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District of Columbia – Universal Council #70, Knight Masons, District of Columbia

Universal Council #70
Knight Masons U.S.A.

Universal Council #70 is one of the newest Councils of Knight Masons. It was instituted on Sunday, December 20, 1998, in Washington, D.C., our nation’s capital. Universal Council #70 received its Charter from the Grand Council in Washington, D.C., on Friday, February 19, 1999.

Universal Council #70 prides itself on having among its members Masons of the Christian, Jewish, and Moslem religions, and Masons of different races and national origins. This is the reason the name “Universal” was chosen by the founding members of our Council. Our Founding Excellent Chief, and the Mason who did the most to start Universal Council #70, is Sheldon Arpad, now Past Excellent Chief.

The current officers of Universal Council #70, for 2003, are:

Excellent Chief Paul M. Bessel [email protected]
Senior Knight Gerhard Meinzer [email protected]
Junior Knight Kwame Acquaah
Scribe (Secretary) Harold Grainger [email protected]
Senior Warden Aires Domingues
Junior Warden
Director of Ceremonies John Vergalla
Chaplain Victor Adegbite
Assistant Chaplain Walter F. Simon
Steward Charbel Fahed
Sentinel Paul T. Sumler

Past Excellent Chiefs of Universal Council #70

1998 – 2000 Sheldon Arpad – Founding Excellent Chief
2000 – 2001 Robert H. Starr
2001-2002 John Greenwood


Meetings of Universal Council #70 Knight Masons (before and since receiving its charter)

Day Date Year Place Exc. Chief What happened
Sun Nov 1 1998 Friendship Hall? Sheldon Arpad organizing ?
Sun Dec 20 1998 Friendship Hall? Sheldon Arpad Institution, Initiation, Charter officers installed
1999 ?
Nov ? 1999 ? Sheldon Arpad reelected Excellent Chief
Sat Jan 8 2000 Friendship Hall? Sheldon Arpad ?
Wed Aug 23 2000 Singleton Masonic Hall Sheldon Arpad Elected & Installed officers, including Robert H. Starr as new Excellent Chief
Wed Mar 28 2001 Singleton Masonic Hall Robert Starr Nominated new members
Wed Aug 22 2001 Robert Starr Elected & Installed officers, including John Greenwood as new Excellent Chief
Fri June
2002 Takoma Masonic Center John Greenwood
(Paul M. Bessel acting for John Greenwood)
Conferred degrees
Fri Dec
2002 Scottish Rite’s “Universal Lodge Room” John Greenwood
(Paul M. Bessel acting for John Greenwood)
Conferred degrees and elected new officers, including Paul M. Bessel as new Excellent Chief


Bylaws of Universal Council #70 Knight Masons
adopted August 15, 1998
approved by the Great Chief of the Knight Masons of the U.S.A. on February 17, 1999

Article I – Name

  1. a)The name of this Council shall be Universal Council No. 70, Knight Masons.
  2. b)It shall be located in the Greater Metropolitan Washington, D.C. area.
  3. c)It holds its Charter from, and owes fealty and allegiance to the Grand Council of Knight Masons of the United States of America and to the Masonic Grand Lodge F.A.A.M of the District of Columbia.

Article II – Meetings

There shall be two stated meetings of this Council each year at the call of the Excellent Chief.  The last stated meeting in each calendar year shall be the Annual Meeting for election of officers.  Special Meetings may be held at the time and place designated by the Excellent Chief.

Article III – Officers and Committees

  1. a)The following Officers shall be elected and installed each year and shall serve until their successors are duly elected and installed: Excellent Chief, Senior Knight, Junior Knight, Scribe, and Treasurer. The office of Scribe and Treasurer may be combined.
  2. b)The following officers shall be appointed by the Excellent Chief and shall serve at his pleasure: Senior Warden, Junior Warden, Director of Ceremonies, Chaplain, Steward, and Sentinel.
  3. c)The Excellent Chief may appoint such committees as may be useful for carrying on the Council’s affairs.  The Excellent Chief shall be, ex officio, a member of all committees.

Article IV – Membership

  1. a)Membership in this Council shall be by invitation only. To be eligible for membership candidates must be Royal Arch Masons in good standing in Lodge and Chapter. Good standing in the prerequisite Bodies is necessary for continuing membership.
  2. b)Invitations for membership shall be given after unanimous election by the Council using secret ballot by all members present.
  3. c)If an invitation is not accepted within one year of its date of issue, such invitation shall be rendered null and void.  However, the individual may be re-proposed at a later date and he must be re-elected by ballot.

