A guide for new or aspiring members, their Proposers and Seconders
Freemasonry and Your Chosen Lodge
We are pleased that you have expressed an interest in becoming a Freemason and, in particular, a member of
the Lodge you have chosen. There are various steps you must take before that can happen, but, before you finally decide, it is very important that you read this pamphlet carefully and that you thoroughly understand the nature of Freemasonry, what you can expect from being a Freemason and what Freemasonry has a right to expect from you.
What is Freemasonry?
Freemasonry is among the oldest non-religious fraternal societies in the world. It is a society of men who are concerned with moral and spiritual values. It encourages men to live a better lives, to discipline themselves and to consider their relationships with others. Because it is a basic and essential requirement that every member profess to maintain a belief in a Supreme Being, it has a spiritual basis. However, it is not a religion, nor should it ever be regarded as a substitute for any form of religious faith. In fact, Freemasons are strictly forbidden to discuss matters of religion in the Masonic environment. The Bible (known by Freemasons as ‘The Volume of the Sacred Law’) is always open when Lodges meet. Obligations are sworn on, or involve the Volume of the Sacred or whichever holy book is held sacred by the man concerned.
Freemasons attempt to follow three great principles which represent a way of achieving higher standards in life:
Brotherly Love – tolerance and respect for the opinions of others and kindly, understanding, behaviour towards fellow creatures.
Relief – practicing charity, not only for other Freemasons, but also for the whole community. Freemasonry has always been concerned with education of young people and the care of orphans, the sick and the aged, and continues this work. Large sums are regularly given to national and local charities – more of this later.
Truth – Freemasons always strive for truth, demanding high moral standards and aiming to achieve them in their own lives.
Freemasonry is not a ‘Secret Society’. It is a society which has private methods of recognition i.e. of proving membership. These methods may have been derived from those used by operative stonemasons in the Middle Ages to protect the secrets of their craft. They are now similarly used to preserve Freemasonry’s method of teaching morality. All Freemasons are totally free to acknowledge their membership and are encouraged to do so when asked by someone whose reasons are genuine and not merely to denigrate.
Freemasonry. There is no secret about its aims and principles but, like many other societies – clubs churches, military etc. – it regards some of its internal affairs as being of no concern to other people. The meeting places of Freemasons are not secret – indeed some are open to the public. The aims have often been published in the Press and the rule book (Book of Constitutions) is available for any member of the public to see. You would not expect your golf club or your church to publicise the list of its members. Likewise Freemasonry regards its list of members as a matter which rest between the individual Freemason, his Lodge and Grand Lodge. Indeed, the Data Protection Act now restricts the use of such lists for anything but internal purposes if kept, as is now often the case, on computers etc.
Freemasons are expected to be as open and frank about Freemasonry and their membership of it as their situation in life allows them to be.
Freemasons gain from Freemasonry only as much as they are prepared to put into it by way of commitment to the ideals mentioned above. Thereby they experience a friendship which can only be felt from within the organisation and a spiritual and moral uplift which is very real but is hard to explain.
The first of the ‘Antient Changes’ from the ‘Book of Constitutions’, shown at the end of this pamphlet, states admirably what Freemasonry is meant to be.
What kind of men are Freemasons?
Men of all ages, races, colours, religions, politics or financial or social standing. We have members who are part of the Royal family, professions trades, skills, arts, sciences, businesses, manual occupations – both the employed and self-employed and, sadly, in these days, the unemployed.
When admitted a man becomes known as a ‘brother’ and remains so for the rest of his Masonic career. It is also pointed out to candidates that in Freemasonry all Brethren are ‘on the level’.
Although financial standing is not a bar to becoming a Freemason, it must be appreciated that you should be able to afford the minimum obligations of membership.
Conditions for admission.
There are, however, certain preconditions of membership of any Masonic Lodge.
1) You must believe in a Supreme Being.
2) You must be at least 21 years of age.
3) You must not engage in discussion on matters of religion or politics on Masonic occasions.
4) You must profess allegiance to the Sovereign of your country and all that the Sovereign represents.
5) You must be prepared to take an oath to preserve the private aspects of Freemasonry.
6) You must be willing to strictly observe the Laws, Regulations and Constitutions of Freemasonry.
7) You must be of good character and be prepared to uphold the Civil and Criminal Laws of any country in which you may reside, either temporarily or permanently.
8) You must have full support of your partner and family.
Society, family and your job.
A Freemason’s duty to society as a citizen must always prevail over any obligation to other Freemasons.
