What is KYCH
Knights of the York Cross of Honour (KYCH), was established as a Honor Group for York Rite Masons. The requirements for membership are that each proposed candidate for membership must have presided over a Lodge as a Master, over a Chapter as High Priest, over a Council as Illustrious Master and over a Commandery as Commander. Knights of the York Cross of Honour are an Honor Group of York Rite Masons who are dedicated to serving the Masonic Fraternity as a Labor of Love.
Royal Arch Masonry
Royal Arch Masonry is the first order a Master Mason joins in the York Rite. The Chapter works the following degrees:
- The Mark Master Mason degree is in some respects an extension of the Fellow Crafts’ second degree. In some jurisdictions the degree is conferred in a Fellow Craft Lodge, that is, the second degree of the Blue Lodge.
- The Past Master (Virtual) degree is conferred because of the traditional requirement that only Past Masters of a Blue Lodge may be admitted to Holy Royal Arch. Because there are so many applicants for this degree, Virtual Past Master is required to qualify them for it. Much of the work is the same given to install the Worshipful Master of a Blue Lodge. There is no such requirement or procedure outside the USA.
- In the Most Excellent Master degree the building of King Solomon’s Temple, which figures so prominently in Blue Lodge, has been completed. In England the degree is conferred by Cryptic Councils, along with three other degrees below.
- The Royal Arch Mason (or Holy Royal Arch) degree is said by many to be the most beautiful degree in all of Freemasonry. Following a convocation of the Supreme Grand Chapter in England on November 10, 2004, there are currently significant ritual differences between what is worked in England and that worked in the USA. Fraternal inter-relations remain as before. Freemasons who reach this degree may continue to Cryptic Masonry or go straight to Knights Templar (where permitted—requirements vary in different jurisdictions).
Membership in the Council of Royal & Select Masters or the Council of Cryptic Masons is not required for membership in the Knights Templar in some jurisdictions, so it can be skipped. In others it is required. It is called Cryptic Masonry or the Cryptic Rite because a crypt or underground room figures prominently in the degrees.
- Royal Master
- Select Master
- Super Excellent Master
In some councils, a Most Excellent Master degree is offered between Select Master and Super Excellent Master, and some jurisdictions do not have the Super Excellent Master degree.
The Knights Templar is the final order joined in the York Rite. Unlike other Masonic bodies which only require a belief in a Supreme Being regardless of religion, membership in the Knights Templar is open only to Christian Masons who have completed their Royal Arch and in some jurisdictions their Cryptic Degrees. This body is modeled on the historical Knights Templar to carry on the spirit of their organization. Throughout history it has been claimed that Freemasonry itself was founded by the Knights Templar or that the Knights Templar took refuge in Freemasonry after their persecution. The Grand Encampment of the United States acknowledges the existence of these theories but states that there is no proof to justify such claims.
A local Knights Templar division is called a Commandery and operates under a state level Grand Commandery as well as The Grand Encampment of the United States. This is unique among Masonic bodies as most report to the state level alone. The Knights Templar confer three orders, and one passing order as opposed to the standard degree system found elsewhere in Freemasonry:
- The Illustrious Order of the Red Cross
- The Passing Order of St. Paul (or the Mediterranean Pass)
- The Order of the Knights of Malta (or simply Order of Malta)
- The Order of the Temple