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Saturday, May 14, 2022

Grand York Rite of Washington

Another Grand York Rite session has been completed. The Northwest Department Commander and I flew in Thursday morning and the General Grand Ambassador for Washington picked us up. The day was filled with the Holy Order of High Priesthood, Thrice Illustrious Master, the Reuben Baer Past Commanders Association, and the Memorial Service. During lunch, I was informed that I was joining Tacobat Grotto of the Mystic Order of Veiled Prophets of the Enchanted Realm.

With Friday morning came the 138th Annual Convocation of the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of Washington where I had the pleasure of representing the Most Excellent General Grand High Priest of the General Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons International. Once the business of the meeting was completed, I, with the assistance of several Past Grand High Priests of Washington, installed the newly elected Grand High Priest and his officers.

Friday afternoon was the Grand Council of Cryptic Masons of Washington. That evening was the Banquet of the Grand York Rite of Washington where I assisted in presenting several awards from the Grand Chapter and General Grand Chapter. I'd like to thank the now Junior Past Grand High Priest of Washington for his diligence and hard work during the past Capitular year.

The Grand Commandery of Knights Templar of Washington met Saturday morning where I was introduced along with the Grand Commander and Grand Captain General of Idaho. The Grand Commanderies of Oregon, Idaho, and Washington meet within a month of each other and I'm excited to see that my fellow Grand Generalissimos are wanting to work with each other and share ideas in preparation for our year in the Grand East.

Tonight is going to be dinner with friends before I fly home tomorrow and then back to work.



Sunday, May 1, 2022

Templar Titles and Terms

About 2-weeks ago I served as Chairman of the Committee for Distinguished Guests for the Grand Commandery of Knights Templar of Idaho. The Knights Templar is one of my favorite groups within Freemasonry and I am proud to be a Knight Templar, but often I see Sir Knights and non-Templars struggle with understanding the terminology and titles of our order because Templary has a unique set of titles and nomenclature that is different from Craft Masonry. This article is going to focus on those titles (honorary and official) of the Commandery, the Grand Commandery, and the Grand Encampment as well as the various terms in reference to meetings.


Honorary Titles and Official Titles

In all of Freemasonry, including Templary, there are official titles and honorary titles. The official title refers to the name of the office or station a Sir Knight holds while the honorary title. An honorary title conveys esteem, courtesy, or respect for position or rank when used in addressing or referring to a person. In Templary, the honorary title goes with the official title, not the name. The title of "Sir Knight" applies to all Knights Templar, but is never combined with honorary titles. The title of "Eminent Sir Knight," "Right Eminent Sir Knight," or "Most Eminent Sir Knight" does not exist.

Honorary titles are used in addressing, introducing, or referring to an officer, and precede the official title, i.e. "Most Eminent Grand Master." The official title only is used by an officer when necessary to designate his own rank or station. You never use the honorary titles to describe yourself. In this distinction, Templary differs from all other branches of Masonry, where the honorary titles may be used in conjunction with the individual or name of the individual I.e. "Right Excellent Companion" or "Most Worshipful Brother."

In discussing the titles of a constituent Commandery, only one officer has an honorary title attached to their respective station, other than Sir Knight, and that is the 'Eminent Commander'. Some might ask why the 'Excellent Prelate' is not included and that is because the honorary title of "Excellent" is ritualistic and not bestowed by the Constitution. The Constitution of the Grand Encampment states, "In the case of Honorary titles the Constitution and not the ritual governs." All other officers use the title of Sir Knight before their station such as "Sir Knight Captain General" or "Sir Knight Senior Warden."

At the Grand Commandery level, Grand Commanders and Past Grand Commanders hold the honorary title of "Right Eminent." The honorary title of Deputy Grand Commanders is "Very Eminent." The rest of the Grand Commandery officers hold the honorary title of "Eminent" such as "Eminent Grand Captain General."

At the Grand Encampment, the honorary title of the Grand Master and Past Grand Masters of the Grand Encampment is "Most Eminent." The honorary title of the other Grand Encampment officers is "Right Eminent."

One last note: Avoid professional titles unless that professional title is specific to an office held such as the Prelate (or Grand Prelate).


Past Rank

Past Rank can be particularly confusing, but the Grand Encampment has codified the retention of rank. At the Grand Encampment:

Section 235. One who has filled by installation and term of service, the office of Grand Master, Deputy Grand Master, Grand Generalissimo, Grand Captain General, Grand Prelate or Department Commander in the Grand Encampment; 

For those officers at Grand Commandery:

Grand Commander, Deputy Grand Commander, Grand Generalissimo or Grand Captain General in a Grand Commandery; 

And lastly: 

or Commander in a Commandery; shall retain the title of the highest office attained by him in the Grand Encampment, Grand Commandery and Commandery, with the word, "Past" immediately preceding and qualifying the official title.

