The Old Past Master presented his plan and a masterful one it was. He told the Lodge that it came down to a matter of fight or flight – or cave in which was the least palatable option. He said that he would present the flight alternative but that those who wished to stay could stay.
“As this Lodge is only 50 miles from the state line I looked into literally transferring our Lodge into another state”, he said. The Old Past Master then related how he had spoken to the Grand Master of the adjoining state (they were old friends) about whether what he proposed would meet with any objections. The Grand Master told him that as long as he was not involved in a war with another jurisdiction, as long as he did not have to take sides and if the Brethren from The Old Past Master’s Lodge wished to apply for plural membership in his state and then later apply for a new Lodge charter, well that was all legal and above board and he could see no violation of his jurisdiction’s Constitution and would welcome them.
Then The Old Past Master informed his Lodge that he had spoken to the Master of Smithville Lodge in Smithville right on the border. They had a nice building and he asked whether an entire Lodge of Brethren affiliating with his Lodge who would perhaps in the future apply for a charter of their own would be acceptable. The Master informed him that as long as they all paid a year’s dues without the possibility of any rebates they were most welcome.
But The Old Past Master was not finished yet. He then advised the Lodge that it would be wise to sell their existing Lodge. The way things were going at Grand Lodge another edict might come down from the Grand Master that all Lodge buildings were to become the property of Grand Lodge. Thus the funds from this Lodge would be forever lost. The Old Past Master said that he knew that the Prince Hall Lodge in this area, now meeting in temporary headquarters, was looking to purchase a permanent location. He broached the Master and offered to sell this Lodge for a reduced cost, no money down and that his Lodge would be the banker providing Prince Hall would grant his Lodge a 99 year lease free of charge. He made the offer contingent on approval by a vote of the Lodge and the Prince Hall Master said that he needed to do likewise.
After his presentation Master Reynolds asked the Lodge to hold all discussion until the stated meeting two weeks hence. And he admonished all that what was said within the walls of the Lodge room stayed within the walls of the Lodge room. He said that all the Brethren needed time to think things over and that many right now might be on information overload. With that he promptly closed Lodge. Much discussion followed with the collation after Lodge but no decisions were made.
For the second time the Master was there already when The Old Past Master pulled into the Lodge Parking Lot. This was going to be a large and long stated meeting and perhaps for some the last at this location.
The Old Past Master breezed into the office.
“Worshipful, everything is happening so quickly.”
“I know. It is for the best. Let us get our heads together once more to prepare for one heck of a night.”
And so they did, the Master and his right hand man, The Old Past Master.
Master Reynolds opened Lodge right on the dot of 7:00 PM dispensing with all formalities except the reading of the minutes of the last Special Communication after which he addressed the Lodge.
“Brethren we have all had two weeks to ponder the proposals of The Old Past Master and his committee, Master Reynolds started off. “We owe these Brethren a debt of gratitude. I have spoken to many, many of you either via telephone or E-Mail. At times my wife thought maybe I was operating a bookie joint out of the house.”
“I have heard from about 20 Brethren that they have already applied for affiliation to Smithville Lodge in our neighboring state,” he continued. “I have done likewise myself. Tonight it is a time to say goodbye to some, to make sure we provide for those who are staying and to vote on whether to sell the Lodge building. So let’s open the floor for discussion.”
“Yes, Senior Warden Leavitt.”
“I will be joining you in Smithville as well as will the rest of your officers to a man”, offered Senior Warden Leavitt. “I will miss this building and will hold in memory all the great times that I have been a part of here. But a new day is dawning, a day that will see us not among the downtrodden but rather flourishing in peace and harmony.”
“Here, here,” rose a chorus from the sidelines.
“I guess all of us will miss this place”, stated Brother Garcia. “Why I remember when we had the Kilwinning Degree Team here to a packed house. Even the Grand Master came that night and instead off battling us he locked arms and sang Auld Lang Syne with us.”
“I remember the night we had a roast of now departed Past Master Lee,” responded Past Master Hathaway. “Oh what a night that was!”
And so it went on for the better part of an hour. Each Brother rose to tell a story of a time in the past where the Lodge held a grand affair which meant something special to him. After the stories died down Master Reynolds again addressed his Lodge.
“Now comes the part where we must decide the fate of the Lodge building. I have heard from the Prince Hall Master who informs me that his Lodge has accepted our offer of sale. We must now vote on whether to sell this building.”
“I move that this Lodge building be sold to the Prince Hall Lodge according to the stipulations drawn up by The Old Past Master and his committee,” proposed Secretary Levin.
“Second the motion,“ Brother Allendes added.
“Brethren you have heard the motion to sell this building,” said Master Reynolds. “Is there any discussion on the motion?”
“Is this something that will go through right away,” asked Brother Brown, “before word gets out that we are jumping ship and the Grand Master steps in to void the sale?”
“Day after tomorrow we will be passing papers if we get a favorable vote here tonight,” replied Master Reynolds.
“Seeing no other questions, all in favor say aye, those opposed nay. The ayes have it, the building will be sold.”
Master Reynolds having heard one or two nays further stated, “Sorry Brethren but this is one instance where majority rules.”
“Until such time as we figure out where our Lodge will ultimately land or if there will actually be two Lodges, one in each state, we will set up a trust fund to receive payments from the Prince Hall Lodge,” stated Master Reynolds. At such time as there is a final determination of our fate the trust fund will be fairly allocated.”
“Past Master Steuben, I understand you will be one of the ones staying.”
Yes Worshipful, I am too old to do all that traveling,” replied Past Master Steuben.
“Well as the senior member here I will appoint you to organize those who remain after we depart as most of us will be demitting from here after we are fully entrenched in our new jurisdiction. Now let us close Lodge and celebrate our decisions.”
EPILOGUE – 6 Months Later
The officers and members of The Old Past Master’s Lodge were accepted into the Lodge in Smithville without incident. The brotherly love and affection with their new Lodge was so great that they had not yet decided on whether to apply for a charter to form a new Lodge in their new jurisdiction or to just remain as members of Smithville Lodge.
Things were not quite so harmonious back in their old jurisdiction. When all the demits came in and the Grand Master learned of the mass flight to another jurisdiction and the sale of the Lodge he threw a fit. He promptly pulled the charter of the Lodge. Then he started a lawsuit against the Lodge for the misuse of Lodge funds and for selling a charted Lodge building to an entity not part of the jurisdiction. Finally he decreed that any Brothers who had set up shop in the neighboring state would never receive a reciprocal funeral service should their family apply.