"To preserve the reputation of the Fraternity unsullied must be your constant care."

BE A FREEMASON

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Midwest Conference on Masonic Education in Kansas City, MO: April 29 - May 1, 2022




by Christopher Hodapp

The 73rd annual Midwest Conference on Masonic Education will be held April 29th through May 1st, 2022 in Kansas City, Missouri.

From their website:
The Midwest Conference on Masonic Education 2022 promises to be an excellent event that offers excellent resources for Masonic Educators at all levels. Whether you are the chair of Masonic Education in your jurisdiction, a local Lodge Education Officer, or just a Brother interested in contributing to Masonic Education in your local lodge, we welcome you to join us. We look forward to great presentations, useful workshops and interaction, plenty of good fellowship, and an unmatched opportunity to see what's new and exciting in Masonic Education across jurisdictions.

By the end of the weekend, you will have many new tools and ideas to take back to your jurisdiction for Masonic Education!
This year's conference will be at the Hampton Inn and Suites Kansas City - Country Club Plaza, 4600 Summit Street, Kansas City, MO 64112.

General Registration fee of $150 includes all presentations, Friday night dinner and hospitality suite; Saturday breakfast, lunch and dinner; and Sunday breakfast.

Can't attend in person? A Virtual Program is also being offered via Zoom. The $50 fee gives you online access to several of the presentations (see the website for more details about this option).


CLICK HERE FOR HOTEL RESERVATIONS


Bro. Josef Wäges - “Finding La Candeur: A Guide to Masonic Research”
Josef Wäges, 32°, is a member of the Blue Friars, a member of Plano Lodge No. 768, the Valley of Dallas (AASR SJ), a Fellow of the Grand College of Rites, a full member of the Texas Lodge of Research, Michigan Lodge of Research, and a life member of the Missouri Lodge of Research. Additionaly he is the editor of The Secret School of Wisdom, the Authentic Rituals and Doctrines of the Illumanati, L’École secrète de sagesse, Rituels et doctrines authentiques des Illuminati: Une école secrète de Sagesse, On Materialism and Idealism, and A Treasury of Coën Texts in Two Volumes.

• Bro. Dan Hrinko - “The Purple of the Fraternity”, Masonic Leadership and Training
Bro. Hrinko has been a Mason since 1977. He served as Master of Clark Lodge 101 in 1983 and again in 2005. He was the Master of Arts & Sciences 792 serving one year under dispensation in 2009-10 and a second year as the Charter Master in 2010-11. He served as a DEO from 2013-14 and as a DDGM from 2015-17. Bro. Hrinko has authored two books published by Macoy Masonic Publishers. The Craft Driven Lodge chronicles the principles and process of the formation and operation of the Arts & Sciences Lodge as the Brothers of that lodge strive for the best Masonic experiences and the pursuit of Masonic Education. The Purple of the Fraternity describes how the servant leadership model aligns with Masonic teachings and principles and offers a template for effective leadership within Freemasonry regardless of the level at which you are serving the Craft.

• Bro. Shawn Eyer - “Architecture, Geometry, and Aesthetics” Encountering Freemasonry’s Central Metaphor of the Craft”
Shawn Eyer is a Masonic writer whose work emphasizes the careful reading of early Masonic literature, with special attention to intertextuality, themes, symbols, and ritualistic practice. He holds advanced degrees from Hebrew College and Harvard University. He is a member of the Lodge of the Nine Muses No. 1776 in the District of Columbia, and a Past Master of Academia Lodge No. 847 in California.

• Bro. Jacob W. Thompson - “Wardens and Masters Training”: The Grand Lodge of Missouri’s newest Masonic Education Resource
RWB Jacob Thompson is the Grand Historian of the Grand Lodge of Missouri AF&AM and currently serves as the chariman of the jurisdiction’s Masonic Education Online Learning Subcommittee. He is a tireless researcher of the history of the Grand Lodge of Missouri, most recently curating and facilitating Missouri’s Bicentennial Lecture Series. He is also passionate about creating and providing useful and effective Masonic education resources for local lodges and was the driving force behind the creation and delivery of Missouri’s new Masters and Wardens training program.

• Bro. James Buckhorn (IN), Facilitator - Grand Lodge Education Officers/Committee Chairs Roundtable Q&A 
This is your opportunity to pick the brains of the top minds in Masonic Education across jurisdictions as we welcome Grand Lodge Education Officers and Chairmen of Masonic Education Committees present to answer your questions on Masonic Education in their respective jurisdictions.

Never heard of the Midwest Conference on Masonic Education before? Or maybe you did, but didn't know what it was about or if you could attend. 

Who We Are

The Midwest Conference on Masonic Education was formed in 1949 at a gathering of interested Masons from Illinois (including Alphonse Cerza) and Iowa.

The outcome was to continue getting together by establishing its first Annual Meeting which was held in December 1950 in Cedar Rapids IA. The organization is comprised of a loose and ever-changing collection of Masonic educators from Grand Lodge jurisdictions located in 12 north central States and the Province of Manitoba. Other participants frequently include chairs of Masonic Education as well as Grand Lodge officers.