Past rank is limited to the offices named in Section 235 of the Constitution of the Grand Encampment. This means there is no such title or rank as Past Grand Recorder or Past Grand Prelate of Grand Commanderies. 

In a Commandery (constituent or subordinate), there is no such title or rank as Past Generalissimo, Past Captain General, Past Prelate, Past Treasurer, or Past Recorder. The only "Past" rank in a Commandery is "Past Commander." This is found in the Decisions approved by the Grand Encampment. Please note that a Commander of a Commandery Under Dispensation does not retain the rank of Past Commander unless he serves as Commander once that Commandery has been chartered and then he must serve a full term of office.

With that being said, the official title of a past presiding officer of a Commandery is a "Past Commander". The honorary title still precedes the title so it is "Eminent Past Commander" not "Past Eminent Commander" or "Right Eminent Past Grand Commander" not "Past Right Eminent Grand Commander." You never divide the official title.

If you wanted to make an introduction and make reference to a previously held office or station that isn't considered a past rank per the Constitution, you'd use "former" before the official title. For example: "Sir Knight John Smith, former Grand Recorder" which carries no actual rank, but identifies the member as having one time held the office mentioned.

If a Past Grand Commander is later elected to the office of Grand Treasurer (or Grand Recorder) the honorary title of "Right Eminent" is not added to that new station. He is a Right Eminent Past Grand Commander but also an Eminent Grand Treasurer; no past rank can add any more eminence to the new station.

Concerning the wearing of rank on the Templar uniform, such persons should wear insignia of the rank of highest position.


Honors

Within the Grand Encampment there exists the College of Honors for the purpose of "recognizing a member of the Order for continued service to the Order, service to Freemasonry, service to the community, or service to mankind." The honors administered by Grand Encampment are the Knight Templar Cross of Honor (KTCH), Knight Commander of the Temple (KCT), Companion of the Temple (CT) the Knight Grand Cross of the Temple (KGC), and the Grand Cross Templar (GCT) which is a special version of the KGC created for certain members of the College of Honors. Now if you are introducing someone with honors, you never use an acronym, but always speak the full name of the honor, i.e. "Sir Knight John Doe, Knight Grand Cross of the Temple."


Ladies

Not forgetting the wives of the Sir Knights, they are always introduced as "Lady." If you are introducing a Lady who is not your wife, it is done as follows: "Sir Knight John Doe and his Lady Jane" or "Lady Jane Doe, wife of Sir Knight John Doe." If you are introducing your own wife it is "My Lady Jane." If the Lady is a recipient of the Companion of the Temple (CT), you also include that in her introduction.


Organizational Terms

As I mentioned in "Officers of a Commandery of Knights Templar," the basic organizational unit for the Knights Templar is known as the Commandery. A Commandery consists of at least three Knights Templar, hailing from three separate Commanderies, and acting under a lawful Warrant, or of nine or more Knights Templar acting under a lawful Dispensation or Charter. In 2018, the Grand Encampment passed legislation that allowed Grand Commanderies to change the requirement from nine to a number no less than five.

Commanderies hold Conclaves, not meetings. There are Special Conclaves and Stated Conclaves, not regular or called. Commanderies are opened and closed. Commanderies open Conclaves in full form or in short form, not long-form. A Commandery holds its Conclaves in an Asylum, not a Lodge room.

There are two types of Commanderies. Constituent and subordinate. Constituent Commanderies are those who fall under the authority of a Grand Commandery. Subordinate Commanderies do not fall under a Grand Commandery and report directly to the Grand Encampment.

Grand Commanderies have Conclaves, not Grand Conclaves. Just like Commanderies, there are Special Conclaves and Stated Conclaves. Grand Commanderies (re)convene and adjourn, they do not open or close.

The Grand Encampment also has Conclaves, and like its subordinate bodies, they are Special Conclaves and Stated Conclaves (which occur every 3-years). Like Grand Commanderies, Grand Encampment (re)convenes and adjourns.


Orders

There are no degrees in the Commandery of Knights Templar. There are three orders: the Illustrious Order of the Red Cross, the Order of Malta, and the Order of the Temple. Commanderies confer the three orders; they do not "put on" the orders. The only time that "degree" is mentioned in Templary is in connection with the degree of Knight of St. Paul or Mediterranean Pass, the pass degree of the Order of Malta.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Grand York Rite of Idaho

It's been a busy 3-days with the annual sessions of the Grand York Rite of Idaho and several appendant bodies.

