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


Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Grand Lodge of Missouri: New Grand Secretary Appointed

by Christopher Hodapp

MW Richard W. Kaeser, Jr., 
Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Missouri AF&AM, has announced the resignation of MWB Jon B. Broyles as their Grand Secretary. 

(Click the announcement above to enlarge.)

PGM Jon Broyles was Grand Master in 2013-14, and has served just two and a half years in the Grand Secretary's chair, and he took the Grand Secretary's job during the COVID mess. He was praised by the Grand Master for stepping into the job:

"I’m sure all of the Masons of the State of Missouri join with me in thanking MWB Broyles not only for his 30+ years of service to the fraternity, but especially for taking on the herculean effort required by that role at a time when we were in particular need of his knowledge, professionalism and passion for Freemasonry. Missouri Freemasonry will forever be in the debt of MWB Broyles for his steady hand in shepherding us through the last several years and I know that his passion for this fraternity will have him contributing greatly in other ways going forward."

The GM has appointed MWB Dr. Ty G. Treutelaar to now serve as the 24th Grand Secretary, effective June 26th. He served in 2022 as Grand Master of Missouri.

Just as an item of historical interest, among his countless accomplishments and services to the fraternity, PGM Broyles was the pioneering Brother who designed and set up the very first grand lodge website for Missouri, between 1996-1999. 

Monday, June 26, 2023

Suspect Arrested For Leesburg, Florida Lodge Fire

by Christopher Hodapp

Police have arrested a man connected with the June 14th destruction of the Masonic Hall shared by Leesburg Lodge 58 and The Villages Lodge 394  near Orlando, Florida. Luke Pratt, 22, had been spotted on surveillance video standing outside the building when the fire started, holding a baseball bat and a can of gasoline.

From the Leesburg-News.com website:

Pratt on June 18 admitted to his mother that he set the fire at the Masonic Lodge, according to an affidavit of probable cause from the Bureau of Fire, Arson and Explosives Investigations. He made the admission while he was at her home in Marion County and was and was taken into custody by Marion County sheriff’s deputies under the Baker Act.

His mother contacted law enforcement and met them at her son’s home in Leesburg where explosive devices were recovered. Pratt’s mother and his brother both identified him in surveillance video from the night of the fire.


Pratt, who was in a hospital in Marion County, called his mother during the investigation at his home and he spoke over the phone to investigators.
He admitted that on the night of the fire, he sat in his car in a nearby parking lot, watching with binoculars to ensure everyone had left the lodge. Carrying a gas can, he walked to the front door and used a baseball bat to smash it. He poured gasoline throughout the building and used matches to light a fire. He left the building and drove away, but returned a few minutes later to make sure the fire was still burning. He left a second time, went home and went to bed.

According to WFTV-9, Investigators said they found five powerful, homemade explosive devices in Pratt’s home that he originally planned to use, but ultimately decided it was “too dangerous.” 

Deputies said Pratt’s mother contacted them after she found the explosive devices. They said Pratt admitted to his mother that he set the fire, and then admitted the same to deputies later on. “The detectives say he showed absolutely no remorse whatsoever and I believe he even stated he would do it again if he had the chance,” said Lt. John Herrell, with the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.

As to his motive, Pratt told police he is “mad at what the Masonic Lodge stands for” and said he believed they had been following him. Investigators obtained a search warrant that led to the discovery of journals that details Pratt’s “dislike for the Masonic Lodge.”
So, in (allegedly) acting upon his (alleged) delusions, Pratt has (allegedly) reduced to ashes what Leesburg's Brethren spent years building and creating — Masonic lodges dedicated to faith, hope, charity, and the brotherhood of men under the fatherhood of God.

Because he didn't like what it stood for.

"The ruthless hand of ignorance."

Some men can only destroy what better men before them have built.

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Grand Lodge of Texas' Recent Transgender Ruling Makes the News

Photo: Shutterstock/Chris Hodapp

by Christopher Hodapp

On Sunday, the Daily Caller website featured an article about Freemasonry dealing with the issue of transgenderism. Written by contributor Kate Anderson, it has the clickbait headline, The World's Oldest Secret Society Is Being Torn Apart Over Transgenderism — the inevitable exclamation point is invisible but breathlessly implied. Since Sunday, the story has been picked up by numerous other websites and news organizations.

"Torn apart" is more than a bit hyperbolic, but the article itself does a fair job of laying out the issue, and contrasts the transgender policies of the United Grand Lodge of England versus the recent decision issued in March by the current Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Texas, MW G. Clay Smith. 

