While traveling in Europe Noble Englehardt P.P. of Aahmes Temple, Oakland, CA conceived the idea with several Nobles who were serving in the European Theater to create Nobles in Europe. Upon his return he presented the idea to the Aahmes Divan who later secured the sanction from the Imperial. The first European Shrine Ceremonial was held on 8 August, 1953 in Wiesbaden with Novices being flown in from all over Europe and Saudi Arabia. That day Aahmes Temple gained seventy-three new Nobles. Col. Green was the first appointed President of the Club. For a number of years Aahmes Temple retained exclusive jurisdiction for the ceremonials. Seven years later Aahmes shared the honor with Moslah Temple of Fort Worth, Texas. The two sponsoring Temples enjoy a splendid working relationship with each other and the officers and members of the ESC. For the period 1953-1962 the ESC created 1,200 Nobles. In 1984 Aahmes Temple had gained 2,376 new members, Moslah 2,043 and Medinah 132 for a total of 4,551 new Shriners. The European Shrine Club has experienced unusual growth during the past forty-nine years of existence and as of today created over 7,000 Nobles.
There is no Shrine Temple in Europe at present. It is the goal of the ESC to establish our own Shrine Center on the European Continent. In 1958, the ESC was known as Aahmes European Continental Shrine Club. The Club had one Oasis in Mainz-Wiesbaden area, with contacts to Heidelberg, Stuttgart, Frankfurt, Orleans and Paris, France. Eventually Oases were established in these locations and others followed. In 1977 the ESC had 12 Oases on the roll: which were located in Germany (Nuernberg, Augsburg, Munich, Berlin, Lahr, Heidelberg, Baumholder, Grenze, Bitburg, Rhein-Pfalz, Stuttgart and Frankfurt), 2 were located in Italy, and one each in Mildenhall, England; Belgium, Brussels; Rota Spain; Athens Greece and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The Oases in France were closed when NATO was asked to leave French soil. On May 12, 2001 three new Oasis were chartered in France. They are located in Nice, Toulouse and again in Paris. Our French Nobles exhibit great enthusiasm for the Shrine. Today the ESC has 13 Oases on the roll extending over six European countries and as far South as Togo, Africa.
The first Ceremonial, under the sponsorship of Moslah Temple, was held at the Officers Casino, HQ's USAREUR/7A in Heidelberg, Germany on Saturday, August 27, 1960. The second Ceremonial was conducted at Paris, France, on Labor Day; September 5, 1960. The members of the Divan for Heidelberg and Paris Ceremonials were: Potentate Barney B. Parker; A. Ward Hicks, Chief Rabban; Ray F. Holmes, Asst. Rabban; Robert W. Leonard, HP&P; Earnest E. Sanders, Oriental Guide; Robert H. Hall, Recorder; P. P. George Billingsley, Prelate; P.P.C. Victor Thornton, 1st Ceremonial Master. The 2nd Ceremonial Master and Marshal by the local Nobility.
By direction of the Imperial Potentate, the European Shrine Club was reorganized on January 27, 1968. A new constitution and by-laws adopted and approved and official charters presented to five Oases on same date as follows: Heidelberg at Heidelberg, Mosel at Bitburg, Rhein/Pfalz at Kaiserslautem, Stuttgart at Stuttgart and Taunus at Frankfurt. Rheinland Oasis, Düsseldorf, was chartered on January 10, 1976. The combined Oases boast a membership at present of 750 with over 200 in Europe and the balance in the USA, Canada and around the globe were the American Forces are currently deployed. The Nobility of the ESC lives by the credo : " Not one of our concordant bodies can prosper alone, so let us make every effort to prosper together as one happy Masonic family". Many of the past ESC leaders have been distinguished Past Grand Masters of the American Canadian Grand Lodge (ACGL). Like Noble Dr. Hugo Thomas, Louis Conine , William M. Lanam, Arthur L. Kile , Allister Boyd, Owen Quell and from the Vereinigten Grosslogen v. Deutschland (VGLvD) MWBro. Richard Mueller-Boerner.
Over the years Imperial Potentates: Orville Rush, Thomas Seay, Chester " Chick " Hogen, Aubry Graham, Victor Thornton, Peter Val Preda and John W. (Jack) Dean III have attended the ESC as guests of our sponsoring temples or came on their official Imperial trip. In April 1972 Imperial Sir Vic Thornton was welcomed by 1,342 Nobles and their ladies at the Moslah-ESC Ceremonial Banquet which was held in his honor and the 218 newly created Nobles at the Patrick Henry Village Officer Club in Heidelberg. The ceremonial included a Shriner's parade on Campbell Barracks, two live camels from a local Circus and of course the ESC Band. On 26 November 1972 the Fifth Annual Shrine Football Bowl was hosted by Napoli Oasis in Italy. The game netted over $ 5.000 for the benefit of Shriners Hospitals. The ESC received the following message: " My congratulations to your European Shrine Club for it's wonderful efforts and sponsorship of the 5th Annual Napoli Shrine Bowl game; and as ambassador at large from Al Malaika Temple, my heartfelt thanks to the two military teams that make it possible to raise the contributions for the Crippled Children. I am proud to wear the Fez. Sincerely signed John Wayne.
