The Anglo Foreign Lodges Association Re-union Meeting

By W Bro David McKenna, SLGR and Paul Bazerkanian, P M District Inspector, Grand Lodge of California.


On Saturday, 24 September, the AFLA Bi-annual Reunion meeting, hosted by America Lodge No 3368, have invited the Grand Lodge of California District 717 Degree Team to demonstrate an exemplification of the 3rd Degree.

The reunion will take place in the Grand Temple at Freemasons Hall in Covent Garden and will be attended by a Deputy Metropolitan Grand Master, RW Bro Warren Duke PJGW, many Grand Officers and Provincial Grand Officers from the English and International Constitutions and, of course, distinguished brethren from the Grand Lodge of California.

This is an opportunity for all recently raised Master Masons who have perhaps not had the chance of attending a Lodge meeting in the Grand Temple before to witness a unique event – the raising of a Master Mason, American style!

After the meeting, Brethren will be joined by their partners and guests for a presentation of the Grand Temple by the curator, followed by a cocktail reception and white table festive board at the Grand Connaught Rooms.

Introduction to Freemasonry in America

American Freemasonry as we now know it originated in England. During the 18th century, two English Grand Lodges were established: the Premier Grand Lodge of England (known as the “Moderns”), established in London in 1717, and the Ancient Grand Lodge of England (known as the “Antients” or “Ancients”), established in London in 1751.

Although disputed by both the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts and the Grand Lodge of Virginia, the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania claims to be the oldest in the United States and the third oldest in the world after England (1717) and Ireland (1725), having been originally established as the Provincial Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania in 1731. Daniel Coxe was appointed the first Grand Master for a two-year term, having jurisdiction over Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York.

Today, the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania is the largest Masonic Jurisdiction in the United States, claiming more than 86,000 members at the end of 2020. There are more Freemasons in Pennsylvania than in any other State.

Needless to say, Freemasonry quickly became a popular association for colonial leaders. The first American lodge was founded in Boston in 1733. In the colonies, Masonic Brothers pledged to support one another and provide sanctuary if needed. As the colonies expanded, Masonic Lodges were quickly formed in the newly settled areas.

The fraternity embodied the European Enlightenment ideals of liberty, progress, benevolence, and tolerance. They were also known for promoting the republican virtues of constitutional government and obedience to the law.

At the start of the Gold Rush in 1848-1849, miners from different States and countries poured into California in search of fortunes. Thousands upon thousands arrived aspiring to strike gold, many of whom were Masons. These Masons brought their values and traditions together with connections to their Masonic Lodges throughout the world.

As expected, some of the first Lodges were established in mining towns of the Gold Country. They actively continued practicing Freemasonry, often in outdoor settings or in tents.

By the end of the decade, dozens of Lodges were formed. In 1850, Jonathon Drake Stevenson was elected the first Grand Master of California in Sacramento, California.

Ritualistic uniformity became a priority of the newly constituted Grand Lodge of California. At the first official Communication, a committee was appointed to compare and prepare the “proper mode of work”. According to Gould’s History of Freemasonry throughout the World, Volume V, the result of this effort toward ritual uniformity was that, in 1853, Isaac Davis, who had learned his work in Ohio, was appointed Grand Lecturer.

It is assumed that Bro Davis used the Barney Work since Barney had been Grand Lecturer of Ohio from 1836 to 1843. While living in Vermont in 1817, Bro Barney went to Boston, where he learned the Preston Work as taught by Benjamin Gleason, then Grand Lecturer of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. In 1843 Barney attended the conference at Baltimore, where the attendees adopted the “Webb Work.” In the main, California adhered to the old Barney (Preston-Webb) Ritual.

Built in 1958, The California Masonic Memorial Temple on San Francisco’s Nob Hill is the current home of The Grand Lodge of California. With more than 40,000 members in over 340 Lodges, Freemasonry enjoys the rich diversity of California’s population amongst its membership. California’s Lodges, in addition to Standard American English, conduct their official proceedings in Spanish, French and Armenian.

The California Masonic Foundation is the fund-raising arm of the Grand Lodge and is committed to making a profound difference in the system of public schools. It also supports senior brethren and widows via its two Masonic Homes, whilst individual Lodges support their local communities. Through its efforts, the Foundation touches the lives of thousands of Californians each year.

In 2019 and 2020, The Grand Lodge of California began planning for its 2025 strategic plan. After sifting through inputs from thousands of members and the general public, one message remains at heart: The World in Harmony.
Full details of the event and Ticket Purchases may be found here

This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 49 August 2022 edition.
Arena Magazine is the official magazine of the London Freemasons – Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London.

Read more articles in the Arena Issue 49 here.