The Grand Lodge of New Jersey is at it again. This time it has suspended well respected PDDGM Dennis R. Winter for correcting and disagreeing with Grand Lodge – essentially nothing. And at the same time it has refused to grant him a Masonic trial.
This has become a common tactic of Napoleonic Grand Masters as they use a loophole of suspending indefinitely, perhaps forever, without expelling thereby not being able to be accused of arbitrarily ruining a Mason’s Masonic life.
You might remember that we have been this road before with Mike McCabe who was railroaded out of the Craft in New Jersey for essentially the unMasonic conduct of opening his mouth.
New Jersey has a long history of tight fisted out of control Masonic government.
The bone of contention is once again as it was with McCabe, Landmark #3 which states:
“The Grand Master…may suspend, at his pleasure, the operation of any rule or regulation of Masonry not a ‘landmark’…suspend the installed officers of any Lodge, and reinstate them at his pleasure, and is not answerable for his acts as Grand Master.”
In other words the Grand Master can do as he dam well pleases. There is no limit to his power for this Landmark can overrule every other Landmark in the New Jersey Constitution. It’s a SUPER Landmark. In fact all that is really necessary for New Jersey Mainstream Freemasonry is to just have this one Landmark as it voids all the others anyway.
Furthermore as we exposed 3 years ago in the Mike McCabe story, the New Jersey Landmarks were never voted on by the body of the Craft in Grand Session as required by the New Jersey Constitution. They were never officially approved but merely inserted into the Constitution by taking an end run around the proper procedures of the Grand Lodge as so stipulated in its Constitution. And the powers to be today will never submit the Landmarks to the New Jersey Craft as a whole for approval because they know they would not pass with Landmark #3 in them. So these Landmarks are illegal, the Grand Master’s rulings are illegal and the suspension of Winter is illegal.
Yet the question that needs to be asked is a statement of all power to the Grand Master without limitations really a Landmark? This is what we will explore further but first let’s hear Winter’s story in his own words.
I was summoned to the Grand Lodge Fellowship Center on August 28, 2013 to meet with the Grand Master for allegedly “Having issues with the Grand Lodge on the way the Grand Lodge was being run.”
Rather than sitting down as men and as Masons to discuss the issues, the meeting was more of a Police interrogation. (Note: the Grand Master is a retired Police Sergeant from the now disbanded Camden Police Department).
The entire Elected Line was there and I was informed that my conversation was being recorded and I informed the Grand Master that his conversation was being recorded as well. He did not like that.
My issues with the Grand Lodge were 1) I found out that the ads in the Freemason Magazine were Not being paid for; 2) I called the Editor of our privately paid magazine which had an ad in (by Reverend Frank) advertizing Marriages, Civil Unions, and renewal of vows. I took issue with the fact that it looked like we, as Masons were promoting Civil Unions and I do not believe that as Masons, who are taught that the “Holy Bible the Inestimable gift of God to man is given to us as the Rule and Guide for our faith and Practice, and in that Book it states that marriage is between a man and a woman, that we should not have such an ad in our magazine; 3) I found out that a District Deputy Grand Master in one of our Districts tried to qualify a Senior Warden, who had not been elected Master. I called the Grand Instructor and told him what this District Deputy tried to do and he told me that he would talk to the Grand Master about this problem; and 4) I called the Grand Lodge to inform the Grand Secretary that a piece of Legislation that was passed at Grand Lodge was listed incorrectly in the Freemason and since I knew that the Grand Lodge was updating the Constitution, I wanted to make sure that the wording would be correct.
The Grand Master told me that I “berated” the Editor of the Freemason for a half an hour. That never did happen. We talked about the issues that concerned me. The Grand Master told me that I should know, as a Past District Deputy Grand Master that any Volume of Sacred Law can be on the Alter. I do know that. And I also know that No recognized volume of Sacred Law condones civil unions or gay marriage. He told me that I should know the chain of command, that the Freemason Magazine is the Grand Master’s magazine and if I had an issue 1 should have called him. (I thought, #1 that the Freemason was “OUR” magazine and if someone has a problem with what is published, that they should talk to the Editor of that paper or magazine.) Note: I did apologize to Grand Master if he thought I did not go through the correct chain of command … He then told me that I should not interfere with another District or District Deputy Grand Master. I told him that my concern was with the entire fraternity and what was being done in this fraternity is being done properly.
After the interrogation was over, the Grand Master told me that “You can go home now”.
