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


Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Florida vs. Paraguay: Masonic Regularity, Recognition, Muddles and Mayhem

by Christopher Hodapp

Ever wonder what "regular, recognized" means when it comes to the many grand lodges of Masons all over the world, and just who decides such things? 

I'll warn you here at the outset: this is one of those Masonic stories that will make your eyes glaze over. It has little or nothing to do with most everyday Masons all over the world, and it's rooted in Freemasonry's three-century-old methods and policies that grew out of 18th century European government and religious diplomatic traditions. This story will be like reading all the supporting documents and commentary of the International High Seas Biodiversity Treaty negotiations, without nearly as many punchlines.

The Requirements of Regularity and Recognition

The majority of regular grand lodges extend or withdraw relations with foreign jurisdictions based on a set of conditions: 
  • that their constituent lodges admit men only; 
  • that their lodges work in view of a volume of sacred law and under the auspices of the Grand Architect of the Universe; 
  • that discussion of religion and politics are prohibited in their lodge meetings;
  • that the grand lodge has legitimately and provably descended in some way from the earliest of grand lodges in England or Scotland; 
  • that the grand lodge is considered completely sovereign over its members and territory, sharing it only by treaty with other regular grand lodges (such as in state grand lodges that coexist with Prince Hall Affiliated grand lodges in the U.S.; or when English, Scottish and Irish lodges are still at work in what were once the far-flung colonial outposts of the British Empire in Asia, Africa or the Middle East). This is referred to as "exclusive territorial jurisdiction."
To that end, the Conference of Grand Masters of Masons in North America's (COGMMNA) Commission on Recognition meets every February to investigate Masonic regularity of various grand lodges around the world, or to decipher various controversies of regularity and recognition, in order to issue a report that attempts to determine these sometimes very complicated matters of who's legit and who isn't.

But – 

The COGMMNA Commission on Recognition does not - and CANNOT - force anybody’s grand lodge to recognize, “de-recognize” or just ignore another jurisdiction when it comes to permitting its members to visit foreign lodges. That decision is completely up to every individual grand lodge or grand orient on its own. But let’s not pretend there isn’t such a thing as Masonic peer pressure. A diplomatic problem can arise when a grand lodge (or a group of them) decides to depart from the majority of opinions within its Masonic region and recognize what the others regard as “the wrong grand lodge.” 

Which brings me casually moseying around the barnyard over to Florida.

Florida and the CMI

The Grand Lodge of Florida’s announcement last week that it was withdrawing Masonic relations from 11 different grand lodges is rooted in a disagreement with a large federation of Masonic jurisdictions known as the Confederación Masónica Interamericana, or CMI (the Inter-American Masonic Confederation). In fact, those 11 are only the latest ones Florida has cut off – the total is 13 because they had already severed relations with grand lodges in Argentina and Uruguay a couple of months before. (Click the letters below to enlarge.)


The CMI is a cooperative association made up of 94 participating grand lodges, and was established back in 1947. CMI acts in a similar way as COGMMNA, with its membership generally comprising grand lodges and grand orients deemed to be Masonically “regular” by the vast majority of the Masons in the world. CMI's concentration is mostly in Central and South America, Mexico, and the Caribbean, but there are a handful of CMI-member grand lodges outside of those regions, like the Grand Lodges of New York, New Jersey, the District of Columbia, plus Spain, Portugal, the Grand Orient of Italy, and France's Grande Loge Nationale Française (you can see the list of CMI’s 94 members HERE). 

Two Paraguay Grand Lodges Walk Into A Bar...

Bear in mind that there are many conflicting (mostly unrecognized and often irregular) grand lodges also at work in the Central and South America which are NOT members of the CMI, and this is the part of the story when Paraguay suddenly bursts into the bar and Florida says, “Order me another frozen banana daiquiri while I go handle this.”

It seems that this whole sticky pickle began after the Grand Lodge of Florida recognized a different Masonic grand lodge in the country of Paraguay than either CMI or a growing number of mainstream, regular grand lodges around the world do. Florida 
maintains amity with the older Gran Logia Simbólica del Paraguay, while CMI members mostly recognize the newer Gran Logia Simbólica del Paraguay, which was established in 2006 after a schism occurred in Paraguayan Masonry. 

