The Worshipful Master's Guide


Cabell F. Cobbs, P.G.M.


This pamphlet is precisely what its title states — a GUIDE to your duties and responsibilities as Worshipful Master of your Lodge. It does not purport to tell you that the suggestions set forth are the only way to have a successful year and to accomplish your goals (except where they are based on requirements of Masonic law). There are many ways to have a good meeting, to share Masonic fellowship, to improve attendance, to attract new members, and to be a good lodge leader. If you have your own ideas, do not be afraid to implement them! This publication is intended only as a guide — the methods included here have worked, but your approach may be better. After all, every lodge is different and, in the end, you should know your brethren best!

In short, this guide is offered to help you in every way possible. It is not a strait-jacket but a blueprint for success. If followed, we believe it will help you and your lodge have a successful year. And that is the end result for which we all strive. Read it, use it, refer to it and to the publications which it references. It will make your task easier, your lodge stronger, and you a more effective Master. Good luck and Godspeed.


"The Worshipful Master rules and governs his lodge. . ." Seldom is any elected official of a voluntary body given more power — and more responsibility. Freely chosen by your brethren, it is to YOU to whom they look for decisive leadership; it is on YOU that they have placed the responsibility for their welfare and that of the lodge as an entity during YOUR year. It is likewise to YOU that the Grand Master looks when assessing the performance of your brethren and the activities of your lodge, as well as its implementation of various Grand Lodge programs. YOU — not the Secretary or the Past Masters — were elected to, and freely accepted the responsibilities of this most worthy office, and it is up to YOU to see that YOU perform its duties in a creditable manner. You were elected Worshipful Master. Be Worshipful Master!

Leaders are made, not born. You must set goals, plan your year, communicate with your brethren, care for them, encourage their participation, and let them know that each and every one of them is important to you. The elements of leadership have been set forth by many writers, but none have dealt with it better than Worshipful Brother Allen E. Roberts, in the following extract from his work, "The Search for Leadership":

"A Masonic leader is a peculiar character. In many respects, he must be the same as the leader in industry, politics, schools, civic clubs, or any organization that requires strong administrators. But the Masonic leader must differ in at least two respects: First, he must be an acceptable ritualist — he should not expect those under him to do what he cannot do; second, in no organization does the presiding officer have the power, or the responsibility, as that of a Worshipful Master. In every other organization the body controls the presiding officer — in Freemasonry the opposite is true. . . No one, not even the Grand Master, can tell the Master how to run his Lodge as long as he complies with the Constitutions of Masonry, the Laws of the Grand Lodge of Virginia, and the by-laws of his Lodge. As long as he does that, he can operate his Lodge as he thinks best. Consider the power he has; then consider the responsibility that must go with it!

"A good leader is one who can get the best that is in them out of those who are under him. A good manager will realize that he cannot do everything himself and that he does not know all the answers. But a good leader will know where to turn to get things done and for the answers he needs. And he will give credit to those who deserve the credit thereby earning the loyalty and respect of everyone.

"In Freemasonry, loyalty and respect are as necessary as in industry — perhaps more so. The worker is paid a salary or wages in industry — in Freemasonry what the members do is done gratuitously; loyalty and respect cannot be purchased, they must be earned. And how does the Masonic leader earn them?

"He must make the members who work with him feel what they are doing is important — and it is! In a play the fellow who has the smallest part is just as important as the actor who gets the headlines. If it is not done properly, the whole play will be a disaster. In the degree work, the Junior Deacon and Seafaring Man are as important as the Master. The solemnity of the work will be destroyed if anyone doesn't do what he is supposed to do at the proper time and with respectful decorum.

"The Worshipful Master must let every member know he is interested in him. If a member misses a Communication, the Master should contact him as soon as possible to find out why. Let him know he was missed, that his presence is important to the Lodge, that what he does for the Lodge is appreciated.

"The good leader, Masonic and otherwise, will find men he can depend on to get a job done — then give them the power and authority to do it. This will not only give the leader the opportunity to think, plan, and ease the pressures placed upon him, but will develop better leadership for the future. The leader will be providing goals and expediting better teamwork; he will find the quality of the performances will greatly improved.

"There are some Masters who will not delegate authority and will not give credit to their members because they are afraid they will not get the praise due them; or because they have an unclear idea of the responsibility that rests upon the shoulders of a Master; or because they do not know how to delegate authority or work. They do not realize they are weakening their own position and the Lodge when they let their fear rule their minds and actions.

"The good Masonic leader will be receptive to the ideas of his officers and members. He will listen to all proposals and all sides of any suggestion. He will consider the pros and cons and after determining if it is good for his Lodge and Freemasonry, will adopt or reject the proposals or suggestion. He should be objective in his thinking and not let personalities influence his decision. He must remember he is the Worshipful Master of his Lodge and not any particular faction.

"There is no quick, cheap, and easy way to master the art of leadership. But the Mason who has intelligence, aptitude, and is interested in the philosophy and teachings of the Craft, can learn the principles and techniques of leadership and apply them. . ." [1]

You have been elected a Masonic leader! You are responsible for your Lodge and your Brethren. Be their leader! Be the Worshipful Master!


A. Introduction

One of the essential characteristics of any leader is the ability to organize his team, to delegate authority, and to instill confidence in his subordinates so that all may proceed to accomplish the goals which he — and his superiors, i. e., the Grand Master — have set for his term of office. No man can do the job alone. Moreover, participation breed enthusiasm, enthusiasm makes better Masons, and better Masons make a better lodge, with better attendance and, to complete the circle, more participation!

B. Planning and Goal Setting

No Master can hope to have a successful year unless he gives a great deal of thought to WHAT he wishes to accomplish during his year, to WHAT the Grand Master wishes to accomplish during HIS year and how to dovetail the two into a workable schedule for the year. This of course requires planning, and planning sufficiently ahead to have the year's activities set out at least in rough outline by the time of the Master's installation.

Planning is easy, if one follows the procedures set forth in the "Worshipful Master's Notebook", sets one's goals for the year, and outlines the programs necessary to carry them out. A copy of this publication has been furnished you, or is available from the Grand Lodge office. Use it for planning as well as for organizing your meetings, and you will save yourself much difficulty.

Once plans are made, they must be executed and, again, it cannot be overemphasized that you cannot do it all alone. You must be the leader of a team effort!

C. Your Officers — Nucleus of Any Team

The basis of any successful lodge is its officers, and the foundation for their role is in the leadership role of the Worshipful Master. It is, therefore, up to you to organize them as a team and see that they function together smoothly in executing the Lodge's mission and attaining the goals which you and the Grand Master have set for accomplishment during your joint year.

You should start having officer meetings during your year as Senior Warden in order to acquaint your team with your plans for the coming year. Discuss your goals freely; invite participation, and listen carefully to their suggestions. Perhaps one of them can come up with a better way of doing things than you! Be willing to adapt yourself to their suggestions if they are improvements on your designs. Do not let your ego control. In this way, you will have the team concept well underway when you assume the position of Worshipful Master.

After discussing your goals and plans with your officers, and listening to (and perhaps adopting) their suggestions, make any necessary modifications in your proposals and present a final copy of your plan's outline to the officers at a second meeting. At this time, you should if possible assign each officer a role in the plan's implementation, making it their plan as much as yours.

Officers' meetings should continue on a regular basis, the time interval depending on the size of the lodge, the complexity of your plans, the need for modifications, etc. The important thing to remember is to keep your officers informed, see that they are performing their duties, and, in general, to make them feel that they are a responsible part of your team. There is nothing worse for an officer's morale than to feel that he is being left out or for him to find that he does not know what is going on.

D. Committees

Committees are the life-blood of any organization. Their chairmen are, in effect, the Worshipful Master's staff and are responsible individuals to whom he may safely look for the accomplishment of the many administrative tasks that must be performed if a lodge's responsibilities are to be accomplished.

Committees may consist of one or several individuals, depending on the size of the lodge and the magnitude of the responsibilities which it must assume. Too often, the Master-elect panics and appoints whomever he can find to committees just so he can say that he has committees. Nothing could be worse. It would be better to have no committees at all than to have those which either do not function or function in such a poor way as to be useless.

Whenever possible, select members as committee chairmen who are mature, responsible individuals, hopefully with experience in the area which the committee's work involves. Thus, if a Blood Committee is being appointed, seriously consider someone with blood bank experience, hospital connections, or who has a medical background. Masons have such a varied background, it should not be difficult to find individuals who have the requisite experience.

The number of Committees appointed will vary with the size of the Lodge and the complexity of its administration. They should always, however, include those involving the Masonic Blood Program, the Masonic Home, By-laws, Ritual, Catechism Instruction, Education, Stewards, Child Identification Program, Sick, Funeral, Telephone, and Temple. In certain instances, Lodge officers may be automatically assigned as Chairmen. For example, it is customary in many lodges for the Senior Warden to arrange for conferral of degrees, including preparation of the casts. As such, it would be wise to appoint him as Chairman of the Ritual Committee. So, too, the Stewards should serve as Chair and Assistant Chair of the Stewards Committee for the preparation of refreshments.

In addition to the foregoing, the Master will find it necessary from time to time to appoint special committees to perform particular tasks, e. g. an investigation committee to report to him on the suitability of a petitioner to receive the degrees in Freemasonry; an audit committee to examine the books of the Secretary and Treasurer at the end of the year, a committee to plan a special event or to investigate a particular occurrence. Again, it is wise in such instances to utilize the peculiar talents and experience of various lodge members. In doing so, do not overlook your Past Masters, who constitute a vast repository of Masonic wisdom in any lodge.

The use of committees not only relieves the Master of the need to perform many of the onerous details of lodge administration, but also permits him to involve more members in the active conduct of lodge affairs. Again, this pays off in creating additional enthusiasm for the lodge, and offers a valuable training ground for future leaders. It will be of no avail, however, if the committees serve in name only. Regular meetings and reports should be required and performance of duties monitored. Deadheads should be quietly asked to resign and promptly replaced. Make use of the committees and make sure they are useful to the Lodge!

E. Appointed Officers

As the Master-elect, you will be required, and privileged to appoint certain lodge officers to serve during your year. These include the Chaplain, Stewards, Marshal, and possibly a Musician. Again, select the candidates for these offices carefully, and ensure that they are fully capable of performing their duties.

In most lodges, the Chaplain serves from year to year and is frequently a Past Master. You may therefore desire to reappoint this experienced brother, and you probably should do so. Remember, however, that the Chaplain is an essential link in our Ritual, not only from the standpoint of opening and closing prayers, but also in the conferral of the degrees. Be satisfied that he is capable both mentally and physically of performing his important duties in an exemplary manner. If age or physical condition seem to handicap him, ease his passage by naming him Chaplain Emeritus, and seek out a capable replacement. Frequently, we Masons tend to hang on too long in our lodge offices, and, though a painful experience, it is the Master's responsibility to replace a no longer capable brother when such becomes necessary.

