, station or place within any Guardian Council, Grand Guardian Council or Supreme Guardian Council, nor will any Michigan Mason be allowed to sponsor, advise, or associate with in any way Jobs Daughters International. Further, No Jobs Daughters International Bethels are allowed to meet in any Michigan Masonic Centers, Buildings, Halls or Temples. Further [sic], the Grand Lodge of Michigan nor any of its subsidiary corporations or lodges are allowed to financially support Jobs Daughters International. This edict will remain in place until such time as it is removed by the Grand Lodge of Michigan.”

 (Click images to enlarge, or view online at https://michiganmasons.org/news-events/)

The landing page of the Michigan Job's Daughters Grand Bethel has been scrubbed of information and directs all questions to their secretary. 

Some background: Job’s Daughters International is a Masonic Youth Group for girls, headquartered in Papillon, Nebraska.  When it was founded in the early 20th century, the organization required a girl to have a Masonic family relationship or sponsor, but that qualification was dropped several years ago. Job's is an international organization with individual chapters called ‘bethels’ in the US, Canada, Brazil, the Philippines and Australia. It is unique amongst the Masonic youth groups in that the adult leaders at all levels are elected and term limited. Based on the number of bethels in a state, some have their own elected Grand Bethel (daughters) and Grand Guardian Council (adults) that are in charge of running the state, while others simply fall under the international Supreme Guardian Council’s jurisdiction with a person designated by that body to oversee their the state.

There is a youth protection program run by the Job's Board of Trustees (who are also elected), and any adult involved with children must complete a background check and be a Certified Adult Volunteer (CAV). If there is an incident reported, there is supposed to be an investigation, and an appeals process is in place.

In Michigan recently there was an incident that resulted in one adult’s CAV designation being revoked; in this incident it was claimed an adult physically struck a child, there was a CAV violation report filed by an uninvolved party. But according to multiple sources, there are several witnesses who claim that the alleged event did not happen as reported (the adult is 21 and the Daughter was her own younger cousin). There was no investigation, neither the adult nor the youth were interviewed — the woman’s CAV was summarily revoked. (There have been rumblings that the complaint was filed in retribution for things that happened in the past — hard to verify in the light of flying email accounts and commentary.)

According to one insider, the Youth Protection program is specifically in place to protect members from harm, not to discipline adults for things unrelated to use safety. Objections were immediately raised regarding not following the official process of Job’s Daughters — the four adult leaders who questioned the process subsequently had their own CAV status revoked, including three elected state officers.

When Michigan Grand Master Davis got wind of all this rumpus, he requested a meeting with the state and national Job’s leadership. They reportedly agreed to meet, but never showed up. For whatever reason, they simply chose not to respond after that, and even dodged him at the Conference of Grand Masters in Alexandria, Virginia last month.

Two male members of the international Supreme Guardian Council were Michigan Masons, and the Grand Master apparently declared that if the Supreme Guardian Council wouldn’t meet with him, they would be suspended. He apparently asked for a review of the decisions and an assurance that they were made in accordance with their own internal policy. 

In the face of all this, the Supreme Guardian Council suspended the charter of the Grand Guardian Council of Michigan two weeks ago, eliminating all the elected officers of Michigan Job’s Daughters, both adults and youths.  According to the letter, if a state Grand Bethel is dissolved, its property and management reverts to the Supremes.

Supreme Guardian Maureen Wise issued a letter incorrectly claiming the GM had suspended these two Masons on March 13th, and that he had issued an "edict" that hadn't actually happened yet. (Click document below to enlarge)

For Michigan’s Job’s Daughters' charter to be returned, the Supreme Guardian demanded the Grand Master of Masons in Michigan revoke his "edict" in writing. Additionally, all appeals filed in accordance with the youth protection plan must be withdrawn, as should any filed lawsuits. 

Grand Master Davis responded to Wise's letter on March 20th, laying out the chain of events as he knew them, and contradicting much of what she had claimed:

Obviously, his questions and demands were not met over the last week, hence his very real edict issued today.

Unfortunately, when a youth group’s so-called adult leadership begins acting worse than a bunch of splenetic teenagers at a vindictive dodgeball grudge match, the children they’re supposed to be guiding and mentoring wind up the only real losers. No grand master anywhere wants to have a noisy internal donnybrook going on in his jurisdiction, especially when it’s in an appendant, concordant or other related organization. When these fights get escalated, it would be wise for appendant leaders to remember that GMs always hold the winning hand in their state and can kick the whole poker table over. Ignoring his communications is the quickest way to have that happen.


