Freemasonry means different things to each of those who join. For some, it’s about the mystery and traditions associated with the fraternity – being a part of something that has existed in basically the same form for centuries, and wanting to find out what it is about Freemasonry that sets out ‘to make good men better’.
For many, it’s about making new friends and acquaintances. For others it’s about being able to help deserving causes – making a contribution to family and for society. But for most, it is an enjoyable hobby.
Freemasonry is one of the World’s oldest and largest non-religious, non-political, fraternal and charitable organisations. It teaches self-knowledge through participation in a progression of ceremonies. Members are expected to be of high moral standing and are encouraged to speak openly about Freemasonry.
A typical Freemason will be a member of a Masonic Lodge which will meet a number of times per year. As with any Society there are Officers of the Lodge, the most important being the Master of the Lodge. Members work their way up to being Master, and for many this is one of the highlights of their Masonic career. Other Officers include a Treasurer and Secretary, and officers who assist with various aspects of the ceremonies.
At a meeting all the normal things you would associate with a society meeting (minutes, motions, news etc.) will take place, but what distinguishes Freemasonry is the fact that a number of different ceremonies take place at the meetings in which the candidates and many members of the Lodge can take part. The objective of these ceremonies is to instruct the candidates, in the form of a ‘morality play’, in the history and underlying principles of freemasonry. They parallel a Member’s entry into this life, his interactions and relationships with others and his understanding of himself.
The various officers of the Lodge take part, led by the Master and often other members contribute. The ceremonies illustrate how a Freemason should interact with other Freemasons and with non-masons as well. The parts are usually learned by heart and are often expressed in very descriptive language (often the English of two hundred years ago). There are some minor variations in the ceremonies in different lodges and countries, but they basically take a similar form across the world. Because of this, a Member can visit a Lodge in any country in the world and understand what is going on even if he does not understand the language of that country. These ceremonies bind Freemasons together and they give the Members the experience of acting in them in the Lodge.
Once the ceremony is over, members retire to what is often called a “Festive Board” where the Members enjoy each others’ company over dinner.
Visiting other Lodges is one of the joys of Freemasonry. Most members will know members of other Lodges and there is frequent visiting between Lodges (both local and national and sometimes international). One interesting aspect of visiting is seeing how members in other Lodges carry out the ceremonies (particularly if there are local differences). Some Lodges are very old (over 250 years) and ceremonies in these Lodges can be quite different in detail (though broadly the same in intent).
An important aspect of Freemasonry is charitable work. In days gone by the main effort was in supporting Masonic Charities but today all forms of charity are supported. Freemasons tend not to broadcast their charitable work but many local and national charities are supported and assistance is also provided for International disasters.
The Royal Arch
The Royal Arch is the culmination of that four stage journey through ‘Pure Antient Masonry’ as set out and defined in the Masonic Book of Constitutions. All Master Masons are eligible to be Exalted into the Supreme Degree of the Holy Royal Arch, more familiarly known as ‘Chapter’.
A Royal Arch Chapter is a Masonic body which is attached to, but organized separately from a Craft Lodge. There are twelve Chapters in the Province of Shropshire. Some Brethren prefer to join a Chapter where they are well known whilst others have a preference to join a different centre altogether.
Chapters usually meet three to four times during a Masonic season. The joining and annual fees are considerably less than those of a Craft Lodge. If you would like more information about the Royal Arch please contact the Provincial Scribe Ezra, Dave Kettle or any of the individual Chapter Scribe Ezras on the ‘All Chapters‘ link.
Vision and Values
The United Grand Lodge of England has published its Vision, Mission and Values for the tercentenary of Freemasonry and beyond:
To become openly recognised as the world’s leading fraternal organisation.
To be the fraternal society of choice for individuals seeking to develop their full potential through learning, social and community involvement, in line with the core values of Freemasonry.
Freemasonry’s values are based on the principles of brotherly love, relief and truth which today means integrity, kindness, honesty, fairness and tolerance.
- Integrity: We say what we mean and when we make a promise, we keep it.
- Kindness: We believe in playing a key role in our communities – we willingly give time and/or money to assist those not as fortunate as ourselves.
- Honesty: We pride ourselves on transparency. Not only are we completely free to acknowledge our membership, we are encouraged to do so.
- Fairness: We treat everyone as equal – we listen to others, explore our differences and work to find the common ground.
- Tolerance: We show respect for the opinions of others and behave with understanding towards others.
What is Freemasonry?
Freemasonry is one of the world’s oldest and largest non-religious, non-political, fraternal and charitable organisations.