Commemorative Order of St. Thomas of Acon
An organizational meeting for a Chapel of Ye Commemorative Order of St. Thomas of Acon was called to order at 7:30 p.m. in the Albert Pike Masonic Lodge Room of the Scottish Rite Cathedral in San Antonio, Texas, by Right Eminent Reese L. Harrison, Jr., Grand Cellarer of Grand Master’s Council and Provincial Grand Prior of the Order in the United States of America, Past Worthy Master of Trinity Chapel No. 12, and Primus Master of Dr. George Moffitt Patrick Chapel No. 44. He thanked everyone for attending.
The following individuals attended:
The following did not attend due to previous engagements, or the distance to be traveled, or not receiving a letter because of changed address and the use of dated mailing rosters:
Provincial Grand Prior Right Eminent Reese L. Harrison, Jr. explained his involvement with Ye Commemorative Order of St. Thomas of Acon. In October 1998, while visiting the Grand Council of Allied Masonic Degrees of England in London in his capacity as Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Council of the Allied Masonic Degrees of the United States of America, he heard of the Order of Acon, and prior to his return to London in October 1999, he was invited to join the Order of Acon on October 23, 1999 in a ceremony held in Mark Mason’s Hall in London, England. He became a member of Blackheethe Chapel Time Immemorial of London along with twelve other American Knights Templar, who accompanied him on a trip he organized while he was serving as Most Venerable Sovereign Grand Master of the Grand Council of Allied Masonic Degrees of the United States of America.
The Order was introduced into the United States of America when two Chapels were set to work on February 17, 2000, in Washington, D. C.. In the United States of America, Pilgrim Chapel No. 11 was Consecrated for Knights Templar within the geographic territory in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry and Trinity Chapel No. 12 was Consecrated for Knights Templar within the geographic territory in the Southern Masonic Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry. Right Eminent Sir Knight Harrison was a Founding Member of both Chapels and was the Charter Deputy Marshal of Trinity Chapel No. 12. The Primus Master of both Chapels was a Past Worthy Master from the United Kingdom. Sir Knight Harrison deferred to Texas Past Grand Masters Fred E. Allen and Robert P. Walker, and to Andre E. Lovas of Georgia, the Charter Secretary of Trinity Chapel No. 12, who were the 2001, 2002, and 2003 Worthy Masters respectively. He deferred to Sir Knights Allen and Walker because both were Past Grand Masters of Masons and would bring recognition, respect, and stature to the Order of Acon. Right Eminent Harrison deferred to Sir Knight Lovas because he had handled all the voluminous paperwork in the organization of both Pilgrim Chapel No. 11 and Trinity Chapel No. 12 and he would attend the annual meetings of Grand Master’s Council in England and he has done so faithfully each year beginning December 2000.
The Northern Masonic Jurisdiction Chapel, Pilgrim Chapel No. 11, now has Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as its home base. The Southern Masonic Jurisdiction Chapel, Trinity No. 12, has Washington, D. C. as its home base.
Trinity Chapel No. 12 meets annually for Installation meeting on the Thursday prior to the Annual Meeting of the Grand Council of Allied Masonic Degrees for the United States of America, which meets on a Saturday in February in Washington, D.C.. Trinity Chapel No. 12 also meets on the day prior to the Annual General Assembly of the York Rite Sovereign College of North America in July in the same location.
Various Grand Jurisdictions of Freemasonry in the United States of America have approved the Order of St. Thomas of Acon to meet therein by Grand Master’s edict. These Grand Jurisdictions include Washington State, Pennsylvania, New York, North Carolina, and Missouri. In 2004, the Masonic Grand Lodge of Texas, voted overwhelmingly to allow the Order to meet in the Masonic Lodges under Texas Constitution and to install Texas Freemasons and Knights Templar into the Order as the result of adopting a Resolution sponsored by Knight Templar Sir Knight Ronald Allen Sharp, Past Commander of a Commandery of Knights Templar. On September 11, 2005, three Chapels of the Order were Consecrated in Texas. They are Dr. George M. Patrick Chapel No. 44 in Bryan, Lone Star Chapel No. 45 in Houston, and Tejas Chapel No. 47 in Dallas. Sir Knight Harrison is the Primus Master of Dr. George M. Patrick Chapel No. 44 for 2005 – 2006.
A Provincial Grand Preceptor’s Council for the United States of America was Consecrated on the same date of September 11, 2005, after the Consecration of the three Texas Chapels in Austin, Texas. Sir Knight Harrison is the Provincial Grand Prior of the Grand Preceptor’s Council.
