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Tuesday, May 02, 2017

UPDATED: GL of New York Withdraws Amity with Scotland

Word coming out of the annual communication of the Grand Lodge of New York F&AM on Monday is that they have suspended recognition of the Grand Lodge of Scotland. It appears to have been some institutional heartburn left over from an old territorial issue with the District of Columbia over lodges in Lebanon several years ago, but I haven't seen official wording yet (see the update below). 

(New York's official trip to the UK this October might be a wee bit uncomfortable now, as Glasgow was supposed to be their first tour stop, then Edinburgh. Aaaaand...a Scottish team was all set to be in Troy, NY on May 25th to exemplify a degree, with the NY GM in attendance. Good thing Massachusetts, Connecticut and Vermont aren't far from Troy, so their plane tickets won't be wasted.)

NOTE: My headline is technically incorrect. Recognition is suspended, not withdrawn. I just can't change it now because it will break everybody's links back to here.



UPDATE 11:00AM 5/2/2017:

Okay, without having seen actual documents yet, my understanding is that this situation goes back to 2008. At that time, the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia chartered a new lodge — Ahiram Lodge 1000 — in the Middle Eastern nation of Lebanon where the GLs of both Scotland and New York already had lodges (along with several others). New York at that time had long declared that Lebanon was their "exclusive territory" as part of its District Grand Lodge of Syria-Lebanon, and felt that it had been infringed upon by DC's actions. So NY suspended recognition of DC in 2008. 

(Just in the cause of full disclosure, there were at least as many as 18 or 19 different "grand lodges" at work in the tiny country in 1999, the last year I was able to find info for — some of which were perfectly regular in origin and practice. Some are chartered by other nations like the Grande Loge Nationale Française, but others are considered less regular in the eyes of the more widely recognized Masonic world. It's...complicated, and the place isn't that big.)

After backchannel negotiations, the new DC lodge remained in operation, and amity between New York and DC were quickly restored in February 2009.

However, one major bone of contention grew over three former New York members from Lebanon who were expelled by the GL of NY and had been heavily involved in opening the DC-chartered lodge. It seems they subsequently left Ahiram 1000, briefly were members of the Grand Lodge of Italy, and eventually became members in a Scottish constitution lodge in Lebanon. The Scots would not honor NY's expulsions, permitting the three to retain their Scottish lodge membership. The tipping point now in 2017 is that the GL of Scotland is attempting to grant these same three Masons provincial grand rank for their Scottish district in Lebanon (which does seem unduly provocative from this outsider's point of view, but what do I know).

Meanwhile, there's absolutely zero irony that the Grand Officers of New York were bagpiped into their banquet to the tune of...'Scotland Forever.'

For an extensive article featuring a tour of the GL of New York's lodges in Lebanon, see pages 23-37 of the Spring 2017 issue of the Empire State Mason magazine.

For the pertinent background to this from back in 2008-9, including links to explanatory documents, see these posts:


11/6/2008: GL of New York Suspends Amity With GL of District of Columbia

11/11/2008: GLDC Responds to GLNY Over Lebanon

2/19/2009: UPDATED: GL of New York Restores Recognition with the GL of District of Columbia





UPDATED 5/5/2017: 

Here is the official notice from the Grand Lodge of New York suspending formal recognition of Scotland, dated May 4, 2017. It gives the details of the bone they are picking over their three former members in Lebanon. Click to enlarge.







37 comments:

  1. WEll that is going to be awkward!

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  2. Fortunately the Paris conference iat the end of this month is supported by academic groups rather than lodges, and it is unlikely that the Bibliotheque National will withdraw recognition of the Library of Congress. Or that UCLA will withdraw recognition of the Sorbonne.

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    1. Come on, Paul. The whole world is turning upside down in the last five years. ANYTHING is possible these days. :)

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  3. "It appears to have been some institutional heartburn left over from an old territorial issue with the District of Columbia over lodges in Lebanon several years ago"

    Seriously? SERIOUSLY? We can look the other way when American Grand Lodges are putting their own members on trial for being gay and we can tolerate the cesspool of racism that exists in Confederate Grand Lodges, but a Grand Master is willing to terminate relations with the Grand Lodge that originally chartered many of the oldest lodges under his jurisdiction over what amounts to a you-know-what measuring contest?