What We Are About

The aim of the Conference is to promote Masonic Education, in part by providing a forum for educators to gather, freely discuss Masonic issues, socialize, and learn from sharing experiences while building beneficial relationships.

In addition, the Conference initiates special projects such as collecting data on educational practices across all North American jurisdictions, as well as encouraging Masonic research and writing by individual educators.

How We Function

The Conference meets once a year, usually in late April or early May, in one of the member jurisdictions. Responsibility for conducting the Annual Meeting rotates each year, eventually being hosted by all member jurisdictions before repeating.

A typical program schedule includes presentations by well-known Masonic speakers, experiential as well as scholarly participant presentations, roundtable discussions, and jurisdiction reports. Sufficient time is also arranged to provide informal chats among attendees. For more than a half century, our participants have expressed the view that our Conference is well worth the time, effort and cost in order to gain the many benefits from attending and participating.


Video presentations from the 2019 and 2021 Conferences are available online HERE.

All Master Masons from recognized Masonic jurisdictions in the United States, Canada, or worldwide are encouraged to attend and become part of this annual Conference on Masonic Education.

All regular, recognized Masonic Jurisdictions are invited to enquire about becoming a member jurisdiction of the MCME.

For more information about this conference, visit the website at http://www.mcme1949.org

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Flash! GL of Louisiana Votes in Favor of Prince Hall Recognition... Sort Of


by Christopher Hodapp

NOTE: This story will be updated as more details are received.


This afternoon at its 211th Annual Communication in Lake Charles, the Grand Lodge of the State of Louisiana F&AM successfully voted in favor of joint recognition with a Prince Hall (PHA) grand lodge, which reduces the number of states without reciprocity of recognition down to just four now.

Sort of.

It seems that the mainstream Grand Lodge of Louisiana (established in 1812) has passed joint recognition of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge F&AM of Maryland (PHA, established in 1876), NOT Louisiana. I think this may be the first time this has happened in the history of American Freemasonry regarding Prince Hall amity agreements.

However, the voting members of the Grand Lodge of Louisiana decided NOT to recognize their own state's Prince Hall counterpart at this time. Their decision was based upon the preponderance of evidence of ongoing irregular activities carried out by the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge F&AM of Louisiana (established in 1869) and its MW Grand Master Ralph Slaughter. 

I've been told that GM Slaughter has allegedly issued charters outside of Louisiana in jurisdictions of other existing regular grand lodges with already established territories, which violates Masonic ground rules involving regularity and recognition. I'm still seeking clarifications of that.

With this development in mind, I can't really say "And then there were four..." regarding amity agreements between mainstream grand lodges and their Prince Hall counterparts, but I can take them off the list of the last holdouts in the U.S. So I made Louisiana a neutral gray color on the map for the moment.

The last four remaining states without any recognition between mainstream and Prince Hall (PHA) grand lodges whatsoever are: Arkansas, Mississippi, South Carolina, and West Virginia.

This story will be updated.


Thursday, March 24, 2022

News of The Masonic Society; TMS Journal Issue 56 On Its Way


by Christopher Hodapp

Issue 56 of the Journal of The Masonic Society is about to start hitting subscriber mailboxes. Our Editor Michael Poll, Art Director John Bridegroom, and the whole team continue to do amazing work highlighting Masonic education and research.

The cover features a stunning view of the ceiling in the main lodge room of the United Grand Lodge of England on Great Queen Street, London. 

Here is the line-up of the papers in this issue:

Gratitude in Masonic Life by C.R. Dunning, Jr.
Nine: Masonic Fan Fiction by M. Christopher Lee
Masonic Education in the Time of Pandemic: The Rubicon Masonic Society’s Experience by Dan Kemble
The Feast of the Paschal Lamb: A Memorial Service by Michael Moran, FMS and Samuel Kyburz
• Memorials of Tom Jackson and Ralph McNeal
• Highlights of this year's Masonic Week

While I'm on the subject, my belated public congratulations to WB Oscar Alleyne who was elected in February at Masonic Week 2022 as the new President of the Masonic Society. 


(The photo is admittedly a couple of years old, but it's one of my favorites taken of Oscar at the Grand Lodge of New York.)

The annual Masonic Week dinner meeting of the Masonic Society actually had record attendance this year. Some 112 Brethren assembled for food, fellowship, elections and an outstanding speaker. Chris Ruli, longtime Grand Historian and Librarian of the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia, presented “Masonic Myth of Our Nation’s Capital,” a discussion dispelling some of the more groundless (and frequently silly) stories told about the Masonic influences on the design and building of Washington, D.C. 

In addition to Oscar's election as President, Gregg Knott was elected as First Vice President, and Mark Robbins as Second Vice President. Newly elected Board members are Kevin Wardally, Grand Treasurer of the MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge of New York, and Mason Russell, Grand Treasurer of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts.

And a huge round of thanks to our outgoing President Jay Hochberg who served us during a couple of the most disruptive years in modern world history with leadership and distinction. If you have never discovered his 'Magpie Mason' blog (hard to believe, since he's been at this as long as I have), check it out here.


