by William Lott
M.I. Ambassador for Delaware
In Delaware, we are proud of the fact that we are the first state. We are also the second smallest, second only to Rhode Island. While Rhode Island is smaller than Delaware size wise, their population exceeds ours by approximately 100,000 people. In 2017, Delaware’s population was approximately 960,000 people. From north to south, Delaware extends 96 miles and 35 miles east to west at its widest point and covers a total of 2,490 Square miles.Delaware
Geographically, Delaware is divided into three counties: New Castle County in the North (home of the City of Wilmington.58.5% of the population and 19.8% of the area), Kent County in the middle (home of state capital, Dover. 18.4% of the populations and 32.1% of the area.) and Sussex County in the south ( home of the state beach area. 23.1% of the population and 48% of the area). While the smallest county, New Castle County dominates the state politically, socially and economically.
Our size and population, limits the size of Masonry in Delaware. The Grand Lodge has 29 symbolic lodges including the Lodge of Research. Of the twenty-nine lodges in Delaware, seventeen (58.6%) of them are located in New Castle County.
In similar fashion, size and population density define the layout of the York Rite in Delaware. Delaware has seven Royal Arch Chapters, five of which are in New Castle County, one in Kent County and one in Sussex County. Cryptic Masonry has four councils including the Thrice Illustrious Masters Council which along with Gunning Bedford Council No. 1 is located in New Castle County. Adoniram Council No. 2 is located at Dover in Kent County and Joppa Council No. 3 is stationed at Georgetown, county seat of Sussex County. Delaware has three Commanderies of Knights Temple. Two, St. John No. 1 and Trinity No. 3, are located in Wilmington at the Opera House. St. Andrews No. 2 is located at Dover and is home to the Sir Knights from both Kent and Sussex Counties.
This brief geography lesson about Delaware says a lot about how degree work for the York Rite is organized. The degrees and orders of the York Rite are scheduled for the entire state by the York Rite Planning Committee. There are two cycles of the degrees and orders each year. There is a fall cycle that starts with the Chapter degrees being conferred at a Multi-state Festival of degree teams from the Grand Chapters of Delaware, Maryland, District of Columbia and Virginia. Hosting of the festival is rotated between the four jurisdictions. The two main Cryptic degrees are both done in one evening either north or south of the ditch, Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, dividing line between upper New Castle County and the lower portion of Delaware. The three Commandery Orders are spread over the three Commanderies on separate nights. This cycle is repeated in the spring with the exception that the Chapter degrees are usually scheduled between three different chapters within the state with the Past Master and Most Excellent Master being conferred on a single evening. Candidates from all parts of the state are transported to the location of the degree(s) they need. The farthest haul of candidates is at most 100 miles one way given Delaware’s geography. We have a dedicated cadre of drivers that transport candidates regularly to the sites of degree work. Spreading the work across the various chapters, councils and commanderies improves the quality of the work as it encourages specialization in one or two degrees within a York Rite unit. One clear advantage of being small.
Delaware’s 2018 York Rite Weekend will be held March 9th and 10th at the Sheraton Hotel between New Castle and Newport off route 141 and I-95. The weekend will open with the Grand Commandery holding its annual meeting on Friday afternoon followed by the Order of Knight Preceptors. The Grand Banquet will be held Friday evening. Saturday morning Grand Council will hold its annual meeting followed by the annual meeting of Grand Chapter in the afternoon. Information about the session and reservation forms are available at http://www.deyrmasons.org.
Another important event for Cryptic Masonry in Delaware this year will be the 100th Anniversary of Gunning Bedford Council No. 1. The Council is planning a special year culminating in October with a major dinner-dance. More information concerning this event will be forthcoming on Delaware’s York Rite website in the near future.
M.I. Ambassador for Delaware