Thursday morning started with the Order of the Silver Trowel. For this chair degree, I did my normal part of the degree as Adonijah, one of the antagonists in the ritual. Syringa Order No.121 of the Order of the Sword of Bunker Hill. It's always fun to put this degree on and I was appointed Chaplain for the ensuing year. After lunch, the Order of High Priesthood met and this was one of the few years where I've not had to take part in the degree so I was able to just be an observer. Later that afternoon, Idaho Priory No.13 of the Knights of the York Cross of Honor initiated two new Knights. Even though I'm a Past Prior I still contribute to the Priory as I give the Chapter lecture. In Idaho, our College of Honors throws a Dinner for those holding the Knight Commander of the Temple. It was announced at the Dinner that we have a new Co-Dean of the College of Honors for Idaho. Sir Knight Vaughn, current Northwest Department Commander, has been named as Co-Dean as Sir Knight Ernie Teter, Past Department Commander, passed away last August.

With Friday morning came the Public Opening and Joint Session where the Grand Commander presided. I was in charge of the introductions of all distinguished guests and visitors, but I had plenty of help from my fellow Companions and Sir Knights. After the Joint Session adjourned, the Idaho Chapter of Knights Preceptors met and conferred the order on six new Preceptors. I was later elected Seneschal for Idaho Chapter. After lunch, the 119th Annual Conclave of the Grand Commandery of Knights Templar of Idaho convened. I stood before the Conclave and moved to formally endorse Sir Knight Jim McGee of Alabama for Right Eminent Grand Captain General of the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the USA in 2024. I also had the distinct honor to be elected Grand Generalissimo for the ensuing year. After the installation of officers, I walked over to the Scottish Rite building where the Divine Services and Holy Land Pilgrimage Dinner were held. Once the dinner was completed, the Companion Knights of Tri-Valley College No.178 of the York Rite Sovereign College of North America held its annual meeting where we elected and installed a new set of officers for the ensuing year.

Saturday morning brought the 89th Annual Assembly of the Grand Council of Cryptic Masons of Idaho. I also did the Introduction of Distinguished Guests and presented the Budget for the Grand Council for 2022-2023. After lunch, it was a pleasure to attend the 114th Annual Convocation of the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of Idaho to watch my best friend preside. This is also the third and final Grand York Rite body for him to preside over. He did 3-years back-to-back: Most Illustrious Grand Master (2019-2020), Right Eminent Grand Commander (2020-2021), and Most Excellent Grand High Priest (2021-2022). I was also honored to help bestow the Ephraim A. Kirby Award on him during the banquet that evening. I also had the pleasure of assisting the installation of officers for the ensuing year as Installing Grand Chaplain. The new Grand High Priest and I have known each other since I was first initiated into Freemasonry and he has had a profound impact on my Masonic career. On Friday evening came the Banquet of the Grand Sessions where I served as Master of Ceremonies. In my capacity as Regional Deputy in the Royal Arch, I helped award a Distinguished Service Medal in Bronze, two Chapter Sweetheart Awards, an Ephraim A. Kirby Award, and a Grand Lady of York medal.

If all of that wasn't enough, Intermountain Chapel No.27 of the Commemorative Order of St. Thomas of Acon met Sunday morning where we initiated a new member and I was appointed as Eminent Prior for the ensuing year.

Now it's time to get home and relax for a few days. With Freemasonry and Easter, I've been able to be home for a few days without traveling on the road for work, but now my busy travel season is approaching.

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Easter Sunday

I hope everyone has a blessed and happy Easter Sunday.


An Easter Blessing from the Patriarch of my Church:

Companions of the Sacred Flame,

This night we gather in vigil, to commemorate the death and resurrection of Christ, recalling with it, the history of our spiritual path, seeing in it, our own journeys from life to death, and experiencing through it, the initiation from death to life.

Divine Beloved, out of the tomb of separation you have called us, to rise into the Kingdom of God. The ancient mysteries of sacrifice speak to our journey.

Incarnate in each one of us, the Sacred Flame is transfixed upon the cross of space and time, May we never fear to descend into our lowest reaches, like the Logos and the harrowing of hell, to reconcile the lower with the higher- that we may rise transformed in this very life, and in the fullness of time ascend into perfect union.

– Easter Vigil of the Apostolic Johannite Church


These are the opening words of the Easter Vigil which the Apostolic Johannite Church celebrates at this most solemn time in journey of the liturgical year.

There is a reason why the Liturgical journey of the year is an annual one, and why we measure out our spiritual time in seasons and themes that repeat. The seasons and the themes do not change, we change, and in that change we acquire new perspectives and a lived meaning of the story of our own journeys – not merely in its journaling of hardship, but also in its foreshadowing of transformation. We may not know the details of our path, but the story foretells its arc provided we stay on it. 