On September 20, after just getting home from giving the Funeral oration for a departed brother of my Lodge(Note: 1 also did a Funeral Oration for another Lodge on the morning of the day that one was to appear for the summons), 1 received a phone call from a brother Mason asking what was going on .. I asked him what he was talking about and he told me that he was just informed that the Grand Master had suspended me. 1 was not officially informed until I received the letter from the Grand Master on September 23,2013. (Emails went out to the Elected Line, Past Grand Masters, all Lodge Secretaries, District Deputy Grand Masters and appendant and coordinate bodies before I was informed of my suspension).
He did this by suspending any By-Law, rule or regulation relating to Title Four, Article XI, and Trial of Charges by (Printed Landmark #3) In addition the wording in this so-called “Landmark” cannot be justified from Mackey’s list of 25 Landmarks or any other adopted Landmarks recognized in this country or by the Grand Lodge of England. To this date I have been suspended even though the preferment and determination of charges has not been made and the Grand Master has not allowed me to have a Trial, even though I have asked for one …
Also take notice that the Grand Lodge of New Jersey has not adopted any Landmarks … Some Grand Masters in New Jersey have used this (Landmark) even though it has not been adopted by our Grand Lodge.
This is evident by the 1903 Grand Lodge proceedings and the Wallis Report of Masonic Jurisprudence and also the Past Grand Secretary’s remarks in The Masonic Service Association’s pamphlet on “Landmarks” which states “Our records from 1903 show that the report of the Committee was received and adopted, but nothing in the report recommends the adoption of the ten “Landmarks”. We have adhered to them even though there was no official acceptance by the Grand Lodge”.
The Grand Lodge Constitution of New Jersey clearly states in Title Four, Part 5. Legal Rulings “Opinions of the Grand Master, in the interpretation of Masonic Law or Landmarks, become established decrees and permanent rules of action only when adopted by the Grand Lodge”.
This Grand Master has violated the Constitution of the Grand Lodge of New Jersey and denied me my Civil Rights as an American, as guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the New Jersey Grand Lodge Constitution. Title Four, Section 3, Part 3 Protection of Civil Rights: A Lodge cannot derive a brother of his civil rights, such as a resort to courts of justice for the redress of injuries, nor compel him to first submit his complaint to the lodge for its action.
Also, since all of the issues that I had are now being addressed by the Grand Master, it sure proves that they were legitimate concerns.
Please remember, this action by the Grand Master is a vendetta against me. I do not hold the Fraternity in New Jersey responsible for the unmasonic and improper acts of this Grand Master.
As I have told many concerned brethren, there is nothing wrong at all with the Institution of Freemasonry. The problem is that we sometimes elect a brother who really does not understand the fraternity and will abuse the authority of the Office of Grand Master to satisfy a personal vendetta …
Dennis R. Winter, P.D.D.G.M. 21st Masonic District
November 8, 2013
There are three main points to consider in analyzing this abuse of power by the Grand Master of New Jersey.
1) The New Jersey Landmarks were never voted on and approved by the Grand Lodge as a whole. They were never legally passed but merely inserted into the constitution thereby bypassing proper procedure.
2) An unlimited power clause is not a Landmark. Landmarks are the basic principles or cornerstones that define the fraternity. Putting into the Landmarks a tactic is an illegal grab for power.
No other Grand Lodge gives the Grand Master absolute power as contained in the Wallis Committee’s Report of 1903, which attempted to identify 10 specific Landmarks. Specifically parts of Landmark 3, which state:
“He may create lodges by his warrant and arrest the warrant of any lodge.
He may suspend, at his pleasure, the operation of any rule or regulation of Masonry, not a “Landmark.” He may suspend the installed officers of Any lodge and reinstate them at pleasure, and is not answerable for his acts as Grand Master”
The language contained in this part of the new “Landmark”, nor the concept of a Grand Master being able to disregard whole sections of a written constitution is not found in Mackey’s list of Landmarks. No Masonic Jurisdiction in the United States has ever granted their Grand Masters such broad expansive authority based on their Landmarks as New Jersey’s Landmark No.3 suggested.
3) Grand Lodges were never set up to be a tyranny. Grand Lodges were not designed to operate in this manner. This is not the tradition of Freemasonry. Grand Lodges were created to be the administrative arm of a group of constituent, local Lodges.
