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


Wednesday, April 27, 2022

David Staples Resigning as U.G.L.E.'s CEO and Grand Secretary

by Christopher Hodapp

The United Grand Lodge of England's First Rising email newsletter arrived Monday morning with a surprising message from Geoffrey Dearing, President of the UGLE's Board of General Purposes:

I'm sorry to announce that David Staples (CEO) has decided to resign from his role as Chief Executive Officer for United Grand Lodge of England with effect from 14 April 2022 although he will remain as Grand Secretary until 14 September 2022 and will attend the investiture events.

David has commented as follows:
“Being the Chief Executive Officer of the UGLE has been a singular privilege and honour, and I feel, with the completion and imminent launch of the new UGLE strategy for the next seven years, the time has come to hand on the mantle to someone new so that I can embark on new opportunities.

“The last four and a half years have seen an enormous rate of change within Freemasonry, and I am honoured to have been part of the journey. I have asked the President of the Board to allow me to step down as Chief Executive Officer and to begin the process for recruiting my successor to take the organisation forward into a new chapter of its history. Recognising my desire to move on to new and different challenges, he has kindly agreed. With leave of the Most Worshipful Grand Master, I will be continuing in my role as Grand Secretary until such time as a successor has been appointed in my stead, at which time, as is right and proper, I should expect to step down from office in his favour. I would like to thank you for your enormous hard work and support whilst in tenure and I wish you all, and the United Grand Lodge of England, the very best for the future.”

 I would like to thank David for his hard work and commitment during his time in office, which has led to many positive improvements within Freemasonry. I wish him well in the future.

Geoffrey Dearing, President of the Board of General Purposes

Dr. David Staples has been a Freemason since 1997 when he was initiated into Apollo University Lodge No. 357 in Oxford. He later became Master of Middlesex Lodge No. 143 in 2006 and was appointed Metropolitan Grand Steward in 2011. He was was appointed to the newly created role of Chief Executive Officer of UGLE in September 2017, and invested as Grand Secretary (the youngest in UGLE's history) in April 2018. He quickly became the public face of the Freemasons in England.

Dr. Staples' accomplishments since becoming CEO and Grand Secretary just four years ago are impressive, to say the least. Whether it is the growth and promotion of the UGLE's University Scheme, the opening of a cafe and bar and the beautiful new Letchworth's Masonic Shop in Freemasons Hall, new advertising and promotional campaigns, classical music performances in Freemasons Hall's breathtaking Grand Lodge Temple, and much more. 

Additionally, unlike some of his predecessors in the Grand Lodge who seemed reticent to deal with the press, Staples has quickly made the rounds of news shows and media interviews whenever a story involving the fraternity arises. 

In the last 50 years or so, UGLE and their subordinate lodges have made massive donations to the communities in which they reside, especially for local police, fire and rescue services. Dr. Staples has been especially proactive about issuing press releases and speaking with the media to highlight these contributions throughout the country. Besides local and regional donations made by individual lodges and district Grand Lodges, funds distributed by UGLE's charitable trusts each year consistently make it one of the top private philanthropic organizations in the country.

But in spite of their ongoing generosity to the public year after year, English Freemasons have suffered mightily at the hands of the press, really ever since the publication in the 1980s of Steven Knight's anti-Masonic screed, The Brotherhood, which made completely false allegations of improper Masonic influences in Britain's institutions, especially law enforcement agencies and the courts. English reporters seem to always be on the lookout for an opportunity to invent a Masonic scandal or secret plot, and public comments on these stories are usually filled with "my old man got sacked because of the bloody Masons and their dodgy handshakes!" messages. Once a smear is in the headlines, it bores into the collective minds of the public at large, perpetuating anti-Masonic myths on into the future.

Suffice it to say that institutional silence by grand lodges in the face of anti-Masonic campaigns in the media has not served us well in the modern age. And so, upon becoming the CEO for UGLE, David Staples became very proactive in defense of the fraternity.

