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Thursday, February 04, 2021

South Carolina PGM Mike Smith Expelled Over Zoom Meeting

South Carolina Past Grand Master Michael D. Smith


by Christopher Hodapp


UPDATE: This article was been updated on 2/5/2021 at 6:00PM to correct information about the number of Zoom gatherings held online by Mike Smith. The original post incorrectly stated that one meeting was held. 

A story from the Grand Lodge of South Carolina has been brewing for several months under the wire, but details are starting to come to light. According to several sources, South Carolina Past Grand Master Michael D. Smith has been expelled from the fraternity following a Grand Lodge trial commission on January 30th.

PGM Smith served as Grand Master in 2017-19 (South Carolina's GMs serve two year terms.) Prior to his expulsion, he was serving as Lieutenant Grand Commander of the Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction (second in command only to the Grand Commander), as well as SGIG for the Orient of South Carolina. Mike Smith is widely admired and well-liked, not only in his home state, but throughout the wider Masonic community, and his expulsion comes as a shock to many Masons. He has been a Freemason since 1980.

PGM Smith's bio page is still available for the time being on the GL of SC website HERE. His many accomplishments and offices held are impressive.

Mike Smith's expulsion is rooted in a violation of edicts issued last year during the COVID pandemic by current Grand Master Walter C.(Cal) Disher II. On May 29, 2020, GM Disher ordered that all Masonic meetings in South Carolina to be suspended "until further notice."

"As a reminder, no Lodge Hall is to be used during this time period," the notice read.  "I have stopped several Lodge functions that Lodge members organized either through ZOOM Media, phone, or other venues. Brethren, as a reminder, it is a grave Masonic Offense, to conduct any irregular meeting or business during this time."

A written notice was sent to lodges in June reiterating his edict forbidding all Masonic meetings, in person or via electronic means. While the Grand Lodge office may be communicating with lodges and members via their private Grandview system, neither their public web page nor their Facebook account have been updated since last summer. Lodges remained completely closed until December when new guidelines were finally issued for limited in-person lodge meetings, under heavy restrictions. But South Carolina brethren are still forbidden to engage in any sort of virtual meeting of any kind as Masons, even if ritual is not involved or no lodge business is conducted.

In his role as SGIG for South Carolina, sources say, Mike Smith held a series of seven informal Zoom gatherings for the state's six Scottish Rite Valleys and four SR clubs. These were described by several participants as  'How is everybody doing?' health checks and good cheer sessions. These were not tyled meetings, or even private ones – some sources say no Masonic business was conducted, although one observer indicated that, in at least one case, the names of some new Scottish Rite petitioners were read and accepted. At least one attendee claims that Smith informed the Grand Master ahead of time that he wanted to conduct these sessions, and was acting in good faith because the Grand Master raised no objection. Nevertheless, after the event, Grand Master Disher deemed it to be a violation of his 'no electronic Masonic meeting' edict and sought charges against Smith. 

Some say that GM Disher also discussed bringing charges against close to 150 South Carolina Scottish Rite Masons who participated in the Zoom call.

In South Carolina, the Grand Junior Warden is normally charged by their Constitution to bring charges against an accused Mason, who is to be tried in his own lodge. Mike Smith has been a longtime member of Landrum Lodge 278. But a trial by the lodge was denied by GM Disher, who declared that an appointed Grand Lodge commission would instead conduct the proceedings. 

And then about three weeks ago, the Grand Master appeared at Landrum Lodge and revoked their charter.

Longtime readers here may remember the name of South Carolina Past Grand Master Jay Adam Pearson. In 2013, when he was serving as Grand Master, he suspended South Carolina's relations with the Shrine. Then in 2016, he sent me a snide letter excoriating me for publicly reporting on expulsions in the Grand Lodge of Arkansas (where he is, as he informed me, an "honorary member of their Grand Lodge"). Instead of South Carolina’s Grand Junior Warden bringing charges against Smith as their Constitution directs, PGM Pearson was named as the head of the trial commission. Two sources have reported that the trial commission also included one or more members of PGM Pearson's own family, notably, his father.

According to attendees, Smith's trial session last week was quite long – over ten hours. Witnesses were called, but because of COVID meeting restrictions, they were forced to remain outside in their cars in bitter cold weather while waiting to testify one at a time.

PGM Jay Adam Pearson

Not that there could be any sort of connection, but both Jay Adam Pearson and Mike Smith were considered as possible successors for the Grand Secretary's position at the upcoming annual communication. Now, obviously, PGM Smith is no longer eligible, and his 40 year Masonic career has been scuttled. The current Grand Secretary, Gerald L Carver, PGM, is Pearson's ex-father-in-law.

And then, lurking in the background is the ghost of Prince Hall. South Carolina is one of just seven remaining state grand lodges that does not have amity with their Prince Hall grand lodge counterpart. There was a whisper campaign that PGM Smith was a proponent of Prince Hall recognition. Of course, PGM Pearson has made his opinion known to me in the past of what he thinks of so-called "liberal, forward-thinking Masons" who advocate for Price Hall recognition.

