White Shrine Issues

At the May meeting, there was a lot of drama over practicing the opening and closing for our Shrine. The friend that invited me to join was involved in this drama, and her role in it was used to remove her from her position as Worthy Herald. I agonized, prayed, meditated, and sought advice from those both inside and outside of Masonic orders on what I should do, as I felt loyalty to my friend, plus a sense of an injustice having been committed against her.

I posted in an off-topic section of FlyerTalk about the situation, so rather than retype everything, that post is below:
"It was the first meeting after their national convention, and we all heard about how we'd be doing things differently, and practicing the opening and closing ceremonies at each event, unlike the last year, where they never bothered with those. However, this was not conveyed prior to the meeting, and frustrated those who were supposed to start the closing ceremony. One of those involved was the woman who'd invited me to join. Both voiced the opinion that they couldn't do it that day--both were new to the position, and neither had a chance to prepare for the work.

After the meeting, the best friend of the person in charge this year came over and argued with this woman more, which didn't help matters. All of this happened after those in charge emphasizing that they all need to be kind to each other.

Last night, I found out that the one who invited me to join has been removed from her post for insubordination and conduct unbecoming her office, because she vehemently argued that she needed time to prepare for this, and couldn't just jump into it, when it was new to her, without warning.
I'd just been installed into my position at that meeting, and am now questioning if I want to stay in said position, and if I even want to stay as a member. I figure that if they're reacting like that to a long-term member, who at the age of 76 is still very active, how will they treat someone like me, who is a new member and who really doesn't know a lot of this? I'm pretty sure it's that the person in charge is on a power trip, and because she didn't like the resistance received, figured she could do this at no huge risk to herself."

On Saturday, I, and most of the other members of the Shrine received an email from our Worthy High Priestess (WHP) saying:
"Dear Sojourners

Just a reminder that June is an open meeting. We will be following the ritual, except there will be no secret work. If you are not coming...try to find new people to give applications, news to them. Your husbands can join. It would be wonderful to have some males as Wise Men!

Remember to address the WHP with public sign of honor.
I put together a list of membership since the merger with Shrine:

*2009 we had 176 sojourners

*2010 we had 153 sojourners

*2011 we had 131 sojourners

*2013 we have 117 sojourners

Sounds impressive? We have over half that are disabled, some are 50 years and no longer are able to attend meetings.

Remind yourself to read from the ritual if you are not able to memorize your charges.

Also, I am looking for an interested person in the appointment of Worthy Herald. If you think of a candidate please get back to me. Your WOS was interested...I told her NO! LOL

Theme for June meeting, “Independence Day” Feel free to put on a Patriotic scarf and/or jewelry.

Thank you all for always being there and being people the shrine can count on you!

On Monday, I found out that my friend heard from the national WHP (Supreme or SWHP) that her removal from her position was acceptable. So, at that point, I opted to finally speak my mind to those in the Shrine and the SWHP.

Since emails are seemingly being forwarded to others without my permission, and everyone else in a leadership position in the organization seems to have been consulted about how to handle the situation with my friend, I feel I may as well share all of the emails and responses that have been bandied about to all. Just as a key to parties, as I've removed names to protect the not-so-innocent. :)

Name removed: friend that asked me to join
Name removed 2: Noble Prophetess
Name removed 3: Watchman of Shepherds

My email, resigning my position as Worthy Guide:
Members of Shrine,
This letter is to serve notice of my resignation effective immediately. I have valued my time in this position along with opportunities and challenges it has presented. At this time, I cannot in good faith and good conscience devote myself to the position of Worthy Guide, and cannot devote all of my efforts to Shrine as freely as I would like. Based on the removal of name removed as Worthy Herald, without respect or consideration for the time, energy, or money she invested to further the Shrine and their efforts, as penalty for expressing her concerns. I'm afraid that, if I raised concerns, I too would be treated in this manner. As such, I'm resigning my position as Worthy Guide. Thank you for this opportunity and valuable experience.
The first response from the WHP, copied to the SWHP:
Obviously our Shrine has a problem. SWOS and SWHP will be addressing this issue at inspection. I would like all sojourners to try and attend to partake in this event. The outcome could be:

1. removal of charter

2. expulsion from the order

3. resignation from the WHP (I also have health issues)

I followed by laws in my decision to remove from office your Worthy Herald. I DID NOT remove her from the Shrine. This will be her decision.

