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Sunday, January 22, 2023

Members to Grand Master: The Eyes of Texas Masons Are Upon You


by Christopher Hodapp

NOTE: The original version of this story contained editorializing on my part as to the speculated motives for bringing charges on the floor of the annual session during installation. I have had some clarification of what transpired since the story first broke and have removed my original, erroneous suppositions. My apologies for misinterpreting why it happened. Bear in mind that my initial objection was – and remains – over the theatrical aspect of bringing charges in the presence of wives and families on a public YouTube broadcast, which I still believe was improper.

The Grand Lodge of Texas AF&AM's annual session was held this week in Waco, Texas, and new grand officers were elected and installed. Outgoing Grand Master Brad Billings has been succeeded by MW G. Clay Smith, Grand Master for 2023.

An attempt was made on Saturday to deny installation to the elected Grand Junior Warden, James Rumsey. Just as the new Grand Master, G. Clay Smith, prepared to proceed with the installation ceremonies for the incoming grand officers for 2023, he was handed a sheet of charges to be brought against the incoming Grand Junior Warden. A public video of the event (which has since been removed from YouTube) showed Smith immediately stumbling through a previously prepared, scripted acceptance of the charges he had just been handed.

Curious. This was clearly not exactly spontaneous.

According to multiple sources, charges had originally been filed against Rumsey during the tenure of GM Billings (I've since been told what those charges were about, and the incident was recorded on security cameras at the Scottish Rite). Despite clear video evidence, GM Billings 
dismissed them without action or trial. 

The timing on Saturday was cleverly planned: the “new” charges were handed to Grand Master Smith immediately after he was installed as GM, but before the rest of the installation ceremony started. The move was purportedly a last-ditch, Hail Mary attempt to block Rumsey’s installation after he was overwhelmingly elected to the GJW position. 

A point of order was immediately raised by outgoing GM Billings, objecting to the fact that the new GM could not accept said charges during the installation because the assembled representatives of the state’s lodges are themselves “the Grand Lodge” when it is in session: it is up to the assembled Grand Lodge to accept charges during that meeting, and a GM can only act in its stead when the session is closed.

The Grand Lodge session was officially at refreshment for the duration of the installation, and this attempt at scuttling the new GJW played out in the presence of wives and families, while a video camera publicly broadcast everything on YouTube. That, in my opinion, was a terribly improper way to handle the situation. 

GM Smith declared that the matter would be dropped for the moment, to be discussed in Executive Session instead, and the installation of Rumsey proceeded without further interruption. 

The supportive roar of the crowd was thunderous.

My understanding of Texas code is that charges against a Mason in that jurisdiction must be presented at the Stated Meeting of his lodge, where they are read and accepted. The lodge Secretary then forwards them to the Grand Secretary's office, where they are presented to the Grand Master for his decision to accept them or not. If accepted by him, they then become official charges and can proceed to a trial.

Tweetbook, Snaptwit and Facespace and other (anti-)social media lit up all weekend with comments from Texas Masons who are double-plus-un-pleased by this little drama. This may be a bumpy year in the Grand East of the Lone Star state, and it started to hit chuckholes before it even officially started.

15 comments:

  1. Any idea as to what some of Billings' ideas were that were not popular? They must have been very unpopular, or at least angered enough people to pull off child such a childish stunt.

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  2. Grand Craft politicking.... will it ever end... i honestly don't know why anyone bothers

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    1. What Scottish Rite video is in question with him on YouTube?

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    2. There IS NO Scottish Rite video. The security video of the original incident was from security cameras at the Grand Lodge building. The initial story of the cause of Rumsey’s injury which was that he had tripped over a curb at the Lee Lockwood Scottish Rite Library and Museum as he was leaving the Grand Chapter Convocation/Grand Council Assembly Banquet on Thursday night. This story was changed repeatedly by those who are also shown in the original video and had knowledge of the actual incident. People need to calm down and remember the teachings of this Fraternity and not those of Animal House.

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  3. "According to multiple sources, charges had originally been filed against Rumsey during the tenure of GM Billings, but their GL Jurisprudence Committee had dismissed them."

    Point of Order: the Texas GL Jurisprudence Committee has no authority to accept or dismiss Masonic Charges, that power rests solely with the Grand Master. While he may have relied on input and advice from the Texas GL Jurisprudence Committee, then-GM Billings declined the charges.

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  4. This small but stubborn group must not want our Craft to continue, by the way they are acting. It's no wonder out numbers continue to shrink.

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  5. Brian Dodson PGM, PR to the valley of Houston states before a trustee meeting at the valley, that they were going to get people to run against Rumsey on the floor, if that failed charges would be presented ASAP. He also spoke about trespassing Rumsey from the Valley of Houston as well. If Dodson is in on it which would also mean his best buddy Wiggins PGM SGIG is on it. Because of what it is in nature that they are mad at Rumsey about.

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    Replies
    1. Speaking of trespasses, seems as though the video mentioned shows a game of "Shots and Ladders". It's all fun and games till someone breaks a leg

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    2. I wound love to hear the details of that meeting. Please email me at thewestiswatching@protonmail.com if what you say is true then there must be accountability.

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  6. The video is still around. Plenty of brothers downloaded it and have it saved because we knew exactly what was going to happen to it.

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    Replies
    1. Does anyone have a link to this video or send it to me privately?

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    2. Is there a link that could be privately sent?

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    3. I would love to get a copy of the video. If anyone would care to forward it to me I would be very grateful.

      tole.bagfuls-0m@icloud.com

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  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  8. I won’t pretend to know law, this I won’t cite any. However, this attempt at scuttling RW Rumsey is more than that. This was an attempt to lessen PGM Billings and the Grand West. Texas Masons are a strong and proud group. We will not stand for this. I understand the charges, however, then MWGM Billings dealt with it as he saw fit. The Grand West
    Supported….that should’ve been it.

    Texas Masonry will remain strong. While this may sting a bit, I think it was a good/bad thing. Now we know who we’re dealing with.

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