Before PGM Pearson dashes off another multi-page letter to me explaining all of the ways I am "in error" on these events, I want to clearly state that I have not spoken or corresponded with PGM Mike Smith about this story. In his prior correspondence with me, PGM Pearson made it clear that he is a strict by-the-book Mason. He took the position back in 2016 that a grand master need not explain or even report when a Mason is expelled, except to alert the fraternity not to converse Masonically with members under such a sentence. Further, he quite rightly stated that an expulsion isn't authoritative until the assembled Grand Lodge votes to accept the GM's actions or strike them down, which is quite true. South Carolina's Grand lodge members still need to affirm or reject this. 

With that in mind, the GL of South Carolina's annual communication is scheduled for this April. But because the COVID pandemic is still continuing apace, one can't help but wonder whether that meeting will even take place. And unless the GM changes his mind about virtual meetings, there's no chance it will be conducted by video. At best, they may simply attempt to assemble no more than a quorum to conduct their business, as some other jurisdictions have done.. 

The GL of South Carolina has a reputation of attempting to hide from technology. Any Masonic lodge's website must receive written approval from the Grand Lodge, which is why there are so few of them. Lodges may not have a Facebook page or any other social media page. And all digital interaction about Freemasonry is forbidden. Perhaps that worked well for them until 2020. But with the COVID pandemic shutdowns and the ongoing shuttering of all lodges since last spring, forbidding any and all in-person AND online interaction among their brethren has made for a pretty barren fraternal experience.  I have been told that several SC lodges that have relied on fund raising events in past years have gone broke and been forced to close permanently. One idly wonders how many South Carolina Masons will reconsider their membership in the face of a jurisdiction that leaves them no avenue for fraternal socializing of any kind.

South Carolina has a past history of cuffing around appendant bodies, such as when PGM Pearson cut off the Shrine (and then advised Arkansas as to how to do the same thing). Mike Smith's informal Scottish Rite gathering was not the only appendant group to fall under the stern gaze of their Grand Master this season. Last month, the Grand Council of the Allied Masonic Degrees announced the registration for an online Zoom meeting for AMD members. South Carolina's current Grand Secretary, Gerald L Carver, PGM fired off a demand that the AMD issue letters reiterating that South Carolina Masons were forbidden from engaging in any such online meetings of any kind, and to report their compliance and delivery of said letters to him.

About six years ago, I spoke at the Conference of Grand Masters, and I implored that august assembly of grand line officers to consider that suspension or expulsion should not be the first arrow out of their quivers, but the last. The obligations Masonic officers take as they progress over time do not ever eradicate the ones we take in our very first three degrees. We are not merely asked to "whisper good counsel in the ear of a brother, and in the most tender manner remind him of his faults, and aid in his reformation." It is one of our most fundamental duties. We are all Brothers before we are lawyers. It is noteworthy to point out that neither renowned book on Masonic jurisprudence by Albert Mackey and Roscoe Pound contains the phrase from the most commonly used Fellow Craft ritual, "In the decision of every trespass against our rules, you are to judge with candor, admonish with friendship, and reprehend with justice."

One cannot help but ask if anyone whispered in Mike Smith's ear or admonished him with friendship before seeking the ultimate penalty against him, especially in one of the most heartbreaking and challenging years in history.


110 comments:

  1. Sad indeed. Masonry which devolves into an open fight arena imitative of current national politics is not the place for petty spats and high handed actions of a Brother who has placed his hand on the Bible and swore to serve his Brothers and Fellows. Jim Costello, PM, Capital Lodge #66, F&AM, Lansing, Michigan

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    1. If you look for politics color or religion in masonry then you're forever lost!!! All true masons remember your obligation and NEVER fold on it under no circumstances!!!!!

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    2. And it wasn't even a craft lodge function it was AASR.
      It would appear this Grand Master is overreaching beyond his purview...

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    3. Suppression of lawful lodge meetings is nothing less than suppression of our right to assemble. Hitler and Mussolini did the exact same thing.

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    4. We already have problems growing Freemasonry. The Mike Smith that I know was an champion of promoting the craft. It appears to me that some brother/s has a personal agenda and is to cowardly to step into the light. My belief in fairness in Free Masonry has been shaken. Politics appear to be the seat of the injustice that has been perpetrated a good and faithful brother. I am a 50 year faithful member and I'm disappointed with this action. A good man and Mason has been slandered.

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  2. I was told a long time ago by an old Past Grand Master of Florida that “ No one wins in a Masonic Trial my Brother.” There is always bad blood and injury for all involved. It’s always better to try another way.

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  3. Your description is clearly of Masons, however elevated they may be, who either do not understand our most basic teachings or they do not at all know the same. Personally, for whatever my opinion is worth, I would appreciate if Grand Lodges would start severing ties with alleged Grand Lodges that wield their powers like bludgeons and guillotines against their own body. It's disgusting. I remember when none of our Grand Lodges recognized anything related to Prince Hall, and they regularly accused Prince Hall Grand Lodges and constituents of being "clandestine." I was in Louisiana when I became a Mason, and I came face to face with that issue almost immediately. Let's just say that only few of my Louisiana Brethren in those days behaved in ways that I would consider to be according to Masonic principles, yet the same were convinced that anything Prince Hall must be "clandestine." I've decided over the years, as I've learned more about that word "clandestine," that a "clandestine" Lodge or Grand Lodge operates outside the confines of its own law and often according to the will of a few individuals who wield power within it. So, in my opinion, one could argue that South Carolina's traditional white-men's Grand Lodge is clandestine, and should treated accordingly - before the rest of us are affected by its taint.
    Kyle W. Myers, P.M.
    Rudolph Krause Lodge No. 433, F.&A.M.
    Lake Charles, Louisiana