In addition to the regular lodge officers, you will need to appoint a Lodge Instructor of Work, a Lodge Education Officer, a Blood Bank Representative, and a Masonic Home Ambassador. Note that these positions are essential to the success of our programs and to the health of the Lodge's proficiency and knowledge. It behooves the Master to see that each is filled with a competent and knowledgeable individual. Again, note that these officers should also function as Chairmen of the respective Committees which are concerned with the same functions.

F. Conclusion

If you have followed the suggestions above, you will have assembled your team, fully informed its members of your plans and goals for the year, and now possess all the machinery for a successful tour as Worshipful Master of your Lodge. Only one thing remains. Remind your Master of HIS responsibility to arrange for your installation, making any suggestion you wish regarding the identity of the installing officer, chaplain, and marshal. Remember, however, it is HIS right to install you himself or appoint the persons to do so.


A. General

Every Lodge holden under the Grand Lodge of Virginia is required, if practicable, to have twelve Stated Communications on the day and at the time and location set forth in its by-laws. There are no exceptions, unless authorized by a dispensation obtained through the District Deputy Grand Master for your district from the Grand Master. See Section 2.09 of the Methodical Digest.

Of course, as the law states, there are circumstances under which it may not be practicable to hold a Stated Communication, as, for example, when horrible weather conditions prevent it. Whether it is practicable to hold a meeting means whether it can be held "with due effort". If it is called off because of weather or other conditions, it must be made up, with the brethren duly notified of the new date, time, and place of meeting. The Grand Secretary should be promptly notified of the failure to hold any Stated Communication.

Nevertheless, if the building in which the lodge holds its meetings is destroyed or becomes unfit for lodge meetings, the meetings may be held temporarily in such place as may be designated by the Worshipful Master. See Section 2.73 of the Methodical Digest. Permanent removal to new premises for meetings, however, requires motion for approval at a Stated Communication, notification to the brethren to attend the next Stated Communication for a vote on the proposition, and, with the concurrence of the Master, a majority vote of approval. If the Master does not approve, a two-thirds majority vote is required to move the meeting place permanently. See Sections 2.74, 2.75, 2.76 and 2.77 of the Methodical Digest. Even then, the Grand Master's approval is required.

B. Conduct of Meeting

Stated Communications are the business meetings of the Lodge, in which necessary administrative matters are concluded. It is at these meetings that speakers, educational programs, etc. are also presented. Although there is not prohibition against doing so, ritual work other than catechism examinations is seldom done on stated occasions.

Although it is not prescribed by law, there is a customary routine for the disposition of Lodge business. Typically, there is the ritualistic opening, Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, reading or summary of the minutes of the last meeting, correspondence and petitions on the Secretary's desk, the Treasurer's report, disposing of old business, conduct of new business, Committee reports if needed (but always from the Sick Committee), presentation of distinguished visitors, commencing with visiting brethren, presentation of the program, hearing from any brother who desires to be heard, reading of the minutes of this meeting for approval, and closing the lodge.

It bears repetition that the Master rules and governs his Lodge. He is in charge. Roberts' Rules of Order do not apply. It is the Master who determines the procedure and order of business, and it is up to him to see that all matters are expeditiously handled, according to all interested brethren a fair hearing. But while he should use the gavel wisely, he should not hesitate to use it firmly.

Business should be handled in a timely and organized manner. A meeting should seldom last beyond ninety minutes, including the program and closing. Time must be left for all important fellowship among the brethren. And well conducted meetings will lead to good attendance.

There is no substitute for the Master having a written agenda for the meeting, prepared after consultation with the Secretary. Samples are provided in the Worshipful Master's Notebook, a Grand Lodge publication, and can be easily reproduced. Again, an agenda is nothing more than a written plan for a particular meeting. It insures that important matters will not be overlooked; that they will be handled in an orderly fashion; and that time will not be wasted.

Meetings can be substantially shortened by introductions being made at the visitor's seat. On occasion, business can be delayed if an important program is to be presented. Nonessential matters can be put off or eliminated. All these things can be accomplished if a written agenda is planned properly with the Secretary and used.

Above all, the Master should know his Ritual well enough to open and close lodge without hesitation. He should speak out clearly and insure that his officers are equally knowledgeable and adept in their respective parts. Nothing sets the tone of a meeting like a crisp opening and closing, and nothing detracts from it more than officers or Masters who stumble over the simple wording time and again and seem equally ill-prepared to preside over the business of the Communication.

The Master rules and governs his Lodge. Be sure that you are prepared to do it.


A. General

Called Communications are special meetings of the Lodge ordered by the Worshipful Master for a designated task or purpose. Only that task or purpose may be accomplished at the meeting. The members must be given notice of the meeting by the usual means the Lodge uses, and the purpose of the meeting must be stated in the notice. The meeting must likewise be held in the meeting place specified in the Lodge's by-laws.

For example, if the notice of the meeting states that it is for the purpose of work and instruction in the Master Mason's degree, work can only be conducted in that degree and no other.

Under an Edict issued on February 15, 1989, and approved by the Grand Lodge in 1990, Called Communications for degree work are opened by the Worshipful Master in the degree in which work is to be done. Only at Stated Communications is there a dispensing of the Master Mason's Lodge and opening of a Lodge for work and instruction in a lesser degree.

Minutes of Called Communications are kept and approved as in other communications, except that the Worshipful Master may dispense with their reading for approval at the conclusion of the Communication. Nevertheless, they must be signed by the Master and Secretary and, as with other minutes, form a part of the permanent records of the Lodge. See Section 2.59, Methodical Digest, as amended in 1990.

B. Lodges of Sorrow

In the past, a special communication was called immediately prior to the funeral of a Brother, for the purpose of recounting his Masonic history and paying respect to his memory. More recently, however, a Lodge of Sorrow has been authorized for optional use by Worshipful Masters.

The Lodge of Sorrow is usually opened at the beginning of the Master's term of office, remains open throughout his year, and is closed immediately prior to the end of the last Stated Communication at which he presides. See Section 2.05(a), Methodical Digest. The procedures for opening and closing such a Lodge are set forth in the Manual of Ceremonies. It has the advantage of eliminating the need to open and close Lodge immediately before and after funeral services are conducted. See, further, Masonic Funerals, below.

Minutes of a Lodge of Sorrow are kept as for other Called Communications and are read for approval at the Stated Communication next after each funeral or funerals held during the month.


A. General

As a Lodge officer, you are probably already aware of the steady decline in membership which the Craft has undergone since 1968. With the exception of the year 1989, our losses have been gradually increasing, as has the average age of our brethren.

Many theories have been advanced as the cause for this phenomenon — the advent of television, the decline in morality in the general population, our male orientation, etc. — but no one has come up with either an accurately identified reason for our decline or with a solution to the problems it presents. The problem is not limited to the Grand Lodge of Virginia. Every other Grand Lodge in the United States is experiencing the same difficulty.

One thing is certain. Our secrecy has contributed a great deal to our losses. A survey conducted in recent years under the auspices of the Scottish Rite (Southern Jurisdiction) and the Imperial Shrine indicated that a large percentage of American males had never heard of the Craft, had no concept of what we stand for, and no idea of how one might become a Mason or why one should. Indeed, a substantial number of those who are aware of the Fraternity's existence believe that one is invited to join!

Much of this secrecy results from our own ignorance. Many brethren do not know that our secrets are limited to our obligations, ritual, and modes of recognition, as well as what transpires in our Lodge rooms. Many others know little about the Craft to which they belong. Hence, when questioned by a non-Mason, they take refuge in unjustified secrecy in order to conceal either their lack of knowledge or their confusion as to whether they may disclose information concerning the Craft.

The general Masonic Education programs of the Grand Lodge have as one of their objectives the dispelling of the ignorance about our secrets, and much can be learned by regular attendance at educational meetings and Area Conferences. We need to teach our own brethren what can and cannot be discussed with non-Masons and to remove the erroneous idea held by the public that we are a secret society.

B. The "For Your Information" Pamphlet Program

In 1989, a new approach was authorized by the Grand Master in reaching out to possible candidates for membership in Freemasonry. Recognizing that our age-old standard is that the petitioner must come to us of his own free will and accord but, at the same time, he must at least know something about us and how he might make his decision, he instituted a program whereby it was made possible to approach an individual, advise him that he might find Freemasonry of interest, present him with the Grand Lodge pamphlet, "For Your Information," and ask him to read it. Later on, a second approach may be made to the prospect to determine if he is interested and desires a petition. This program was overwhelmingly approved by the Grand Lodge delegates in 1990 and, where used, has been proved successful in informing prospects how to become Masons, while leaving with them the free-will choice to make a decision for themselves.

The program is based on the concepts used for a number of years in the Grand Lodges of England, Ireland, and Scotland, and eliminates the shibboleth that one must ask for information before an approach can be made to him concerning Masonic membership. At the same time, it puts responsibility for determining that the candidate meets our stringent requirements directly on the individual making the approach to him. This is as it should be, for it has always been the responsibility of one who vouches for a petitioner thereby to declare his belief in the applicant's probity, honor, and fitness to receive our degrees.

See that your membership is aware of this program; provide them with the necessary pamphlets and instructions on their use; and you will see the results very shortly! One need only to his fellow communicant in church or attender at Sunday School, fellow worker, or close friends to find persons who would make fine Masons but who are either ignorant of our existence or do not know that they must come to us voluntarily. Our problems are not solved by ignoring the tools the Grand Lodge provides or crying, "We have not done this before." This program works, and you should make use of it.

Remember,however, that above all, we are interested in quality candidates. Quantity is meaningless if we must lower our standards.

C. Public Relations

Our Masonic Public Relations consist of a number of matters designed to bring our Lodge and its various functions to the attention of the public and, among other things, to attract the attention of those who might wish to become Masons. As is the case with any organization's public relations, the individual Mason is our best (or worst) impression given the public.

For years, our Craft has enjoyed a reputation for a membership having high moral character, known for its decent behavior, and its unbending integrity. It is the behavior of the individual Mason, therefore, that reflects either favorably or unfavorably on the Craft in the eyes of the public and, thus, gives it an impression, ill-founded or not, of what we are.

The first step, therefore, in creating a favorable image of Freemasonry in your community, is to insure that your membership reflects the rectitude of conduct demanded of any Master Mason and, if the conduct of an individual falls below that standard, to see that corrective measures — from a whisper of good counsel to Masonic trial — are promptly taken. It is a sad commentary on life today that our national morality is not what it once was but, in such circumstances, it behooves us more than ever to see that the Fraternity's reputation rises above the ordinary norm and remains unsullied by an individual's misbehavior — conduct that might be tolerated by his friendly neighbors but cannot be countenanced without reprehension by his brethren.

