Grand Lodge

From Academic Kids

A Grand Lodge is a governing body of basic Freemasonry, though those Masonic governing bodies whose member lodges accept atheists are known as Grand Orients. The first Grand Lodge was established in England in 1705. The head of a Grand Lodge is a Grand Master, and the other Grand Lodge officers have the titles of local Lodge officers with "Grand" prefixed. Some Grand Lodges establish Provincial Grand Lodges as a layer of organization between themselves and member Lodges.

Grand Lodges are typically based on an area of civil government, and govern all Masonic Lodges or Temples within that area. The “home Grand Lodges” (The United Grand Lodge of England, the Grand Lodge of Ireland and the Grand Lodge of Scotland) all maintain exclusive jurisdiction over freemasonry within their respective countries; in continental Europe it is more typical that a country have one or more Grand Lodges, while in the United States the tradition has evolved that every state have its own independent Grand Lodge.

Prince Hall Masons, named for their first Master of their original Lodge, originally had one Grand Lodge for the whole United States; this body was formed when Masonry in the United States was effectively open only to whites, and thus has an overwhelmingly black membership. Today, separate Prince Hall Grand Lodges are in operation in most U.S. states "and jurisdiction"; many PHGLs also sponsor and govern Prince Hall Masonic Lodges abroad, principally on or near U.S. military bases overseas.

Grand Lodges normally recognize, or extend fellowship to, one another: Masons in good standing in the jurisdiction of one Grand Lodge are entitled to attend meetings of any Lodge whose Grand Lodge is recognized by their own. For various philosophical and technical reasons, U.S. Grand Lodges historically did not recognize Prince Hall Grand Lodges or acknowledge them to be regular (legitimate) bodies of Freemasonry, which prevented interaction among the members and effectively segregated the organization. In the early 1990s this practice began to change, and many (but not all) U.S. Grand Lodges and Prince Hall Grand Lodges have now extended mutal recognition and promote visitation and fellowship among their members.

Although "High Degrees" of Masonry (York Rite, Scottish Rite, and others) are only open to those who have first gone through the basic degrees of Freemasonry, these are usually separate organizations with their own, independent governing bodies not directly accountable to their jurisdiction's Grand Lodge(s). Appendant, adoptive and related orders (Order of the Eastern Star, youth groups) are usually independent as well. However, these organizations' governing bodies, as a rule, defer to their Grand Lodges as the essential authority over Masonry.

There is no one parent body over all the world's Grand Lodges, and thus the policies and practices of Grand Lodges can and do vary widely. This lack of a central authority for the whole of the "Craft" means that all is held together by the individual Grand Lodges' willingness to maintain fellowship with one another, though they may adopt divergent practices that one or another other Grand Lodge may take exception to.

Rosicrucian groups also use the term Grand Lodge, but for a high level of internal organization below the ultimate parent entity.


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