Statement to the Committee on information for recognition, prepared by MW Vladimir S. Markovic, Past Grand Master, Chairman of the UGLS Committee on Foreign Relations

Tuesday 17 March 2015

Statement to the Committee on information for recognition, prepared by MW Vladimir S. Markovic, Past Grand Master, Chairman of the UGLS Committee on Foreign Relations

"United Grand Lodges of Serbia, Ancient, Free, and Accepted Masons is sovereign, regular and recognized Masonic Grand Lodge with its headquarters in Belgrade, Serbia. United Grand Lodges have under its protection twenty two just and duly constituted Lodges with over six hundred members.

As Freemasons, we submit to all tenets, principles, and ancient traditions of Freemasonry, which means that we believe in the Supreme Being, that the Book of the Sacred Law is always open on the Altar while the Lodge is at work, that we don’t discuss religion and politics in our Lodges, and that we are Brotherhood open for membership to all free adult men of good report, regardless of their religious beliefs, race, nationality, language, or social origin. Faith in God, Charity, and Brotherly Love are three supporting pillars of our Brotherhood.

Continuing honorable traditions of the Grand Lodge of Yugoslavia, founded in 1919, put to sleep in 1940, and then again awaken in 1990, United Grand Lodges of Serbia were founded on June 8th 2006, as a result of the desire of Serbian Freemasons from different groups and fractions, to unite under one roof. Lodges under protection of the UGLS work in three permanent Temples in Belgrade, Loznica, and Novi Sad, and five Temples in rented spaces in Niš, Kruševac, Ċuprija, Zrenjanin, and Sombor.

The Temple of the United Grand Lodges of Serbia, erected in Belgrade in 2008, was the very first Masonic Temple built in Serbia after the Second World War. UGLS Library is first specialized Masonic Library in the Region of Western Balkans, and member of the Masonic Library and Museum Association.

Constant education of its members is one of the most important aspects of the long term development of the UGLS. To facilitate best possible educational tools and conditions, UGLS, besides enriching its library funds, has extensive publishing program. We have published Manuals for all three degrees, Catechizes for all three degrees, Ritual Books, Almanac UGLS, as well as books on various masonic subjects written by the authors who are members of the UGLS.

Part of our publishing program also covers publishing of the magazine Neimar, an official quarterly publication of the UGLS, which is now in its fourth year of existence with seventeen issues so far.

In order to sit in the East, all qualified Lodge officers must complete educational course “Road to the East”. Masonic education is organized and coordinated by the Committee on Education and Publishing.

In 2007 we have founded Charity organization “Nezaboravak” (Forget-me-not), which is completely supported by the work and monetary contributions of the UGLS members. In seven years of its existence we organized and supported many large charity events which have been well received in Serbian society. For our charity work we have received numerous national and international recognitions and awards, which you can see in the documents we submitted to you.

On the field of international Masonic relations, we have always maintained strict rules of the recognition and have never entered into masonic contact or relation with any masonic group or Jurisdiction which is not regular by all recognized standards of regularity. So far, we have exchanged Treaties of Amity with Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, Prince Hall Grand Lodge of California, Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Alberta, Prince Hall Grand Lodge of South Carolina, Prince Hall Grand Lodge of North Carolina, and Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Georgia.

Our Jurisdiction has been visited by the Grand Master of Grand Lodge of Austria Nikolaus Schwarzler and by the Past Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of Germany Alfred Koska and they both recognized our origin and work as regular, which was documented by the letters I submitted to you. We also have a strong fraternal relationship with the Regular Grand Lodge of Italy, with whose help in 2010 three new Lodges were founded with the purpose of working emulation ritual.

We are strong regular Masonic Jurisdiction with excellent membership growth and retention rate of almost 100%. In our long term development we envisioned more permanent Temples and more Lodges in many more cities in Serbia. Regular Freemasonry has much to offer to the Serbian society and we are doing our part to the best of our abilities.

We do believe that stronger ties with international Masonic community would be beneficial for our work and that is the reason we seek your recognition. We also believe that some type of understanding, cooperation, or possible unification between UGLS and Regular Grand Lodge of Serbia would we beneficial for the future development of Freemasonry in Serbia, and for this we seek your support, guidance and advice. Also, Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of Germany Rudiger Templin proposed in 2011 in correspondence to UGLS to have Grand Masters of United Grad Lodge of Germany and of Grand Lodge of Austria as mediators in the process of unification of the UGLS and RGLS. We are willing to consider any solution that would benefit Freemasonry in Serbia."

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