In 2018 when the Guardian newspaper published a series of inflammatory attack articles and opinion pieces making false accusations, Staples quickly responded. Multiple news sites quickly began to reprint parts of the story, and embellish it on their own. Knowing full well that any news outlet would do no more than selectively quote any letter or press release, the UGLE followed up Staples' response to the Guardian and other news outlets with full page advertisements in the Telegraph, the Times and other major papers in England, declaring 'Enough Is Enough.'  

The hashtag #EnoughIsEnough quickly spread among members.

Perhaps it's only an illusion or wishful thinking, but since the #EnoughIsEnough campaign in 2018, there seems to have been a sharp reduction in anti-Masonic reporting in Britain. 

In an appearance on the BBC, Staples had the perfect rejoinder to non-Masons who leveled completely false accusations and conspiracy theories at the fraternity: "The trouble about Freemasonry is that, if you want a medical opinion, you go and ask a doctor. If you want to know about how to build a building, you go and ask an architect. But if you want to know about Freemasonry, you ask absolutely everybody but a Freemason." 

Dr. Staples hasn't publicly said what his future plans may be, but his achievements for the fraternity are a lasting legacy. We wish him well in all his endeavors, and hope his successors continue to build upon the foundations he has laid.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Brother Seeks Kidney Transplant Donor

by Christopher Hodapp

It's not often that we encounter a grand hailing sign in the real world, but I received this message privately about a Masonic Brother who is truly in distress. As the message explains, he is in desperate need of a kidney transplant. And unlike most appeals we come across in the wild these days, this one can't be solved by just clicking a Paypal donation button. This one requires true sacrifice on the part of a potential donor.

(Please note: I'm withholding this Brother's identity in public posts, at his request. But suffice it to say, I know who he is, and I fully understand his reasons for reticence at this particular moment.)

Twelve people die each day waiting for a kidney transplant.

One of our Brothers is one of the 37 million people in the U.S. impacted by kidney disease.

This Masonic brother is a young man who has dedicated his life to helping others. His weekends are full of activities like helping the homeless, fighting health care inequities, and caring for seniors. He is loved by his community and is on the path to create systematic changes in his community to help other people avoid healthcare disparities like the one he has suffered from. Despite this, his own health is beginning to deteriorate and a willing brother can be all the help he needs to save his life and keep him on his path.

To give background about this young Brother, at a young age, he was diagnosed with kidney failure. He spent years waiting for a recipient through the long and tedious organ transplant process with no avail. Through these years he experienced what many would call living a half-life since his body would only allow him to operate at half capacity. This process found him at the DaVita dialysis center every other day having needles stuck into him to painfully remove toxins from his body, a process that takes hours. Thankfully, his luck changed and he was able to briefly function without dialysis.

However, his fate yet again changed. He was recently informed that he has less than six months left with his kidney. He is desperately and urgently seeking a new kidney.

Now he is reaching out to his Freemason brothers to save his life in order to invest his efforts to save the lives of others who may be in this similar situation.

There are risks involved for a donor. But while becoming a living kidney donor may seem like a daunting endeavor, it is a safe procedure. For more information, please click here.

If you, or anyone you know, can help save his life please send an email to kidneyhelp2@gmail.com.

According to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), more than 100,000 people in the U.S. are waiting for kidney transplants at the present time, and more living donors are desperately needed. While transplants involving relatives have long proven to be the most successful over time because of the blood relationship between donor and patient, that is not an option in this case. And in reality, because of improved medications and techniques, a genetic link between the donor and recipient is no longer required to ensure a successful transplant. However, donors must be healthy and match the recipient's blood type and antigens, so it requires extensive testing to determine compatibility. 

The long-term success rates of living transplants are usually much higher than those from deceased donors. In many cases, recipients of living donor kidney transplants can enjoy proper kidney function for an average of 12-20 years, and even longer, but there are no guarantees. There should be no illusions about transplants — a recipient's new kidney may properly function for the rest of their life, while another's can begin to fail again in a matter of months, in spite of exhaustive pre-testing for compatibility, new developments in anti-rejection drugs, and a letter-perfect transplant operation.

There are scores of questions that a potential donor will have answered if they are a match for this Brother, but the very first step is to be tested to find out if it is even a possibility before considering going further. Some very general questions can be answered on the UNOS websiteThere are possible risks to the donor, as in any surgical procedure. But complications or additional surgeries for the donor are statistically tiny. Initial screening, testing, and pre-operative preparation can be done at a hospital in your own hometown, but the actual transplant will require traveling to the recipient's hospital and several overnight stays before and after the operation. 