Seal/logo of the "newer" Symbolic GL of Paraguay
features the date of 1869

Unfortunately for those of us who have a tough time keeping them straight, both grand lodges have exactly the same name, and both are headquartered in the city of Asunción. This fight first started back in 2006, and it's been a big problem for Paraguay Masons ever since. 

The newer grand lodge had as its founding Grand Master, MW Bro Euclides Acevedo, and this is how many articles and reports often distinguish between the two groups – by simply mentioning Acevedo's name. Its seal features the date of 1869.

Photo:Gerardo Malvetti

The address of this grand lodge is Avda. de la Victoria, No. 690 esq Lopez Moreira, Asunción (photo above). 

Seal of the "older" Symbolic Grand Lodge of Paraguay
features the date of 1895

The "older" Gran Logia Simbólica del Paraguay features the date of 1895 on its seal. Go figure. I'm also told that the older organization is sometimes referred to as the "centennial" grand lodge, as it celebrated the 100th anniversary of its 1923 REfounding in 2023. Image below is their headquarters on Palma Street in Ascunción.

Home of the older "Centennial" Grand Lodge. Photo: Gustavo Machado  

This mess has also been a thorny issue for the COGMMNA's Commission on Recognition for almost 20 years. And woe betide outsiders who attempt to make heads or tails of the whole mess.

CMI Tries To Make Order From Chaos

The Confederación Masónica Interamericana is a big organization, and it’s divided into several regional zones. CMI’s Zone 6 (which largely covers South America, plus Spain and Portugal) issued a declaration that the "newer" Symbolic Grand Lodge of Paraguay (whose current Grand Master is José Miguel Fernandez Zacur) is the one true “regular” one, and "urged" (not demanded or ordered, but "urged") all of the jurisdictions within their conference to agree with them. But Florida disagreed with with CMI's declaration that the "newer" was the legitimately regular one to be recognized. (Click the Spanish-language documents below to enlarge)


Florida isn't even a member of the Confederation, so why they chose to meddle in CMI's business is anyone's guess. But Florida has declared that any grand lodge signing the CMI's Zone 6 agreement to abide by its conclusion was allowing an outside organization to impose rules and shove them around. That smelled like violation of Masonic sovereignty to Florida: ergo, those grand lodges are obviously NOT sovereign if they let some outside group of buttinskys tell them who to recognize or not recognize; ergo, if said grand lodges AREN’T sovereign anymore, that means THEY obviously AREN’T regular anymore; ergo, Florida issued a demand that all the CMI signatories with whom they were in amity explain their wimpy, weak-sister genuflecting to Florida’s satisfaction, or face the loss of Masonic relations between them. And that’s what resulted in the current list of 13 grand lodges from whom Florida has now withdrawn relations over this issue (the eleven named last week, plus Argentina and Uruguay).

It might be a perfectly legitimate line of logical thinking Florida followed, but as we all know, grand lodges and grand masters have the power to do things that they shouldn’t necessarily exercise when it comes to the practicality of Masonry's altruistic notions of harmony among brethren. Unleashing lightening bolts from their terrible swift swords ofttimes wind up causing more harm than good among the rank and file brethren, along with creating very bad publicity for what is supposed to be an organization dedicated to worldwide brotherhood and improvement of the human condition. Florida hasn't just cut off visitations between their own members and Masons from the now-shunned grand lodges when they visit the Sunshine State; they are also demanding that any Florida Masons who hold joint memberships in any of the shunned jurisdictions must resign from one or the other.

Florida’s Past Grand Master from 2012, RW Jorge Aladro, seems to be at the center of this situation, and it should come as no surprise that he also pops up as this year’s chairman of the COGMMNA’s Commission on Recognition, which convenes in February – likely why Florida’s deadline for responses to its ultimatum was timed for late January. He’s also the chairman of Florida’s committee on foreign fraternal relations. (Aladro may be best remembered by the Masonic community as the grand master who passed edicts during 2012 forbidding Wiccans and pagans from Masonic membership in Florida lodges, and essentially declaring that all Florida Masons must be monotheistic.)

What in hell goes on in Paraguay?

