It's official now.
As reported here on April 22nd, the assembled members of the Most Worshipful Union Grand Lodge Free and Accepted Masons, Florida, Belize, Central America & Jurisdiction, Incorporated, Prince Hall Affiliated voted at their annual communication to accept terms of mutual recognition with the mainstream Grand Lodge of F&AM of Florida. That acceptance was transmitted officially by their Grand Master, MW Walter Gulley, Jr..
Now, Grand Master John E. Karroum of the GL of Florida has issued an official notice to his own members announcing a treaty of mutual recognition between the two grand lodges, which is to be read at all stated meetings in the state. (Click the image below to enlarge.)
"1. It is agreed by both parties that the Amity/Recognition Agreement shall never constitute future merger, consolidation, and/or amalgamation of our Grand Lodges;
"2. It is agreed by both parties that there shall be no transferring of membership from one Grand Jurisdiction to the other;
"3. It is agreed by both parties that visitation shall only occur at the Grand Lodge level with visitation of the Grand Master’s Official Delegation during the Grand Lodge Session of either Grand Jurisdiction and the Grand Secretary of the visiting Grand Lodge shall communicate in advance a list of the Grand Master’s Official Delegation to his counterpart Grand Secretary; further, it is agreed that the Grand Master of either Grand Jurisdiction may set a limit to the number of the proposed delegation should he deem it necessary;
"4. Lastly, it is agreed by both parties that there shall be no visitation at the Subordinate Lodge level of either Grand Jurisdiction."
None of these conditions should be considered particularly unusual or onerous in this case, as such initial baby steps have been pretty common in states like Texas, Alabama and elsewhere in recent years. Essentially, the goal is a transition period during which members in both jurisdictions have time to get used to the idea of sharing Masonic territory in their state, while respecting each other's sovereignty over their own members and lodges.
Historically, it has taken a year or more before lodge visitations are finally permitted, and then only with advance permission from each other's Grand Masters or Grand Secretaries, at least at first. Technically, that is expected - if not required - when visiting ANY foreign lodge. Impatient brethren should bear in mind how long it took just to get to this point in the first place, and simply be supportive and encouraging of their grand officers for the eventual lifting of restrictions. It will come.
There will always be occasional flareups of contention. A group in Texas currently wants to shut down all Prince Hall recognition because the GL of Texas' Masonic Constitution has, for reasons fathomable only to them, a 'no Communists' provision, and they claim PHA grand lodges may have card carrying Communists lurking in their ranks. They go on to cite a list of politicians they dislike with historic PHA membership whom they allege are all clearly red diaper babies and agents of the Kremlin. Why this group wouldn't also agitate to de-recognize grand lodges in Russia, Romania, France, Italy, Spain and elsewhere for the very same reason, I can't imagine. (But then, isn't the GL of Texas Constitution thereby violating the no politics so-called 'landmark' of Freemasonry that is one of the major cornerstones of the entire fraternity?) Fortunately for rational Freemasons everywhere, Jurisprudence Committees usually regard such nakedly transparent, albeit spectacularly inventive, attempts to scuttle these agreements with the contempt they so richly deserve.
In the meantime, congratulations to all of the brethren in Florida, and especially to the grand officers in both jurisdictions who worked so hard behind the scenes to finally achieve this.
I've been told there followed a great gnashing of teeth in the auditorium.
So now there remain just seven — Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, and West Virginia.