Chapter_1The General Grand Chapter, Royal Arch Masons International was founded in 1797 in Boston, MA. The Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of Iowa was formed in 1856.

There are four degrees in the Chapter of the Royal Arch. The degrees build-on and expand the lessons learned in the three degrees of Ancient Craft (Blue Lodge) Masonry, and, to a great measure, follow the form of the earlier degrees. Taken as a whole, the theme of the Chapter degrees may be summarized in a single word – RECOVERY.

During the degrees of Ancient Craft Masonry, you were told that you would receive the Master’s Word, the possession of which would enable you to travel in foreign counties and receive wages as a Master Mason. Just as you were about to receive the Word as a reward for your labors, it was taken from you and all the Craft, by death of Grand Master Hiram Abiff. In the Chapter Degrees you will recover the word.

The first of the Chapter degrees is that of Mark Master. During this degree you portray a Fellow Craft who, finding a stone of beautiful design substitutes it for his work and attempts to receive wages. The work is inspected by three overseers who, unfamiliar with its design and import, discard it as unfit for use. We later learn that the stone is, in fact, a keystone wrought by Hiram Abiff upon which the completion of the Temple is dependent. The degree teaches us to look for value in all things and to be mindful of the importance of the contributions of others, even though we may not, at first, recognize it. The Mark Master degree is considered by many to be one of the oldest degrees in Masonry.

Originally, the Royal Arch degree could be conferred upon those Brethren who had served their Lodge as Master. It was felt that this prevented many worthy brothers from being exalted to the Degree of Royal Arch. The degree of Past Master was created to confer the symbolic title of Past Master, thus allowing worthy brethren to pursue the Royal Arch. The Past Master’s degree was first conferred in England in 1768.

The Most Excellent Master Degree is the only degree known to be wholly American in origin. The degree fills a void in the story of Solomon’s Temple, as it depicts its completion and dedication. The degree was first conferred in about 1783. The Royal Arch Degree is the climax of Ancient Craft Masonry.

The Royal Arch degree is the complement of the Master Mason degree, the unfolding into a second volume, the history of that which was lost until its final recovery. Without the Royal Arch, the Master Mason degree is like a song half sung, a tale partly told, or a promise unfulfilled. The degree is believed to have had its organs in Ireland in the late 17th or early 18th century. Lodge records show that it was conferred in Fredericksburg on December 12, 1753.

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