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Tuesday, May 02, 2023

GL of New York Restores Amity with the GL of Scotland

NY GM restores amity with Scotland (artist rendering).

by Christopher Hodapp

The Grand Lodge of New York has at last settled its six-year-long dispute with the Grand Lodge of Scotland and restored fraternal relations. Announcements were officially issued this morning by New York's Grand Master, Most Worshipful Richard J. Kessler, and Scotland's Grand Secretary, RW William M.S. Semple. (Click images below to enlarge.)

Scotland never did suspend recognition of New York, so their letter merely states the resumption of fraternal relations.

The original dispute came about in 2017 after a chain of events in the Middle Eastern nation of Lebanon (yes, really). Grand lodges of Scotland, New York and the Grande Loge Nationale Française (GLNF) have all had regularly chartered lodges in that country for decades, and shared that territory (along with at least six more unrecognized and/or irregular grand lodges that chartered other lodges of their own). New York first established lodges in Lebanon in 1924, and created its own District Grand Lodge of Syria-Lebanon back in 1955.

Meanwhile, Scotland's first lodge in the area was chartered in 1861, back when the region was called Greater Syria, and the Scottish lodges flourished during the period of the Ottoman Empire. The GL of Scotland formed its own own District Grand Lodge of Lebanon in 2012, and I believe they currently have a dozen lodges at work there.

Complicating matters, the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia chartered two of its own Lebanon lodges that resulted in New York suspending relations with them briefly in 2008-09 for improperly invading the territory. They patched up their feud pretty quickly.

But the longer gripe with Scotland came when a pair of expelled New York Masons in Lebanon jumped ship, joined a Scottish-constitution lodge, AND helped charter the District of Columbia's new Lebanon lodges. Despite New York's actions, the GL of Scotland not only refused to acknowledge and honor the expulsions, but went even further and bestowed provincial grand rank on the two men.

Here is the letter from the GL of New York back in 2017 announcing the withdrawal amity, just for reference:

Confused yet? For a longer explanation of this saga, see this story from 2017 (Click Here).

PGM William Sarbane (right, in the hat) issued a
charter for the new Grand Lodge of Lebanon in 2018.

Further mucking up this melange, three of the Grand Lodge of New York's chartered 
Lebanon lodges petitioned to form their own grand lodge. A charter to that effect was signed and issued by the Grand Lodge of the F&AM of the State of New York on October 24, 2018 creating the Grand Lodge of the F&AM of Lebanon. They currently have six chartered lodges at work, plus a lodge of research. However, there still remain 12 active New York lodges in their District Grand Lodge of Syria-Lebanon, along with Scotland's lodges in their District Grand Lodge of Lebanon.

And I don't even want to talk about the GLNF's French lodges because it becomes too headache inducing.

In Thomas Jefferson's inaugural address in 1801, he declared his devotion to "peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none." Those ol' entangling alliances will bite you in the butt every time.

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