The Grand Lodge of Arkansas has voted to officially revoke the charter of Sebastian Lodge No. 706 in Fort Smith. Word comes that, out of more than 400 Masons in attendance, only about 50 voted, with about 30 voting to revoke, and 20 opposed. No discussion was permitted about the subject, and the vote was conducted by hand ballot. Reportedly, paper ballots were prohibited this year.
This sad episode began last March after Sebastian Lodge posted an edict by the Grand Master of Arkansas prohibiting Masons in that jurisdiction from purchasing Arkansas state license plates, because proceeds from the plates would benefit a charitable program of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge Jurisdiction of Arkansas, F.&A.M.
Arkansas remains one of ten states in the U.S. where the mainstream and Prince Hall grand lodges do not recognize each other.
According to the former Secretary of Sebastian Lodge who was expelled earlier this year, "the Grand Lodge now demands that the officers hand over a blank check for all intangible assets of over $58,000 and all tangible property. Members are denied any demit letters until this action is complete. If this isn't done, all 100 members will be expelled according to the District Deputy Grand Master per communication from the new Grand Secretary and Grand Master. . . [Such action was ruled] illegal in another case where the Grand Lodge did this three years ago in eastern Arkansas." The case in question concerned Nettleton Lodge No. 657, near Jonesboro, Arkansas. In that case, the lodge's secretary, Darrell Pickney, filed suit against the Grand Lodge. The courts ruled that the property of Nettleton Lodge belonged to its members, and that the Grand Lodge of Arkansas had no right to confiscate it.
Meanwhile, the website of the Grand Lodge of Arkansas remains dark after almost a year.