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    1. Hello Louisiana brother, I am new master mason in Mississippi and immediately noticed the divide between Prince Hall and F&AM. Currently Mississippi does not recognize Prince Hall but I do believe soon this will change. After speaking to several long time masons in the state, the majority I have spoken to see no problem with recognizing Prince Hall. I can't speak for anyone but myself, but I do hope the recognition of prince hall will take place soon. I work with several Prince Hall Masons in my professional life and am embarrassed that I currently am forced to consider Prince Hall as clandestine. When I am given the opportunity to vote on this matter, I will surely vote yes.

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    2. The issue in Mississippi that I am aware of is that Prince Hall lodges have no one 'grand lodge' if you will, to speak for the organization, but rather several, formed out of splits within past PH lodges. If they can get under one umbrella, then recognition gets much closer.

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    3. Mississippi has only 1 I repeat 1 Prince Hall Grand Lodge..it is THE MOST WORSHIPFUL PRINCE HALL GRAND LODGE OF MISSISSIPPI PHA...Anything else is wrong..

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    4. As a current WM in SC, I'm appalled of the actions that have taken place. MWB Michael Smith is the most ideal representation of a Mason that I've ever met. That being said, at our last Grand Lodge function held two years ago he was the only Grand Lodge official that was in favor of recognizing Prince Hall. Cal and others did not favor recognition because the Grand Master would no longer have the claim to be over all Masonic lodges in the state of South Carolina. Unfortunately the measure for recognizing Prince Hall failed by slim margin. It makes me sick this is what Masonry has become in my state.

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    5. Masonry in your state has always been the same ...what has to come is CHANGE..Or Majority of GLSC Go over to MWPHGLSC & Become members...If MWPHGLSC has what they call Healing for non PHA members GLSC members would just have to show proof they are masons...Then we would see change...

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    6. As a sitting WM in the state of South Carolina, I agree that MWB Michael Smith is an ideal Mason. This situation will not be settled until the Grand Lodge Communication in April. I believe there will be ramifications to the Grand Line.

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    7. Kyle, you should probably call your Grand Lodge and ask the Grand Secretary what determines regularity. I suspect he will refer you back to the early 18s when your GL was recognized by the state of Louisiana as the legitimate jurisdiction holding GL.

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  4. Aren't you going to lose enough masons because of shutting down for any entire year as it is? Personally I believe this move is a huge mistake, and pulling a charter for one mans mistake, without attempting to correct him is just covering one wrong move with another. If he's wrong for using public media, than so are you for sending this reprimand by public media.
    Sorry but this sounds like more of a personal situation, than any act of fraternal brotherly love.
    Just my opinion after 30 years in masonry.
    Respectfully
    Jack Young PM & current treasurer

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    1. I agree with your perspective on this issue Brother.

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    2. Agree completely, a brother trying to look after his fellows in a trying time, getting the severest punishment is not on. Should maybe made aware of his error, and told of other ways he could / should act. Then for the boffins to use the same (ie. media) to tell the world is unbelievably unfair. What's good for one, is good for all. Hope this gets a fair airing as soon as possible. Good luck from across the pond.

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    3. Been a Mason for fifty years and I say that what they did to Mike was wrong. If you go to the internet you will find that the age old secrets of Masonry are no longer secret. All we have is each other and the oath that we took to look out for each other. This trial was stupid! When Masonry fades into history, you young brothers can thank stupid stunts like this.

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  5. And you wonder why the fraternity is falling apart!!! Weak leadership, Politics, lack of accountability and oversight, the old boy power network is killing the Blue Lodges. The Grand Lodge System is a dying system. Instead of working at the Blue Lodge level to improve the 4 pillars of the modern masonic lodge (Membership, Activities, Officer development and retention, member development and retention, these leaders make it all about them. When was the last time a Grand Master left the craft better than he found it. Your Indiana membership is down in the 45,000 range (3% to 5% loss every year) Covid-19 and the lack of Masonic leadership during this pandemic will lead to a 15% to 20% loss of membership. When you kill your area rep system and your lodges are own their own, failure is imminent. I know. I was there and pushed out in 2016. Today, I do no volunteer service and am a very disgruntled freemason. I didn't fail freemasonry and your leaders, they failed me. Some day before it is too late, the fraternity needs qualified business people who understand it is a business and needs to be run as a business with leadership, accountability and oversight like I run my own business every day. My lodge was a top 10 lodge in 2009 and I have a GM award with high distinction. Today the lodge is failing and run by blue collar guys who could care less about the basics and are following the path of least resistance. They are living off the work and income derived by the past. They couldn't recruit me today if I was being introduced to Freemasonry. It is a sad day for Freemasonry. Change Happens only if Change Happens. Good Luck

    George Burkley PM Goshen Indiana

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  6. Gerald Martin,Master,Old Erie #3 Grandlodge of Ohio.
    What in hell is the SC GM thinking,why would you not have a Zoom type meeting if you can not meet in person,this is not the 1950's the world is all moving to technology it is where the Young men are,it is the world they know,with brothers like this running some jurisdiction it isn't any wonder our numbers are diminishing. Thank the Great Architect that Ohio is not this backwards.

