Constitution

Preamble

  • Considering, that Anderson’s “Old Charges” of 1723 are in several points misunderstood because of doctrine and dogmatic interpretations which are in contradiction to the original meaning of Freemasonry,
  • being convinced of the necessity, that the Old Charges need a re-interpretation according to our epoch and may find its continuity in the “New Charges” (Vienna 1974),
  • being resolute with a firm will to assure, that freedom of thought shall be considered as having the highest value in Freemasonry,
  • with the aim, in the spirit of the “Appeal of Strasbourg” (22 January 1961) to once again unite Freemasonry in a world wide fraternal chain, without exceptions and where all peoples are equal and free,
  • remembering the engagement of Freemasons in favour of human rights, a free and democratic society and therefore based on
    • the declaration of the Universal Human Rights of the United Nations,
    • the Charta of Basic Rights of the European Union,
    • the Basic Law of the Federal German Republic,
  • aiming finally to building a human, democratic and non dogmatic order for freemason Lodges in Germany, including Brethren and Sisters,
  • and furthermore in the spirit of the project “InterActionCouncil” of the United Nations,
  • aiming finally to build a human, democratic and non dogmatic order for freemason Lodges in Germany, including Brethren and Sisters, the worthy, worshipful and warranted signatory Lodges working in the degrees of Entered Appendices, Fellow Crafts and Master Masons, decide to adopt the following Constitution:

Basic Principles and Objectives of the SGOvD

Basic Rules

  1. Article 1 of Anderson’s Old Charges from 1723, interpreted according to our time, is the Fundamentals of the SGOvD. According to those Old Charges from 1723, Freemasonry is the Union of free men and women of good reputation, striving after morality and justice, bound by their own conscience. A purpose of Freemasonry is to promote friendship among peoples which, outside the Union, would never have met and remained unknown to each other.
  2. The Union renounces the recognition of creeds and political doctrines respectively political or religious ideologies. Dogmas are strange to its being. For that reason, nobody is bound to a particular creed, scientific or other theory explaining the world, its genesis and its reason for being. This is considered to be a strictly personal matter, the freedom of conscience is guaranteed without any restriction. Nobody shall be refused access to Freemasonry because of genus, nationality, religion or cultural, social or ethnical origins.
  3. Humanism and tolerance are the fundamental principles of the SGOvD. Therefore, the ethical aim of Freemasonry is to induce its members to a respectfully tolerance and to act without any prejudice.
  4. Members of the SGOvD practise a ritual that may lead to enlightenment of themselves. The common ceremony in the temple should induce a critical look at oneself, in oneself. This common ceremony in the temple also has the purpose of leading masons to a common and peaceful work despite their personal differences.
  5. As an initiation based community, Freemasons of the SGOvD start from the principle, that the single person is nothing without humanity, but also mankind as a whole is nothing without the single person. Therefore, every single person stands for the whole of humanity. It is the individual experience of the above mentioned values that stands for the secret of Masonic work.

Lodges and Initiation of Freemasons

The worthy, worshipful and warranted Lodge

  1. The Lodge is independent.
  2. A Lodge is worthy, worshipful and warranted if it was established according to the old custom, i.e. by seven Master Masons. Three rules a Lodge, five hold it and seven make it perfect.
  3. The Lodge works in the tree symbolic degrees: Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master Mason.
  4. Work and order in the Lodge is given by the assembly of Freemasons with the Worshipful Master and his Board of Officers. The Board of Officers is composed of the Worshipful Master, the Senior and Junior Wardens, the Orator, the Secretary, the Treasurer and the Director of Ceremonies.
  5. The Lodge meets in a closed and secure room. This room contains two pillars “J” and “B”, trestle board according to the ritual. The use of other Masonic symbols is a matter of the respective Lodge.
  6. The mode of view and the attention for the historical basis of Freemasonry, the interpretation of Masonic thinking (existing systems) and the type of ceremony is a matter of the respective Lodge. Within the framework of the SGOvD, all rites and rituals can be processed, except those with dogmatic content. Within this framework, the Lodge is empowered to choose their own ritual. The rituals of the Lodges must be exhibited the Convention at admission or alteration.
  7. The Lodge is free to decide whether to be exclusively masculine, feminine or mixed. Because it would be in contradiction with the principle of equality, it is inadmissible to restrict membership to a particular ethnical origin or profession.
  8. Concerning the relations inside the Lodge, it is compulsory to follow the principle of avoiding discussions concerning party politics or confessions and particularly to missionize and proselytize. This does not exclude debates on general social, cultural, ethical and moral problems or discussions about scientific and research questions.
  9. Merely, Freemasons follow the instructions of the Worshipful Master during ceremonies. Within the Masonic organizations, there are not any additional instructions.

