What is Imperial Session?
Every summer, Shriners from around the world come together for their annual business meeting, known as Imperial Session. During the week-long event, held in a different host city each year, members meet to discuss and vote on business matters of Shriners International and Shriners Hospitals for Children. The fraternity also hosts a variety of fun events including a parade and unit competitions. Other traditional events include a pageant for the incoming Imperial Potentate and the debut of the new patient success video and introduction of the National Patient Ambassadors.
History of Imperial Session
The first Imperial Session was held at the Masonic Hall in New York City with only 20 Nobles in attendance. It was at this meeting that a group of men were endowed with rights and privileges to advance the “Order of the Mystic Shrine” and create subordinate Temples. A fee of $50 was instituted for charter of a new Temple with a $10 annual temple tax to the Imperial Council. Dr. Walter M. Fleming was appointed the Grand Imperial Potentate and he, along with three other members, formed the Imperial Grand Council of the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine for the United States of America
The legend of the origins of the fraternity began at the 2nd Imperial Session held at the Masonic Temple in Albany, New York. It was here that the near-Eastern theme of the Shriners was established. The costumes and jewels of the Imperial Potentate and subordinate officers were prescribed, and each temple was required to adopt an Arabian or Egyptian name.
The 13th Imperial Session was held in Toronto, Ontario, Canada where Rameses Shriners had just been chartered the year before. Shriners, and for the first time, their ladies arrived in Toronto by the hundreds on trains. Rameses rented a Lake Steamer for moonlight cruises on Lake Erie.
Due to the United States’ impending involvement in the first World War, the 43rd Imperial Session in Minneapolis, Minnesota was dedicated solely to business. Many temple units which had raised funds for their trip turned them over to various war relief societies.
In honor of the 150th anniversary of Shriners International and the 100th anniversary of Shriners Children’s, the Public Opening of the 148th Imperial Session featured a multi-media re-enactment of some notable moments in the organizations’ history.