Back in 2005 or so, the Supreme Council of the AASR in Paraguay created an internal uproar when it expelled the sitting Grand Master of Paraguay, which kicked in a rule within the Grand Lodge that expulsion from one Masonic body meant expulsion from all. Effectively, the Supreme Council's action forced the removal of the Grand Master from his elected office, which looked and smelled to the Masonic world like the appendant body was really in charge of a subservient and compliant grand lodge.

Let me quote the COGMMNA's Commission on Recognition's report from 2008:

A split has developed in the Grand Lodge of Paraguay. A group of dissidents have now proclaimed themselves to be the Grand Lodge Symbolic of Paraguay. After a questionable investigation, the Interamerican Masonic Confederation has declared this group headed by Mendoza Unzain to be legitimate. This was an unusual act since the by-laws of the CMI prohibits the interference in the internal affairs of a Grand Lodge. This ruling is being contested by the existing [older] Grand Lodge of Paraguay, but they have not allowed [us] to see the report of the investigation, or to offer a response. Nemecio Lichi was legally elected to be the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Paraguay, and the Commission is of the opinion that this Grand Lodge is still the only Grand Lodge in Paraguay that meets the standards for recognition.

But by 2013, the United Grand Lodge of England had recognized the "newer" Gran Logia Simbólica del Paraguay , which also had the support of many CMI members. By 2014, the COGMMNA Commission on Recognition's report came to the conclusion that the newer body was now the "only Grand Lodge in Paraguay that meets the standards for recognition."

In 2016, the Commission reiterated its conclusion that the newer GL was considered to be the regular one. Because the two groups have exactly the same name, the Commission reported specifically that "The current Grand Master of the Symbolic Grand Lodge of Paraguay [in 2022] is M∴W∴ Bro. Edgar Sanchez Caballero. The address of that grand lodge is: Gran Logia Simbolica Del Paraguay Avda. de la Victoria No 690 esq Lopez Moreira Asuncion - Paraguay." 

(BTW, their most recently elected Grand Master who will serve 2022-2026 is now MW José Miguel Fernández Zacur.)

The Commission on Recognition's report from 2018 enlarged upon the origin story of the newer Paraguayan grand lodge a bit, but threw their hands up over the mess, recommending a treaty or some other solution to jointly share the territory, whether they got along with each other or not:

In 2005, the Grand Master of Paraguay was suspended by an appendant body [Paraguay's Supreme Council of the AASR]. Pursuant to treaty, this lead to his suspension from symbolic or craft Masonry. In 2006, there was a schism in Paraguayan Masonry. For a number of years, attempts were made to reconcile the two grand lodges. In 2014, when such efforts repeatedly failed, this Commission found that the newer grand Lodge met the standards for recognition. This was, in part, because the prior Grand Lodge did not demonstrate sovereignty, as an appendant body functionally controlled the craft. The Commission has now been presented evidence that in 2017, a new treaty was entered into with the appendant body, preserving the sovereignty of the craft. While both grand lodges appear to be practicing regular Freemasonry, before the Commission makes further recommendations, we encourage both parties to discuss a treaty to share the jurisdiction regardless of whether they formally recognize one another Masonically.

As a result, I believe just over a dozen U.S. grand lodges recognize ANY grand lodge of Masons in Paraguay at all. The rest are sitting back and waiting for some sanity to prevail. But Florida is, to my knowledge, the ONLY one sticking with the older organization. Meanwhile, the newer Symbolic Grand Lodge has posted a packet of online documents that demonstrate the worldwide support they have continued to receive over the years. They can be seen HERE.

Of course, the really ironic bit of unintentional pratfall comedy here is that the schism with the original Symbolic Grand Lodge of Paraguay began 20 years ago over the accusation that an outside group (Paraguay's Supreme Council of the AASR) was calling the shots for them – proof that they were no longer a sovereign grand lodge that governed itself. And now, Florida has split from these thirteen GLs in CMI because Florida questions their sovereignty by agreeing to CMI's definition of regularity. 

