A Brief History of Lodge Sunneen (Sannine) 969

Lodge Sunneen 969 was established on July 2, 1904 in Shweir just about 30 kilometers northeast of Beirut and was named upon the great mountains of Mount Lebanon ‘Sunneen’.

That was the third Lodge chartered by the Grand Lodge of Antient Free and Accepted Masons in Scotland after Lodge Palestine 415 in 1861 and Lodge Peace 908 in 1900.

The petition for the lodge was presented by Bro. Saad Abu Shahla, member of Lodge Palestine who was also affiliated to Lodge Peace, Bro. Alexander Baroudi and Bro. Nicolas Haggi also from Lodge Peace respectively. Some other founding members included Bro. Faris and Elias Mishriq and Bro. Ibrahim Naufal who were initially initiated in Lodges in Brazil. The petition for the Lodge was typed on Peace Lodge 908 letterhead written in English and Arabic, which states: ‘To the Glory of the Grand Architect of the Universe’ on its header.

Lodge Sunneen, initially adopted the blue color for its regalia and then changed it to black.

As being the only Lodge in the Mountains of Lebanon the Lodge attracted fast many aspirants from a wide spectrum who were mainly influential traders, high ranked Ottoman Government officials and wealthy landowners.

The Lodge adopted a fast expansion policy initiating a large number of members, embracing more than 200 members in its first four years of operation. Most of them were influential Greek Orthodox and Maronite families heavily involved in political and religious issues and activities.

Soon after its establishment, the Lodge started having internal conflicts between its brethren, which reflected a troubled relationship with the Grand Lodge of Scotland as many disciplinary complaints were raised culminating into a complaint raised by its brethren against their own Right Worshipful Master.

In 1908 a report was sent to the Grand Lodge describing ‘the persecution’ its members were allegedly subjected to, due to their connection with the craft.

In an attempt to resolve the escalating and troubling issues, the Grand Lodge of Scotland resolved to appoint Bro. Esper Shoucair, a court representative for Great Britain and a founding member and past master of Lodge Peace, to act as commissioner for the Grand Lodge in enquiring into the matters arising from Lodge Sunneen, and from certain members thereof.

The Grand Lodge of Scotland empowered Bro Shoucair and granted him full authority to enquire into all such matters as requested, to inspect all books, documents and archive as deemed necessary and to conduct interviews with the parties concerned and cite witnesses as see fit and to report back to the Grand Lodge. Bro. Shoucair was also asked to reach out to fellow Masons, such as George Sursock, Alexander Baroudi, Assad Ofaish and David Nahoul for assistance.

During the 1920’s, the members of the Sunneen Lodge favored meeting in Beirut especially during the winter season, preferring the facilities available at Lodge Peace in Beirut. A dispensation to do so was granted by the Grand Lodge on a yearly basis up until 1926.

However, in 1927 the desire of the members of Sunneen Lodge to confer degrees in cases of emergency at intervals of not less than one week instead of two weeks was turned down due mainly to reports sent to Grand Lodge that raised once again suspicions on the Lodge’s activities. At this point Edinburgh had also received a report from Shoucair on numerous disciplinary complaints highlighting irregularities in the working of the Lodge, in addition to that of the expulsion of Bro. Wadih Berbari with no supporting details even after numerous demand from Grand Lodge to do so, This made Edinburgh reconsider their dispensation to meet in Beirut.

As the proceedings from Grand Committee 1927-28 makes it evident, ‘the Master and Secretary having failed, after repeated applications, to furnish this information, the Committee recommend that permission to meet in Beirut be not granted’ and recommended closing the lodge, suspending its working and ordaining ‘that the Charter, books, papers, jewels, clothing, paraphernalia, and funds (including the Benevolent Fund) of the Lodge, be returned to Grand Lodge forthwith.

In 1927 The Grand Lodge having examined the controversial manner by which the Lodge was conducting its affair and the serious irregularities in the work meetings uplifted its charter and suspended its activities.

This marked the end of Lodge Sunneen 969.

Ref:

– Freemasonry in the Ottoman Empire – Dorothe Sommer

– Philip Morris, Freemasonry in the Holy Land. 5th Ed. 1872,

– Grand Lodge of Scotland proceedings 1927-1928 Archive

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