Freemasonry will severely censure and probably expel any Freemason who attempts to shield another Freemason who has acted dishonourably or unlawful.
Freemasonry must never be allowed to harm a mans family or other connections by talking too much of his time or his money causing him to act in any other way against their interests.
If it is ever proved that a Freemason has gained an unfair advantage over another person because of his membership of the Order a serious view will be taken. Members must never use any sort of Masonic certificate or evidence of membership to advertise a business or other enterprise nor use any sort of Masonic devise or description on stationary etc.
Freemasonry is compatible with any form of occupation whatsoever, but all Freemasons must be careful not to compromise their living and the living of their dependants.
The principles of Freemasonry should, at all times, strengthen a man in fulfilling his public and private responsibilities.
HOW IS FREEMASONRY ORGANISED?
Freemasons meet in Private Lodges. (This is what you will be joining if you become a member of your chosen Lodge). Each one has a unique number on the roll of the United Grand Lodge of England. At the time of writing there are some 7.7 thousand lodges in England and new lodges are added each year. Of course there are many thousand of other lodges in almost every country of the world. A lodge can have a membership from about 20 to several hundreds. In England alone approximately 8000 men become Freemasons every year.
English Private Lodges outside London are grouped into Provincial Grand Lodges. The lodge you wish to join is probably part of a Provincial Grand Lodge. Provincial Grand Lodges administer Freemasonry for the lodges in their areas and appoint the more senior and experienced Masons from Private Lodges for this purpose as well as a small number of paid staff.
In England the Private Lodges (under their Provincial Grand Lodge) form part of the United Grand Lodge of England which is administered from its premises at Freemason’s Hall, Great Queens Street. London.
When a man joins Freemasonry he takes part in 3 different ritual dramas. There has to be 28 days between each of these ceremonies which are known as ‘degrees’. The messages of the degrees are briefly.
First Degree – The candidate is admitted as an ‘Entered Apprentice’ – he learns about man’s natural
equality and dependence on others; his civil and moral duties.
Second Degree – The candidate becomes a ‘Fellow Craft’ – the effect of nature and science; the rewards of labour.
Third degree – The candidate becomes a ‘Master Mason’ – contemplation of inevitable death; fidelity; duty to others.
After some years experience and progressing through various ‘offices’ in the lodge as a Master Mason can qualify to be elected as Master of the Lodge. This is the highest honour a lodge can bestow on one of its members and he is made aware of the duty to administer and teach.
Many Freemasons do not progress beyond these three degrees and continue to enjoy their meetings in what is generally known as ‘Craft’ Freemasonry for many years. However, all those who have received the third degree are advised of the existence of the Holy Royal Arch. The message of the Holy Royal Arch is the awareness of man’s relationship with God. The Holy Royal Arch is operated as a separate and distinct part of Freemasonry and you will be advised where to seek further information when you have completed the Third Degree.
You will hear of other Masonic degrees or orders – there are many of them, with many other offshoots and extensions of each! Although many Masons do go on to join these Orders, they are not administered by the United Grand Lodge of England and you need not be concerned with them at this stage.
Offices and Ranks.
Some time after you have completed your Third degree you may be invited, or express a desire to take an office in the Lodge. This means you will be taking part in the dramatic representation of the moral messages.
mentioned above. Officers progress through the offices, usually on a yearly, until the office of Master of the Lodge. (as explained earlier).
You are under no obligation to undertake any of these offices but many men find it one of the most rewarding aspects of being a Freemason and that they are helped to discover talents they did not know they had.
Once having achieved the chair of Master of the Lodge the next step is (logically!) to be a Past Master (which may or may not have duties attached). After some years as a Past Master a ‘brother’ may be invited to become an officer of the Provincial Grand Lodge. Eventually, those who show exceptional service and merit may be invited to become officers of United Grand Lodge. All these progressions, as well as being honours, bring with them new duties and responsibilities.
ABOUT YOUR CHOSEN LODGE
Lord Bolton Lodge No 3263. Meets at the Masonic Centre, 69, Beverley Road. Hull. HU3-1XL
Tel No 01482-210581.
It was formed (‘consecrated’) in 1907 and has a currant membership of approximately 37 members.
It meets on the second Saturday of each month except June, July & August (9 meeting in all per year)
The meeting starts at 6pm prompt.
The November meeting is the ‘Installation’ meeting when we install a new Master of the Lodge and we start a lot earlier.(At present 4.30pm.)