Saturday, March 25, 2023

Grand Master Renders Official Decision on Transgenders and Masonry in Texas

Grand Lodge of Texas

by Christopher Hodapp

The Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Texas AF&AM, MW G. Clay Smith, has just rendered an official decision (Grand Master's Decision No. 1) concerning transgenderism within his jurisdiction. 

He was asked if the Constitution and Laws of the Grand Lodge of Texas allow biological women whose gender identity or gender expression is now male to become Masons. The short answer is no. The Constitution of the Grand Lodge of Texas is silent on the subject, and so he falls back on the Ancient Charges to render a decision.

Grand Master G. Clay Smith

His complete ruling can be seen below, but to paraphrase the meat of his answer: 
    1. A biological woman ("an individual who was assigned female at birth") cannot be a Texas Mason.
    2. A transgender man ("an individual who was assigned female at birth whose gender identity or gender expression is now male") cannot be a Texas Mason.
    3. A transgender woman ("an individual who was assigned male at birth whose gender identity or gender expression is now female") cannot be a Texas Mason.

anderson- constitutions- 1723 | Rabaut-Saint-Etienne

Citing the male-only origins of the fraternity as found in Article III, Section 3 of the Ancient Charges as published by Dr. James Anderson in his 1723 Constitutions, he says:

"[T]he Old Charges must be understood in the context in which they were written and at the time they were incorporated into our Constitution adopted in 1920, not given new meaning based on current  attitudes and practices among some concerning gender and or other matters. Anyone who desires to become a Mason, and any Mason who wishes to remain in our fraternity, must be a man, as Dr. Anderson understood men to be in 1722, and as our Texas forbearers understood them to be at the time of adoption of our current Constitution."

The Decision goes on:

"It is important to understand that this decision does not constitute a judgement of this Grand Lodge, moral or otherwise, on the issues of gender identity, gender expression, or transgender issues. As in the case of spiritual and political matters, every Mason is free to form a private opinion on the subject. The Grand Lodge of Texas is forever committed to individual freedom of conscience and personal liberty in every lawful pursuit. However, not every such pursuit qualifies an individual to become a Mason."

The entire Decision can be seen below. Click image to enlarge.

Many suppose that dealing with transgenderism is a relatively new topic to be confronted by the fraternity, but it's not. Several decades ago, a midwestern grand lodge went through a lawsuit brought by an existing member who underwent gender reassignment surgery to become a woman, and then fought ferociously to remain a Mason in "her" lodge. The suit failed, as the judge fell back on a common practice in lawsuits involving voluntary membership associations: because the Grand Lodge's rules and by-laws stipulated that all members must be men, and that members agree in their initiation to abide by the rules of the fraternity, the plaintiff had no grounds to sue. But that was more than 30 years ago, and society has changed dramatically.

England's Answer

In 2018, the United Grand Lodge of England issued an official "Gender Reassignment Policy". It reads, in part:


A candidate for admission to Freemasonry under UGLE must be a man. Should a person who has undergone gender reassignment and has become a man apply to become a Freemason then his application must be processed in the same way as for any other male candidate.

Any qualified candidate for admission may be proposed for membership of a private lodge in accordance with the provisions in the Rules contained in the Book of Constitutions. No candidate should be subjected to questions about their gender which could make them feel uncomfortable.


A Freemason who after initiation ceases to be a man does not cease to be a Freemason. We expect that Freemasons will act with compassion and sensitivity towards their fellow Freemasons.

We hope that no Freemason would engage in unwanted conduct relating to another Freemason’s actual or perceived gender reassignment or gender transition. Such conduct would not only be unmasonic but is also unlawful if it has the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of, or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for, the victim. 

A Freemason who becomes a woman is not required to resign from the Craft.
If a person resigns from the Craft then they and their dependants might no longer be eligible for some of the benefits provided by the Masonic charities now or in the future.

A Lodge may vote to exclude any member for sufficient cause. The following grounds would constitute unlawful discrimination and so could never constitute sufficient cause:
a. The fact that a member has legally become a woman;
b. A mistaken belief that a member has legally become a woman;
c. The fact that a member is in the process of transition from male to female; or
d. A mistaken belief that a member is in the process of transitioning from male to female. 

