Thursday, June 23, 2022

The Rite of Baldwyn

Outside of the Blue Lodge, the family of concordant and appendant bodies is a complex system of degrees, orders, grades, and rites. This is especially true with the American York Rite and the organizations that stem or are affiliated with it which seems to be a never-ending rabbit hole to explore. It is even more complex when you start exploring the difference between American Masonry and those corresponding degrees and orders in England. Whether the Scottish Rite, the Royal Arch, or the Knights Templar, there are noticeable differences between the two nations. In studying these differences and researching early Templary in England, I came across an unusual rite located in Bristol called the Rite of Baldwyn (also known as the Baldwyn Encampment or Camp of Baldwyn) which claims to exist from “time immemorial.” This expression is important to its future relationship with governing bodies of Templary, the Royal Arch, and the Scottish Rite (known as the Ancient & Accepted Rite in England).

 The Rite, or Camp, of Baldwyn, takes its name from the early Crusader kings of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem. After the conquest of Jerusalem in 1099, the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem was established, and Godfrey de Bouillon became the first king (though he used the title of “Defender of the Holy Sepulchre” rather than that of "king"). After his death the following year, the crown was passed to his brother, Baldwyn. After his death in 1118, the mantle of the king was placed on a cousin, also named Baldwyn, and it was Baldwyn II who played an important role in the formation of the Knights Templar and their residence in the Stables of Solomon.

The Baldwyn Rite is an amalgamation of usually separate Masonic bodies and degrees including the Rose Croix, Knights Templar, and Holy Royal Arch. It is described as being 7 degrees, but really, these degrees could also be described as a body of its own as you will see. The I° is Craft Masonry, composed of the degrees of the Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and Master Mason. The II° is the Holy Royal Arch. The III° to the VII° is referred to as the Camp of Baldwyn. The III° is the Knights of the Nine Elected Master. The IV° is the Ancient Order of Scots Knights Grand Architect which is composed of the Order of Scots Knights Grand Architect and the Order of Scots Knights of Kilwinning. The V° is the Knights of the East, the Sword, and Eagle. The VI° is the Knights of St John of Jerusalem, Palestine, Rhodes, and Malta which is composed of the two orders of Knights of St John of Jerusalem and Knights Templar. The VII° and final is the Knights of the Rose Croix of Mount Carmel. They operate out of Freemason’s Hall in Bristol and it is by invitation only. It is curious to note that Bristol is the only city that is itself a Province within Freemasonry.

Like much of early Freemasonry, it is difficult to study the Baldwyn Rite as there is little documentation that properly traces their lineage. The earliest reference to the Baldwyn Encampment is in January 1772 when a reference to a meeting of Knights Templar at the Rose and Crown Inn in Bristol is recorded in Felix Farley's Bristol Journal. From such a casual mention of the Knights Templar, it seems that this wasn’t anything new or that the readers of this publication were already familiar with the meetings of that group. One theory is that the records were burned during the Stuart Rebellion (1745-1746).

The most well-known document associated with the Baldwyn Encampment is the 1780 Charter of Compact that was established when this Templar group constituted themselves as the “Supreme Grand and Royal Encampment of Knights Templar of St. John of Jerusalem, Knights Hospitallers, and Knights of Malta etc.” From my research, many believe there was an earlier document that established this Camp and others like Camp of Antiquity in Bath (as well as in London, York, and Salisbury), but none has ever been found or brought to public knowledge. Some legends state this Templar rite stems from the medieval Templars who had a large presence in Bristol:

“A tradition exists that the Baldwyn Encampment is the lineal successor of an institution founded in Bristol by the warrior monks whose Order there dwells in name, though its glory has passed away.”

The 1780 Charter contains 20 articles that provide for the officers, dress and regalia, petitioning and balloting procedures, fees and dues, and other administrative details. In this Charter, it names the following officers:

Most Eminent Grand Master

Grand Master of the Order

Grand Master Assistant General

Standard Bearers

Until 1791 there was no governing body over Templary in England. In January of that year, a Grand Conclave, now called Great Priory, was formed that took the official name of "Grand Conclave of the Royal, Exalted, Religious and Military Order of H.R.D.M., Grand Elected Masonic Knights Templar K.D.S.H. of St John of Jerusalem, Palestine, Rhodes, etc." This formal name would be amended down the road when the Ancient & Accepted Rite was established. The presiding officer on this body was called “Grand Master” and the Sir Knights selected Thomas Dunckerley to be their first. Some sources state that Bristol was on board with the formation of a national governing body, although later actions seem to contradict this, but some state that when Dunckerley presided, he did not interfere with the ritual and operations of an individual Encampment and it wasn’t until later Grand Masters that the relationship between the Baldwyn Encampment and the Grand Conclave degraded. Within a short period of time, Dunckerley constituted 10 new Conclaves. Thomas Dunckerley is a topic of discussion of its own as he accomplished a great deal for and in Freemasonry.

After the death of Dunckerley in 1795, relations between the Grand Conclave and the Camp of Baldwyn were kept. In 1809 the Charter of Constitution was established, but the Camp of Baldwyn asserted that the Grand Conclave must acknowledge the rights and privileges of Baldwyn, and should any derivation from the customs and usages occur, the Camp of Baldwyn would break away and resume their independence. In the 1820s, during the reign of Prince Augustus Frederick, the Duke of Sussex, the Grand Conclave slipped into a state of dormancy while the Baldwyn Encampment was said to have prospered during the same period of time.

Attempts were made in 1819 to form a Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite in England, but it wouldn’t be until the 1840s that this would be accomplished. By 1847, Robert Crucefix, Master of Ceremonies for the Grand Conclave of Knights Templar, was instrumental in establishing a Scottish Rite Supreme Council in England, and by this time an effort was being made to sever the Rose Crucis and Kadosh degrees from the Templar Encampments. With the exception of the Encampments of Bath and Baldwyn, the effort was accomplished. In fact, Baldwyn criticized the Grand Conclave for giving up their “birthright for a mess of pottage.”

In 1856, reconciliation between the Grand Conclave and the Camp of Baldwyn was tried, but failed due to the “unmasonic and presumptuous conduct of some members of the Grand Conclave.” The Encampments of Baldwyn and Antiquity (Bath) both declared their independence and that they would live in accordance with the 1780 Charter of Compact. Baldwyn Encampment would go on to issue warrants and establish encampments in Birmingham, Warwick, Salisbury, Highbridge, and Adelaide (South Australia). The South Australian Preceptory is still the only other Preceptory outside of the Baldwyn Encampment that is authorized to work the Baldwyn rituals.

In 1862, a reconciliation was finally reached between the Grand Conclave and Baldwyn Encampment where the former agreed to recognize and give precedence to Baldwyn, making it its own Provincial body and allowing them to practice the degrees they have had since time immemorial. In 1881, an agreement was reached between the Supreme Council of the Ancient & Accepted Rite of England and the Baldwyn Encampment concerning the Rose Croix degree where the latter was recognized preceding the Supreme Council and was allowed to continue its own conferrals.