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    1. It is South Carolina...

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    2. Rick Miller, PDEO of 21st District, Ohio
      Thank you Bro. Martin for your response. I agree with your summation. Additionally, I do not understand how a Grand Lodge has authority over an appendant body. Each have their own chain of command and I am sure they do not communicate with a Grand Lodge before making all decisions that affect their own respective body. I believe it would almost be un-Masonic to assume authority that is not provided within a Constitution or By-Laws. Whatever happened to Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth? Whatever happened to tolerance? Whatever happened to obligations taken at an Altar? Whatever happened to putting others first and considering their needs? Of course, this is just my opinion.

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    3. In fairness, this escapade is an illustration of the delicate balance of powers within jurisdictions works. A sitting grand master ABSOLUTELY has final authority over appendant bodies operating in his state because his authority is supreme over that state's Masons. Whether any of us agree with GM Disher's final actions or not, his edict is the ultimate word on any and all Masonic meetings there. Seasoned Masons realize this fact, and allegations that Disher somehow exceeded his authority are incorrect - he has that authority, and he did not exercise power he did not have.

      That's not the ultimate issue here.

      What occurred in this case is analogous to giving the death penalty to a jaywalker. Just because a GM has the power to do something doesn't mean it's the Masonically correct thing to do.

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    4. Brother Hodapp, you are most likely correct for some jurisdictions. And I thank you for your response. I based my reply on my own experience here in Ohio. The latest Edict (2021-4) issued by the Grand Master of Ohio on December 21, 2020 was directed to "Masonic Lodges holding allegiance under the Grand Lodge of Ohio of Free and Accepted Masons of Ohio". It was not directed to the lodges and Masonic appendant bodies. So if it is within a Grand Lodge's Constitution to grant such authority to the Grand Master, then so be it. I do know that those Grand Officers for the appendant bodies try to keep communications open with each other and with the Grand Master in Ohio so that many decisions that effect membership are coordinated. Like I said, this is what I have experienced. Rick Miller

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    5. Bro. Hodapp, I think the issue is more than "jaywalking." Had the PGM stuck to social chats and welfare checks, perhaps. But if petitions were read and accepted, that's an unacceptable conducting of Masonic business in an unsecure and prohibited format.

      People make excuses for willfully violating rules and edicts when they full well know better, and should know better. The PGM essentially held an illegal meeting, forever tainting not just those partipating, but those whose petitions were read under such conditions.

      Maybe tge punishment was harsh, but it was not unjust, IMO.

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    6. I have received conflicting reports from different Brethren who were in these online meetings. PGM Smith was charged with seven counts of violating the GM's edict. But only one person at one of the seven meetings said that petitioners' names were read, while now numerous others said these were strictly informal social calls and welfare checks. If both sets of statements are true, it would seem that only one of the meetings actually violated the order by conducting any business. And I would venture an educated guess that the idea of accepting the petitioners' names during this single meeting more than likely came from an officer in one of the valleys and not the SGIG. SGIGs don't run the stated meetings or called meetings and don't transact the business of an individual valley.

      As always, in the vacuum of information, all we have left is supposition and conjecture. But again, everyone who has contacted me or replied online who was at these meetings has said there was no business done. Only a single Brother has said otherwise.

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    7. Having known PGM Smith over decades, I know he bleeds mason if he is ever cut. There is no more dedicated mason that I have ever met in the country, having traveled to numerous lodges. How many masons would take on serving in leadership positions on both the Scottish Rite and Blue Lodge at the state level and keep a full time job? I do not know the rules, but if the GM has all powers for a state to do what he wants without question, then why can't we just wait and about two more months and have the incoming GM nullify this asinine edict? Now I am not saying to go further and issue a severe condemnation on the current GM, but bringing back the PGM should be forthright within the new GM's realm. Any comments? My opinion, I have seen where other states are doing the same thing the PGM did without similar circumstances. Lack of leadership and consistency is definitely not the way to inculcate brotherhood and a feeling of fellowship, much less to motivate brothers to want to stay with the Masons. Me? If nothing can be done to rectify this situation, then I have to question why I am a member. Sorry guys.

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  7. I just can't comprehend this kind of thinking.

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  8. that is terrible, what a jerk. Wonder why people stay away from the Masons

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    1. Brent, I agree that this was a terrible act but I can assure you this is not typical behavior of most Masons. Do not let it be a deterrent!

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  9. This is a said event for all Freemasonry. Expulsion seems rather harsh, especially if MWB Smith advised the Grand Master of his plans before holding the virtual Health Check with is Scottish Rite brethren. The punishment appears to be excessive, considering the crime.

