January 6, 2003
A CALL FOR BROTHERHOOD
TO: The Most Worshipful Grand Masters
Conference of Grand Masters of Masons in North America
RE: Three Motions For Your Consideration
Most Worshipful Brothers;
I write to you on a matter of growing conviction and in the knowledge that in barely five weeks the Grand Lodge of Minnesota will host the 76th Annual Conference of Grand Masters of Masons in North America. As many of you are aware, the Grand Lodge of Minnesota became the center of great concern after our formal recognition of the Grand Lodge of France (GldF) in April 2001 while continuing our recognition of the Grand Lodge National of France (GLNF). As these two Grand Lodges share the same territory but do not have a formal agreement of amity and as the Grand Lodge National of France is the only "recognized" Grand Lodge by the Conference of Grand Masters through recommendation of the Commission on Information for Recognition, Minnesota had ignored applying the rule of "exclusive territorial jurisdiction" as a basis of regularity.
You may ask, why was this done? And will it happen again? To the first question there is a simple answer. Our Grand Lodge Committee on Foreign Relations, after on-site visitation and extensive study, believed that the Grand Lodge of France was regular in all respects except that it did not share an agreement of amity with the Grand Lodge National of France (nor could it because the Grand Lodge National of France was unwilling to enter into any agreement). In our application of regularity to this foreign jurisdiction there was little or no consideration that Minnesota must adopt the same policies as the Commission for Information on Recognition (as per their own guidelines). Likewise there was no anticipation that sister jurisdictions might suspend relations with us over this issue and that one foreign jurisdiction, namely, the United Grand Lodge of England, would formally withdraw recognition.
After my edict of July 13, 2002 which suspended our recognition of the Grand Lodge of France (due to the difficulty of our members traveling in sister jurisdictions) nearly all jurisdictions (with the exception of The United Grand Lodge of England) have again re-established full fraternal relations with Minnesota. Needless-to-say, we were surprised and deeply disappointed in the reaction of some of our sister jurisdictions.
It is my anticipation that Minnesota, at our next Annual Communication, may not continue recognition of both these jurisdictions, however, that action can only be taken by the members of our Grand Lodge while in session. However, I should hasten to add that Minnesota will be considering a resolution to formally adopt its rules of regularity (in the same manner as at least one other jurisdiction, namely the Grand Lodge of California). Please see my proposed "A Resolution Concerning Sovereignty." If we adopt these rules of regularity we will only apply the rule of "exclusive territorial jurisdiction" to English-speaking countries. As this precedent for this rule was an invention of English-speaking countries this seems prudent to us. (Please see the original paper presented to the NACOGM in preparation for adoption of the Rules of Regularity which it adopted by M. W. Roscoe Pound. It is enlightening and acknowledges that this rule cannot be considered an ancient landmark.)
After extensive discussions, debate and fact-finding I have come to the sad conclusion that the universality of Freemasonry and the ideal of a "brotherhood of man under the fatherhood of God" is simply not true. Perhaps, it has never been true but surely it is a cherished hope and ideal which more than ever today needs to be rekindled. Please see my article entitled "A Call For Brotherhood" printed in our January-February issue of THE MINNESOTA MASON.
I discovered this concern has been raised a number of times by the Commission on Information for Recognition. After citing a number of examples of how regular Grand Lodges have not been recognized by some jurisdictions and otherwise irregular Grand Lodges have been recognized by others, the Chairman of the 1969 Committee wrote in his report to the Conference:
We wonder why some of the Grand Lodges of Europe which are over two centuries, still wait for some of the Grand Lodges of this Conference to request recognition. For according to Masonic usage, the older Grand Lodges wait for younger ones to request recognition.
Bro. Oliver D. Street - and I quote him at some length, an eminent American Mason and a foreign correspondent of his Grand Lodge, gave an address before Bessemer Lodge in 1922 and thus summed up the question of Recognition and Universality of Freemasonry. "We read in our Monitors and in the effusions of Masonic orators of the Universality of Masonry, and how that Masonry unites men of every country, sect and opinion." He continues: "Many of you, will therefore, be shocked and disappointed when I tell you there is not and never has been and if many of our most estimable Brethren have their way, there never will be, Universal Masonry. Many of the greatest regions and peoples of the earth are utterly destitute of Freemasonry, while Regular Masonic Grand Lodges which exist among many others, are repudiated and denied by one another, and by the Masonry of English speaking countries in particular."
