Wilmington, DE - Saturday, September 16, 2006 -- Grand Master James R. Fitzgerald Jr. (left) and Grand Master Ronald W. Conaway sign the Compact of Recognition in Wilmington.
With the signing, Delaware became the 38th state where the Traditional AF & AM and the Prince Hall Grand Lodges have agreed on some form of mutual recognition.
Barriers Between Grand Lodges fall
For 157 years the Traditional Grand Lodge of Delaware, and the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Delaware stood apart. That division ended on September 16, 2006 as the Grand Masters of both lodges signed a Compact of Recognition.
The ceremony, held at the Grand Opera House in Wilmngton, celebrated what one speaker called "the universality of our brotherhood."
Ronald W. Conaway, Grand Master of the traditional Grand Lodge, said "Now, we have two Grand Lodges in Delaware. "That's something this grand state can be proud of."
An exchange of gifts.
James R. Fitzgerald Jr., Grand Master of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge, said masonry itself is not racially discriminatory, but men's application of it has been in the past. Saturday's ceremony was one step in changing that practice.
Grand Lodge Origins
The Delaware Grand Lodge was formd in 1806, made up of four lodges originally chartered in Maryland and Pennsylvania. The Grand Lodge now lists 28 subordinate lodges and about 5,400 members statewide.
African-American Masons formed their own Grand Lodge in Delaware in 1849. Named after a black Mason from the late 1700's, the Prince Hall Grand Lodge now has 550 members in 12 subordinate lodges.
Robert McGee, First District Deputy Grand Master of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge, siad the Compact of recognition s long overdue. "Racism," he said, "kept the groups apart for too long. We both practice the same principles and morality."
A prayer in the East.
The comncept of mutual recognition in Delaware started, we're told, in a dinner meeting between James S. Russell Jr., then Grand Mster of the traditional Grand Lodge, and Solomon Henry, then Grand Master of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge.
Succeeding Grand Masters continued the dialogue, often supported by representatives if the traditional Grand Lodge of Connecticut and the Prince Hall Grand Lodge in Connecticut. Those organizations became the first groups to formally recognize each other in 1989.
With the two grand Lodges signing the Compact, Delaware became the 38th state where the traditional and Prince Hall Grand Lodges have agreed on some form of mutual recognition.