Members of all lodges are encouraged to visit other lodges (including those at other Masonic Halls or Masonic venues if convenient) for enjoyment, fellowship and to widen their Masonic experience. It is hoped that members will also grasp any opportunity to invite those from other lodges to visit your chosen Lodge.
WHAT HAPPENS ON A LODGE EVENING
One of the ceremonies, as briefly described above, takes place in the lodge room, and this may be followed by the social part of the evening, the ‘after-proceedings’ often historically known as the ‘festive board’. This is held in the dining room of Beverley Road Masonic Building. A t the festive board members may have dinner and refreshments, toasts are given to the Queen and various members of the Order, there are a few (hopefully!) short speeches and there is occasionally an item of entertainment.
STANDARDS AND CONDUCT
All members of the Lord Bolton Lodge are expected to wear ‘dark’ lounge suits, dark morning suits or dinner suits (preferred), white shirts (or with only subdued colour or pattern) together with the official Masonic tie, a black tie, official Masonic bow tie or black bow. (Until recently black ties were worn in Freemasonry as a historical mark of respect for those who fell in the world wars. However, there is now an official Masonic long tie and bow tie which should, in preference, be worn in the Lodge and at dinner. The official ‘long’ Masonic tie may be worn in public if so wished. Shoes and socks must be black. Jewellery must be kept to a minimum. White gloves are worn by all members. As well as for reasons of equality and uniformity the standard dress has symbolic significance in Freemasonry. (Some specialist Lodges may wear e.g. military uniforms or ‘old boys school’ ties)
*No other form of dress is acceptable and members may not be admitted if not properly dressed.
Before every meeting each member of the Lodge receives a ‘summons or circular’ which requests his attendance and advises the date, time and business of the Lodge. Members must attend on every occasion unless prevented by family, work, business commitments or other unforeseen circumstances.
It can not be stressed too strongly that you must take account of your family and employment commitments before deciding if you can join the lodge.
When unable to attend it is essential that you send an apology to the lodge for your non-attendance. This can be done by contacting the Master, the Lodge Secretary or your Proposer or Seconder.
If at any time you find you can no longer continue your membership of the Lodge you must send in writing immediately or announce it at a Lodge meeting.
Although Freemasonry has serious aims and important ideals to convey, most members also join to enjoy the fellowship, the conversation and simply have some fun. This too is a vitally important part of Freemasonry. While members are encouraged to enjoy ‘good food and good wine’ excesses must be avoided at all times. Freemasonry is not just another dining or drinking club and it does not look kindly on members who spend their time in the bar instead of taking part in the festivities.
We want Brethren to enjoy themselves – but with moderation.
It should go without saying that behaviour in the Lodge room must be appropriate to the seriousness of the ceremony.
The good behaviour of Freemasons outside of the Masonic environment is also very important if the high reputation of the Order is to be maintained. Freemasons have many critics who are always ready to denigrate what they are and what they do.
COMMITTING YOUR TIME
Your obligation to attend a number of meetings per year has already been mentioned. Visiting other Lodges can take more of your time.
You will probably find that once you have joined Freemasonry you want to learn more about it. However this involves a further commitment of time which you should carefully consider. See ‘Further Masonic Studies’ below. Lodge of Instruction (LOI) is held every Tuesday evening at 7.00pm between October and March each year (dress casual) when ritual will be practiced, discussions on Freemasonry conducted and all your questions answered.
Social activities etc.
You will be expected to play a full part in attending some of the Lodges’ social activities. There is often a Ladies’ Night or a Social Evening. These are good opportunities to let your lady partners or family and friends see what we are all about and meet those of other members. At these events Ladies and guests are often encourages to tour Masonic premises, including the Lodge room.
Although it should not have to be so, social activities are often the source of vital finance for the Lodge so your support is strongly encouraged.
You must be fully aware of the financial commitments you are expected to make. It can not be stressed enough that at no time should your Masonic financial obligations be detrimental to the welfare of your family or those who depend upon you.
Like any other organisation , lodges and their administrative bodies have considerable operating costs. These costs must be borne out of initiation and joining fees, annual subscriptions and, occasionally social activities (though the latter should not have to be relied upon for operating the lodge room).
All lodges pay a per capita fee for each member to Grand lodge, the Grand Charity and to Provincial Grand Lodge for the purpose of administering Freemasonry and its charitable funds. In addition your lodge may have to pay for the costs of occupancy of a Masonic Hall and/ or lodge room.
At most meetings, charitable collections are taken and you will be expected to contribute within your means. There is often a raffle at the festive board for charitable (or Lodge) funds.