His decision stated, in part:
  • A biological woman (meaning an individual who was assigned female at birth) cannot be a Mason.
  • A transgender man (meaning an individual who was assigned female at birth whose gender identity or gender expression is now male) cannot be a Mason.
  • A transgender woman (meaning an individual who was born male whose gender identity or gender expression is now female) cannot be made a Mason nor remain a Mason.

(For the full text of GM Smith's decision, see my story from March 25th.

The Daily Caller piece features several interviews with Texas Masons, one of whom alleges:

“The problem is lots and lots of lodges in Texas have been admitting transgender people, very visibly,” the Mason told the DCNF. “[One lodge] has several visibly transgender people, these are people who either already took the oath as a guy and then changed or took the oaths saying that they were nonbinary, gender fluid, or something … and this is considered a big provocation.

(Personally, I would be interested to know what exactly constitutes "lots and lots of lodges in Texas" that he alleges have been "admitting visibly transgender people.")

As far as internal rule making goes within the fraternity, U.S. grand lodges don't much concern themselves with what the UGLE does or doesn't do. The situation in England — both before and after Brexit — is quite different. The UGLE has historically been protected under both English and European Union laws from legal accusations of gender discrimination because of Freemasonry's longstanding male-only admissions criteria. They are recognized in England and Wales under the law as a single-sex association, so they cannot be compelled to admit women. 


The problem arose when existing UGLE Masons chose to undergo gender reassignment, which is when the law kicked in. The UGLE's male-only status does not protect them from accusations of discrimination against current members. Under the 2004 Gender Recognition Act and the 2010 Equality Act, a man who has already joined the Freemasons cannot be expelled or excluded after transitioning to a woman because gender reassignment is a protected right under the law.

UGLE's current policy reads, in part:

Should a person who has undergone gender reassignment and has become a man apply to become a Freemason then his application must be processed in the same way as for any other male candidate.

A Freemason who after initiation ceases to be a man does not cease to be a Freemason. 

A Freemason who becomes a woman is not required to resign from the Craft.


A Lodge may vote to exclude any member for sufficient cause. [However,] the following grounds would constitute unlawful discrimination and so could never constitute sufficient cause:
    • The fact that a member has legally become a woman;
    • A mistaken belief that a member has legally become a woman;
    • The fact that a member is in the process of transition from male to female; or
    • A mistaken belief that a member is in the process of transitioning from male to female.
    • Similarly a Lodge must not attempt to persuade a member to resign from the Lodge or discriminate against a member based on any of these grounds. A Lodge must not at any time require a member to prove that they are legally a man.
Female members should still be greeted with the prefix “brother”. Alternatives to the formal suit and tie have been allowed, including a “smart dark skirt and top.”

Edward Lord (photo: Telegraph)

At the time when this controversy started in 2018, UGLE Mason Edward Lord (photo) had been overseeing a "gender identity drive" as part of his role as chair of the City of London’s establishment committee. Lord has been a well-known and highly visible LGBTQ activist for many years, and identifies as "non-binary," preferring to be addressed by the pronoun "they.” His London committee was investigating ending sex segregation in women-only spaces like public bathrooms, dressing rooms, and locker rooms at well-known public landmarks. But in the midst of contentious online discussions over the matter, it was revealed that Edward Lord is a Freemason, and his participation in the world's oldest and best known male fraternal group suddenly turned into a noisy public row that played out in the press. (See The Telegraph - "Gender equality campaigner defends Freemason membership".) He was branded as a hypocrite. In response to the press noise,
UGLE was compelled internally into crafting their transgender policy, which was clearly very carefully worded by a team of lawyers. They also worked with the two biggest female grand lodges in England, the Honourable Fraternity of Ancient Freemasons (HFAF) and the Order of Women Freemasons (OWF) since, as single-sex organizations themselves, they faced the very same legal dilemmas within their ranks.

Saturday, June 17, 2023

Pennsylvania Masonic Art Exhibition 2023 Call for Entries

by Christopher Hodapp

Calling all Masonic artists! The Masonic Library & Museum of Pennsylvania is holding an open art competition and Grand Exhibition this year, with the theme "Embodying Masonic Values." The call for entries is now open.

All artwork entries must display a visual interpretation of some aspect of Freemasonry in Pennsylvania, whether it be philosophical, historical, scientific, social, fraternal, charitable, architectural, etc. Selected artwork will be exhibited in the Masonic Temple in Philadelphia.

Any amateur or professional artist or college art student may enter, but all will be judged as equals for competition purposes. Artists must be at least 18 years of age. All submissions must be original; they may have been created within the past two years and may have been previously exhibited. No work previously produced on a commission will be accepted. All submissions must be available for purchase.

