Local Commanderies are governed by the Grand Commandery of each jurisdiction, and they in turn by the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the U.S.A. In the Commandery, the Chivalric Orders of Christian Knighthood are conferred as follows: The Illustrious Order of the Red Cross The Order of Knight of Malta The Order of the Temple
The Illustrious Order of the Red Cross is founded upon Truth – a divine attribute, the foundation of every virtue. Knights of Malta. First called Knights Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem are known to have been in existence as early as 1099 A.D. It was the first organized body whose avowed purpose was the aid and care of those injured on a battlefield. The teaching of Christian applications of Masonic precepts begins with this Order.
The Order of the Temple is the crowning glory of York Rite Masonry. It is widely regarded as the most solemn and impressive experience in Masonry. Here the aspirant progresses in the footsteps of Jesus of Nazareth. At the empty tomb grows a sprig of acacia, teaching that we shall dwell forever in the realms of life and light eternal. Freemasonry demands only a belief in a monotheistic God, where Hindu, Muslim, Jew and Gentile may together worship around its alters. The Christian Freemason alone has at his disposal a branch of the fraternity where he is free to interpret the teachings of the Symbolic Lodge according to his religious belief. The Masonic Orders of Christian Knighthood are the logical outcome of the Christian Mason´s belief in Christ as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. That Mason believes Christ´s hand will raise the dead to life, and in His Holy Name the True Word is found and restored at last. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”.
COUNCIL OF ROYAL & SELECT MASTERS
Description of Degrees"Cryptic Mason" The Councils of Cryptic Masons operate under the jurisdiction of the Grand Council of Cryptic Masons of each state and most Grand Councils operate under the General Grand Council of the United States. They confer the following three degrees: Royal Master Select Master Super Excellent Master Without the Royal and Select Master degrees, neither the Master Mason degree nor the Royal Arch degree is complete. These two degrees account for the concealment and preservation of the treasures revealed in the Royal Arch. The Super Excellent Master is an honorary degree, qualifications for which are fulfilled by virtue of being in good standing in a Council. This degree is the most dramatic and spectacular of all Masonic systems.
ROYAL ARCH MASONRY
Description of Degrees The various local Chapters operate under the jurisdiction of the “Grand Chapter” of each state, which in turn is governed by the General Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons International. The General Grand Chapter constitutes the largest Masonic Body in the world. The Chapter confers four degrees (Capitular Degrees), giving a complete story of Masonic symbolism, in the following order: Mark Master Past Master (Virtual) Most Excellent Master Royal Arch The Mark Master degree is perhaps the oldest Masonic degree, and is one of the most highly respected. It teaches practical lessons for everyday living. This degree supplements the Fellowcraft Degree.The Past Master degree teaches the candidate the important duties and responsibilities of the Oriental Chair, and is qualification for advancement. It is commonly known that the symbolism of Freemasonry surrounds the building of the Temple. In symbolic Free-Masonry, the Temple is never completed. In the Most Excellent Master degree, we are taught the lessons of the completion and dedication of the Temple. In the degree of the Royal Arch, the epitome of Masonic symbolism is found. It has been said “the Royal Arch is the root, heart and marrow of Masonry, without knowledge of which the Masonic character cannot be complete”. The Royal Arch degree is the completion of the whole system of Freemasonry. Having begun regular advancement through the Symbolic Lodge, it is the duty of each Master Mason to complete the degree series. He who has sought further Masonic education should return to the Symbolic Lodge, retrace his steps and advance through the Rite until he can receive the climax of Masonic symbolism, as taught in the Royal Arch. Only those who have attained the Royal Arch may be said to have completed their Masonic Work.
HISTORY OF THE ALABAMA ROYAL & SELECT MASTERS
On December 9, 2006, at the Jones Valley Elks Lodge in Birmingham, Alabama, the York Rite Masons of Alabama embarked upon a quest to become complete. Forty-eight Royal Arch Masons from throughout the jurisdiction we brought to light in the Cryptic Degrees. The degrees were bestowed upon the Alabama delegation by the Illustrious H.R. Butler Grand Council, John A. Robinson, Sr. On that day three councils in Alabama were established: Central Alabama council #7, located in Birmingham, Companion Lyndon P. Gilliam, Thrice Illustrious Master; Perry O. Ward Council #8, located in Huntsville, Companion Thaddeus Thompson, Thrice Illustrious Master; and Garfield Richardson Council #9, located in Montgomery, Companion Murry Robinson, Thrice Illustrious Master. Also, on that day Companion Lyndon P. Gilliam was made Deputy to Alabama and Companion Corey D. Hawkins was made Assistant Deputy to Alabama by the Grand Council of Georgia.
The three councils worked diligently for a year and a half and on July 20, 2008, at the York Rite Grand Session in Montgomery, Al, the councils were granted a Grand Charter by the Grand Council of Georgia and became known as the Illustrious W.H. Mack Grand Council, Royal 7 Select Masters, Jurisdiction of Alabama, Prince Hall Affiliated. The first Grand Council throne officers were Most Illustrious Grand Thrice Illustrious Master Lyndon P. Gilliam, Right Illustrious Grand Principal conductor of the Works A. Derek Bowman. The councils were renumbered: Central Alabama #1, Perry O. Ward #2, and Garfield Richardson #3. Soon after being chartered, the Grand Council began to grow. On August 31, 2008, Adoniram #4, Bessemer, Al, was established with A. Derek Bowman as thrice Illustrious Master. On September 6, 2008, Estell Ezell #5, Lisman, Al, was established with Robert W. Glenn as Thrice Illustrious Master. On October 5, 2008, Camp of Israel #6, Tuscaloosa, Al, was established with Howard R. Dancy, III as thrice Illustrious Master. On February 28, 2009, Emmanuel #7, butler, Al, was established with Michael T. Moss as Thrice Illustrious Master. Finally on July 17, 2009, gulf Coast #UD, Mobile, Al, was established with Joe Barren as Thrice Illustrious Master. In April 2010, due to unforeseen circumstances, Grand Deputy Master Corey D. Hawkins took over the helm as Grand Thrice Illustrious Master, causing Grand Principal Conductor of the Works A. Derek Bowman to move to Grand Deputy Master, and Grand Treasurer Robert W. Glenn to move to Grand Principal Conductor of the Works. The Grand Council of Alabama is still growing, boasting over 150 members and looking forward to a bright future.