Square & Compasses

AZ dispute, item #8

Letter from the Grand Master of Arizona to all presiding Masters of Arizona lodges:

May 7, 1996

Dear Worshipful Brother

I am sure that by now you have received a copy of The Beacon, the quasi official newsletter of the fundamentalists of our Craft, edited by Bernie Durgin. Although we are less than two weeks away from our Grand Communication, and my schedule of trying to finalize all of the details keeps me very busy, I nonetheless felt it imperative to write to you personally, to set the record straight regarding the false statements, innuendoes and outright slander being perpetrated in that missive.

For the past several years we have been assaulted by the fundamentalist view of Freemasonry, espoused by Bernie Durgin, when he was editor of his Lodge Trestleboard. The Master of his Lodge was cautioned on a number of occasions regarding the inappropriateness of using this vehicle as a platform for Bernie's hate and slander. When the anti-Semitic remarks about me reached proportions that even I could no longer endure, when the innuendoes and half truths about the Grand Lodge and its officers became libelous, the Master was removed from his chair as a protection for the Lodge. The only other course of action would have been the arresting of its Charter. This would have been grossly unfair to the many Masons who had no part in this seedy affair-. As a delegate to the Grand Lodge, you will have the opportunity to hear the facts and vote on the decision that was made in removing the Master from his duties.

I have issued a number of edicts and decisions this year. Again, you will have the opportunity to pass judgment on every one of them. The Grand Master is the CEO of the Grand Lodge, responsible for the decision making process day to day on those topics not part of the Grand Trustees responsibilities. Questions and problems surface on a regular basis that need to be acted upon. I can honestly say that in every case there was more than sufficient reasoning behind every action, and that each of you, given the same set of circumstances, would have come to the same conclusions and made the same decisions that I did. Many of these decisions did not satisfy Bernie, but that is not reason enough to destroy the system because it did not yield him the results that he wished.

Some words about the Arizona Masonic Foundation for Children. The format for this organization came from the National Masonic Foundation for Children in Washington, DC. At their recent conference, I was elected by the Grand Masters of North America to serve on the Board of Directors of the National Masonic Foundation for Children. I consider this to be a singular honor, to be chosen by your peers, men of great stature, who had confidence that I could add to the process of helping children at risk. On the Board are the Past Grand Masters of California, New York and Michigan, and the Deputy Grand Master of Pennsylvania among others. In total, they represent well over 500,000 Masons. In Arizona, we created a new foundation because we have a totally different focus than Masonic Charities of Arizona. The leadership of that group has their own agenda and hierarchy of charities that they support. In order to be successful, new leaders with new energy were chosen to create this program. Yes, this is a private foundation, exactly the same way Masonic Charities of Arizona is a private foundation. The Grand Master selects the Board of Directors for both organizations, each having nine members and serving for three years. The Grand Trustees has authorized the use of the Square and Compasses, and the use of the word Masonic, and has pledged to support both foundations, as they were never meant to be anything other than organizations whose sole purpose was to do the good works of Freemasonry in Arizona. To say that there is anything "private" about this organization is ludicrous. A full report on their activities, their balance sheets and fund raising efforts will be presented at Grand Lodge for each of you to see. By the way, no remuneration of any kind is contemplated now or in the future for any of its board members or officers. To accuse this group, the Grand Officers of this Grand Lodge, of planning any personal or financial gain, is a Masonic slander of incredible proportions, and could only be contemplated by warped minds.

The resolutions submitted by this fundamentalist group is designed to gut the leadership of this Grand Lodge and create an organization controlled by committees and destined to wallow in mediocrity. There is no doubt that Freemasonry and the way it is run is unique among organizations. That has been its strength. Until recently, we have been able to keep the worst of the profane world out of our fraternity. Lately, we have been attacked by individuals who exhibit the same tendencies as those that have monumentally screwed up our society. Bernie Durgin has personally filed Masonic charges against the Grand Master, Deputy Grand Master and Junior Past Grand Master. If you do not like someone "sue the bastards ". There is nothing particularly democratic about Freemasonry. Worshipful Masters and the Grand Master have inordinate powers to govern their respective Lodges. Most organizations that fail have been over managed and under led. The fundamentalists would like to bring us back to that style of management that does everything right, but never seems to be able to do the right things. The ideas and management style that has generated the deteriorating condition that plagues this fraternity will not be solved by those who have been its past leaders.

This brings me to the next important topic, the contested election for the Grand Officers. Talk about change in how we do things, and this from a group that so opposes change. Fortunately, not every name on that list was put there with permission, nor are they all in agreement with the fundamentalist attitudes of the others. For those that have lead previously, their past record stands as a testimony to their future qualifications for progressive leadership. I cannot abide by those that would bum down the house because the front door is locked. Refer to Proverbs, Chapter 26:11.

Fundamentalism, from whatever group is a dangerous concept. It inhibits new ideas, drives away great leaders and restricts progress. It has all of the answers, you can just look them up in the Constitution. I can assure you that Revelation in Freemasonry did not end when David Porter became Grand Master, they will continue to be communicated to future leaders. I do not profess to have all, or even most, of the answers that will solve the problems of this fraternity. I only know that new ideas and concepts need to be tried, some will work and some fail, that is growth. Our future success is the progressive realization of our worthwhile dream. It will not all come at once, but over time. The Ayatollahs that oppose our ideas and methods can continue to lead their Lodges as a ritual club, no one has any objection to that. Only time will tell who will be most successful in creating a vibrant institution, but history is on our side. I only ask that those who want to move forward and be in step with the majority of Freemasonry in the world be left to do just that.

You have made tremendous progress this year. Our programs have infused many of the Lodges with a newfound energy. The number of petitions are up, and our Lodge activities is bringing out members thought lost to the Craft. We have asked you to step out of your comfort zone and begin to do things in your Lodges and in your communities that have not been done in many years. Membership, education and programming have been , and will continue to be, the watchwords. We have made all of the Masonic Renewal material its books and video tapes, available to your Lodges. The concepts they contain will only work if you embrace them and use them. If each of you opposes one program that you do not like, eventually there will be no more programs. Do not sacrifice great ideas on the altar of perfection. Try more, do more, fall more, and succeed more.

I have endeavored to communicate with you as no Grand Master has done in the past. This has become a more open process of leadership than ever before, and the Grand Officers have become an empowered part of the team. They are now able to address the hard issues and are helping to create the programs that will make us a vigorous, exciting and growing fraternity. They are the most qualified and dedicated group of leaders that I have ever had the privilege to work with, and they deserve your continuing and unqualified support. Soon you will be asked to vote for the men and the issues that will have a great deal of impact on the future of our fraternity. I have every confidence that you will make your decisions wisely, choosing the progressive course of action. Please make sure that you attend the breakout sessions for Masters and Wardens at 1:00 PM with the Grand Officers, and the legislative session at 2:00 PM on Sunday at Grand Lodge. There, you will be able to ask the hard questions of us and hear an explanation of every edict, decision, recommendation and program. We can take the heat. Participate fully in all of the events that we have planned. Like our Craft, you will get out of it, that proportion which you put in..

Give this letter the widest possible distribution to the delegates attending the Grand Communication and encourage the participation of your Past Masters. I look forward to seeing your there.

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