Got Questions about Freemasonry? We have the Answers

What is Freemasonry?

Freemasonry is the oldest and largest world-wide fraternity dedicated to the Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of the Supreme Being.

No.  Although of a religious nature, Freemasonry is not a religion. It urges its members, however, to be faithful and devoted to their own religious beliefs.

The organization of Freemasonry is based on a system of Grand Lodges, each sovereign within its own territory. There is no central authority governing all Grand Lodges. However, to be acknowledged by others, acceptable traditions, standards and practices must be maintained. In New York that sovereign body is called the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York.

The Grand Master of Masons of the State of NY is currently, MW Jeffrey M. Williamson, The NY Grand Lodge is under the leadership of the Grand Master. He presides over approximately 60,000 Masons who belong to one or more of the 800 lodges in our jurisdiction. Each of these lodges is under the direction of a Worshipful Master.

The office of Worshipful Master is the highest honor to which a lodge may appoint any of its members. The office is filled annually by election, often by secret ballot. The requirements as to who is eligible for election as Master vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but the majority of jurisdictions specify that a brother must have served as an installed Warden to qualify. In practice, most lodges will nominate and elect the previous year’s Senior Warden in an uncontested election. The office is most analogous to President. The Senior Warden would be Vice President and the Junior Warden 2nd Vice President.

The honorific Worshipful does not suggest that the Master is worshiped, but is used in its original meaning, “worthy of respect”. (Mayors and magistrates in parts of England are also traditionally called “Worshipful” or “Your Worship”, as are certain bodies such as livery companies). French Masons use the word Vénérable as the honorific for their Masters.

What Freemasonry does

As a fraternity, Freemasonry provides an opportunity for men to meet and enjoy friendly companionship. In the spirit of helpfulness and brotherly love and guided by strict moral principles it encourages goodwill toward all mankind.

Freemasonry is of a personal nature in its private ceremonies. Its ritual dramatizes a philosophy of life based on morality. It promotes self improvement. The tools of operative masons are used to symbolize and teach the basic principles of brotherly love, charity, and truth which Masons are encouraged to practice in their daily lives.

No, not technically. Although Freemason are taught to practice Charity, Brotherly Love and Truth. Charity is a tangible way in which Masons help those whose circumstances in life fairly warrant it

How do I join?

In New York, membership is for men, 21 years of age or older*, who meet the qualifications and standards of character and reputation, who are of good moral character, and who believe in the existence of a supreme being.In other jurisdictions the minimum age varies from 18-21.

*New changes in 2016 make it possible for men 18 or older to join, but discretion is left up to the Master of the Lodge.

A man who wants to join a lodge must be recommended by at least 1 member of that lodge. He must understand that his character will be investigated (provide references). After approval by the members of that lodge, he will be accepted as an applicant for membership in Freemasonry. The doors of Freemasonry are open to men who seek harmony with their fellow man, feel the need for self-improvement and wish to participate in making this world a better place to live. Any man who becomes a Mason is taught a pattern for living – reverence, morality, kindness, honesty, dependability and compassion. He must be prepared to honor his country, uphold its laws and respect those in authority. He must be prepared to maintain honorable relations with others and be willing to share in Masonic activities. Freemasonry is a way of life.

The first step is to submit to a background check. The fee is only $15 and only you get the results sent to you confidentially. If you choose to proceed you would submit of copy of the report to the Lodge Candidate Selection Officer (CSO) who will advise you on what comes next and how to proceed.

So if you’re ready, Click Here to go to the Guarding the West Gate Site which is endorsed by the Grand Lodge of New York and continue with the process.

First the fee is both a monetary commitment from you to show your seriousness and as the Lodge goes forward with your petition and initiation several items will be purchased for you. It also included your first years dues payment. If for some reason you are not elected to membership in the Lodge, your petition fee will be returned to you.

Patience is a virtue. The process in becoming a Freemason is quite old and takes time. Once you return your petition and petition fee to the Lodge the laws and regulation require that action be taken in a reasonable time. Your petition will be read at the next regular meeting. The Lodge meets 2 times per month except July and August when there are no meetings. So depending when the Lodge receives the petition it can take a month before it’s read to the members and action taken.

The first action will be the Master will appoint and investigating committee (usually made up of 3 members of the Lodge you are petitioning to join. They will contact you and arrange to meet with you in your home or some mutually agreed location. If you are married they would prefer to meet with you and your spouse as she will be encouraged to ask questions.

After the investigating committee meets with a potential candidate they will report in writing at the next regular meeting. At this time after the committee report the Master will ask the Lodge to take a ballot. this ballot is a secret ballot using white and black balls and or cubes. Ever wonder where the expression ‘blackballed’ came from?

After the ballot the votes will be counted and if elected to be come a member the Master will order the secretary to send you a letter of congratulations and included in that letter will be the date of your initiation (1st Degree).

No. There is nothing you need to do but be at the Lodge you were accepted to at the date and time stated in your letter. The lodge members will be in formal attire, so you should dress to impress with your best suit and tie, etc.

No, this is strongly discouraged. The first reason is quite frankly, it ruins the experience. Freemasonry cannot be solely understood by what is written about it, it must be experienced to be understood.

Secondly there are a lot of charlatans and spurious writings out there, especially on the web. if you read too much of this malarkey it will take that much longer to unlearn what you have learned. It’s best for you and us that you come to Freemasonry with and open and uncluttered mind, especially regarding Freemasonry.

OK I'm ready

OK great. if you know someone who is a Mason, just ask. They are not allowed to ask you to join, you must ask them. If you don’t know any Freemasons personally, that’s OK, nobody’s perfect. Just click on the Contact Us and fill out the form and someone will get in touch with you. Again be patient as the lodge only meets twice a month and we all have regular careers and families that come first in our lives. We look forward to meeting you and journeying with you towards being a better man.

Want More?

Would you like to check out more information? Learn more about Masonry in the State of New York? Well relax, there’s a page for that.  Just click the button and open your mind. Yes it’s that simple!

Discover Masonry