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

Saturday, March 5, 2022

Alaska Grand York Rite

Another weekend on the road, but this time was for my job as Deputy General Grand High Priest. The Northwest Department Commander and I flew into Anchorage, AK, on Thursday. We attended the AMD Dinner before retiring to our room where we invited some Alaska Masons up to talk about forming an SRICF College in Alaska.

Friday was a busy day. The morning was occupied by the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons where I was received and gave some remarks on behalf of the General Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons. I also had the pleasure of installing the 2022-2023 officers of the Grand Chapter. The afternoon was dedicated to the Grand Council of Cryptic Masons and Grand Commandery of Knights Templar.

At the Banquet, I was honored to present several awards including an Ephraim A. Kirby Award to the newly installed Most Excellent Grand High Priest (who later was awarded the Knight Templar Cross of Honor).

This morning I attended the conferral of the Knight of York by Anchorage College No.120 of the York Rite Sovereign College of North America. Following the York Rite College, Alaska Priory No.63 of the Knights of the York Cross of Honor conferred the order upon one candidate. Now, it's time to get packed and head to the airport for home.