The liturgy and words are a reflection that can give perspective on the many moments of difficulty we have seen in the past year – loss, uncertainty, exhaustion, and fear of the unknown, all of which we have experienced in abundance, but also whose substance, like a spiritual alchemy, can become for us the reagents of transformation under the heat of the Sacred Flame. A transformation whose movements we can now begin to perceive by the illumination of the Easter light. 

In our Johannite community, these transformations have taken the shape of new members, new ministers, new opportunities for service, new communities forming and established communities exploring their spiritual life as a community in greater depth, to name a few. There is much here to celebrate and look forward to as we kneel in vigil for the return of the Light. It is not just the Christ which comes forth from the tomb, nor is the weight of the stone in front of it, the only one that will in time be rolled away.

My prayer for you is that you may rise from difficulty, pain and sorrow and that any stone that remains within your heart, roll back like banished darkness before the light of the Easter sun.

My blessings, good wishes and prayers for all the Johannite Parishes, Narthexes, Missions, Oratories and Chapels, our solitary sisters and brothers who keep the flame burning in distant places, and all those who call the Apostolic Johannite Church home, deepening and sharing their journey here.

My thanks and gratitude on behalf of the Apostolic Johannite Church to the Johannite Bishops, Priests, Deacons, Subdeacons, Seminarians and Narthex Leaders, the Grand Master and Initiates of the Friary, the Prior, Oblates and Knights of the Order of the Temple and Saint John, and the Gnostic Wisdom Network team, for all their hard work and dedication- not only to the people we work on behalf of, but also in their own spiritual paths and in their service to each other. 

Blessings and good wishes also from the Apostolic Johannite Church to the many Churches and spiritual communities of good will, especially the for Ecclesia Gnostica Mysteriorum in their time of mourning and memory, the Ecclesia Gnostica, Ekklesia Neoplatonismos Theourgia, l’Eglise Gnostique Apostolique (New York), and the Ancient Apostolic Church of Alexandria as well as the many Martinist Orders and Lodges, Ordre Martiniste, Ordre Martiniste Souverains, Ordre Martiniste of North America, and our Masonic sisters and brothers, and also the many individual friends, family, laity and clergy of good will.

May the coming year find your work and paths rich and rewarding with fruitful challenge and blessing, and balanced with rest and reflection. May your work be noble, your spirits be humble, and your hearts always full. Most of all, may you each continue to come through this time with happiness and health.

+ IOHANNES IV
Sovereign Pontiff and Patriarch
The Apostolic Johannite Church


Wednesday, April 13, 2022

A Springtime Prayer

Sometimes when I can't sleep at night, I read through the archives of the Knights Templar magazine and the other night I found a poem from the May 1979 edition that I'd like to share:


A SPRINGTIME PRAYER

Dr. Howard W. Towne, Grand Prelate, 

Grand Commandery of Michigan

ETERNAL GOD, our Father, who dost cover the dark arms of the trees with living green leaves each year, we thank Thee for Thy lifegiving power. Every springtime Though dost fill the air with the scent of flowers and bring back the songbirds with their carols. We praise Thee for Thy gift of springtime. Somehow on these beautiful spring days, when everywhere there is the evidence of new life springing from the dead of winter, it is easy for us to believe in the resurrection of Christ. May the seeds of immortality planted in our souls in this season burst forth into blood, in lives more devoted to things of the spirit, in a warfare more dedicated to service in Thy name.

Come into our hearts by Thy Holy Spirit and give our souls their spring house cleaning. The basements of our lives are often cluttered with petty and evil thoughts; clean them with Thy gospel and let the pure wind of Thy truth come in to air them out.

At this season we would also remember all that great cloud of witnesses who have been the soldiers of Thy kingdom since the days when our Great Captain walked the earth. Many there are who have "climbed the steep ascent of heaven through peril, toil, and pain." Raise up in this difficult and challenging day, we pray, stalwart soldiers of the Cross whose stature is equal to its need.

Grant us spiritual resources equal to our task, and let us never cease to grow spiritually until we have attained the fullness of the measure of Him, in who name we pray, Thy Son, our Risen Lord. AMEN.

I encourage all Sir Knights to dig through the archives

Saturday, April 9, 2022

Grand York Rite of Oregon

Well, I spent the last 3-days attending the Grand York Rite of Oregon in Coos Bay (SW Oregon) along with the Northwest Department Commander (who is also the Grand High Priest of the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of Idaho).

On Thursday, the 159th Annual Convocation of the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons was held. I attended along with Most Excellent Companion Chadwick Burks, General Grand Scribe of the General Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons International. The Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of Oregon had not met since 2019 due to the COVID19 pandemic. The Most Excellent Grand High Priest of Oregon, D. Homer Hickson died in February 2020 and due to the restrictions that were in place, the Grand King served as acting Grand High Priest until this weekend when he was officially elected and installed as Most Excellent Grand High Priest of Oregon; when he leaves office next year he will have served for 3-years. Thursday evening I had dinner at a German restaurant with several distinguished Companions and Sir Knights.