Oil, Three-dimensional, Drawing and Print-making, Water-Based Medium, Digital Imagery

$200 Prize per winner, per category
$500 Grand Master’s Prize
$1,000 Best in Show Prize

Entrance Fee
First entry: $25; Second and Third Entry: $10 (Limit of 3 entries per artist)

Judges will be: Brother Travis Simpkins, Artist; John McDaniel, Artist; and Elaine Erne, Artist/Teacher

If the artists in the Grand Exhibition choose to participate, their entered works may be auctioned off at the Exhibition Gala, with 80% of the auction value going to them and 20% to The Masonic Library and Museum of Pennsylvania. The artist may set a reserve price, as well as a direct purchase price for the original work to be revealed AFTER the auction.

Entry deadline: Thursday, Aug. 10, by midnight, E.D.T. Submissions must be made through www.callforentry.org

Judges' selections will be announced: Friday, Aug. 25

Opening Reception: The Grand Exhibition Gala will be held at the Masonic Temple in Philadelphia on Friday, Oct. 6, featuring a cocktail and hors d’oeuvres reception, live music, announcement of winners and a silent auction of selected artwork.

Exhibition: The Grand Exhibition will be open to the public to view starting on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Tuesdays – Saturdays, until Nov. 11.

Venue: Masonic Temple, One N. Broad St., Philadelphia, PA 19107-2598

For more information, see the website HERE 

Thursday, June 15, 2023

Fire Destroys Florida Masonic Hall: Arson Suspected

by Christopher Hodapp

A devastating fire destroyed the Masonic hall in Leesburg, Florida Wednesday night, following a break in. Leesburg Lodge 58 lost everything in the fire that began about 10:30PM, and arson investigators believe the blaze was deliberately set. 

The Leesburg lodge hall was also home to The Villages Lodge 394, which had been preparing to celebrate its 25th anniversary with a rededication ceremony Friday night. That event has been postponed indefinitely.

Grand Master Glen E. Bishop of the Grand Lodge of Florida issued a statement today and said that already several lodges in the area have volunteered meeting spaces and other assistance. 

Photos: Leesburg Fire Rescue Facebook page

UPDATE 6/16/2023, 11:30PM

The State Fire Marshal's office is still investigating the cause of the fire as of late Friday night, but aerial drone footage from local TV station WFTV-9 shows the extent of the destruction.

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

GL of Tennessee and MWPHGL of Tennessee Agree on Joint Visitation Rules

by Christopher Hodapp

An agreement has been reached between the Grand Lodge F&AM of Tennessee and the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Tennessee F&AM regarding visitation policies for their lodges and members. A letter was sent yesterday by MW James Rhyne Arnhart, Jr., Grand Master of the GL of Tennessee, to his constituent lodges that explains the protocols, and I suspect the MWPHGL of TN will do the same shortly. 
 (Click the image above to enlarge.)

There's nothing really out of the ordinary about the policy as outlined in the resolution:
  • Visitors must produce a valid dues card and photo I.D. to verify the name and face matches. 
  • If the visitor can't be vouched for by a member of the lodge, he may be taken aside by an investigating committee for examination. In addition, visitors must take the Tyler's (or Tiler's) oath. 
  • There is no change regarding the normal rights of a lodge member to object to a visitor's admission, each according to his own grand lodge's code, "keeping in mind the Masonic intent is that in every region a Mason may find a home and in every land a brother."
In the world of Masonic relations and jurisprudence, a "mainstream" GL and the Prince Hall GL in any given state both consider each other in the same way they consider a regular but 'foreign' jurisdiction. 

Both Tennessee grand lodges approved joint recognition two years ago, and an official treaty between the two bodies was signed in October 2021. But the sharing of Masonic sovereignty within a state requires the crafting of internal rules and by-law changes before visitation can be permitted. 

According to the letter, the visitation policy officially goes into effect on July 17, 2023.

There remain just five states in which joint recognition has not yet been achieved between the "mainstream" state grand lodges and their Prince Hall-derived counterparts: Arkansas, Mississippi, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Louisiana. 

Note that Prince Hall recognition in Louisiana is a unique situation – the Grand Lodge of Louisiana does NOT recognize the MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Louisiana, primarily because of problematic actions of its longtime Grand Master, Ralph Slaughter. (Invading other jurisdictions by improperly chartering lodges in their territory; fomenting a schism in the Prince Hall Affiliated Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction and illegally operating under the same name. Latest saga – living up to his name, GM Slaughter just suspended several members who tried to object to his re-election during their annual meeting this week. But that's another story for another time.) However, the GL of Louisiana DOES recognize the MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Maryland, as of last year.