As mentioned above, the Baldwyn Rite is composed as follows:

Iº - Craft Freemasonry:

Entered Apprentice


Master Mason

IIº − Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch

Camp of Baldwyn (or Five Royal Order of Knighthood)

IIIº - Knights of the Nine Elected Masters

IVº - The Ancient Order of Scots Knights Grand Architect

Order of Scots Knights Grand Architect

Order of Scots Knights of Kilwinning

Vº - Knights of the East, the Sword, and Eagle

VIº - Knights of St John of Jerusalem, Palestine, Rhodes, and Malta

Knights of St John of Jerusalem (or Knights of Malta)

Knights Templar

VIIº - Knights of the Rose Croix of Mount Carmel

The three degrees of Craft Masonry compose the first degree or body of the Baldwyn Rite and are worked by the United Grand Lodge of England. The Royal Arch degree, the IIº, worked in the Baldwyn Encampment is unique in England and has rituals closer to those found in the US or in Continental Europe. The IIIº, IVº, and Vº are said to be unique to the Baldwyn Rite, but their names remind me of degrees worked in the Scottish Rite and Allied Masonic Degrees. The VIº is composed of the Knights of Malta and the Knights Templar is conferred by the Baldwyn Encampment which falls under the authority of the Great Priory of England and Wales. The final degree of the Baldwyn Rite is the Knight of the Rose Croix of Mount Carmel which is worked in the Bristol Chapter of Rose Croix under the authority of the Supreme Council of the Ancient & Accepted Rite of England and Wales. It is curious to note that if a candidate of the Baldwyn Rite already has gone through the Templar, Malta, and Rose Croix degrees elsewhere, he is considered a full member of the Rite. The rituals of the Baldwyn Rite, particularly the orders of knighthood, are not copied and are jealously guarded.

The 1780 Charter of Compact set out the original hierarchy of the Baldwyn Rite, as mentioned earlier. Today, this Rite is overseen by a Grand Superintendent who is also, by virtue of his office, the Provincial Prior of Knights Templar in Bristol, Inspector General for the District of Bristol of the Ancient & Accepted Rite in Bristol

The regalia worn in the Iº, IIº, and VIº is generally the same as worn by their contemporaries in Craft Masonry, Capitular Masonry, and Knights Templar in England. The regalia worn in the IIIº, IVº, Vº, and VIIº is a breast jewel and apron (only for the VIIº) unique to the Baldwyn Rite. The jewel is a silver Maltese cross hanging from a black ribbon and the apron is adorned with a Pelican which used to be used in the Ancient & Accepted Rite of England and Wales, but is no longer used.


1. Baldwyn II. (n.d.). Retrieved from The Ashlar Company - Masonic Shop:

2. Bennett, J. R. (1907). The Origin of Freemasonry and Knights Templar. Cincinnati: Johnson & Hardin.

3. De Hoyos, A. (2014). Masonic Rites and Systems. In H. Bogdan, & J. A. Snoek, Handbook of Freemasonry (pp. 355-377).

4. History of the Order. (n.d.). Retrieved from Province of Somerset: 

5. Lindez, D. S. (2009, August 22). The Baldwyn Rite of Bristol, England: A Cohesive Remnant of Pre-1813 Freemasonry. Retrieved from Knights Templar: 

6. Mackey, A. (n.d.). Encyclopedia of Freemasonry. 

7. Price, B. W. (2021). In The Steps Of The Templars. Lewis Masonic. 

8. Rite of Baldwyn. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: 

9. Shetty, T. (2018, January 6). Rite of Baldwyn. Retrieved from Alchetron: 

10. The Baldwyn Schism. (1862, June 7). Retrieved from Freemasons Magazine and Masonic Mirror: 

11. Vrooman, J. B. (1968, September). More About Baldwyn Encampment. Retrieved from Knights Templar magazine:

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Officers of a Tabernacle of the HRAKTP

The basic organizational unit of the Holy Royal Arch Knights Templar Priests (HRAKTP) is the Tabernacle. The officers of the Tabernacle are Preceptor, Deputy Preceptor, Registrar, Treasurer, Seventh Pillar, Sixth Pillar, Fifth Pillar, Fourth Pillar, Third Pillar, Second Pillar, First Pillar, Inner Guard, and Outer Guard. The elected officers are the Preceptor, Deputy Preceptor, Registrar, and Treasurer are elected while the others are appointed by the Preceptor.

The presiding officer of the Tabernacle is the Very Eminent Preceptor akin to the Worshipful Master of a Blue Lodge or an Eminent Commander of a Commandery of Knights Templar. The word 'preceptor' originates from the Latin word "praeceptor" meaning "teacher or instructor." Whether in its historical use or in the modern sense of the word, a Preceptor is an expert or specialist. Today, it is used to denote a medical or legal specialist. Historically, a Preceptor was in charge or in the chain of command of Christian military orders such as the Knights Templar, Knights Hospitaller, and Teutonic Knights. 

Next is the Deputy Preceptor who is the second-in-command of the Tabernacle and who corresponds to the Senior Warden in the Blue Lodge although, in the Tabernacle, the Deputy is stationed on the right of the Preceptor in the East rather than in the West. In the absence of the Very Eminent Preceptor, the Deputy presides. The title of Deputy comes from the Latin "deputare" meaning to "allot or to destine" which has come to indicate a subordinate officer or one given the full power of an officer without holding the office.

Like most Masonic bodies, there is a Treasurer who is the chief financial officer of the Tabernacle. The Statutes of the Grand College of the USA state that "the offices of the Treasurer and Registrar may be combined."

Corresponding to the Secretary of a Blue Lodge, the Registrar is the record-keeper of the Tabernacle. The term 'registrar' is etymologically rooted in the Latin word "registrarius" meaning "one who keeps a record." Traditionally, a registrar is an officer who keeps records for educational institutions, banks, trust companies, or hospitals. The Registrar in the Tabernacle sends the official invitation to candidates, mails the summons for each Ingathering to all of the members, sends in the Annual Return to the Grand College, and records the actions of the Tabernacle at each Ingathering.

The First Pillar through the Seventh Pillar are appointed officers of the Tabernacle. They assist the Very Eminent Preceptor in opening the Tabernacle as well as having a key role in the reception of candidates. "Pillar" comes from the Latin "pila" meaning "pillar or stone barrier." Architecturally, pillars differ from columns in that pillars were not "subordinated to the rules of classic architecture." Figuratively, the word "pillar" can be used to denote an integral or upstanding member of a group or society. With this, we see that it is appropriate for these officers to be called Pillars as they are integral to the Tabernacle, support the Tabernacle and the Preceptor, and stand as a barrier to those unworthy of reception into our order.