On Friday, the 134th Annual Assembly of the Grand Council of Cryptic Masons of Oregon was held. The Deputy General Grand Master for the Northwest couldn't make it in due to limited flights into Coos Bay; it took me over 11-hours to drive here and he lives another 10-hours East of me so driving was out of the question for him. Friday evening was the Grand Banquet of the sessions and I had the honor of awarding two Ephraim A. Kirby Awards to two deserving Companions.

On Saturday, the 135th Annual Conclave of the Grand Commandery of Knights Templar of Oregon was held. Aside from the legislation passed, the Northwest Department Commander and a Past Grand Master of the Grand Encampment addressed the Sir Knights, the latter who gave a moving eulogy of Sir Knight Willimon Jackson Jones, GCT, who served as Most Eminent Grand Master from 2000 to 2003. After the installation of officers, Jeremy and I attended the dinner for the newly installed officers of the Grand Chapter, Grand Council, and Grand Commandery.

Now it's time to get some sleep and get ready for the 532.5-mile trip back to my house.



Friday, March 25, 2022

1892 Barber Silver Quarter

The basic organizational unit of the Sovereign Order of Knights Preceptor is the Chapter. The officers of the Chapter are the Preceptor, Deputy Preceptor, Master of Templars, Seneschal, Prelate, Treasurer, Recorder, Marshal, Warden of Regalia, Registrar, and Sentinel. The Preceptor, Deputy Preceptor, Master of Templars, Seneschal, Treasurer, and Recorder are elected annually while the others are appointed by the Preceptor. The Registrar and the Warden of Regalia are optional officers, but in my Chapter are used.

The presiding officer of the Chapter is the Eminent Preceptor equivalent to an Eminent Commander of a Commandery of Knights Templar. The word 'preceptor' originates from the Latin word "praeceptor" meaning "teacher or instructor." Whether in its historical use or in the modern sense of the word, a Preceptor is an expert or specialist. Today, it is used to denote a medical or legal specialist. Historically, a Preceptor was in charge or in the chain of command of Christian military orders such as the Knights Templar, Knights Hospitaller, and Teutonic Knights. 

The second-in-command of the Chapter is the Deputy Preceptor who corresponds to the Generalissimo of a Commandery of Knights Templar although, in the Chapter, the Deputy is stationed in the East with the Preceptor rather than in the West. In the absence of the Eminent Preceptor, the Deputy presides. The title of Deputy comes from the Latin "deputare" meaning to "allot or to destine" which has come to indicate a subordinate officer or one given the full power of an officer without holding the office.

Next in line is the Master of Templars who, in the absence or disability of the Preceptor and Deputy Preceptor, presides over the Chapter. A Master is someone who is a master or authority in a skill or profession as well as someone who is seen as a ruler or governor. In this case, it is someone with authority or skill over Knights Templars as this order is for those who have presided over a Commandery of Knights Templar. The word "master" originates in the Latin word "magister" translating as "chief, head, director, or teacher."

The fourth elected officer of the Chapter is the Seneschal. Historically in France, the seneschal would be sometimes the personal representative of the King charged with dispensing justice and administrative duties. In other kingdoms, seneschals oversaw feasts and domestic ceremonies. They would seem to be close to stewards in this regard. Other duties would include managing the property and finances of the Lord under who they served. In medieval Templary, the Seneschal was the "right-hand man" of the Grand Master, oversaw the administrative operations of the order, and acted as head of the Templars in his absence. The etymology of "Seneschal" comes from the Proto-Germanic words 'sini' meaning senior, and 'skalk' meaning servant. Seneschal literally means 'senior servant'. 

The Treasurer and Recorder (Secretary) have duties similar to those found in other Masonic and non-Masonic organizations as the financial and administrative officers respectively.

Just as in the Commandery, the chaplain of the Chapter is the Prelate. The Prelate has the duty of offering prayers to God in the Chapter. A Prelate is traditionally a high-ranking member of the clergy and the word is derived from the Latin word 'prelatus' referring to a clergyman of "high rank or of preference over others." In the medieval order, one of the most important positions within a Templar Commandery was that of the Chaplain. This man had many important jobs, not just ecclesiastical, but also secular ones. He was an internal priest for the Order. He had the power to hear confessions and to give absolution for sins; Templars were forbidden to give confession to anyone other than a cleric in the Templar Order without Papal approval. These clerics were not answerable to local clerics or bishops, but only to the Pope. The Prelate being the senior-most appointed officer of the Chapter demonstrates our commitment as a religious order.