More particular means of public relations are afforded by various Grand Lodge programs. First, there is the Community Builder Award, which permits you to present a handsome Certificate of Recognition to a non-Mason in your community who has made a substantial contribution to its quality of life.

This individual should be carefully selected and the presentation made immediately before or after a Lodge meeting or, perhaps, at a dinner arranged especially for that purpose. Many Lodges have combined the presentation with a Ladies' Night Dinner, as one of the highlights of the evening. In any event, every effort should be made to have media representatives present or, if they are unable to attend, to furnish a press release and photograph of the presentation to the local papers. Not only does this publicly strengthen the ties between the Lodge and the community but it also serves to make Freemasonry known to local citizens as a positive force.

In the same way, participation in charitable programs such as the Child ID Program, sponsoring Little League teams, participating in local charitable activities (ringing bells for the Salvation Army kettles, etc.) all serve to bring home to the community the essential nature of our Lodges and, incidentally, to rebut the spurious attacks launched against it by certain radical religious bodies. All serve to attract the attention of prospective petitioners who may well meet our requirements for membership.

We can no longer cloak ourselves and our gentle Craft in a pretended cloak of secrecy and expect to survive. People cannot become interested in something about which they know nothing, nor can they be expected blindly to plunge into an organization of which no one knows. Press forward into letting your community and associates know the value of our great Order and thereby insure a new generation of attentive ears to receive our instruction.


A. In General

The most important process in the Craft is balloting on a petition for the degrees. It is here that we must determine if the petitioner possesses the moral fitness to become a part of our brotherhood. Is he a person of rectitude? One who is known in the community for his probity and good character. These are the inquiries which every voucher should make and the positive answers he should be able to make when signing a petition. And how seldom is that the case!

Recently, a voucher rose in Lodge and declared that he had met the petitioner in a yard sale. As he seemed interested in Masonry, he gave him a petition and endorsed it. On the basis of a few minutes conversation, he recommended the individual as a prospective member of the Craft! What could he have really known about the man? Was he a quarrelsome individual? Did he beat his wife? What was his real character? Obviously, he knew nothing and, in particular, did not even understand his own duty as a Master Mason. Luckily, the investigating Committee did, and found out the relevant information. But it should be a lesson to all to learn their duties as vouchers to know positive information about the fitness of the individual to become one of us and to meet the high standards of this Craft. Most Worshipful Brother George Kidd summed it up many years ago, when he said, "Watch the West Gate, brethren."

B. The Process

Petitions for the degrees must be received and balloted on at Stated Communications of the Lodge. The petition is read for information at one Stated Communication, referred to an investigating committee, lies over for four weeks, and is usually voted on at the Stated Communication after the four weeks have elapsed. The Worshipful Master calls the petition up for action. Once he has done so, and discussion in opposition has developed, the ballot cannot be postponed other than to the next Stated Communication. See Sec. 2.91, Methodical Digest.

Note that the balloting is now on the degrees. Once it is taken and the petitioner is elected, no further ballot is taken. In such instances if further information is developed about the candidate which indicates he should not become a member of the Craft, the only remedy lies with objection to, and action by the Worshipful Master, who is empowered to stop the candidate through refusing to confer any further degrees. See Sec. 2.106, Methodical Digest. This once again demonstrates the importance of knowing the candidate's background in conducting the sole ballot on his election to receive the degrees.

Once the ballot is called up for action, the Worshipful Master calls upon all present to speak in favor of the petition, if they so desire, commencing with the vouchers. After those in favor of the petition are heard, he calls for those who desire to speak against the petition. After these are heard, if any, the ballot is spread by the Senior Deacon, and the brethren deposit their votes, by custom commencing on the Worshipful Master's right. All members present must vote and no member may depart from the Lodge room until the balloting is completed. Should a member depart, for whatever reason, the ballot must be destroyed and a new ballot taken with him present until completion of the process.

After all have voted, the ballot is closed and presented to the Worshipful Master. He examines it and, provided no one has left the Lodge room and he has not declared the ballot, he may immediately order it respread, if it is not clear. Otherwise, he directs the Senior Deacon to present the ballot in the South and West. If either Warden announces that the ballot is not clear and the Master did not notice it as being not clear when it was presented to the East, he may recall it to the East and direct it respread, again provided he has not declared the ballot and none have left the Lodge room. If, however, it is declared from the South and West, it is returned to the East, where the ballot result is announced by the Master and the ballot destroyed.

In the past, there have been improper rejections of candidates based on the personal pique of an individual Mason, not against the individual petitioner, but against all petitioners, based upon a dislike for something that has happened in Lodge or other fanciful reasons. In such cases, a prompt report of the situation should be made through the District Deputy Grand Master to the Grand Master, who is empowered to take the necessary action to cure the matter.

In like manner, if a candidate is rejected on grounds of race, and such is clearly known, the ballot is improper and should be promptly reported through the District Deputy Grand Master to the Grand Master. In such instances, he is empowered either to order another ballot or, if satisfied that racism is the only reason for the rejection, to order that the petitioner receive the degrees in Freemasonry and be accepted as a member of the Lodge which he has petitioned. See Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Virginia, 1990, Decision 25, page 112.

If there be more than one petition on which to vote, the ballot may be spread collectively on all petitioners. In the event, a negative ballot results on this collective consideration, then it must be spread separately on each petition included in the collective ballot. See Section 2.95, Methodical Digest, as amended (1991)

There are many delicate concerns involved in the full and free discussion incident to the consideration of the suitability of an individual to receive our degrees. The guiding rule is whether he possesses the necessary moral fitness. In order that there may be open and honest discussion of every facet of the matter, the proceedings must be strictly confidential, with every brother assured that he may speak with frankness of any deficiency he may know. In addition, it is a Masonic offense to disclose either one's vote or the reasons therefor outside the Lodge, except to the Grand Master or his representatives. See Grand Lodge Proceedings, 1990, Decision 26, p. 113. Help our Craft by protecting our right to speak out in Lodge without fear of repetition elsewhere of our thoughts and opinions.

C. Investigating Committee

As noted above, the Master must refer each petition to an Investigating Committee consisting of not less than three members, no one of whom is a signer of the petition, to make investigation of the petitioner and report to the Master or to the Lodge.

This Committee provides the most reliable and informative safeguard to the Lodge against the receipt of unqualified petitioners. It should consist of experienced Masons, probably Past Masters, who are fully aware of the type individual which the Craft seeks, that its reputation may be enhanced rather than sullied, and that the person is such that brotherly love can continue to prevail rather than an atmosphere of contention.

The Committee should study the provisions of the Methodical Digest relating to petitions (Sections 2.22, 2.91, 2.92, 2.93, 2.94, 2.95, 2.96, 2.97), and insure that the petitioner meets the formal requirements for membership, i. e., residence within the State for twelve months, etc. In addition, it should be aware of the need to obtain a dispensation in the event he suffers from a physical deformity which might disqualify him. It should, of course, familiarize itself with the matters set forth in the petition and, if any questions are raised, discuss the matter with the vouchers. Its members should also be furnished a copy of the Grand Lodge Pamphlet, "The Investigating Committee."

It is important that the Committee contact the petitioner and make arrangements to visit him in his home, preferably with his spouse present. There, every effort should be made to inform him concerning the nature of the Fraternity, the fact that his acceptance will oblige him to learn the catechisms, that he will be expected to attend Lodge, and that Freemasonry expects a high standard of conduct from its members. It is usually worthwhile to learn what motivated him to petition, as well as to make certain he is aware of the amount of dues and fees involved. One should also answer any questions his spouse may have.

The Committee may wish to consult other sources, such as members familiar with local law enforcement agencies, etc., should any questions arise as to the individual's character. At the same time, it should seek to be informative to the individual and furnish him with copies of relevant Grand Lodge publications, such as the pamphlet, "For Your Information", and "Taking the First Step".

It will be seen therefore that it is the Committee which has the best opportunity to gauge the qualifications of the prospect and report favorably or unfavorably to the Lodge. If it does its duty well, we can be assured of receiving only quality candidates.

Whether the identity of the Committee should be made known to the Lodge or kept confidential by the Master is a matter solely for his decision. Some Lodges follow one practice; others another. There are arguments which may be made for both, which have equal validity. In like manner, some Lodges use a permanent Investigating Committees. Others appoint a different Committee for each petition.

Again, the matter is a decision for the Master, who should be the individual best aware of the circumstances of his Lodge and which procedure would best suit its practices.

Similarly, the manner in which the report of the Committee is received is likewise left to the discretion of the Master. Most Lodges perhaps follow the procedure of having the Committee report to the Master directly, and the Lodge, on the second reading of the petition, is told only that the report is favorable or unfavorable. Others have the Committee chairman report directly to the brethren when the petition is called up for action and to give a full factual report and recommendation. Again, the decision whether to use one procedure or another is left to the Master, for he should best know what will be most beneficial to the Lodge and the Craft in its execution of this most important balloting function.

D. After the Ballot

In every case, the petitioner should be promptly and fully informed in writing by the Secretary of the result of the ballot. In the event that the petition was rejected, there should be a polite expression of regret and the letter should be accompanied by a return of the necessary fee deposit. Whether the petitioner should also be informed that he may again petition after twelve months have elapsed.

In the event the ballot is favorable, the new candidate should likewise be informed in writing and congratulated on the success of his application. The notice should likewise advise him of the time, date, and place of his initiatory degree, and enclose a copy of the Grand Lodge pamphlet, "The Postulant", which contains much valuable information for the recently elected candidate. [2]

One may also properly ask the vouchers on the petition to informally notify the candidate, not as a substitute for the written notice from the Secretary, but as a more immediate advice to one who must be concerned about the outcome of his application.


A. In General

You will find that one of the major problems facing your Lodge is attendance by the Brethren. While telephone committees, trestleboards, and other means of communication will serve temporarily to remind the members of their obligation to attend Lodge and bring them within its portals, attendance will gradually fall off again unless something is offered to whet their interest and reward them for coming. That is the purpose of Lodge programs. Experience has proven that programs are an invaluable tool in attracting the attention of our Freemasons and securing a renewal of their devotion to the Lodge.

Every Master should plan for a program to be presented at each Stated Communication of the Lodge, unless the business scheduled for the evening is of such importance as to preclude it being presented.

B. Purposes of Programs

Programs can be of a varied nature and need not have a Masonic connection. However, many can be presented in explanation of the various aspects of Freemasonry — its history, the meaning of its symbols, the development of its Ritual, the rise and importance of its appendant bodies, etc., all of which can be most interestingly presented by knowledgeable Brethren.