Similarly, a Lodge must not attempt to persuade a member to resign from the Lodge or discriminate against a member based on any of these grounds. A Lodge must not at any time require a member to prove that they are legally a man.

The situation in England is more complex because English discrimination laws are different from the U.S. Back in 2018, the Brexit vote hadn't taken place yet, and the U.K. was subject to European Union rulings by their Court of Human Rights, as well. Freemasonry is protected under English laws, along with European Union laws from legal accusations of gender discrimination because of the fraternity's long-established, male-only admissions criteria. UGLE is officially recognized in England and Wales under the law as a single-sex association.

The problem arose, however, when existing UGLE Masons chose to undergo gender reassignment, which is when English law kicked in. The UGLE's male-only status does not protect them from accusations of discrimination against their existing members. According to a Huffington Post article published at the time, under the Gender Recognition Act 2004 and the Equality Act 2010 a biological man who has joined the Freemasons cannot be excluded after transitioning because gender reassignment is a protected right under the law.

One interesting side observation is that the UGLE has an extraordinarily pragmatic view concerning female Freemasons. Bring up "wimmin in the lodge" as a Redditt/Twitbook/Facetwit discussion topic, and stand back: the incoming barrage of anger from just mentioning the subject is like being condemned by the Portuguese Inquisition for heresy. 

Not so in England. When a woman asks about joining at the Great Queen Street headquarters of the Grand Lodge, they cheerfully direct her to the two different female Masonic grand lodges in London that represent a combined membership of more than 50,000 lady Masons (the Order of Women Freemasons with about 4,000 members; and the Honourable Fraternity of Ancient Freemasons (HFAF for Women) with In fact, when UGLE celebrated its 300th anniversary in 2017, the two female grand masters were invited to the ceremonies. It's common to find English Masonic halls with female Masonic lodges, and all three of these grand lodges cooperate on the Universities Scheme to promote the fraternity colleges and universities around the country.

Thursday, March 23, 2023

2023 Sankey Lecture: Heather Calloway Sunday 3/26

by Christopher Hodapp

The Grand Lodge of AF&AM of Canada in the Province of Ontario has a unique relationship with the part of the academic world that studies our fraternity. The annual Dr. Charles A. Sankey Lecture in Masonic Studies at Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario is presented each year through a unique partnership with the Grand Lodge. Since 2010, the Sankey Lecture has presented significant academic scholars who specialize in Freemasonry or fraternalism, and in recent years, these have been recorded and made available online HERE.

Dr. Heather Calloway will be the presenter for this year's 14th annual Sankey Lecture, this coming Sunday, March 26th from 3:00pm - 5:30pm. Her program will be "Skeletons in the Lodge Hall: Hidden Collections and Fraternal Curiosities," followed by a Masonic 'Antique Roadshow.'

The Marie Kondo Method. Swedish Death Cleaning. “Hoarders” reality TV shows. Downsizing.

De-cluttering is a hot trend in our heavily material culture.

At risk, however, is the loss of culturally significant objects and entire collections of ephemera, records, and artifacts.


Dr. Heather K. Calloway, the current Executive Director of University Collections at Indiana University, is working to manage and preserve collections of fraternal organizations, namely, the Freemasons, that are at serious risk of being discarded.

“Whether a lodge is moving, closing, or downsizing their space, the collections amassed by fraternal groups are at risk of being orphaned… They are often stored in closets, basements, and attics where environmental and storage conditions are abysmal. There is little or no emergency planning for these objects,” says Dr. Calloway.

Dr. Calloway will be presenting her lecture, “Skeletons in the Lodge Hall: Hidden Collections and Fraternal Curiosities,” at the 14th Annual Charles A. Sankey Lecture Series on Sunday, March 26th, in Sean O’Sullivan Theatre.


“We are always excited when the Sankey Lecture comes around,” says archivist David Sharron, the Head of Archives and Special Collections at the Brock Library. “Hearing presenters like Heather Calloway and the attending Masons and scholars speak about Freemasonry so intelligently and passionately makes us feel secure that the Masonic book collection we have at Brock will always be needed and regarded in the best light.

As a part of the event, which is back in person for the first time since 2019, Dr. Calloway will be bringing some objects from the Indiana University’s collection of Freemason objects. Along with Mr. Sharron, she invites members of the public to bring in their own Freemason objects to discuss their historical significance.