The next appointed officer is the Marshal who has duties similar to the Wardens of the Commandery and Senior Deacon of the Blue Lodge in that he is the conductor of candidates for the Chapter. The title Marshal has been used by the military, courts, and other parts of society as someone who is charged arranging and directs "ceremonial aspects of a gathering." Marshall comes from the Old French word "mareschal" meaning "commanding officer of an army; officer in charge of a household" which is derived from the Frankish-Germanic word "marhskalk" meaning "horse-servant." The medieval Knights Templar denominated their third-in-command as Marshal was in charge of the troops and advised the Grand Master on all things relative to the war effort.

One of the optional officers a Chapter may use is the Warden of Regalia. Within my Chapter, this officer is in charge of all properties and regalia of the Chapter and ensuring they are in good working order for each meeting; luckily it all fits into a suitcase and is easily stored. The word "Warden" comes from the Proto-Germanic word "wardon" meaning to "to watch or guard." 

Another optional officer for the Chapter is the Registrar and their duties may vary from Chapter to Chapter, if used at all. The term 'registrar' is etymologically rooted in the Latin word "registrarius" meaning "one who keeps a record." Traditionally, a registrar is an officer who keeps records for educational institutions, banks, trust companies, or hospitals. 

Like the Commandery, the last appointed officer of the Chapter is called the Sentinel and whose duties correspond with that of the Tyler in the Blue Lodge. The word Sentinel stems from the Latin word "sentire" meaning "to watch or perceive by the senses." The Sentinel is one who stands guard over some kind of structure, whether it be an installation, a gate, or a passage. It is their job to prevent intrusion by enemies or those unauthorized.


References

1. (n.d.). Retrieved from Online Etymological Dictionary: http://www.etymonline.com/index.php 

2. Dictionary. (n.d.). Retrieved from Merriam-Webster: http://www.merriam-webster.com/ 

3. Dictionary. (n.d.). Retrieved from Reference.com: http://dictionary.reference.com/

4. Constitution & Bylaws. (n.d.). Retrieved from Grand Chapter of the Sovereign Order of Knights Preceptor: https://www.knightstemplar.org/OKP/C&L.html


Saturday, March 12, 2022

Special Conclave of the Grand Encampment

DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed here are my own and do not reflect the opinions of any organization that I am a member, committeeman (or chairman), officer, presiding officer, or past presiding officer of.

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I wrote this part in 2021. I find the actions of Sir Knight Mike Johnson to be dishonorable and unethical. It hurts to say this as I have known him for nearly 12-years and I learned to respect him until now. He's a deeply loyal friend and I believe that loyalty has blinded him and allowed him to be manipulated by others. I hated seeing this fight between the CBCS and Sir Knight Billy Koon back during his tenure as Most Eminent Grand Master. It caused a great amount of division and all because of pride and bruised egos. The division has caused backstabbing and an incredible amount of un-Masonic conduct. This issue would never have arisen had Sir Knights just remembered their Masonic obligations. No matter how this turns out in March, the Grand Encampment will be haunted by this episode and it will be some time to rebuild the once prestigious reputation of the Grand Encampment and its relationships with its jurisdictions.

I tried to talk with Sir Knight Mike Johnson at the Northwest York Rite Conference, but I don't think my word carried much with him, particularly since I was disagreeing with him. After seeing or hearing about the arguments that arose at the Southwest York Rite Conference, arguments that arose at the SRICF High Council, the non-attendance of Sir Knights Mike Johnson and Billy Koon at the 2022 Masonic Week, arguments at the meeting of the Grand College of America of the Holy Royal Arch Knights Templar Priests, I am worried about what this Special Conclave will turn into.

Turning to the present, I flew in Friday night and Saturday afternoon the Special Conclave was convened. Sir Knight Mike Johnson took the podium, had a prayer given not by his Grand Prelate, made a few comments, opened the Special Conclave, and then had the audacity to declare, through his Jurisprudence Committee, that all the items of business requested by the Grand Commanderies are unconstitutional and therefore cannot be brought before the Special Conclave. Sir Knight Jeff Nelson, Past Grand Master of the Grand Encampment, objected and appealed to the voting members of the Grand Encampment. Sir Knight Jeff noted that the Grand Master cannot objectively preside over a meeting that was called to question his very actions. Sir Knight Mike Johnson tried to adjourn the meeting and ordered his officers to his hotel room, but the Sir Knights stayed strong and overruled him.

Sir Knight Jeff Bolstad, Deputy Grand Master, was asked to take the chair. Sir Knight David D. Goodwin, Past Grand Master, was asked to preside. It was approved by the vast majority of the voting members. Sir Knight Mike fought the decision and even made a threatening gesture when Sir Knight Goodwin took the stage. He then asked Sir Knight Terry Plemmons, Grand Prelate, to give a prayer.