To finally wrap this up, below is the official English-language response to Florida issued on Saturday by Paraguay from 2022-26 Grand Master Zacur. (Click to enlarge)


This episode is the sort of thing your own grand lodge's Foreign Fraternal Relations Committee has to peer into every year, and their report is usually buried deep in the proceedings of your annual meeting – just in case some grand master gets it in his head to appoint you to that committee...

Saturday, January 27, 2024

Florida Withdraws Amity With Eleven Foreign Grand Lodges

by Christopher Hodapp

UPDATED 1/30/2024 10:00AM: Following the original posting of this story on January 27th, I received documentation that the actual number of grand lodges being shunned by the GL of Florida is now up to 13, since they also severed relations with the grand lodges of Argentina and Uruguay two months ago for the same reasons. I will post a more detailed explanation of this whole mess shortly.

On Friday, Grand Secretary Richard E. Lynn, PGM of the Grand Lodge of F&AM of Florida issued a letter declaring the immediate withdrawal of relations with the following foreign Masonic grand lodges:
  • La Gran Logia de Bolivia, 
  • La Gran Logia de Chile, A.L. y A.M., 
  • La Gran Logia de Costa Rica, F. A. y A, 
  • La Gran Logia de la Republica Dommicana, 
  • La Grande Loge Nationale Française, 
  • La Gran Logia de Guatemala, A.L. y A.M, America Central. 
  • La Gran Logia de Honduras, A.L. y A.M., 
  • Soberana Gran Login de Nicaragua, 
  • La Gran Logia de Panamá, 
  • Gran Logia de los A. L. y A.M., de la Republica del Perü, 
  • La Grande Loja Legal de Portugal
There are no details as to the specifics of the decision, other than to say, 
"... because they presume to impose on a Grand Lodge who they can recognize, something that would violate our sovereignty.  
"Therefore, no Lodge in Florida may visit nor allow visitors or petitioners for affiliation or dual membership from any Lodge Chartered by the Grand Lodges listed above. If you have a Dual Member, he will have to sign a letter of resignation from the Grand Lodge in question if he wishes to remain a member in Florida or vice versa."

That's a mighty wide swath of grand lodges with which to suddenly cut off relations in one broad swoop. Is there anyone who can shed some light on this announcement? (Click image below to enlarge)

Monday, January 22, 2024

R.I.P. Illus. Thurman Pace

Image by Chris Sands from his Facebook page.

by Christopher Hodapp

NOTE: This story will be updated as details become available.

Word came to me very late Sunday night that Illus. Brother Thurman Cleveland Pace, Jr. 33° and PGM of New Jersey has just passed to the Celestial Lodge. He was just two days short of his 100th birthday, but even at such an advanced age, Thurman was an indefatigable, active Freemason who traveled extensively all his life. Longtime attendees at Masonic Week events knew Thurman by sight, even if they had never officially met him. For over 65 years, he gave so much to individual Masons and the fraternity at large, as a mentor and shining example for us all to emulate. The list of his offices, awards and achievements will be astonishingly long as it gets circulated in the coming days.

There is so much that can be said of Thurman, but for the moment, I'll take the liberty of passing someone else's words along. The following message was posted Sunday by WB Moises Gomez on his Facebook page:

RW Thurman Pace and WB Moises Gomez. Photo by Moises Gomez

I’m very deeply saddened by the loss of my mentor, friend and dear brother R.W. & III Thurman C. Pace, Jr who passed away last night just shy of his 100th birthday this coming Tuesday. For 17 years we have been paired up traveling everywhere together. The last few years because of his health and age he was restricted to just his mother lodge close by. Thurman has touched so many people and his accomplishments are legendary. Even during his service in the U.S. Army during WWII his actions and dedication were incredible. His personal life and love of family was his strength being married to his Betty for 74 years. He was referred by all of his family as Pop Pop. In the Masonic community his level of dedication, commitment and love is unsurpassed and his achievements (way to many to mention) are incredible to believe, that someone could accomplish so much in one life time.
However his greatest attribute and contribution was being able to give back and open so many doors for so many of us, and not just here in NJ but around the world. He would always advise me to give back and always assist another brother achieve their goals. I remember him saying to me once there will be a time where you find a yourself back where you started coming around full circle. It’s at this moment in time where you can do the most good for others. After so many accomplishments in life he found himself back at his mother lodge Atlas Pythagoras Lodge No. 10 on the level completing his circle of life. This was most gratifying for him and as he would say I have come back home, and now dedicated himself and pouring all of his energy into aiding and mentoring others, so that one day they could also come full circle and do the same for others.
I will miss driving the thousands of miles together as we did, all the Masonic venues we visited together, and especially the countless hours spent in his den at his home in Westfield having many a Masonic conversation. 
To you Thurman I say thank you for all that you did not just for others, your family, your nation, but for me as well. For your kind advice, your friendship, and your brotherly love. I won’t say goodbye, but till we meet again!