As Master, you may have developed a theme for your year or be interested in implementing the Grand Master's theme. Programs may be selected which assist in carrying out these themes and furthering the concept you have in mind. On the other hand, you may wish to further the education of the Brethren and concentrate your programs in the field of Ritual and Masonic Education. All these things are important, and undoubtedly will serve to spark the interest of the Brethren and result in good Lodge attendance.

The idea is to present a program that is timely, interesting, and well presented so that those who are in Lodge on the occasion will enjoy it to the extent that they will be motivated to return again and again. It will surprise you to find how little many Masons know of their Fraternity and how appreciative they are for the opportunity to learn something about it which is undoubtedly new to them.

Every Lodge is different, and programs must necessarily be tailored to your prospective audience, but attention to their presentation will pay off more than anything else in reawakening interest in attending Lodge and revitalizing its activities.

C. Sources of Programs and Planning

The source for interesting and attractive programs is as near as your Lodge's Masonic Directory. It contains the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of all the Grand Lodge officers, Past Grand Masters, Committeemen, District Education Officers, District Instructors of Work, members of the Masonic Home Board of Governors, a veritable host of prospects to present programs in your Lodge on multitude of subjects. In addition, it is possible to find members of appendant bodies or sojourning Masons in your vicinity who will be willing to appear and inform the Brethren about their bodies or the practices in another Grand Jurisdiction.

Programs may also involve non-Masonic subjects. Many Lodges have had successful presentations by law enforcement officers, members of veteran's organizations on patriotism, rescue squads (founded, incidentally, by a Mason from Roanoke, Brother Julian Wise), or other community organizations. Many other suggestions can be found in the Grand Lodge pamphlet, "Manual of Lodge Programs and Protocol".

In addition, there are several Masonic plays and special presentations which are offered throughout the State under the auspices of such groups as the Springfield Players, the Alexandria Valley of the Scottish Rite, etc., which can be presented in your Lodge by groups of dedicated amateurs. It only requires a little planning and effort on your part to secure their services and watch as the seats fill in the old Lodge Hall!

Methods of planning programs and objectives for your year are set out fully in the Grand Lodge publication, The Worshipful Master's Workbook, to which you should refer in detail in planning for your year.

D. Securing and Presenting a Program

Once you have determined the sort of program you desire to present, you should contact the person you wish to have do the job. Again, if he is not local, the Masonic Directory will prove helpful in furnishing his address and telephone number. You will find most Masons, from Grand Lodge officers to Past Grand Masters, most willing to come and assist you by speaking or otherwise presenting a program.

You may make the initial contact with the individual by phone to ascertain if he is available, but you should always follow up with a letter of invitation, including information on what sort of talk or other program you wish, the date, time and place of presentation, the type of audience (tiled lodge, dinner, ladies' night, etc), explicit directions to the Lodge hall or other location, facilities if any overnight trip is involved, and any other details. The location of the Lodge hall is extremely important if the speaker is out of town, for, without good directions, it is extremely hard for a stranger to locate. Do not take for granted that someone should know where it is!

It is only courteous to offer your invitee sufficient facilities to wash up, etc. after a trip and to provide him with a place to stay as well as filling his car with gasoline for the return trip. In lieu thereof, you may offer him a gratuity to permit him to defray his own expenses. If the Lodge cannot afford to pay the speaker's expenses, it should so state in the letter of invitation. One will be pleasantly surprised at the dedication of most Freemasons, who are usually quite willing to assist you by coming at their own expense. Thus, do not let lack of funds deter you in your planning for programs.

Finally, after the conclusion of the program, do not forget to express your appreciation to the individual presenting the program. After Lodge is over, escort him to his car and see him on his way — or to his lodgings, if he is staying overnight. The best wages most Masons can receive is the courtesy extended them after they have done a job for you.

E. Publicize your Program!

Having secured an interesting program or speaker for your Lodge, you should not fail to publicize the presentation among Masons not only in your Lodge but throughout the area. Nothing is more dismaying to one who comes a long distance to present a program or a carefully prepared talk than to find almost no one present to hear it. In almost every instance, this is due to the Master's failure to let other Lodges and Brethren — in some cases, his own members — know that the program or speaker will be present. Thus, an opportunity to further knowledge of Freemasonry or even to improve attendance is missed, and the speaker goes home, somewhat deflated at having driven miles to be heard by five or ten Brothers.

Announcing an upcoming program in advance is simple enough. It should be in the Lodge trestleboard, of course; it should also be announced during any visits to other Lodges in the district, or notices should be sent to the Secretaries of those Lodges for announcement during their meetings. A telephone committee should also be utilized to notify the brethren that a special program is being presented.

Not only will a large audience gratify the individual who has taken the trouble to assist you with his presentation, but, again, it will promote interest in Masonry in general and perhaps motivate other Lodges to follow the example you have set.

F. Conclusion

The importance of programming cannot be overestimated as a tool in improving attendance at your Lodge. Interesting and educational presentations will not only attract the attention of the Brethren but will result in better informed and more active Masons. The ease with which these programs can be arranged make it possible for the smallest and most remote lodge to reinvigorate its existence and become once more an active and viable part of the Masonic community. [3]


A. In General

"Protocol" is defined as the ceremonial forms and courtesies established as proper and correct in official intercourse between heads of state and their ministers. In Freemasonry, it refers to the forms and ceremonies used in welcoming Lodge and visiting dignitaries in either a Stated or special Communication. It may be as informal as inviting Past Masters to "seats in the East" or as formal as having a committee introduce them at the altar, where they are welcomed by the Master, and having them escorted to the East, where they are paid the traditional honors due their station, with a selected individual responding on their behalf. Similar ceremonies are used for the presentation and reception in the East of other dignitaries, ranging from a Past District Deputy Grand Master to the Grand Master himself.

Whether an informal recognition of these brethren at their seats, with a concurrent invitation to "seats in the East" is to be used or the more formal presentation at the altar depends upon the circumstances. Most Lodges prefer to use the less formal methods of recognizing dignitaries at their seats at the usual Stated communications, reserving the more time-consuming formalities for special occasions such as the reception of the District Deputy Grand Master on his official visit or the Grand Master on his official visit. Except in these two instances, the choice belongs to the Worshipful Master. He can best judge which approach will be welcomed by those concerned and whether time permits the use of extensive protocol. Common sense should be the guiding rule.

B. Practice and Use of Formal Ceremonies

In the event, the Master determines to use formal ceremonies in presenting dignitaries at a Stated or other Communication, he should review the provisions the provisions of the Grand Lodge publication, " Manual Of Lodge Programs and Protocol", commencing at page 59. It succinctly sets out the customary Masonic practices in formally recognizing our more distinguished Brethren in Lodge, whether they be visitors or members.

First, it is not proper to use Deacons to present higher ranking Brethren at the altar. The Senior Deacon's ritualistic injunction "to introduce and accommodate visiting brethren" does not refer to these formal ceremonies. Rather, courtesy demands that these Brethren be introduced by a two-man committee of rank equal to or higher than that of those being introduced. Thus, Past Masters are to be introduced by a Committee of Past Masters or Past District Deputy Grand Masters, or higher ranking individuals, and so on.

Obviously, this may not always be possible, as, for example, when a Past Grand Master is present, and there is no one of equivalent or higher rank available to present him. In such case, common sense prevails, and the Worshipful Master appoints a Committee consisting of two of the highest available officers.

The Master should always advise those who are to be appointed as a Committee in advance of the opening ceremonies, so that they may mentally prepare themselves and insure that they know the name and rank of those to be presented. Nothing is more embarrassing than to be surprised in your seat by a sudden appointment to present someone who is a stranger and to have to introduce yourself at the altar. This can easily be avoided by advance notice.

The Master should likewise include the introduction ceremony in his written agenda, together with the names of the committee members. This will eliminate the hesitation, hemming and hawing, and insure that the ceremony is promptly and expeditiously handled.

It likewise is incumbent on the committee members to ascertain the identity of the honoree or honorees in advance and either commit them to memory or write them down. Some names are difficult to remember or to pronounce, but every individual, visitors in particular, is entitled to the courtesy of having his name ascertained and properly pronounced on his presentation at the altar. IT IS TOTALLY IMPROPER AND DISCOURTEOUS FOR A COMMITTEE TO MAKE SOME SUCH STATEMENT AS "SINCE I DON'T KNOW THESE BRETHREN, I WILL HAVE THEM INTRODUCE THEMSELVES."

All this can be obviated by a little advance notice, planning, and preparation by the Master and the Committee members.

Ceremonies regarding the reception of the District Deputy Grand Master and the Grand Master on official visits are covered separately below.

C. Titles

The proper titles for the various Masonic offices below Grand Lodge Level are Worshipful Master, Senior Warden, Junior Warden, Senior Deacon, Junior Deacon, Senior Steward, Junior Steward, and, in some Lodges, Marshal and Organist or Musician. At the District Level are the District Deputy Grand Master, District Instructor of Work, District Education Officer, District Blood Coordinator, and Masonic Home Ambassador. All of these are Grand Lodge appointees.

In addition, by Masonic Custom, Past Masters retain the title of "Worshipful" and those who have served as District Deputy Grand Masters continue to be addressed properly as "Right Worshipful."

Elected Grand Lodge officers likewise have the title of "Right Worshipful" and appointed Grand Lodge officers retain whatever courtesy title to which they were entitled by reason of their Masonic status prior to appointment, e. g., Worshipful, Right Worshipful, or Brother.

The Grand Master and Past Grand Masters enjoy the courtesy title of "Most Worshipful".

It is worthy of note that all these titles — Worshipful, Right Worshipful, and Most Worshipful, are titles of respect referring to the office held now or formerly by the individual concerned. They are in no sense religious but are based on the Old English definition of worshipful as meaning respected. Many argue that none can exceed the thoughtfulness and respect included in the simple appellation "Brother".


A. In General

The District Deputy Grand Master is the most important of the District officers. He is a Grand Lodge officer, appointed by the Grand Master on the recommendation of each subordinate Lodge in a particular District. The Lodge recommendation " does not bind the Grand Master to appoint any Brother so recommended nor does it give any Lodge the right to demand an appointment which is not agreeable to the Grand Master". Sec. 1.86, Methodical Digest, p. 38. The individual is required to be a Master or Past Master and " should be well skilled in the laws of the Grand Lodge of Virginia and in the work of all degrees as taught by the Grand Lodge." Sec. 1.87, Methodical Digest, p. 38. In recent years, the Grand Lodge has required those recommended to fill out questionnaires and to meet certain proficiency requirements in Masonic law and the Ritual in order to be considered for appointment.