The last two appointed officers are the Inner Guard and the Outer Guard who correspond to the Junior Deacon and Tyler of the Blue Lodge. As their names indicate, the Inner Guard sits within the door to the Tabernacle and the Outer Guard is without the door. The word "guard" derives from "garder," an Old French word meaning "to keep, maintain, preserve, or protect." Like the Junior Deacon, the Inner Guard attends to alarms at the door, but also has duties similar to the Senior Deacon as he conducts the candidates through the ritual of the order. The Outer Guard's duties are simply like those of the Tyler, ensuring the security of the Tabernacle.


1. (n.d.). Retrieved from Online Etymological Dictionary:

2. Dictionary. (n.d.). Retrieved from Merriam-Webster: 

3. Dictionary. (n.d.). Retrieved from

4. Statutes. (n.d.). Retrieved from The Grand College of America Holy Royal Arch Knight Templar Priests:

Sunday, June 5, 2022

Grand York Rite of Montana and SRICF

This past Wednesday the wife of the Northwest Department Commander picked me up and took me to their house so I could leave my car back home. Thursday, the three of us drove all day to Montana. We had to take a detour to Missoula to pick up the Right Eminent Grand Generalissimo of the Grand Encampment and then it was onto Great Falls, MT.

Friday morning started with the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of Montana where I represented the Most Excellent General Grand High Priest of the General Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons International. In the afternoon, the Grand Council of Cryptic Masons of Montana met. Friday night was the Grand York Rite Banquet where I had the pleasure of presenting several awards along with my predecessor Deputy General Grand High Priest. After the dinner, the Grand Commandery of Knights Templar of Montana held a special ceremony for all Sir Knights present, called the "Passing the Cup" which was a ceremony that was about renewing the Vows of Knighthood.

Saturday morning brought the annual Conclave of the Grand Commandery of Knights Templar of Montana. In the afternoon, the Montana College, SRICF, conferred the Grades of the Second Order (V° - VII°) on some of the Montana officers followed by the II° (Theoricus). The Chief Adept of Montana allowed me to confer the V° (Adeptus Minor) and VI° (Adeptus Major) while I assisted with the VII° (Adeptus Exemptus). After conferring Adeptship, we opened the College on the II° (Theoricus) and conferred that grade. Saturday night, Montana College held a dinner for members and candidates that would receive the Grade of Zelator (I°) on Sunday morning. The College did a great job conferring the Grades and I thank them for their hospitality.

Now, I'm at the Great Falls airport picking up a rental car, and I will be on my way to two back-to-back work trips in two different states.

Friday, June 3, 2022

House of the Temple Sphinxes Vandalized

 It was reported by Illustrious Brother Arturo DeHoyos, Grand Archivist of the Supreme Council of the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite for the Southern Jurisdiction of the United States of America, that the two sphinxes that stood on the side of the front steps to the House of the Temple were vandalized. Criminals broke off pieces from their faces and smeared them with, what he called, filth. This is needless destruction, most likely, by those ignorant about Freemasonry and deceived by anti-Masonic propaganda. I also see this as no different from the wanton destruction the world saw in the Middle East by the Islamic radicals, ISIL/ISIS. I hope the police are able to apprehend these criminals and that they are prosecuted. Anti-Masons do not understand or care, but Freemasonry is not a building, sculpture, or monument. We are a worldwide brotherhood and we are united.

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

An Update

It's been a busy first half of the year and I know most of my posts lately have been about my travels as Deputy General Grand High Priest, but I promise that some educational articles are on their way. I'm currently working on the following articles:

  • Officers of a Tabernacle of the HRAKTP
  • The Rite of Baldwyn
  • Timeline of the Templars - Part II
  • The Rule of the Knights Templar
  • Temple Church
  • Introduction to Gnosticism
  • The Rosicrucian Manifestos - Part II

I'm hoping to get some of them out this month.

I've even written some more of my book, The American Rite.

Monday, May 30, 2022

Memorial Day

I hope everyone has a Happy Memorial Day and takes the time to remember our fallen heroes: those men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of this country. Take the time to remember all who have given up their lives in defense of this nation.

On this day people traditionally wear the poppy to signify their remembrance and honor of the fallen. The origin of the use of the poppy comes from the poem "In Flanders Field" by LTC John McCrae: 

In Flanders fields the poppies blow 
Between the crosses, row on row 
That mark our place; and in the sky 
The larks, still bravely singing, fly 
Scarce heard amid the guns below. 
We are the Dead. Short days ago 
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, 
Loved and were loved, and now we lie 
In Flanders fields 

Take up our quarrel with the foe: 
To you from failing hands we throw 
The torch; be yours to hold it high. 
If ye break faith with us who die 
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow 
In Flanders fields

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Grand Chapter of Saskatchewan

Au revoir to my Canadian Companions who have hosted me for the last 2-days. Thursday afternoon I flew as far as Calgary and then on Friday made it to Saskatoon to attend the Annual Convocation of the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of Saskatchewan. This jurisdiction falls under the North Central Region, but that Deputy couldn't make it so I was asked to attend.

Friday afternoon kicked off with the Order of High Priesthood conferral, followed by the Ceremonial Opening and Memorial Service of the Grand Chapter. I was honored with introductions along with so many other distinguished guests and for being allowed to take part in the Memorial Service. Friday night was the Grand Banquet where I sat at the head table with the Grand Z (Grand First Principal), Grand H (Grand Second Principal) and his wife, Grand J (Grand 3rd Principal who will be Grand Z during their Centennial), and the Most Worshipful Grand Master of Saskatchewan and his wife. After a delicious meal, I was asked to present the Bronze Medal.

Saturday morning I attended a Red Cross of Constantine Breakfast before the Grand Chapter reopened at 9am and received distinguished guests from sister jurisdictions and concordant bodies. I was honored to represent the General Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons International and I gave some comments that were well received. After lunch, the newly elected officers were installed.

The rest of the day I explored Saskatoon, or rather the Paris of the Prairie. It's a nice town and was beautiful to see in late Springtime. Now I'm getting to bed for an early flight home.

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Grand York Rite of Washington

Another Grand York Rite session has been completed. The Northwest Department Commander and I flew in Thursday morning and the General Grand Ambassador for Washington picked us up. The day was filled with the Holy Order of High Priesthood, Thrice Illustrious Master, the Reuben Baer Past Commanders Association, and the Memorial Service. During lunch, I was informed that I was joining Tacobat Grotto of the Mystic Order of Veiled Prophets of the Enchanted Realm.

With Friday morning came the 138th Annual Convocation of the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of Washington where I had the pleasure of representing the Most Excellent General Grand High Priest of the General Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons International. Once the business of the meeting was completed, I, with the assistance of several Past Grand High Priests of Washington, installed the newly elected Grand High Priest and his officers.

Friday afternoon was the Grand Council of Cryptic Masons of Washington. That evening was the Banquet of the Grand York Rite of Washington where I assisted in presenting several awards from the Grand Chapter and General Grand Chapter. I'd like to thank the now Junior Past Grand High Priest of Washington for his diligence and hard work during the past Capitular year.