If this statement is true, it may be asked, can we reasonably expect future advancement of World Freemasonry.
We realize that those who follow a conservative course, while recognizing the Regularity of a Grand Lodge and feeling every sympathy towards it, may desire that it operate for a few years in order to establish proof of stability. On the other hand, those Grand Lodges who feel that this Grand Lodge is particularly in need of sympathetic understanding and assistance desire to extend recognition at this time.
Either course would seem to be in keeping with Masonic practice.
In these days when our members travel to the end of the earth, mutual recognition among Grand Lodges is more important than every before. If we fail through neglect or misunderstanding to recognize the Grand Lodge of a given country, then one of our members traveling that country is robbed of the fellowship that might have brought enrichment to his visit, and we have missed an opportunity to strengthen the bonds between our two countries.
-Commission on Information for Recognition Report, Feb. 22, 1969
It is also noteworthy that in the dedication to one of the first published books of the Commission on Information for Recognition (Grand Lodge Recognition, Macoy Publishing, 1956), we read the following:
Dedicated to the Memory of KARL J. MOHR
Most Worshipful Grand Master of The Grand Lodge of Illinois, Oct. 1941 - Oct. 1943
Executive Secretary of the Conference of Grand Masters of Masons in N.A.. 1946-1955
Secretary of The Commission on Information for Recognition, 1952-1955
Whose passion for World Brotherhood led him to envision The
Commission on Information for Recognition as an instrument to that end.
Bolded section is mine. World brotherhood - it is a lofty ideal but surely in the Masonic Fraternity it must be more than a slogan or motto. It must also be realized in concrete actions.
I refer you to the attached copies of The Masonic Service Association of North America report on "Grand Lodges Recognized By The Grand Lodges of the United States & Canada 2002." Particularly, I would draw your attention to Grand Lodges of Mexico. There are 22 noted, however, 10 have never been formally recognized by the North American Conference of Grand Masters and one claims sovereignty over the entire country (York-Mexico). Likewise, the Grand Lodge of Iran in Exile is marked as having formal recognition from the Conference, however, the Conference has never given such approval. You will also discover that no formal recognition has been given to any Prince Hall Grand Lodges. How many of these Grand Lodges does your jurisdiction recognize? Are they all recognized? How many are recognized by the Commission that your jurisdiction does not have a formal relations with?
In the preface to every report of the Commission on Information for Recognition you will read the following definition of their work:
The Commission on Information for Recognition was organized in 1952 as a facility to gather, collate, and from time to time revise information on Grand Lodges in other lands, as a service to the Grand Lodges of this Conference.
The Commission neither advises nor recommends that recognition be given to any Grand Lodges, but merely indicates whether or not it considers that a Grand Lodge in question satisfies the conditions of regularity.
The Commission consists of six members of wide geographical distribution. One new member, a Deputy Grand Master is elected each year.
From Preface to Annual Report Feb. 20, 1963
It is my personal belief that the Commission on Information for Recognition must be more proactive in determining the recognition of jurisdictions, especially those who have otherwise been recognized by current Conference members. To do this the Commission needs to be directed and enlarged.
Therefore I would propose the following motion:
Whereas the Commission on Information for Recognition has diligently served the Conference of Grand Masters of Masons of North America since its founding in 1952, and
Whereas the Commission with only six members would have difficulty enlarging its task of making recommendations on the regularity of more Grand Lodges, and
Whereas the time has come for the Commission to more pro-actively seek out information from jurisdictions that are presently not recognized by the Commission but are recognized by some of the member(s) of the Conference of Grand Masters of Masons of North America,
Now Therefore Be It Resolved that the Commission be enlarged to 12 members serving for six year terms. One new member shall be added to each class by random selection from all members beginning in the 2003 year.
Be It Further Resolved that the jurisdictions picked to nominate delegates may nominate their own representative with or without distinction as a Grand Lodge Officer and based upon demonstrated knowledge and interest of issues of regularity as was originally provided for in the founding documents of this organization.
