[Square & Compasses]

Letter of the month: March 1998

His permission to post this letter...

From: Matthew Henderson <matthew.henderson@pclink.com>
To: <dryfoo@MIT.EDU>
Subject: Re: Question about Joining a Lodge 
Date: Mon, 16 Mar 1998 19:48:39 -0600

Gary:

Thank you for the outstanding, timely response. Since you liked the question so much, go ahead and post the main question: "Is there a way to meet the membership of a lodge before joining a particular lodge to make sure you feel comfortable with the group? Or, should wanting to meet the membership of a lodge before joining be secondary to becoming a mason?"

I appreciate your thoughtful insights. I will call our Grand Lodge this week. I will stay in touch and let you know how things progress.

Thanks again for your help!

Matthew

The original question...

From: Matthew Henderson <matthew.henderson@pclink.com>
To: <dryfoo@MIT.EDU>
Subject: Question about Joining a Lodge 

Gary:

Both my father and grandfather were freemasons, and at this point in my life, I want to start that journey, too. I have a question about joining a lodge. How does one know which lodge is the "best" one to join. For example, there is a newly formed lodge in my city (I am in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area), but it does not have its own building and meets periodically at an elementary school. There are other lodges with their own buildings close by, as well. In either case, I know no one in the metro area who is a mason.

I guess my main question is: Is there a way to meet the membership of a lodge before joining a particular lodge to make sure you feel comfortable with the group? Or, should wanting to meet the membership of a lodge before joining be secondary to becoming a mason?

Please do not post this question on your site, as I fear this may be a "dumb" question.

If you are able to provide me with some guidance, please write back to me at: MatthewH@pclink.com.

Thank you for your time!

Matthew Henderson

My reply

From: dryfoo@MIT.EDU <dryfoo@MIT.EDU>
To: Matthew Henderson <matthew.henderson@pclink.com>
Date: Monday, March 16, 1998 3:47 PM
Subject: Re: Question about Joining a Lodge

No, actually it's a really great question! I won't post it though, since you asked.

The answer is that you can certainly ask to visit and meet the members of one lodge, or a few, before deciding where to join.

For instance, you might find that one lodge is full of much older guys and may be running out of steam, while another has more people about your own age, with lots of activities. While the latter might be an obvious choice, some guys might prefer the former because it would give them a chance to move right into line and provide a challenge in trying to get things moving again.

Or you might find that one lodge is mostly drawn from one "class" -- professional men, blue-collar, students, retired, technical types, millitary, or whatever, while another has more of a mix. Again, your own preferences could be your guide either way. There's no "right" or "wrong".

Who knows, you might walk into a lodge "open house" or "information night" and run into someone you know.

You might be interested in that new lodge that's meeting in the school, as that might be a chance to help a new group make its early history. You could visit with some of the members and ask them why, with so many lodges in town, they decided to form a new one? Are they planning something different? Do they have particular goals or ideals that interest you?

Those established lodges with their own Masonic apartments: those buildings usually have a directory that lists when each of the member lodges meets there (1st Tuesday? 4nd Thursday? whatever). You could show up on a lodge night (wear a jacket and tie at least) and ask to meet the Master or the Secretary. Introduce yourself and tell them you may want to become a Mason and would like to know when you could meet with some of their members so you can get to know each other. There are exceptions (you might show up on a terribly hectic night) but you can generally judge the friendliness and organization of a lodge with that simple visit. They might only have time (right before a meeting that MUST start at a specific time) to get your name, phone, number, etc., so don't expect a big welcome, but they should be courteous and helpful.

I often recommend, especially when someone lives in an area that will have so many lodges, as yours must, that the person contact the grand lodge, office of the grand secretary, and ask about some lodges convenient to where they live or work. And if you happen to have a long-standing committment on some given night ("I always practice with my church choir on Tuesday nights" or "My Star Trek Apprciation group watches videotapes every Monday" or whatever) you can ask about lodges that meet on nights other than that one.

The grand secretary's office will give you the name and probably the address or phone number of the master or secretary of some lodges. Then you can contact them and tell them you'd be interested in meeting some of the members and finding out more about the lodge and about Masonry in general. Don't be bashful about saying right up front that you've been advised that it's okay to visit 2 or 3 lodges at the start.

Or perhaps the grand secretary's office will want to pass your name and number along to some lodges. That's often done. Just ask by when you can expect to hear from someone (just so you'll know if someone drops the ball, or if it's the normal waiting time around those parts).

In any case, you can't expect to attend a lodge meeting to see what it's like. The meetings are for members only -- except for "open" meetings such as an annual installation of officers. A lodge might be willing to invite you to a dinner after (or before) a meeting, or if they're hosting a public event (eg. my lodge holds Sunday morning blood donation drives a few times a year) you could go to that, or they should at least put together a membership committee to meet with you.

See, I told you it was a good question. Please stay in touch and let me know how you make out.


+---------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Gary L. Dryfoos <dryfoo@mit.edu>| MPS; PM: Mt. Scopus Lodge, Malden, MA;
| P.O.Box 425400, Camb, MA 02142  |          & Ocean Lodge, Winthrop, MA;
| http://web.mit.edu/dryfoo/Masonry/  | B'hood of the Blue Forget-Me-Not;
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|     "...one sacred band, or society of Friends and Brothers, among
|      whom no contention should ever exist, save that noble contention,
|      or rather emulation, of who best can work and best agree."
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