There has been some confusion about the terms Traditional Observance Lodge(TM) and European Concept Lodge. The terms have often been used interchangeably, though this is a mistake, as important differences exist between the two approaches to structuring a Masonic lodge. To help eliminate the confusion we would like to show that Traditional Observance lodgesdiffer from what have become know as European Concept lodges in three important ways. The focus is different. All Traditional Observance lodges have a guiding initiatic focus to all their activities. All efforts are made to create a deep, contemplative atmosphere in all meetings. This is achieved by employing darkness, candle light, periods of silence and meditation and strict rules for degree conferral and candidate advancement. European Concept lodges tend not to have such guiding and definitive focus, even if they follow many similar practices. The models are different. European Concept lodges tend to begin with the English lodge model and then infuse it with the Continental European system of candidate education. The “European Concept” came out of an English constitution jurisdiction when Lodge Epicurean No. 906 was founded by Kent Henderson in 1993 in Geelong, Australia.
The first American lodge to adopt a similar approach was St. Albans Lodge No. 1455, founded in 1992 by Pete Normand in College Station, Texas. This lodge adopted the English model of meeting quarterly and follows the “Seven Principles of Traditional Freemasonry,” enumerated by John Mauk Hilliard. In contrast, TO lodges begin with the North American lodge model and enrich it with traditional initiatic elements practiced in Continental European and Latin American Freemasonry. TO lodges endeavor to have complete Masonic programs monthly.
The uniformity between lodges is different. TO lodges are relatively uniform, whereas European Concept lodges vary from one another significantly. TO lodges all follow the same standards prescribed by the MRF and participate in the Foundation’s national efforts toward Masonic renewal. European Concept lodges are not usually related to one another in any way and have approaches to Freemasonry that can be radically different.