Letter to All Sir Knights From "Concerned Officers of the Grand Encampment" States Need for Conclave
Updated: Feb 15, 2022
The following letter was received today. You may download the letter here:
I've cut and pasted the content below.
To All Sir Knights Wheresoever Dispersed
Non nobis Domine, non nobis, sed Nomini Tuo da gloriam!
January 30, 2022
By now you should be aware that the Special Conclave has been scheduled by the Grand Master for March 12, 2022, at the East Central Department Conference in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
The Conclave will be held at 1 p.m. at the Hilton Fort Wayne at the Grand Wayne Convention Center.
Your participation in this event remains critical for the future of the Grand Encampment. If you haven’t already secured your reservation, please do so. If you are a sitting dais officer in your Grand Commandery and are unable to attend, please recall that you can give your proxy to any Sir Knight to vote on your behalf. See Const. § 9.
The Hilton may be booked up, but there are plenty of hotels in the vicinity. Sir Knight, we cannot over stress the importance of a full turnout for this event. What is decided by the Grand Encampment at this Conclave will determine Templar law for the future. The existence of the Grand Encampment as we know it is on the line. Whatever is ultimately decided, the Special Conclave must reflect the will of the entire membership. As a voting member of the Grand Encampment, please consider your duty to the Sir Knights of your jurisdiction to represent their interests in the governance of our institution.
The following set forth why your participation is vital.
I. Review of the Grand Master’s Decisions Is Imperative
“Decisions, opinions and rulings made by the Grand Master are binding until overruled by the Grand Encampment.” See Const. § 3, Norris (1940).
There is no caveat restricting this power of review. The decisions of the Grand Master are binding until overruled by the Grand Encampment. This power is plenary. The Grand Encampment is the membership in Conclave assembled. Const. § 4. When assembled as the deliberative body it is constituted to represent, the Grand Encampment has “supreme legislative, judicial and executive power and jurisdiction.” Const. § 3. “The decisions of the Grand Encampment are final, and no appeal lies there from [sic].” Id.
The Grand Master’s decisions contravene the Constitution. The Grand Master’s actions have damaged – and continue to damage – membership in our Order.
i. Capricious Removal of Sir Knight David Kussman Was Unconstitutional and Unknightly
The Grand Master does not have power to remove an unanimously elected officer without cause.
Certainly, had Sir Knight David Kussman’s action or inaction constituted actual dereliction of duty, then his removal would be within the Grand Master’s power. But, even for cause, removal from an elected office still requires due process to be followed. No Sir Knight should be deprived of his interest in the Order absent sufficient due process. This is a Templar tenet. This is an American virtue. At the very least, due process requires adequate notice and the right to a fair hearing. See Const. § 23 Crofts, (1970).
Even so, S.K. David Kussman’s actions in office as the R.E. Grand Generalissimo under the direction of then-Grand Master Jeffrey N. Nelson did not – and cannot – constitute dereliction of duty. S.K. Michael B. Johnson did not remove S. K. Kussman for any stated reason. He did so unilaterally, without adequate notice or any hearing at all.
S.K. Michael B. Johnson was later heard to accuse S.K. Kussman of “malfeasance,” in justification of the removal after the fact. S.K. Michael B. Johnson was heard to state that S.K. Kussman was removed for “malfeasance” and “disloyalty.”
The former is defamatory, the latter impossible.
S.K. Kussman was appointed to an ad hoc committee charged with negotiating resolution of an enmity arisen between the Great Priory of America (“GPA”) and the Grand Encampment on account of problematic actions taken by S.K. William H. Koon II when he was Grand Master back in 2010. (On account of not being invited to join the GPA, S.K. Koon had traveled to France, acquired a clandestine version of the rite lawfully practiced by the GPA in the United States, and then invaded the GPA’s sovereignty in direct competition with the GPA. For more on this, if you are not familiar with this unfortunate turn of events, please visit the blog at www.call2conclave.org.) Even if S.K. Kussman’s action serving on this committee were somehow disagreeable to S.K. Johnson, S.K. Kussman was performing under his constitutional obligation “such duties as may be assigned to him by the Grand Encampment or the Grand Master.” Id. § 25. It is impossible for S.K. Kussman to have been “malfeasant” in performing these duties.
Further, on Nov. 10, 2021, S.K. Johnson issued Decision Nos. 5-6, essentially pronouncing the GPA not an unrecognized Templar body, reversing a decade of problematic and ill-justified Grand Encampment policy that attempted to subvert the GPA in favor of S.K. Koon’s clandestine version. This engendered, in effect, the very outcome S.K. Kussman was working to resolve with the GPA under the direction of the then-Grand Master Jeffrey N. Nelson. So how could S.K. Kussman’s actions have been “malfeasant,” then?
ii. The Grand Master Has Violated His Knightly Vows by Defaming the Name of a Brother Knight Templar and by Flagrantly Disregarding the Constitution and Our Ritual
The Ritual of our Order is a limitation on all Knightly conduct. It’s what makes us all Knights Templar. As vows taken in marriage define husband and wife, so the vows at the altar of Templary bind us as Knights Templar. They are, simply put, definitive.