With the fall of the Berlin wall on November 9, 1989, the borders of the former East Bloc countries were crushed by people wanting more freedom and democracy. This resulted later, in the withdrawal of over 200,000 U.S. troops from Europe. The withdrawal had a great impact on the American Canadian Grand Lodge, other concordant organizations and the European Shrine Club. In an attempt to ward off the dwindling membership the meetings and ceremonials were reduced. Presently one annual ceremonial is being held. With the formation of the European Union and Common Market the ESC is pursuing aggressively new members in these countries. The reduction in US Forces has provided the ESC leadership and it's members with new challenges. Unquestionably the ESC has the vibrancy to continue with the greatest Philantropy on earth and serve as an Ambassador to Shrinedom on the European continent. Since the Club's founding it provided and continues in that tradition in providing a temporary home for fun and jollity to sojourning Nobles from the various Temples throughout North America. The ESC maintains an active program of transporting children for rehabilitation to Shrine Hospitals in the United States. Most of these children come from poor families in the former East Bloc countries. In the past the ESC transported over 100 children to the USA for rehabilitation and treatment.
The ESC is indeed fortunate and grateful for the sponsorship of Moslah and Aahmes Temple. The ESC will continue in every way possible to support their policies and procedures.
On January 12, 2002 the Board of Directors and the Executive Board voted on the initiative of the Noble Recorder Gerhard W. Severin that the ESC approach Imperial and our sponsoring temples requesting singular jurisdiction for the Club with no preferance for Aahmes or Moslah. Moslah had hinted earlier that they would not be interested any longer in sponsering the ESC. On 24 June 2002 Call # 449.1 was approved at the Imperial Session in Vancouver, British Columbia granting Aahmes Temple " Exclusive Jurisdiction in the area known as the European Union." In 2006 the ESC was graced with the attendance of Imperial Potentate Gary W. Dunwoody and his Lady Wanda in Milano, Italy on 12 -13 May 2006 for the ESC-Aahmes Spring Ceremonial. Other distinguished visitors from Imperial included the Executive Vice President Charles G. Cumpstone Jr, his Lady Mary and the Imperial First Ceremonial Master Noble Michael G. Severe and Lady Patty. Noble Mike is also serving as the Chairman of the Imperial Overseas Development Committee. The Ceremonial was also attended by Aahmes Potentate Charles Langel and Lady Sally and Past Potentate Aahmes Shriners Doc Greelman with Lady Char.
On 7 October 2006 an agreement for fraternal cooperation was signed between the ESC and the Regular Grand Lodge of Romania for the establishment of an Oasis in Bucharest. Since Romania will join the European Union on 1 January 2007 a charter was issued in Stuttgart on 7 October 2006 to Bucharesti Oasis bringing the total number of Oases within the ESC to thirteen.
On 30 July 2008 Aahmes Potentate Dan Garrett closed the European Shrine Club on a short notice without consulting the leadership and members of the ESC. In his letter he encouraged our Shrine Oases located throughout Europe to convert their Oasis into an Aahmes Club under his direction and supervision. Most of the Oases decided to close down and join the former leaders of the ESC in establishing a European Shrine Center in Heidelberg, Germany. It is anticipated that we would have a Charter by July 2009 from the Imperial. Recently we started " Project 300+" to get the Nobility to sign-up for the new European Shrine Center. In 2002 Moslah Shriners dropped us in favor of Aahmes. Henceforth the growth and development of Shrinedom will rest in the hands of the European Nobility and with the support of our former ESC Nobles where ever dispersed we will continue with the fine comradeship, fun and tradition of the Shrine here in Europe for the benefit of our children and hospitals. The Center will also provide a "home away from home" for our sojourning Shriners in the US Military stationed here in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.
Shrine in Croatia
As there was substantial interest to introduce Shrine into Croatia, W.B. Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Croatia approached N.I.S.O. (Northern Italy Shrine Oasis ONLUS) and its president Giorgio Ferrario. The liaison officer was Bro. Cesare Canilli who is also a member of the Harmony Lodge #6 in Rijeka and very soon, on September 6 2008, fifteen Brethren of the Grand Lodge of Croatia walked their Hot Sands in Trieste, Italy. This was the first Caravan established in the deserts of Croatia and all Nobles were enthusiastically looking forward to becoming members of the Emirate Shriners that is supposed to be founded in October 2009 in Milan, Italy.