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  10. After being a Mason for 35 years & PM 2 times and retiring from the Army after 22 years as the Senior Intelligence Analyst, I have met several hundred GMs and it's like I always say - "after they get that bop on the head evidently it jars some brains loose." I find it very hard to believe that PGM Smith did ANYTHING unmasonic and the present GM is a GREAT EXAMPLE of the lunacy present in modern-day Freemasonry. I wouldn't want the GM to give any Masonic education in my lodge. Obviously he, and his supporters are woefully in need of it themselves. My compliments to PGM Smith and hope this situation will rectify itself.

    Ron Radatz, 2X PM

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  11. Yeah, I remember all that hoopla during the issue with Arkansas. This today is a terrible situation. I just read some of the background on this issue and if I continue to see the same pattern as I have already reviewed, then I am definitely using this as classroom material to teach my Masonic students what you should not do when dealing with the rights and respect rendered to a Master Mason, regardless of rank. I will keep it neutral but this is a clear example of something that should have never happened.

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  12. Wow. Come on brothers we're better than this. All of us that recognize the Grand Lodge of South Carolina need to think about whispering some friendly council their way. Respectfully, Jason Richard Caldwell, Junior Warden, McKenzie River Lodge #195 Grand Lodge of Oregon.

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  13. Is there any feedback regarding the outcome of his trail on 30 January 2021?

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    1. PGM Smith requested a masonic trial. He then admitted his guilt to the charges brought against him and he took the punishment. Now he is trying to gather support to overcome his expulsion. At the end of the day he knew better, he knew that the GM's edict is law..... he'd been a GM. It boils down to him think he could do what he wanted to do because he was a past GM!!!

      As far as the PHM question....you need to learn the truth why they aren't considered "regular". And they are a bunch of racist that don't want harmony, they want Power. Go look at the PHM GM address on the PHGL of SC website. I'm in the light and know the truth.

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  14. We can't afford being a fraternity without brotherhood. Our membership has been very rapidly declining. The already decaying buildings are being struck another hard blow by the virus because of the dangers from deadly ventilation.

    We have lost most educated and professional support. We had over four million members after the second world war and when the virus hit we were already reduced to a million, -- now there is every prospect of being reduced to an elderly 500 thousand by the end of this decade.

    South Carolina and the other segregated jurisdictions are far larger pools of segregation than the Klan. Our reputation is indeed sullied.

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    1. Yes. Your comments have so much relevance to the issue being discussed that they deserve to be discussed further. "The dangers from deadly ventilation..." Yes! The loss of "most educated and professional support..." Yes! "Segregated jurisdictions...pools of segregation". Yes! Yes! Yes! But don't forget Bigfoot, and the Illuminati. And how about that Denver International Airport! Yes!

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    2. Fatherhood of God! Brotherhood of Man!
      Let's all come together as Brothers to make the world a better place!

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  15. Sigh. We've had "check-ins" with my Lodge for the past year - it's kept us active and connected. Our AASR Valley is doing all sorts of things on line, to keep the Brothers involved. It's been great. We have had Brothers we've not seen in years take part. And for our Blue Lodge Zoom, our GM has dropped in on several occasions. What we've been through for the past 11 months has been brutal. Being able to stay in touch, virtually, has been a God-send.

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    1. galebaird396@gmail.comFebruary 06, 2021 6:43 PM

      Well spoken. Gale Baird PM Jackson Lodge #146, Indiana.

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    2. galebaird396@gmail.comFebruary 06, 2021 6:52 PM

      I truly believe after researching this, if expulsion from the Lodge should be done, the Grand Master should be the person, I'm hard pressed to say man, much less Brother.

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  16. I am not versed in the intricate ways of South Carolina Masonry, but apparently, Masonry in that state is being strangled out of existence.

    In an effort to enjoy the benefits of Masonic membership, activities and friendships, I would start by demitting from Freemasonry in South Carolina. Then, unencumbered from that Grand Lodge, I would petition for membership in a Prince Hall Lodge.

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  17. This is ridiculous, completely anti-masonic and tarnishes the reputation of US-and regular- freemasonry.
    de Flup(initiated 1954...)

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  18. I must be a very bad person ... I send emails, calls, notices to Brethren to let them know how much I appreciate and hold affection for them ... just wondering how do Temples do their business, if they cannot communicate via alternative means. Have a Blessed day Brethren ...

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  19. I'm saddened to read about this. Seems to this PM that the power in the GM's hands has been severely abused and all SC Mason's should gather as soon as possible and pass legislation to prevent this and bring SC's GL into the 21st century and curtail the power of the GM in issues such as this. I truly believe the harshest punishment should be held until all other avenues have been traveled.

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  20. The order is cutting its own throat by doing these things.

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  21. What was the true intent of Pearson? One should be careful if they are going to live by the sword for they themselves may die by the very same sword. I heard most of those serving on the jury were connected to Pearson including his own father!

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  22. Early in my Travels, a WPM whispered wise words in my ear. He said, "There are Masons who know every word of every ritual, and the meaning of none." Take due notice, thereof...

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    1. I am a 50+ member and PM twice. As said before "no one wins in a Masonic trial" But the Lodge looses. I n this case look how much the GL of SC has lost! What about the general membership? Who would want to Join with all of this going on? Just saying: been there and dun that. GL of Mo.

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  23. The punishment is excessive, and the edict is -also- excessive. There should be nothing wrong with a meeting where no ritual or business is conducted. What's the difference between that and gathering in person simply for fellowship?

