HISTORY OF THE VIRGINIA COUNCIL OF DELIBERATION A.A.S.R. OF FREEMASONRY, P.H.A.
(Compiled 2005. Updated as of June 2022)
Organized under authority of the United Supreme Council 33º of Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Prince Hall Affiliation, Southern Jurisdiction, United States of America, the Virginia Council of Deliberation is composed of nine (9) Consistories that are duly constituted by the aforesaid United Supreme Council 33º. Their names, numbers and chartered locations are as follows:
Alpha & Omega Consistory No. 9 Norfolk, Virginia
Richmond Consistory No. 22 Richmond, Virginia
John W. Kirby Consistory No. 40 Hampton, Virginia
Acorn Consistory No. 103 Roanoke, Virginia
Constantine Consistory No. 105 Lynchburg, Virginia
Petersburg Consistory No. 144 Petersburg, Virginia
Shadrack Jackson Consistory No. 156 Alexandria, Virginia
Warrenton Consistory No. 315 Warrenton, Virginia
Fredericksburg Consistory No. 344 Fredericksburg, Virginia
As a matter of record another Consistory by the name of Fidelity Consistory No. 120, was chartered in Suffolk, Virginia, but was deactivated in the 1980s and its members were transferred to Alpha and Omega Consistory No. 9, in Norfolk, Virginia.
As provided by its Constitution and General Regulations, a Deputy is appointed as the Supreme Council’s official representative in the Commonwealth of Virginia. His Masonic domain is referred called the Orient of Virginia and he performs duties that are specially assigned by the Supreme Council, or by the Sovereign Grand Commander.
Although much of its early history is beyond our memory, the Virginia Council of Deliberation was organized in 1924 under the leadership of Illustrious John W. Barnes, 33º, the first Deputy for Virginia. In the late 1940s, SGIG Barnes was succeeded as Deputy by the Rev. Bishop (SGIG) H.Z. Plummer, 33º. Bishop Plummer was a well-known clergyman and author of Masonic literature who also served as Grand Master of the Most Worshipful United Grand Lodge of Virginia, A.F.&A.M., which was forerunner of our present day Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Virginia, F&A.M., Inc.
In the late 1960s, Bishop Plummer was succeeded as Deputy of the Orient by SGIG David L. Muckle, 33º and subsequently by SGIG John Henry Evans, Jr., 33º, in January 1976. Ill. Evans was then succeeded by SGIG Richard L. Jones, 33º, in 1989. Ill. Jones served as Deputy until March 2003 and was succeeded by SGIG George M. Ellis, Jr., 33º, who served until March 2010 being succeeded by SGIG Michael A. Parris. Ill. Parris’ successor is our current Deputy of the Orient, SGIG Shelton Riddick, 33º.
During their respective stewardships, each Deputy did much to advance Scottish Rite Masonry in the Orient of Virginia. As an example, Illustrious John W. Barnes established the Virginia Council of Deliberation and the Rev. Bishop H.Z. Plummer is credited with publishing its first By-Laws. Illustrious David L. Muckle organized the Virginia Commanders of the Rite, a special organization of Thirty-Third Degree Masons, in June 1969, with GIG John Henry Evans, Jr., serving as its President. Illustrious J. Henry Evans established the tradition of honoring the ladies of Scottish Rite Masons at an annual banquet and from this banquet of appreciation, the Virginia State Council of Assemblies came into being.
Illustrious Richard Jones published the first set of By-Laws for the Virginia Commanders of the Rite. He also streamlined the order of succession for elected officers in the Council of Deliberation, so that each Consistory has representation in the line of officers. Additionally, Illustrious Jones sought to establish an orderly rotation of hosting annual sessions of the Virginia Council of Deliberation. Under this initiative, each Consistory hosts the annual session on a rotation basis.
Illustrious George M. Ellis, Jr., sought to increase Scottish Rite membership across the Orient by returning to time-honored values that we espoused over the years. He promoted the theme “Rededicate, Rejuvenate & Revive,” and implemented ways and means to accomplish these objectives. He also revised the By-Laws of the Virginia Council of Deliberation, published its first edition of history, promoted Scottish Rite involvement in community activities and provided charitable contributions to individuals and institutions on an annual basis. Taking advantage of past successes while ushering in a new era of initiatives, SGIG Parris established the theme, “Raising the Bar to a Higher Level of Performance,” by raising the standards we have set for ourselves however, it was also during this administration that a divide was created throughout the jurisdiction with the secession of many consistories from the regular United Supreme Council established in 1886 to join a newly created organization. In 2015, amidst the turmoil, SGIG Shelton Riddick assumed the office of Deputy of the Orient in 2015 and has worked diligently to continue the Scottish Rite tradition established by our forefathers.
The Virginia Council of Deliberation meets annually during the month of March. The Virginia State Council of Assemblies, Order of the Golden Circle also meets annually at the same time and location as the Council of Deliberation. In the past, officers of the Council of Deliberation were elected for one-year terms; however, in 2005, the By-Laws were amended to permit officers to serve two-year terms, but no officer may serve more than 2 consecutive years in the same office, except the Treasurer or the Secretary whose tenure is not limited.
Promoting fraternal relations and diffusive charity as all freemasons do, the Virginia Council of Deliberation, as well as its subordinate Consistories, has sponsored many charitable programs over the years. In the not-too-distant past, we held annual blood donor programs and supported community projects such as the construction of Dixie Hospital which was later renamed Hampton General Hospital. We also contributed annually to Virginia Union University, St. Paul College and more recently to Virginia State University and to the Baptist Children’s Home.
On a larger scale, the Virginia Council of Deliberation and its Consistories support programs of the United Supreme Council, our parent organization, whose charities are dispensed to institutions of higher learning, as well as to health and medical research institutions. The Virginia Council of Deliberation and its Consistories, both individually and collectively award scholarships annually to qualifying individuals. We also participate actively in programs of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Virginia, F&A.M., Inc.
Our activities in the community, though low-keyed and sedate, are based on a love of God and all of mankind. We are indeed proud of our heritage as Scottish Rite Masons and are grateful for the support that you have given us over the years.