THE YORK RITE SOVEREIGN COLLEGE
"Whoever will be great among you let him be your minister, and whoever would be chief among you let him be your servant; even as the Son of Man came not to be ministered but to minister."
King James Version
THE YORK RITE
The York Rite takes its name from the Ancient English city of York, around whose minster, or cathedral, cluster many Masonic traditions. Here, these traditions tell us, Athelstan, who reigned more than a thousand years ago and who was the first king of all England, granted the first charter to the Masonic guilds. Here, in 1705, a Grand Lodge was formed, to whose constitution the Grand Lodge in London later appealed as the true source of authentic Freemasonry. Though early disappearing from the Masonic scene, this Grand Lodge left an indelible impression upon the institution, and its name-York-will survive as long as Freemasonry continues.
ORIGIN OF THE COLLEGE
The York Rite Sovereign College of North America came into being in the City of Detroit, Michigan on January 6, 1957. It was the result of a meeting called by Richard W. Lewis, Past Grand High Priest of the Grand Chapter R.A.M. of Michigan, and attended by the heads of the four Michigan York Rite Grand Bodies and a number of distinguished Masonic leaders from other States. These founders, responding to a need which had long been recognized in the York Rite, outlined the structure and purpose of the new organization and arranged for its incorporation.
The purpose of the York Rite Sovereign College of North America, as set forth in its Constitution and By-Laws, are as follows:
(a) To foster a spirit of cooperation and and coordination among each of the Bodies of York Rite Masonry.
(b) To assist in worthy efforts to improve the ritualistic and dramatic presentation of York Rite work.
(c) To conduct an education program in order to inculcate a greater appreciation of the principles, ideals and programs of York Rite Masonry.
(d) To strengthen York Rite Masonry in every possible manner.
(e) To build up a love of country and to aid and support genuine Patriotism.
(f) To reward outstanding service to York Rite Masonry by awards, honors and other methods of proper recognition.
YORK RITE COLLEGES
The first York Rite Coilege was constituted on June 15, 1957, in the city of Jackson, Michigan. From here, the new organization spread rapidly from coast to coast and from north to south, and by 1970 the York Rite College had been established in Canada. Many of these States and Provinces have several Colleges. Those Knights of York who do not reside within the jurisdiction of a regular College hold membership in the "Governor General's College."Membership in a College is by invitation, and is restricted to those who hold membership in all of the other York Rite bodies. Since the primary objective of every College is to foster a spirit of service and to promote and support the York Rite in every way possible, it is no surprise to find many of the leaders of the Craft numbered among its ranks. Here they find a common ground from which they can act for the welfare of all York Rite bodies without special favor to any. Colleges have been active in the organization of York Rite Festivals, degree teams, drill corps, and many other functions which serve to assist, coordinate, and unify the Rite.
THE SOVEREIGN COLLEGE
The York Rite Sovereign College of North America is the supreme governing body for all Colleges within its jurisdiction. As such, it endeavors to promote all those activities which favor the accomplishing of its stated purpose. Among these is the awarding of certain honors for outstanding service.
The Gold Honor Award may be given to any Mason for unselfish and faithful service in any branch of the York Rite. The recipient need not be a member of a College, nor is it required that he be a member of all the other York Rite bodies.
The Order of the Purple Cross of York, the highest honor of the College, is conferred upon those members of the College who have distinguished themselves by their service to humanity or to the Rite. The recipients are designated Associate Regents of the Sovereign College, and from their ranks are chosen the Regents or active members of that body.
The Sovereign College meets in General Assembly once each year, in August. Among those who have presided as its Governor General are Richard W. Lewis of Michigan, Walter A. DeLamater of New York, William R. Burchfield of Pennsylvania, Robert S. Spencer of Michigan, Charles F. Davis of Illinois, John A. Downs of Michigan, Henry A. Montague of Michigan, and Gordon H. Stuart of Ontario Canada.
LEGEND OF YORK
This craft came into England, as l tell you, in the time of good king Athelsan's reign; he made then both hall, and also bower and lofty temples of great honor, to take his recreation in both day and night, and to worship his God with all his might. This good lord loved this craft fall well, and purposed to strengthen it in every part on account of various defects that he discovered in the craft. He sent about into all the land, after all the masons of the craft, to come straight to him, to amend all these defects by good counsel, if it might so happen. He then permitted an assembly to be made of divers lords in their ranks, dukes, earls, and barons, also knights, squires and many more, and the great burgesses of that city, they were all there in their degree; these were there, each one in every way to make laws for the state of these masons. There they sought by their wisdom how they might govern it; there they found out fifteen articles, and there they made fifteen points."
-Regius Manuscript, circa 1390
For further information, write to:
York Rite Sovereign College of North America
500 Temple Avenue
Detroit, Michigan 48201