[Square & Compasses]

Letter of the month: September 2001

[Web-master's note: it was my decision to make this letter anonymous, to protect the writer and the harmony of his lodge. This kind of thing comes up often enough, and this is only my suggestion of a way to deal with it.]

From: "Brother Mason" <brother@xxx.yyy>
To: <masonry-ask@mit.edu>
Subject: right or wrong
Date: Thu, 6 Sep 2001 21:35:00 -0500

This past election I was voted JW in my lodge for the second consecutive year.

There was a spread where I missed 4 meetings (in and out of town on business). When I returned to the next meeting my WM had appointed someone else to the JW seat.

Is this proper ritual? What, if anything, can be done about getting me back in office. To my understanding this was an elected office and should be handled in the same manner to remove me.

Please shed any LIGHT on the situation possible.

Fraternally yours,
Brother Xxxx Y. Zzz
J.W. Aaaa Lodge #nnn

To: "Brother Mason" <brother@xxx.yyy>
Subject: Re: right or wrong
Dear Brother,

As you have realized, this is a problem of both law and feelings. The correct Masonic laws should be followed, but in a way that protects lodge harmony. I think the following would be a fair and respectful way to approach things.

So... FIRST, read your lodge by-laws and grand lodge constitutions. (As a master-to-be you should be doing this anyway.) See what they say about the wardens as elected offices. Is there a place in your particular state's grand constitutions that allows this kind of substitution? Or something that allows individual lodges to fill in the "gaps" where the constitutions don't specify? In short, you have to know your grounds.

Next, assuming that you are in the right, you should meet once with your master and explain what you have found out. (If your constitutions and by-laws allow the master to replace an elected officer under broad circumstances, then there's not much you can do but accept things, I suppose.)

When you meet with the master, be more than respectful, because the master deserves it. Don't argue with him; simply explain what you have learned and ask if he will move to accomodate the laws he is bound by.

If not, thank him and inform him that you will be contacting the district deputy grand master, to request a meeting. Ask the master "If the district deputy agrees to meet with me, can I tell him that you would like to be there as well, or do you prefer that I meet with him separately?" Again, that is respect for the office of the master of the lodge: you don't surprise him or go behind his back to meet with your district deputy, and you give him a chance to make it a three-way meeting, if the district deputy prefers one.

Then you WRITE a letter to your district deputy, asking for a meeting and explaining your situation in not much more detail than you gave me (maybe just a little more). But it shouldn't be a long haranguing letter, or an argument. Just a polite request to address your serious concern.

If you want, you could include in the letter, as a SMALL number of separate pages, a photocopy of any relevant part of your own lodge by-laws. Again, don't send him some kind of crazy fat envelope.

You could also mention that you had read section So-and-So of your grand constitutions which talk about election, appointment, (and maybe replacement) of lodge officers. (That's a polite way of pointing out him to the things HE should bone up on before your meeting.)

If the district deputy agrees to meet with you, you can explain your situation to him. Tell him why you were absent, whether you expect to be absent again, and whether you have any control or advance warning from your work about those absences. (For instance, if you know about an absence well ahead of time, but don't tell anybody til the last minute, that wouldn't fair to the master or the lodge, right?)

Then tell him what you would like the lodge to do. What do you want?:

  • Give you your seat back, or
  • (if it's legal) hold a special election to decide if you should get your seat back (keep in mind that a special election could be bad for lodge harmony), or
  • let the fill-in JW keep the chair for the year, with the promise that you will be on the official slate to be elected SW next year, so you don't really lose your place in line,
  • or whatever it is you want.

Once you have explained it to the district deputy, you pretty much have to abide by his decision, and work for the harmony of the lodge. That should be your primary goal anyway.

But remember that it should be the goal of the master and the district deputy "to see that none go away dissatisfied, harmony being the strength and support of our institution." So while you are trying to do right by the lodge, they should be trying to do right by you. Right?

Best wishes and let me know what happens.

| Gary L. Dryfoos <dryfoo@mit.edu>| PM: Ocean Lodge AF&AM, Saugus, MA
| P.O.Box 425400, Camb, MA 02142  | PM: Mt. Scopus Lodge AF&AM, Malden, MA
| http://web.mit.edu/dryfoo/Masonry/  | Richard C. Maclaurin Lodge, MIT, MA
| w: 617.253-0184 f: 617.258-6875 | Internet Lodge #9659, E. Lancs UGLE
|                                 | 32~; MPS; B'hood o/t Blue Forget-Me-Not
|                                 | R.W. Grand Rep. GL Russia near GL Mass.
| "...one sacred band, or society of Friends and Brothers, among
|  whom no contention should ever exist, save that noble contention,
|  or rather emulation, of who best can work and best agree."

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