The Order is different in its administration and governance than the Royal Order of Scotland. Unlike the Royal Order of Scotland which has only a Provincial Grand Lodge with no subordinate bodies in the United States of America. In contrast, the Order of St. Thomas of Acon has a Provincial Grand Council for the United States of America and subordinate units for its administration and governance in the United States of America. The subordinate units are known as Chapels. Each Chapel in the United States of America will be limited to forty members as of February 9, 2006. In the United States of America, a new Chapel can have no more than twenty or twenty-one Founding Members as of February 9, 2006. Membership in the Order is by invitation only and two negative votes can reject a proposal. Prospective members of Texas Chapel were requested not to discuss their membership with anyone until they attended this organizational meeting. This could have been a source of awkwardness or embarrassment for those not given an invitation to join the Chapel as well as to those who received an invitation to membership. Only two members may be taken into the Chapel at a meeting of same, except when permitted under proper dispensation. A “Cavalry Charge” is the means whereby a larger number may be initiated at the same time pursuant to a dispensation for same. This is utilized at the time of the founding of a new Chapel. Parts of the initiation are performed on more than one person at a time but other parts must be done individually. This will take a lot of time on the day of the “Cavalry Charge.” The prerequisite to be a member of this Order, is that you must be a Knight Templar.
The regalia of the Order is pictured below:
The regalia is composed of: A cap with bronze shell in its front center, a mantle with a bronze shell on the top of the Order’s cross that is worn on left side of the mantle, a tunic that you will walk into and will need a friend to help get you into it, a large bronze shell that will set in the middle of the Order’s cross worn on the front of the tunic, a pair of white, not templar yellow, gloves, and a sword belt that you put on and gird yourself into like you would if you were cinching a saddle on a horse. The members, except for the Prior and Almoner wear a sword, which can be your Templar sword with or without the scabbard, and the “British school tie” of the Order. This tie is black with a bronze shell on it. The bronze shell devices are for local members. Provincial level officers wear silver shells and top-level officers wear gilt or golden shells. The morning of the “Cavalry Charge,” you will be expected to wear a black suit, and white shirt with black tie. An American Knight Templar blouse has been worn to initiations without decorations. American Knight Templar cap and mantle may be worn to the initiation as it is similar to British Origin Knight Templar regalia but does not include a tunic.
The Order of St. Thomas of Acon is British in its origin and its workings. A Provincial Grand Preceptor’s Council has been Consecrated in the United States of America and it will act as the governing body for the American Chapels. It takes two negative votes to deny membership in a Chapel. Members are sent a summons to tell them of an upcoming meeting. It is written in cursive script and contains the spelling of some words as they would have been spelled in the time of Geoffrey Chaucer’s book “The Canterbury Tales.” The member is expected to attend a meeting or send an apology. During the roll call, you will need to answer up if you are in attendance, or someone will say that you sent in your apology, or in the absence of both, attendance will be unexcused. There is a minimum of two meetings a year for a Chapel. These are the Installation Meeting and a Regular Meeting. There is no deadline for someone to be installed as an officer. The Installation Ceremony is prescribed for the Presiding Officer of the body. The installation ceremony for all other officers either elected or appointed is not prescribed.
The meetings as per the Provisional By-Laws of Texas Chapel No. 54 will be the first Saturday in March and on the second Saturday of October annually. This will allow those out of Town members to attend the meeting. The first Saturday in March, will be the Grand Master of Masons in Texas’ March to the Alamo and official visit to the 39th Masonic Districts or Regional Conference. After all of those festivities have ended, the Chapel will meet. The By-Laws could always change later.
A few years ago, the San Antonio Commandery No. 7 Knights Templar and other Christian Chivalric Orders in San Antonio were invited to attend the “Evensong Ceremony” of a now fifty year York Rite Freemason on the occasion when he was created a member of the Order of St. John. It is hoped that Texas Chapel could sponsor an event to include the various Orders of Christian Chivalry again and make it an annual occurrence with the members of each Order attending in the regalia of their respective Order as was done on the occasion of the “Evensong,” all to be hosted by the Texas Chapel of the Order of St. Thomas of Acon.
