What is a State Council or State Court?
The concept of State Council emerged with the growth of the presence of the Noble Order of Knights and Ladies of Marshall in countries beyond the borders of Ghana. The need to increase decentralization from the center and empower member Councils operating outside Ghana therefore gave vent for the inclusion of Statehood within the structure of the Order. The State Council is therefore the representation of the authority of the Supreme Council within a country to which the relevant Regional Councils defer. The State Council is a new level of the Noble Order’s hierarchy above the Regional Council intended to operate outside Ghana which hosts the international headquarters at Sekondi.
Where there exist within a country or group of countries of homogeneous characteristics up to two Regional Councils outside Ghana a State Council may be consecrated to provide semi autonomy.
Elements of a State Council/Court
Upon the satisfactory performance of a group of Councils within a homogeneous area, the Standing Committee of the Supreme Council may upon a request give approval for the elevation to State Council status of a group of two Regional Councils, though this used to be three, this entails the installation of appropriate State Officers to man it. The State Grand Knight so installed and his and his deputy as well as the Regional Grand Knights become eligible to membership of the Standing Committee of the Supreme Council. It is same with the State Court.
The State Council has similar officers as pertains at the Supreme Council. The State Grand Knight is the administrative head of the State Council and Past Regional Grand Knights are the officers eligible for election into that office. However like Regional Council positions all other office bearers of the State Council shall not be below Past Grand Advisers. The seat or location of the first Council of a newly constituted State becomes the Headquarters of the State Council however State Council meetings may be conducted at venues to be decided upon by the Council itself.
The State Council exists to reduce bureaucracy and bring authority nearer the rank and file of its membership assisting them to meet their daily needs easily and speedily as will bring about fluidity and satisfaction. It is to champion the cause of the Noble Order and hence that of the Supreme Council. It is semi-autonomous in status however it ensures the renewal of annual membership of initiated members by the payment of annual annuities and sends operational reports on activities of the State Council to the Standing Committee/ Supreme Council at each of its meetings.
Upon satisfying the Supreme Council of the need and preparedness of the team requesting Statehood, approval may be given for the Consecration of a State Council. It is the prerogative of the Supreme Director or his accredited representative, who shall be a past substantive Supreme Knight, to perform the Consecration exercise.
At the moment, though we have expanded into a few countries, we are yet to grow the Order in these parts to qualify for elevation to Statehood, therefore so far only the State Council of Togo/Benin exist within the Order and has been functioning as such. Even the growth of Togo/Benin to Statehood only took place as recent as 6th February 2010 W/Bro. Antoine TOWODO, now Sir Knight, as the first State Grand Knight who reigned from February 2010 to August. This was a cross border State Council encompassing Councils within the two Countries of Togo and Benin. The oldest Adult Council and Court within the area is Council 5 and Court 8, Lomé which therefore became the seat of the State Council. Per the approval of the Standing Committee of the Supreme Council however we are likely to have our second State Council within the Order as the three Regions within the Republic of Liberia; Southern, Central and South-East have received the blessing of the Standing Committee of the Supreme Council, at its January 2017 meeting, to be elevated to a State Council. The tentative date for this historic activity is slated for Saturday 29th April, 2017 and both State Council and State Court will be concurrently Consecrated at the Sacred Heart Cathedral and St. Joseph Parish, Monrovia respectively.
Happily for the State and the Noble Order in general four (4) new Councils and Courts would have been Consecrated by the Supreme Knight, Sir Knight Bro. Ernest Amoako-Arhen and the Grand Lady, Most Respected Lady Sis. Alice Stella Ayebi.
The State Council gets clothed with the authority of the Supreme Council within the State exercising all the powers ceded to it therefrom, however, it is itself subordinate to the Supreme Council and functions just to ensure there is devolution of power to the State to ensure that the Order functions smoothly along the main tenets of the General Assembly which is the Supreme Council. All its powers are to ensure the smooth functioning of the State so that there is no undue reference to the international headquarters based in Sekondi, Ghana. All the Adult Councils/ Courts report to their respective Regional Councils/ Courts which also report to the State Council/ Court in territories where they exist, whereas in Ghana the Regional Councils deal directly with the Supreme Council and the Regional Courts to the Grand Court. The State Councils become mini Supreme Councils in their territorial space although in principle they are not to unduly become an over bearing red tape. Rather the concept is to ease the functioning of the Councils within the territory without expected bureaucratic delays in waiting for approvals from Sekondi on every single issue.
From the foregoing it is apparent that the creation of a State Council brings the Supreme Council nearer and empowers the territory to be able to function speedily and give a vent for the building of human resource beyond the Regional Council level for Past Regional Councilors and Past members of the Standing Committee of the Supreme Council.
Without the supervisory influence of the Togo/Benin State Council the only Council of Benin, Council 52 & Court 44, Cotonou would have felt so much orphaned in the Order. With this arrangement Council 52 and Court 44 benefit from the leadership role of the State Council/ Court centered at Lomé with similar cultural and linguistic characteristics. To this extent, the concept of State Council frees the Supreme Council of the nuances of the multiplicity of cultures that expansion into many different countries will entail and allows a tacit delegation of its authority with its attendant advantages. Travelling costs reduction and improved speed of delivery is also achieved in becoming a State. This structure and the inherent delegation of authority it brings with it facilitates smooth growth across the continent and globally with ease.
The State Grand Knight and Past State Grand Knights have a unique decoration in terms of their regalia. The Past State Grand Knight has a red regalia as any Past Supreme Knight of the Order but it is double trimmed in silver whilst that of the State Grand Knight is single trimmed also in silver and it is also decorated with silver chain of 13 medals as displayed in the Supreme Knight’s regalia. All other decorations of officers at the Adult, Regional and State Councils are same as pertains across the Noble Order. These similarities and dissimilarities also apply to the sisters.
With a total of 130 Councils and 123 Courts and still counting it is likely to have more Regional Councils/ Courts in countries outside Ghana working towards Statehood for its advantages and a confirmation of their state of maturity. In the future an office similar to that of an External Affairs portfolio may become necessary to coordinate and advise the Supreme Knight/ Grand Lady on affairs of these State Councils/Courts for effective oversight responsibility as many more State Councils get consecrated.
Write up by W/Bro Charles Cobb, Supreme Propagandist.