Be It Further Resolved that the Commission will actively seek to find the basis for recommending recognition of all Grand Lodges which may heretofore be recognized by a member of the Conference of Grand Masters of Masons of North America. Each of these jurisdictions shall be invited and encouraged to submit pertinent and relevant data which substantially proves their regularity based upon the rules adopted by this Conference.
Second, it is obvious that the application of "exclusive territorial jurisdiction" as the second rule of regularity has not been uniformly followed or applied. (Please see the White Paper of Minnesota which is attached and particularly Appendix B.)
It is my personal belief that this rule can only be applied uniformly to the United States (as California has done) or perhaps only English-speaking countries.. Unfortunately the application of this rule in too many foreigncountries has been done with a wink or nod or in the full knowledge that their customs and traditions have not historically recognized this mark of regularity. It might also be sadly noted some jurisdictions have chosen to politicize the use this rule (in reference to having a treaty of amity) by specifically withholding this favor for any reason. All that has been gained by this is ill-will while the brotherhood of Freemasonry suffers.
Therefore I would propose to present this motion to the Conference.
Whereas the so-called "American Doctrine" or rule of "exclusive territorial jurisdiction" is not an historic landmark of Freemasonry, and
Whereas the application of this rule is an invention which dates back no earlier than the 19th Century and to 1922 in its historic institution in England and 1952 in its adoption by the Conference of Grand Masters of Masons of North America, and
Whereas the application of this rule to many non-English speaking jurisdictions is contrary to both their tradition and practice, and
Whereas it will best serve universal Freemasonry at this time to limit the application of this rule as a test of regularity,
Now Therefore Be It Resolved that the Commission on Information For Recognition shall modify the second point of its application of the Rules of Regularity to the following:
"II Territorial Sovereignty
That it is an independent, self-governing organization, having Masonic authority within the governmental territory over which it assumes jurisdiction - whether Country, Province, State or other political subdivisions; or else shares such exclusive territorial jurisdiction with another Grand Lodge by mutual consent and/or treaty and shall be applied only in English-speaking countries."
Finally, upon the unanimous agreement of the Midwest Conference of Grand Lodges meeting in Michigan, August 16-18, 2002 it was recommended that the issue of Prince Hall Grand Lodge membership in this Conference be addressed.
I would like to propose the following motion:
Whereas at least 33 North American Grand Lodges have some form of recognition of the Prince Hall Masons of their jurisdiction, and
Whereas to date not a single Prince Hall Grand Lodge has received formal recognition by the Commission on Information for Recognition, and
Whereas the Conference of Grand Masters of Masons of North America does not hold tiled meetings for its members, and
Whereas this Conference should provide a means for the Grand Masters of all regular Masons within the jurisdiction of North America to meet, and
Whereas this can happen only first by recommendation of the Commission on Information for Recognition,
Now Therefore Be It Resolved that all Prince Hall Grand Lodges which are recognized by any member(s) of the Conference of Grand Masters of North America shall be invited to have observer status to this Conference in all future years, and
Be It Further Resolved that all such Prince Hall Grand Lodges will be specially invited to submit the necessary documentation and information to receive formal approval by the Commission on Information for Recognition and adoption by the Conference if they desire, and
Be It Further Resolved that all such Prince Hall Grand Lodges which have received this approval and adoption shall by majority vote if they desire be invited to be members of the Conference of Grand Masters of Masons of North America beginning with the 2005 year.
My Brothers, I believe in my heart that now is the time for this legislation to be approved. Although not every Grand Lodge in North America has chosen to recognize the Prince Hall Masons in their jurisdiction many have done so and have benefitted from this relationship. It is a simple matter of justice (recognizing Masons who of equal right maintain) and equity and as importantly for embodiment of the fullest meaning of universal brotherhood.
I, as Grand Master, representing the Grand Lodge of Minnesota, put forth these motions only with the sincere intent to broaden the tent of Masonry and for our beloved Fraternity to truly be "the brotherhood of man under the fatherhood of God." This is a lofty goal and surely one that is worth our time and best efforts to achieve. I ask your support and consideration.
