W. Bro. Ken Miller, Master of Halcyon Lodge and former Master of Halcyon Lodge No. 498 (no longer extant), released this afternoon a letter addressed to the former members of the former Halcyon Lodge No. 498, explaining the details of the lodge's surrender of their charter to the Grand Lodge of Ohio.
2831 Franklin Blvd.
Cleveland, Ohio 44113-2916
November 21, 2007
Dear Brother __________,
We write to inform you of recent events concerning Halcyon 498. Our lodge has been at odds with the Grand Lodge of Ohio for several months on a number of important issues. Chief among those have been the Grand Lodge of Ohio's attempt to control the content of our website, its unwarranted demand that we shut down our website, its attempt to dictate whom we may or may not associate with, and most recently their attempt to coerce the lodge to reverse a transaction that has been tremendously beneficial to the lodge, the West Side Masonic Temple, and to the community.
The transaction in question is the gift of financial assets and West Side Masonic Temple Company shares in December of last year to Halcyon Charities, an Ohio
non-profit corporation that was founded by several brothers working with community leaders.
There were very good business reasons for making the gift. Before this transaction, the Lodge was losing money every year as it was forced to bear all of the building expenses on its own. Furthermore, after years of neglect by previous management the building is sorely in need of expensive repairs. It became clear to the brethren that if Halcyon 498 were to continue acting as the sole source of revenue to support the building, the lodge would slowly bleed to death over the next few years. The end result would have been the end of the Temple and the death of Halcyon 498. The brethren determined that this was an unacceptable result. Thus, the Lodge unanimously voted that it would no longer fund the West Side Masonic Temple Company.
To insure the long term preservation of the building AND the long term viability of
Halcyon 498, the lodge voted unanimously to gift its securities, including its shares
in the WSMTC, to Halcyon Charities. Halcyon Charities is not a temple company, but is instead a fully functioning public charity as defined by the Internal Revenue Code. Thus, it has the ability to pursue strategies to generate revenue through rentals and through charitable activities that will ultimately lead to tax-deductible donations. It can engage in fund raising to support its charitable programs, and to support building maintenance and operations. Further, its public charity status will position it to seek a local property tax exemption, which (if granted) will significantly improve the bottom line. It is clearly a superior business structure for the long-term viability of the temple.
Halcyon Charities has two goals: serving poor and underprivileged youth, and historic preservation of the building. Halcyon Charities seeks to establish athletic and arts programs to serve children in its neighborhood and the surrounding Cleveland area. It has already established a reputable youth boxing program that is housed in the building. Halcyon Charities is actively seeking strategic partners to establish a youth arts program utilizing the building's theatrical stages. The charity has already contributed significant value to building, including finishing the ballroom to return it to rentable condition, repairing the neglected air handling systems, repairing the roof, and building the boxing gym to house the boxing program. In short, it is doing what the brethren of the lodge hoped it would do when they voted to make the gift.
This transaction was also designed to insure the long term viability of the Lodge.
Without the burden of supporting all building expenses, the Lodge was suddenly solvent and its anticipated dues revenue exceeded its expenses. In just a few years,
the end result would have been a healthy lodge meeting in a safe and healthy building, and enjoying a much higher profile in the community in the process.
Unfortunately the Grand Lodge of Ohio lacks the vision and understanding to
appreciate what the brethren of Halcyon have done. At this year's annual meeting,
several DDGM's and high ranking officers of Grand Lodge made an unannounced visit to our Lodge. MWB Steven Krekus, in the presence of Grand Treasurer MWB Thomas H. Galyen, the current Junior Grand Warden, RWB Bradford Goebel, and all 5 current 22nd District Deputy Grand Masters, read a letter from the Grand Master demanding that Halcyon #498 reverse the transaction and put things back to the way they were — and giving the lodge only 48 hours to comply. The Grand Master stated that if the Lodge did not comply, he [would] remove the duly elected worshipful master and secretary of Halcyon Lodge #498 and assume control of the lodge. After reading the letter, brothers Krekus, Galyen and Goebel immediately left the building offering no opportunity for discussion.
It was both legally and practically impossible for the lodge to comply with this
order. Further, the Lodge determined that it was inappropriate to allow the Grand
Lodge officers to overrule valid elections and remove/replace officers without the
consent of the lodge. Given the 48 hour deadline, the lodge felt that it had to act
immediately to prevent this obvious injustice. Thus, the lodge unanimously voted
to surrender its charter, severing its relationship with Ohio Grand Lodge.
Those present at the meeting were concerned about what would happen to brothers who may want to remain Masons in good standing within the Ohio Grand Lodge system. DDGM Edgar Phelps confirmed that all brothers who had not surrendered their dues cards would remain in good standing and would be permitted to affiliate with another blue lodge. Thus, the good standing of the brethren of Halcyon Lodge #498 is unaffected by this move — your dues card is still valid and you are still a Master Mason in good standing with the Grand Lodge of Ohio. However, upon surrendering the Charter, Halcyon 498 ceased to exist.
It is regrettable that this all happened so quickly, but the unexpected and illegal
mandate by the Grand Lodge left Halcyon Lodge with little choice. We are mindful that many of you have already paid your dues for the coming year, and you will now have to affiliate with a new lodge and pay its dues, if you choose to remain a Mason within the Ohio Grand Lodge system. Thus, it is our intention to provide a full refund to all brothers who have paid their 2008 dues. At this point we will not cash any additional dues checks. If your check has not been cashed yet, you wil get your check back with your dues card. If your check has already been cashed, we will write you a refund check. We wil try to get to everyone, but if you do not receive a refund check within the next 4 weeks, please send us a letter at the address below to the attention of Mike Howard. Note that we have already paid the per diem to Grand Lodge of Ohio, so you are in good standing and should have no problems affiliating with another blue lodge.
Many former members of Halcyon 498 have turned in their dues card and formed a new lodge that is not affiliated with the Grand Lodge of Ohio. We are excited about the opportunity to continue to practice Masonry. To learn more about the new lodge, visit our website at ww.halcyontemple.org. Former members of Halcyon 498 are welcome to petition our new lodge, known as "Halcyon Lodge."
Master of Halcyon Lodge
Former Master of Halcyon 498
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