The Grand Commandery of Knights Templar of Washington met Saturday morning where I was introduced along with the Grand Commander and Grand Captain General of Idaho. The Grand Commanderies of Oregon, Idaho, and Washington meet within a month of each other and I'm excited to see that my fellow Grand Generalissimos are wanting to work with each other and share ideas in preparation for our year in the Grand East.

Tonight is going to be dinner with friends before I fly home tomorrow and then back to work.

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Templar Titles and Terms

About 2-weeks ago I served as Chairman of the Committee for Distinguished Guests for the Grand Commandery of Knights Templar of Idaho. The Knights Templar is one of my favorite groups within Freemasonry and I am proud to be a Knight Templar, but often I see Sir Knights and non-Templars struggle with understanding the terminology and titles of our order because Templary has a unique set of titles and nomenclature that is different from Craft Masonry. This article is going to focus on those titles (honorary and official) of the Commandery, the Grand Commandery, and the Grand Encampment as well as the various terms in reference to meetings.

Honorary Titles and Official Titles

In all of Freemasonry, including Templary, there are official titles and honorary titles. The official title refers to the name of the office or station a Sir Knight holds while the honorary title. An honorary title conveys esteem, courtesy, or respect for position or rank when used in addressing or referring to a person. In Templary, the honorary title goes with the official title, not the name. The title of "Sir Knight" applies to all Knights Templar, but is never combined with honorary titles. The title of "Eminent Sir Knight," "Right Eminent Sir Knight," or "Most Eminent Sir Knight" does not exist.

Honorary titles are used in addressing, introducing, or referring to an officer, and precede the official title, i.e. "Most Eminent Grand Master." The official title only is used by an officer when necessary to designate his own rank or station. You never use the honorary titles to describe yourself. In this distinction, Templary differs from all other branches of Masonry, where the honorary titles may be used in conjunction with the individual or name of the individual I.e. "Right Excellent Companion" or "Most Worshipful Brother."

In discussing the titles of a constituent Commandery, only one officer has an honorary title attached to their respective station, other than Sir Knight, and that is the 'Eminent Commander'. Some might ask why the 'Excellent Prelate' is not included and that is because the honorary title of "Excellent" is ritualistic and not bestowed by the Constitution. The Constitution of the Grand Encampment states, "In the case of Honorary titles the Constitution and not the ritual governs." All other officers use the title of Sir Knight before their station such as "Sir Knight Captain General" or "Sir Knight Senior Warden."

At the Grand Commandery level, Grand Commanders and Past Grand Commanders hold the honorary title of "Right Eminent." The honorary title of Deputy Grand Commanders is "Very Eminent." The rest of the Grand Commandery officers hold the honorary title of "Eminent" such as "Eminent Grand Captain General."

At the Grand Encampment, the honorary title of the Grand Master and Past Grand Masters of the Grand Encampment is "Most Eminent." The honorary title of the other Grand Encampment officers is "Right Eminent."

One last note: Avoid professional titles unless that professional title is specific to an office held such as the Prelate (or Grand Prelate).

Past Rank

Past Rank can be particularly confusing, but the Grand Encampment has codified the retention of rank. At the Grand Encampment:

Section 235. One who has filled by installation and term of service, the office of Grand Master, Deputy Grand Master, Grand Generalissimo, Grand Captain General, Grand Prelate or Department Commander in the Grand Encampment; 

For those officers at Grand Commandery:

Grand Commander, Deputy Grand Commander, Grand Generalissimo or Grand Captain General in a Grand Commandery; 

And lastly: 

or Commander in a Commandery; shall retain the title of the highest office attained by him in the Grand Encampment, Grand Commandery and Commandery, with the word, "Past" immediately preceding and qualifying the official title.

Past rank is limited to the offices named in Section 235 of the Constitution of the Grand Encampment. This means there is no such title or rank as Past Grand Recorder or Past Grand Prelate of Grand Commanderies. 

In a Commandery (constituent or subordinate), there is no such title or rank as Past Generalissimo, Past Captain General, Past Prelate, Past Treasurer, or Past Recorder. The only "Past" rank in a Commandery is "Past Commander." This is found in the Decisions approved by the Grand Encampment. Please note that a Commander of a Commandery Under Dispensation does not retain the rank of Past Commander unless he serves as Commander once that Commandery has been chartered and then he must serve a full term of office.

With that being said, the official title of a past presiding officer of a Commandery is a "Past Commander". The honorary title still precedes the title so it is "Eminent Past Commander" not "Past Eminent Commander" or "Right Eminent Past Grand Commander" not "Past Right Eminent Grand Commander." You never divide the official title.

If you wanted to make an introduction and make reference to a previously held office or station that isn't considered a past rank per the Constitution, you'd use "former" before the official title. For example: "Sir Knight John Smith, former Grand Recorder" which carries no actual rank, but identifies the member as having one time held the office mentioned.

If a Past Grand Commander is later elected to the office of Grand Treasurer (or Grand Recorder) the honorary title of "Right Eminent" is not added to that new station. He is a Right Eminent Past Grand Commander but also an Eminent Grand Treasurer; no past rank can add any more eminence to the new station.

Concerning the wearing of rank on the Templar uniform, such persons should wear insignia of the rank of highest position.


Within the Grand Encampment there exists the College of Honors for the purpose of "recognizing a member of the Order for continued service to the Order, service to Freemasonry, service to the community, or service to mankind." The honors administered by Grand Encampment are the Knight Templar Cross of Honor (KTCH), Knight Commander of the Temple (KCT), Companion of the Temple (CT) the Knight Grand Cross of the Temple (KGC), and the Grand Cross Templar (GCT) which is a special version of the KGC created for certain members of the College of Honors. Now if you are introducing someone with honors, you never use an acronym, but always speak the full name of the honor, i.e. "Sir Knight John Doe, Knight Grand Cross of the Temple."


Not forgetting the wives of the Sir Knights, they are always introduced as "Lady." If you are introducing a Lady who is not your wife, it is done as follows: "Sir Knight John Doe and his Lady Jane" or "Lady Jane Doe, wife of Sir Knight John Doe." If you are introducing your own wife it is "My Lady Jane." If the Lady is a recipient of the Companion of the Temple (CT), you also include that in her introduction.

Organizational Terms

As I mentioned in "Officers of a Commandery of Knights Templar," the basic organizational unit for the Knights Templar is known as the Commandery. A Commandery consists of at least three Knights Templar, hailing from three separate Commanderies, and acting under a lawful Warrant, or of nine or more Knights Templar acting under a lawful Dispensation or Charter. In 2018, the Grand Encampment passed legislation that allowed Grand Commanderies to change the requirement from nine to a number no less than five.

Commanderies hold Conclaves, not meetings. There are Special Conclaves and Stated Conclaves, not regular or called. Commanderies are opened and closed. Commanderies open Conclaves in full form or in short form, not long-form. A Commandery holds its Conclaves in an Asylum, not a Lodge room.

There are two types of Commanderies. Constituent and subordinate. Constituent Commanderies are those who fall under the authority of a Grand Commandery. Subordinate Commanderies do not fall under a Grand Commandery and report directly to the Grand Encampment.