Websites for both the Dr. George Moffitt Patrick Chapel No. 44 and the Texas Chapel No. 54 are being created and will be on line as a part of www.albertpikedemolay.org by Sunday, March 19, 2006. The provisional By Laws will be on the website. It will have links to the Grand Master’s Council, Provincial Grand Councils, and to other Chapels and some essays about St. Thomas’ a Becket, and about the Order as well as the officers and membership rosters of Dr. George M. Patrick and Texas Chapels. The Texas Chapel No. 54 has invited committed Templars, Freemasons, and ritualists to be members. The first presiding officer of Texas Chapel must be a present or Past Worthy Master of another Chapel. The leadership in the Chapel is not chosen by masonic politics but rather the initial officers who are current members will progress by their number in the order and new members will progress by the chronological age of the Founding Members, and then by membership number thereafter. The first priority to preside will be those members of the new Chapel that were already members of other chapels who will progress by number. An example of such a number is: T.I.:180/99 (Blackheethe Chapel : the 180th member of the order / created in the year 1999 in Time Immemorial Chapel.) They will advance by their number given when they joined the Order. The affiliating member with the lowest number will serve first. The next priority will be the newly Installed Founding Members of the new Chapel. An example of such a number is: 12.:290/06 (Trinity Chapel : the 290th member of the order / created in the year 2006 in Trinity Chapel No. 12.) The remaining Founding Members each will advance to the office of Worthy Master sequentially by their chronological age. The oldest member will advance and serve first. The last priority to advance to the office of Worthy Master will be by the member’s number that was given to him when he first became a member of the Order. An example of such a number is: 54.:360/06 (Texas Chapel : the 360th member of the order / created in the year 2006 in Texas Chapel No. 54.) The lowest number will advance and then serve first. If you live long enough, you will eventually get to preside over the Chapel. The idea is that no contentions or quarrels are to exist among the members as to the selection of officers of the Chapel. This is already the norm in most British origin Orders. This system eliminates Masonic politics.
The advancement priority list as it stands on March 16, 2006, is as follows:
The list is subject to the vagaries of death, disability, membership status, and willingness to advance.
Many dignitaries and other members of the Order already are planning to come to San Antonio for the “Cavalry Charge” and Chapel Consecration on May 28, 2006.
We plan to communicate with each other by E-Mail. We have two members that do not have E-Mail. They are James M. Willson, Jr. and Paul W. Adkins. The Provisional Secretary will send out the information via snail mail to them.
The designates to become members of the Order will assemble on the morning of Sunday, May 28, 2006 at 8:30 a.m. in the San Antonio Scottish Rite Cathedral. They must be wearing a black suit with white shirt and black tie. New Founding Members will be knighted members of Trinity Chapel No. 12 at first. Trinity Chapel will receive a $25.00 fee per Founding Member because the new members will be in-and-out members of Trinity Chapel No. 12, which will pay appropriate registration fees and per capita tax to the Grand Master’s Council. The initiations will take place from 9:30 a.m. until noon. Lunch will be a Festive Board held in the Scottish Rite Cathedral’s Banquet Hall with wine and toasting. The Texas Chapel Consecration Ceremony will take place at 1:00 p.m. and will last about an hour and a half.
The Officers of a Chapel and their sequence are as follows:
The setup of the Chapel and the positions of the officers were briefly explained by Provincial Grand Prior Right Eminent Reese L. Harrison, Jr.. A copy of the Ritual and Constitutions of the Order will be given to each member at the initiation. This organization does not allow the second in command to preside as Worthy Master unless he is Past or Present Worthy Master of a Chapel. The presiding Officer must be in possession of the secrets of the chair and only can get them if he has been installed as a Worthy Master. If the Worthy Master is absent, a Past Worthy Master of this or another Chapel must preside or the meeting is cancelled.
Prior to the close of the meeting, Provincial Grand Prior Right Eminent Reese L. Harrison, Jr. again thanked those who came to this organizational meeting. He reminded those assembled how prestigious and well regarded this Order is in the United Kingdom and will become in the United States of America as many other Grand Masonic Jurisdictions approve the Order to work in their Grand Jurisdiction. It is just a matter of time when the Order will be prevalent in the United States of America.
The minutes of this organizational meeting will be posted on the Chapel website and will be made the subject of a motion to adopt same as published and to become the first document to memorialize our founding and to become a part of our history at the Consecration meeting on May 28, 2006.
There being nothing further the meeting closed at 9:10 p.m..
Texas Chapel No. 54
Ye Commemorative Order of St. Thomas of Acon
Texas Chapel No. 54
Provincial Grand Prior
Ye Commemorative Order of St. Thomas of Acon