Dr. Calloway notes that, “Fraternal history and material culture is found everywhere. It is held by private groups, archives, public and academic libraries, historical societies, and museums… Without action to address these needs for collection stewardship, many are at high risk for damage or loss.”

When: Sunday, March 26, 2023, 3:00 pm.
Where: Sean O’Sullivan Theatre 
Please reserve your FREE TICKETS in advance at Eventbrite.

RECEPTION: After the Lecture there will be a reception (from approx. 5:30 to 6:30 pm). All attendees are welcome to stay to chat with the speaker and with members of the Brock and Masonic communities. Light refreshments will be offered free of charge, and a cash bar will be available.

FREEMASON "ANTIQUES ROADSHOW": At the reception attendees are welcome (if they wish) to bring easily portable Masonic or related possessions that might have a historical or personal meaning. While they will not attempt to suggest a monetary value, Prof. Heather Calloway and David Sharron (Brock's University Archivist) will be on hand to discuss the possible significance of your items and strategies for preserving them in the best way possible.

LIVESTREAM OPTION: For those who cannot attend in person, there will also be a livestream during the Lecture. To view the livestream, use your browser to go to http://live.sankeylectures.ca. Participation in the Freemason "Antiques Roadshow" will not be possible via the livestream.

More details can be found on ExperienceBU.

Heather Calloway is currently serving as the Executive Director of University Collections at Indiana University. She spent 14 years at the headquarters of the Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction's House of the Temple in Washington, D.C., as the Museum Curator and Managing Director of Digital and Social Media. She's also served as the inaugural archivist for the Archives & Special Collections at Washington College, the University Archivist for the Perdue Museum and Archives at Salisbury University, and as the Librarian/Archivist for the Franciscan Monastery in Washington, D.C.

She is also heading up the creation of Indiana University's Center for Fraternal Collections and Research in Bloomington, Indiana, devoted to the collecting, protecting, and sharing of artifacts from the world of fraternal organizations. Along with the most famous groups like the Freemasons, the Odd Fellows, the Knights of Pythias and the Knights of Columbus, there were over a thousand similar groups that were established during the "Golden Age of Fraternalism" between the end of the American Civil War and the Great Depression of 1929.

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Anniversary of the Death of Jacque DeMolay

Today, March 18th marks the 709th anniversary of the death of Jacques de Molay,  the last Grand Master of the Poor Fellow Soldiers of Christ, the Knights Templar. (Some accounts say March 11th. Even the two commemorative plaques at the execution site in Paris have conflicting dates.)

He was born in the eastern French village of Molay in 1244 or 45. Almost nothing is known of his early life, but he joined the Templars at the age of 21, and served 42 years as a warrior monk.

In 1291, the Holy Land fell back into the hands of the infidel, and would never fully return to Christian rule. The Templars and the Knights Hospitallers fell back to the coastal city of Acre, which was quickly lost. Both orders subsequently went to the island of Cyprus. The Templars remained here, while the Hospitallers later took the island of Rhodes. That too would be lost eventually, and the Hospitallers finally settled in Malta, where they became known as the Knights of Malta. In spite of the modern Masonic orders that unite these two orders of knights, they were bitter rivals for the wealth and favor of Europe and the Church.

Jacques de Molay was elected Grand Master in 1293 at the age of 47. Immediately he set off to England, France, Aragon and Italy to drum up support for a new crusade to the Holy Land, as well as to fend off a growing call for merging the two orders of warrior monks. Politiucally, the Templars were regarded as the men who lost the Holy Land, and monarchies were becoming distrustful of them. France in particular was feeling overrun with returning, aging knights, who still were free from any kind of taxation or even civil laws, by virtue of Papal bulls that held the Order above anyone but the Pope.

King Phillip IV of France and his personal henchman Guillaume de Nogaret had been in severe conflict with the then-reigning pope, Boniface VIII. The pope had declared that the king of France had no right to tax Church property, and the king had, obviously, disagreed. De Nogaret kidnapped an important French bishop, and the pope had come out swinging over it. He issued a papal bull proclaiming that kings must be subordinate to the Church, and that popes held ultimate authority over both spiritual and temporal matters on Earth. To make sure they got the message, Boniface excommunicated Phillip and de Nogaret. Phillip answered his challenge by sending the brutal, devious and bad-tempered de Nogaret at the head of an army to meet up with Italian allies and capture the pope. Boniface was indeed kidnapped and held for three days. After literally being beaten to a pulp, he was released and died a month later. The French king had proved just who was subordinate to whom, and he didn’t mind a little papal blood on his hands. Pope Boniface’s successor, Pope Benedict XI, lasted only a year in office, poisoned, it was said, by de Nogaret.