Grand Commanderies have Conclaves, not Grand Conclaves. Just like Commanderies, there are Special Conclaves and Stated Conclaves. Grand Commanderies (re)convene and adjourn, they do not open or close.

The Grand Encampment also has Conclaves, and like its subordinate bodies, they are Special Conclaves and Stated Conclaves (which occur every 3-years). Like Grand Commanderies, Grand Encampment (re)convenes and adjourns.


There are no degrees in the Commandery of Knights Templar. There are three orders: the Illustrious Order of the Red Cross, the Order of Malta, and the Order of the Temple. Commanderies confer the three orders; they do not "put on" the orders. The only time that "degree" is mentioned in Templary is in connection with the degree of Knight of St. Paul or Mediterranean Pass, the pass degree of the Order of Malta.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Grand York Rite of Idaho

It's been a busy 3-days with the annual sessions of the Grand York Rite of Idaho and several appendant bodies.

Thursday morning started with the Order of the Silver Trowel. For this chair degree, I did my normal part of the degree as Adonijah, one of the antagonists in the ritual. Syringa Order No.121 of the Order of the Sword of Bunker Hill. It's always fun to put this degree on and I was appointed Chaplain for the ensuing year. After lunch, the Order of High Priesthood met and this was one of the few years where I've not had to take part in the degree so I was able to just be an observer. Later that afternoon, Idaho Priory No.13 of the Knights of the York Cross of Honor initiated two new Knights. Even though I'm a Past Prior I still contribute to the Priory as I give the Chapter lecture. In Idaho, our College of Honors throws a Dinner for those holding the Knight Commander of the Temple. It was announced at the Dinner that we have a new Co-Dean of the College of Honors for Idaho. Sir Knight Vaughn, current Northwest Department Commander, has been named as Co-Dean as Sir Knight Ernie Teter, Past Department Commander, passed away last August.

With Friday morning came the Public Opening and Joint Session where the Grand Commander presided. I was in charge of the introductions of all distinguished guests and visitors, but I had plenty of help from my fellow Companions and Sir Knights. After the Joint Session adjourned, the Idaho Chapter of Knights Preceptors met and conferred the order on six new Preceptors. I was later elected Seneschal for Idaho Chapter. After lunch, the 119th Annual Conclave of the Grand Commandery of Knights Templar of Idaho convened. I stood before the Conclave and moved to formally endorse Sir Knight Jim McGee of Alabama for Right Eminent Grand Captain General of the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the USA in 2024. I also had the distinct honor to be elected Grand Generalissimo for the ensuing year. After the installation of officers, I walked over to the Scottish Rite building where the Divine Services and Holy Land Pilgrimage Dinner were held. Once the dinner was completed, the Companion Knights of Tri-Valley College No.178 of the York Rite Sovereign College of North America held its annual meeting where we elected and installed a new set of officers for the ensuing year.

Saturday morning brought the 89th Annual Assembly of the Grand Council of Cryptic Masons of Idaho. I also did the Introduction of Distinguished Guests and presented the Budget for the Grand Council for 2022-2023. After lunch, it was a pleasure to attend the 114th Annual Convocation of the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of Idaho to watch my best friend preside. This is also the third and final Grand York Rite body for him to preside over. He did 3-years back-to-back: Most Illustrious Grand Master (2019-2020), Right Eminent Grand Commander (2020-2021), and Most Excellent Grand High Priest (2021-2022). I was also honored to help bestow the Ephraim A. Kirby Award on him during the banquet that evening. I also had the pleasure of assisting the installation of officers for the ensuing year as Installing Grand Chaplain. The new Grand High Priest and I have known each other since I was first initiated into Freemasonry and he has had a profound impact on my Masonic career. On Friday evening came the Banquet of the Grand Sessions where I served as Master of Ceremonies. In my capacity as Regional Deputy in the Royal Arch, I helped award a Distinguished Service Medal in Bronze, two Chapter Sweetheart Awards, an Ephraim A. Kirby Award, and a Grand Lady of York medal.

If all of that wasn't enough, Intermountain Chapel No.27 of the Commemorative Order of St. Thomas of Acon met Sunday morning where we initiated a new member and I was appointed as Eminent Prior for the ensuing year.

Now it's time to get home and relax for a few days. With Freemasonry and Easter, I've been able to be home for a few days without traveling on the road for work, but now my busy travel season is approaching.

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Easter Sunday

I hope everyone has a blessed and happy Easter Sunday.

An Easter Blessing from the Patriarch of my Church:

Companions of the Sacred Flame,

This night we gather in vigil, to commemorate the death and resurrection of Christ, recalling with it, the history of our spiritual path, seeing in it, our own journeys from life to death, and experiencing through it, the initiation from death to life.

Divine Beloved, out of the tomb of separation you have called us, to rise into the Kingdom of God. The ancient mysteries of sacrifice speak to our journey.

Incarnate in each one of us, the Sacred Flame is transfixed upon the cross of space and time, May we never fear to descend into our lowest reaches, like the Logos and the harrowing of hell, to reconcile the lower with the higher- that we may rise transformed in this very life, and in the fullness of time ascend into perfect union.

– Easter Vigil of the Apostolic Johannite Church

These are the opening words of the Easter Vigil which the Apostolic Johannite Church celebrates at this most solemn time in journey of the liturgical year.

There is a reason why the Liturgical journey of the year is an annual one, and why we measure out our spiritual time in seasons and themes that repeat. The seasons and the themes do not change, we change, and in that change we acquire new perspectives and a lived meaning of the story of our own journeys – not merely in its journaling of hardship, but also in its foreshadowing of transformation. We may not know the details of our path, but the story foretells its arc provided we stay on it. 

The liturgy and words are a reflection that can give perspective on the many moments of difficulty we have seen in the past year – loss, uncertainty, exhaustion, and fear of the unknown, all of which we have experienced in abundance, but also whose substance, like a spiritual alchemy, can become for us the reagents of transformation under the heat of the Sacred Flame. A transformation whose movements we can now begin to perceive by the illumination of the Easter light. 

In our Johannite community, these transformations have taken the shape of new members, new ministers, new opportunities for service, new communities forming and established communities exploring their spiritual life as a community in greater depth, to name a few. There is much here to celebrate and look forward to as we kneel in vigil for the return of the Light. It is not just the Christ which comes forth from the tomb, nor is the weight of the stone in front of it, the only one that will in time be rolled away.

My prayer for you is that you may rise from difficulty, pain and sorrow and that any stone that remains within your heart, roll back like banished darkness before the light of the Easter sun.

My blessings, good wishes and prayers for all the Johannite Parishes, Narthexes, Missions, Oratories and Chapels, our solitary sisters and brothers who keep the flame burning in distant places, and all those who call the Apostolic Johannite Church home, deepening and sharing their journey here.

