Grand Lodge of Arkansas and Shriners International
Alan W. Madsen
Imperial Potentate 18410 Balmore Pines Lane
Cornelius, North Carolina 28031
Charlotte, North Carolina
November 07, 2012
To: All Grand Lodges
Scottish Rite Bodies
York Rite Bodies
Shrine Temples and Officers
From the moment of my becoming Imperial Potentate of Shriners International on July 5, 2012, I have labored strenuously to find a resolution to the issues that have arisen between the Grand Lodge of Arkansas and Shriners International. We promised many Grand Lodges and fraternal leaders that the Shrine would take the initiative and travel to Arkansas and meet with the Grand Lodge officers. We gave this matter priority over all our other responsibilities and obligations.
As most of you are aware, Shriners International has been in amity with all Grand Lodges for more than 140 years. Sure, there have been occasions when there were bumps in the road and brotherly dialogue was necessary. Yet, each time the bumps surfaced, both sides were able to sit down together in a spirit of goodwill and brotherly affection and smooth them out.
Keeping this in mind, we made two trips to the Arkansas Grand Lodge, July 30-31 and September 17-18, 2012. We went with an open mind. We sought reconciliation. We expected each side to have respect for the other and to be constructive at our meetings. Unfortunately, this never happened. We were bluntly informed that, in Arkansas, Shriners International will be governed by the Grand Lodge of Arkansas; and that Shriners International will conduct its governance and activities in accordance with the directives of the Grand Master. When we attempted to explain that the Shrine, in the conduct of Shrine matters, must be governed by its own articles of incorporation and bylaws, we were told by a Past Grand Master (please excuse the language) that I was a “smart ass.” Then, we were told “Shrine and Masonry need to separate.” The dialogue never got any better.
On September 18, 2012 a Masonic Agreement was drafted and given to me. I took it with me and later discussed it with the other international officers and our counsel. After the discussion it was clear to me and the other international officers that signing the “Masonic Agreement” would violate the very sovereignty of Shriners International. Please understand that the powers of an Imperial Potentate are not nearly as extensive and encompassing as the power of most Grand Masters.
Though we have labored through this fraternal year with heavy hearts, we have never failed to meet with our brothers in any manner other than peace and amity. We have now concluded that we owe each of you a complete and factual report of what has caused this controversy. Please click here to view this report. We beseech you to read it. It is our fervent wish that amity and brotherhood will continue between Shriners International and all of you.
Imperial Sir Alan W. Madsen
cc: Imperial Sir Jack Jones, Executive Vice President, Shriners International