But there had been diplomatic difficulties to suffer for killing two popes. Consequently, King Phillip decided it would be easier to just buy himself one. He began procuring cardinals, pulling strings behind the scenes until the number of French cardinals in the Vatican’s College of Cardinals was equal to the Italian ones. They then obligingly elected his handpicked candidate, Bertrand de Goth, making him Pope Clement V. The city of Rome was in turmoil, and the safety of the Vatican was in question. So, it didn’t take much to convince the new French pope that his life would be in serious danger by living there. Clement obliged by staying in France, having his ceremony of investiture in Lyons. He remained in France, eventually moving the Holy See to the city of Avignon (which was actually owned by the King of Sicily at the time) in 1309, right on Phillip’s back door step, where he built a new papal palace. Catholics often refer to it as the “Babylonian Captivity.” Nowadays it’s usually called the Avignon Papacy or the Great Schism.

Clement had everything Phillip wanted in a pope: he was puny, weak, new in the job, and owed everything to his French king. Now was the time for the boldest move of Phillip’s reign – the arrest of the Knights Templar.

Jacques de Molay left Cyprus to head straight for a meeting with the new Pope, and he had high hopes for success, especially since they were countrymen. He couldn’t at this point have known of the dark forces that were assembling against him behind the scenes. In June of 1307, de Molay rode into Paris at the head of a column of his knights, with a dozen horses laden with gold and silver, to begin the financing the new Crusade. For the next several months, Phillip treated the aging Grand Master with interest and diplomacy, and de Molay believed he and the Order were at a new turning point.

The circumstances of the arrests on October 13th, 1307, and the next seven years of torture and trials of the Templars are well known to most of us, but we are most concerned with the last Grand Master today. By 1314, both the Pope and public opinion had completely abandoned the Knights Templar. The four senior Templar officers in Phillip’s custody had been waiting in prison for seven grim years. All of them were old, the youngest being Geoffroi de Charney, who was almost 60. Jacques de Molay was in his 70s, and had spent four years in solitary confinement.

On March 18th, 1314, the four men were finally led onto a platform in front of Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral to hear the charges and make their public confessions. The charges were read, and two of the men accepted their fate of perpetual imprisonment. They were led away.

But Jacques de Molay and his trusted friend Geoffroi de Charney did not follow suit. Weakened with age and imprisonment, de Molay shouted in a voice that startled the assembly that he and the Templars were innocent of all the charges. They were returned to their cells at once, while Phillip called together his council and quickly pronounced sentence, using the insane logic of the Inquisition; if they had recanted their confessions, then they were considered “relapsed heretics,” and the penalty was the stake.

Late that afternoon, de Molay and de Charney were led to the place of execution, which was a tiny isolated island in the Seine adjacent to the Isle de la Citè, called the Ile aux Juifs, the “Island of the Jews.” The condemned men could see Notre Dame Cathedral in the east, but the site was not chosen for their view. Rather, it was chosen so that King Phillip could enjoy the entertainment without leaving his palace just across the river.

Each man was stripped down to his shirt and tied to the stake. Jacques de Molay, with unbelievable courage, asked not only that he be turned to face the Cathedral, but that his hands be freed, so that he could die at prayer. His request was granted. The two men were then roasted alive by the Inquisitional method that began slowly with hot coals, so that their agony could be prolonged as long as possible.

When the Pont Neuf was built, the Île aux Juifs was joined to the rest of the Île de la Cité, and today there are not one, but two plaques near the bridge to commemorate this event. According to legend, Jacques de Molay did not go to his God in silence. Instead, he died defiantly shouting his innocence and that of the Templars, calling on King Phillip and Pope Clement to both meet him before the throne of God in one year’s time, where they would all be judged together. Both men, relatively young, would indeed be dead within the year. One month after the death of de Molay, Pope Clement V, age 54, died, it was said, of cancer. Phillip the Fair, age 46, would die in a hunting accident probably brought on by a stroke. He died on November 29th.