    The South Carolina GM is very capricious, and has come up with arbitrary things. One would hope his successor will reverse this nonsense and reinstate PGM Smith.

    J.D. Walker, PM
    Secretary, LaFayette-DuPont #19 and Arminius #25
    Free and Accepted Masons of the District of Columbia
    Treasurer, Columbia Chapter #1
    Royal Arch Masons of the District of Columbia
    Recorder, Triangle Council #3
    Grand Council of Royal and Select Masters of the District of Columbia
    Associate Patron, Nellie Custis No. 169
    Order of the Eastern Star, Grand Chapter of Virginia

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  24. SC Masonry lost an awesome Mason, simply due to ego and corruption within the ranks.

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    1. The ego of SC GM and PGM Pearson is corrupted indeed.

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  25. These type actions ordered by a Grand Master gavel will soon destroy this time honored institution. I sincerely pray that the grand lodge overturns his decision and reinstate the PGM to all right, light and benefits and restores his many years of service

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    1. Hey Sir, what organization are you affiliated with as a SGIG?

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  26. After reading a lot of comments of rightful
    disbelief etc. about this event, surely there is a right of appeal that can be followed and this matter can be resolved.

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  27. Thank you for this article. I am in agreement that this appears to be an extreme overreach on the part of the current Grand Master. I must, however, point out one glaring question. If PGM Smith were truly a proponent of mutual recognition with the PHA Grand Lodge, then why did he not enact it during his own tenure as Grand Master? As a MD PHA Mason who was raised in NC and has been privy to the practices of the South, I have every reason to doubt PGM Smith's sincerity in attempting to achieve amity and visitation. Perhaps he has now had a change of heart, and for that I applaud him. Either way, the question should be addressed.

    RW Terence J. Clegg, Sr.
    DDGM-at-Large
    MWPHGLMD F&AM-PHA

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    1. RW Terence,
      A letter from the PHA Grand Lodge discussing mutual recognition was received and read at MWB Smith's last SC Grand Lodge session. It did not pass the vote. Hopefully the brothers can rectify this in the very new future, as well as the many injustices and usurpations that have been forced upon us.

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    2. Understood. Thanks for your response. Sounds as though PGM Smith is a good man and I hope he is duly reinstated. Also, my views are of course my own and are not indicative or representative of any of my affliations.

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  28. Alfred T Letle, PMFebruary 05, 2021 11:23 AM

    To start with the edict of GM Disher was ill conceived from the start.Forbidding Masons from communicating in any matter is ridiculous especially in these times. Hopefully justice will be served and this decision will be reversed.

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  29. This is disgusting. Sadly, this GM is a small, 2 dimensional petty old man, out of touch with the modern world. Freemasonry is suffering in many jurisdiction where there tyrants get into power. No PHA recognition, political and religious influenced "Freemasonry" should not exist. Im hoping the Masons of SC can find a way to remove this man from power and undo the wrong in that State.

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    1. He’s not old. But I think he has been receding bad counsel as well

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  30. Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely

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  31. Lord Acton is proven right yet again again...

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  32. Brother Chris.......I did indeed go back to that aforementioned post and read the letter brother Pearson sent you. As a fellow conservative (who left the reservation the past 2 elections) who as an 11-year-old was a Nixon supporter, I believe his comments were well off the beam. I have been admonished to never speak I'll of a brother Mason, so in that vein I have no opinion of either Jay Pearson or the current GM. This whole sad episode feels of the Arkansas debacle, and unless the brethren of South Carolina do what is right and proper to drag their Grand Lodge kicking and screaming out of the mid-1950s, Freemasonry in that state is done.

    Fraternal yours,
    Bob Thompson
    Trinity Lodge 502, Grand Lodge of Oklahoma AF&AM
    Muskogee, OK

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  33. April will not get here soon enough. Sad time in South Carolina.

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  34. Thank GAOTU I am a Virginia Freemason! I am in disbelief of the actions of our Brothers in those jurisdictions that forget we are a fraternity of men dedicated to each other.

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  35. It's more than sad to see something like this happen, and unfortunately speaks to an upside-down view of reality, or maybe a hyper-conservatism in action. It also reminds me of when TN and GA expelled some gay brothers when they married. That lost those GLs recognition of a few other GLs.


    IIRC, about the only thing California Masons _aren't_ allowed to do on-line is ritual- a couple of days ago we had an online stated meeting to do the usual business of the Lodge (minutes, bills/communications, read an application, etc). We're instructed to tile our own environment, but that's about it. We've been having social and non-esoteric educational gatherings almost weekly. We even have official instructions for conducting an officers installation. It can work if you're not afraid of technology.


    I'd say that SC made Mt Everest out of an ant-hill, and people noticed.

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  36. And we wonder why we can't find new members, much less keep good members. Pearson is using a hammer when even a silk glove would be overkill. He is the one who should be brought up on charges for not doing what is best overall for the fraternity. He should be held responsible for the decline and death of these Lodges. Checking in with members during a freakin' pandemic should be highly encouraged, not reprimanded. Wow, great publicity for a dying Grand Lodge,,,,

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  37. I am puzzled by the prohibition of online activities. Would there be a similar restriction to a conference call? And what if two SC Masons who happened to be father and soon get on a Zoom call together? Is that an issue?