As Masons we are urged within the allegories of our ceremonies and obligations to know ourselves. We're not often asked to stretch to the farthest limits of our cabletows. Live kidney donation is not a decision to be taken lightly, because it does involve major surgery and a recovery period. But it's one of the greatest and most selfless gifts anyone can offer to make to another human being. Look in your heart, discuss it with your family, and consider giving this gift of life to our distressed Brother by contacting him directly at kidneyhelp2@gmail.com.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Crowdfunding Campaign for Indiana University's Center for Fraternal Collections & Research

by Christopher Hodapp

(UPDATED: The faulty hyperlinks to the Center's crowdfunding contribution page has been fixed. My apologies to all for the error.)

Back in August 2021, Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana announced the opening of the new Center for Fraternal Collections & Research (CFCR), headed up by Dr. Heather Calloway. This Wednesday, April 20th is #IUDay at Indiana University and the Center is attempting to raise $5,000 with a crowdfunding campaign to help establish an endowment.

The mission of the CFCR is to collect, preserve, and protect objects and ephemera of fraternal and religious groups for study and research in a permanent and accessible collection. 

During the "Golden Age of Fraternalism" from the end of the American Civil War until the Great Depression, over a thousand fraternal, ritual-based or "secret societies" formed in the U.S. For too long, American fraternalism wasn't considered to be important enough for respectable historians to investigate. Yet the fraternal movement with its so-called "secret societies" was critical to the building and strengthening of American communities, and every bit as important as churches, political clubs and parties, social activist groups, and other local institutions. Masons, Elks, Odd Fellows, Knights of Pythias, Red Men, Woodmen - these were the most widely known. But there were hundreds and hundreds more. 

Besides camaraderie, the groups often provided insurance benefits, mutual aid, funeral funds and more. These groups weren't just for white, middle-class men or college students – there were societies that supported immigrant and ethnic communities, religious denominations, women, children, even certain professions or occupations, such as traveling salesmen (National Travelers) or logging workers (Concatenated Order of Hoo Hoo).

Current generations have little or no understanding of the very existence and importance of these organizations, and too many of their publications, artwork, artifacts and jewelry disappear into the garbage or get melted down for their precious metals. The CFCR is now a welcome and secure repository for the quickly vanishing ephemera of American fraternal history. 

The CFCR is located in the new IU Collections, Teaching, Research and Exhibition Center, located in the historic McCalla building on the IU Bloomington campus. Following a $6 million renovation of this one-time elementary school building, the Center now provides a safe, climate controlled facility for collections, plus seven display galleries, meeting areas, and a state-of-the-art media digitization and preservation department, all under one roof.

So if you're interested in helping to support this new center, CLICK HERE to donate for #IUDay.

Man Attacks Greek Masonic Hall With Axe and Shotgun

by Christopher Hodapp

A 36-year-old Greek man was arrested late Sunday following an attack on the Masonic temple in the historic port city of Thessaloniki. Thessaloniki is the second-largest city in Greece, with over a million inhabitants.

According to a report on the Greek City Times website, the man parked front of the Masonic hall at about 10:30 PM, got out of the car, and retrieved a shotgun and an axe from inside. He began beating on the lodge's main entry door with the axe, and fired off two gunshots.

Police quickly arrived following phone calls from neighbors who heard the shots. Following the collection of evidence at the scene, the man was arrested at his home in Nea Madyto, about 44 miles to the east of Thessaloniki. His weapons were found at the home.

He is to be arraigned by the local prosecutor later today. His name and motive has not been released.

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Welcome Brothers: GL of Ohio Raises 780 in Statewide One Day Class

by Christopher Hodapp

On March 26th, the Grand Lodge of Ohio F&AM conferred the Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master Mason degrees on a total of 780 candidates as part of a statewide One Day Class at several locations. Naturally, the Masonic Intertube discussion boards, Twitbook, and Facetwit sites went mildly berserk over the news. As many as 780 may sound, it's only about 10% of the record 7,700 Masons raised by the Grand Lodge of Ohio at a similar statewide one day event back in 2002.