A non-Masonic order of modern Knights Templar claim deMolay appointed a successor to himself secretly, and the order survived the centuries. Masonic Templars make no such claim, but the Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem tells the tale that DeMolay’s skull and leg bones were pulled from the ashes and secretly buried with the document of succession, called the Larmenius Charter

Others claim that during the French Revolution, as King Louis XVI’s head was chopped off by the guillotine, someone rushed up from the crowd and proclaimed, “Jacques De Molay, Thou art avenged!” in celebration of the (not quite) end of the French monarchy.

The gruesome death of Jacques de Molay is the last act of the Templar story. At least, the last act of the accepted, scholarly story of the medieval Knights Templar that is told in names and dates between the covers of the history books. But in reality, his death is only the beginning. It’s the beginning of the myth of the Knights Templar, which is the maelstrom around which an endless stream of fact blended with speculation swirls, unabated.

In 2001, a document was found in the Vatican archives called the Chinon Parchment, and was later released to the public. The folio had been misfiled and had been lost to scholars for centuries. In it, it was revealed that a private team of Papal investigators had looked into the charges against the Templars, and on August 20, 1308, Pope Clement V had secretly absolved the Order of all charges of heresy. It had been Clement's intention to save DeMolay and the Templars from death at the hands of the French king. But in retaliation, Phillip threatened the weak Pope with military action if he did not dissolve the Order, which was done at the Council of Vienne in 1312.

(Adapted from The Templar Code For Dummies by Christopher Hodapp and Alice Von Kannon.)

Wednesday, March 08, 2023

Speaking at MWPHGL of New York's Adelphic-Union Lodge 14 on Tuesday, March 28th

by Christopher Hodapp

On Tuesday, March 28th, 2023 I'll have the honor of speaking in New York City at Adelphic-Union Lodge 14 of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge F&AM State of New York. The gavel sounds at 7:00PM.

Many thanks to Worshipful Master Wilbert Green and his brethren for their kind invitation. I'm very much looking forward to being there. 

Adelphic-Union 14 meets in The Prince Hall Masonic Temple located at 454 W. 155th Street in Harlem (between Amsterdam and St. Nicholas Avenues.)

Historic Adelphic-Union Lodge was originally chartered as No. 7 on May 11th of 1863 by the United Grand Lodge of the State of New York. It became No. 14 under the present Prince Hall Grand Lodge of New York when the United and National Compact Grand Lodges consolidated in 1878-79. Joint recognition with the Grand Lodge of New York was achieved in 2001.

All Master Masons are welcome to attend. 

For more information and to give the lodge some idea of how many brethren to expect, check their Facebook page for the event HERE. 

Friday, February 10, 2023

Blue Friars 79th Consistory WILL Take Place Today 2/10/23

Our late Friars Rex Hutchens (left) and Alain Bernheim (center) seen here 
with Grand Abbott Arturo De Hoyos (right) several years ago.

by Christopher Hodapp

Despite what you may have read in the last week, there WILL be a Consistory held today (Friday February 10th).

Previously, Arturo de Hoyos, the Grand Abbot of The Society of Blue Friars, announced that this year's Consistory and induction of a new Friar has been cancelled. 

The Society was founded in 1932 for the express purpose of recognizing outstanding Masonic authors throughout the world. Traditionally, the Society convenes each year during Masonic Week in the Washington, D.C. vicinity to induct a new Friar, and its gatherings are open to all Master Masons. Each year's Consistory is a highlight of Masonic Week 

Authors like Arthur E. Waite, Harold V.B. Voorhis, Dwight L. Smith, Brent Morris, Allen Roberts, Thomas Jackson, Yasha Beresiner, Alain Bernheim, Robert G. Davis, Alton Roundtree, Michael R. Poll, Robert D. B. Cooper, Josef Wäges and Piers Vaughan are just a few prior Blue Friar honorees. In a rare moment of weakness, they even let a Dummy in.

 Last year's new friar was Adam Kendall, author and editor of the Plumbline, the quarterly publication of the Scottish Rite Research Society. He was named as the 111th Friar of the Society.

In his announcement, the Grand Abbot explained that he wasn't "sufficiently impressed with any Masonic authors over the past year" to name a new Friar for 2023. He also explained that there was an unfortunate convergence this year of conflicting events that prevented him from being in Alexandria this week. 