Members who are taxpayers are expected to make regular donations to Masonic charities by way of Gift Aid – the Lodge Charity Steward can provide details. Donations are confidential.
No Freemason is ever expected to contribute any more than his circumstances in life may allow.
The charitable funds in Freemasonry are distributed first to needy and distressed Freemasons, their families and Dependants and then to a large variety of non-Masonic international, national and local charities.
How do I apply to join?
You must first have two members of the Lodge who are prepared to Propose and Second you as a candidate for Freemasonry. Ask them to provide a Registration Form for completion, first by you then by each of them. The completed form (together with any other forms required by Grand Lodge) should be given to the Lodge Secretary. No fees are normally payable until such time as you are admitted to the Lodge.
What happens next?
The Lodge Secretary will scrutinise the registration form and, if satisfactory, you will be called for an interview by the Lodge Committee. If you are found worthy, every member of the Lodge will be entitled to vote in a secret ballet at a Lodge meeting as to whether you should be admitted as a member. If the ballet is satisfactory you will receive a letter from the Lodge Secretary inviting you to attend for your initiation at a regular meeting of the Lodge.
What will happen at my interview?
You should have read this pamphlet very thoroughly and be prepared to answer basic questions about yourself, your beliefs, your motives and intentions. The interview will be friendly and as informal as possible. The Committee must, however, be sure that, to ensure the integrity and reputation of the Lord Bolton Lodge and Freemasonry in general, you are a fit and proper person to be admitted. You will also have the opportunity to ask any questions or raise any matter which is puzzling you at that stage.
What happens on the night I become a Freemason?
You should arrive in plenty of time, properly dressed as indicated above. An Officer of the Lodge will attend to you and (as you might expect!) the Treasurer will come to obtain the Initiation Fee and Annual Subscription.
You will then pas through the Ceremony of Initiation under the guidance of Officers of the Lodge. Rest assured that you will not be embarrassed in any way.
No doubt you will be nervous, but try to relax as much as possible and take in as much of the Ceremony as you can. Always remember that every Mason in the room has had the same experience or a similar and sympathises with how you feel. The Officers of the Lodge normally perform the entire Ceremony from memory (and are expected to make a good job of it!) so it is probably true to say that they will be even more nervous than you.
This is a very special night for you – one you will always want to remember, so enjoy it to the full.
More about your application?
If you want to know anything further please do not hesitate to ask your Proposer or Seconder, any member of the Lodge or any Freemason of your acquaintance.
Further Masonic studies.
Once you have passed through the three degrees you may wish to further your Masonic knowledge. There are many ways of doing this but your attention is drawn to the following. Various members of the Lodge will be able to give you more information.
• Talking to other more-experienced Masons
• Visiting other Lodges.
• Reading – there are literally thousands of books on Masonic subjects.
• ‘Freemasonry Today’. ‘MQ’ and the ‘Masonic Square’ magazines.
• Membership of Quatour Coronati Lodge of Research Correspondence Circle.
• Attending lectures given in Lodges.
• Joining a ‘lecture‘ Lodge.
• Attending ‘clinics’ held for the benefit of new Masons.
• Attending your Lodge’s ‘coach’ or ‘rehearsal’ sessions or a formal ‘Lodge of instruction’.
• Browsing the many Masonic web-sites on the internet (including the De La Pole Lodge’s web site as and when we get it up and running).
Now that you have learnt something of what Freemasonry is all about and its expectations we hope that you feel you would still like to share our fellowship. However, it is essential that you look carefully and honestly at yourself, your family, your occupation and all your circumstances in life and ask these questions:
1. Do I want to be part of a well-organised society that reaches across the world: and Order with inspired high motives assisting all its members to be better men, assisting each other, upholding their character and providing them with friends and raising them when they are low and distressed?
2. Is Freemasonry really what I’M looking for to assist in improving myself as a person, as a citizen and as a ‘Brother’ to other men?
3. Do I want to experience a whole new sphere in my social life and that of my dependants – a social life which can bring much fun, enjoyment and satisfaction?
4. Can I make an UNQUALIFIED commitment to the time, the finances and principles involved without harming my family or connections?
5. Do I, and my dependants, see Freemasonry as being part of our lives for the foreseeable future?
If you can not answer ‘YES’ to all these questions then it is unlikely that you will be happy in Freemasonry and we will be unable to provide whatever it is you are seeking. We thank you for your interest and wish you well in your future life.
If, however, you are sure you can answer ‘YES’ to all the questions, ask your Proposer and/ or Seconder to progress matters for you and we look forward to seeing you in the Lodge in due time.