Your WHP
My response to that, copied to the SWHP as well:
Yes, one thing we can all agree upon is that there is a problem within Shrine. As a new member, it’s troubling to me to see members turning against each other, especially when it involves long-term members and those in leadership positions. It doesn’t give me a lot of confidence that I, and other members who are not part of the clique of current leadership won’t be treated in a similar manner. I’m troubled by the lack of communication regarding rehearsing the opening and closing at the May meeting, as I certainly wasn’t prepared for anything, and I’d asked you about a rehearsal. I’m troubled that a lack of courtesy in letting everyone know in advance about that could escalate a situation to extremes like this.

It is also extremely troubling that the justification for this situation is that you’ve followed by-laws, rather than trying to manage your team and resolve conflicts in a way that advocates for what you emphasized at May’s meeting about treating each other with kindness.

Ruling by seemingly following the Iron Rule and governing by power and force, rather than trying to build consensus, work together, and manage all personalities, including difficult ones, may be the seemingly easy way to go, and may mean that one is surrounded by those who are all part of one clique, all moving in lockstep, which may seem great. However, it definitely alienates new members who aren’t part of that clique and alienates those members who dare have a different opinion.

The treatment of name removed that I’ve witnessed has been troubling, but so too has been the defense of it by you and name removed2, along with your other email to me, where you’ve accused name removed of bearing false witness against you and of trying to turn others against you and the Order. I observed name removed and name removed3's interaction at the May meeting, so I heard what was said and the tone used, and observed the body language from both.

Never once did name removed suggest to me that I should resign my position, demit from the Order, or not continue to attend meetings. I’ve prayed about this, meditated about this, sought advice from those close to me, those not involved in Masonic organizations at all, and those heavily involved in Masonic organizations as well. I’ve agonized over this, because I’m the type that tries to fix everything, and I’m the type that thinks everyone can work together for the common good, even when we’ve all been hurt by words or actions.

It saddens me to think that the childish behavior of a few could cause such irreparable harm to the Shrine, but also that so many have spent so many hours and days in pain and distress over all of this. As far as the options you’ve listed, with the others in the line behind you, how would your resignation change things? Wouldn’t it all still be more of the same, if not worse? If that happened, I’m sure that even more blame would be bandied about, blaming name removed, and me, for that.

As I told our SWHP, via email, I would like to see the office of Worthy Herald returned to name removed, with everyone apologizing to each other, and vowing to work together for the good of the Shrine, but I doubt that will happen, and perhaps that’s really what upsets me the most about this group of adults... it seems everyone is unwilling to set aside their pain to rally together for the good of the Shrine, but rather, would prefer to act like children, all running to Mommy to tattle on the others, acting to punish each other for perceived wrongs, and all acting on impulse and emotion, rather than remembering that we’re supposed to help others and practice kindness to all.
The second response from the WHP, her remarks are in purple:
Members of Shrine,
This letter is to serve notice of my resignation effective immediately( you do not have to be at the meeting, mail letter to Worthy Scribe) . I have valued my time in this position along with opportunities and challenges it has presented(You do not realize how your interest has gained support). At this time, I cannot in good faith(Sojourner in violation of "Bear false witness against thy neighbor" and the reason I had to talk past members into staying in the order...I too used to think she was old and had issues) and good conscience devote myself to the position of Worthy Guide, and cannot devote all of my efforts to Shrine as freely as I would like. Based on the removal of name removed as Worthy Herald, without respect or consideration for the time, energy, or money she invested to further the Shrine and their efforts, as penalty for expressing her concerns(It is a persons kindness and actions, not what they did that count...She is not the only sojourner who puts effort into the Shrine...it is part of being a team.). I'm afraid that, if I raised concerns, I too would be treated in this manner (Exactly what the members said to me after name removed brought them to tears). As such, I'm resigning my position as Worthy Guide. Thank you for this opportunity and valuable experience. (I wish you would consider giving some experience to the Shrine)
My response:
Against my husband’s advice, I’m replying to your email. He’s suggested I just walk away, as it seems obvious that you’ve decided that it’s all name removed's fault, and I shouldn’t bother. However, I feel there are some accusations and issues that need to be corrected, so I’m going to attempt to set the record straight. My resignation is only for the Worthy Guide position. I’ll still pay my dues, although I don’t expect to attend any meetings or events for quite a while.