However, our immediate past Grand Prior, Friar S. Brent Morris, will be opening the Consistory this afternoon at 4:30 p.m., following the meeting of the Grand College of Rites of the USA. In lieu of the traditional presentation of a new Friar's original allocution, I will be presenting a talk on the origins of the Scottish Rite within the intellectual climate of the Age of Enlightenment, originally written in 1995 by our late Friar Rex R. Hutchens, who passed to the Celestial Lodge  in mid-December. (See UPDATED 1/6/2023: Illus. Dr. Rex R. Hutchens Passes Away; Celebration of Life Announced.)

Tragically, our Society lost two esteemed Friars in December.  In addition to Friar Hutchens, Friar Alain Bernheim passed away the day after Christmas in Montreaux, Switzerland at the age of 91.

Alain’s Masonic research spans more than 40 years, and his works have been published in English, French and German, in nearly every major Masonic research publication in the world. But while many Freemasons know of his detailed works, many aren’t aware that he was also a renowned, award-winning classical pianist who performed more than 2,000 concerts all over the world between the early 1950s and 1980, when he retired.

Born in Paris in 1931, Alain was arrested by the Gestapo during the Nazi occupation at the age of twelve and was interned at Drancy concentration camp in the north of the city. When the war ended, he entered the Paris Conservatory of Music and was the first French student to receive a Fulbright Scholarship to study music at Boston’s New England Conservatory of Music.

Please join us this afternoon.

Monday, January 30, 2023

James Rumsey, Texas Grand Junior Warden, Suspended

by Christopher Hodapp

UPDATED: This post was updated at 9:37 PM 1/30/2023 

The Grand Master of the Grand Lodge AF&AM of Texas, MW G. Clay Smith, has officially suspended the Grand Junior Warden, RW James Rumsey, pending a disciplinary hearing before Texas' Grievances and Appeals Committee next September. (Click image above to enlarge.)

Texas Grand Master, MW G. Clay Smith

According to Smith's letter (posted today on the Grand Master's Blog page), it is alleged that Rumsey,

"while then serving as a District Deputy Grand Master at-Large and as a member of the Committee on Work: (1) did conduct himself in a way to bring reproach upon this Grand Lodge and to bring discredit and disgrace upon Masonry and to reflect unfavorably on the good name of Masonry; and (2) consumed, possessed, and had in possession intoxicating liquor on the premises of the Grand Lodge Memorial building."

RW James Rumsey, Grand Junior Warden, has been suspended.

The charges were brought by three unnamed Past Grand Masters, and had been handed to Smith during the annual meeting just as he was preparing to install Rumsey and the other officers as the new grand officers for the year. The immediate Past Grand Master of Texas, Brad Billings, objected to the unorthodox acceptance of the charges by Smith at that time in what was widely seen as an improper attempt to block Rumsey's installation during a public event.

According to several unnamed sources, there is video surveillance footage of Rumsey falling off a ladder at the Grand Lodge building in Waco, which is said to be evidence of his public intoxication.

For the original post about this episode, see Members to Grand Master: The Eyes of Texas Masons Are Upon You on January 22nd.

UPDATE 1/30/23, 9:37PM: 

A group of anonymous Texas Masons have created a website to publish information about the current turmoil in an effort to provide more transparency: https://texasmasons4truth.com .

A post reporting the letter's release this morning (click here) listed a 5-point rebuttal to the Grand Master's actions, which reads, in part:

 "Identical charges to the ones signed by the 3 Past Grand Masters were filed before the election, signed by certain Grand Lodge Officers. Grand Master Billings rejected the charges and filed such rejection with the Grand Secretary on Friday morning during the Grand Lodge Communication, January 20th, 2023.


"If these charges had been procedurally valid, Art. 661 and 667 allows the Grand Master to either hold a trial in front of the Grand West at the next Communication or refer the matter to the Committee on Grievances and Appeals at the next Communication or any time before then. There is no set time limit here. However, the proceeding must be held in a Lodge under Art. 669 — Not in the Library and Museum. The Grand Master has the authority to call a special Communication pursuant to Article VI Section 3(b) of the Constitution to vote on the recommendation of the Committee on Grievances and Appeals before the next annual communication, but as the point is to suspend RW Rumsey for as long as possible, this has not been done."

