Saturday, October 25, 2008

Of the Officers of a Subordinate Lodge - Section I. Of the Officers in General.

A Treatise on the Constitutional Laws, Usages And Landmarks of Freemasonry
by Dr.Albert Gallatin Mackey, 1856

Four officers, at least, the ancient customs of the craft require in every lodge and they are consequently found throughout the globe. These are the Master, the two Wardens and the Tiler. Almost equally universal are the offices of Treasurer, Secretary and two Deacons. But, besides these, there may be additional officers appointed by different Grand Lodges. The Grand Lodge of England, for instance, requires the appointment of an officer, called the "Inner Guard." The Grand Orient of France has prescribed a variety of officers, which are unknown to English and American Masonry. The Grand Lodges of England and South Carolina direct that two Stewards shall be appointed, while some other Grand Lodges make no such requisition. Ancient usage seems to have recognized the following officers of a subordinate lodge: the Master, two Wardens, Treasurer, Secretary, two Deacons, two Stewards and Tiler, and I shall therefore treat of the duties and powers of these officers only, in the course of the present chapter.

The officers of a lodge are elected annually. In this country, the election takes place on the festival of St. John the Evangelist, or at the meeting immediately previous, but, in this latter case, the duties of the offices do not commence until St. John's day, which may, therefore, be considered as the beginning of the Masonic year.

Dalcho lays down the rule, that "no Freemason chosen into any office can refuse to serve (unless he has before filled the same office), without incurring the penalties established by the bye-laws." Undoubtedly a lodge may enact such a regulation and affix any reasonable penalty, but I am not aware of any ancient regulation which makes it incumbent on subordinate lodges to do so.

If any of the subordinate officers, except the Master and Wardens, die, or be removed from office, during the year, the lodge may, under the authority of a dispensation from the Grand Master, enter into an election to supply the vacancy. But in the case of the death or removal of the Master or either of the Wardens, no election can be held to supply the vacancy, even by dispensation, for reasons which will appear when I come to treat of those offices.

No officer can resign his office after he has been installed. Every officer is elected for twelve months and at his installation solemnly promises to perform the duties of that office until the next regular day of election, and hence the lodge cannot permit him, by a resignation, to violate his obligation of office.

Another rule is, that every officer holds on to his office until his successor has been installed. It is the installation and not the election, which puts an officer into possession, and the faithful management of the affairs of Masonry requires, that between the election and installation of his successor, the predecessor shall not vacate the office, but continue to discharge its duties.

An office can be vacated only by death, permanent removal from the jurisdiction, or expulsion. Suspension does not vacate, but only suspends the performance of the duties of the office, which must then be temporarily discharged by some other person, to be appointed from time to time, for, as soon as the suspended officer is restored, he resumes the dignities and duties of his office.

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