These matters are designed to improve the quality of our District Deputy Grand Masters' performance of duties. It should be remembered that the office is an honorable one, it is not an honor to be conferred by lodges in rotation upon some well-liked individual as a means of honoring him. It is an important and duty filled position as the Grand Master's personal representative in the District. And it bears repeating that it is the privilege of the Grand Master to choose who represents him and not that of the Lodge.

As the Grand Master's personal representative, the District Deputy Grand Master must pay one official visit to each Lodge in his District as soon as practicable after his appointment. That appointment becomes effective at Grand Lodge, where he is usually presented his commission of office by the Grand Master at the latter's installation.

The District Deputy must give the Master at least ten (10) days' advance notice of his official visit to the Lodge, and the Secretary must give notice of that visit to the Brethren. Failure to give that notice, however, does not limit the right of the District Deputy to make such an official visit. See Sec. 1.92, Methodical Digest, p. 39.

On his visit to the Lodge, the District Deputy is required to preside during all or such portion of the Communication as he sees fit, after the Lodge is opened and he has been presented. He also examines the records of the Lodge to see that they are being satisfactorily kept; informs himself of the number of members; determines if they attend regularly; and generally makes inquiry into the condition of the Lodge. He is empowered to correct any irregularity in the work which he observes and is duty-bound to require compliance with the laws of the Grand Lodge and the work as taught by the Committee on Work. See, generally, Sec. 1.93, Methodical Digest, pp. 39,40.

As the Grand Master's personal representative, the District Deputy is entitled to precedence and vested with superior authority within the District, except during Communications of the Grand Lodge or when the Grand Master is present in the District. For example, he takes precedence in the District during introductions over all Grand Lodge officers and Past Grand Masters.

All questions of Masonic law or usage and all appeals from rulings in Lodge, if made, must be submitted through the District Deputy Grand Master to the Grand Master, except in matters of emergent necessity. The District Deputy, however, cannot issue dispensations himself, nor can he in any way set aside the requirements of Masonic law. See Sec. 1.95, Methodical Digest, p. 41, and Decision No. 7, pp. 29,80, Grand Lodge Proceedings, 1991.

The importance of this officer to the Worshipful Master cannot be overemphasized. In the case of legal questions, Masonic charges, or any one of a myriad of other questions which cannot be settled clearly by reference to our Methodical Digest, it is to this officer that the Master must turn. He provides the District leadership and it is also to him that the Lodge must turn in case of difficulty or need as a necessary prerequisite of going to the Grand Master.

It is therefore only right and proper that the District Deputy Grand Master should be honored in every way possible on his official visit to the Lodge.

B. Procedure on Official Reception of the District Deputy

A very complete pamphlet published by the Grand Lodge and entitled "Ceremonies for the Reception of the Grand Master and the Reception of the District Deputy Grand Master" should be in your possession and used before and during his official visit. It contains detailed rules for conducting the reception from the opening of the Lodge to the final charge, including the order in which visitors and dignitaries are to be introduced (This is one of those occasions in which formal presentations at the altar should be made.) and helpful hints on preparation for the visit. The use of this pamphlet is essential and it should be carefully reviewed several times prior to Lodge. Familiarity with its contents will enable the Master to follow its scenario closely, and the entire visit will go very smoothly. Important preparatory measures to remember are:

  1. Be certain that your members and other lodges in the District are made fully aware of the visit that they may come out and support you and the District Deputy. (In like manner, you should honor the District Deputy and support your fellow Masters by being present at each of his official visits to other Lodges.)
  2. Be certain that the Secretary and Treasurer have the Lodge minute books, bylaws, charter, and financial records available before lodge opens, in order that the District Deputy may inspect them, as he is required to do.
  3. Make up sign-in sheets for each category of expected visitors, i. e. Visiting Masters, DDGMs, Grand Lodge Officers, etc., for your use in filling out the form in Step 4 below.
  4. Make a copy of the Grand Lodge Ceremonies pamphlet as it pertains to presentation of visitors and dignitaries at the altar during the visit. Fill in the blanks with the names of the designated committeemen and visitors as soon as practicable. DON'T FORGET TO CONTACT THE COMMITTEES IN ADVANCE AND ADVISE THEM OF WHO THEY WILL BE INTRODUCING. You should ask the District Deputy if he has any preference as to the composition of the Committee who is to present him. ( If he has no preference, the District Instructor of Work and District Education Officer usually present him.)
  5. Have a detailed written agenda for the evening. In preparing it, be sure to ask the District Deputy when he desires to present his remarks, and whether he desires to close the Lodge.
  6. It goes without saying that the Lodge should be clean, with plenty of seating available, and that adequate refreshments should be provided.

With a bit of foresight, good planning, attention to the relevant Grand Lodge pamphlet, and a written agenda, the Master will find that the meeting will go smoothly and will be one of the highlights of his year.


A. In General

Every Grand Master seeks to visit each of the Masonic Districts in Virginia on at least one occasion during his term of office. On that occasion, it is customary for the District Deputy Grand Master's Lodge to be the host, unless its small size or other circumstances make it necessary to remove the visit elsewhere. The rules governing such a visit are usually prescribed by the Grand Master in his instructions to his District Deputies, and such specific advice is to be followed rather than the general principles stated here.

A particular Lodge may of course request the Grand Master to pay it an official visit as such rather than be satisfied with participation in the District visit. Again, these requests may be governed by specific rules laid down by the Grand Master with respect to individual visits, and the Master should consult with the District Deputy Grand Master to see what, if any, particular requirements the Grand Master has set out.

In absence of such requirements, the following suggestions will be found helpful.

B. The Invitation to Visit

After checking with the District Deputy Grand Master as to any particular requirements imposed by the Grand Master, the Master should issue his written invitation as soon as possible — during his year as Senior Warden is not too early. The Grand Master's calendar quickly fills, although Brother Morlock will possess the advantage (?) of serving from February 1993 until November 1994, due to the change in dates for our 1994 and subsequent Grand Lodge sessions. In any event, his calendar will quickly fill. The invitation should specify whether his wife is included.

Please note that, in order to have a Grand Master's visit, it is always possible to obtain a dispensation to change the date of a Stated Communication or to hold a special Called Communication for the purpose of his visit.

Requests by a Lodge for the Grand Master to visit imply its ability to furnish him lodging and food during his stay, if it is sufficiently removed from his home or the Grand Lodge to require an overnight stay. Usually, his acceptance will specify his needs in this regard, or they may be ascertained from his Administrative Assistant. Note again that the District Deputy Grand Master should be kept informed of all arrangements being made.

Once the Grand Master has accepted the invitation to visit, make any necessary reservations for his stay, and advise him as quickly as possible of detailed directions to the lodging place and the Lodge itself. Even though he is not staying overnight, it is certain he will need a place to change clothes and refresh himself. It is good to furnish a copy of this letter to his Administrative Assistant.

Grand Lodge officers should also be informed of the date, time, and place of the Grand Master's visit, but the Lodge has no duty to pick up their expenses. The letter to them should note the cost of any dinner and specify that it is Dutch treat.

Once the invitation is completed, accepted, and arrangements have been made to accommodate and feed the Grand Master, every effort should be made to inform all area Lodges and Masons of the impending visit. The visit of a Grand Master to a Lodge is a very special occasion, and it should be treated as such. The Brethren and officers of neighboring Districts as well as the local District should have the opportunity to attend, meet the Grand Master, and express their support for him and the distinguished office which he occupies.

A press release should be prepared for the local papers also, in which the date, time, and place of the meeting are specified. A photograph of the Grand Master can be obtained from the Grand Lodge for this purpose. Arrangements may also be made for press coverage of the meeting and a photographer from the local paper during the visit. Copies of the press clippings should be obtained and forwarded to the Grand Master after the visit is concluded.

C. Lodge Arrangements for the Visit

Prior to the Grand Master's visit, the Lodge building should be cleaned and placed in the best repair possible. Fresh candles and matches should be provided for the reception ceremony. Separate rosters should be provided for each category of visitors such as Grand Lodge Officers, Past Grand Masters, District Deputy Grand Masters, Worshipful Masters, etc., so that the work the presentation committees is eased as much as possible.

A meeting of the Lodge officers for planning purposes is essential. Each should be able to rehearse his part in the opening flawlessly, as well as in the ceremony of receiving the Grand Master. The Secretary should be included and the Master should make certain that all possible business of the evening is deferred until a later Communication. (This is one reason that a special Called Communication to receive the Grand Master is preferable to a Stated Communication.) On more than one occasion, the Grand Master has been required either to wait in a anteroom or sit in the East while interminable proceedings drag on. Remember, he is the autocrat of this occasion; he is the Lodge's guest, and his visit should be the only item on the agenda for the evening, absent an emergency situation requiring immediate Lodge action.

If a Lodge dinner is to precede the meeting or a ladies' night is involved, see that appropriate arrangements are made on a timely basis for a head table at which the Grand Master and his wife can be seated with the Lodge officers and their wives. These matters can and should be delegated to an appropriate committee, but the Master should always check to see that all is well.

D. The Visit Itself

On the day in question, the Lodge officers and the District Deputy Grand Master should meet the Grand Master at his designated lodgings on his arrival. There, he should be directly informed of arrangements for the evening meal, when Lodge will convene, and when he will be picked up. Again, a group of the ladies should come along to meet the Grand Master's wife should she accompany him. Be certain to see that she is looked after, particularly during lodge hours.

The Master or his representative and the District Deputy should return to the Grand Master's lodgings and either pick him up for dinner or the evening meal, as the case may be, or guide his car to the appropriate spot. At no time should he and his party be left to find his own way.

The Master should, after the meal or dinner, make his excuses, and proceed to the Lodge room, again making certain that the District Deputy or some designated Lodge representative stays with the Grand Master and escorts him to the Lodge. The Master, of course, needs to make his final checks and preparations for the Communication and visit itself.

E. The Grand Master in Lodge

The Grand Lodge pamphlet, "Ceremonies for the Reception of the Grand Master and the Reception of the District Deputy Grand Master," sets forth in detail the needed preparations, ceremonies, and arrangements for receiving the Grand Master in Lodge. As in the case of the official visit of the District Deputy, this booklet should be reviewed in advance several times that its provisions may become familiar. In addition, Lodge officers, particularly the Deacons need to practice the Grand Master's reception several times, until they are able to handle their staffs with aplomb and are confident of their ability to meet him at the door of the Lodge, conduct him to the altar and, after his introduction, to the East.