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Arizona PGM Jeff Carlton Killed in Traffic Accident

by Christopher Hodapp

Arizona's Masonic family has received more tragic news this weekend. Grand Master Jim H. Baker has reported that Past Grand Master Jeffrey Carlton, 33° and his wife Moira were involved in a serious vehicle collision on Friday. MWB Carlton was killed in the accident and Moira is currently in critical condition in the ICU.

The Grand Master requests everyone to keep the Carlton family in their prayers.

MWB Jeff Carlton (photo) served the Grand Lodge F&AM of Arizona in 2012-13, and Moira Carlton is the Immediate Past Grand Matron of the Order of the Eastern Star in Arizona. 

In 2003, he was elected Master of Kingman Lodge 22.*
And in 2008, Jeff served as the Master of the newly formed Rex R. Hutchens Research Lodge No. 5 (U.D) located at the Kingman Masonic Temple. 

I have been told that the family has asked that people please refrain from contacting them at this time, as they are devastated and overwhelmed by this terrible tragedy.

This story will be updated as more information is made available.

*An earlier version of this story mistakenly stated he had been Master of Kingman Lodge in 2013.

Members to Grand Master: The Eyes of Texas Masons Are Upon You

by Christopher Hodapp

NOTE: The original version of this story contained editorializing on my part as to the speculated motives for bringing charges on the floor of the annual session during installation. I have had some clarification of what transpired since the story first broke and have removed my original, erroneous suppositions. My apologies for misinterpreting why it happened. Bear in mind that my initial objection was – and remains – over the theatrical aspect of bringing charges in the presence of wives and families on a public YouTube broadcast, which I still believe was improper.
I have also corrected an erroneous reference to video evidence that documented an incident at the Grand Lodge building in Waco, not the Scottish Rite Temple as originally posted.)

The Grand Lodge of Texas AF&AM's annual session was held this week in Waco, Texas, and new grand officers were elected and installed. Outgoing Grand Master Brad Billings has been succeeded by MW G. Clay Smith, Grand Master for 2023.

An attempt was made on Saturday to deny installation to the elected Grand Junior Warden, James Rumsey. Just as the new Grand Master, G. Clay Smith, prepared to proceed with the installation ceremonies for the incoming grand officers for 2023, he was handed a sheet of charges to be brought against the incoming Grand Junior Warden. A public video of the event (which has since been removed from YouTube) showed Smith immediately stumbling through a previously prepared, scripted acceptance of the charges he had just been handed.

Curious. This was clearly not exactly spontaneous.

According to multiple sources, charges had originally been filed against Rumsey during the tenure of GM Billings (I've since been told what those charges were about, and the incident was recorded on security cameras at the Grand Lodge building in Waco). Despite clear video evidence, GM Billings 
dismissed them without action or trial. 

The timing on Saturday was cleverly planned: the “new” charges were handed to Grand Master Smith immediately after he was installed as GM, but before the rest of the installation ceremony started. The move was purportedly a last-ditch, Hail Mary attempt to block Rumsey’s installation after he was overwhelmingly elected to the GJW position. 

A point of order was immediately raised by outgoing GM Billings, objecting to the fact that the new GM could not accept said charges during the installation because the assembled representatives of the state’s lodges are themselves “the Grand Lodge” when it is in session: it is up to the assembled Grand Lodge to accept charges during that meeting, and a GM can only act in its stead when the session is closed.

The Grand Lodge session was officially at refreshment for the duration of the installation, and this attempt at scuttling the new GJW played out in the presence of wives and families, while a video camera publicly broadcast everything on YouTube. That, in my opinion, was a terribly improper way to handle the situation. 

GM Smith declared that the matter would be dropped for the moment, to be discussed in Executive Session instead, and the installation of Rumsey proceeded without further interruption. 

The supportive roar of the crowd was thunderous.

My understanding of Texas code is that charges against a Mason in that jurisdiction must be presented at the Stated Meeting of his lodge, where they are read and accepted. The lodge Secretary then forwards them to the Grand Secretary's office, where they are presented to the Grand Master for his decision to accept them or not. If accepted by him, they then become official charges and can proceed to a trial.

Tweetbook, Snaptwit and Facespace and other (anti-)social media lit up all weekend with comments from Texas Masons who are double-plus-un-pleased by this little drama. This may be a bumpy year in the Grand East of the Lone Star state, and it started to hit chuckholes before it even officially started.