My thanks and gratitude on behalf of the Apostolic Johannite Church to the Johannite Bishops, Priests, Deacons, Subdeacons, Seminarians and Narthex Leaders, the Grand Master and Initiates of the Friary, the Prior, Oblates and Knights of the Order of the Temple and Saint John, and the Gnostic Wisdom Network team, for all their hard work and dedication- not only to the people we work on behalf of, but also in their own spiritual paths and in their service to each other. 

Blessings and good wishes also from the Apostolic Johannite Church to the many Churches and spiritual communities of good will, especially the for Ecclesia Gnostica Mysteriorum in their time of mourning and memory, the Ecclesia Gnostica, Ekklesia Neoplatonismos Theourgia, l’Eglise Gnostique Apostolique (New York), and the Ancient Apostolic Church of Alexandria as well as the many Martinist Orders and Lodges, Ordre Martiniste, Ordre Martiniste Souverains, Ordre Martiniste of North America, and our Masonic sisters and brothers, and also the many individual friends, family, laity and clergy of good will.

May the coming year find your work and paths rich and rewarding with fruitful challenge and blessing, and balanced with rest and reflection. May your work be noble, your spirits be humble, and your hearts always full. Most of all, may you each continue to come through this time with happiness and health.

Sovereign Pontiff and Patriarch
The Apostolic Johannite Church

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

A Springtime Prayer

Sometimes when I can't sleep at night, I read through the archives of the Knights Templar magazine and the other night I found a poem from the May 1979 edition that I'd like to share:


Dr. Howard W. Towne, Grand Prelate, 

Grand Commandery of Michigan

ETERNAL GOD, our Father, who dost cover the dark arms of the trees with living green leaves each year, we thank Thee for Thy lifegiving power. Every springtime Though dost fill the air with the scent of flowers and bring back the songbirds with their carols. We praise Thee for Thy gift of springtime. Somehow on these beautiful spring days, when everywhere there is the evidence of new life springing from the dead of winter, it is easy for us to believe in the resurrection of Christ. May the seeds of immortality planted in our souls in this season burst forth into blood, in lives more devoted to things of the spirit, in a warfare more dedicated to service in Thy name.

Come into our hearts by Thy Holy Spirit and give our souls their spring house cleaning. The basements of our lives are often cluttered with petty and evil thoughts; clean them with Thy gospel and let the pure wind of Thy truth come in to air them out.

At this season we would also remember all that great cloud of witnesses who have been the soldiers of Thy kingdom since the days when our Great Captain walked the earth. Many there are who have "climbed the steep ascent of heaven through peril, toil, and pain." Raise up in this difficult and challenging day, we pray, stalwart soldiers of the Cross whose stature is equal to its need.

Grant us spiritual resources equal to our task, and let us never cease to grow spiritually until we have attained the fullness of the measure of Him, in who name we pray, Thy Son, our Risen Lord. AMEN.

I encourage all Sir Knights to dig through the archives

Saturday, April 9, 2022

Grand York Rite of Oregon

Well, I spent the last 3-days attending the Grand York Rite of Oregon in Coos Bay (SW Oregon) along with the Northwest Department Commander (who is also the Grand High Priest of the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of Idaho).

On Thursday, the 159th Annual Convocation of the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons was held. I attended along with Most Excellent Companion Chadwick Burks, General Grand Scribe of the General Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons International. The Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of Oregon had not met since 2019 due to the COVID19 pandemic. The Most Excellent Grand High Priest of Oregon, D. Homer Hickson died in February 2020 and due to the restrictions that were in place, the Grand King served as acting Grand High Priest until this weekend when he was officially elected and installed as Most Excellent Grand High Priest of Oregon; when he leaves office next year he will have served for 3-years. Thursday evening I had dinner at a German restaurant with several distinguished Companions and Sir Knights.

On Friday, the 134th Annual Assembly of the Grand Council of Cryptic Masons of Oregon was held. The Deputy General Grand Master for the Northwest couldn't make it in due to limited flights into Coos Bay; it took me over 11-hours to drive here and he lives another 10-hours East of me so driving was out of the question for him. Friday evening was the Grand Banquet of the sessions and I had the honor of awarding two Ephraim A. Kirby Awards to two deserving Companions.

On Saturday, the 135th Annual Conclave of the Grand Commandery of Knights Templar of Oregon was held. Aside from the legislation passed, the Northwest Department Commander and a Past Grand Master of the Grand Encampment addressed the Sir Knights, the latter who gave a moving eulogy of Sir Knight Willimon Jackson Jones, GCT, who served as Most Eminent Grand Master from 2000 to 2003. After the installation of officers, Jeremy and I attended the dinner for the newly installed officers of the Grand Chapter, Grand Council, and Grand Commandery.

Now it's time to get some sleep and get ready for the 532.5-mile trip back to my house.

Friday, March 25, 2022

Officers of a Chapter of Knights Preceptor

The basic organizational unit of the Sovereign Order of Knights Preceptor is the Chapter. The officers of the Chapter are the Preceptor, Deputy Preceptor, Master of Templars, Seneschal, Prelate, Treasurer, Recorder, Marshal, Warden of Regalia, Registrar, and Sentinel. The Preceptor, Deputy Preceptor, Master of Templars, Seneschal, Treasurer, and Recorder are elected annually while the others are appointed by the Preceptor. The Registrar and the Warden of Regalia are optional officers, but in my Chapter are used.

The presiding officer of the Chapter is the Eminent Preceptor equivalent to an Eminent Commander of a Commandery of Knights Templar. The word 'preceptor' originates from the Latin word "praeceptor" meaning "teacher or instructor." Whether in its historical use or in the modern sense of the word, a Preceptor is an expert or specialist. Today, it is used to denote a medical or legal specialist. Historically, a Preceptor was in charge or in the chain of command of Christian military orders such as the Knights Templar, Knights Hospitaller, and Teutonic Knights. 

The second-in-command of the Chapter is the Deputy Preceptor who corresponds to the Generalissimo of a Commandery of Knights Templar although, in the Chapter, the Deputy is stationed in the East with the Preceptor rather than in the West. In the absence of the Eminent Preceptor, the Deputy presides. The title of Deputy comes from the Latin "deputare" meaning to "allot or to destine" which has come to indicate a subordinate officer or one given the full power of an officer without holding the office.

Next in line is the Master of Templars who, in the absence or disability of the Preceptor and Deputy Preceptor, presides over the Chapter. A Master is someone who is a master or authority in a skill or profession as well as someone who is seen as a ruler or governor. In this case, it is someone with authority or skill over Knights Templars as this order is for those who have presided over a Commandery of Knights Templar. The word "master" originates in the Latin word "magister" translating as "chief, head, director, or teacher."

The fourth elected officer of the Chapter is the Seneschal. Historically in France, the seneschal would be sometimes the personal representative of the King charged with dispensing justice and administrative duties. In other kingdoms, seneschals oversaw feasts and domestic ceremonies. They would seem to be close to stewards in this regard. Other duties would include managing the property and finances of the Lord under who they served. In medieval Templary, the Seneschal was the "right-hand man" of the Grand Master, oversaw the administrative operations of the order, and acted as head of the Templars in his absence. The etymology of "Seneschal" comes from the Proto-Germanic words 'sini' meaning senior, and 'skalk' meaning servant. Seneschal literally means 'senior servant'. 