Now, more than ever, our Fraternity needs to be a shining light to the nations and peoples of the world that true peace and harmony can exist among all people of good will. I invite your comments and inquiries. Let us together build a Temple worthy of our Master Builder’s design.
Sincerely and fraternally yours,
The Reverend Terry L. Tilton, Grand Master
The Most Worshipful Grand Lodge A.F. & A.M. of MinnesotaTo start of page
A CALL FOR BROTHERHOOD
by Rev. Terry L. Tilton, GM
In less than four weeks the Grand Lodge of Minnesota will host the 76th annual meeting of the Conference of Grand Masters of Masons in North America (COGMMNA) on February 16-18, 2003 in Minneapolis. This event brings an unparalleled opportunity for Minnesota and your Grand Master to speak to the sad conditions that caused Minnesota to be suspended this past year by twelve sister jurisdictions in the United States and four foreign jurisdictions (one of which has continued to withdraw recognition from Minnesota - the United Grand Lodge of England). The stakes are high. The need to broaden the tent of Masonry and challenge the Grand Masters of North America to see a larger vision of Masonry could not be greater.
Many years ago Brother W.J. Chewode Crawley wrote about the true basis of Masonic unity - our Ancient Landmarks. He said, "The Ancient Landmarks of Freemasonry, like all other landmarks, material or symbolical, can only preserve their stability, when they reach down to sure foundations. When the philosophical student unearths the underlying rock on which our Ancient Landmarks rest, he find sure foundations in the triple dogma of the Fatherhood of God, the Brotherhood of Man, and the Life to come. All laws, customs, and methods that obtain amongst us and do not ultimately find footholds on this basis, are thereby earmarked as conventions and conveniences, no way partaking of the Ancient Landmarks." (On Masonic Orphanages) I believe Brother Crawley has discovered an essential truth of Masonry.
Two issues are at war with each other in our fraternity today. On one side is the meaning of "sovereignty" -- the right of each Grand Lodge to establish the exclusive jurisdiction over its territory, state or province and choose the sister jurisdictions with which it will have fraternal relations. On the other side is the power vested in institutions, like the Conference of Grand Masters of Masons in North America, to apply rules of regularity in recommending Grand Lodges who should be recognized by universal Masonry and be considered as regular.
Minnesota believed that concerning our sovereignty there could be no doubt as to the authority of our Grand Lodge to make and apply the rules of regularity as we determined upon those seeking to be recognized by us. Apparently we were wrong for it was the second issue which became pre-eminent in the minds of many of our sister jurisdictions. At least twelve of our sister jurisdictions in North America felt threatened by our not applying the rule of "exclusive territorial jurisdiction." This rule, which is an invention of Masonry first institutionalized in 1922 in England and generally accepted among English-speaking countries, was formally adopted in 1952 as the second of three standards of recognition which must be applied to any Grand Lodge seeking recognition by the Commission on Information for Recognition of the Conference of Grand Masters of Masons in North America. The Conference has defined this standard as "exclusive territorial jurisdiction, except by mutual consent and/or treaty." It is our belief that this definition is too narrow and cannot be uniformly applied in worldwide Freemasonry nor has it ever been uniformly applied. Evidence for this is replete with examples.
In the particular case of Minnesota our difficulty came in recognizing two Grand Lodges (the Grand Lodge National of France - GLNF and the Grand Lodge of France - GLdF) both claiming the same territory but without a formal treaty or pact of amity among them. By all other standards we deemed both Grand Lodges as meeting our tests of regularity, however, we believed that politics had prevented the Grand Lodge of France from receiving recognition from the Grand Lodge National of France. We considered this wrong and offensive to the dictates of universal brotherhood.
In our White Paper of June 2002 and published to the world on the reasons for Minnesota’s recognition of the Grand Lodge of France it is interesting to note that our committee of masonic scholars found these revealing comments in the very reports submitted by the Commission on Information for Recognition:
In 1969 in its report on Brazil the Commission on Information for Recognition stated:
"Perhaps it is well to face the fact right here that exclusive jurisdiction does not mean absolutely exclusive territorial jurisdiction. That more than one Grand Lodge may have jurisdiction within a political domain is not intrinsically repugnant to Freemasonry, for there are too many places on the globe where such a condition exists, and with complete harmony. Exclusive jurisdiction as an absolute condition applies only to the exclusive role of a Grand Lodge over its members and Lodges and does not share that authority with any other Masonic authority."