Monday, June 12, 2023

Magicians, Magic and Masonry in California Next Month

by Christopher Hodapp

The 2023 California Masonic Symposium on June 28th may perhaps be the most unusual educational program ever put on by a grand lodge: "Brother Harry Houdini – The Master Mystic & the Masonic Ties to Our Craft." Throughout its modern history, there have been active, practicing magicians within the fraternity of Freemasonry. Ye Olde Cup & Ball No. 880 is a recently-chartered "affinity lodge" in Los Angeles for professional and budding magicians. Appropriately, it meets at the famed Magic Castle private club in Hollywood (clubhouse for the very real Academy of Magical Arts). Additionally, the Invisible Lodge is an international, honorary association of magician-Masons (it was founded by Sir Felix Korim, a well known stage Illusionist in 1953). But how are the practices of magic and Masonry related—and what philosophical ideas underpin them both?

For a very long time indeed, there have been people with active imaginations who have attempted to either discover mystical, metaphysical secrets and powers within what we call speculative Freemasonry, or, when they couldn't really find any, to infuse it with their own notions of white magic, black magic, high magic, or spiritual magic (or, if you prefer, magick). There's always been a small group of people who join the fraternity and are sorely disappointed that we really don't teach them the power to raise the dead, live forever, and amass vast riches, after all. 

But that's not to say there's no place in Masonry for magic. Au contraire. It's the *magic* that depends on showmanship and performance within our ceremonies to most effectively bring our memorized ritual work to life, instead of just being a two-hour drone of meaningless, antiquated, and unfamiliar words. Ritual showmanship – when it's done well – really does work magic on a candidate's emotions and spiritual understanding. It's very serious hocus-pocus that's supposed to be transformative to receptive candidates. Our magic is designed to make the common man actively think about deeply philosophical concepts of life, death, good, evil, honor, integrity, responsibility, the nature of God, the examination of our own faiths, and the very purpose of our brief life on Earth.

The legendary magician, escape artist and master showman, Harry Houdini (1891-1926) was a member of New York's St. Cecile Lodge 568, and one of the main presentations of California's online symposium will be about his incredible life and career. A panel discussion will explore the ties between magic and Masonry: Magic’s relevance to Freemasonry today, the importance of showmanship in our ritual ceremonies, and the very real 'magical' connections between Freemasonry and the ritual. 

This year's theme for the California symposium shouldn't be surprising, as the current Grand Master of California, MW Randall Brill, is an accomplished magician, as are all of the other presenters for this program: Maynard Edwards, S. Brent Morris, and Ralph C. Shelton II. (In fact, if you've ever attended a Masonic presentation given by Brent Morris, he will commonly preface his speech by performing a quick magic trick, and his university dissertation for a PhD  in mathematics was written about the mathematical probabilities involved in card shuffling.)

There will be no in-person presentations this year. The Symposium is expected to last approximately two hours and will be conducted online only. There is no fee – a reservation is required in order to receive the proper log-in credentials. REGISTER HERE.

On the same theme, on July 16th, 2023, the Invisible Lodge International (a.k.a. "The Honorary Association of Masonic Magicians at Work Under the Jurisdiction of the Known and Unknown World") will hold a special public celebration of its 70th anniversary at the Long Beach Scottish Rite Center (855 Elm Ave., Long Beach, CA 90813). It will also be the 100th anniversary of Harry Houdini's initiation. 
  • There will be two sittings for dinner on Sunday night, beginning at 6:00PM and 7:30PM.
  • Magic shows featuring the Lodge's members will begin at 8:30
  • The main stage show at 9:00PM.
  • An attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the most number of simultaneous escapes (audience help will be required)
  • The History of Magical Masons and the Invisible Lodge
  • Public initiation of new members
  • At midnight, there will be a Houdini séance (just in case he finally has found the secret to coming back again)
  • And a surprise Houdini event will end the evening.
All Master Masons are welcome, along with significant others and accompanied guests over age 21. All of the proceeds from this event will be donated to the 2023 Grand Master’s Charity, (the California Masonic Foundation Trade School Scholarship Fund) and the Long Beach Scottish Rite Center building fund.

Sunday, June 04, 2023

Upcoming 2023 Masonic Conventions

(Image: Brother Steven McKim)

by Christopher Hodapp

In the mid-2010s, American Freemasons started falling in love with the concept of state or regional Masonic Cons – large-scale Masonic conventions that bring together guest speakers, education presentations, seminars, and discussion groups, replete with vendors, commemorative swag, podcasters to cover the activities, and a grand celebratory dinner. Similar types of Masonic education events have gone on for over a century and a half, but the 'Masonic Con' branding (reminiscent of science fiction, comic, and mystery lovers' "Cons") seemed to kickstart imitators and provide new enthusiasm that has become infectious. (See my article from 2019, Masonic Con and the Power of Great Ideas.)