    Fraternally,
    Robert James, PM
    Madison Lodge No. 5, GL of Wisconsin F&AM

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  38. As a 46 year member of my NY Blue Lodge, I want to express my thanks to our GM Sardone (GLoNY) for allowing us to hold informal Zoom meetings during the pandemic. These Zoom meetings allowed me,living 1,600 miles away from my lodge, the opportunity to reestablish friendships with my brothers.
    Fraternally,
    Bobby Vandenbush
    Fairport-Flower City 476 F&AM

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    1. Completely agree. Our informal sessions have really filled the void and likely has limited attrition as well. Glad GLofNY is not only following masonic tradition, but boldly leading. Extraordinary times lead, usually, to creative solutions. Masonic brotherhood doesn't live in a book, it's alone and well in the love and respect we share when we are together. It was true when I was raised 26 years ago and I'm glad it's true today. Stay well, Brothers.
      Glenn Jakobsen, Herder #698, GLONY

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  39. Wow, he was conducting a health and welfare check on his Brothers from the sounds of things. Is this really how a Grand Lodge wants to move forward.. it looks to me like it had little concern for members compared to DO WHAT I SAY!!

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  40. Douglas Stocks PM. NCFebruary 05, 2021 4:32 PM

    Sounds like to me Pearson has an ax to grind with PGM Smith, and some skeletons to loose. Maybe he needs to go back EA and relearn the masonic oaths. Certainly doesn't need to be in the position he's in.

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  41. My initial reaction is to be as appalled as most of those leaving comments. However, I have also learned that it is the "thin slice of ham, indeed, that does not have two sides". We all are well advised to remember Section 6, of Charge VI of our ancient charges. It applies equally to Grand Masters and the most newly raised Master Mason. Mel Johnson

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  42. I always thought Grand Masters were picked according to their ability to lead and "serve" with vision and humility, and not be athoritarians / dictators. It seems that PGM Pearson and Disher only have their own ambitions in mind not the principles of the fratetnity or the fratetnity itself. I wonder what would happen if enough brothers in So. Carolina petitioned for their censure instead, because their attitude and actions resembles a certain lower end of the anatomy that should be spanked.

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  43. Sad, stupid and ridiculous. As was Arkansas. And Arkansas has rid itself of the stupid faction and appears to be going in a good direction again. Hopefully the same will happen is South Carolina and the past grand will be reinstated. And if Masons in these state where Grand Masters have absolute power realize what can happen like this, they will do something to stop this!

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  44. This is a clear-cut case of ego and high handedness on the part of the present Grand Master, and one could be most assured that he, by this kind of arbitrary action and exercise of power, is working against (the interest) of Masonry in SC, even if not intentionally. Imagine not only expelling a PGM, an excellent Mason I am persuaded to believe from the many tongues of good report about him for an offence (according to the provisions of the SC constitutions or by-laws as the case may be) of no major consequence with regard to our profession as Masons, but going a further mile, in contempt of one man, to revoke the charter of an established Lodge. As funny as it is ridiculous.

    Chibuzor Ezebili, WM, St. John's Lodge No. 3780EC.

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  45. Just sad and I'm from South Carolina MWPHGLSC PM.LEE
    DREHER LODGE #370
    ABBEVILLE,SC

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  46. I hope that GM Disher finds light in his life. It seems his heart is heavy with fear and hate. -John Kitzmiller, PM

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  47. During Covid with the suspension of our meetings (South Africa Irish Constitution) great comfort was derived from our zoom meetings where we can continue our Brotherly Love, and look in on our Brethren as our fraternity demands.
    In a further display of utter hypocrisy GM Disher will be attending a North American GM's meeting... via Zoom.

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  48. A well thought of comment, I strongly agree my Brother.

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  49. A well thought of comment, I strongly agree my Brother.

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  50. This ability to revoke a charter and or expel a member in good standing, especially one who serves to only further the masonic name and cuase, is a deeply troubling malpractice of power afforded to the position that is by definition supposed to be the very embodiment of our ancient ancestors direction and purpose. I have long thought that a National Board of Masonic Review should be in place for problems that occur on independent levels and should come with equally as harsh a punishment for finding personal vendettas as the root issue. South Carolina now has a "Black Eye" to the world surrounding it. To think that the history of our sister state should fall in jeopardy over a story such as it is, in my opinion, is as "Clandestine" as one could become. Our fore fathers would be, and at Very good reason, be ashamed of South Carolina.

    SPES MEA IN DEO EST

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  51. Do we just add Prince Hall theories to all Masonic writing now whether it fits or not regardless of relevance?

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  52. So, I have read and re read this piece;

    It strikes me as sad that at one point or another, the three Grandmasters involved, left the Masonic path, regarding the SC affair.

    I find it hard to believe that any Mason would be chastised for a call in to other brothers for a health amd welfare check, ( Assuming that is what it was.) A Masonic communication, is a tyled meeting using signs and tokens to insure authorized membership only.

    Reviewing a petition is clearing something that should have happened withing a stated communication, as it can contain information not to be made know to the public. This was a faux paux in and of itself.

