Monday, June 19, 2006

Grand Lodge vs. Blue Lodge: Who serves who?

Grand Lodge vs. Blue Lodge: Who Serves Who? by W:.Tim Bryce, PM, MPS

Masons have been meeting upon the level and parting on the square well before the formation of the Grand Lodge of England in 1717 (the first "Grand Lodge"). The invention of the Grand Lodge system was inevitable as it afforded Masons a means to administer Freemasonry on a consistent basis to suit local customs and cultural requirements. Establishing Grand jurisdictions to conform with political boundaries makes sense in that it allows Masons to legally operate under the particular laws of the state they are living.

This brings up an important point — the Grand Lodge system was originally designed to serve administrative purposes only. In other words, it is a servant of the Craft, not the other way around. It has long been understood that the authority over the activities of a local particular Lodge (aka Blue or Craft Lodge) primarily resides in the officers and members of the particular Lodge itself, not the Grand Lodge. However, over the years, we have seen a transition whereby the authority of the Grand Lodge supersedes the particular Lodge, thereby they serve the Grand Lodge and not the reverse.

Let me give you an example: I recently returned from our Grand Communications which, as most of you know, is intended to elect new Grand Lodge officers and vote on legislation. This particular Grand Communications annoyed the Craft greatly. I heard it described by delegates as the worst communications in recent memory, a model of inefficiency, a farce, the "Grand Master's Coronation" and the "Grand Waste of Time" (and these are the kinder adjectives without the expletives). Why the disgruntlement? Because delegates felt their time and expense were taken for granted by the Grand Lodge. Had the Grand Master wanted to conduct the true business of the Grand Lodge in one day, he could have easily done so if he wanted. He didn't. Instead, the Craft suffered through endless introductions, was bored to death by committee reports as preprinted and included in the delegate's packet of materials, and put to sleep by several unrelated speeches intended to pad time. To add insult to injury, little was accomplished in terms of legislation and the status quo was safely guarded again for another year. In other words, no progress was made. The Craft was so incensed by the Communications, I wouldn't be surprised if we saw a sharp decline in attendance next year.

Regardless of the outcome, what disturbed me the most was the total lack of consideration for the Craft, only for the Grand Lodge officers. Brothers sacrificed a national holiday and a work day to attend a meeting that squandered their time. It wasn't the Craft that was glorified, it was the Grand Line. My response to this was, "Haven't we got this backwards?" It seems to me that instead of having humble servants of the Craft, we have created a Royal Family that answers to nobody.

The true power of Freemasonry belongs to the particular Lodge, not the Grand Lodge which should be nothing more than an administrative function. When it oversteps its authority and usurps the authority of the particular Lodge unnecessarily, than we have an unsavory situation emerging.

For those who believe in the tyrannical power of the Grand Lodge, I have two words of advice: Remember Runnymede.

Keep the Faith.

NOTE: As with all of my Masonic articles herein, please feel free to reuse them in Masonic publications or re-post them on Masonic web sites (except Florida). When doing so, please add the following:

Article reprinted with permission of the author and "FreeMason Information."

— Bro. Tim Bryce

Image: John Kavanaugh, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Florida, 2006

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