The Old Past Master loved to get to Lodge early. There was something about opening that Lodge room door and gazing on that altar when all was quiet. And then sitting down in a seat on the sidelines and just thinking and mediating about all that had gone on over the many years in that room. It sent shivers down his spine.
All the Masters gave him the keys to the Lodge. They welcomed someone dependable who could open everything up in case they were running late. This evening Master Reynolds was early coming in right on the heels of the Old Past Master. Worshipful went right to the office and plumped down in the chair at his desk. The look on his face could have frightened a scarecrow.
“What’s troubling you, Worshipful,” the Old Past Master softly ventured.
“It’s this darn letter from the Grand Lodge. They are instituting new financial reporting rules. Seems like every year that goes by Grand Lodge has more rules and regulations to impose on us,” replied Worshipful Reynolds.
“What are they looking for,” queried the Old Past Master.
“They want a complete evaluation of our property, the building and everything that’s in it, certified by a reputable estimator. Furthermore, and this is the real kicker, they want statements from our banks and brokerage houses as to exactly how much money we have, after which they want a complete written rundown on how we have spent every penny.”
“Do they explain why they feel that they need to have this information?”
“Grand Lodge says that if one of its constituent Lodges is sued that the litigators will always include Grand Lodge in the suit. Some of these suits are for embezzlement or suits when the Lodge gets in financial difficulties. The Grand Lodge feels that it needs to know our financial standing and that we are following acceptable accounting practices.”
“And what do you intend to do? It feels as if you are wrestling with a tough decision.”
“I intend to tell them to go fly a kite but I’m a little nervous about doing that”
“Who are you going to tell to go fly a kite,” asked Secretary Levin as he stepped into the office.
“Oh, nobody special,” piped up the Old Past Master, “Just Grand Lodge.”
After the two filled him in, he retorted, “I’m not surprised. Last year Grand Lodge issued rules on exactly how candidate instruction was going to be performed and what material was to be covered. The year before they required all Lodges to have both property and liability insurance and that it be purchased by the Grand Lodge provider.”
“Well it’s time to open Lodge,” Master Reynolds declared, “I think this issue should go before the entire Lodge. We will discuss it tonight and I would appreciate support and help from both of you. Oh, and Secretary Levin please post this issue in the next summons.”
“Right,” replied Secretary Levin.
“We have your back,” added the Old Past Master.
After opening the Lodge, Worshipful Reynolds dispensed quickly with the minutes, sick brethren concerns, charitable events, and other petty business. He then read the letter from Grand Lodge, explained his reluctance to comply and opened up the floor for discussion.
“The Chair recognizes Secretary Levin”
“Last year Grand Lodge issued rules on exactly how candidate instruction was going to be performed and what material was to be covered. The year before they required all Lodges to have both property and liability insurance and that it be purchased by the Grand Lodge provider,” exclaimed Levin. I say it is time for us to put our foot down and call their bluff.”
“Let’s not forget what has been going on in other jurisdictions,” added Brother Garcia as he rose and was recognized by a nod from the Master. We have the racial mess at Gate City Lodge #2 in Georgia where they sought to expel the Master, the expulsion of Past Grand Master Frank Haas in West Virginia, the almost expulsion of Derek Gordon in Arkansas, the expulsion of Mike McCabe in New Jersey, the recent expulsion of Past Grand Master Neal Bidnick of New York and the expulsion of the Deputy Grand Master of Arizona to name just a few. Could you be headed for expulsion, Worshipful, if you refuse to go along with Grand Lodge?”
“I can’t rule out the possibility,” replied Master Reynolds. “And if I choose that route I don’t want to bring any of you others with me.”
“Oh, I will gladly go down with you and the ship,” the Old Past Master replied.
“Here, here,” rang up a chorus from the Lodge room.
Rising the Senior Deacon, Brother Jackson pointed out, “What is really so very wrong and un-Masonic about many of these prominent Masonic expulsions is that they are done without a Masonic Trial, probably because there was no due cause for them in the first place. In the case of PGM Haas the Grand Master lured him into his Lodge on false pretenses and then before his Father expelled him without due recourse.”
Rising and being recognized Brother Brown chips in, “Are we going to all make a decision and all go along with that decision or are we going to let the Master, alone take the fall if we choose to fight Grand Lodge on this issue.”
“The chair recognizes Past Master Hathaway.”
“As you all know I just received my 50 year pin so I have been around awhile, explained Hathaway. It didn’t used to be this way. Grand Lodge was our ceremonial head much like the Queen of England is to the government of Great Britain. It required a uniformity of ritual and sent out District Deputies to insure compliance. We were all inspected but in the vast majority of cases if we were abiding by the Landmarks it was routine. We had our reports to file, but it wasn’t information that Grand Lodge used against us. Grand Lodge’s job was to represent us across the nation and worldwide, to charter new Lodges and approve of mergers and to offer instruction and help. It was not to micro manage the daily affairs of every constituent Lodge. Today Grand Lodge has become a control freak.”
“And it has to stop here and now,” yelled Brother Renault without being recognized.
The Master frowned at such an outburst but then looked over at the Old Past Master inviting him with his body language to take the floor and provide some leadership.
“Well before we go off half cocked,” said the Old Past Master as he rose with a nod from the Master, let’s pursue avenues of accommodation. Let’s discover how pliable Grand Lodge will be. Perhaps we can meet Grand Lodge halfway, they give a little and we give a little. I think that we should try to settle this amicably with a meeting of the minds.”
“So be it,” declared Worshipful Reynolds. I will schedule a meeting with the Grand Master if he is willing and try to work out some sort of middle ground solution. In the meantime I would like a committee to explore other possibilities should the ax fall and come up with an escape route. Old Past Master would you chair such a committee?”
“Aye, Worshipful, I will do just that,” answered the Old Past Master.
“I will appoint Secretary Levin and Past Master Hathaway to that committee. Old Past Master please enlist up to two more Brothers of your own choosing,” said Worshipful Reynolds. The measure is tabled until our next Communication which will be a Special to be convened two weeks from today. Now let us adjourn.”
TO BE CONTINUED