The Treasurer and Recorder (Secretary) have duties similar to those found in other Masonic and non-Masonic organizations as the financial and administrative officers respectively.

Just as in the Commandery, the chaplain of the Chapter is the Prelate. The Prelate has the duty of offering prayers to God in the Chapter. A Prelate is traditionally a high-ranking member of the clergy and the word is derived from the Latin word 'prelatus' referring to a clergyman of "high rank or of preference over others." In the medieval order, one of the most important positions within a Templar Commandery was that of the Chaplain. This man had many important jobs, not just ecclesiastical, but also secular ones. He was an internal priest for the Order. He had the power to hear confessions and to give absolution for sins; Templars were forbidden to give confession to anyone other than a cleric in the Templar Order without Papal approval. These clerics were not answerable to local clerics or bishops, but only to the Pope. The Prelate being the senior-most appointed officer of the Chapter demonstrates our commitment as a religious order.

The next appointed officer is the Marshal who has duties similar to the Wardens of the Commandery and Senior Deacon of the Blue Lodge in that he is the conductor of candidates for the Chapter. The title Marshal has been used by the military, courts, and other parts of society as someone who is charged arranging and directs "ceremonial aspects of a gathering." Marshall comes from the Old French word "mareschal" meaning "commanding officer of an army; officer in charge of a household" which is derived from the Frankish-Germanic word "marhskalk" meaning "horse-servant." The medieval Knights Templar denominated their third-in-command as Marshal was in charge of the troops and advised the Grand Master on all things relative to the war effort.

One of the optional officers a Chapter may use is the Warden of Regalia. Within my Chapter, this officer is in charge of all properties and regalia of the Chapter and ensuring they are in good working order for each meeting; luckily it all fits into a suitcase and is easily stored. The word "Warden" comes from the Proto-Germanic word "wardon" meaning to "to watch or guard." 

Another optional officer for the Chapter is the Registrar and their duties may vary from Chapter to Chapter, if used at all. The term 'registrar' is etymologically rooted in the Latin word "registrarius" meaning "one who keeps a record." Traditionally, a registrar is an officer who keeps records for educational institutions, banks, trust companies, or hospitals. 

Like the Commandery, the last appointed officer of the Chapter is called the Sentinel and whose duties correspond with that of the Tyler in the Blue Lodge. The word Sentinel stems from the Latin word "sentire" meaning "to watch or perceive by the senses." The Sentinel is one who stands guard over some kind of structure, whether it be an installation, a gate, or a passage. It is their job to prevent intrusion by enemies or those unauthorized.


1. (n.d.). Retrieved from Online Etymological Dictionary: 

2. Dictionary. (n.d.). Retrieved from Merriam-Webster: 

3. Dictionary. (n.d.). Retrieved from

4. Constitution & Bylaws. (n.d.). Retrieved from Grand Chapter of the Sovereign Order of Knights Preceptor:

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Special Conclave of the Grand Encampment

DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed here are my own and do not reflect the opinions of any organization that I am a member, committeeman (or chairman), officer, presiding officer, or past presiding officer of.

I wrote this part in 2021. I find the actions of Sir Knight Mike Johnson to be dishonorable and unethical. It hurts to say this as I have known him for nearly 12-years and I learned to respect him until now. He's a deeply loyal friend and I believe that loyalty has blinded him and allowed him to be manipulated by others. I hated seeing this fight between the CBCS and Sir Knight Billy Koon back during his tenure as Most Eminent Grand Master. It caused a great amount of division and all because of pride and bruised egos. The division has caused backstabbing and an incredible amount of un-Masonic conduct. This issue would never have arisen had Sir Knights just remembered their Masonic obligations. No matter how this turns out in March, the Grand Encampment will be haunted by this episode and it will be some time to rebuild the once prestigious reputation of the Grand Encampment and its relationships with its jurisdictions.

I tried to talk with Sir Knight Mike Johnson at the Northwest York Rite Conference, but I don't think my word carried much with him, particularly since I was disagreeing with him. After seeing or hearing about the arguments that arose at the Southwest York Rite Conference, arguments that arose at the SRICF High Council, the non-attendance of Sir Knights Mike Johnson and Billy Koon at the 2022 Masonic Week, arguments at the meeting of the Grand College of America of the Holy Royal Arch Knights Templar Priests, I am worried about what this Special Conclave will turn into.

Turning to the present, I flew in Friday night and Saturday afternoon the Special Conclave was convened. Sir Knight Mike Johnson took the podium, had a prayer given not by his Grand Prelate, made a few comments, opened the Special Conclave, and then had the audacity to declare, through his Jurisprudence Committee, that all the items of business requested by the Grand Commanderies are unconstitutional and therefore cannot be brought before the Special Conclave. Sir Knight Jeff Nelson, Past Grand Master of the Grand Encampment, objected and appealed to the voting members of the Grand Encampment. Sir Knight Jeff noted that the Grand Master cannot objectively preside over a meeting that was called to question his very actions. Sir Knight Mike Johnson tried to adjourn the meeting and ordered his officers to his hotel room, but the Sir Knights stayed strong and overruled him.

Sir Knight Jeff Bolstad, Deputy Grand Master, was asked to take the chair. Sir Knight David D. Goodwin, Past Grand Master, was asked to preside. It was approved by the vast majority of the voting members. Sir Knight Mike fought the decision and even made a threatening gesture when Sir Knight Goodwin took the stage. He then asked Sir Knight Terry Plemmons, Grand Prelate, to give a prayer.

After the prayer, Sir Knight Goodwin had the final report of the credentials committee given; there were 298 registered voters (nearly as many that were at Triennial last August).

Sir Knight David W. Studley, KGC, Grand Commander of California addressed the body as the dissenting opinion of Sir Knight Johnson's Templar Jurisprudence Committee.

Several Sir Knights approached the microphone: 

  • Sir Knight Jeff Bolstad addressed the body on behalf of the other elected officers who supported the Sir Knight's rights and were appalled by Sir Knight Mike Johnson.
  • Sir Knight Ben Williams addressed the decisions of Mike Johnson and their legality. Sir Knight Williams then moved to reinstate Sir Knight David Kussman as Deputy Grand Master. It passed. Sir Knight Jeff Bolstad and Sir Knight Jack Harper moved back to their positions that they took in August 2021. Sir Knight Jim McGee left the line.

Sir Knight Goodwin then followed the agenda as created by the Call to Conclave. Johnson Decisions No.1, 2, 3, and 4 were rescinded while Decisions No.5 and 6 were approved. Johnson Notice No.1 was rescinded. 

