Think you may be interested in becoming a Freemason but would like a little information?  

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So, you think you may like to become a Freemason, - a noble sentiment, but first and foremost, there is no rush, there are several questions you need to ask yourself. Like all important decisions we make in life, we need to weigh up what may be the advantages and disadvantages, - the pros and cons. There is little benefit to becoming involved in something if we do not have at least an appreciation of what it is, what it stands for, what it does and what you expect from it. Only then can you decide if it is right for you.

It's a safe bet that you didn't wake up one morning and say to yourself. "I want to become a Freemason." Something has probably sparked your interest, be it within your own family, your work, or your immediate circle of friends. More than likely you know someone who is a Freemason and they have given you food for thought. As an intelligent person you need to conduct your own research. This can take several forms, probably starting with impromptu discussions with your contact or family and friends. The Internet and your local library are also informative sources for research with many opinions both for and against it expressed with much conviction by the respective authors. It now rests with you as an intelligent individual to weigh up the respective arguments, discern fact from fiction and determine your next move.

So now, we assume, from your researches you have learnt how Freemasonry in its modern form came about and you are probably still confused about society's attitudes, which prevail from favourable in some quarters, to much vitriolic hostility in others. Hopefully, after all this research you have drawn your own first impressions and you still have an interest in moving forward. Now what?

First of all the request to become a Freemason must come from you; the would-be candidate, even if the subject were raised with you by a Freemason. This may sound a bit strange but your decision is paramount it can never, and must never be made for you.

Assuming you have decided to move forward, there are whole rafts of questions that need to be answered. The man you have been in discussions with is a member of this Lodge; hopefully he is a relative or at least a friend of many years. He may fit comfortably within your circle of acquaintances but what about the other members of his Lodge? Who are they? What do they do? Will you fit in with them? Will they accept you? Where do they meet? How often do they meet? Are their meeting days convenient to your work and other commitments? Is your partner happy for you to be involved? What do they expect from you? Can you afford Freemasonry?

Let's take each question as it comes....................................................

Who are the other members of your prospective proposers Lodge? What do they do?

First and foremost they are like minded individuals, coming from all professions and career backgrounds and face the same daily challenges in life as you. Don't be afraid to ask for a list of the membership, better to find out early on that there may be a member with whom you do not wish to associate with. If the opportunity arises, it is important, if possible, for you and your partner to meet some of the members of the Lodge and their partners in an informal social environment. This allows both parties to learn a little about each other, gather impressions and make preliminary determinations.

Will you fit in with them? Will they accept you?

Your prospective proposer will during the various stages of your discussions with him have a very good idea as to whether you are suited to Freemasonry and if Freemasonry is suited to you. He is in the best position to advise you. He also, a little further along in the process together with a seconder, stands before every member of the lodge and expresses his belief that you are a fit and proper person to become a Mason. His reputation and standing among his peers rests now on his judgement of you, so you can appreciate this formal introduction of you to the General Purposes Committee of the Lodge and eventually the whole Lodge, is a very serious matter. Hopefully, you and your partner, through social functions will be known to some members of the committee and the Lodge.

There is a formal process that you must go through, but this is explained in more detail a little later. (See:-The Formal Process)

Where do they meet? How often do they meet?

The Manor Royal Lodge meets at the Crawley Masonic Hall, Ifield, and holds regular meetings on the first Friday in October, November, December, February, March and April; usually commencing at 5.30pm. In addition the Lodge holds a Lodge of Instruction most Thursday evenings, commencing at 7.30pm. The purpose of the Lodge of Instruction is to practice our ceremonies, learn about Freemasonry generally and to socialise and maintain our harmony in an informal environment.

Are their meeting days convenient to your work and other commitments? Is your partner happy for you to be involved?

Like everything in life, Freemasonry makes certain demands of each of us, you may in our judgement be the best possible potential candidate to join The Manor Royal Lodge, but if it does not fit in with your work and other commitments; or equally as important, your partner is unhappy with you disappearing off on Lodge nights or Thursday evenings, then there is little advantage to all. We view Freemasonry as a long term commitment, beneficial to you, your partner, your family and friends and of course to us. You need to give both these questions very serious consideration. To delude yourself or your partner that you can work this out is being less than honest and simply leads to unhappiness and eventually we all end up losers.