Section 23 of the Constitution is clear. The Grand Master “generally shall have power and authority to do and perform all such acts as he may deem for the interests of Templary.” The Grand Master has quoted this line repeatedly. It’s a partial quote. The remainder of the sentence is qualifying: “and which [acts] are not contrary to the Constitution, Statutes, Rule, Regulations and Rituals of the Grand Encampment.” Id. (emphasis added).
The ritual does not tolerate defamation of a Sir Knight’s good name. In fact, our ritual requires the opposite. We swear multiple times to defend a Sir Knight’s reputation and to defend his good name.
Publicly impugning the integrity of an elected officer is not defending a Sir Knight’s good name. It is defamatory. Accusing S.K. Kussman of “malfeasance” constitutes a publication to a third-party that is injurious to S.K. Kussman’s reputation. Under the circumstances, it is a publication to a third-party made either with a knowledge of its falsity or a reckless disregard for the truth. In the eyes of the law, impugning a person’s ability to perform competently in a professional capacity is no less damaging than telling everyone he has some loathsome disease. It’s like whispering in the back room, S.K. such-and-such has AIDS. It is defamation per se and damages at law are presumed.
S.K. Johnson has also said that S.K. Kussman was removed for “disloyalty.” This is also highly problematic. An elected officer’s duty is to the organization, not to the man. S.K. Kussman’s loyalty was, and remains, to the Grand Encampment. Further, S.K. Johnson was not the Grand Master when S.K. Kussman chaired the committee S.K. Johnson apparently finds so offensive. S.K. Kussman was following orders and, in working to settle a puerile dispute started by the Grand Encampment in 2010-12, he was arguably acting in the interests of the Grand Encampment – especially in the interests of those members of the GPA that, under Koon Decision No. 2 (2010), pronounced their membership in the GPA as “incompatible with membership in the Grand Encampment.” It is important to note that for decades – almost a century – the GPA has included Grand Masters of the Grand Encampment among its membership. This feud – started in accommodating one man’s ego – has never been in the interests of the Grand Encampment. Its resolution, however, unquestionably is.
We have more than one elected officer precisely for this reason. The elected officers are meant to be able to speak in the interests of the Grand Encampment, provide perspective – follow orders, but speak truth to power – not sycophantically follow the dictates of an arbitrary and capricious leader. Checks and balances to power are preferable. Checks and balances to power are prudent.
Therefore, allowing the removal of S.K. Kussman to stand as Templar law essentially rewrites the Constitution. It gives the Grand Master expansive powers beyond the intentions expressed in the Constitution. It makes the rest of the elected positions redundant and turns our institution away from democratic values of representative governance to an absurd private monarchy where the office of Grand Master is like a crown to be worn while swanning about at the ball, a ball where only his cronies are invited.
II. Review of the Grand Master’s Actions Is Imperative
The Grand Master is damaging the organization. A perusal of the comments on the many Masonic Facebook groups readily shows: (i.) we’ve lost actual members; (ii.) we’ve lost potential members; and, (iii.) the cross and the crown have been irreparably tarnished by this Grand Master. Imagine what this is doing to the Knight Templar Eye Foundation.
After firing the assistant editor of the Knight Templar Magazine (also without cause stated), the Grand Master then published a political and divisive invective as his Grand Master’s Message. Some of the comments by Sir Knights online are quoted below. Please note, these Sir Knights represent the future of our Order. We need these members. We need Freemasons. Please note, we would post opposing views if there were any. So far, he have seen none.
“This is just a sad state for Freemasonry in general. This kind of clearly political (and religious) expression of bias being allowed, and published by a Grand Master, is exactly why I never plan to join the York Rite.”
“This article is a delusional child’s rant.”
“If this is the direction that Commandery is going, I want nothing to do with it.”
“Won’t be joining that body.”
“Just more reasons why I no longer am a KT.”
See the end of this communication for screenshots of the actual comments. There are dozens more. And this is just from one post. The article was shared by different Sir Knights in different places to similar effect.
The average annual loss of membership from the Grand Encampment is 8%. This trend will be irreversible unless drastic changes are made. Consider the impact to the Eye Foundation because of this madness.
This article doesn’t just manifest a complete disconnect from the needs of serving the organization as Grand Master – placing private opinion above diversity of expression in a violent and divisive way – it demonstrates a complete lack of respect for the office, an utter lack of self-reflection as to the actions taken so far by this Grand Master. It’s as facile as Marie Antionette, surrounded by outcry and blood in the streets, stating, “Let them eat cake!”
III. Special Conclave is the Grand Commanderies’ Right
The Grand Encampment has the power to call a Special Conclave when nine or more Grand Commanderies adopt the call. The business is restricted to the items set forth in the call itself. Const. § 4. The Grand Master has attempted to erode this right, and your confidence in it. But neither he nor his Jurisprudence Committee Chair can construct the Constitution to obviate this right.
