Editor - Ralph A. Herbold (8-15-91) No. 633
The Grand Lodge of Washington, at their June 1991 Annual Communication, corrected one of Freemasonry's present premises hy restoring it to its original full wording. In the Regulations of 1738 we read: "on 24 June 1723 at the Feast, the G. Lodge before Dinner made this Resolution, that it is not in the Power of any Man or Body of Men to make any alteration or Innovation in the Body of Masonry, without the Consent first obtain'd of the G. Lodge."
When this phrase was incorporated into our working, my guess, to prevent any change, the last section, "without the Consent first obtain'd of the G. Lodge." was omitted. It has been a crutch that has since forestalled change, used time and time again when something was proposed, regardless of its merit.
But they did not change a peculiarly American ( 1843) innovation, the holding of Stated Meetings and conducting business in the Master Mason Degree, by rejecting legislation to allow Stated Meetings on the Entered Apprentice Degree.
Noted in the biography of the new Junior Grand Warden, Milton R. Benson, that he is a memher of our Lodge as is the Grand Master and Senior Grand Warden.
Quoting from "When is a Man a Mason?" by James S. Peterson, Master-elect, in the June 1991 Occasional Bulletin of the Texas Lodge of Research, which has a bit more on the holding of Stated Meetings or doing business in the E.A. degree:
"Today more than ten thousand men who never progressed beyond the E.A. degree live in Texas. In a typical year Texas lodges initiate 850 more Entered Apprentices than they raise to the degree of Master Mason. Many of these ‘permanently non-advancing Entered Apprentices' lost interest in the fraternity immediately after their first degree. They were either ill-informed or misinformed about Masonry, and found it to be something other than they expected. For others, a change in circumstances meant more time had to be spent on work, family, or other interests, with little time left for Masonry. Some were overwhelmed by the memory requirements and silently slipped away rather than face the imposing task.
"How many men, though, might have come back after the E.A. degree if they had been made to feel more a part of the lodge, able to share in the fellowship, instead of having to bide their time in the anteroom? How often do we relegate the new memher to the role of second-class citizen, letting him peek inside just long enough to see the bright fire of fellowship warming the hearts of those who bask in its glow, only to slam the door in his face and tell him to wait outside until we bank the coals? How many men might have advanced to a higher degree if we had just given them more encouragement, more of a brotherly hand, and a greater opportunity to experience first-hand the beauties of Freemasonry and the
warmth of Masonic fellowship? "The Grand Lodge acted upon a resolution in December 1990 which would have granted full Masonic membership to Entered Apprentices. This resolution would have
brought Texas into the mainstream of grand lodges, and would have meant that many men who might have been lost to the fraternity would be given added incentive to remain active. The resolution, however, was not adopted but Texas Masons may expect to see the proposal again in 1991."
From "Highlights of the 210th Annual Communication (New York)" in the Summer 1991 Empire State Mason:
"Constitutional Changes adopted --- Section 508, withdrawing the Shrine and Grotto from the list of specifically designated Masonic organizations (retaining the fraternal, but not the legal tie);"
When in Washington some years ago this came up in conversation and I was told that the Shrine is not recognized there so they have not had any jurisdictional, shall we say, problems or situations.
In the same Issue in the "Grand Master's Address:"
"It was my pleasure to issue a dispensation to create a new Lodge which will meet at the Masonic Home. This Lodge is primarily composed of Brothers who reside at the Home. It will be a research Lodge, and be known as Infinity Lodge of Study and Research."
On this same subject if you have not been following news in the Scottish Rite Journal, or are of another jurisdiction, the Scottish Rite Southern Masonic Jurisdiction is forming a research society and information can be had by contacting Reynold J. Matthews, The Scottish Rite Research Society, 1722 Sixteenth Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20009-3199.
Some interesting legislation was had at the April 1991 Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota.
The Grand Lodges AF&AM of Minnesota and Prince Hall F&AM of Minnesota, as we have previously noted, have agreed to formally recognize each other for purposes of visitation but no visiting will be permitted until the mechanics of visitation have been ironed out.
Their existing proficiency exam is to be replaced with a shortened version and the candidates for degrees will be required to participate in an educational program that teaches some of the symbolism and philosophy of Masonry.
The penalties as now given to candidates during the degrees will be removed and replaced with the penalties of Masonry as set forth in the Masonic Code, i.e., Reprimand, Suspension, or Expulsion. The explanation of the signs following the candidate being brought to light would retain their present form except that the words "ancient symbolic" would be inserted at that time.
Adoption of these withheld pending revisecl Ritual and specific instructions.