M.W. Brother Dorworth’s 2013 Masonic Leadership Conference in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania for the Officers of Lodges in New Jersey had a book that was required reading for the participants.
The Book titled Laudable Pursuit: A 21 st Century Response to Dwight Smith by the Knights of the North states under Part Three: the section on “To be invested with what we were divested”. (Pg.12)
1. “Can we expect Freemasonry to retain its past glory and prestige unless the level of leadership is raised above its present position?”
James I of England once purported, it is … “sedition in subjects, to dispute what a king may do in the height of his power.” We give to our Grand Masters the Devine Right of Kings and pray that use such powers wisely. Sadly, our law does NOT take into account the man who believes in his own divinity. Nor does it take into account for the simple man who gets his feelings hurt and retaliates against those who disagree with his actions. Specifically, the power of a Grand Master to suspend a Mason until the next meeting of Grand Lodge must be eliminated. There must be checks and balances in the form of a required seating of a Trial Committee, made up of Past Masters, NOT Past Grand Masters or Grand Lodge officers to rule on the suspension.
 Even the Grand Lodge of England in 1723 and until today, who’s country was and is ruled by a Monarch, state in their Book of Constitutions: General Laws and Regulations for the Government of The Craft:,”#15., Abuse of Power by Grand Master: If the Grand Master should abuse his power and render himself unworthy of the obedience of the Lodges, he shall be subject to some new regulation, to be dictated by the occasion; because, hitherto, the Antient Fraternity have had no reason to provide for an event which they have presumed would never happen.
Like the Pope who is absolutely the last word in spiritual matters but not infallible in civil matters, the Grand Master was never intended to have life and death powers over individual Masons or even local Lodges but rather possess the power to organize and manage his jurisdiction while at the same time holding the post of ceremonial leader.
The government of Freemasonry was modeled on the monarchial system that was in vogue in the 18th century, but the Grand Master was a King with a Parliament which means he governed with limitations. Those limitations were the by-laws and the Constitution of his jurisdiction along with voting rights where applicable. It was never intended to be a Fraternity where the average Mason had no civil rights at all and was in a position to be at the whim and mercy of its leader. Those Grand Lodges that are now operating in the United States as tyrannical dictatorships trampling the civil rights of the Brethren at large are illegal, immoral, unconstitutional and totally outside the bounds of Masonic tradition.
The Grand Master of New Jersey has taken this abuse one step further by becoming a bully. There is nothing like sticking the blade in and then twisting it around to cause maximum pain. His latest edict is to prohibit any suspended or expelled Mason from attending an open installation, open to the general public. It seems as if the motto of the Grand Lodge of New Jersey is – when we screw you over we do it doubly well.
MW DAVID A. DORWORTH
WHEREAS, The ceremony of Installation of the Officers of a Masonic Lodge is Masonic ritual; and subject to Title Four: By Laws Part 8 paragraph d & Title Seven: Appendix 7.5.8d; and,
WHEREAS, pursuant to Masonic Regulations,(above) an “Open Installation” of Lodge Officers is permissible if the members of the lodge shall have voted therefore, and the District Deputy Grand Master of the District shall have approved of the same; and,
WHEREAS, the authorization of an Open Installation by the District Deputy Grand Master is conditioned upon him being satisfied that the ceremony shall be conducted in a dignified and commendable manner; and,
WHEREAS, the persons who may attend an open installation are Master Masons in good standing, and their invited family and friends, who are members of the community and who may not necessarily be Masons; and,
WHEREAS, since the ceremony will be open to members of the community, and may be their only exposure to Masonic ceremonies, and hence is even more important that the ceremony be conducted with dignity and peace and harmony; and,
WHEREAS, suspended or expelled Master Masons may be tempted to attend such an open installation, and whose presence could disturb the peace and harmony of the Lodge, and also be interpreted as violating the Obligation of all Master Masons to refrain from holding Masonic conversation with suspended or expelled Masons; and,
WHEREAS, the preservation of peace and harmony within this Grand Lodge is of great importance to this fraternity, for the good of the craft and for the preservation of such peace and harmony, it is this Day of November 12,2013.
EDICTED AND ORDERED, that no suspended or expelled Masons, who remain within the penal jurisdiction of this Grand Lodge, may attend any open installation of any Lodge within this Grand Jurisdiction. The District Deputy Grand Masters and Worshipful Masters are directed that in the event that a suspended or expelled Mason endeavors to attend any open installation, they shall prevent the ceremony from proceeding until such time as they are satisfied that the suspended or expelled Mason has departed the premises, or that the installation is to proceed as a closed installation. The identity of the suspended or expelled Mason shall be communicated to the Grand Lodge at the earliest practical opportunity following any such incident.