    Dave Brown

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    1. Obviously there's more to the story, which I am getting information about. I'll update this once I can put it into something factually coherent, if not rational...

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    2. Bro Chris

      I do hope the matter is resolved and they are in Amity again.

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  4. If this is true, then GLoS cannot go to Troy, NY later this month, nor can NY Masons go to Scotland in October. This is awful.

    Les Center, HSGW - The Grand Lodge of Scotland, Bermuda District

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    1. Fortunately, the airline tickets aren't wasted. Massachusetts, New Hampshire and even Connecticut aren't far from Troy. And I'm sure anyone in those jurisdictions would love to take on the hosting duties. Tell Bob Cooper to start typing...

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    2. Exactly. Troy is a great city but you can get to MS or VT in an hour. Better countryside out there anyhow.

      Les - great to see you virtually, if not in person!

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    3. Damn, Carl, You're everywhere!!!! Better be on my peas and ques!! @Chris, yes Bob needs to get his head out of Rosslyn Chapel reseach, and send some emails.

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    4. Neither is Vermont--there's a beautiful temple in Bennington that I've had a few good email conversations with the Secretary of. It'd be great to see them visit...

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  5. No more kilts or bagpipes in New York!

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  6. One wonders, continually, when Freemasons are going to conduct themselves as such; are we not above this political stuff?

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    1. Unfortunately no, we cannot any longer separate any true Masonic beliefs from political correctness BS. Because we have not done due diligence in admitting millennials because we were chasing numbers instead of quality.

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    2. I believe Ricky was referring to "organizational politics." And I'm not sure what "political correctness BS" you're slamming millennials for, but those millennials are the future of your lodge and our fraternity and you should probably start taking them a little more seriously, especially their thoughts about whether or not Masons are really living up to the egalitarian ideals and respect for all backgrounds and faiths that we claim to stand for.

      Dave Brown

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    3. I'm curious (as a 'millennial') what 'we' or 'political correctness BS' has to do with this situation. This seems like an issue between two (or 3) grand jurisdictions. And generally speaking, how many millennials are in a grand line making these sorts of decisions? I can say in Texas that number is exactly Zero. With a few decades of padding. I haven't looked up NY or Scotlands grand lineup, but I just have a feeling the majority of movers and shakers aren't 'young whipper snappers.'

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  7. It'd be interesting to see what the details of the reason for the expulsion of the three brethren were under the NY jurisdiction in Lebanon. Without that information it's hard to determine how serious or silly this whole matter really is.

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  8. What I find REALLY interesting is that if this is true it would make for some awkwardness in view of the fact that the GL of NY has a trip planned this Fall in honor of the 300th anniversary of UGLE which includes visits to England AND SCOTLAND. I sincerely hope the matter will be resolved by then.

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  9. I didn't realize the GMs of NY and Scotland were millennials. They're getting younger every day...

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  10. Chris:

    Thanks for the update. One question: what were they expelled for? Was it for helping to set up the lodge or was it for conduct truly unbecoming a Mason? You mention that in your opinion it's "unduly provocative" to promote them, but if they were unjustly expelled as a result of some childish territorial pissing match then I would applaud any jurisdiction that wasn't willing to abandon and leave them at the mercy of a tyrannical Grand Master. Allowing powerless, individual Masons to be mistreated by another jurisdiction and refusing to help them just to preserve relations between Grand Lodges is cowardly.

    Quite simply, they're not New York Masons any more. If another Grand Lodge wants to give them a promotion, how is that any of the Grand Master of NY's business? He should worry about who he wants to promote in his own jurisdiction and not concern himself with what Scotland wants to do.

    If it sounds like I'm disgusted by this, it's because I am. These sound like the actions of a petulant child.

    Dave Brown

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  11. In my opinion, Grand Lodges that charter lodges in a state/province or nation where there is no Grand Lodge should charter a new Grand Lodge once three lodges are established and hand over territorial jurisdiction to the new Grand Lodge.

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    1. Good comment, I agree. Assuming there are men in those three lodges willing to assume those responsibilities.

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  12. It may be the proverbial storm-in-a-tea-cup. Provinces in UGLE where I belong issue provincial appointments as a reward for loyal service in a lodge or province, it's an attaboy. You might get your first around seven years after you've been in the Chair, which seems to fit the timeline for these brethren. Very few are 'active' appointments meaning they are part of the administration, they're mostly in 'past' rank. I believe the same is true in GLoS but I'd very much like to know if that is the case. As I understand it, this does not happen in US grand lodges, so maybe GLNY are over-reacting?

