The Scottish Rite is one of branches of Freemasonry in which a Master Mason may proceed after he has completed the three degrees of Symbolic or Craft Masonry. Another branch is the York Rite, consisting of Royal Arch Masons, Cryptic Masons, and Knights Templar. The three bodies of the York Rite are the Chapter, the Council and the Commandery. The Royal Arch Degree of the Chapter is as old as Ancient Craft Masonry and has become universal throughout the world.
Another key organization in Masonry is the Shrine, an organization of Freemasons, dedicated to having fun and helping children. The Shrine is known as the World’s Greatest Philanthropy because of its network of children’s orthopedic hospitals and burn centers throughout North America … Chicago is our closest orthopedic hospital and Cincinnati our closest burn center. Additional appendant bodies include the Order of Eastern Star, Job’s Daughters, DeMolay, Rainbow Girls and others.
Masonic historians still seek answers to the origin of the Scottish Rite. The first reference to the Rite appears in old French records where the word “Ecossais” (meaning Scottish) is found. During the 17th century, when the British Isles were torn by strife, many Scots fled to France and resumed their Masonic interests there. This influence may have contributed to the use of the word “Scottish.”
Records from the 18th century show activity of the Rite in Bordeaux, France. From there it spread to the West Indies and then to the colonies. Antecedents of Scottish Rite existed in Albany, New York as early as 1767.
As the growth continued and to bring order out of chaos, a Supreme Council was established in Charleston, South Carolina in 1801, to control the activity of the Scottish Rite. This later became known as the Supreme Council for the Southern Jurisdiction of the United States. A Supreme Council for the Northern Jurisdiction of the United States was organized in 1813.
The Northern Jurisdiction headquarters is in Lexington, Massachusetts and coordinates the activities of Scottish Rite within 15 Northeastern, Middle Atlantic and Midwestern states. The Southern Jurisdiction headquarters is located at Washington, D.C., and covers the remaining 35 states.
The 15 states in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction are Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin. Each state has a Deputy and Actives responsible for Scottish Rite activity within that state. The current Deputy for Indiana is Past Grand Master Gail N. Kemp, 33°.
Today the Northern Jurisdiction has official and friendly relations with more than 50 Supreme Councils throughout the world. The CEO for each Supreme Council is referred to as the Sovereign Grand Commander. The current SGC for the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of the United States is John William McNaughton, 33°, a member of the Valley of Fort Wayne.
Membership in the Scottish Rite provides each of us an opportunity to expand upon our knowledge of Freemasonry, to widen our circle of friends, and to serve humanity in unique ways.