As in the case of the official visit of the District Deputy Grand Master, there are several points that the Master should remember in connection with the Grand Master's reception:

  1. Appoint the Committee for his reception in advance and make certain they are familiar with their duties in connection with the reception. The District Deputy is usually given the honor of introducing the Grand Master at the altar.
  2. Make sure good, clean candles and matches are available to the Committee on the evening in question.
  3. Make certain the Grand Master has a room or space in which he can don his Masonic dress and safely leave his case during the visit.
  4. Make a detailed written agenda for opening the Lodge, the Pledge of allegiance, the reception of the Grand Master, presentation of dignitaries, and his remarks. As in the case of the District Deputy's reception, make a copy of the order of presentations, filling in the names of the committees and the guests.
  5. Again, appoint all committees in advance and instruct them to obtain the separate rosters of those present and introduce themselves before lodge opens that their introductions may go smoothly during the proceedings.
  6. Remember to take off the Master's hat, and rap the Lodge up, the minute the Grand Master's foot enters the Lodge and do not replace it until the Grand Master seats the Lodge, removes his and tells the Master to take charge of the Lodge again.
  7. Have brief welcoming remarks prepared and rehearsed for use when the Grand Master is presented at the altar.
  8. Ascertain in advance when the Grand Master wishes to make his remarks and whether he wishes to close the Lodge. Be certain that all your officers know their parts in the closing!
  9. Be certain that the Grand Master's car is gassed up and serviced immediately after he arrives at Lodge.
  10. After the Grand Master has concluded his remarks, be prepared to make any presentation of a gift, etc., that may be intended.
  11. The Secretary will be aware of the practice of the Grand Master dispensing with the minutes and that he is required to have them read and approved at the next Stated Communication, forwarding a copy to the Grand Master.

After the Lodge is closed, be certain that the Grand Master is escorted back to his Lodgings after refreshments, or, if he is to return home immediately, that he is cared for until his departure. Take every step to protect him from Masonic questions and curious brethren who may wish to take issue over some occurrence in the immediate past. He is your guest and should be treated as such. Should he remain overnight, arrangements should be made for at least the Master and District Deputy to join him for breakfast the next morning and to be sure that his departure is comfortably accomplished.

Finally, having accomplished all that can be done and knowing that, because of his planning and preparation, this meeting is indeed the highlight of his year, the Master should write a note of thanks to the Grand Master for his visit. In addition, he should likewise express his appreciation to his officers, committeemen, and the District Deputy for their assistance and cooperation, which will necessarily have made a substantial contribution to the success of the visit.

Now, clean up the Lodge and prepare for the next meeting!


One of the basic rights of every Mason is that of visitation — visiting other Lodges and sharing fellowship and experiences with his Brethren. There is no more delightful pastime and no better way to find the real meaning of Masonry than to visit another Lodge. No where else will one find the welcome mat so frankly displayed. It has been truly said that there are no strangers in Freemasonry only Brethren whom you have not yet met!

In order to encourage this practice, the Grand Lodge has instituted a program of travelling gavels in each District. Commencing with the District Deputy Grand Master's Lodge, the District gavel is awarded monthly to the Lodge having the largest number of visiting Brethren present at the Stated Communication of the Lodge holding the gavel. There may be other requirements of a certain number of officers, etc., that vary from year to year, but basically the program is designed to encourage visitation to other Lodges. The winner of the gavel holds it only until the specified number of visitors from another Lodge attend one of its Stated Communications and are awarded its possession for their presence. The program has led to much interest in visitation and resulted in the formation of countless new friendships and interchange of Masonic information between brethren. In short, it is designed to promote true Masonic brotherhood.

In Virginia, the only limitation on the right of visitation is the seldom invoked right of a Lodge member to object to sitting in Lodge with a Mason who is not a member of that Lodge. See Sec. 2.135, Methodical Digest. A Grand Lodge officer or the District Deputy Grand Master, however, cannot be refused admittance on a member's objection, nor can the Master sustain the objection if it is based on the race of the visitor or other improper considerations. See Decision 27, 1990 Grand Lodge Proceedings, p.113.

Not only will visitation be found to be enjoyable, but it is frequently helpful to other Lodges. Thus, visitors may be asked to participate in the opening and closing ceremonies, occupy an officer's position pro tem, or take parts in the conferral of degree work. Thus, particularly in the case of small and struggling Lodges, visitation is of positive benefit to the Institution as a whole and may result in saving a Lodge which cannot presently exist on its own.

Visitation is therefore not only an enjoyable right of every Mason, but it enables him frequently to assist other Masons and Lodges with his peculiar talents.


At the opening and closing of Lodge, every Master Mason is reminded of his obligation to assist distressed Master Masons, their widows, and families. On some occasions, this may extend to financial or other material aid. Most frequently, however, it means comforting ill or distressed Brethren and their families.

To an aged Brother who is recovering from illness or his widow suffering from a new-found loneliness, there is nothing more warming and heartening than a visit from a Brother or Brethren who are, by actions, demonstrating their friendly concern over his condition. These acts of kindness were once commonplace in Lodges but now seem to be found more in rural than urban areas. The practice is one that your Lodge should make customary.

Moreover, in the case of the widow, one usually finds that they know little of their deceased husband's Masonic practices. They are suddenly alone and frequently know not where to turn for assistance. It is in such cases that the Lodge can prove of peculiar assistance.

The Master should make it his personal business to contact each recently bereaved Masonic wife, ascertain her needs, and make certain that she understands the Lodge stands ready to perform its Masonic obligation and help, aid, and assist her in every way possible. He should likewise make certain that there is periodic contact with all widows to determine their condition and needs; to let them know that, though our Brother is gone, his Brethren still care; to invite them to open Masonic functions such as Ladies' nights; to advise them of the availability of the Masonic Home in the event that they need assistance in caring for themselves; and, above all, to show our brotherly love. Such is our obligation, and we can do no less and remain true Masons.

The Master will find a Sick Committee essential to remaining abreast of the condition of our ailing members, and he will undoubtedly likewise find that a Widows' Committee is equally essential to the performance of Lodge obligations in this area. The important thing to remember is that our attention to the sick and bereaved must be more than nominal. A simple card may indicate our concern, but it should be the beginning of the caring process and not the end. It is the visitation and demonstration of real concern to the sick and widowed that is so important and so necessary to the execution of our duties.


A. In General

The Masonic funeral, perhaps because of its Masonic ubiquity, is perhaps the most important of our public occasions. The graveside rites, unchanged for more than two centuries, demonstrate to all present the strength not only of our tie to our deceased Brother, but also of our devotion to a Higher power, as well as a certain knowledge of Life beyond the grave. The impressive wording, the solemnity of the occasion, and the symbolism of apron and glove have made such an impression on more than one person that he has been led to seek admission at our portals.

The funeral, therefore, is the one great occasion on which we have to impress the attending public with the seriousness of our purpose, the piety of our Order, and its continuing importance to its members and their families, even in their saddest hours. It should be conducted with the utmost dignity, skill, and with the largest possible attendance of Brethren, clad in the whitest of aprons and the best available dress.

B. Attendance at Funerals

A number of years ago, it became difficult for Brethren to leave work for the purpose of attending funerals in part because of the need to attend and open lodge in connection with every occasion on which last rites were to be conducted. This practice has for some years not been necessary, although it may still be followed. At the present time, the Master has the option — and all exercise it — to open a Lodge of Sorrow at the beginning of his term, to remain open until the close of the Masonic year.

When the Lodge of Sorrow is opened, Lodge meetings are no longer held on the occasion of each funeral. Instead, the Brethren are notified, congregate at the funeral home or at the graveside, with their attendance and the rites being minuted by the Secretary, to be approved at the Lodge's next Stated Communication. Sad to say, this abbreviated procedure has not noticeably increased attendance at our Masonic funerals, with the result that few other than line officers appear to pay their last respects to their departed Brother.

The Master, should, emphasize to the Brethren the need to attend Masonic funerals whenever possible and not whenever convenient. It is another of those solemn responsibilities of brotherhood which rest upon every Mason and which he should perform if at all possible. With the aging of our membership, Masonic rites are becoming more and more frequent, and it behooves all of us to express publicly our distress at the departure of our Brother.

Attendance can be substantially increased by the use of a Lodge Funeral Committee, made up of retired Brethren, who can call all Lodge members in the event of a Brother's death, furnish them with the particulars of the ceremonies, and urge them to attend. In several Districts, it has been found advantageous to have such a Committee on the District level, geared toward calling those Brethren who are retired and available at most all times for participation. Districts who have followed this practice have found attendance of fifty or more Masons not unusual. You may wish to investigate the possibility of organizing such a Committee with your fellow Masters and your District Deputy Grand Master.

Nothing is more impressive than a large number of white aproned Masons gathered around the grave or in the funeral home during the performance of our impressive ceremony.

C. The Funeral Service

There are presently available two services for use in conducting Masonic last rites for a deceased Brother. One, the traditional graveside service, has been used since the first Digest was issued by the Grand Lodge of Virginia in 1790; the other, a Memorial service, is designed for use in Funeral homes and was adopted for optional use in the 1970's. However, the graveside service itself may be used in the funeral home by use of the phrase "his maker" rather than "the grave" during the final committal portion.

The wording of both services and complete detailed instructions for opening a Lodge of Sorrow and conducting the services are set forth in the Grand Lodge pamphlet, "Instructions Concerning Masonic Funerals and Evening Memorial Services" (1990 ed), and need not be repeated here. It is important, however, to reiterate that these are the most dignified of proceedings and both the dress and deportment of those officiating and attending should reflect their importance in the eyes of the Masonic participants.

It should also be remembered that, although the funeral service need not be committed to memory, there is nothing more impressive than its perfect delivery without reference to a written text or whispered reminders. Nevertheless, there are those Masters who find this service extremely difficult to memorize. In these instances, the Master, rather than to deliver the service in a hesitant or halting manner, should obtain the services of an experienced Brother who is able to make the oration without visible effort. Lacking such a person, the Master should not hesitate to read the service or have a more skillful person read it. It is better to have a good reading of this most impressive rite than to have it poorly and haltingly spoken.

D. Other Services

The Master has no right to exclude other bodies, Masonic or not, from conducting their own services in connection with the funeral of a Mason, but, because of its antiquity, the Lodge is entitled to the place of honor in the funeral procession. It likewise, and for the same reasons, is entitled to conduct its Masonic rites either first or last, at the option of the Master.

The occasion of a Masonic funeral is the most frequent occasion for conflict with religious bodies or their ministers, who frequently resent a Masonic committal of the body or, indeed, even the Lodge's participation in the funeral. It is therefore important for the Master to insure that he gives no benediction at the end of the service if it follows a normal religious observance. He should leave this to the officiating minister and, if there appears to be any question, the committal of the body to the grave as well. Under no circumstances should the Master or any member of the Lodge allow himself to be drawn into argument or controversy at a funeral with religious representatives over the desirability or need of Masonic services. Rather than to cause any disturbance, the Lodge should quietly withdraw.