After the prayer, Sir Knight Goodwin had the final report of the credentials committee given; there were 298 registered voters (nearly as many that were at Triennial last August).

Sir Knight David W. Studley, KGC, Grand Commander of California addressed the body as the dissenting opinion of Sir Knight Johnson's Templar Jurisprudence Committee.

Several Sir Knights approached the microphone: 

  • Sir Knight Jeff Bolstad addressed the body on behalf of the other elected officers who supported the Sir Knight's rights and were appalled by Sir Knight Mike Johnson.
  • Sir Knight Ben Williams addressed the decisions of Mike Johnson and their legality. Sir Knight Williams then moved to reinstate Sir Knight David Kussman as Deputy Grand Master. It passed. Sir Knight Jeff Bolstad and Sir Knight Jack Harper moved back to their positions that they took in August 2021. Sir Knight Jim McGee left the line.

Sir Knight Goodwin then followed the agenda as created by the Call to Conclave. Johnson Decisions No.1, 2, 3, and 4 were rescinded while Decisions No.5 and 6 were approved. Johnson Notice No.1 was rescinded. 

Sir Knight Jeff Nelson addressed the Grand Encampment and then moved to remove Sir Knight Mike Johnson as Grand Master. Sir Knight William H. Koon II, Past Grand Master, asked that the ballot be a secret paper ballot. I took no joy in casting my vote, but I along with 3/4 of the voters approved of his removal. Sir Knight Johnson and several others left the room at that time.

The Grand Encampment voted down the "Ohio Amendment" which would have required those Grand Commanderies who called for the Special Conclave to pay for all of the costs associated with the special conclave.

Sir Knight Goodwin then moved onto the next item of business which was to announce that as Sir Knight David Kussman had been restored as Deputy Grand Master and because we had removed Sir Knight Mike Johnson, Sir Knight Kussman would ascend to the office of Most Eminent Grand Master with junior officers ascending and he appointing the Grand Captain General.

Sir Knight Kussman addressed the body vowing to restore trust and then appointed Sir Knight David W. Studley, KGC, as interim Grand Captain General who will not seek election further up the line at next triennial. Sir Knight Jim McGee will return in 2024 as a candidate for Grand Captain General.

Past Grand Master Goodwin with assistance from Past Grand Master Nelson and Honorary Past Grand Pruitt installed the new Grand Master and advanced elected officers. Sir Knight Kussman spoke to the Sir Knights and then adjourned the meeting, dismissing the Sir Knights. It was a bittersweet day. Now, I need some sleep before my flight home early in the morning.

Thursday, March 10, 2022

The Tyranny of Autocracy

by SK David W. Studley, KGC
REGC of California

The strength and power of despotism consists wholly in the fear of resistance.
-Thomas Paine 

We Sir Knights of the Grand Encampment are confronted with a unique and invidious challenge to our well-regulated system of governance. The actions taken by the Grand Master following his election have aroused consternation among our members and resulted in a Call to Conclave joined by more than nine Grand Commanderies, including the Grand Commandery of California. The issues raised in the Call are to be determined at the East Central Department Conference in Ft. Wayne, IN this coming March. Our elected Commandery officers will attend to represent California at their own expense. 

You should be aware of a plan to thwart consideration of the issues joined by the Call. I am a member of the Templar Jurisprudence Committee. The Committee is charged to consider and report on all legislative, judicial and executive actions of the Grand Master when requested. (Const., §97.) 

The Committee members have decided preliminarily to issue an opinion that the proposed legislation cannot be considered at a Special Conclave, that the Decisions of the Grand Master may not be reviewed during a special session and that the Grand Master had the constitutional authority to remove an elected Grand Encampment officer. This would defeat the purpose of the Special Conclave. I have dissented from my colleagues’ view. I want to explain the reasons for my objection and, if you are persuaded, urge you to communicate your feelings to those who might listen before the matter is determined at the Special Conclave. 

The Grand Encampment is a democratic representative republic, meaning that its powers and responsibilities are vested in its members who are governed by its constitution. The Constitution bestows ultimate authority on its members. Section 3 confers “supreme legislative, judicial and executive power over the Orders …” to the members of the Grand Encampment, which include, without limitation, the power “to adopt such Statutes, Rules, and Regulations, not contrary or inconsistent with this Constitution…”. (Const., §3(a).) 

Section 2 identifies the members of the Grand Encampment. Generally, they include dais officers of the Grand Commanderies and Past Grand Commanders of those jurisdictions. 

Members’ rights and powers are exercised at conclaves, which can be of two types. Stated Conclaves, termed the Triennial, which must be convened at least once every three years, and Special Conclaves, which may be called by the Grand Master or at the request of at least nine Grand Commanderies.(Const., §4.) The only distinction between these meetings is that “[n]o business shall be transacted at such [special] conclave save that specified by the Grand Master in his summons or set out in the request.”(Const. §4)(b).) 