The Masonic Society was established in 2008 as a Masonic research organization and publishes its Journal quarterly. If you are a Master Mason and not a member or subscriber, you should be! 
"We are brothers who have a deep and abiding desire to seek knowledge, explore history, discover symbolism, debate philosophies, and in short, who are at the forefront of charting a path for the future of Freemasonry. The goal of The Masonic Society is not just to look backward at the history of Freemasonry, but to foster the intellectual, spiritual and social growth of the modern Masonic fraternity.

"To that end, The Masonic Society extends the hand of assistance and cooperation to individual research lodges throughout the Masonic world. It is the desire of The Masonic Society to cooperate with these lodges, to give their members the regular opportunity to publish their papers for an international audience, and to publicize their activities..."
Membership is US$45 per year for US addresses, US$49 per year for Canadian addresses, and US$67 per year outside of the U.S. & Canada. Non-Masons, libraries and others may subscribe to the magazine at the same rate.



Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Suspect In Shrine Vandalism Case Now Tied to More Attacks on Illinois Masonic Halls


Posted by Christopher Hodapp

From the Decatur, Illinois Herald & Review website on March 20th by Tony Reid:
The Decatur man accused of taking a baseball bat to the windows of the Decatur Masonic Temple (photo above) and inflicting massive damage is now linked to similar attacks at Masonic lodges and facilities scattered across Central Illinois.
Howard D. Lovelady Jr
Howard D. Lovelady Jr. (photo) is so far pleading not guilty to seven counts of criminal damage, and those only relate to attacks on the Decatur temple and the Masonic Lodge in Blue Mound.

Blue Mound Police Chief Chad Lamb told the Herald & Review that Lovelady is suspected of being the culprit in other acts of criminal damage in Mattoon, Arcola and Springfield, where two lodges and the Ansar Shrine Center were hit. Lovelady is accused of using a metal baseball bat to smash glass in windows and doors in multiple attacks in January and February.

“This is very unusual,” said Lamb, who has not interviewed Lovelady and said he had no idea what the defendant’s motive might be. “It’s just a bizarre case,” he added.

Giving evidence at a preliminary hearing Wednesday in which probable cause was found to try Lovelady for the Blue Mound attacks, Lamb told Macon County Circuit Court Judge Rodney Forbes that smashed windows at the lodge were discovered on the morning of Feb. 12.

Damage was estimated at around $1,000 and surveillance video captured the suspect driving away in a blue Pontiac car. This same vehicle was seen in the Decatur attacks, and has been linked to the other cases of criminal damage.

Testifying at another preliminary hearing Wednesday against Lovelady in the Decatur temple damage, Decatur Police Detective Jeremy Appenzeller said the Pontiac car’s registration was checked to Lovelady.

Appenzeller said the car was found parked outside Lovelady’s apartment and a “white metal bat” lay on the front passenger seat.

Under questioning from Macon County State’s Attorney Scott Rueter, the detective said the Decatur Temple had been the victim of multiple attacks during January and February. Each time the perpetrator, who had been caught on video, was seen walking up to the temple wielding a baseball bat before systematically smashing the glass in doors and windows.

Glass doors destroyed at Decatur Masonic Hall 

Appenzeller told Rueter the damage estimate for the Decatur Temple runs to more than $25,000. Lovelady is also accused of using a baseball bat to smash the windows in a truck parked outside the temple.

He was found and arrested Feb. 18 and Decatur Police sworn affidavits do not list him as making any statements about a motive for the alleged crimes. Lovelady is due back in court for a pretrial hearing May 2 and remains held in the Macon County Jail with bail set at $25,000, requiring him to post a bond of $2,500 to be freed.

Monday, March 21, 2022

Grand Lodge of British Columbia & Yukon Installing Cutting Edge Historical Markers


by Christopher Hodapp

In the 1960s and 70s, our Grand Lodge in Indiana installed about thirty aluminum historical markers at various important Masonic sites around the state. Almost sixty years later, they're all still in place, and nearly all of them are in remarkably good condition with no maintenance. They have quite literally withstood the test of time. It's tough to find any product with that kind of track record, and seen in that light, they are a remarkably inexpensive way to promote interest in the fraternity, once you consider the amortized cost over 5 or 6 decades. 

We used Sewah Studios out of Marietta, Ohio to manufacture ours, and since 1927, they have been the favorite supplier for nearly every state in the union for these types of roadside historical markers.

Now, brethren in Canada have hit upon a new wrinkle in historical markers. The Grand Lodge of British Columbia & Yukon is in the midst of celebrating its 150th anniversary. But instead of creating plaques with tons of small, hard to read type, their new commemorative markers include a scannable QR code that links to a website with more information than could ever possibly fit on the marker itself.

The first of a projected 45 markers to be installed was at Prince David Masonic Hall in Maple Ridge, British Columbia. It was dedicated on Saturday by the grand officers of the Grand Lodge of British Columbia & Yukon.