May you rest in eternal peace my dear brother.

I will post an updated message here when I have more details and announcements of any Masonic funeral service that may take place.

His column is broken, and his brethren mourn.

Requiescat in pace, my friend and Brother.

Saturday, January 20, 2024

Masons of Texas Turn Out in Force For Annual Meeting

Photo: Don Comedy

by Christopher Hodapp

Note: This story was updated Monday, January 22nd at 1:00 AM to reflect corrections passed along to me by Texas brethren. Corrections include: a revised list of grand officers who were reelected to the Grand Officer's lineup and retained from last year; addition of GM Chapman's photo; more detail added to summarize what led up to these events over the weekend. Errors in the previous version of this story were mine alone. My apologies to all, and my thanks for those who offered corrections. CH

Revolutions are normally noisy and bloody things, but the Masons of Texas managed to stage their revolt in a remarkably calm and measured manner. The Grand Lodge of Texas AF&AM held its annual communication in Waco over the last three days, culminating in their grand officer elections this afternoon. Attendees eligible to vote – collectively known in Texas as the "Grand West" – numbered more than 3,400 rumored to be their biggest assembly so far in this century. After all the controversies taking place in Texas over the past year, it’s not surprising that events unfolded the way they did. 

Voting members approved a resolution permitting the consumption of alcoholic beverages in a Masonic building after a lodge meeting. In a normal year that would be seen as an almost cataclysmic event, but it was a mere footnote to the drama of choosing whose vision will lead Texas Freemasonry into the future.

In a major upheaval and repudiation to "the Old Guard" of grand lodge officers, last year's Deputy Grand Master H. Bart Henderson was passed over for advancement by voters in favor of electing MW Tommy F. Chapman, Past Grand Master from 2018, whose name was placed into nomination from the floor. 

The new officers of the Grand Lodge of Texas for 2024 are:

Grand Master: Past Grand Master Tommy Frank Chapman
Deputy Grand Master: Raborn Reader
Grand Senior Warden: Jim Rumsey
Grand Junior Warden: Justin Duty
Grand Treasurer: Rick Townsend
Grand Secretary: Brad Billings

Officers remaining and advancing from last year's line were: Raborn Reader (last year’s GSW), James Rumsey (last year's GJW), and Grand Treasurer Townsend. 

[NOTE: A previous version of this story said there had been a major shakeup in the Grand Lodge Trustees, as well. I've since been informed that these six elected grand officers actually make up the Trustees in Texas, which is quite different from many U.S. jurisdictions in which the Trustees are a completely separate group of brethren, that sometimes may include the current grand master. Apologies for my misunderstanding.]

At the heart of this year's tensions were previous attempts by PGM G. Clay Smith's administration to isolate, suspend or otherwise blunt the popularity of 2023 Grand Master Brad Billings and other brethren who were seen to be his allies and supporters in order to prevent a major change in the leadership's direction of the Grand Lodge. Even before Billings left office last January, clashes arose between him and what Jim Tresner used to refer to as Masonry's "mossback turtles" who disapproved of his younger, brasher style. 

An attempt had been made last January to prevent James Rumsey from being installed as Grand Junior Warden after his election and immediately after the installation of the new Grand Master, but mere moments before Rumsey's installation as GJW. The installation was halted and charges were read out against him by the GM, but the assembled brethren made such an uproar over the obvious ploy to scuttle Rumsey that the charges were deferred to a later time. Rumsey was subsequently suspended by Grand Master Smith the week after the annual meeting. The Grand Secretary at that time, Justin Duty, was also seen to be allied with PGM Billings last year, and GM Smith suspended him last month after Grand Trustees had voted against his making such a move. The political machinations and the misuse of the Grand Lodge rules became repugnant to the rank and file Masons in the state (along with countless Masons outside of Texas who watched events unfold via social media posts), which is what led to this weekend's proceedings.