In 1979 in its report on Prince Hall Grand Lodges of Wisconsin the Commission stated:
"3. The doctrine of exclusive territorial jurisdiction should not be used to challenge the legitimacy of Masonic establishments which were in existence long before the doctrine obtained respectable sanction."
So what can be done? Your Grand Master has prepared a series of motions to go the COGMMNA Conference and appeal to the Grand Masters of our sister jurisdictions. Among these motions will be an attempt to limit the application of "exclusive territorial jurisdiction" to just the English-speaking countries of the world.. This seems prudent because in Mexico, for example, only 10 of the 22 Grand Lodges have been recommended by the Commission on Information for Recognition to be recognized as regular but all have received recognition by at least one or more of the Grand Lodges belonging to the Conference. Only one of them (the York Grand Lodge - which claims all of Mexico as its jurisdiction) is recognized by all US Grand Lodges. We can go to Brazil, Africa and the Carribean to continue to see examples like this. Strangely enough, at least 33 U.S. Grand Lodges have recognized Prince Hall Masonry in their jurisdictions but not one Prince Hall jurisdiction is recommended as a regular Grand Lodge by the Commission. How can this be?
To the defense of the Commission on Information for Recognition it must be noted that they have only acted on petitions for regularity which they have received. Sadly the Commission has not seen as its purpose to pro-actively seek out jurisdictions to submit documentation on their regularity and when proven to recommend them to the Conference for adoption. A second motion will be brought forward to do exactly this by enlarging the Commission and charging them to specifically invite for recognition every Grand Lodge recognized by members of the Conference but not yet approved for recognition by the Commission.
Furthermore, we will specifically ask the Conference to approve observer status to every Prince Hall Grand Lodge now recognized by the individual Grand Lodges beginning in 2004. The Commission on Information for Recognition will be charged to review the regularity of each of these Prince Hall Grand Lodges and recommend their approval to the conference by 2006. At that conference all regular Prince Hall Grand Lodges will be invited to join the Conference of Grand Masters of Masons of North America by majority vote if they desire. Surely the time has come for us to extend the bounds of brotherhood to other legitimate Grand Lodges among us.
In an age when sectarian and political strife dominates the headlines and divisions and alienation among peoples and nations continues to grow towards war, the Masonic Fraternity must declare that the principles of a universal brotherhood under the fatherhood of God are achievable. Our vision is world peace based upon religious toleration, political freedom and justice among peoples and nations. It is a lofty vision, yet, if we cannot embody this vision among ourselves how can we speak with any united voice to our world today?
I call upon my fellow Grand Masters of North America and all Masons of good will in our Fraternity to reason together in friendship and unite our hands in fellowship. Now is the time to end political gamesmanship and strife and find the means to make real the ideal of a universal brotherhood. We must find the way forward to unite as Freemasons who understand our sure foundations — the Fatherhood of God, the Brotherhood of Man and the Life to come. Surely history will judge if we have the courage and determination to make universal brotherhood a lasting witness for our time.
I close with the words of a famous Freemason and poet of another time that speak to me and give me the encouragement and the resolution to bring forward this call for brotherhood.
THREE WORDS OF STRENGTH
There are three lessons I would write,
Three words, as with a burning pen,
In tracing of eternal light
Upon the hearts of men.
Have hope. Through clouds environ round
And gladness hides her face in scorn,
Put off the shadows from thy brow;
No night but hath its morn.
Have faith. Where ‘er thy bark be driven -
The calm’s disport, the tempest’s mirth -
Know this: God rules the host of heaven,
The inhabitants of earth.
Have love. Not love alone for one,
But man, as man, thy brother call;
And scatter, like a circling sun,
Thy charities on all.