From a story on Saturday by Colleen Flanagan on the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows website:

The cast bronze plaque is mounted on the front steps of Prince David Masonic Hall and features a QR code that can be scanned using a phone that will connect immediately to websites, photos, videos, and information about the hall’s history and its role in shaping the past 150 years of the Freemasons in the province.
By scanning the QR code, visitors will also be able to take a virtual tour of lodge halls throughout B.C. and the Yukon and learn about how they shaped the west coast of Canada before the formation of a provincial Grand Lodge in 1871.
This is the first of 45 dedications of plaques across the province and territory.

Most Worshipful Grand Master Don MacKenzie, head of Freemasonry in B.C. and Yukon, attends the hall in Maple Ridge. He was joined for the unveiling by Freemasons from across the jurisdiction and the officers of his Grand Line.

“Freemasonry has been an active but relatively quiet part of B.C. communities for 150 years,” MacKenzie explained.

“People see our buildings but don’t know what goes on inside. So, this an invitation to get to know us,” he said.

Maple Ridge was chosen for the first plaque unveiling because of MacKenzie’s connection to the city.

“Freemasonry stands on the threshold looking back on 150 years of success, and forward to the next 150 years of fraternity, charity and community,” he said.
Of course, no cutting edge technology can avoid the occasional slip up here and there. The downside of this technology is that such a plaque becomes almost useless if the QR code doesn't connect with the actual website. 

Kindly do not write me saying that the website address on the marker in the photo above goes to a blank page for a parked domain of www.masonicmarkers.comI can only assume that somebody didn't pay their domain subscription, it's still in the process of being migrated to a .com address, or it was an embarrassing error on the part of whomever proofread their plaque order before it was cast in bronze. 

The actual website address spelled out on the marker is supposed to read masonicmarkers.bcy.ca


In any case, scanning the QR code itself does take you to the correct website for the lodge's history.


As new markers are erected, they will be added to a searchable map on the masonicmarkers.bcy.ca website. Hitting the QR code on the marker takes you to a history of the site, event or lodge building. The website also lets you check in and log your travels every time you scan another marker along the grand lodge's Masonic trail. 

I suppose it’s a cool idea, as long as the QR technology is properly supported and maintained. So whoever has the keys to the hosting accounts in endeavors like this, make sure multiple people and Grand Secretary offices all have the ability to access the sites and pay the Internet bills on time. I also wonder about the durability of the QR image as well, after it's subjected to years of outdoor weather conditions. Like all technology, I fear its rapid obsolescence. QR codes will go the way of the 8-track tape player, and probably faster than you can say, "What's an 8-track tape player?" — unlike our markers erected more than a half century ago that continue to tell their story to this day.

NOTE: In the interest of full disclosure, for over a decade now, I have served as the Grand Representative of the Grand Lodge of British Columbia & Yukon Near Indiana.

Friday, March 18, 2022

Robot Maker Shows Off Mechanical Goat


by Christopher Hodapp

Here's your first goat story of 2022.

Ah, the myth of the Masonic lodge goat continues to be told and retold. Despite 200 years of accusations from non-Masons that we ride goats as part of our initiation, it's never been true. It's a superstition that non-Masons repeat, and even some juvenile-minded Masons will use to frighten new initiates. Masons don't haze candidates, and if your lodge does, you should be ashamed of yourself.

But those Odd Fellows guys, on the other hand...


The Odd Fellows and lovers of goat lore have a new reason to rejoice. Motorcycle maker Kawasaki has just debuted a robotic mechanical goat at the 2022 International Robot Exhibition (iREX) in Tokyo. Officially known as 'RHPBex,' the industrial robotic billygoat comes complete with both feet and wheels attached to let it handle any terrain, and is capable of carrying more than 350 pounds of riders and cargo on its back. 

Bex even sports an impressive pair of curved horns on its head to give it just the right touch of Baphomet leitmotif.

No word as to whether Bex has occasional fits of head butting and making bleating noises.


For industrial clients, Bex has several different combinations of modular modifications to choose from - although there's no word yet if you can order one without the slightly creepy head and horns.

As time marches on, more and more companies are looking to replace a shrinking workforce of humans with robots. (I was accosted by a roving security robot in a supermarket chain in Wisconsin two years ago. It looked so much like a Dalek, I expected it to start yelling, "Exterminate! Exterminate!" when I set foot in the frozen food section.) If you think robotic machines still rare, Business Insider reports that almost 30,000 industrial robots were sold in the U.S. alone last year. And already increasing labor shortages were only accelerated under COVID restrictions of the last two years. 

So, given that not only the Freemasons, but ALL fraternal and voluntary associative organizations have seen their memberships decline in an almost straight line since the late 1950s, a robotic goat could do double lodge duty, playing a role in initiation rituals as well as sitting on guard outside as Tyler when not needed in the lodge room.

Somebody get the Odd Fellows on the phone.

Photos: Kazumichi Moriyama / YouTube.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Fire Tears Through San Bernardino Scottish Rite Center


by Christopher Hodapp

On Sunday, the Scottish Rite building in San Bernardino, California caught fire for the second time in just over a year. After a rooftop fire in February last year, the building has mostly been vacant. No injuries have been reported.


The fire was spotted by passing motorists on nearby I-215 and reported just after 5:00 PM. Fire Department investigators have not determined the cause of the fire as of this time.