This year, the voting brethren had their say all weekend long. A resolution was adopted forbidding the grand officer elections from taking place until the completion of all other business in order to prevent last minute shenanigans once the bored crowd left town (something that is extremely commonplace during previous long sessions in years past).

In a brief moment of online embarrassment, the internal Grandview website of the Grand Lodge of Texas was updated Saturday morning with 'the new Grand Lodge officers for 2024' showing Bart Henderson as GM, along with the slate of officers who had been expected to advance normally through the line. But as the election began to unfold, it was hastily removed. (That page fortunately never went onto the public website.)

Similarly, the Grand Lodge booth in Waco selling "H.B. Henderson 2024 GM" commemorative coins, belt buckles, pins and more was immediately shuttered when elections concluded, making those items truly rare and unusual collectors' items.

In his acceptance message, GM Chapman addressed the subject of appointed District Deputy Grand Masters, committee members and others by inviting them to remain in those positions for his administration if they wished to continue serving the grand Lodge. Otherwise, they could turn in their officer aprons and a new appointment would be selected. 

On Friday, a resolution (Resolution 10/24) was passed that had a huge effect on the activities and elections that followed. It immediately moved that all charges against anyone making themselves available for a grand office be openly tried under jurisdiction of Grand Lodge, and not behind closed doors in a subordinate lodge. It specified that all charges had to be handled by the Grand Lodge prior to the upcoming elections. This was why the order of business was such an important issue this year. Despite the Grand East's attempts to force the elections to take place earlier in the session, the Grand West insisted on the completion of all business (including the disposition of this resolution) before the elections were to be held. Passing the resolution made it effective immediately, which led to an immediate trial for RW Brad Billings on Saturday morning where they would have to explain everything to the Grand West. In a major development, negotiations went on between Billings and the Grand Lodge in which he dropped his defamation lawsuit against the GL in return for the dropping of all charges brought against him. By Saturday morning all parties had settled all charges, and Billings was permitted to run for grand Secretary - a position he subsequently won.

In other action, the Grand West also shot down a resolution to permit "one day classes" and the power to create a "Mason at sight" by grand masters. Other resolutions that passed:
  • Approved the printing and display of lodge minutes an hour before opening a meeting for inspection by members for correction, and dropping requirement of the actual reading of the minutes;
  • A special session of the Grand Lodge may be called by 50 or more lodges (this is a constitutional change that must hold over until 2025 meeting for final vote);
  • Lodges may sponsor and permit the Boy Scouts to meet in their buildings;
  • Restoration of the charter of Austin Lodge 12.
Ben Franklin was famously asked by a lady outside of the committee meeting in which the U.S. Constituution was drafted, "Well Doctor, what have we got? A republic or a monarchy?" His classic response was, "A Republic, if you can keep it." Texas Masons seem to have taken that job of keeping their republic over a monarchy quite seriously this week.

Photos: My apologies for some missing photo credits. These were grabbed from various Facebook posts and text messages I was following all weekend, and I was unable to notate the sources at the time. Tough to do while driving. If I've used one of your images, let me know and I'll either credit you or take it down.

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Midwest Conference on Masonic Education May 3-5, 2024 in Minnesota

by Christopher Hodapp

This year's Midwest Conference on Masonic Education will be held May 3-5, 2024 in Bloomington, Minnesota in and around the Masonic Heritage Center on the campus of the Minnesota Masonic Home.

Grand lodges all over the world have long realized the crying need to impart Masonic knowledge to our members. It seems that everybody knows that they're supposed to be providing "Masonic education" to Freemasons. But just how to you get knowledgable Masons who know (or understand) Masonic ritual, history, customs, laws, and all the other intellectual and cultural heritage we possess in our institution the proper tools and training to convert their knowledge and expertise into digestible lessons and into the brains of eager students? The best ritualists and historians don't always make the best teachers. Well, this year's conference will help provide some tools and methods to do just that.

