The Masonic Lodge is one of the most revered organizations in the world, a place where men come together in fellowship for self-advancement and charity to others. The brothers you will join and the community adopted can carry you forward in many ways. If you have decided that you wish to become a Mason, here’s what you should know.
What the Lodge Looks For
Masons are expected to be men of upright character, with no serious criminal history and capable of caring for themselves and their families. The Lodge does charitable work, and Masons care for their own, but we do not look for charity cases when choosing new members. If one made poor decisions in one’s youth, but has since turned one’s life around, the Lodge will take these things into account. Masons must also believe in a Higher Power, in “the Great Architect of the Universe,” but we do not interrogate this belief further. Masons must be “of legal age,” which varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Ask your local Grand Lodge what this age is if you are under 25 (the oldest any Lodges usually expect).
Some people are convinced that the Lodge only wants powerful businessmen, politicians, judges or other “movers and shakers.” The truth is that there are plenty of people still working their way up in the world who become Masons, and most of our members are fairly average people in terms of accomplishment. We look for exception in character, not in worldly accomplishments.
Want to Be One? Ask One!
There is a myth that the only way to join the Lodge is to be approached or “recruited” first. In truth, there is typically no problem with seeking admission on your own first—most Masons nowadays join the Lodge in just this way. If you are interested in becoming a Mason, asking a Mason of your acquaintance about the steps you’ll need to take in your local Lodge is the best first step. If you don’t know a Mason, simply calling up your local Lodge can help you to figure this out. That being said, you will need the reference of at least one Mason, usually, to gain admission.
Investigation and Initiation
After having petitioned the Lodge, if you are considered for membership and your character references have checked out, you will be visited at home by the Investigation Committee. This isn’t some sort of surprise inspection—you will be contacted to set up the time that is best for you and your spouse. Despite the scary-sounding name, the Investigation Committee will simply want to chat with you and your spouse about why you wish to become a Mason and to answer your questions about what will be expected. They wish to speak to your spouse as well to ensure that the whole family is okay with your decision, and to make sure that you can handle the small financial obligations expected of you if accepted.
After the Investigation Committee reports back to the Lodge members, they will vote on your prospective membership. It usually only takes a single “black ball,” or no vote to block your membership. You will then be invited to your first meeting, and prepared for your initiation. This will take several weeks of study to memorize your part in the ritual, which symbolizes the basic teachings of the Lodge. After your initiation you will be welcome into the business of the Lodge and encouraged to continue on to further degrees, enabling you to become wiser, closer to your Brother Masons and more involved in the work we do to serve our communities.