I have demitted from the lodge in Virginia of which I have been a member, in good standing, and possess documentation from the Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Virginia, A.F. & A.M. to that effect. I am not under charges, and I am not suspended. I am no longer a Mason under the Grand Lodge of Virginia, A.F. & A.M.
I am proud to be a Mason in good standing under the following grand jurisdictions:
- The Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia, F.A.A.M.
- The Grand Lodge of North Carolina, A.F.& A.M.
- The Grand Lodge of Ireland
- The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of New York, F.&A.M. (Honorary)
One chapter ends. A new one begins.
My work in the quarries has been valued by a number of Grand Lodges. My book, Observing the Craft, has even been bought by Grand Lodges to distribute to their lodges, officers, or members in general. I have been honoured by two Grand Lodges who invited me to serve as a Grand Lodge officer.
I am very fortunate to count among my closest friends in the Craft past, present, and future Grand Masters who are intimately familiar with my work and understand my points of view on Freemasonry in general.
The object of the observant Mason is to remain focused on positive action and to put forth positive energy as much as possible in all situations. The good of Freemasonry itself is what we must have in view.
That does not mean that one is never to express criticisms or to speak honestly to errors; we are charged to do exactly that on our Masonic path, and indeed our most esteemed thinkers throughout history have been those brothers who spoke uncomfortable truths in interesting times.
But the far greater object is to create happiness, both spiritual and temporal. We must never lose sight of that. Otherwise the task will not be worth doing.
Onward.As reported here on June 28th, members of AW22 lodge received a letter dated June 19th explaining that the lodge's charter had been removed and announcing the replacement of the Worshipful Master, Senior Warden and Secretary by the Grand Master of Virginia, Vernon S. Cook. An upcoming meeting was announced for the members for this coming Thursday, July 13th. It is hoped that the charter will be returned at that time.
I have not chatted with Andrew yet, but he is still scheduled to speak at several Masonic events throughout the year. Thankfully, this resolution to the AW22 situation and any issues that may have existed between him and the Grand Lodge of Virginia means that his status as a regularly affiliated Mason in good standing will not pose any problems anywhere he is scheduled to appear. That is ultimately good news.
As for the lodge, it will be up to the new officers of AW22 and their active members to decide how they proceed in the coming months. Hopefully, this unfortunate episode will not result in them entirely turning their back on the initiatives they have undertaken in the last few years. They have been an outstanding example of 'observant' styled practices and a national leader in demonstrating what can be done within the limitations of existing rules to create a different lodge experience that appeals to a growing number of American Masons. It would be a tragedy for them to discard that in order to return to a cookie cutter style of lodge meeting that so many Masons have found so uninspiring for so long.
Grand lodges lose more members from non-payment of dues than any other reason. Those are overwhelmingly men who were underwhelmed by what they found in their own lodges. Our jurisdictions have hundreds of lodge laboratories in which to experiment to find better ways to appeal to their own brethren. We squelch those experiments at our own peril.
The very best wishes to everyone going forward. And onward.
(Andrew Hammer is the author of Observing the Craft.)