Coming up this year there are at least three that I know of, in Oklahoma, Kansas and Illinois. Alert me if I missed yours.

Red River Masonic Con will be held June 23-24, 2023 in Sulphur, Oklahoma at the Chickasaw Retreat and Conference Center. Sponsored by the Oklahoma Lodge of Research, speakers will include:
  • Robert C. Davis
  • Josef Wäges
  • Chuck Dunning
  • Daniel Hanttula
  • Alex G. Power
(See the schedule HERE) An informal 'Friday Night Philosopher's Guild' gathering will kick off the event, described as "a guided discussion of the meaning of modern day Freemasonry and a group exploration of the needs and wants of 21st century fraternalism." It will last from 6pm-9pm, and they are limiting it to 30 participants.

Tickets are on sale now. General admission is $99. There's also a $15 ticket if you only want to attend the Friday Night Philosophers Guild discussion (includes pizza). Wives, spouses, significant others and non-Masonic guests are encouraged to participate in a $99 non-Mason activity program that includes a Cultural Center Tour and Lunch (11am-2:30pm), Dinner at the CRCC with the Masons. the Nine O’Clock Toast, and commemorative glass.

Sulphur, Oklahoma is located about a 2 hour drive south of Oklahoma City off I-33, and it's a fascinating place to explore all by itself - it was the home of a prospering hot springs tourist area 

Masonic Con Kansas will be held July 28-30, 2023 at the hall of Rosedale Lodge 333 in Merriam, Kansas. To start, there will be a Friday Meet 'n Greet and celebration of the 100th anniversary of nearby Overland Park Lodge 436 that kicks off the event.

Speakers and panelists include:
  • Jason Richards from Virginia
  • Ryan Flynn from New Hampshire
  • Matthew Parker from Nebraska
  • Brad Drew from Kentucky
  • Mikel J. Stoops from Kansas
  • Kansas' own Darren Kellerman will be master of ceremonies
If you're making lodging plans, the two venues are:
  • Rosedale Masonic Lodge 333, 6161 Slater Street, Merriam, Kansas
  • Overland Park Lodge 436, 8109 Overland Park, Kansas
Tickets are available now. General admission (no swag) $52.32; General admission WITH swag $78.22; Virtual pass $21.23; Virtual with pass WITH swag $47.14.

Masonic Con Chicago will be held September 16th, 2023 at the historic Libertyville Masonic Temple in Libertyville, Illinois (north of Chicago, about seven miles south and west of Waukegan). The convention is organized by the brethren of Spes Novum Lodge 1183 and the Whence Came You podcast crew. 

No speakers have been announced yet, but tickets are on sale now at $80 for general admission and $120 V.I.P. level. Event is open to EAs, FCs, MMs and the general public. There will be no virtual tickets for this event.

And just because I somehow missed knowing about this year's Ohio event in April, the 2024
Midwest Conference on Masonic Education
will be held next year at the Minnesota Masonic Heritage Center in Bloomington, Minnesota, May 3 – 5, 2024. These Midwest Conferences have been going on since 1949, and they move around the region every year. 
Somebody remind me to put it on my calendar.

Friday, June 02, 2023

Universal Brotherhood Day in D.C. Celebrates 300th Anniversary of Anderson's 'Constitutions'

by Christopher Hodapp

This year marks the 300th anniversary of the publication of James Anderson's Constitutions of the Freemasons in 1723, the foundational document of the fraternity. On June 23-24 (St. John's Day), the 2023 Universal Brotherhood Celebration will take place in the Washington, D.C. area at the George Washington National Masonic Memorial. The event will be hosted by the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia's historic Naval Lodge No. 4, with the participation of the Pro Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England and visiting Grand Masters of several U.S. Masonic jurisdictions.

Friday, June 23rd
  • Congressional Breakfast at the U.S. Capitol with Masonic members of Congress
  • Universal Lodge Meeting in the Andrew Jackson Lodge Room at the GWNM Memorial in Alexandria, Virginia
  • Festive Board at the Memorial - $50/person

Saturday, June 24th
  • Lectures at the Mount Vernon Estate on Anderson's Constitutions by various presenters on the impact of the 1723 Constitutions on the United Kingdom, Continental Europe, South America, and the United States.
  • Wreath laying at George Washington's tomb
  • Universal Brotherhood Banquet at Washington's J.W. Marriott Hotel - $110/person
For more information and to register, visit the Eventbrite website HERE.