20thAnniversary of Mutual Recognition – Grand Lodge of Prince Hall F. & A.M of the State of Illinois and Grand Lodge of A.F. & A.M of the State of Illinois. by Scott Dueaball.
William Preston wrote that “brotherly love and affection is the cement which binds us together in one sacred band.” Cement has often been relegated to a lesser station among our collection of Masonic symbols. In fact, cement is not directly defined as a symbol but its value to both the operative and speculative Mason needs no explanation. In the speculative sense, we profess that what unites us on a small scale as Brothers and a much larger scale as humanity is the cement of brotherly love and affection.
Many are familiar with Brotherly Love in its Greek form as Philia but I suspect that far fewer are familiar Affection in its Greek form, Storge. Both are unique forms of love which Masons are admonished to live and practice in our daily lives. Philiais that love and caring which we experience with our fellows. Storge is the form of love which compels a parent to care for their child but also our ability to exert empathy with those suffering in the world. C.S. Lewis connects storge with affection in his classic work, The Four Loves. Lewis says that this affection goes both ways in human relationships. Hutchinson, one of the early Masonic writers, wrote “[Affection] is indeed the least discriminating of love…there need be no apparent fitness between those whom it unites.” This addresses the importance of the philosophy of equity to a Mason. Brotherly love, affection, and equity among mankind is what we are celebrating in the upcoming anniversary of mutual recognition between the Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons and the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge in Illinois.
What is mutual recognition and why does it matter?
As you know, each Mason is obligated to follow the direction of the Grand Lodge to which he belongs. The effect is that each Grand Lodge is sovereign in its own jurisdiction. Two Grand Lodges must agree to recognize each other’s members as Master Masons for the purposes of transferring membership or holding masonic communication with each other. It is important to note here that recognition is seperate from visitation. If two Grand Lodges wish to allow their members to visit lodges in each other’s jurisdiction, they must also agree to “visitation”. Without these agreements our individual interaction with outside Grand Lodges (and their constituent lodges and Masons) would be severely limited.
At one time, such a chasm existed between the two regular Grand Lodges of Illinois. We could not visit nor share in full Masonic fellowship with each other. Some may have felt that we had no additional or Brotherly obligation to men on opposite sides of the jurisdictional line. Yet, we know that our teachings instruct us to be compassionate with all of humanity. It is in that spirit that we celebrate the anniversary of if this agreement.
When the fine brethren of Illinois established this bridge of recognition it struck down barriers which had stood in place for more than 130 years. The decision to extend recognition was introduced as a ballot measure for the constituent members of the Grand Lodge to vote on. It faced little resistance and passed by a considerable margin because as Grand Master Grisham put it, “It is the right thing to do.” It’s clear that the consensus of the brethren at the time agreed with their Grand Master. MWB Grisham assembled a team to evaluate the process of recognition who agreed that going forward full recognition (including visitation) would be new practice of the two Grand Lodges. This struck me as full recognition has sadly not always been the approach of U.S. Grand Lodges. I believe it speaks to the dedication to our values in Illinois.
This act stands today as remarkable proof of the undeniable truths of brotherly love and affection which we espouse. This momentous act serves as an example of how our fraternity seeks to unite the hearts of its initiates and thereby cement a more civil society. I am supremely proud of the brothers who guided this change and offer my sincere gratitude for their devotion to true Masonic values.
Scott Dueball, R.W. - State Education Officer SEO@ilmason.org
Chairman-Committee on Masonic Education | Torok Foundation Board of Directors