What do they expect from you? Can you afford Freemasonry?

As said earlier we view Freemasonry as a long term commitment we are prepared to invest a considerable amount of time and energy in your Masonic education. We want you to enjoy every facet of Freemasonry, develop a full understanding of its precepts and enjoy the benefits of fellowship, integrity and good citizenship. Inevitably, membership does not come free, there are specific costs associated with membership as well as an expectation that you will acknowledge and participate in its charitable contributions, within the limits of your financial position. Membership costs and charitable contributions will be advised to you by your proposer.

The Formal Process.

 ·         An Application Form must be completed by every prospective candidate. This form will provide details relating to the candidate as well as his Proposer and Seconder. The Application form is as specified by the Board of General Purposes of Grand Lodge; it is therefore universal regardless of Lodge or location within the English constitution.

 ·         Once this completed form has been received by the Lodge Secretary; he will produce for general circulation to all Lodge members a document entitled, 'Details Of Candidate For Membership Of The Lodge'. (This form advises members should they have an objection to the Candidate what to do.) It effectively provides basic information about you.

 ·         Two Past Masters of the Lodge are appointed to visit you the Candidate at home. (This is intended to be an informal discussion with you and your partner and is an opportunity for both parties to ask questions.)

 ·        Assuming no objection has been received by the Secretary from any member of the Lodge; A 'General Purposes Committee' meeting is convened giving a minimum 14 days notice to all members of the committee. You will be invited to attend this meeting together with your Proposer and Seconder and all three of you will be interviewed by the committee. Likewise the two Past Masters who visited you at home will report their findings and impressions to the committee. This is also an ideal opportunity for you to ask questions and the committee will encourage you to do so.

·         At the conclusion of this interview process you are invited to temporarily withdraw whilst the committee deliberate your application for membership. You are then re-invited back into the meeting and advised as to the committee's findings. (Assuming the committee are in favour of your application; they can only advise you that your application will be put before the Lodge with arecommendationto accept.) The Lodge Secretary will write to you and keep you fully advised as to next steps and dates.

·         There are now three formal stages that the Lodge goes through, at the next regular meeting, a Notice of Motion is given of the intention to formally propose you to the Lodge at the next regular meeting. Following this meeting, i.e. at the next regular meeting of the Lodge a formal proposal is included on the Agenda paper regarding your application. Then at the next regular Lodge meeting a secret ballot is taken regarding your application. If this is in your favour you are admitted and Initiated into Freemasonry and become a member of The Manor Royal Lodge.

Much of this may seem an arduous and lengthy process at first glance; but we would hope you would agree that something so important, which ideally asks for a long term commitment deserves much consideration and deliberation.

What may make the process seem longer is the fact that the Lodge only meets six times a year and one of those meetings is reserved for the installation of a new Master. Therefore, five meetings only are available for other Lodge business including the workings of three degrees, so potentially a wait of a year before joining is not unusual or unrealistic. We recognise that this may be frustrating, but we would like to hope you would not lose heart. After all, something this good is worth waiting for.

Also you and your partner will of course be invited to any social activities that the Lodge may organise prior to your admission, we recognise the importance of communication and it is our wish that you should feel relaxed and comfortable in our company so that when your Initiation takes place you will know that you are amongst friends.

Some Background information on Speculative Freemasonry

Freemasonry is part of a long tradition of western mysticism, steeped in a longstanding and eclectic mixture of historical fact and legend. Much of the ritual and symbolism in Freemasonry has developed over many centuries and relies heavily on the philosophies derived from the customs and practices of the stonemasons of medieval times.

Within the ceremonies of the degrees in Freemasonry its members are taught its precepts in dramatic form and use tools and customs as an allegorical guide. It is perhaps the oldest and largest fraternal organisation in the world. Put at its simplest, it is a universal society of friends who strive to become better people through their association with each other. Its watchwords are fellowship, integrity and good citizenship. Without exception every candidate for Freemasonry must believe in a benevolent Supreme Being, be Free and of Mature Age.