Article V – Fees and Dues

  1. a)The fee for the degrees or affiliation is $35.00; each Sir Knight or affiliate may purchase, at their option, an apron and sash. (amended Aug 23, 2000, and Aug. 22, 2001)
  2. b)Annual dues shall be $20.00 payable by December 1st in the preceding year. Members whose dues are in arrears for one year shall be automatically removed from membership.
  3. c)A member in good standing may become a life-member of this council by the payment of 20 times the then prevailing annual dues.

Article VI – Local Regulations

  1. a)Each knight shall sign the By-Laws.
  2. b)Every year this Council must execute at least one charitable community service every term and encourage all Knights to participate.

Article VII – Termination

In the event this Council shall cease to exist, except for the purpose of consolidation or merger, the Excellent Chief, Secretary and Treasurer shall, within 30 days thereafter, transmit to the Grand Scribe all the property of the Council, including, without limitation, all the books, records, jewels, paraphernalia, and funds or assets thereof.

Article VIII – Conflict Disclaimer

Anything contained in these By–Laws in conflict with the Statutes of the Grand Council of Knight Masons of the United States of America is hereby declared null and void.

Article IX – Council Funds

All Council funds shall be kept in the name of the Council in a financial institution in which the funds are federally insured.

Article X – Amendments

These By–Laws may be amended at any meeting of the Council by a 2/3-majority vote of those members present if written notice has been given to the membership at least 30 days prior to the meeting where action is to be taken.  Such By–Laws shall become effective when signed by the M.E. Great Chief.

Knight Masons U.S. is an honorary body that extends invitations for membership to active, hard-working Masons. Masons are not supposed to ask for membership, but rather wait to be invited.

The members of Universal Council #70 look forward being a very active Council, and inviting to membership Freemasons of all religious, racial, and ethnic backgrounds, working together in fraternity and brotherhood.

If anyone would like more information about Universal Council No. 70 please feel free to contact the “webmaster” of this page, one of the founding members of this Council, Paul M. Bessel, at [email protected]

Links to related sites

Grand Council Knight Masons U.S.A.
Schedule of Masonic Weekend meetings Feb. 2001
Description of what Knight Masons are, their degrees, their history

Circle by WebRing


The Grand Council of Knight Masons of the United States of America, in consideration of its origin strives to:

1. Perpetuate the ancient rituals of the Irish Masonic Canon, (the “Green” degrees) by promoting their frequent and regular conferral in its constituent councils, and by its expectation that such conferral will be executed with an accuracy, a precision, and a dramatic power congruent with the highest traditions of the Masonic institution.

2. Elevate to membership in its constituent councils only those Freemasons who in their character and persons have amply and thoroughly demonstrated in their Masonic lives, by means of a faithful attachment to the institution, a true and honorable record of service to its goals, and a genuine dedication to its high ideals.

3. Foster in its constituent councils the regular exploration and study of the Masonic Tradition and Heritage by means of an aggressive program of scholarly inquiry and research, and to pursue that Masonic learning in the spirit of our Celtic forbears who kept the light of faith burning in times of darkness.

4. Encourage its constituent councils to discover in the pleasures and diversions of the festive board that warm fellowship and that joyous fraternity, which have ever characterized and actuated the great spirit of this Ancient Craft.

5. Promote the charitable dimension so central to, and inherent in, Masonic life and tradition by obliging its constituent councils to contribute with customary Masonic liberality to those institutions, both Masonic and non-Masonic, which serve the needs of the greater community.

Historical Sketch – Knight Mason Degrees

The Knight Mason Degrees have their origins to the earliest records of Masonry – in fact there is some indication that the Knight Mason Degrees may have been developed even before the degree of Master Mason!

There are three degrees – Knight of the Sword, Knight of the East, and Knight of the East and West. These “Green” degrees are ancient and are in essence “Old Testament.” The 15th, 16th, and 17th degrees of the Scottish Rite, and the Order of the Red Cross of the Commandery are to some extent similar and all are based on the legend of Zerubbabel.

Until the mid-Nineteenth Century they were worked in Ireland under the auspices of the Royal Arch Chapters and later the Commandery Preceptories.

In 1923 the Grand Council of Knight Masons was formed in Dublin, Ireland and assumed responsibility for the degrees from the Preceptories. The degrees are also worked under the authority of the Supreme Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Scotland.

In 1936 a group of Masons in North Carolina brought the degrees to the United States under a Provincial Grand Superintendent. The councils in the United States formed the Grand Council of Knight Masons of the United States of America in 1967. The Grand Council in Dublin recognized this Grand Council in 1969.

Today, there are over 70 Councils of Knight Masons in the U.S.A. with more than 7000 members. The membership includes many of the leaders of Masonry in the United States. Membership is by invitation only and is considered an honor earned by service to the craft.

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