Boy, talk about a topic that seems to confuse a lot of people. Actually, the only that seems to get confused is your Grand High Priest! We’ve seen countless ways changing a Chapter’s bylaws have been handled. Most are right — or pretty close — but some are really off the mark. Let’s go over the process.
Why change your Chapter’s bylaws?
Great question. There are plenty of reasons: To update your dues, to change how often the Chapter meets, and to alter the meeting date or time are just some common examples. If it relates to how your Chapter “does business” and is established in your current bylaws, then it needs to be changed through the bylaws as well.
What about the Grand Chapter’s bylaws?
Well, there’s that too. As you might guess, the Grand Chapter’s bylaws supersede the local Chapter’s bylaws. So you can’t add or change something locally that goes against what the Grand Chapter bylaws say. And remember, if it’s not in the Grand Chapter’s bylaws but is mentioned in the Grand Lodge’s bylaws, that goes as law too.
What’s the process for changing our bylaws?
It’s actually pretty simple:
- A committee is charged with reviewing and making recommendations
- Those recommendations are presented at a stated convocation
- The recommendations are communicated to the membership with a future date (often, the following convocation) for discussion and voting
- The recommendations are presented at the appropriate date for discussion and voting
- Discussion and voting takes place
- If approved, your new bylaws take affect
Now, there’s one caveat to this whole process. As the Grand Chapter’s bylaws are currently written (code 2-3), “All amendments to the bylaws of chartered chapters shall be submitted to the Chairman of the Jurisprudence Committee for approval before any action is taken, except to change the date of stated convocations.”
So, if you want to change the date of your stated convocations (for instance, from the 2nd Tuesday to the 3rd Wednesday), have at it. For anything else, you will need to submit the proposal(s) to the Chairman of the Grand Chapter’s Jurisprudence Committee for review and approval before any action is taken. We interpret this as in-between steps 1 and 2 (so that what you are proposing has preliminary approval).
You should know, however, that this process is very likely to change. There is talk that the submission of the proposed bylaw changes by a local Chapter would be the final step to approval. This might be mean you need to repeat the whole process, so Chapters are encouraged to check in with the Grand Chapter early in the process on anything they have questions about.
Do we have to tell the Grand Chapter what we did?
Indeed! The Grand Chapter tries to keep a current collection of each Chapter’s newest bylaws and checks things like meeting dates, times, etc. vs. the various printed and online directories and listings we have. This makes sure that visitors, such as Grand Officers or out-of-state Companions, know when you are meeting and can plan accordingly. Believe us, no one wants to drive a long distance only to find a Chapter has changed its meeting date or specified one month or another as being dark.