--Frederich von SchillerTo start of page
A RESOLUTION CONCERNING
For information as recommended by the Rev. Terry L. Tilton, Grand Master
WHEREAS, the Grand Lodge of Minnesota under ARTICLE II. Masonic Laws, Section C2.03 states that the following point has the force of Ancient Landmarks of the Fraternity, to wit (21) That this Grand Lodge has supreme and exclusive jurisdiction, as exercised, within its territorial limits, over all matters of Ancient Free and Accepted Masonry, and accepts the right of the Grand Lodge of The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge F. & A.M. of Minnesota as having supreme and exclusive jurisdiction over matters pertaining to that Grand Lodge, and
WHEREAS, the Grand Lodge of Minnesota under ARTICLE II, Committee and Duties, Section G2.01, (5)(b) External Relations, states: The committee shall review the reports, transactions and requests received from other Grand Lodges which hold fraternal relations with the Grand Lodge and submit a report on the state of the external relations with other Grand Jurisdictions to the Grand Lodge. The committee report shall include such matters which may augment, amend, and otherwise change the external relations of the Grand Lodge with other recognized Grand Lodge; and
WHEREAS, the Grand Lodge of Minnesota has not enumerated beyond the jurisdiction of its territory the meaning of sovereignty and rules of recognition of other Grand Lodges; and
WHEREAS, the application of "exclusive territorial jurisdiction" as a mark of regularity has not been applied consistently to many foreign jurisdictions and has given rise to much confusion;
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that
The Grand Lodge shall recognize as a sovereign Grand Lodge only Grand bodies that:
Are regularly formed by subordinate Lodges which trace their origins to
regular and legitimate Ancient Craft Masonry, and
Are acknowledged as the supreme power in Ancient Graft Masonry in the territory
in which they claim jurisdiction; do not render allegiance or obedience to any other
Masonic power or Supreme Council; must recognize the exclusive jurisdiction of
all other Grand Lodge’s in their respective territories, and must not presume to
project their authority on sovereignty into the territory of another Grand Lodge, and
Confine their authority and exercise thereof to the three degrees of Craft or
Symbolic Masonry, and
Recognize and support the Ancient Landmarks which include, particularly, the
Three Great Lights, and belief in a Supreme Being and the immortality of the soul, and
Our Grand Lodge shall recognize only one Grand Lodge in any State or Territory or Province of any English-speaking country as the Grand Lodge which we recognize with exclusive jurisdiction over that State, Territory or Province unless said Grand Lodge shall choose to waive its right to maintain exclusive jurisdiction and permit concurrent jurisdiction. In which case the Grand Lodge of Minnesota may also recognize such additional Grand Lodges in that State, Territory or Province as had been granted concurrent jurisdiction.
A RESOLUTION CONCERNING
WHEREAS, ARTICLE II. Masonic Laws, Section C2.03 (17) states: That masonic intercourse with a clandestine, suspended or expelled Mason is a breach of duty and an offense against Masonic law, and
WHEREAS the Grand Lodge of Minnesota has not enumerated the meaning of masonic intercourse for purposes of clarification;
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that:
A Mason shall not have Masonic communication with:
A. Any person who is not a member of a Masonic Lodge chartered by or
holding allegiance to a Grand Lodge recognized by the Grand Lodge of
B. A Mason under sentence of being expelled or suspended.
While outside the State of Minnesota, a Mason may have Masonic communication with any person legally present at the tiled meeting of a Masonic Lodge or Masonic Organization chartered by or holding allegiance to a Grand Lodge recognized by the Grand Lodge of Minnesota. This exception includes the tiled meetings of any such recognized Grand Lodge. During a tiled meeting, a Mason may have Masonic communication with any person legally present even though such a person is not a member of a Masonic Lodge chartered by or holding allegiance to a Grand Lodge recognized by the Grand Lodge of Minnesota. This exception applies only during such a tiled meeting and at no other time.
While in any State or Territory or Provence outside the State of Minnesota, a Mason shall not have Masonic communication with any person who is a member of a Masonic Lodge which has been chartered by or holds allegiance to, a Grand Lodge which is not recognized by the Grand Lodge which we recognize with jurisdiction over that State or Territory or Province.
No Masonic Organization in the Jurisdiction of Minnesota may permit any man suspended or expelled as a Mason in this or any other Jurisdiction to retain membership in it, or attend its tiled meetings.To start of page