The building was originally dedicated in 1972 and also served as the site of the San Bernardino William and Beverly Rainbolt RiteCare Childhood Language Center. After the first fire, the Scottish Rite moved out a year ago. Since then, the highly-visible center had become a magnet for vandals and graffiti that could be seen from the freeway.

(Photos: Press Enterprise and the San Bernardino County Fire Department)

Sunday, March 13, 2022

And you thought all we do in Indiana is sacrifice burnt offerings to the Corn God


by Christopher Hodapp

Nothing momentous with this post. Just memorializing a lunchtime gathering last week of a Dummy, a visiting Idiot, and our Hoosier pals. 

I'm 63 years old. I have to post these things in lieu of having an actual memory.

Left to right: 
Just remember: there is no cabal.







Saturday, March 12, 2022

As the Sword Turns: Called Conclave Removes Templar Grand Master Michael B. Johnson



by Christopher Hodapp

“You stubborn and hardheaded people! 
You are always fighting against the Holy Spirit,
just as your ancestors did” 
(Acts 7:51; CEV)

An historic gathering took place today, and I don't mean in a happy, smiley-face historic way. Michael B. Johnson, Most Eminent Grand Master of the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the United States, has been removed from office at a Called Special Conclave held in Fort Wayne, Indiana. 

Johnson has been replaced as Grand Master by David Kussman, and will retain the title of Past Deputy Grand Master. Some 291 Templars in attendance cast their votes, and the decision to remove Johnson was overwhelming: 219 in favor of his removal, 57 against, with 15 spoiled ballots.

I've long felt that the members of the Knights Templars who actively seek high office positions carry swords to stab each other in the back with. Go get yourself a big cup of coffee, because this tale is long and winding, along with being a tedious Masonic equivalent of an "inside baseball" discussion.

Michael B. Johnson has been removed as Grand Master of the Grand Encampment.


Called Special Conclaves are extremely rare. In fact, several Templar Knights who have searched the archives of the Grand Encampment have said there is no record of a single Special Conclave ever being called throughout the 20th century.

Michael Johnson's time in office has been turbulent. Upon his election last August, Johnson issued an official decision which immediately overturned a resolution passed at the Grand Encampment's 2021 Triennial Conclave in Minneapolis. That resolution passed by a super-majority and had been intended to put an end to the long-running battles over the Grand Priory of America (GPA) of the Chevaliers Bienfaisants de la Cité Sainte (CBCS), otherwise known in English as the Knights Beneficent of the Holy City. 

That overwhelmingly lopsided August vote had reversed Grand Encampment decisions made back in 2010, which had branded the GPA a "clandestine Templar organization." Then-Grand Master William H. Koon had controversially demanded the resignation of all Templar Sir Knights belonging to the GPA, and then, using a French charter of dubious parentage, the Grand Encampment established its own Grand Priory of the Scottish Reformed and Rectified Rite of the United States of America. In the wake of those actions, longstanding Templar Knights who remained as GPA/CBCS members were suspended or expelled from the Grand Encampment, and a flurry of lawsuits - both institutional and personal - erupted over the years.

(NOTE: The Grand Encampment's declaration of the GPA to be clandestine and the subsequent establishment of its own CBCS body took place during the years of Grand Master William H. Koon. In the spirit of full disclosure, I became a member of the Grand Encampment's new CBCS Grand Priory in 2011, as did the now-deposed Grand Master Michael Johnson.)

In the midst of arguments, suspensions, expulsions, lawsuits and lots of broken friendships, the Grand Encampment's Grand Priory of the Scottish Reformed and Rectified Rite of the United States of America CBCS body was dissolved in January 2013 by Grand Master David Dixon Goodwin, but the decisions declaring the GPA clandestine and forbidding Templar membership in it remained. And so, the resolution to end the feud by compromise eleven years after all this began passed by an overwhelming 77% of the vote at the 2021 Triennial. 

Just about now is when your eyes will really begin to glaze over.

GM Michael Johnson issued his decision to ignore the vote and return the status of the GPA to being a clandestine Templar order in a matter of days after taking office.

  

SIDEBAR: Who the heck is the Grand Priory of America?

The GPA was established in the US back in 1934 with a charter from the Grand Prieuré Indépendant d'Helvetie (Great Priory of Switzerland) CBCS, the Swiss organization that has long been considered to be the definitive fountainhead of the the Chevaliers Bienfaisants de la Cité Sainte, or Knights Beneficent of the Holy City. Outside of the U.S. The CBCS is a system of the Rite Ecossais Rectifie (Scottish Rectified Rite), and considered to be the oldest continuously operating Christian chivalric Masonic Order in the world, tracing its roots back to Baron Karl Gotthelf von Hund's "Rite of Strict Observance" in Germany in the 1750s. By widespread agreement, even though it possesses its own degree rituals for the Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master Mason degrees, like the Scottish Rite systems in the U.S. and most of Europe, it acknowledges that those degrees are the sole domain of Masonic grand lodges.