The Grand Master released the summons with an added motion for the Special Conclave. The added motion is alleged to have come from the Grand Commandery of Ohio, moving that the Grand Commanderies who adopted the Call to Conclave should pay for the Special Conclave. Whether or not his motion is in order depends on your construction of Article 4(b) of the Constitution:
Special [Conclave]; which may be called by the Grand Master at his discretion and on the written request of at least Nine Grand Commanderies, the Grand Master shall call such Conclave. No business shall be transacted as such Conclave save that specified by the Grand Master in his summons or sent out in the request.
The “or” in the last sentence suggest “either or” – where the Grand Master calls the meeting, then the business is restricted to what he states in his summons. When nine Grand Commanderies make the Call, the business is restricted to what was “set out in the request” and adopted by those nine Grand Commanderies. If this were not the case, then the Grand Master could simply delete the adopted Call’s agenda to add in whatever he wanted. This defeats the purpose in having nine Grand Commanderies adopt a Call of business important and significant enough to warrant their unanimous adoption.
But even if we construct Article 4(b) liberally to include the ability of the Grand Master to control the agenda by issuing the summons (which seems contrary to the intent), it is unclear that the Grand Commandery of Ohio did in fact make such a motion. The motion adorning the Summons – whether out of order or not – seems published simply to intimidate and show support where there may in fact not be any. But the Grand Commanderies should not be discouraged regardless. Even if the motion is in order, and is adopted (which seems doubtful), the costs must be minimal: the Special Conclave is being hosted as part of the East Central Department Conference for which the expenses have already been incurred.
IV. Grand Encampment Can Undertake Whatever Executive, Legislative and Judicial Action it Deems Appropriate at a Special Conclave and Can Review All Decisions and Actions of the Grand Master Without Limitation
The Grand Encampment has the power to call a Special Conclave when nine or more Grand Commanderies adopt the call. The business is restricted to the items set forth in the call itself. The Grand Encampment may “adopt such Statutes, Rules, and Regulations, not contrary to or inconsistent with [our] Constitution, as it may consider necessary for the good of the Order.” Id. § 3(a). “It shall review the reports of its officers.” It is the “supreme legislative, judicial and executive power and jurisdiction” of the organization. The Grand Encampment’s decisions “are final, and no appeal lies there from [sic].” Id. § 3.
The Grand Master and his Chair of Jurisprudence has attempted to undermine this authority by stating that Section 85 of the Constitution does not allow for amendments outside a Stated Conclave. While there is ambiguity in Section 85, the more sensible reading is that the Special Conclave has all the powers of the Stated Conclave, with the limitation that the business be specifically adopted before the meeting by at least nine Grand Commanderies (a unanimous quorum of the Grand Encampment). Thus, whatever business comprises the Call when adopted by nine or more Grand Commanderies is the business over which the full authority and power of the Grand Encampment may be convened.
The Constitution does not differentiate Special and Stated Conclaves sufficiently in Article 4 to disempower the Special Conclave from the plenary power attaching to the Grand Encampment in Conclave assembled. The requirement that nine Grand Commanderies adopt a Call to Conclave is a substantial limitation to prevent frivolous business. Where nine Grand Commanderies have acted to adopt a Call to Conclave, then the Special Conclave must be significant enough. Article 4 simply states that “The Conclaves of the Grand Encampment are: (a) Stated…” and “(b) Special….” There is no distinction other than the means of their schedules and how the business is adopted. Otherwise, they both comprise a “Conclave,” wherein the full power of the Grand Encampment is brought to bear.
If the Special Conclave is unable to adopt its own business where nine Grand Commanderies (a unanimous quorum of the Grand Encampment) believe such is important enough, what possible business could the Special Conclave be assembled to consider? The provision becomes redundant. If the Special Conclave cannot contradict the Grand Master, then only he can contradict himself while in office. This is purposeless. The Special Conclave is superfluous. Such a reading is nonsensical.
There is already a significant limitation to the Special Conclave: Requiring a unanimous quorum to make the Call and to adopt the business ahead of the Call. This is a steep requirement. To deny that the Special Conclave is, in effect, a Conclave of the Grand Encampment is insensible. The “Special Conclave of the Grand Encampment” is exactly what it says it is: a Special Conclave of the Grand Encampment.
Therefore, the agenda as proposed should be adopted and all items should properly be considered. Please be present to consider these items that the will of the majority be expressed.
Magna est veritas et praevalebit!
Concerned Officers of the Grand Encampment
Call to Conclave Action Committee
Salus Populi Suprema Lex Esto
OVER: a partial selection of the over 200 comments – all negative – regarding the Grand Master’s Message in the January issue of the Knight Templar Magazine. These are from one post (there are other posts) in one Masonic Facebook group that has over 20,000 members. The post headline is shown below, it included a photograph of the entire Grand Master’s Message.
 If the Grand Master can simply remove whomever he pleases, at any time, without notice or any type of hearing, why have elections at all? We should just vote for the Grand Master, and then he can appoint every other officer (because he has this power over appointed officers and committeemen).