Why, one might rhetorically ask, would the Constitution permit Members to act Special Conclave properly noticed and then limit the matters to be considered beyond the requirement that the issues must be identified in the Call? There is no such limitation expressed anywhere in the Constitution or Statutes. My colleagues imply such a limitation by a restrictive reading of Section 25 that requires the Grand Master to report his actions “at the next Triennial Conclave.” The fact that the Grand Master is not required to report his actions doesn’t mean that the actions cannot be reviewed if properly included in the Call. And it doesn’t restrict the Grand Master from making such a report at an earlier meeting if he so chooses. One cannot reasonably infer a limitation on the supreme legislative power of the members based solely on fixing a date established for making a report. 

Having read the Constitution in a restrictive manner when considering the rights of members, my colleagues do an about-face by expansively reading the powers of the Grand Master. They infer that the Grand Master has the power, by implication only, to remove a fellow elected officer. They reason that Section 23 confers “all powers” on the Grand Master to do what he considers “in the best interests of Templary” and that a reading of the Decisions interpreting that Section implies that a Grand Master can discharge an elected Grand Encampment officer under the “vertical axis of power.” (Crofts Dec. No. 4 (1970).) Neither argument is persuasive. 

While Section 23 accords broad authority to the Grand Master, his powers are not without limitation. The very sentence relied on by my colleagues to buttress their argument continues: “…as he may deem in the best interests of Templary and which are not contrary to the Constitution, Statutes, Rules, Regulations and Rituals of the Grand Encampment.”(Const., §23.) But such a contrary limitation does exist. Section 20 states that elected officers shall serve “for the Triennial Period and until their successors are duly elected and installed.” (Const., §20.) There is no provision in the Constitution for the removal of a Grand Encampment officer, although such legislation is proposed in the Call. My opinion, to which my fellow committee members disagree, is that the Constitution restricts the Grand Master’s authority to remove an elected officer of the Grand Encampment. 

Section 23(d) does allow the Grand Master to remove an officer of a Grand or Subordinate Commandery but that cannot be read to include an officer of the Grand Encampment or the language would have so stated. By its terms, subsection (d) is confined to Grand Commandery officers of those of subordinate commanderies, not Grand Encampment officers. 

The Crofts Decision is not inconsistent with this conclusion and cannot be read by implication to confer such power in the Grand Master. GM Crofts was confronted by a dispute involving a Grand Commander of a State and one of the State’s subordinate Commanderies. GM Crofts reasoned that a subordinate commandery and the Grand Commandery of the State have similar authority to regulate their constituents under the “vertical axis of power” of Templar law. That power derives its precedent from the authority expressly given a Grand Commander “to suspend from his office and Officer of the Grand or of a Constituent Commandery … .”(Const., §48(d).) A similar provision is not included among the identified powers of the Grand Master. The Crofts Decision is plainly distinguishable

Sir Knights, we are now confronted with a dire situation, one that threatens the very structure of Templary. I urge you to become involved, to express your opinions and to stand up for your beliefs. As Winston Churchill told his Countrymen during their greatest struggle:

“To each there comes in their lifetime a special 
moment when they are figuratively tapped on 
the shoulder and offered the chance to do a 
very special thing, unique to them and fitted to 
their talents. What a tragedy if that moment 
finds them unprepared or unqualified for that 
which could have been their finest hour.”

Also see: https://www.call2conclave.org/

This is a reprint from the California Knights Templar with permission from the Grand Commander

Saturday, March 5, 2022

Alaska Grand York Rite

Another weekend on the road, but this time was for my job as Deputy General Grand High Priest. The Northwest Department Commander and I flew into Anchorage, AK, on Thursday. We attended the AMD Dinner before retiring to our room where we invited some Alaska Masons up to talk about forming an SRICF College in Alaska.

Friday was a busy day. The morning was occupied by the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons where I was received and gave some remarks on behalf of the General Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons. I also had the pleasure of installing the 2022-2023 officers of the Grand Chapter. The afternoon was dedicated to the Grand Council of Cryptic Masons and Grand Commandery of Knights Templar.

At the Banquet, I was honored to present several awards including an Ephraim A. Kirby Award to the newly installed Most Excellent Grand High Priest (who later was awarded the Knight Templar Cross of Honor).

This morning I attended the conferral of the Knight of York by Anchorage College No.120 of the York Rite Sovereign College of North America. Following the York Rite College, Alaska Priory No.63 of the Knights of the York Cross of Honor conferred the order upon one candidate. Now, it's time to get packed and head to the airport for home.