Last night, I was awarded a great honor prior to the filming of The Masonic Roundtable. I received an official invitation to become the newest member of the Perfect Ashlar Council No. 349 of the Allied Masonic Degrees (AMD) in Herndon, VA! For those unfamiliar with AMD, it is an invitational York Rite appendant body of Masonry that limits its membership to 27 members per council (with two exceptions).  In essence, in addition to being open only to Royal Arch Masons, a Mason cannot join unless he is invited to do so (a privilege, according to my understanding, often reserved for Past Masters and other Masons with long track records of service to the fraternity).
The purpose of AMD is twofold: Preservation and research. Throughout the 19th century, the “Antients” issued Craft Warrants to lodges which gave those lodges carte blanche to work any Masonic-related degree they liked. By the end of the 1800’s, many of these degrees had been consolidated into new Masonic bodies such as the Knights Templar and Cryptic Council; however, a number of degrees fell by the wayside. The Grand Council of the Allied Masonic Degrees in England and Wales and the Colonies and Dependencies of the British Crown was therefore formed in the late 1870’s primarily (at least initially) as a means to preserve these degrees, thereby keeping them from being lost to antiquity.  The second purpose of AMD is to enable Masons to come together in small groups to enhance Masonry through scholarly research. 
I’m overjoyed to have been invited to join an organization whose purpose comes so near and dear to my heart as a historian. The ability to conduct Masonic research (both empirical and philosophical) has been one of the high points of my involvement with this fraternity, and I’m very much looking forward to learning all I can about the degrees AMD works so hard to preserve. This opportunity will also give me the nudge I need to make time for AMD’s yearly conference entitled “AMD Masonic Week” in Northern Virginia, which takes place each February.
To all the brethren of Perfect Ashlar Council No. 349: Thank you very much for this honor. I am humbled by your invitation and very much look forward to continuing my search for more light in Masonry with you all to guide and support me, and to share in my journey.
 The Council of the Nine Muses is limited to nine brethren, and the Grand Masters Council has no membership limit due to its formation under a “roving charter” which enables it to induct men in rural areas of the United States where no AMD Councils exist.