The Grand Priory of America CBCS was established in Raleigh, North Carolina by Dr. William Moseley Brown and J. Raymond Shute II, the founding brethren of what became Masonic Week in Washington DC each year. The GPA was established as an invitation-only group, but it quickly became little more than a private supper club for Grand Encampment Past Grand Masters and a few celebrity Masons, because, as one wag famously put it, "there's too much riff-raff in the 33rds." Its constitution limited membership to just 81 in the U.S., dividing the country into three prefectures with 27 members each.

 
In 1927, the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the United States granted recognition to the Swiss Grand Prieuré Indépendant d'Helvetie as a Templar body. When the Grand Prieuré Indépendant d'Helvetie issued a charter to the Raleigh group to form the Great Priory of America in 1934, that placed it in direct conflict with the notion that all Masonic Knights Templar in the U.S. work under the authority of the Grand Encampment. In fact, the 1934 charter itself is worded, "Grand Prieuré Indépendant d'Helvetie de Province ORDRE TEMPLIERE." The way the jurisdictional problem got solved was that the Great Priory's leadership assured the Grand Encampment that it was nothing but a social club, conferred no Templar orders on its members, and did not exchange official representatives with other Great Priories. With that understanding, CBCS became a regular participant in the annual "Masonic Week" festivities in Washington D.C. (later Alexandria, VA) held every February. Instead of its deeply spiritual and esoteric degrees being conferred upon seekers of Masonic wisdom, it became little more than a title to be passed to the luminaries of American Masonry. But by 1994, several officers of the GPA began attending international Knight Templar gatherings representing themselves as a Templar group. It was at this point the Grand Encampment stepped in. And then the fight started... 

 For more about this topic, see this post from back in 2010.


The drama thickened in September when GM Johnson took the surprising step of removing the duly elected Deputy Grand Master, David J. Kussman, from office for "malfeasance and disloyalty." 

Then-Grand Generalisimo David Kussman had been appointed last year by then-Grand Master Jeffrey Nelson to chair a committee to investigate the whole GPA imbroglio and find a way to end the feud and reinstate its suspended members. As chairman of the committee, Kussman and his group worked out a truce between the GPA and the Grand Encampment, which became the basis of the resolution that passed at the 2021 Triennial. In Johnson's order removing Kussman from the grand officer's line, his chairing of that committee and the subsequent resulting vote led to Johnson's declaration in other venues that he was "disloyal." (No charges were ever brought against Kussman, and no trial was ever conducted. He remained a member in good standing.)

By late September, a website had been set up to facilitate the organization of a Called Special Conclave to address the actions of GM Mike Johnson. The "Call To Conclave" laid out the Constitutional method and requirements to call for an extraordinary meeting for the purpose of reviewing- and perhaps reversing - the actions of a grand master. According to the Constitution, representatives from at least nine different statewide Grand Commanderies are required to make a quorum in order to trigger a called meeting. That minimum was quickly reached.

In October, a letter was sent to KT officers across the Grand Encampment's voting delegates, written by Sir Knight Thomas Tsirimokos, Chairman of the Grand Encampment Jurisprudence Committee. Tsirimokos weighed in on the appropriateness of the GM's actions and what he saw as constitutional reasons why a called conclave didn't have the power to reverse or amend the decisions of a sitting Grand Master. Other members of that committee saw it differently, as a letter from David Kussman made clear (see it HERE). 

In an additional attempt to dissuade those calling for a conclave, the Grand Encampment opined that those nine Grand Commanderies should be required to foot the bill for calling the meeting, including all hotel and dining expenses. In a counter to that, the Conclave was attached to the already scheduled East Central Department Conference at the Grand Wayne Convention Center in Fort Wayne, so additional expenses would be minimal.

Further agitating members, the monthly Knight Templar Magazine became a source of contention. The front page of the September 2021 issue showed GM Johnson perched on a horse and dressed in his Templar finery. Not especially surprising, since in real life he is a Wyoming rancher, and many Masonic Templar commanderies historically had mounted drill teams until the middle of the 20th century. But the headline at the bottom of the cover was both a disturbing and shocking message from the brand new leader of a purportedly Christian-based Masonic organization: 


"I never forget loyalty, nor do I forget betrayal."

In the February 2022 issue of the Knight Templar Magazine, GM Johnson penned a message ostensibly about "Cancel Culture" in society, and attempting to link that topic to the motives of the Called Conclave:

"There are brothers who do not agree with the Constitution of the Grand Encampment or the powers of the grand master. The Grand Encampment Constitution is clear that only at a stated conclave can decisions be reviewed. Sections of the Constitution may be added or deleted by the voting delegates of the Triennial Conclave. Some of the “Canceled Culture” think they can be loud enough or disruptive enough at other Grand Encampment meetings to get their way on certain matters concerning our Constitution or decisions of the grand master. The Knights Templar are Christian sol- diers who are bound by the obligation they took upon the Holy Bible to defend our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and to be governed by our Constitution. Our Constitution states that you must be a Christian to become a Templar, and it is the duty of every Knight Templar to uphold our Constitution."

