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ARKANSAS: When are we going to WAKE UP?

GL of Kansas Suspends Recognition of Arkansas and Cuba

The following message just came early this afternoon from the annual communication of the Grand Lodge of Kansas AF&AM meeting today in Topeka:
"During the Committee on Foreign Relations report, it was recommended that fraternal relations be suspended or withdrawn from two Grand Jurisdictions.
"With no discussion, the Craft of Kansas voted almost unanimously to suspended recognition with the Grand Lodge of Cuba.
After minimal discussion, the Craft of Kansas voted overwhelmingly to withdraw recognition of the Grand Lodge of Arkansas."
Without further details, I presume the action taken over Cuba stems from ongoing disagreements over Florida. In February 2017, the Grand Lodge of Florida F&AM's Grand Master Stanley Hudson withdrew recognition from the Gran Logia de Cuba for their failure to "renounce the clandestine lodges operating" in Florida's jurisdiction. Their brief period of recognition by Florida had lasted just three months.

That controversy stems from lodges operated within Florida made up of exiled Cuban Masons who are not affiliated with the Grand Lodge of Florida F&AM. They obviously see this as an invasion of their territory by Cuba, and this discussion apparently has gone on for a while. Florida largely looked the other way at the operation of the exile lodges with an understanding that they would cease once relations between the island nation and the US were normalized and the two Grand Lodges reconciled. That apparently did not happen, at least as quickly as the GL of Florida wanted it to. Here is a link to a letter regarding the matter from 2014 and to the story from February 2017. Now it seems that Kansas has decided to weigh in on the matter, as well.

As to the continuing saga with the Grand Lodge of Arkansas F&AM, it is too complex to explain simply here. The Grand Lodge of Oklahoma VERY briefly withdrew recognition of Arkansas in 2016 by an edict of their then-grand master, but that quickly lapsed and amity was restored. Now, Kansas has suspended recognition officially by the vote of the Grand Lodge.

I did not have the opportunity to speak with Arkansas' newly elected (in February) Grand Master Brad Phillips when he was in Indiana for the Conference of Grand Masters, but things have been remarkably quiet out of Little Rock in recent months. Nevertheless, this action just taken in Topeka seems to confirm that Arkansas continues its policies of preventing their own members from receiving letters of good standing when attempting to demit and affiliate in adjoining states. Arkansas has been chaining the exit doors closed for several years now. But recently, Arkansas lodges have also been pointedly refusing to permit sojourning Kansas Masons from visiting meetings. The Grand Lodge of Arkansas has a past history of denying Masonic visitations from jurisdictions that have recognized their Prince Hall counterparts, and both Oklahoma and Kansas have been on the receiving end of this action. Apparently, Kansas has finally had enough of it.

Pertinent updates and links to past stories concerning Arkansas can be traced starting HERE or HERE

Hopefully, the new GM of Arkansas, Brad Phillips, is aware of the above move, and will take whatever actions are necessary to reverse this situation, and restore amity between the states.   Being placed in the same category as Cuba is certainly not something he should want his year in office to be remembered by.   There had been rumors that GM Phillips would be taking action to reverse some of the injustices of the Holder-Nelson era, but after 6 weeks in office, nothing seems to have changed.

A few suggestions:

    1.  Abolish Grand Lodge Trials.   A 100% conviction rate is not credible.  It is simply a 'kangaroo court.'

    2.  Reinstate all suspended and expelled Masons for the past 3 years ASAP.   For those past 3 years, examine each one on a case-    by-case basis by a committee of Master Masons, NOT PGMs.

    3.  At the annual Grand Lodge meeting, all past WM's should have a vote.

    4.   Expel Carl Nelson for filing a lawsuit against a PGM, or immediately delete the bylaw calling for expulsion for this action. 

    5.   Form a committee of past WM's to make suggestions for improvements in the bylaws and Arkansas Freemasonry.

    6.  Make some personal phone calls or visits with random suspended or expelled Masons.   They just might have some valuable information and insight that could restore credibility in Masonry in Arkansas.


On another matter, perhaps GM Phillips should look into the continued dishonest antics that keep occurring at Green Grove Lodge #107 in Conway, AR.   Charges were recently filed against a brother for theft of funds from the Faulkner County Fair Parking, which had been a great source of income for area Lodges for many, many years.  Many other complaints had been lodged by the Fair Parking Committee against this brother.   Unfortunately, the Chairman of the Investigation Committee, who also happened to be a close friend of the accused, chose to interview no one, other than the accused.   Not the members of the Fair Committee, nor the individual who witnessed and reported the theft of funds.  The accused brother even admitted to the thefts, but stated ' I returned the money.'   The 'Chairman' then recommended that a trial was not necessary.   He didn't even bother to check with the Fair Committee to see if the money had been returned, which it was not!    Based upon this intentionally inept and corrupt 'investigation' the charges were dropped.   Since when is theft not grounds for expulsion???

Additionally, 4 or 5 years ago, this same 'Chairman' discovered that a brother was stealing money from Green Grove by taking cash funds collected for meals at Stated Meetings.   When confronted, this brother admitted to these thefts as well, but no charges were ever pursued, and this particular brother remains in good standing. 

However, this same 'Chairman' insisted on charges and a Masonic Trial recently against a brother at Green Grove for online postings.   It seems he is more concerned with online comments, than with two brothers who admitted to thefts.   No wonder so many members have quit attending at Green Grove, and refuse to sit in Lodge with such corrupt members.