In like manner, while it is always the duty of the Master to call upon the survivors of a deceased Brother — particularly his widow — it is they and not the Master who must decide whether Masonic services are to be performed. The Master may indicate the availability of the rites, but if they desire them, they will make their wishes known.

Once more, the importance of our funeral rites cannot be overemphasized. They constitute our most frequent public appearances. Consequently, our Masonic and personal appearance should be without fault, and the work should be flawlessly conducted, both out of respect to our deceased Brother and for the reputation of the Craft. Practice and preparation will make it truly a significant occasion.


A. In General

It may surprise the reader to learn that Masonic law is as extensive and has developed over as long a period of time as our own civil legislation and the common law itself. Basically, it consists of Masonic practices and traditions that have been handed down through the ages and have become familiar to all well-informed Masons; the decisions of various Grand Masters which have been approved by Grand Lodge sessions throughout our modern existence; and, of course, the legislation, i. e., the resolutions and propositions passed by the Grand Lodge delegates (in Virginia, the Master and his two wardens, the Past Masters collectively, the District Deputy Grand Masters collectively, the Grand Lodge officers, the Past Grand Masters, etc.). Taken together, these constitute our Masonic law.

Our Masonic traditions are found in the words of our Ritual, and in the commentaries of various Masonic writers, such as Mackey, Coil, or Dean Roscoe Pounds great lectures on Masonic jurisprudence. We frequently apply them without thought, aware that there are certain unwritten commands and prohibitions on our conduct.

Our written laws and the decisions of the Grand Masters are collected for us in our annually revised Methodical Digest, the current edition of which is the Thirty-Second, plus an annual supplement which brings it up to date through the 1991 Grand Lodge. A 1992 supplement will be issued this year to include changes and decisions made through the 1992 Grand Lodge. Be sure that you have a copy of this volume, with the current supplement, available to you for study before and during your year as Master.

The Methodical Digest also contains a copy of the Ancient Constitutions of Freemasonry, taken from the originals prepared by Dr. Anderson, the first Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of England in 1723 and revised in 1738. The word "Constitutions" here does not mean a constitution in the sense of the United States Constitution or State Constitution. Rather, it means a recital of the original by-laws and principles of Freemasonry as taken from the Ancient Charges (old documents setting forth the founding principles of medieval Lodges) and adapted to the 18th Century Craft. As such, the Constitutions are constantly changed and amended by the resolutions of our Grand Lodge and various approved decisions of Grand Masters. While interesting therefore as teaching us the antiquity of our practices, it is the more modern provisions of the Methodical Digest that we must look for the rules governing our present Lodges and their administration.

The Digest likewise contains annotations of decisions of various Grand Masters as they pertain to various Digest sections, various Edicts issued by Grand Masters and approved by the delegates at the next Grand Lodge, and other legal matters.

B. Using the Methodical Digest

The Methodical Digest is a loose-leaf volume, which is divided into four numbered parts. The first part is entitled "The Grand Lodge" and contains code sections and decisions regarding the Grand Lodge, its business, the powers of the Grand Master, the Grand Lodge officers and their duties, the District Deputy Grand Masters and their functions, and all other matters relating to the Grand Lodge. Each section is numbered and begins with the prefixed number "1." to indicate it is in the first part. For example, the Grand Master appoints District Education Officers. The law regarding that is found in Section 1.103, for it is in the Grand Lodge part (1.) and is numerically the 103d section in that part, thus Section 1.103.

The second part of the Digest contains all sections relating to "The Subordinate Lodge". Each section is prefixed with the numeral "2.", followed by the number of the particular section, to indicate that it is in that portion of the Digest dealing with subordinate lodges. For example, Section 2.02 tells the Master where the Charter or Dispensation must be during a Lodge session.

This portion of the Digest will probably be of the most use to the ordinary Master, as it advises fully as to the conduct of Lodge and the disposition of all ordinary matters to come before it. The Master should be familiar with all parts of the Digest, but it is of transcendent importance that he be knowledgeable with respect to Part II.

Part III contains the sections relating to "The Individual Mason", each of which bears the prefixed numeral "3.", followed by the number of the section. For example, Section 3.01 tells the Mason how he must be clothed in Lodge; Section 3.02 that he must attend all meetings, when duly summoned, and so on. This is the briefest part as it contains only seven sections. It is nonetheless important, as it sets forth many important principles concerning our Masonic conduct and, with the others, merits our careful study.

Part IV contains the sections regarding "Masonic Offenses, Investigations, Charges, Trials, Etc." and will prove invaluable in the sad event that Masonic charges are necessitated in your Lodge. The Master and particularly the Junior Warden, whose duty it is to prosecute charges, should familiarize themselves with the sections in this Part. They each bear the numerical prefix "4.", followed by the number of the particular section. For example, Section 4.01 defines a Masonic offense; Section 4.02 states who may prefer Masonic charges, and so on.

In referring to any section of the Digest, one should not overlook the Annual Supplement, which may have changed the section since the original digest was published. In that event, the up-to- date section will be published in the Supplement. If it is not changed therein, and the latest Supplement (1992, for example) has not yet been printed and distributed, one should check the latest copy of the Grand Lodge proceedings to see if any changes have been made.

For example, on checking Section 2.95 on page 125 of the Digest, we find that balloting must be separately on each petition. But if we go on to the Supplement, we will find that the Section was reenacted in 1991 to allow collective balloting. Thus, it is important to check the Supplement to see if there have been any late amendments.

In addition, there are several Edicts of Grand Masters contained in the Methodical Digest and in the Annual Supplement. For example, on page 227 of the Digest, we find an Edict of Grand Master Porter forbidding the use of State or Federal funds in the construction, maintenance, or operation of Lodge buildings. In the Supplement, several will be found in the last pages.

In addition, the Digest includes an index in the rear of the volume. Through use of its entries, reference can be made to most subjects covered in the book, but, in addition, familiarity with its contents is the best guide to finding relevant sections.

Under each section of the Digest will be found annotations containing decisions of various Grand Masters regarding the applicability and meaning of that Section. For example, Section 2.89 of the Digest on page 110 provides that a Lodge may exempt the Treasurer, Secretary, Tiler and one Chaplain from the payment of dues by appropriate provision in its bylaws. Under that section is listed the decision in 1902 of Grand Master Kerns that Lodge bylaws may not exempt other members from dues on account of age or length of membership.

These interpretations by Grand Masters of relevant Masonic code sections and other Masonic legal principles are passed on by the Committee of Past Grand Masters and, if approved by the delegates to Grand Lodge, are published in the Digest, and form a permanent and authoritative part of our Masonic law. As such, they are both important and helpful in ascertaining the meaning and effect of the code sections to which they pertain. They are therefore a vital part of the Master's study.

It is essential for every Master to be familiar with the Methodical Digest. It is only through adherence to its terms that he will have a regular and well-governed Lodge. It is an excellent guide to conduct of Masonic matters from petitions to trials; it is easily read and studied; and a current edition should be in the Master's possession during every Stated Communication.

Should the Master have any question concerning the interpretation or applicability of any part of the Methodical Digest or other Masonic legal principle, he should feel free to consult the District Deputy Grand Master or to submit the question to the Grand Master through the District Deputy. He should always, however, first have recourse to the Methodical Digest, for he will find answers to most of his questions there.


A. In General

Freemasonry enforces its principles and its rules and regulations upon its membership by use of its own judicial system, in which brethren are called upon to judge their fellows. By following the rules laid down in the Methodical Digest, a fair hearing is assured to all. Legal technicalities which have become the bane of the civil court system are avoided, and justice is attained when the accused brother is advised of the nature of the charge against him, afforded a fair hearing in the presence of his accusers, and given a reasonable opportunity to call witnesses in his behalf and to defend himself.

The purpose of the Masonic justice system is to insure that the noble principles of the Craft are obeyed by each of us in our everyday life as well as in the Lodge, that the reputation of the Institution be not sullied by those who refuse to govern their lives by the Square of virtue and who have proven themselves by their conduct to be unworthy to be Freemasons. The only punishments are reprimand, suspension and expulsion, the former being designed for more moderate violations and hopefully to serve to put the accused back on course as a proper Mason, the latter two to separate him from the Craft for more serious transgression.

Each of us has promised to protect the honor and reputation of this gentle organization, and it behooves us to see that it is not injured by those who either have no concept of its nature or refuse to take their obligations as a Master Mason seriously.

B. Sources of Information on Masonic Charges

The preference and disposition of Masonic charges by trial and otherwise is governed by Part 4.00 of the Methodical Digest, whose terms should be carefully reviewed when an accusation is presented to the Master. In addition, the Grand Lodge pamphlet, "Masonic Trial Handbook" outlines step by step, and in detail, each action required to be taken by the Master, Lodge, District Deputy Grand Master, Grand Master, and others concerned with Masonic justice. It even contains sample charges and specifications in its appendices. In every case, therefore, if the Master will but refer to this handbook, he will be able to insure that he is fully in compliance with Masonic law.

In addition to the foregoing, it should also be noted that, by a Grand Master's Decision approved by the Grand Lodge in 1990, it is possible for a Mason to agree in writing that he is guilty of a particular charge and further to accept a specified punishment from the Grand Master without the need for a formal trial. Such "plea bargains" avoid expense and unpleasant publicity for all concerned. See Decision 20 and Recommendation 4, 1990 Grand Lodge Proceedings, pp. 110, 116.

C. Conviction of Felony

In the event a Brother is convicted of a felony in State or Federal courts, a Masonic trial is not needed. In such an instance, it is the duty of the Master or other Lodge officer to obtain a certified copy of the court order evidencing the conviction and sentence and to forward the same through the District Deputy Grand Master to the Grand Master for his action. A felony is a criminal offense which is punishable by confinement in a penitentiary for more than twelve months, whether or not such sentence is imposed or suspended.

In such cases, the Grand Master communicates with the accused in writing, recites the conviction, and requires him to show cause within 40 days why he should not be expelled from the Craft. After that period has expired, action is taken to expel the offender, unless he has been able to show sufficient cause to the Grand Master to permit a lesser punishment or his retention in the Craft.

Once expelled by this procedure, the offender cannot be reelected to the Craft. See Edict dated February 15, 1989, approved by the Grand Lodge delegates in 1990, Grand Lodge Proceedings 1990, pp. 66, 118.

C. Masonic Charges and Trials in Brief

Masonic charges commence with the receipt by the Master of a written accusation of misconduct or by him personally exercising his responsibility to take note of such misconduct. The accusation is referred to an investigating committee who, if the matter is simply a personal matter between two or more brethren, endeavor to reconcile them and eliminate the issue, thereby restoring peace and harmony to the Lodge. If, on the other hand, the matter, though between brethren, involves conduct that violates Masonic or civil law or standards of decent or moral behavior, then it cannot be settled but must be tried. In either case, the Committee reports its recommendations to the Master, who may adopt them or take action as he sees fit.