For some time, Sir Knight Benjamin Williams of Colorado had been the associate editor of the KT magazine, assisting longtime editor John Palmer. The masthead of the last few issues shows that Ben has recently been removed from that position. Williams had been an excellent choice to assist on the magazine, as he was responsible for the beautifully designed Rocky Mountain Mason magazine several years ago, and is a talented Masonic author and blogcaster. SK Ben is also an attorney and was on the committee headed by Kussman working on the GPA compromise. 

Since GM Johnson issued his decision rescinding the action of the Grand Encampment, Ben has reported on the developments and presented his legal opinions online of the KT Constitution regarding the powers of the Grand Master vs. those of the voting members of the Grand Encampment. His most recent podcast was posted March 2nd and summarizes the run-up to the Conclave taking place today in Fort Wayne.

Listen HERE: RMM-062: Special Conclave of the Grand Encampment

Further documentation for the Called Conclave can be found HERE.

The "Call To Conclave" resolution set out the order of business to be taken up at today's meeting. 


According to the Constitution, "An elected officer of the Grand Encampment may be removed from Office by a two-thirds vote of the members present and voting at a Conclave of the Grand Encampment. This section is enforceable upon adoption." (Emphasis mine.)

The voting members of the Grand Encampment have now exercised that option. And there's probably some irony in the fact that the Conclave was held in the "Mad" Anthony Wayne Room of the Ft. Wayne Convention Center.

I am starting to feel like Harland and Wolff sitting back in Belfast reading the morning reports of the Titanic sinking.

NOTE: An earlier version of this story mistakenly named John Cooper as the author of the dissenting letter, and referred to PGM Jeffrey Nelson incorrectly as John Nelson. I regret the errors. This revision also added the actual vote counts for removing former Grand Master Johnson.

Wednesday, March 02, 2022

Masons Everywhere Want to Help Ukrainian Brethren


by Christopher Hodapp

Ukrainians woke up last week and found themselves suddenly in the middle of a full-scale invasion against one of the largest military forces in the world. People are fleeing their homes, taking up arms against the invaders, and placing their lives on the line to protect their sovereignty, their homes, and their freedom. Consequently, Masons from around the world have wished to offer their sympathy, prayers and more tangible support like money, medicine and food, especially to Masonic brethren there.

Many Masons may have done some Internet research and discovered that the Grand Lodge of Ukraine (Великої Ложі України) is widely recognized as regular and is in amity with most of the regular grand lodges around the world, including the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE), the National Grand Lodge of France (GNLF), and forty U.S. grand lodges. Ironically, the Grand Lodge of Russia even got around to recognizing the Grand Lodge of Ukraine four years ago, in 2018. So it's absolutely a lousy (and arguably tasteless) thing to enter something as meaningless as Masonic recognition rules into a discussion of helping fellow human beings in a war. 

Now there are a growing number of grand masters and individual Masons around the world issuing official letters of support for Ukraine and denouncing Russia for its hostile military actions. Masons everywhere are wondering how to help. Individual brethren have suggested GoFundMe campaigns to collect money in order to send to the GL of Ukraine. At the beginning of the week, even the George Washington National Masonic Memorial was bathed in blue and yellow light, the colors of the Ukrainian flag.



(Photo: James Cullum from ALXNow website)


It’s frustrating to have to give a bureaucratic explanation to a question about extending aid and charity to Masons in any war-torn nation. However, our members need to remember that all communications at a grand lodge level must be conducted properly by going through our own Grand Lodge Secretaries, and not directly from our members. In fact, the Grand Secretary of the GL of Ukraine has already politely said in a form letter response being circulated online that he and their grand lodge have been overwhelmed by the volume of communications from Masons around the world, and he is unable to reply to them personally. I suspect they've been deluged with messages.




(Just so you know, there was no bank account info attached to the letter, despite him referencing it. Honestly, I suspect the Russians would love to have their bank account information, so it's just as well he didn't include it.)

The Grand Lodge of New York is asking for donations to their Brotherhood Fund, earmarked for Ukraine:



Dear Brethren and Friends,

We at the Grand Lodge of New York are trying to do our part towards answering the call of the distressed in providing a source of much needed help to those adversely affected by these unprovoked acts of violence and war against the good citizens of the Ukraine. These unprecedented assaults and aggression are especially traumatic and harrowing to the population of children and the elderly residing in both the cities and countryside of the Ukraine.

Your Grand Master, Most Worshipful Richard J. Kessler, and the Grand Lodge of New York, in a strong showing of solidarity with our fellow brethren of the Grand Lodge of the Ukraine, we look to the members of our noble Craft to demonstrate their heartfelt compassion and empathy for our fellow human beings during this their hour of darkness. Together, we will emerge from this tragic and dispirited experience united with a renewed zeal of bringing back peace, harmony and brotherhood throughout the world. The essence of True Masonic Brotherhood will be a beacon of hope for all to see and emulate.

In the name of this charitable and humanitarian effort in support of our brothers and their families in the Ukraine, we are grateful to receive your contributions, both large and small, as checks payable to the Masonic Brotherhood Fund earmarked for the Grand Lodge Emergency Relief Fund. Please mail your checks directly to the Masonic Brotherhood Fund, 71 West 23rd Street, New York, NY 10010-4149. Rest assured that every penny received will be distributed to those in need and absolutely no monies will be deferred to cover expenses and related costs incurred by the Grand Lodge.

