The Brethren who wrote the Statutes of the GL-AMF were at great pains to place the Lodge at the heart of the Grand Lodge organisation. A subtle balance between the masonic activities and the administrative functions within the association has been achieved. In addition checks and balances have been put in place at all levels in both the masonic and civil domains to avoid the abuses we all know only too well !
In particular, great attention has been given to the role of the Grand Master ;, his prerogatives and powers. And a series of checks and balances will ensure that we will not experience anew what threw the GLNF off the rails in such a short time.
The elective thread to necessary to become Grand Master
He who aspires to responsibility within the GL-AMF, in both the masonic and civil spheres must overcome a series of (fraternal !) obstacles. The idea is not to discourage the serious candidate, but rather to strengthen his will to accept these responsibilities and to demonstrate his true ability to assume them.
It is only at the end of this selective process that the Grand Master will assume his responsibilities, having been installed in his function at a formal Grand Lodge.
In his highly responsible function he must name his National College, propose the Brethren who will become Grand Treasurer and Grand Secretaryce and appoint 3 members of the Council of Elders.
But he must take into account the ratification of various structures, both civil (Council of Surveillance, National Congress) and masonic (Grand Lodge Council, Council of Elders).
His Presidency–Grand Mastership will be placed under close surveillance for the benefit of the Brethren’s civil and masonic lives.
The Grand Master acquires full powers upon his consecration at the formal Grand Lodge meeting.
But prior to arriving at that point he has to pursue the various stages of the elective thread.
It is within his Lodge, firmly anchored in its Rite House that the future candidate will progress up the ladder of civil and masonic responsibilities.
With sufficient experience behind him, having occupied a number of important posts within his own Lodge, he will be able to postulate, as either Deputy or Worshipful Master, for the post of Grand Deputy or Assistant Grand Master during the elections held at his Rite House Convent.
In the meantime, no doubt he will have enhanced his masonic CV by occupying the function of Rite Deacon or of having been a member of the Rite College or various posts within the Rite House or Grand Lodge.
It is at the Convent of his Rite House and when it has the responsibility of electing the future Grand Master that he will be able to go before the National Congress (civil function) to be ratified.
Civil and masonic controls and counter-balances
The writers placed a number of criteria into the Statutes so as to diminish the risk that a brother « installed » himself into a powerful post for a long period. They limited the term of office and in most cases the term is non-renewable. Each Rite House will take its turn in proposing a Grand Master with a number of counter-balances as well. The balance between geographic regions is maintained by the systematic participation of all regions in the Surveillance Council, for example.
The length of mandates
As an example, the Grand Master’s term of office is 2 years non-renawable, the Grand Treasurer is 3 years non-renewable and the grand Secretary and the 4 administrators of the National Bureau are 1 year, renewable exceptionally twice consecutively.
In the Rite Houses the Assistant Grand Master and the General Deputies are in place for 3 years non-renewable. The members of the Rite Council are renewed by one third each year.
For the 36 members of the Council of Surveillance, their role of counter balance being essential, their ter mis 3 years non-renewable.
The rotation of candidates for Grand Master
Once every two years, the Rite House whose turn it is to propose a candidate for Grand Master elects him during its Convent.
This rotation enables the expression of the differing sensibilities of the various Rite Houses, favours the emergence of new abilities and avoids th taking of power by a particular Rite to the detriment of the others. This gives a real meaning to the term « federation of Lodges and Rites » that the brethren hold dear.
A balance between regions
All the regions (22 to date) where Lodges of the Grand Lodge are present are represented via membership of the surveillance Council. The surplus to make up the 36 is distributed within the regions having a strong Lodge presence.
Other dispositions ensure a good separation of the executive, regulatory and judicial powers : the non-cumulation of functions and the appointments to the Council of Elders.
For example, members of the Surveillance Council or the national Finance Control Commission cannot be members of the civil commissions of the justice bodies, nor cant hey occupy masonic office within the Rite Houses or the Grand Lodge.
The tripartite appointment of members of the Council of Elders
We will examine this more closely when covering the legal and financial control of the grand Lodge, but the origin of the members of the Council of Elders whose role is so important in the case of destitution of the Grand Master, also participate in the balace of power since the 9 members are appointed by different bodies.
The judiciary power
Not wishing to go overboard in innovation, particularly when a a procedure currently used functions efficiently, the Statutes writers left it to the Lodges to assure the first judiciary level via intra-Lodge mediation and the Inner Chamber.
However, circumstances that bring a Brother before a masonic judiciary body require that the litigation be resolved by the Justice Chamber.
The Justice Chamber
This body intervenes in the areas of discipline, regulation or legislation within the Grand Lodge. Thus it is called cupon to rule in the case of conflict between Brethren, Lodges or within the Rite Houses, but also at the request of the Grand Master, the National Bureau, the grand Lodge Council or the council of Elders.
Generally, the Justice Chamber places a priority on mediation when a conflict arises.
The Justice Chamber comprises 9 members, renewed by thirds, their mandate being for 3 years renewable once only.
A notable point, all appointments proposed by the Grand Lodge Council and chosen from among Master Masons with at least 5 years experience are studued anbd ratified individually by the Council of Elders.
The Justice Chamber President, designated annually, holds the title of Guardian of the Seals.
An other control body ensures the coherence and cohesion at various levels of the Grand Lodge civil and masonic administration, the Council of the Elders.
The Council of the Elders
The importance of this body has been emphasised, particularly when it comes to the destitution of the Grand Master.
In case of grave dereliction of duty the Grand Master can be dismissed by the National Congress (civil body) according to a procedure set in motion by the Council of the Elders.
This procedure is begun if :
An Action Committee, comprised of at least 1/3 of the Lodges seizes the council of the Elders who, after having studued the complaint and giving a favourable opinion, calls a meeting of the National Congress for exceptional reasons under a month.
In In the Grand Lodge Council, if at least 2/3 of the members call for the dismissal according to the same procedure (Council of the Elders and National Congress).
This Council represents a true counter-balance, a safeguard against the strayings, both civil and masonic because of its links with the Rite Houses and the Justice Chamber, but also because of the diversified origin of its members.
In fact, the appointments of the nine members are done by thirds with 3 members being appointed by the Grand Master, 3 by the Grand Lodge Council and 3 by the Surveillance Council, thereby ensuring a balance between the various executive elements.
The Council of the Elders is renewed by a third annually and the term of office of the members, chosen for their high level of competence and the quality of their masonic experience, is for 3 years twice enewable.
Finally, all the civil (Congress, national Bureau, Justice Chamber, National Finance Control Commission) and masonic levels of the grand Lodge can introduce a seisin of the Council of the Elders.
The financial control of the GL-AMF association is exercised by the National Financial Control Commission, an independent commisiion, whose president is elected from among its members.
The Commission, renewed annually by a third, comprises 9 members called « Controllers » and they are appointed by the Surveillance Commission (civil body) for a 3 year non-renewable mandate. This appointment is systematically submitted to the Council of the Elders for ratification.
Besides, in order to be appointed « Controller » specific professional recognised competence is required (chartered accountant, auditor, financial director, financial advisor ...)
Fulfilling the missions of account control, management and budgetary engagement, the National Financial Control Commission presents its report on the verification of the accounts and financial management control before the National Congress.
The Grand Lodge Statutes have been conceived to guarantee the stability of both the masonic body and the civil administration of the GL-AMF association.