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


Friday, May 24, 2024

BREAKING: Indiana's Immediate Past Grand Master Suspended Following Annual Meeting

by Christopher Hodapp

(NOTE: This story has been updated as of Tuesday, May 28, 2024 at 5:00AM, adding details of PGM Brinley's Masonic background.)

Less than 24 hours after his installation as the newest grand master of the Grand Lodge F&AM of IndianaMW Grand Master David G. Morgan (2024-25) has suspended the Immediate Past Grand Master (2023-24), Gary E. Brinley, from the fraternity in Indiana, effective until the 2025 Annual Communication next May. The suspension is for un-Masonic conduct by Brinley during the discharge of his duties as Grand Master, up to and including during Tuesday's Annual Communication, along with his recent actions behind the scenes regarding candidates for election to the grand line

The ink was barely dry on the annual meeting's minutes before the suspension was issued on 

Guests unfamiliar with the rules and customs of the Grand Lodge F&AM of Indiana may not have guessed that anything was particularly amiss at Tuesday's meeting at the Indianapolis Scottish Rite Cathedral. But longtime Grand Lodge watchers and insiders were appalled at accusations levelled by Brinley in his widely circulated Grand Master's Address. His written address implied improper conduct on the part of several Masons and the office staff. 

To a wide range of Masons, he made what looked like un-Masonic and unsubstantiated attacks on at least three grand line officers, making allusions to financial improprieties that, for the most part, amounted to little more than minor differences between CPAs over accounting methods, especially office policies about personal credit card use and reimbursement methods. 

Brinley may have violated both written and unwritten (but longstanding) rules and customs of election conduct by altering the agenda to manipulate the election. Several sources characterized it as 'reverse-electioneering' to thwart the election rules and insert his own favored candidates onto the ballot at the last minute. 

(Unlike some grand lodges that allow for open competition for grand officer positions, Indiana's written and unwritten rules and procedures expressly forbid grand officer nominations from the floor, electioneering of any kind, or even mentioning during a meeting that someone is actively seeking a position. These are all the same rules that individual Indiana lodges must follow in their elections. The grand lodge must abide by them, as well. The new Junior Grand Deacon is appointed by each newly elected Grand Master, and he then advances up the line each year.)

The Grand Lodge undergoes a major audit every year by a highly-regarded outside firm, which has not raised red flags over the years over the policies Brinley seemed to zero in on. Brinley is himself a CPA at an Indiana bank that holds many of the accounts of the Grand Lodge. So, armed with the issues he raised, he spent the week before the annual meeting asking numerous past grand masters and others for methods to push his own two favored candidates for Grand Secretary and Grand Treasurer onto the ballot. Right up until he finished reading a strategically edited version of his address in which he left out his allegations, half the members in the audience feared there was going to be a full-blown battle on the floor.

But if there had been any question as to the sentiment of the voting members of the Grand Lodge on Tuesday, when the re-elections of Rick Elman as Grand Secretary and Ken Willis as Grand Treasurer, and especially the election of Randy Seipel as Deputy Grand Master, were announced, the applause was loud and sustained.

Historically, Indiana's Annual Communication meeting has lasted at least two days, practically ever since its formation in 1818. In the aftermath of COVID lockdowns, it was decided to dramatically reduce costs by dropping the meeting to a single day of business. But Tuesday's long session ended with more than half of its 24 pieces of Grand Master recommendations and proposed legislation left unaddressed, forcing them to be bumped to 'Unfinished Business' for May 2025. While that aspect of the meeting likely has little or nothing to do with Brinley's suspension, it certainly left many voting members with a bad taste in their mouths.

Gary Brinley was appointed Junior Grand Deacon by RW Rodney A. Mann, PGM, in 2017 and moved through the progressive Grand Lodge line. He was elected and installed as the 172nd Grand Master of Indiana on May 16, 2024.

The immediate result of Brinley's suspension from the fraternity removes him from the Grand Lodge Trustees line, which supervises the Indianapolis Masonic Temple/Indiana Freemasons Hall, a role traditionally filled by the immediate past grand master. Presumably, a  new GL Trustee will be appointed by GM Morgan.