Keynote speaker for this annual event will be Dave Baranek, former Aerial Combat instructor at the U.S. Navy's "Top Gun" Fighter Weapons School at Pensacola. His talk will center on "educating the educators," based on his 20 years of experience of teaching young pilots how to master the complex intricacies and develop the instincts needed for flying F-14 Tomcat planes. You can't get more different subjects than teaching Freemasonry and F-14s, but the methods of educating a widely disparate group of students in arcane subject matter are essentially alike. 

In addition to Baranek's keynote, other speakers and topics will include:
  • Terry Tilton, PGM - "Masonic Education – Our Challenges and Opportunities"
  • WBs Eric John Erfourth and Daniel Sherry - "MWB Ben Franklin’s Educational methodology and attitudes towards Adult education"
  • WB Brad Phelps - "Seven Habits of Highly Effective Masons"
  • Scott Wolter – "Templars, Masons & North America"
  • Also speaking will be: Nick Settich, Brad Phelps, Markus Müller and Reed Endersbe
The event hotel will be the nearby Marriott in Minnetonka, Minnesota.

For a schedule of speakers, events, vendors and how to register, visit the conference website at www.mcme1949.org

ABOUT THE CONFERENCE (from their website)
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  north central States and the Canadian Province of Manitoba. 
Member jurisdictions: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, North Dakota, South Dakota, 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.

Thursday, January 04, 2024

Texas PGM BIllings Files Defamation Lawsuit Against Grand Lodge and 5 Officers

by Christopher Hodapp

(A brief post from the road as we pass through Gallup, New Mexico...)

As the clock ticks down to the GL of Texas annual meeting later this month, a new broadside has been shot across the bow of the Grand Lodge. Texas' Immediate PGM Brad Billings has just filed a $250,000 lawsuit in civil court for defamation of character, naming the Grand Lodge and five officers.

Bradley Scott Billings is seeking up to $250,000 in his lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Waco’s 170th State District Court, against the Grand Lodge of Texas, Timothy P. Simmons, Lance Lawrence Kennedy, George Clay Smith, Howard Bart Henderson and Russell Clay Brown.
Billings, who served as grand master from January 2022 to January 2023, alleges that the manner in which theft charges were initiated against him within the lodge has denied him due process, are false and defamatory and could hurt his chances to be elected grand secretary of the Grand Lodge of Texas at its annual meeting this month.


Billings alleges in his lawsuit that he met “great resistance” from lodge members during his tenure as grand master.

“As the highest officer of the Grand Lodge of Texas who was elected by an overwhelming majority as the leader of an organization of 60,000 Texas men, the plaintiff undertook efforts to energize his constituents, raise money for the various charities supported by the Grand Lodge, and to modernize the operations and practices of the Grand Lodge,” according to the lawsuit.

A masonic trial was set for Jan. 6, 2024, with Brown being appointed “trial master” by Smith, the current grand master. Kennedy was appointed “prosecutor,” the lawsuit states.

Billings alleges in the suit that the charges do not meet the “certainty requirements” under Texas law and don’t sufficiently provide him notice of the allegations against him.

“Specifically, it does not notify such required information as from whom he is supposed to have stolen money, the amount of money stolen, and how the money was supposed to be appropriated,” the lawsuit alleges.

The defendants denied discovery matters to Billings, overruled his objections to procedural errors and ruled that Billings’ masonic counsel was disqualified from representing him, according to the suit.

They also denied his request to postpone the “trial,” Billings alleges.

Besides damaging his reputation and possibly costing him election as grand secretary, Billings also alleges the “allegations and potential conviction” make him ineligible for holding office and may cost him his membership as a Texas mason.

“The plaintiff is at risk of being found guilty of theft in violation of Texas law by a non-court body that does not have jurisdiction under Texas law to make such findings,” the suit claims. “The plaintiff has the risk of all the potential ramifications of being found guilty of a crime of moral turpitude and even possibly of a felony offense by a non-court body that is violating all constitutional and statutory rights that the plaintiff enjoys under Texas law.”

When the reporter tried contacting the grand lodge or Billings' attorney, no one would comment, so nobody's sayin' nuthin...