M.W. David A. Dorworth,
Dated: November 12,2013
William L. Morris,
None of the actions of PDDGM Dennis R. Winter consisted of Masonic misconduct. This is simply a case of a thin skinned Grand Master who cannot countenance anybody having a different opinion than his and who will not allow, correction, suggestions or input from others in his jurisdiction. And to squash all other Masonic thought and intimidate those who might be considering speaking up he resorts to suspension and expulsion without cause and without due process. This is exactly why Mainstream Freemasonry is in trouble. Grand Lodges and Grand Masters have become control freaks.
Until Mainstream Freemasonry in the United States decides to discipline itself, these abuses will be repeated over and over again. While each jurisdiction has its own sovereignty it does not have the right to change Freemasonry or to make up bogus Landmarks. And when it does those compliant Grand Lodges must threaten those who disrespect Freemasonry with non recognition.
HELP PUT “FREE” BACK IN FREEMASONRY
All this behavior doesn’t seem very “On The Level.” We’re gonna have to get back to that principle somehow. Our lodge seemed to get stronger as a result, but also at great expense.I just wish I wasn’t afraid of retribution from our “Adult Supervision”, who should serve the membership. It seems that idea is somewhat in reverse. I hope I can hang long enough to help with all the new legislation that’s required to straighten this all out.
Maybe go across the creek? Maybe leave the frat and continue to live a masonic life and do good works regardless of affiliation? Hmm…………………….
It has been exhausting. This is supposed to be fun.
“May God Bless and Keep you always, May your wishes all come true. May you always do for others and have others do for you. May you build a ladder to the stars and climb on every rung, and may you stay……..Forever Young.” Bob Dylan
Is this the kind of behavior that led to clandestine masonry in PA ? (You think)?
arkansas grand lodge is no better—-i know this first hand—-one thing—they cant take masonry from me—allso they cant do any more back stabbing to me they havent all ready done—just dont let them get away with it—-expelled or not–we in our hearts know what real masonry is—-they may have forgot in who they put there trust in —-i dont
From a comment in email:
Good Morning My Brothers: I am only going to comment on one aspect of your article-that having to do with “civil unions”. Our Lodge allows the “Holy Writings” of all recognized religions to be displayed on the Alter during a Degree depending upon the faith of the Brother. We do not, however, allow any Brother to even discuss the tenets of his preferred religion and, further, the “civil union” issue is a political issue as well. Religion and politics have long been forbidden as topics of conversation, for good reason, in any Lodge that I have ever visited. Men of all faiths and political leanings are welcome, without censure, in our Lodge. It is my duty as WM to insure our Lodge does not, in any way, violate that tradition.
– Name withheld.
This is America not Nazi Germany. I willingly devoted 21 years serving in the military to defend our Constitution and our freedom to vote. How DARE the Grand Master of New Jersey storm into MY Lodge, close our Communication Meeting immediately after a new Entered Apprentice had taken a seat, and open a meeting of OUR Temple Association with the words ” I’m tired of the B.S. going on up here.” He proceeded to threaten any Brother with expulsion if they failed to vote for the eradication of the Temple Association. The Temple Association happens to own the building as a home to Warren Lodge #13. When a Brother stood to asked the Secretary if he was writing down the demands of the Grand Master, he was called to the East. The Grand Master asked if he was the one commenting on the Save The Temple Association Web site on Face Book. When the Brother replied that he was, the Grand Master told him he was offended and told him he was no longer a Mason and to give his blue card to the Secretary. With that, I and eight of my Brother Masons stood and left the building in protest. The following week we all received letters of expulsion for Unmasonic conduct. How does one get expelled for Unmasonic conduct at an Unmasonic meeting? The meeting, for which he unceremoniously opened for the Brethren of Warren Lodge #13, was to determine the outcome of our Temple Association. It is supposed to be run by and for the members of Warren Lodge #13, not a visitor of our absent Worshipful Master. He was there to proclaim his unquestionable, unbridled, and absolute power over every single Master Mason in the State of New Jersey, and God help anyone who would even think of questioning his Rule. It’s time for all TRUE Masons in New Jersey to stand up to Grand Lodge and demand an end to this “my way or the highway”, “do as I say not what I do” mentality of overseeing our great Masonic Fraternity. Grand Lodge needs checks and balances ti insure it does not overstep their boundaries. Warren Lodge #13 was one of the most successful Lodges in the state, and a pillar of the community. It was destroyed out of spite by a small little man with a huge ego.
