Today, there are fifteen (15) Elective Grand Lodge Offices of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Illinois. However, the original number of elective offices was six (6) and they included:
These offices were initially the only six (6) electives because they were the key administrators of the Grand Lodge. With the Deputy Grand Master and Grand Wardens serving, effectively, as Vice Presidents, the Grand Master, Grand Treasurer and Grand Secretary were free to focus on the administrative aspects of Freemasonry in the jurisdiction.
The preferred line of succession to the Oriental Chair of the Grand East was also defined along these lines with the exception of the Grand Treasurer and Grand Secretary. The Deputy Grand Master presided in the absence of the Grand Master and the Grand Wardens presided in the absence of their seniors. This implies that “line” officers were involved in all administrative aspects of the Grand Lodge and were capable to conduct the affairs of the Grand Lodge if called to do so.
The Bylaws of the Grand Lodge provide the lines of succession thereafter should a tragedy occur. In the absence of the aforementioned officers, the lot would fall to the senior-most Past Grand Master. If no Past Grand Master are available, then the lot would fall to Worshipful Masters by order in which the Master of the oldest Lodge would preside. It is this line of succession which remains in tact today.
The Office of Grand Lecturer was initially established as an appointed office in 1867. Right Worshipful Brother Edwin R. Williams, Past Grand Warden of Ohio, was the first appointed Grand Lecturer. In the initial hierarchy, this office fell below the Office of Grand Junior Deacon. Its importance was stressed by the first Grand Master, Most Worshipful Brother Benjamin Rogers, who felt that a focus on the ritualistic works of the Craft needed to be increased. As such, he introduced the elevation of the office to an elective office at the 3rd Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge in 1869. With the approval of the Grand Lodge, the rank of the office was elevated above the Office of Grand Senior Deacon but just below the Office of the Grand Secretary as this was not an administrative office. After passing the chair to Grand Master Isaac H. Kelly at the same session, Most Worshipful Brother Rogers was subsequently elected as the first “elected” Grand Lecturer in 1869 which boosted the number of electives to seven (7).
The Offices of Grand Auditor (3) and Grand Trustee (4) were added in 1915 under the term of Most Worshipful Brother Alexander A. Martin due to the efforts of the Grand Lodge to purchase a home for elderly members and a permanent Grand East. With three Grand Auditors and four Grand Trustees provided for in the law, these additions boosted the number of electives to fourteen (14). Relative to the hierarchy, these offices fell just below the Office of the Grand Lecturer.
The addition of the Office of the Grand Relief Secretary, the fifteenth (15) elective, was added in 1961 by Most Worshipful Brother Obed Vanderburg to manage benefits paid to the families of deceased members. The first Grand Relief Secretary would become the 29th Grand Master in 1975, namely, Most Worshipful James H. Black Sr. Relative to the hierarchy, this office was ranked below the Office of Grand Secretary but above the Office of Grand Lecturer because it was an administrative and financial office. With the benefit abolished at the turn of the 21st Century, the duties of this office were no longer needed. It was approved by the Grand Lodge at the 145th Annual Communication in 2011 to abolish the office. This took effect in 2012. This reduced the number of electives to fourteen (14). However, the addition of a new Grand Auditor at the 146th Annual Communication in 2012 restored the total back to fifteen (15) electives which is where the count stands today.