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    1. GLoS through its Provincial and District Grand Lodges does not award 'Past' rank in the same way as UGLE. A Brother awarded a Provincial / District rank would do so in an 'active' capacity, and would be fulfilling that office. ON demitting office, the Bro would then be enetitled to continue to wear regalia of the highest office achieved (with the exception of Stewards).

      GLoS does award 'Honorary' Grand Rank to Brn who have served with distinction, entitling the recipient to wear a neck jewel of the relevant rank.

      Although I do not know the specific appointments for these Brn in the Lebanon, I would expect that these would be 'active' appointments.

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    2. @Mark Griffin - I can respond about the GLoS. You are mostly correct, but as "Unknown" answered above Honorary Grand Rank most closely resembles the UGLE model, with Provincial and District being 'active'. Most of us are "millennials" but from the previous millennium!! LOL!!

      Les Center, HSGW, GLoS

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    3. Gents, not quite sure why this came up as 'Unknown' must just be a login profile thing. Just wanted to apologize for the typos and minor omissions as when I tried to post, it went missing during the login, and I had to re-type.

      Just to clarify - when demitting office as an 'active' Provincial / District Grand Lodge Office-Bearer, the Bro may continue to wear regalia (suitably differenced) as a 'Past' OB of the highest rank achieved.

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  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  14. I'm sorry to keep repeating myself but I just can't get over how these Grand Masters choose to use their authority, the kinds of things they're willing to suspend recognition for and the things they won't take action about.

    When the Grand Master of Florida suddenly declared that certain religions don't count as believing in God simply because he said so and that any Florida Masons found to be practicing them would be brought to a trial with a predetermined outcome, those of us who demanded suspension of relations with GL of FL were told, "oh no we can't do that, we have Masons from our own Grand Lodge living down there, where would they go?" When the Grand Master of West Virginia expelled his predecessor because he had a cup of coffee with his Prince Hall counterpart and another Grand Lodge took him in, GL of WV threatened to suspend relations unless he was re-expelled and all of us sat silent as GL of WV got its way. When the Grand Master of Georgia pulled a lodge's charter for making a black man a Mason and Masons in other jurisdictions demanded something be done, again the answer came back "oh no we can't do that, where would our own members who live there go?" When the Grand Master of Georgia declared that his own personal religious beliefs are now Masonic Law and gays can't be Masons, again we were told "no we can't suspend recognition, they're sovereign and they can do whatever they want." When the Grand Lodge of Tennessee started putting gay Masons on trial in kangaroo courts because they got married after the government told them they're legally entitled to do so, changing venues at the last minute so they couldn't even defend themselves, again we were given the same answer and condescendingly told, "keep quiet, the Grand Masters are taking care of this when they get together for their annual conferences."

    But over something so petty and meaningless, a Grand Master is willing to take the most severe action possible. All of a sudden, the collateral damage from suspending recognition - all the innocent Masons living in that other jurisdiction that suddenly find themselves unable to visit lodges there - is a price that's worth paying. All of a sudden, sovereignty doesn't matter. The fallout from suspension of recognition is too severe when those other Grand Lodges practice bigotry, but it's not too severe when they give a promotion to someone that another Grand Master views as a personal slight against him. They use the most severe punishment possible to settle PERSONAL disputes, but not to uphold the most basic tenets of our fraternity.

    I'm just getting so sick of this. If a Grand Master is willing to suspend recognition of another Grand Lodge over something like this, then I want to know why that same Grand Master sits on his hands and does nothing about the naked bigotry on display at the highest levels of other Grand Lodges. Is this not a fair question?

    The closer I get to the East, the more disillusioned I become about our fraternity. There's something very rotten at its highest levels.

    Dave Brown

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  15. The GLNY expelled these men, they worked their way into the GL of Scotland, by trickery and deceit. Scotland refuses to respond to NY's attempts to address this matter. I agree with NY on this.

    What is Masonic discipline worth if other jurisdictions can simply ignore it?

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    1. What cheapens the "worth" of Masonic discipline is when it's wielded arbitrarily and out of spite.