wow–brother mooney–so good to hear a real mason speak—im tired of masons acting like little rabbits when it comes to the grand lodges—after all are we not taught we are all on the same level–when i use to go to the grand lodge of arkansas anuall meeting–the grand master would all ways say that the grand lodge belonged to all masons of arkansas–grin –yea right—thats why they refused me a trial—
Thank you Brother Chasteen. Some little weasel, poor excuse of a man with delusions of grandeur and a huge Napoleonic Complex may have expelled me from Masonry, but he forgot that I was first made a Mason in my heart and I was raised a Master Mason. He can never take that away. The unfortunate part of this situation is that the parasite in question gave birth to one of HIS kind. My father was raised in 1946, and I bet he is rolling in his grave over the way New Jersey is molding our beloved fraternity into a tyrannical empire. Hopefully, there are some true Masons in line to become Grand Masters that see the destruction caused by these two egomaniacs, and will return Masonry to New Jersey.
my hope is the same—it cant be any worse in new jersey than arkansas—i was raised and taught by old men—they were real masons and great men—i for one refuse to spiting on there memories—my lodge and my grand lodge should be ashamed of the way they have acted in there actions—but—brother mooney—when bad people use something as good as masonry for bad reasons—-we start getting more and more bad folks for that is what they are looking for—i fear the end of masonry as we know it—lets just pray good masons will start standing up for masonry instead of being scard of being expelled—heck im not going to rub shoulders with liers,back stabbers,godless people i for one embrace expellson before i set with trash–take care my brother
I ‘m shocked by the dictatorial actions of the grand master of New Jersey! I was interested in becoming a freemason, but, now, I have my doubts about joining the Fraternity!What a sad situation for American Freemasonry!
Dear Brother Dennis R. Winter,
This is exactly why after 12 years as a Mason I finally gave my demit notice this December. I’m all the way in Germany, but I assure you the American Grand Lodge here has been just as poorly run. (In all fairness the New Grand Master is a good guy.) But the previous Grand Master was a little, angry Napoleon, that would come with his henchmen and spend the evening pointing out all our “failures” while refusing to answer basic questions like “why is there no Masonic education anymore?”
Not only that, but there are a whole host of unsavory characters that were allowed to run around and bully the other members without anybody saying a word. But if you “dared” talking to much about supposed “Masonic Secrets” (aka: stuff that anyone can read on the internet.) You would be threatened with expulsion and literally screamed at with abusive threats.
My friend, what I have come to realize is the light of Masonry is for the most part gone.
It has moved on. There is no more real emphasis on understanding the symbols or the allegories.
Masons don’t accept Women and in many cases blacks or gays.
The sad truth is many Masons are just ignorent, racist good ol’ boys playing dress up.
When was the last time you met a Mason that has a REAL interest in enlightenment?
That’s the REAL secret of Masonry you know…. The enLIGHTenment.
Within the ancient symbols (borrowed from alchemy and Kabbalah by the way.) contain the secrets to expanding our consciousness. through (qabalah) rituals, symbolism, sacred geometry, and most importantly charity, relief and brotherly love.
Brother, no red-neck claiming he is the Grand Master can take away you being a Mason. That is absurd!!!!
All he can do is kick you out of a dying old club for grumpy, unsatisfied men.
I would suggest looking into other organizations.
(I am now a member of a Qabalah study group in Germany called the B.O.E.L. “Brotherhood of Eternal Light, as well as a student of Yehuda Berg’s Kabbalah center”
But groups like B.O.T.A., the Gnostic Teachings of Samael Aun Weor, The S.O.L. (Servants on the Light), and many many more offer everything and more that you were hoping to find in Freemasonry.
I wish you all the best on your journey my brother.
Someone seems upset that *his interpretation* of the Bible is not accepted by everyone else. Do you understand that in the Episcopal, Evangelical Lutheran, United Presbyterian, United Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ, and Reform Jewish faiths, same-sex unions are indeed blessed? Those religious bodies do not agree with Mr Winter’s interpretation, but Masonic brethren are free to belong to those religious bodies. Mr Winter is neither infallible nor God’s voice. He might learn some humility.