Freemasonry has its lodges throughout the free world. You’ll find Masons meeting in almost every town and village and – except where repressive governments make their existence difficult – they’re readily found. None of these lodges was ever organized as a result of any type of ‘missionary’ work: they came into existence because a group of Masons wanted to share the friendship and fraternity with others in the area.
What is SO often misunderstood is a simple fact: there are few but important requirements to become a Freemason!
While they are stated in slightly different words in various jurisdictions (and a few jurisdictions may have one or two requirements beyond these), they basically are as follows:
- Being a man, freeborn, of good repute and well-recommended;
- A belief in a Supreme Being;
- Of lawful age;
- Come to Freemasonry of their “own free will and accord”.
Freemasonry is an initiatic experience. You can’t become a Mason by reading a book or by hanging out on the internet.
Let’s examine the requirements for becoming a Mason individually:
Being a man, freeborn, of good repute and well-recommended
- Masonry began as a male organization. There are women’s groups and groups of mixed male-female membership who use rituals similar to that of the major body of Freemasons throughout the world. Some of these groups receive acknowledgement (but not ‘recognition’) due to their adherence to high moral principles etc. while others are frowned upon. It is, after all, quite easy for anyone to claim that they are the head of a Masonic group and begin to obtain members. (Check our list of regular/recognized Grand Lodges here and you may wish to browse our section on Fake Masonry here.)
- The requirement of being “freeborn” harkens back to the earliest days of Freemasonry. It became a requirement since only those free from indentured service as an apprentice or bondsman (as many were in 17th century England, for example), could truly make decisions for themselves.
- Being of good repute is another essential requirement. Masons do not wish to encourage membership by those whose actions would stain the reputation of the fraternity. In some jurisdictions this is specifically stated but in all, it is practiced!
- A well-recommended person is one for whom another is willing to vouch. Those who become Freemasons have been recommended by a proposer and then examined by lodge members to ensure that the candidate will benefit from his membership.
Belief in a Supreme Being
- The major ‘bone of contention’ for some detractors, Masonry does not attempt to define or delineate how a person should pray or to whom worship should be addressed.
- The term “Great Architect of the Universe” (or “Grand Architect of the Universe”) is used to permit offerings of prayer in a non-offensive manner regardless of the varied religious beliefs of those present. All Masons understand this concept and when a prayer is said in lodge (a blessing before a meal, a word of prayer for the sick, for example), they understand that regardless of the person speaking the words or the usual form of prayer of others present, the prayer is addressed to their Supreme Being.
- Once a candidate professes such belief, no further investigation or interrogation is made. This fact stymies Freemasonry’s detractors who seem to be constantly engaged in wars of ‘religious correctness’ and who consequently wind up in contradiction with each other as a result.
Of Lawful Age
- It’s a simply understood concept: if you are not old enough to make legal commitments, then the concepts and precepts of Freemasonry might be a bit too much for you to comprehend. Although this isn’t always true, there is a conceptual basis for separating ‘adults’ from ‘children’.
- In most US jurisdictions, this age is now 18. There are, however, some jurisdictions where the age might be 19 or 21. Canadian and other jurisdictions vary as well. Check with your local Grand Lodge. A quick summary of US/Canada ages can be found here.
“Own Free Will and Accord”
- You won’t find recruiting posters or ‘membership bars’ on a medal although one jurisdiction has put ‘advertisements’ on various web locations including search engines like Google. Masons simply don’t get awards for bringing in new members. It’s a voluntary organization, sought out by those with a positive impression of the organization.
- Masonic membership has always been an intensely personal experience and in times when “feelings” weren’t discussed publicly by men, the need for a person to ask for membership was often not communicated to those who might otherwise be interested in the fraternity. Accordingly, there are many who became Masons much later in life than necessary: they had thought the proper thing to do was to wait to be asked to join!
These basic principles have been the means of attracting the most highly respected persons to Masonry for over three centuries. Their simplicity confounds and confuses those who see a conspiracy lurking behind every bush; those who want ‘religious purity’ and those whose own motives are constantly self-oriented. As a result, this quiet fraternity continues – as do its detractors.
What to Expect
Meeting Night for New Members
All Lodges have regularly scheduled meetings each month at which time the business of the Lodge is conducted. Correspondence is read, reports are given, and issues are decided upon by the membership. Additionally, at some meetings traditional “lessons” are shared. These lessons are not in a school sense, but rather, knowledge is shared in an interesting, allegorical way.
Lodges may also hold social events or choose to volunteer within their community. Each Lodge has its own dues structure, set by the members of that Lodge.
Take a Step in the Right Direction
Masonry is always ready to welcome good men into the fraternity. A man who becomes a Michigan Mason can expect to find the opportunity to learn and to lead; to be inspired and entertained; to be challenged and respected; to be involved with his family, his Brothers and his community; and be proud to be a member of an organization committed to making a difference.
Masonry is a fraternity, so all members are male, and must be at least 19 years of age and maintain a Michigan residency for one year (6 months for those in the military). You should believe in helping others, be willing to respect others, and be open to growing and developing as a human being.
Traditionally, Masons do not ask others to join. Here are the steps that you will need to follow in order to become a member:
Request more information, along with a petition (application) from a Mason, complete the form, and return it to him. To request a petition from a Masonic Lodge in your area, please click here.
Your petition will be taken to your local Lodge and a committee will be appointed to visit you. During this visit they will find out why you want to be a Mason and answer any questions you may have.
The committee will report back to the Lodge and the Lodge will vote on your petition. If the vote is affirmative, the Lodge will contact you and schedule the Entered Apprentice Degree. This is the first of three steps to becoming a full member of the fraternity.
Three Degrees to Becoming a Master Mason
There are three degrees that a man takes before becoming a Master Mason: Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft Degree, and Master Mason Degree.
Just as in any trade, you begin as an Apprentice or, as we call it, an Entered Apprentice. As an Entered Apprentice you will learn how the Lodge works, what is required to progress, and other important information. The Fellowcraft Degree consists of increasing your knowledge in the systems of the Lodge. Once you complete this degree, you are eligible to receive the Master Mason Degree.
Each of these Degrees teaches timeless lessons of morality, brotherly love, and charity. These degrees are conducted in the Lodge. No “hazing” of any kind takes place at any time.
Request More Information
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