The Lodge as an Association according to the Law

  1. Lodges are membership associations (normally a registered association) with a proper responsibility and administration.
  2. Every Lodge is free to have it own articles of association; but as a member of the SGOvD these articles can’t be in contradiction with its Constitution.
  3. The Lodges are free and self responsible for all matters concerning the administration and use of its property. The Lodges are also free to establish the most efficient way for managing means needed to ensure the continuity of the Lodge itself.
  4. Accordingly, the Lodges are also free to decide the legal recourse to adopt in case of quarrels between members. Before being initiated, a future member must be given the articles of association and other essential documents concerning the traditions of the Lodge.

Initiation

  1. A Freemason is a person, who has been initiated in a worthy, worshipful and warranted Lodge, according to the rules and necessary mode established in this Constitution.
  2. In being initiated in a worthy, worshipful and warranted Lodge, the Freemason becomes a link in the universal fraternal chain and gets the right to visit worldwide all Lodges, provided they have an open door.
  3. The admission (Initiation) in the degree of an Entered Apprentice, who stands under the sign of the Triangle, happens in the ante-room, by examination and the passage from darkness to light. The content of the obligations inherent to Initiation must be communicated to the candidate before the ceremony.
  4. The passing to the Fellow Craft degree stands under the sign of the Blazing Star.
  5. Every degree requires an Obligation. The formula for this Obligation should include a clause guarantying the freedom of conscience of the person taking it.
  6. Every Freemason is a regular member of a Lodge and belongs to it permanently. Dual membership is possible provided the Mother Lodge permits it.
  7. According to tradition and conviction of many Masons, the initiation in Freemasonry is irrevocable. However, every Mason has the possibility of leaving the Lodge.
  8. Radiations are possible according to the Articles of Association of the Lodge.

Articles of Association

Establishment of the SGOvD

  1. The SGOvD has been established by the founding Lodges as a Masonic Obedience, sovereign and independent, by an agreement of foundation on the basis of this Constitution and with the assistance of a Convention.
  2. The foundation agreement is registered in the foundation act.
  3. The SGOvD is a registered society in the “Official Register of Clubs and Societies” at the Office-court Frankfurt according to the German Civil Law (BGB) and it is a non profit organisation. As members of the Board, the Grand Master and the Grand Treasurer have to be registered. Vereinsregister
  4. The headquarters of the SGOvD is the office of the respective Grand Master.

Duty and Mandate of the SGOvD

  1. The SGOvD is a Federation of its member Lodges.
  2. The SGOvD admits Lodges fully accepting articles 1 and 2 of this Constitution and willing to place themselves under its authority. The details are indicated in the Articles of Association of the SGOvD.
  3. The duty of the SGOvD is the respect of this Constitution. It gets its mandate from the member Lodges during the Convention meetings.
  4. According to the “Old Charges of 1723” and in conformity with this Constitution, the SGOvD works to promote the respect and the development of Freemasonry in Germany.
  5. The SGOvD represents all member Lodges to German and foreign Masonic institutions. Turning away from the traditional recognizing formalism, the SGOvD avoids every kind of classification of its relations with other obedience’s and is oriented toward an open and tolerant cospolitanism.
  6. The SGOvD is not opposed to the creation of independent “High Degrees” and seeks a friendly relationship with its different systems, in reciprocal respect to mutual sovereignty. Without prejudice, every Lodge and all its members have the right to enter direct contact with other Freemasons or its organizations.
  7. The dual membership of respective Lodges to specific Masonic systems and Grand Lodges must be compatible with the membership to the SGOvD.
  8. The SGOvD, within this Constitution, represents its member Lodges and its interests, for all matters concerning the relationship with Society and Government.
  9. The SGOvD has been authorized by its founding Lodges to participate actively in the present general debates on the basis of this Constitution and particularly to defend Human Rights and freedom. The procedure is described in the Rules of Procedure of the SGOvD.
  10. The SGOvD works out a concept of a project for a concrete engagement of the SGOvD and in it united Lodges in the field of humanitarism and philantropism. This should make it possible to work effectively on a common basis. Such a concept will be discussed first in the Lodges and thereafter within the Convention. All projects require approval of the Convention.
  11. The SGOvD shall put on an archive containing the Constitution, the Articles of Association, the “Regulation sheets”, the Rituals of the member Lodges; this with the aim to control their compatibility with the Constitution. In case of discrepancy the matter is settled with the Lodge. If there is no agreement possible, the case will be submitted to the Convention.