Even though these types of mass membership events originated thirty years ago, they continue to remain controversial within the fraternity. Indeed, many online discussions that took up the subject over the last couple of weeks sounded every bit as vitriolic as they did twenty years ago.


The first 'Grand Master's Class' was held in 1992 as a two-day festival by the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia . In that single event, their small jurisdiction raised 113 candidates — an astonishing 55% of all of DC's candidates for the entire year of 1992. 

Despite having no internet in those days, it didn’t take long for the word to spread. By the next February, DC's event—the first mass raising of Master Masons of its kind—was the heated talk of the Conference of Grand Masters. The practice picked up steam nationwide in a startlingly short time, especially for an institution as resistant to change as Freemasonry. By 1998, the Grand Lodge of New Jersey trumpeted that 96 lodges participated in their first one-day degree event, and raised 434 new Master Masons.

At the time, the bulk of Freemasons worldwide were aghast, and more than a few foreign grand bodies grumbled about perhaps withdrawing recognition of their U.S. counterparts that had held such mass raisings. While similarly massive events were overwhelmingly typical of degrees conferred on large classes of Scottish Rite members, the vast majority of Masons agreed that they were wholly inappropriate for new initiates into the fraternity. The three Symbolic Lodge degrees—especially for the Entered Apprentice and the Master Mason—were particularly considered to be individual and deeply personal experiences. At best, critics alleged, men made Masons in a day or two would undoubtedly be the fastest ones to leave. They would fail to become proficient in the required memory work. If they remained members at all, they certainly would cease to participate, much less take on the requirements to become officers. Lodges that relied on such classes to do all of their degree work for them would quickly lose any ability to confer their own degrees forever. In short, the naysayers claimed, the entire fraternity would be both cheapened and robbed—from the candidates themselves, right down to the lodges and their own members.

Ohio's Record-Setting Class of 2002

By 2001 at least thirty-one U.S. grand lodges had conducted one or more of these events in varying permutations. Then in April 2002, Ohio left everyone else in the statistical dust, setting the astonishing record of initiating, passing, and raising 7,700 Master Masons in multiple locations throughout the state in a single day. Throughout the seven years prior to their first enormous Grand Master’s Class, the state of Ohio had raised a combined total of 10,341 Master Masons in the traditional, individual manner. Their 2002 Grand Master’s one-day event nearly doubled their entire prior seven-year membership increase in just a matter of hours. The rest of the Masonic world’s nose-counters bolted straight up in their collective seats and took notice.

Ohio’s colossal one-day increase was never again equaled anywhere. They staged two more such events in 2003 and 2005, and studied the after-effects at the end of 2006. In a little more than five years, one-day Masons raised at their three events alone represented more than 10% of Ohio’s total Masonic membership. While their two subsequent classes never came close to equaling their enormous premiere event, other jurisdictions still looked enviously at Ohio and judged them a triumph. Numerically speaking, anyway.


One of the major criticisms from the start was an assumption that one-day Masons would not go on to become active lodge participants, proficient ritualists, or officers. “Easy in, easy out,” was the oft-repeated, doleful warning. But several jurisdictions that amassed enough data over time were able to disprove that assertion.

A study was conducted in 2001 by Paul M. Bessel for the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia, which was the first of its kind to analyze the long-term results of such conferrals. Their grand lodge was unique, since they had conducted two-day degree events annually for eight years and had the data to analyze. Bessel found that the retention and participation rate of members initiated, passed, and raised in the slower, traditional manner, versus the Grand Master’s Class candidates, were statistically identical. Subsequent years demonstrated the same results, clearly disproving objections based only upon fears that dejected Master Masons who were disappointed or unimpressed by their one day experience would vanish faster than their traditionally raised brethren.

Other jurisdictions that bothered to investigate their own circumstances and results came to the same conclusions. Ohio did its own study in 2007, five years after their record setting class. In the three Grand Master’s Classes held between 2002 and 2005, they found that 8% of one-day class members were serving or had already served as lodge officers. That worked out to more than 1,000 officers in their 534 lodges, or almost two officers per lodge. The actual numbers among lodges varied—several reported as many as five of their current officers were one-day members. 

