Grand High Priest

Most Excellent Companion Sylvanus J.A. Newstead
Grand High Priest – 2019-2021

The Grand High Priest of Royal Arch Masons of Washington, District of Columbia, Most Excellent Companion Sylvanus J A Newstead, started his Masonic journey when he was welcomed into the Fraternity in August 1989 at Lodge Tranquility, No. 1446 S.C., in Freetown, Sierra Leone, by his father, the late Bro. Sylvanus James Akioto Newstead, PM, son of an operative Stone Mason. On his journey which eventually brought him to the United States in 1996, Bro. Sylvanus Newstead spent a few years in the Gambia where he was privileged to act as Senior Deacon for a year at the Banjul Lodge of St. John No. 6878 EC at the request of his friend and brother WB Thomas Forster, PM. On reaching the shores of these United States, he first became an affiliated member of Sojourner Kilwinning Lodge No. 1798 in 2003 where he served as Assistant Secretary for two years. Burning with the desire to know more about D.C. Masonry, he affiliated with Petworth Lodge No. 47 where he served as the Worshipful Master in 2008. After his time in the east, he was appointed Master of Ceremonies and in 2013 elected as Secretary of the lodge, a position he still holds. WB Sylvanus Newstead was convinced by his close friend RWB Annas Kamara to affiliate and help strengthen Jerusalem Lodge No. 3000 in 2010. He served as Secretary during their rough times and then became Worshipful Master of the Lodge in 2012. Subsequently, he served JL3000 as Master of Ceremonies for a couple of years and is now the Treasurer of the Lodge.

Companion Newstead is an active member of the York Rite bodies. He was exalted to the Royal Arch in 2006 at a degree festival in Maryland. In 2009 he was elected to serve as Excellent Scribe Ezra at Sojourner Kilwinning Chapter No. 13 RAC, a position he held for ten years until 2019 and finally earned the title of Scribe Ezra Emeritus. He is also a member of Mount Pleasant Royal Arch Chapter No. 13 were on February 22, 2012, he was installed as High Priest of the Chapter. After leaving the chair, he served a year as Master of the First Veil. In 2017, he received the Meritorious Service Award after serving as Grand Inquisitor in 2013, and Grand Master of the first Veil in 2014. Illustrious Companion Newstead is also a member of Washington Council No.1 since 2009 where he attained the rank of Illustrious Master in 2015, was elected Recorder in 2016, in support of MIC Donald MacAndrew’s ‘1 year’ leave of absence, was awarded the Cryptic Mason of the Year in 2017 and was elected as Grand Recorder. In 2018 he received the ‘Ish Soi’ award and was also saluted as CoSV. Sir Knight Sylvanus Newstead is a member of Washington Commandery No. 1 where he currently serves as the Generalissimo. Brother Sylvanus Newstead is a thirty-second-degree member of the Scottish Rite, Valley of Washington, Orient of the District of Columbia and was honored as Knight Commander Court of Honor in 2013.

Worshipful Brother Newstead’s diligence and commitment to masonry captured and merited the approbation of Grand Masters thereby appointing him to serve the Grand Lodge FAAM of the District of Columbia as Grand Almoner in 2012 & 2013, Grand Preceptor in 2014, Grand Almoner from 2015 to 2018, and Grand Almoner and Empathy Coordination in 2019.

Sylvanus Newstead attended the Prince of Wales School, in Sierra Leone where he pursued and earned a B. Eng. (Elect) degree. In the USA, he earned an Associate Degree in Computer Science, a Master’s Degree in Computer Systems Management (DB Management) and a Graduate Certificate in Project Management from the University of Maryland University College. He is currently employed with Kaiser Permanent as a Data Analyst.

Mr. Newstead thrives in his involvement and service in voluntary organizations. This may be due to an early influence by his mum, in the church’s Mothers’ Union and Girls Friendly Society activities. Growing up, he was very active in Youth Fellowship, YMCA and presently in the Prince of Wales School Alumni Association in the Washington, DC Metro area where he has served as President, Vice President, Treasurer and Social Secretary. Brother Sylvanus Newstead is an active member of Clinton AME Zion Church in Rockville, MD, where he currently serves as a Steward. He is married to Cecilia with two children, Sylvanus Adeyemi and Syllia.