Interested in joining? Here is some basic information which should address the question: "Where do I go from here?"
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:
1. Being a man, freeborn, of at least 18 years of age.
2. Be a citizen of Maryland (unless you are Active Duty Military).
3. Be of good moral character, and well-recommended;
4. A personal belief in a Supreme Being;
5. Ability and dedication to support one's self and family;
6. Have a sincere desire to conduct yourself in a manner that will earn the respect and trust of others.
7. Possess a desire to help others through community service and universal benevolence
8. Decide to become a Freemason of your "own free will and accord".
9. Be of good mental health and have good control and use of your limbs
Let's examine these individually:
Being a man, freeborn, of at least 18 years of age
- Masonry began as a male organization, although there are now women's organizations that parallel that of most of the men's organizations.
- The requirement of being "freeborn" is one which harkens back to the earliest days of Freemasonry. It became a requirement since only those free from indentured service (as many were in 17th century England, for example), could truly make decisions for themselves.
- The age of adulthood for joining as established by the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge Constitution.
- 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'.
Being a citizen of Maryland (unless you are Active Duty Military)
- You must reside in the state of Maryland unless you are on active duty military when first joining.
Be of good moral character, and well recommended
- Being of good repute is another essential requirement in that Masons do not wish to encourage membership by those whose actions would stain the reputation of the fraternity.
- A well-recommended person is one for whom another is willing to vouch. Those who become Freemasons have been recommended by a proposed sponsor 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 a more generic worship to the Supreme Being of all present. All Masons understand this concept and when prayers are offered in their lodge, they understand that regardless of the person speaking the words or the manner 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 about his religious beliefs.
Ability to support one's self and family
- Although not specifically stated by all jurisdictions, this 'requirement' comes from a time when many would join organizations in the hope that there would be benefits for them in their old age. Masonry did want to become some type of benevolent association. Now, however, this ability is important to ensure that those who seek membership understand the priority of Freemasonry is secondary to religious and family obligations!
Conduct oneself in a manner that will earn the respect and trust of others
- This should be every man's aim whether he joins the fraternity or not. You should be known by the way you deal with family, friends, and co-workers. Everyone should always know what to expect when dealing with you in the many facets of everyday life and the life of a Freemason.
Possess a sincere desire to help others in the community
- Masons should always be ready to help each other and those in their community without the need for reward. Practice charity and you will be rewarded in return.
Join of your Own Free Will and Accord
- Masonry is a voluntary organization which is sought 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, 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!
- Some grand jurisdictions, recognizing the problem arising from false perceptions ("I must be asked to join such a good organization."), have begun to loosen prior strict prohibitions. They may now have a provision for Masons to let those who they may feel would be appropriate candidates know that they are 'invited' to join. This does not, however, in any way mitigate or diminish the requirement that a man make the choice to join under his 'own free will and accord' not motivated by unworthy motives!
Be in good mental health and have control and use of your limbs
- Although not specifically stated by all jurisdictions, this 'requirement' comes from a time when many operative masons would join organizations and try to learn the trade. To be able to travel and work in ancient times, one had to have a clear head and the proper use of his limbs.
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.
If you've read this far and are now interested in Masonic membership for yourself, simply visit your local Masonic lodge or contact us via the following;
If you desire to become a Prince Hall Freemason in Maryland and you meet the above requirements
or write to:
The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Maryland
ATTN: Grand Secretary, RW William Davidson, III
1307 Eutaw Place, Baltimore, MD 21217 :
If you know a man who is a Mason, ask him! We suspect that you'll both be glad that you did!
In many parts of the world, Masons wear jewelry which makes them easily identifiable.