Dues to the SGOvD

  1. The annual fee for each member Lodge is a percentage of the fees raised by the Lodges the past year. Presently 10%. Afterwards, this percentage will be fixed by the Convention on demand of the Grand Treasurer. The percentage is not allowed to become higher than 15%. The details are described in the “Regulation sheet” of the SGOvD.
  2. The SGOvD should keep a closed eye on fund raising. No interference from sponsors will be tolerated.

Institutions of the SGOvD

The institutions of the SGOvD are:

  • 3.4.1 Convention
  • 3.4.2 Grand Master and Board of Grand Officers
  • 3.4.3 Grand Committee

Convention

  1. The Convention is the independent, constitutional and legislative power of the SGOvD.
  2. Ordinary Conventions are held annually.
  3. Ordinary Conventions are organized by one or several member Lodges.
    Their costs are settled on account.
  4. The deliberations of the Convention are open to all members.
  5. Guests of honour, invited by the Grand Master, may assist at the Conventions.
  6. At the beginning, with simple majority, the Convention elects a Day President. This Day President can not be a candidate to an election. The Grand Master assists the Day President in his duty.
  7. An extraordinary Convention is convoked when a third of the member Lodges require it.
  8. The convocation, by the Grand Master, of the Convention of Lodges, must be in writing and shown on the agenda. A period of 90 days must be observed. The period begins the day after the posting and ends the day before the Convention.
  9. Entitled to present a motion at the Convention are: member Lodges, the Grand Master, the Grand Committee. Motions must be submitted to the Grand Master, 30 days before the beginning of the Convention.
  10. Attending delegates are also entitled to submit a motion, provided the motion is enclosed a minute of the debate and vote in the Lodge referring to the subject of the motion.
  11. Punctually submitted motions must be put on the agenda. The Convention decides if motions that did not arrive on time shall be submitted to the delegates for its discussion. The decision is taken by simple majority of the attendant delegates. A decision is negative if a third of the delegates reject it.
  12. Master Mason delegates have the right to vote (if possible not all member of the Board of Officers) of the member Lodges, provided those are in good standing with the SGOvD.
  13. The number of Master Masons delegated by the member Lodges is calculated as follows: for every 15 member, a Lodge can send one delegate. A delegate must be legitimated from the Lodge by proxy.
  14. A Lodge, who does not send at least one delegate to the Convention, is considered as not represented.
  15. The reciprocal representation of the member Lodges is inadmissible.
  16. Duties of the Convention
    1. Approval of the Rules of Procedure with the election procedure of the Convention, approval of the Rules of Procedure of the Board of Grand Officers with the Grand Commitee and the approval of the election procedure and Rules of Procedure of the Arbitration Board.
    2. Debate and approval of the annual balance sheet of the SGOvD, discharge of the Board of Grand Officers.
    3. Debate and approval of extraordinary expenses not included in the budget.
    4. Election of the Grand Master and the Grand Officers.
    5. Debate and approval of the budget for the next fiscal year, fixing the fees for the SGOvD.
    6. Election of the members of the Arbitration Board on proposition of the Lodges and according to the procedure for elections.
    7. Decision concerning Masonic and organizational matters with impact on the Grand Lodge and of the member Lodges, according to the submitted motions.
  17. Beside dealing with business matters, the Convention has in view to improve the mental and fraternal relationship among the members of the SGOvD. This must be taken into consideration by the Board of Grand Officers and the organizing Lodges.
  18. Highlight of the Convention is a ceremony in the first degree, officiated by the members of the Board of Grand Officers and using the Ritual of the SGOvD.

Grand Master and Board of Grand Officers

  1. The charge of a Grandmaster and Grand Officers of the SGOvD is incompatible with the same or a similar charge in other Masonic organisations. If such a charge outside the SGOvD is accepted, it is compelling to leave the charge inside the SGOvD.

