Senlac Lodge No. 5273 – FAQ

Freemasonry (also called ‘Masonry’) is the world’s first and largest fraternity, based on the belief that each man can make a difference in the world. Freemasonry enhances and strengthens the character of the individual man by providing opportunities for fellowship, charity, and education.

The Masons’ name comes from the occupation of their original members – stonemasons who built castles and cathedrals in England and Scotland. The word ‘free’ was added during the Middle Ages. Because stonemasons possessed knowledge and skills not found everywhere, these men had the privilege of traveling between countries.

Over time, many men who were not builders were drawn to the practices of Freemasonry. To encourage intellectual diversity, stonemasons began accepting men from other professions into the fraternity. These men were known as ‘accepted Masons.’ This trend continued, and accepted members eventually outnumbered operative members. Today, the names ‘Freemasonry,’ ‘Masonry,’ and ‘Free and Accepted Masons’ are used interchangeably to refer to the fraternity.

Freemasonry began when stonemasons formed local organisations, called Lodges, to take care of sick and injured members, as well as the families of those who were killed on the job. The masons also used the Lodges as places to meet, receive their pay, plan their work, train new apprentices, and socialise. Today, this term refers both to a unit of Masons and the room or building in which they meet.

A Grand Lodge is an administrative body that oversees Freemasonry in a specific geographic area, called a jurisdiction. The United Grand Lodge of England currently has over 250,000 members meeting in over 6,800 Lodges, organised into a number of subordinate Provincial Grand Lodges which are approximately equivalent to the historic counties of England.

There are about five million Masons worldwide. All Lodges follow the same principles of Freemasonry, but their activities may vary.

Membership in Masonry is not a secret; all members are free to acknowledge their membership. There is no secret about any of Masonry’s aims or principles. Masonry’s constitutions and rules are available to the public, and meeting locations are clearly identifiable. Like many similar organisations, some of Masonry’s internal affairs, such as ceremonies, grips, and passwords, are regarded as private matters for members only.

There are two kinds of meetings for members. The most common is a business meeting, called a stated meeting, devoted to administrative procedures: minutes of the last meeting, discussing financial matters, voting on applications, and planning for Lodge activities. The second kind of meeting is ceremonial, used for admitting new Masons and conferring Degrees.

There are three stages of Masonic membership: Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and Master Mason. These stages are referred to as ‘Degrees,’ and correspond with members’ self-development and increased knowledge of Freemasonry. As a man completes each phase of learning, the Lodge holds a ceremony to confer his Degree.

Degree names are taken from craft guilds: In the Middle Ages, to become a stonemason, a man would first be apprenticed. As an apprentice, he learned the tools and skills of the trade. When he had proved his skills, he became a ‘fellow of the craft,’ and when he gained exceptional ability, he was known as a ‘master of the craft.’

Symbols allow people to communicate quickly, and to transcend language barriers. When you see a green light or a circle with a line through it, you know what it means. Likewise, Masons use metaphors from geometry and the architecture of stonemasonry to inform their continuing pursuit of knowledge, ethics, and leadership skills.

To reflect their heritage, Masons wear aprons while in Lodge, at certain public events, and at funerals to demonstrate their pride in the fraternity, and their lineage from stonemasons, who historically carried their tools in leather aprons. The square and compass is the most widely known symbol of Masonry: When you see the symbol on a building, you know that Masons meet there.

Masonry does not endorse political candidates or legislation, and the discussion of politics at Masonic meetings is not allowed.

Masonry is not a religion, nor is it a substitute for religion. The fraternity requires its members to have a belief in a Supreme Being, but the fraternity itself is not affiliated with any religion, and men of all faiths are represented in the fraternity. Religion is not discussed at Lodge meetings.

There is an application fee for membership, which includes a charitable contribution to help fulfill our philanthropic mission and our obligation to aid brothers and their families in times of need. Continued giving supports important charitable programs, which rely on member contributions. Annual dues begin when the Entered Apprentice Degree is received; each Lodge determines the dues amount.