What is Freemasonry ?
Freemasonry is one of the world’s oldest non political, multi-faith, charitable, fraternal societies of men who are concerned with social, moral and spiritual values. Members are expected to be of good character and to maintain an honest and moral approach to their lives. Self-knowledge and a respect for others is taught through participation in a progression of two-part dramas which follow ancient forms and use the traditional customs and tools of the Stonemason as symbolic guides.
There are as many reasons for becoming a Freemason as there are members, everyone is different. For some, it’s about making new friends and acquaintances, for others it’s about being able to help deserving causes but for most, it is an enjoyable hobby in the company of similarly minded people drawn from every walk of life.
Frequently asked Questions:
What happens at a Lodge Meeting?
Our Lodge Meetings, like those of other clubs or organisations are open only to our members and other visiting Freemasons. One of the great pleasures of Freemasonry is the ability to visit other Lodges to make new friends and acquaintances.
Typically, there are normal administrative procedures such as:
• Minutes of the previous meeting
• Proposing and balloting for new members
• Discussing and voting on the annual accounts
• Masonic news and correspondence
• News about our charitable work
Second, there are the ceremonies for:
• Admitting new members and for existing members as they progress in Freemasonry
• The annual installation of the Master of the Lodge and his Officers
Why do Freemasons take oaths?
New members make solemn promises concerning their behavior both in the Lodge and in society in general. Members also promise to keep confidential the way they recognise each other when visiting another Lodge. Freemasons also promise to support others in time of need but only so far as it does not conflict with their family and public obligations.
It’s a myth. If you’ve ever received a ‘funny handshake’ it certainly wasn’t Masonic. Shake a Freemason’s hand and you’ll get just that, a perfectly normal handshake. We have what we call a ‘Grip or Token’ during some of our ceremonies and over three centuries this has been distorted into the ‘Masonic Handshake’. We’re sorry to disappoint.
Are Freemasons expected to give preference to fellow members?
Definitely not. It’s a common and completely false misconception. Such action would be totally unacceptable and may lead to action being taken against those involved. On joining, each new member states that he expects no material gain from membership.
Who do the Masonic charities donate to?
Some Masonic charities provide support for Masons or their dependants. However, Freemasons also make very significant grants to non-Masonic organisations. Here are two of many examples; Freemasons are a major sponsor of the Royal College of Surgeons were we regularly support their surgical research and London Freemasons recently donated more than £2,000,000 to fund a second London Air Ambulance.
Surrey Freemasons are raising £3,250,000 in a Charity Festival that completes in March 2019. This money will go to support our two care homes: James Terry Court and Shannon Court which are open for elderly care throughout the community.
What is Freemasonry’s relationship with religion?
asons are expected to have a belief in a ‘supreme being’. However, Freemasonry does not attempt to supplant or substitute a Mason’s faith in any way whatsoever. Freemasonry deals with a man’s relationship with his fellow man not in his relationship with his God.
Why do some churches not like Freemasonry?
There are elements within some churches who misunderstand Freemasonry and its objectives. They confuse our Masonic meetings and secular ceremonies with their religious liturgy. Despite this, there are many Masons who are active members of church’s whose leaders have been openly critical of the organisation. Masonry has always actively encouraged its members to be active in their own religion.
Freemasonry doesn’t accept Roman Catholics?
A very common but completely untrue misconception. Freemasonry makes absolutely no distinction between religions. To date, four Grand Masters of English Freemasonry have been Roman Catholics and today there are many Roman Catholic Freemasons.
What is Freemasonry’s relationship with politics?
Freemasonry, as a body, will never express a view on politics or state policy. Politics, like religion is a matter of personal conviction and discussion of either will inevitably lead to heated debate and potential disharmony amongst its members. It has been a long standing principal of Freemasonry that discussion of either politics or religion is strictly prohibited at Masonic meetings.
Is Freemasonry an international order?
Freemasonry exists throughout the world. However, each Grand Lodge is sovereign and independent so there is no international governing body for Freemasonry.
Are there Women Freemasons?
Yes. There are two separate Grand Lodges which are restricted to Women Freemasons. Priory Gate Lodge is constituted under the United Grand Lodge of England and following the example of medieval stonemasons, is and has always been, restricted to men.
How many Freemasons are there?
Under the United Grand Lodge of England, there are over 250,000 Freemasons. There are Grand Lodges in Ireland, which covers both Northern Ireland and Eire, and Scotland which have a combined total of approximately 150,000 members. Worldwide there are approximately 6,000,000 Freemasons.
How many stages are there in Freemasonry?
Craft Freemasonry consists of three stages termed ‘degrees’:
• Entered Apprentice
• Fellow Craft
• Master Mason
Beyond these Three Degrees there are many different Masonic Orders , each with their own special history, regalia and organisation.
Why do you wear regalia?
The wearing of regalia is historic and symbolic. Like a uniform, the regalia indicates the rank of the wearer within the organisation.
How much does it cost to be a Freemason?
It varies from Lodge to Lodge. Anyone wishing to join can find a Lodge to suit his pocket. There is an initiation fee on entry and in due course some regalia will have to be purchased. The meeting is normally followed by a dinner, the cost depending on the venue. At Priory Gate Lodge, the full annual subscription includes fees for dining and the Lodge running costs and is currently set at £230.00 per year for full members and £130.00 for Country Members.
Members are invited to give to charity but this should always be within their means and it is entirely up to the individual how much they wish to contribute. There is no set amount.
Download our ‘Outside Looking in’ guides to Freemasonry’s aims and objectives here:
History and Tradition in Freemasonry – a guide to the early history of Freemasonry
Families and Social Life in Freemasonry – one of the corner stones of Freemasonry is the coming together of men from all walks of life under a single banner.
Equally important is the support for a Freemason’s family
Charity and the Community in Freemasonry – charity and supporting the local community
has always been a fundamental part of being a Freemason
The Q&A and Guides have been adapted from the United Grand Lodge of England and the Surrey Provincial web sites and are gratefully acknowledged