Grand Master
  1. The Grand Master is the highest officer and dignitary of the SGOvD.
  2. The term of office of the Grand Master is three years. He must be re-confirmed every year. The term of three years should be extended only exceptionally and for a maximum of another two years.
  3. The Grand Master represents the SGOvD in the home country and abroad and particularly in relation to other Masonic institutions.
  4. Together with the Board of Grand Officers, the Grand Master executes during the year the decisions of the Convention. The Board of Grand Officers is entitled to appoint a provisional Grand Officer if a Grand Officer retires.
  5. Supporting the Grand Master is an Arbitration Board acting only on demand of the member Lodges. Duties, composition and functioning are described in the Rules of Procedure of the Arbitration Board. Those Regulations have to be decided by the Convention. In all cases going beyond the competence of a single Lodge, the Grand Committee must be involved.

Board of Grand Officers
  1. The Board of Grand Officers is composed of the Grand Master and Grand Officers. Those are the two Wardens, the Grand Director of Ceremonies, the Grand Orator, the Grand Treasurer and the Grand Secretary. The Board of Grand Officers works under the gavel of the Grand Master.
  2. The two deputy Grand Masters are elected in the same way as the Grand Master. Their terms of office are three years. The same is valid for the other Grand Officers, which will have to be re-confirmed every year. A re-election is permitted.
  3. The Board of Grand Officers disposes his duties according to Rules of Procedure established by itself and must be accepted by the Convention.
  4. The operating expenses can be refunded only partially. The Rules of Procedure of the Board of Grand Officers describes the details.

Grand Committee

  1. The Grand Committee is composed of the Grand Master with the other members of the Board of Grand Officers, the Worshipful Masters of the member Lodges respective their representatives and the past Grand Masters.
  2. The Grand Committee advises the Grand Master by supporting him in all matters concerning the management of the SGOvD between two Conventions.
  3. The Grand Committee disposes its duties according to Rules of Procedure established by itself and who must be accepted by the Convention.

Final Dispositions

  1. Amendments to the Constitution:
    The motions submitted according to the rules and amendments shall be deliberated upon at the current Convention; a decision on the subject can be taken only at the following Convention, the adoption of an amendment of the Constitution requires a two-third majority of the member Lodges of the SGOvD.
  2. This Constitution has a minimum of three years of validity. It is re-examined at least five years after its validity by the Grand Committee or a special committee installed by this Board so that possible amendments are submitted to the next ordinary Convention. The adopted procedure must take into account the outcome of discussions between members of Lodges resp. between Lodges of the SGOvD. Particular attention must be given to problems raised because by dual membership (see art. 3.2 sec 7). Member Lodges with dual membership have a consulting voice only.
  3. The Convention may, according to a motion by the Grand Committee and after the corresponding hearing, exclude a member Lodge having repeatedly broken the Constitution. The decision of expulsion must be taken by a two-third majority of the member Lodges of the SGOvD. This decision must be confirmed by the Convention.
  4. The dissolution of the SGOvD can be decided only by a Convention, when three-quarter of the member Lodges are present and with a three-quarter majority of the voices of the entitled to vote.
  5. In case of Dissolution, the property will be given to a non profit organization, determined with simple majority by the Convention.

Basic Documents

  1. Old Charges of Anderson from 1723
  2. New Charges (Neuen Pflichten), Vienna 1995
  3. Appeal of Strasbourg, 22 January 1961
  4. General Declaration of Human Rights, United Nations, 10th December 1948
  5. Charta of Basic Rights, European Union, 18th December 2000
  6. Basic Law of the Federal German Republic,
  7. InterActionCouncil, Tokyo: “General Declaration of Human Duties”

Appendices

As an addition to the Constitution and according to its rules, the Convention can decide on Regulations (complementary documents) which will become part of the Constitution and would have immediate effect.

Complementary Documents
  1. Foundation Act of the SGOvD
  2. Articles of Association of the SGOvD as a registered association
  3. Rules of Procedure with vote procedure at the Convention
  4. Rules of Procedure of the Board of Grand Officers with Grand Committee
  5. Rules of Procedure and vote procedure for the consulting Arbitration Board
  6. Sample for Lodge internal Regulations
  7. Sample of “Articles of Association” for a membership association

(This translation may be outdated.)