PGM Gary Brinley's lives in Bloomington, Indiana, and prior to his suspension, was a member of Ellettsville Lodge 245. Originally from Greenville, Ohio (about 20 miles east of Winchester, Indiana), he began his Masonic life in that state, and still holds a dual membership there today. He was raised as a Master Mason in 1985 at Fort Black Lodge 413 in New Madison, Ohio, serving as their Worshipful Master in 1990. (Fort Black Lodge has since merged with Greenville Lodge 143.)

Despite a common misconception, a Mason's suspension or expulsion in ONE grand lodge or appendant body does NOT necessarily mean any or all Masonic grand governing bodies or jurisdictions will automatically follow suit. In other words, suspension from one doesn't necessarily mean suspension or expulsion from ALL bodies. It's unclear for the moment whether or not the Grand Lodge of Ohio will honor GM Morgan's suspension of Brinley in Indiana, and suspend him there as well; or if they will wait until the outcome of any Masonic trial or a decision by Indiana's Grievances & Appeals Committee next May. 

Also unclear is how this might affect his appendant body memberships in the York Rite, the Scottish Rite (NMJ), the Shrine and others. Brinley has served as the Thrice Potent Master (the greatest Masonic officer title, ever!) of the Indianapolis Valley of the Scottish Rite's Northern Jurisdiction, where he has also served as Trustee and Treasurer; he was coroneted a 33° Scottish Rite Mason in 2010. Nationally, he has been serving as Secretary General of the Societas Rosicruciana in Civitatibus Foederatis for several years. 

Just to end on a happier note, congratulations to the Brethren of Circumpunct Lodge 777, Indiana's newest Masonic lodge. They received their official charter on Tuesday. That's their first Worshipful Master, Adam Campbell, in the middle, holding the charter.

Well done, Brethren!

UPDATE FRIDAY, MAY 23, 2024 12:30AM

While I was en route from Indianapolis to Vancouver, news of the suspension spread across Facebook after the Brethren from Gary Brinley's home lodge received the official notice. To quell some of the speculation, the Grand Master issued the following statement on the Indiana Freemasons Facebook page. Click image above to enlarge:

This is not an action to take lightly. It involves the integrity of a Masonic election, and the same rules apply to the Grand Lodge as in every Blue Lodge. T
he Grand Master has an obligation to protect the reputation of the fraternity and ensure it remains unsullied. The Grand Master has no choice. The election was not the only issue. Like all Masons, the Grand Master is the leader and must remember Brotherly love and truth. Therefore, as a Brother and Grand Master, I will not be disrespectful to a Brother and won’t reveal the specifics now. They will come out in due time and through proper Masonic channels.

Sincerely & Fraternally,
David G Morgan
Grand Master
Grand Lodge of Indiana


  1. As a fellow Mason, I am surprised that a gentleman of Past Grand Master Brinley , who should be well aware of the rules of Lodge function would not follow proper protocol in his actions. If the members of the governing bodies are not satisfied with the current rules there are proper and effective ways to attempt to change them as is done in most Blue Lodges. I am deeply saddened that a man that rose to the Grand Masters position tried to circumvent the normal procedures. Glen Rogers-Angola Lodge 236, Angola, In.

  2. The sad is this makes me to hear at least I feel gratified that Texas isn't the only jurisdiction that has problems like this from time to time. Prayers to everyone involved this gets resolved in a satisfactory way that is best for the craft.

  3. Looks familiar to issues that were recently dealt with down south. The biggest issue I see today is the use of "un-masonic charges" being made for political purposes. We need transparency for our constituent lodges. It is the Grand West that makes up the Grand Lodge. Not the trustees. Good luck Brothers of Indiana. I hope truth and justice prevail no matter which way it ends up. The truth in what the West finds relative to the administration of GL is what matters. We are still run under a democracy. Not patriarchy.

  4. Part of the current problems of the grand lodges is the inadequacy of the leadership as far as education -- a ceo today really needs the tools that come with top university degrees, which these days are rare in Masonic organizations.

    1. Never confuse education with being smart.

    2. In a similar vein, never confuse being smart with having the proper education. In other words, the two both need to be present if an individual is to be successful.

  5. As long as their physical, emotional, and mental health is intact (especially the latter two), in my limited experience it seems military leaders and Veterans who served honorably as military leaders tend to make good Masonic leaders. They have practical experience and training in using the 3 primary types of leadership, often under great stress. If you have such men in your Masonic jurisdictions it may benefit you to provide them with opportunities to be of service. -

    Bro. Thomas.


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