First, let’s cut the sanctimonious, holier than thou attitude. In regards to the “Bear false witness,” I was there when name removed and Supreme Instructor both protested about the closing, and I was there when name removed3 and name removed were “talking” after the meeting, so I heard what was said by both parties. Before you accuse someone of bearing false witness, it’s best to be sure that the person you’re addressing that to wasn’t present.

Also, in regards to anyone influencing my decision, name removed had no idea what I was going to do. When I talked to her about my thoughts on what to do, she asked me to wait until after inspection to do anything. I don’t blindly follow anyone, nor would I resign from a position because someone involved in a dispute that didn’t involve me asked me to do so. I decided though that I’d rather be hated because I took a stand than to hate myself for failing to take a stand.

I don’t believe I mentioned to you that she was “old and had issues,” which leads me to believe someone forwarded my response to them to you without letting me know they were doing so, and without asking for permission. How is that not serving to be petty, manipulative, vindictive, or catty? What is to be gained from that? I know that anything I write in an email can be forwarded, but common courtesy is to ask if you can send someone’s response before doing so.

No, name removed is not the only member who puts time and effort into the Shrine, and it is part of being a team, one I thought I would relish being a part of, but of which it’s become obvious that my opinions were not welcomed. One part of managing and leading a team is to not only manage everyone’s strengths, but also to guide everyone towards consensus, and to allow everyone to feel they have buy-in. While I understand that it is your prerogative as WHP to take action like this, it has also become evident that while you and others discussed the action to take, you conveniently failed to mention anything to me about it. I have to wonder if this was because you were concerned about my reaction, or if you didn’t want others to know what I saw and heard during name removed and name removed3's exchange.

The actions I’ve witnessed during all of this make it obvious that if anyone dares question you or name removed3, they’re treated like dirt. I have no desire to deal with petty, vindictive, manipulative, or catty behavior in a voluntary organization. I deal with enough of it at work, I don’t need to deal with it in my spare time too. While I had hopes that we could all be adults and not suffer from this behavior, I see very little opportunity for that, at least at this point.

I would like to think that we could all be adults and work through this, in an amicable and friendly manner, at this point, with all of the posts on Facebook, through emails, and the idle gossip, rumors, accusations, and insults that have been thrown around, and how it has escalated today, with more accusations, that there is no chance of that happening.

I would have hoped that especially as I don’t have the history with anyone in the group, and that I can relate to name removed, I could help to resolve this in a more positive manner. However, it is obvious that my skills and relationship were not wanted or considered to try to resolve this situation.

As such, at this time, as it’s obvious my opinions aren’t valued, and if there is no positive resolution to this, I see no option other than to resign as Worthy Guide.
Yes, I know, I'm now being catty, petty, manipulative, or vindictive for sharing all of the emails, but at this point, what do I have to lose?

Rather, I'd like to caution everyone that you may want to keep this sort of thing in mind should you decide to join Order of the White Shrine of Jerusalem as apparently, at least at this Shrine, not following the leader blindly is frowned upon in that establishment.


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