[Square & Compasses]

From Candidate to Master Mason

by Bro. Burrell McKelphin, 32°
by St. Johns' Lodge No. 16 F. & A.M. (P.H.)

How can we effectively make a Master Mason? How can we better select the idea candidate to become a valuable asset to the Prince Hall Masonic Fraternity? These questions are what ponder the minds of the membership within the lodge. The intake or acceptance of a candidate as a prospective brother of the lodge should not be taken likely and in fact it should be a complex and critical process. Members of the lodge have to constantly remind themselves that once a man becomes a Master Mason, he can be a positive or negative impact in the lodge. It is essential that goal must be for the former character. How do we render this process? Several steps must be taken to bring a candidate into the lodge from the process of investigation to the process of his Masonic initiation.

The Investigation Process

The investigation committee and the services, in which it is intended to do perform, will be the very keystone to who will become a member. The investigation committee should host workshops periodically for those who currently serve and those who wish to participate on the committee to educate them on the techniques of investigating a prospect for membership. During an investigation of a prospect, there are three areas that should determine the continuing of his investigation:

1. Does the prospect have the time to commit to the lodge?

2. Can the prospect afford the fees that are required for membership?

3. What can the prospect bring to the lodge or contribute the lodge's progress?

If the prospect can answer these questions to investigation committee with satisfactory, then the committee can continue its investigation. The committee should not only review the questions that are on the petition, but should have additional question pertaining to the prospect personal life. Examples of that are the following:

1. Do you have a criminal record? If not, the prospect showing proof of no criminal record should obtain a form.

2. How does his spouse (if married) feel about him joining the lodge? If she find some concerns or not supportive in the matter of him joining, then the investigation should make that a factor against the prospect joining the lodge.

3. Does the prospect have any general education on what Freemasonry is about? In matters of Prince Hall, have he did any researched pertaining to the history of the organization? If he has, what does he know and if he didn't, why have he not researched this matter?

The investigation committee should be very straight and forward on what is expected of him during his process. Some examples should be the following:

1. The schedule for classes of instruction. Rules of attendance should be strongly adhered to or it could have a negative effect on his advancement to the next degree.

2. The activities that he will be engaged in and required to perform such as fundraisers, community projects, workshops and etc. Other than his duties to his family and business, he should be made aware that his participation would be time consuming.

These points, which have been mentioned can save the lodge's time in bringing in prospects to become candidates for Masonry if they cannot conform to these conditions as well as being an investment to the lodge if the prospect can conform to the same. Once a prospect has been formerly investigated prior to being voted upon by the lodge, the committee along with the Junior Warden should organize and informal gathering of prospects for the purpose of the general membership to meet those who will be a potential of the lodge. The process will help in the decision making for the investigating committee when making its recommendations to the craft whether the prospect is desirable or undesirable.

Process of Initiation

After the voting of a prospect to candidacy for the degrees of Masonry, the dean of the class should have a well-structured and organized program, which will be meaningful and challenging to the candidate. In each and every degree, prior to him becoming a Master Mason, the candidate should be not only responsible for making suitable proficiency in the degree work, but should be make progress also in the following areas:

1. Participation in designated activities.

2. Projects completed in a timely fashion.

3. Displayed a positive attitude and proactive stance for support of the lodge.

In every degree, once the candidate had made suitable proficiency in degree work and completed assigned projects, while waiting for to be advance to the next degree, the dean of the class should perform a workshop, which will cover issues that could not be covered within the main body of their process. Here are some examples:

1. Open discussion on the degrees which they have received, which the candidate may have questions about that particular degree.

2. Have the candidate give reflections on his degree, which he has received.

The Entered Apprentice

During the 2 months duration as an Entered Apprentice, the brother should learn his fundamental work of his ritual. In addition, should learn the various places and stations of the lodge and how to enter into a lodge room as an Entered Apprentice. The Dean of class should brief the brother on upcoming projects that he and his classmates should be expected to complete by the determine deadline while engaging in making suitable proficiency in his degree. He should be expected to know the traditions of the lodge in matters of protocol. For example, in prayer or addressing a brother should come to the sign of fidelity.

The Fellowcraft

The 2 months as a Fellowcraft, he should be expected to take on more complex projects. Since this is a working degree, the brother should be always productive in his degree work and assigned projects. Each degree should become more intense than the last degree. All projects assigned by the dean or the Worshipful Master should be completed by the expected deadline.

The Aftermath

Once the candidate has been raised to the degree of Master Mason, the process of orientation should begin. The dean of the class should remain in place with a committee organized to orientate the new Master Mason in several areas:

1. Business

2. Law

3. Works and Lectures of each degree

This is an ongoing process for every Master Mason because of the extensive information contained in the philosophy, and history of Prince Hall Freemasonry and Masonry in general. If the lodge takes these steps to make a prospect a candidate and then a brother, the lodge, its membership and the new brother will find very rewarding. The lodge will surely find this the correct path to a promising future of longevity and prosperity.

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