    I agree with a strong admonishment and an expectation of a promise to cease and desist, as the GM Edit was lawfully given.

    That said, then. the SC GL Constitution is violated. Why? Adherence to it would have been proper amd Masonic, it is the ideas of the Fraternity we uphold, not ourselves.

    I find the official communications to the author from the PGM very distressing and his tone defensive. If there is no need to explain yourself, and then you do, you betray yourself.

    Masonic communications and non Masonic ( Civilian communications are very different, the latter been expected to be extraordinarily civil, careful, respectful and polite. Admonishing through the force of logic, and reason, that the respondent should be moved to proper action by his his own discovery. and not by the hubris of the those who would admonish.

    One should NEVER presuppose the intelligence of another, this is the root of hubris itself.

    This is troubling and destructive. The world looks on, and ,from my vantage point , it is very difficult to see any measurable difference between the inside of the lodge and without.

    All edits, laws and constitutions aside, this Fraternity can only survive when good men, do the right thing. So Mote It Be

    Greg Outman,APM Karl E Warren Railroad Lodge No 259 F&AM WA.





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  53. Sad, stupid and ridiculous. vision and humility, and not be authoritarian / dictators.

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  54. I, for one, am embarrassed and frankly ashamed to a degree of my SC Grand Lodge. I hold MW Mike Smith in the highest esteem. I am also astonished that a "trial" was allowed to go forward with what could never be (obviously) considered an impartial panel. Very noticeably, I have not included my name due to the fact that I would be most assuredly expelled with the same expediency as my dear Brother. I am truly shocked and dismayed...

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  55. IN MY OPINION THIS IS AN ABUSE OF POWER, AND AN EGO PROBLEM. I AM A PROUD PRINCE HALL MASON. BUT, THIS IS NOT A MAINSTREAM ONLY PROBLEM, IT IS ALSO AN ISSUE WE HAVE IN THE PRINCE HALL FAMILY AS WELL. GRANDMASTERS THINKING THEY ARE GODS AND ABOVE THEIR BROTHERS. BEING A GRANDMASTER IN MY OPINION IS A RESPONSIBILITY THAT ONLY RESPONSIBLE PEOPLE SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO HAVE. THIS GRANDMASTER SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN A GRANDMASTER. PERIOD. MASONRY IS GOING DOWN THE TUBES SLOWLY BUT SURELY. I READ EARLIER IN THE COMMENTS THAT THE OLDER MEMBERS KNOW THE WAY, AND RESPECT THE WAY THE RIGHTS OF THE GRANDMASTER, WELL WHAT THEY ARE NOT SAYING IS THAT THE MEMBERS OF TODAY ARE MUCH SMARTER,AND WILL ASK QUESTIONS A LOT MORE. ALSO, YOU HAVE TO REMEMBER THAT THE MEMBERS OF TODAY ARE THE ONES THAT WILL KEEP THE ORDER GOING IN THE FUTURE. SO IN MY OPINION, BE CAUTIOUS OF WHAT YOU SAY AND DO TO THE YOUNG MASONS. I HAVE BEEN ONE 25 YEARS AND COUNTING. SMIB BROTHERS. PM FRIERSON 33 DEGREE.

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  56. I can tell you a similar story in nearly every state.

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  57. Knight of JerusalemFebruary 07, 2021 12:45 PM

    This is why I have left the freemasonry behind. There are simply too many Dishers. Uncontrolled power always corrupts and this is by far not an isolated instance from this sad excuse of a GM

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  58. As an active Scottish Rite Mason I am sad that this has happened. Why didn't Disher say something after the 1st Zoom meeting was held? Why were there subsequent meetings and nothing said? Something stinks! This will ultimately give a black eye to their Grand Lodge.

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  59. Gross miscalculation from the highest office. I don’t think they know how angry many many of us here in South Carolina are at this overstep. Jay and Cal you do not know the enemies you made. Moreover, Jay Pearson many of us here in South Carolina know just how much a cancer you are in this organization. Your reputation proceeds you Sir and I suggest you do some deep reflection

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  60. Don't worry about it. We SC Masons are going to correct this in April, or as soon our Grand Lodge can meet.

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    1. Do you actually think they are going to let you meet this April?

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    2. I hope someone clues me in on that plan. I plan on being in Charleston in April.

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  61. "A gavel of authority is not intended to be used as a weapon" ~ Illustrious James D. Cole, 33°, Sovereign Grand Commander, Supreme Council, SJ.

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  62. This is absolutely sickening, and absurd. There can only be two reasons for this:

    1. The GM wanted to show what a big d--k he has and that he has the power to expel anyone (even a much better Mason than himself) from the Fraternity if his little ego gets even slightly bruised

    and/or

    2. The GM, and presumably others, had an axe to grind and used this incident as a way to, as Bro. Hodapp aptly put it, mete out the death penalty to a jaywalker.

    Does anyone have any additional info on the "inside story" as to why this happened???

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  63. This case is similar to what happened Past GM Nori of Grand Lodge of Japan. Due to conflict of interest by the incumbent GM at that time - He was expelled and the Charter of His Lodge was arrested.
    Eventually His membership and His Lodge's Charter was restored after a year.
    Adversarial advisers can cause disharmony among Brothers!

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