In addition, lodges reported an average of 15% of one-day members attended meetings regularly, which was virtually identical to (and often greater than) the participation rate of traditionally made Masons. Numerous lodge secretaries expressed the belief that one-day classes had actually “saved” their lodges. 

More recently, a 2015 study of current lodge officers in Washington State revealed that one out of six officers are one-day class members.

As of 2017, my own Grand Lodge of Indiana has raised a total of 6,976 Master Masons via one-day events since its first in 1997. Of those, 3,958 still remain Masons across those twenty years. Many have been officers and Worshipful Masters, and all have simply been as active or inactive as their traditionally-made brethren. To date, there have been several grand masters all across the U.S. who received their degrees at one-day events. 

Tens of thousands of U.S. Masons have been initiated, passed, and raised in one-day classes, and the loss of them due to inactivity and demits is no better or worse than traditionally made members. In Indiana’s case, figures clearly show that one-day Masons have actually remained members in a substantially greater percentage than those traditionally made.

That which was lost

The philosophical question as to the loss to the candidate of a more individual, transformative, initiatic experience is what cannot be measured. What has been commonly echoed by men who received the accelerated degrees is that they returned to their own lodges and discouraged their officers and fellow members from sending future candidates to them. So in their own way, one-day classes actually encourage lodges to increase their proficiency at conducting degree work, and not abandon it, as was initially feared by some. 

Retention and participation comes down solely to the way the members are treated and mentored once they start attending their lodges, and rests on the interest and dedication of each individual Mason. A one day class conferral of the three lodge degrees doesn't let the lodge and its members duck their responsibility to provide a trusted, knowledgable mentor to those brethren who need more coaching and education, not less. 

Maybe more to the point is that we don't have two classifications of Master Mason in this fraternity. If at their next meeting after their raising they are referred to by ostensible brethren as ‘McMasons,’ ‘Blue Lightenings,’ or ‘One Day Wonders,’ receive no mentoring follow up, and suffer through dull stated meetings with no Masonic education and un-Masonic infighting, they will be unlikely to send in their dues renewal in December.

One-day classes were developed largely in response to the screams of lodges over membership losses and their own inability to confer their own degree work. So, those early massive classes did exactly what the lodges begged for—they brought in new members, by the bucketful. One day classes will only end if lodges stop demanding them. As I've said repeatedly, if you have a visceral reaction against the practice, fault the lodge who sent him to the class, not the candidate who is now your Brother. 

The lodges that failed to keep them coming back managed to accomplish that part all by themselves.


This isn't the first time I've tried to tackle this topic, and probably won't be the last. Have a look at:

Friday, April 08, 2022

Georgia Grand Masters to Sign Treaty of Amity Saturday

by Christopher Hodapp

The Grand Lodge of Georgia F&AM and the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge F&AM of Georgia will hold a joint public presentation this Saturday, April 9th to officially sign treaty of amity documents and cement their mutual recognition. 

Most Worshipful Grand Masters Donald C. Combs of the GL of Georgia and Corey D. Shackleford of the MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Georgia will jointly preside.

The voting members of the MW Grand Lodge of Georgia voted in favor of accepting the Prince Hall Grand Lodge's request at their annual communication in October 2021.

The event will be held at 1:00PM at the Sandy Spring Performing Art Center, 1 Galambos Way, Sandy Springs, GA. 

Unfortunately, reservations for the event filled very quickly, capacity of the venue has been reached, and they can no longer accept any more requests to attend.

As you are aware, the Grand Lodge of Georgia, during the 2021 session, voted to extend recognition to the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Georgia. To reiterate, this does not allow for visitation or cross-membership - it is recognizing the Prince Hall Grand Lodge masons as masons and brothers in the craft. This does not impact constituent lodge activities.
To commemorate the recognition, the two Grand Lodges will be having a formal treaty signing ceremony on Saturday, April 9, 2022, at 1:00 PM at the Sandy Spring Performing Arts Center. The doors will open at 11:30 AM.
For more information about the event and the history of the two grand lodges, visit the