It was in the 1720s, shortly after the founding of the first Grand Lodge of England that the Masonic ritual was clarified into a system based on three degrees. The meaning of each degree is veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols. This is based on both ancient and medieval attitude, firstly to protect the skills and knowledge of the ancients and medieval stonemasons from unqualified and unskilled imposters and second to pass their skills on to suitable trainees as apprentices to preserve the secrets of their trade. Because the medieval world was steeped in religion, spiritual and ethical instruction was part and parcel of the apprentices' training, giving rise to the lessons incorporated in the Masonic degrees.

 Every Freemason regardless of rank or privilege, without exception, must undergo the ceremony associated with each of the symbolic degrees.

The First Degree is that of the Entered Apprentice and is the initiating degree into Freemasonry. Within this degree an Initiate is led into the light of Freemasonry. Here his Masonic education begins by learning the symbolic and allegorical mysteries of the degree. His mode of preparation as an initiate has deep symbolic meaning and is so designed to help convey important and useful lessons. The object behind the lessons of this degree is to awaken the desire within each of us for knowledge to look to ourselves within society and learn the skills of social integration.

The Second Degree is that of the Fellowcraft and is the second stage in a Freemasons progress. The lessons of this degree teach us as Craftsmen to use all Reason and Skill, all Will and Emotion, all Sense and Matter, all Art and Science as steps by which to hone our usefulness to God, to ourselves and to society. The lessons of this degree are to continually seek out knowledge in all its forms, as lies within our respective abilities and to use that knowledge for the benefit of ourselves, mankind and by being subservient to the word of God.

The Third Degree is that of the Master Mason and is the third stage in Freemasonry. By symbolic and allegorical means its intention is to lead us to contemplate our inevitable destiny and with all the knowledge and our comprehensive skills which we continually learn and expand upon throughout our passage through life, to endeavour to ensure that our words, actions and thoughts are to promote the happiness of mankind.

G l o s s a r y

Application Form: an official form approved by the Board of General Purposes to be completed by an Applicant and his Proposer and Seconder when applying for membership of a Lodge.

Agenda Paper: a document circulated to all members of a Lodge providing information on the order of business at a Lodge meeting. It forms part of a document known as a Summons which informs the Lodge members of the date and time of the next meeting.

Board of General Purposes: the Board is responsible for all the affairs of the Grand Lodge, including property and finance. The Board furthermore makes recommendations on all matters in the governance and administration of Freemasonry to the Grand Lodge of England.

Candidate: a man who seeks admission to and membership of a Lodge.

Details of Candidate for Membership of the Lodge: a document completed by the Lodge Secretary and circulated to all members of the Lodge giving details derived from an Application Form on a prospective applicant for membership of the Lodge.

Formal Proposal: a subject matter included on an Agenda Paper to be voted on by the Lodge Members.

General Purposes Committee:a committee composed of senior members of the Lodge. The committee considers and reports to the Lodge on all proposals for membership and on any other matters referred to it by the Lodge.

Grand Lodge: the supreme body which alone has the power to enact laws and regulations for the government of Freemasonry in England.

Lodge: a local assembly of Freemasons distinguished by a name and number operating under the rules and regulations of, and by a warrant issued by the Grand Lodge of England.

Lodge Secretary: the official representative of the Lodge who is responsible for all communications.

Notice of Motion: an oral preliminary declaration of intent at a regular Lodge meeting that at the next regular Lodge meeting a formal proposal will be made and the subject matter therefore should be included on the Agenda Paper for that meeting.

Past Masters: senior members of and in a Lodge who have served in the most senior office in a Lodge, - that of Worshipful Master.

Proposer: a member of the Lodge who supports and recommends a candidate for membership of a Lodge.

Seconder: a member of the Lodge who in conjunction with a Proposer supports a candidate's application for membership.

Secret Ballot: a vote conducted in a Lodge by the use of white and or black balls placed in a ballot box to determine the acceptance or rejection of a proposition.