Sir Knight Jeff Nelson addressed the Grand Encampment and then moved to remove Sir Knight Mike Johnson as Grand Master. Sir Knight William H. Koon II, Past Grand Master, asked that the ballot be a secret paper ballot. I took no joy in casting my vote, but I along with 3/4 of the voters approved of his removal. Sir Knight Johnson and several others left the room at that time.

The Grand Encampment voted down the "Ohio Amendment" which would have required those Grand Commanderies who called for the Special Conclave to pay for all of the costs associated with the special conclave.

Sir Knight Goodwin then moved onto the next item of business which was to announce that as Sir Knight David Kussman had been restored as Deputy Grand Master and because we had removed Sir Knight Mike Johnson, Sir Knight Kussman would ascend to the office of Most Eminent Grand Master with junior officers ascending and he appointing the Grand Captain General.

Sir Knight Kussman addressed the body vowing to restore trust and then appointed Sir Knight David W. Studley, KGC, as interim Grand Captain General who will not seek election further up the line at next triennial. Sir Knight Jim McGee will return in 2024 as a candidate for Grand Captain General.

Past Grand Master Goodwin with assistance from Past Grand Master Nelson and Honorary Past Grand Pruitt installed the new Grand Master and advanced elected officers. Sir Knight Kussman spoke to the Sir Knights and then adjourned the meeting, dismissing the Sir Knights. It was a bittersweet day. Now, I need some sleep before my flight home early in the morning.

Thursday, March 10, 2022

The Tyranny of Autocracy

by SK David W. Studley, KGC
REGC of California

The strength and power of despotism consists wholly in the fear of resistance.
-Thomas Paine 

We Sir Knights of the Grand Encampment are confronted with a unique and invidious challenge to our well-regulated system of governance. The actions taken by the Grand Master following his election have aroused consternation among our members and resulted in a Call to Conclave joined by more than nine Grand Commanderies, including the Grand Commandery of California. The issues raised in the Call are to be determined at the East Central Department Conference in Ft. Wayne, IN this coming March. Our elected Commandery officers will attend to represent California at their own expense. 

You should be aware of a plan to thwart consideration of the issues joined by the Call. I am a member of the Templar Jurisprudence Committee. The Committee is charged to consider and report on all legislative, judicial and executive actions of the Grand Master when requested. (Const., §97.) 

The Committee members have decided preliminarily to issue an opinion that the proposed legislation cannot be considered at a Special Conclave, that the Decisions of the Grand Master may not be reviewed during a special session and that the Grand Master had the constitutional authority to remove an elected Grand Encampment officer. This would defeat the purpose of the Special Conclave. I have dissented from my colleagues’ view. I want to explain the reasons for my objection and, if you are persuaded, urge you to communicate your feelings to those who might listen before the matter is determined at the Special Conclave. 

The Grand Encampment is a democratic representative republic, meaning that its powers and responsibilities are vested in its members who are governed by its constitution. The Constitution bestows ultimate authority on its members. Section 3 confers “supreme legislative, judicial and executive power over the Orders …” to the members of the Grand Encampment, which include, without limitation, the power “to adopt such Statutes, Rules, and Regulations, not contrary or inconsistent with this Constitution…”. (Const., §3(a).) 

Section 2 identifies the members of the Grand Encampment. Generally, they include dais officers of the Grand Commanderies and Past Grand Commanders of those jurisdictions. 

Members’ rights and powers are exercised at conclaves, which can be of two types. Stated Conclaves, termed the Triennial, which must be convened at least once every three years, and Special Conclaves, which may be called by the Grand Master or at the request of at least nine Grand Commanderies.(Const., §4.) The only distinction between these meetings is that “[n]o business shall be transacted at such [special] conclave save that specified by the Grand Master in his summons or set out in the request.”(Const. §4)(b).) 

Why, one might rhetorically ask, would the Constitution permit Members to act Special Conclave properly noticed and then limit the matters to be considered beyond the requirement that the issues must be identified in the Call? There is no such limitation expressed anywhere in the Constitution or Statutes. My colleagues imply such a limitation by a restrictive reading of Section 25 that requires the Grand Master to report his actions “at the next Triennial Conclave.” The fact that the Grand Master is not required to report his actions doesn’t mean that the actions cannot be reviewed if properly included in the Call. And it doesn’t restrict the Grand Master from making such a report at an earlier meeting if he so chooses. One cannot reasonably infer a limitation on the supreme legislative power of the members based solely on fixing a date established for making a report. 

Having read the Constitution in a restrictive manner when considering the rights of members, my colleagues do an about-face by expansively reading the powers of the Grand Master. They infer that the Grand Master has the power, by implication only, to remove a fellow elected officer. They reason that Section 23 confers “all powers” on the Grand Master to do what he considers “in the best interests of Templary” and that a reading of the Decisions interpreting that Section implies that a Grand Master can discharge an elected Grand Encampment officer under the “vertical axis of power.” (Crofts Dec. No. 4 (1970).) Neither argument is persuasive. 

While Section 23 accords broad authority to the Grand Master, his powers are not without limitation. The very sentence relied on by my colleagues to buttress their argument continues: “…as he may deem in the best interests of Templary and which are not contrary to the Constitution, Statutes, Rules, Regulations and Rituals of the Grand Encampment.”(Const., §23.) But such a contrary limitation does exist. Section 20 states that elected officers shall serve “for the Triennial Period and until their successors are duly elected and installed.” (Const., §20.) There is no provision in the Constitution for the removal of a Grand Encampment officer, although such legislation is proposed in the Call. My opinion, to which my fellow committee members disagree, is that the Constitution restricts the Grand Master’s authority to remove an elected officer of the Grand Encampment. 

Section 23(d) does allow the Grand Master to remove an officer of a Grand or Subordinate Commandery but that cannot be read to include an officer of the Grand Encampment or the language would have so stated. By its terms, subsection (d) is confined to Grand Commandery officers of those of subordinate commanderies, not Grand Encampment officers. 

The Crofts Decision is not inconsistent with this conclusion and cannot be read by implication to confer such power in the Grand Master. GM Crofts was confronted by a dispute involving a Grand Commander of a State and one of the State’s subordinate Commanderies. GM Crofts reasoned that a subordinate commandery and the Grand Commandery of the State have similar authority to regulate their constituents under the “vertical axis of power” of Templar law. That power derives its precedent from the authority expressly given a Grand Commander “to suspend from his office and Officer of the Grand or of a Constituent Commandery … .”(Const., §48(d).) A similar provision is not included among the identified powers of the Grand Master. The Crofts Decision is plainly distinguishable

Sir Knights, we are now confronted with a dire situation, one that threatens the very structure of Templary. I urge you to become involved, to express your opinions and to stand up for your beliefs. As Winston Churchill told his Countrymen during their greatest struggle:

“To each there comes in their lifetime a special 
moment when they are figuratively tapped on 
the shoulder and offered the chance to do a 
very special thing, unique to them and fitted to 
their talents. What a tragedy if that moment 
finds them unprepared or unqualified for that 
which could have been their finest hour.”

Also see:

This is a reprint from the California Knights Templar with permission from the Grand Commander