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    2. Br. Dave, we all brought these things up, multiple times, and those who think that the GL which does the expulsion has full jurisdiction over the men forever unto the ages (in part because of the blind obedience to the Tyler's Oath) told us all, in various venue, to shut up: expelled in one is expelled in all (even though that isn't written in every GL's regulations); even if they were members in more than one jurisdiction, and the other one did not prosecute...

      I've given up on our leadership showing visible moral courage and standing up.

      And I'm one of those that the Florida issue would have applied to, were I a member there.

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    3. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, MP.

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  16. Shouldn't be discussed openly. IMHO

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  17. new development, found on the Grand Lodge of Scotlland homepage:
    SCOTTISH MASONIC DEGREE TEAM

    A Degree Team from the Provincial Grand Lodge of Perthshire West will be in New York on Tuesday, 23 May 2017.

    They have been accorded the singular honour of having been invited to demonstrate a Scottish First Degree in Lodge Adelphic Union No. 14. But we have to qualify that statement somewhat...

    There is no such thing as a 'standard' Scottish ritual - although the GLoS does supply a ritual by that very name!

    In Scotland every Lodge has the right to devise its' own ritual - within certain limits. The reasons why are extremly interesting but cannot detain us here - in another post perhaps?

    For that reason the demonstration degree will be an amalgam of all the different rituals of Lodges in the Provincial Grand Lodge of Perthshire West. For those lucky enough to be present on that occasion this will be a 'one off' never to be repeated demonstration.

    We are very disappointed that we are unable to be present.

    Lodge Adelphic Union, No.14, is Lodge on the roll of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of New York. The PH GL of NY is in amity with the Grand Lodge of Scotland and also the Grand Lodge of New York.

    As far as we are aware this will be the first ever occasion that a Scottish Lodge has been invited to send a deputation to a Prince Hall Lodge in New York and perhaps more importantly the first Scottish Lodge to have demonstrated a Scottish Degree in a PH GL of NY Lodge. We hope to report on the event once our Scottish Brethren return home with tales of their experiences.

    The Scottish Masons who will be in the party to New York are:

    NAMES AND RANK OF BRETHREN:

    Bro. Roger H. Bullard Provincial Grand Master
    PM Lodge Dunblane No.IX and
    St John Tulliallan No.598

    Bro. William Semple Provincial Grand Secretary
    PM United Lodge of DunKeld No.14

    Bro. Martyn Greene Provincial Grand Treasurer
    PM Lodge Bailey Nicol Jarvie No.1036

    Bro. Robert Grey Past Provincial Grand Senior Warden
    PM Lodge Ben Ledi No 614.

    Bro. Allan Pogson Past Provincial Grand Senior Warden
    PM Lodge Dunblane No.IX.

    Bro. Sandy Campbell Provincial Grand Marshall
    RW Master Lodge Ben Ledi No.614.

    Bro. Shaun McKillop Provincial Grand Standard Bearer
    RW Master United Lodge of Dunkeld
    No.14

    Bro. Duncan Kinloch Provincial Grand Junior Deacon
    IPM Lodge Blairhoyle No 792

    Bro. Ian Ford Provincial Grand Sword Bearer
    IPM United Lodge of Dunkeld
    No.14

    Bro. Phillip Kerr PM Lodge Ben Ledi No.614

    Bro. Dougal Ireland IPM Lodge Breadalbane St Fillins
    No. 815

    Bro. Robert L D Cooper Curator and Librarian of the Grand
    Lodge of Scotland

    Bro. Norman Austin Past Provincial Grand Senior Warden
    of Linlithgow shire. PM Lodge St james
    No.171

    Bro. Douglas Young Sub Master United Lodge of Dunkeld
    No.14

    Lodge Adelphic Union, No.14, is located at the Masonic Temple, 454 West 155th Street, New York City.

    All regular Freemasons are welcome.

    For a map see:

    https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=454+West+155th+Street+NY&rlz=1C1CHZL_enGB681GB682&oq=454+West+155th+Street+NY&aqs=chrome..69i57j0.2680j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

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  18. Is there any update on this?? There is a NY mason visiting who has requested to attend Lodge St. Andrew No. 1427 SC in Singapore. If the GLoNY has removed amity from GLoS we will have to reject his request. What happens in this situation of he wishes to affiliate to our lodge in Singapore??

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    1. As a sitting Master in NY, I have not been notified of any change, so I have to assume suspension of amity still is in effect.

      As for his desire to affiliate, he cannot until the matter is resolved.

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