Statement of Past Grand Master Nelson Re. Recent Developments of the Grand Encampment
The following is a statement written by S.K. Jeffrey N. Nelson concerning the importance of the business to be presented and discussed at the Special Conclave, now called of the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar.
Although it is unusual for a Past Grand Master of the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar to comment on Grand Encampment matters once he has left office, these are extraordinary times. In fact, the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar is facing an existential crisis. You may view this statement as hyperbole but I do not. Several Grand Commanderies and Grand Lodges have intimated that if the Grand Encampment does not “put its house in order” they will withdraw from the Grand Encampment or unrecognize the Grand Encampment, as the case may be. In either event, the Grand Encampment, as we know it, will cease to exist. In fact, the Grand Master General of the Knights of the York Cross of Honour and the Governor General of the York Rite Sovereign College of North America, both York Rite bodies having a Templar prerequisite, have found it necessary to take the unprecedented action of issuing letters seeking to “protect” their members from the actions of the Grand Master of the Grand Encampment.
NECESSITY OF HOLDING A SPECIAL CONCLAVE OF THE GRAND ENCAMPMENT
The Grand Master has now issued six decisions, one notice, several directives, and, without cause, removed the Deputy Grand Master from office. Decisions 1 through 4, although ill-considered, will not be addressed in this statement.
On September 1, 2021, the Grand Master issued a “Notice” advising that Koon Decision No. 2, dated May 24, 2010, and approved on August 13, 2012, remains Templar law. Koon Decision No. 2 provided that the “Great Priory of America CBCS (Chevaliers Bienfaisants de la Cite Sainte) is an unrecognized Templar Order operating within the United States of America, in direct conflict with Section 3 of the Constitution of the Grand Encampment of the United States of America. Accordingly, membership in the Great Priory of America CBCS is incompatible with membership in the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the United States of America and any Grand, Constituent, or Subordinate Commandery under its jurisdiction or owing allegiance to the same.” Koon Decision No. 2 was incorporated into and codified as 2012 Resolution No. 1 and adopted at the 65th Triennial Conclave in 2012.
Resolution No. 1 (2012) was subsequently amended by Vaught Decision No. 5 (approved at the 67thTriennial Conclave), and repealed as void ab initio by a vote of 77 percent of the members present and voting at the 68th Triennial Conclave. To maintain that Koon Decision No. 2 somehow survived the repeal of 2012 Resolution No. 1 is contrary to the canons of statutory construction and is thus without merit.
In any event, on November 10, 2021, in an astonishing volte face, the Grand Master “determined that the Great Priory of America is, in fact, not a Templar Order” and rescinded Koon Decision No. 2. (Emphasis in original) [Koon Decision No. 2, adopted in 2012, being at variance with the 1910 Concordat, ought to be, and is hereby, rescinded]. The Grand Master, however, failed to acknowledge that he had attempted unilaterally to overturn and nullify the vote of 77 percent of the members voting on this issue at the recently concluded 68th Triennial Conclave. Although repudiating Koon Decision No. 2, and presumably the “Notice” issued on September 1, 2021, the Grand Master did not reinstate SK David Kussman as Deputy Grand Master. In fact, twelve days prior, at the 2021 Southwest Department Conference, the Grand Master “admitted that he had removed S.K. Kussman ‘arbitrarily’ due to ‘disloyalty and malfeasance in office.’ He also accused S.K. Jeffrey Nelson, Past Grand Master, of ‘malfeasance’ and ‘unknightly conduct.’” [see In the Belly of the Beast: Important Updates from the Knight Templar SW Dept Conference in Las Vegas at www.call2conclave.org] Personal attacks on fellow officers of the Grand Encampment are unseemly and bring disrepute upon the office of Grand Master.
Due to these issues, it is therefore imperative that the actions of this Grand Master be reviewed, and either approved or disapproved, at a special conclave of the Grand Encampment.
WHAT BUSINESS MAY BE CONDUCTED BY THE GRAND ENCAMPMENT AT A SPECIAL CONCLAVE?
The legislative function or authority of the Grand Encampment is vested in the members of the Grand Encampment when in conclave assembled. This authority is plenary. Section 3 of the Constitution states that “[i]t (the Grand Encampment) has supreme legislative, judicial, and executive power and jurisdiction …. Among its powers, prerogatives and duties, not, however, to be construed as any limitation thereof, are the following: (a) It may adopt such Statutes and Rules, and Regulations, not contrary to or inconsistent with this Constitution, as it may consider necessary for the good of the Order.” (Emphasis supplied) This section concludes by stating that the “decisions of the Grand Encampment are final and no appeal lies there from (sic).”
The Grand Master, in his General Order No. 3 (Revised), purports that the business of a Special Conclave is necessarily limited. He states that “Section 85 of the Constitution is quite clear that changes to the Constitution, Statutes, and Rituals can only be considered at the Stated Conclave. Per Section 24, the same holds true for Decisions of the Grand Master.” This is a misreading of both Sections 85 and 24.
However, before reviewing the provisions of Section 85, we must consider Section 4 of the Constitution. This section establishes two types of conclaves, stated and special. A stated conclave is essentially the Triennial Conclave with which we are all familiar. The second type of conclave is styled a special conclave. Special Conclaves may be called by the Grand Master or must be called upon the written request of at least nine Grand Commanderies.
Section 85 governs legislation and amendments presented or considered at a stated conclave and provides that the “Grand Encampment … at any Stated Conclave, may revise, amend and alter this Constitution or the Rituals … and … may revise, amend and alter the Statutes, provided, however, that a written copy of the motion so to revise, amend or alter shall be filed with the Grand Recorder of the Grand Encampment at least Three Months before the day on which the Triennial Conclave is to be held at which such motion is to be considered ….” (Emphasis supplied)
There is no stipulation that legislation may only be considered at a stated conclave or prohibition on considering legislation at a special conclave. In fact, Section 4 provides that “[n]o business shall be transacted at such (Special) Conclave save that specified by the Grand Master in his summons or set out in the request.” (Emphasis supplied) This unequivocally presupposes that any business, provided it is set out in the request, may be considered at a special conclave.
Section 24 provides that the “Grand Master shall submit a copy of each decision, within sixty days of rendition, to the Committee on Templar Jurisprudence and make a full report of all his official acts at the next Triennial Conclave.” It does not prohibit decisions from being reviewed and approved or disapproved at a Special Conclave, provided notice to do so is set out in the request for the Special Conclave.
It is indisputable that any business, provided it is set out in the request, may be considered at a special conclave.
Although the call to conclave has now been adopted by the required number of Grand Commanderies, it is imperative that you urge your Grand Commandery to also join the call to conclave.