CLICK HERE TO PAY ONLINE 

In anticipation of your most generous support, please accept the warmest fraternal thanks on behalf of the Grand Master, the officers and members of the Grand Lodge for your kind-spirited gift to the Grand Lodge Emergency Relief Fund. The noted humanitarian and physician, Dr. Albert Schweitzer said it best, “There is no higher religion than human service. To work for the common good is the greatest creed.” In memory of the many victims who are injured, maimed or have perished during this calamity, and in cohesion with their families and fellow countrymen, we gratefully bear witness to your genuine and unselfish expression of charity.

In closing, I would like to share a short but true story that is most apropos today as it was when originally told in 1941. During the height of World War II, the Pro Grand Master of Finland, R:.W:.Brother Marcus Tollet, spoke of a little boy at a local seaport in Finland who looking at the various sailing ships noticed one flying a strange flag on its masthead, asked his father, “What flag is that?” He knew the flags of the Scandinavian countries and of all the countries that border on the Baltic, but this was a different flag; and his father replied, “It is the Freemason’s Flag – It is the Stars and Stripes of the American Flag”.

Thank you once again for your thoughtfulness and generosity for our fellow human beings during these trying times.

Fraternally,

Richard T. Schulz
Grand Secretary

Grand Lodge of F & AM Of the State of New York
Masonic Hall - 17th Floor
71 West 23rd Street
New York, NY 10010-4149 U.S.A.


Meanwhile, the Grand Lodge of Missouri this afternoon issued the following statement to its members:

 

The Grand Lodge office recieved an email request from the Grand Lodge of the Ukraine this morning.

The Grand Lodge of Missouri considers requests from other jurisdictions for emergency aid and assistance, however, those requests must be recognized by the Masonic Service Association (MSA), that is a part of the Confrence of Grand Masters of North America.

This request has been forwarded to the MSA for their consideration. Understandiably, with the volitity of the situation in the Ukraine, and the posability for fraud, the validity of the request has not yet been established.

THEREFORE, it is the order of the Grand Master that NO Missouri Lodges contribute any lodge funds to this, or any similar request(s), at this time.

If you or your lodge has recieved a similar request for assistance, please forward a copy of this request to the Grand Lodge of Missouri grlodge@momason.org so it may be forwarded to the MSA for their verification.

Once the request for assistance has been verified by the Masonic Service Association, another notice will be sent out through the Missouri portal, permiting donations to the MAS for donation to Ukaine.


As of Wednesday afternoon, the Masonic Service Association has NOT issued a Masonic Disaster Relief notice. This is likely because the GL of Ukraine has not formally or informally requested it. (I think we can all probably understand that they are a bit preoccupied right at the moment.)


U.S. Brethren are cautioned NOT to attempt to set up their own independent fundraising plans in the name of their individual lodge or grand lodge, or even just identifying oneself as acting on behalf of other Masons – that is the prerogative of your grand lodge and the MSA. 


Further, the message from the Grand Secretary of Ukraine cites their most pressing need right now to be, not money, but a place to stay outside of the country as Ukrainian refugees continue to pour out across borders, followed by food and medicine.


This story will be updated if there are any substantive changes.



A word about recognition of the Grand Lodge of Ukraine


Masonic diplomacy and governance can be a tricky thing to understand, especially for newer Masons. Many Masons online have expressed dismay when they discover the GL of Ukraine isn't recognized by their own grand lodge. Indeed, in my own situation, the Grand Lodge F&AM of Indiana is one of eleven U.S. grand lodges that does not recognize the Grand Lodge of Ukraine at this time. The reason is simple, and there’s no underlying animosity for it. The Grand Lodge of Ukraine never formally applied to us in Indiana for recognition after it was regularly constituted in September 2005. We were initially informed of their founding by their Grand Secretary at that time, but the Grand Lodge of Indiana has a longstanding waiting period at least five years following the formation of a brand new grand lodge before taking up the matter of its recognition. Waiting periods are designed to make sure a newborn GL isn't contested by others already in amity with us, as well as to let enough time lapse in case of bitterness or ego inflation, since so many spurious GLs come into being under hotheaded situations.


Further, established Masonic protocol expects that the newer grand lodge must formally request recognition of the older established one. But the GL of Ukraine never followed through with us, and we could not unilaterally extend recognition to them without their formal request to do so. It’s unfortunate, as our assembled grand lodge would have doubtless extended mutual recognition to them any time after 2010, had they asked. 


This is partially why the MSA was created in the first place. In the advent of a catastrophe, MSA acts as a single voice of North American Freemasons, instead of 51 (or 100) grand lodges and more than a million of us who all think we need to chime in on every given topic these days. If the MSA is contacted by the GL of Ukraine and its board of governors decide to act on their request for donations, those of us in the eleven GLs who don't recognize Ukraine's grand lodge are still able to contribute legitimately as Masons, and in a much greater collective capacity than any GoFundMe page you or I could ever set up.