In the event it is determined that the matter is not one for personal settlement or cannot be so settled, the Master directs the Junior Warden to prepare charges. In doing so, he should consult the "Masonic Trial Handbook" and enlist the assistance of such knowledgeable Brethren as may be able to assist him.

Once charges are prepared, they are read by the Junior Warden at the next Stated Communication of the Lodge. They are copied verbatim into the minutes, BUT THE LODGE DOES NOT DISCUSS OR VOTE ON THE CHARGES. This matter is handled exclusively by the Master, the Junior Warden and Secretary, so far as responsibility goes.

After being read, the charges are forwarded to the District Deputy Grand Master, who forwards them with his recommendation to the Grand Master. After they are returned from the Grand Master, the District Deputy appoints a trial commission consisting of Past Masters who do not belong to the accused's or accuser's Lodge to hear the case. A copy of the charges is served on the accused and he is entitled to have a Master Mason appear as his counsel. In the event he desires legal counsel, he too must be a Mason, but any expense is borne by the accused. The charges are prosecuted by the Junior Warden.

The Chairman of the Trial Commission sets the date, time and place of the hearing and sees that all witnesses are summonsed under the Lodge seal. The papers are served by the Tiler. Provision should be made to have non-Masonic witnesses sworn by an individual authorized to administer oaths. Master Masons are on their honor to tell the truth.

After the evidence on both sides is heard, the Commission closes and reaches a finding and sentence. The matter is reported to the District Deputy and, if the accused does not appeal, the punishment is imposed and reported to Grand Lodge.

The foregoing is intended to be only a brief outline of the steps in a Masonic trial. It should not be used as a guide and is intended only to familiarize the Master with what is involved. Authoritative information is available only from the Grand Lodge publications to which attention has already been directed.

D. Masonic Appeals

Every Mason has the right to appeal any decision of the Worshipful Master through the District Deputy Grand Master to the Grand Master. Pending the resolution of the issue, the Master's decision stands. Frequently, the decision itself is resolved by the District Deputy but, if this is not satisfactory, the appeal must be heard by the Grand Master.

In like fashion, one who is convicted on Masonic charges has the right to appeal his case to the Grand Master. He does so by notifying the Lodge of his desire to appeal within sixty days after he has notice of the trial commission's judgment. In such instances, the notice of appeal is recorded in the Lodge minutes and the judgment of the trial commission is forwarded through the District Deputy Grand Master to the Grand Master, together with all records and trial papers if they have not already been forwarded.

The Grand Master may decide the appeal personally or he may refer the matter to the Appeals Committee for their recommendation. If it is referred to the Committee, its recommendation becomes final when approved by the delegates to the next Grand Lodge.


A. In General

There is no more important part of one's Masonic life than our beloved Masonic Ritual. The Lodge opening and closing ceremonies remind us of our several duties not only in Lodge but in seeing that our Brethren want not for sustenance and instruction in the great principles of the Craft. The several ceremonies attending the conferral of degrees and the Masonic lectures are filled with lessons for our daily lives and our relations one with another. Together, they have burned into our souls the inexplicable tie which binds all of us together in this gentle Craft. And this important role of the Ritual demands that we know it well and perform our several parts with skill.

Most of the Ritual is unwritten and has been handed down from year to year by word of mouth. It originated with the teachings in this country of Thomas Smith Webb and Jeremy Cross who adapted the work of William Preston to American use. In this State, it includes not only the traditional three degrees but much of the Royal Arch work, though the latter has largely been relegated to the Grand Royal Arch Chapter.

The Committee on Work, under the guidance of the Grand Lecturer, has the primary responsibility in Virginia for preservation and teaching the Ritual. It is made up of Area Lecturers, who are assisted by District Instructors of Work. The quality of its work is demonstrated by the fact that, although Virginia and West Virginia have been separated for more than one hundred years, their Rituals differ only by thirteen words!

Every Virginia Mason owes a vote of thanks to our Grand Lecturer and his crew for the fine job they do in connection with the Ritual and making available its learning in all sections of our State.

B. Learning the Ritual

Our Masonic law requires every Warden, in order to be eligible for the office of Master, to obtain a certificate from the Committee on Work, attesting to his ritualistic proficiency. The certificate is good for two years and requires him to pass an oral examination in the work of the three degrees and opening and closing lodge. Obtaining this certificate should be the first duty of every Warden as it is essential to his election.

The Grand Master has appointed a District Instructor of Work in every District. Not only does he conduct District Schools on a regular basis but he is also available for individual instruction and to conduct Lodge schools in the work. In addition, regional schools are held by the Committee on a regular basis throughout the year. These usually last several days and are announced in the Masonic Herald as well as throughout the area in which they are to be held. Finally, two lengthy schools are held at Ferrum College, Ferrum, Virginia, and Bridgewater College, Bridgewater, Virginia each summer. The Committee itself is required by law to exemplify the Ritual on the weekend preceding the opening of Grand Lodge.

Thus, there is every opportunity for any interested Mason to learn the work correctly, and there is certainly no excuse for a Lodge officer not to become skilled in its use. It is the Master's responsibility to see that his officers are properly trained and that his Lodge is able to open and close and confer all degrees in a creditable manner.

C. Conferral of Degrees

It is in the initiatory degrees that we make our first and most lasting impression on the candidate. Will we do our job properly and make him into an enthusiastic Master Mason? Or will we do it shoddily and see him no more? It is properly done Ritual that will impress him more than anything else.

First, the candidate should be informed in the preparation room that no horseplay is involved; that he should disregard the silly prophecies of horror by those brethren who should know better and regard his advancement in Masonry as a serious business designed to imprint on his mind wise and serious truths. He should be advised to lay aside his fears and pay close attention to the ceremonies whose valuable teachings then cannot fail to impress him.

In like manner, the preparation room, robes, hoodwink, and other paraphernalia should be scrupulously clean and in good repair. Those who participate should be warned to engage in no horseplay but to remain silent and allow the Lodge room to present that serious mien so essential to a proper atmosphere for good work.

Every individual from the Deacons to the Master should know his part well if he is to participate. None of us receive our degrees but once, and it behooves all of us to see that they are conferred in an impressive and solemn manner. Thus will the candidate soon come to feel the seriousness of our commitment and in the culmination of the work, when he is raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason, know that he indeed has entered upon a new life as a new being.

Our Ritual is the greatest tool we have. Let us, therefore, keep it well polished and ready for use, learning its use as we would any other implement which we apply in our daily lives. It is a fascinating instrument, and each time one hears its lectures, one will find that he has discovered another truth contained therein.


A. In General

Masonic Education, involving the study of our history, our ceremonies, the meaning of our symbols, the derivation of our Masonic truths, and almost every other subject which is not confided to the Committee on Work, is the charge of the Committee on Masonic Education, under the supervision of the Grand Provost, who also serves as its Chairman.

Masonic Education is organized in a manner similar to that of the Committee on Work. Committee members are appointed from the various areas of the State and are in charge of Education in those areas. In addition, the Grand Master appoints a District Education Officer for each Masonic District. In the past, the Lodges have been urged to appoint Lodge Education officers, as a part of the qualifications for the James Noah Hillman Award.

Thus, once again, opportunities exist in each District for every Master and officer to familiarize themselves not only with the Ritual but with the history, symbolism, and teachings of the Craft.

B. Masonic Education Opportunities

The Committee on Masonic Education and the Grand Lodge officers hold Area Conferences throughout the State and invite all Master Masons to attend, but particularly Lodge officers. There, presentations are made on a variety of interesting subjects, ranging from Lodge administration and leadership, to submission of all kinds of questions to a panel of experts. In addition, these conferences afford Lodge officers an opportunity for training and to meet with their counterparts in the Grand Line as both parties progress toward positions of leadership in the Fraternity.

Many Districts also hold District Conferences on Education either in conjunction with the District Ritual School or as a separate entity. District Education Officers are always available to Lodges for the purpose of presenting many interesting programs to the Brethren.

Each Master is placed on the mailing list for written Short Talks prepared and distributed by the Masonic Service Association. These educational materials will be found to offer the basis for many Lodge presentations. In addition, Committee members and others prepare articles of interest, which are published in the Masonic Herald and can be used in every Lodge as a part of its Education program. Finally, each year the Grand Provost and the Committee prepare and present an outstanding Masonic Education Program on the Sunday afternoon preceding the opening of the Grand Lodge session. These have been astonishingly informative and should be a must for your attendance.

In addition, there are two Masonic Research Lodges in Virginia, A. Douglas Smith in Alexandria and Virginia Research Lodge No. 1777 in the Richmond suburbs. Both meet quarterly and hear the presentation of scholarly papers. These are published in annual booklets, which should be available from their Secretaries.

There are other Masonic bodies outside the Grand Lodge of Virginia which offer fruitful opportunities for individual advancement and study in Masonic Education. The Philalethes Society publishes a magazine devoted to Masonic scholarship and research. Various Councils of Allied Masonic Degrees may be found throughout the State in which research papers are presented and annually published in volumes entitled "Miscellanea".

Your Lodge may join the Southern California Research Lodge and receive a wealth of program material for a small fee. And for those really interested in the more sophisticated aspects of Masonic Education, membership is readily available in the Quatuor Coronati Correspondence Circle, an adjunct organization of Quatuor Coronati Research Lodge, chartered by the United Grand Lodge of England. Its Virginia Secretary is Brother Herbert Hartlove.

Masonic Education is a fascinating study and the source for unending programs. Its creative use will soon increase the interest of the Brethren and attendance at your Lodge. The Master should not hesitate to call upon his District Education Officer for his assistance in presenting programs and improving the Masonic knowledge of his Brethren.


As we risk our lives on today's highways or begin to suffer the infirmities of age, we begin to understand on our hospitalization of the importance of having blood immediately available to us. It is truly the gift of life.

Under the aegis of the Grand Lodge Committee on the Masonic Community Blood Program, blood donations from Masons have steadily increased from 2483 units in 1983 to 19,291 units in 1990! This has been called the most successful program in Grand Lodge history and for good reason. Every unit of this blood helps to restore someone to health, and every unit is available to any Brother or member of his family in the case of need. What more can one give than the gift of life itself! And what greater concern can a Brother show than to share his very blood with his obligated Brethren.

The Community Blood Program is arranged in a fashion similar to that of the Committee on the Work. The Committee is made up of, among others, Area Coordinators, who supervise the blood donations in their respective areas, through the use of District Blood Coordinators. These form an essential part of the District team and work with Lodge Blood Coordinators to conduct the necessary drives.

Experience has proven that this valuable and viable program can work if you will appoint a Blood Coordinator in your Lodge and impress him with the need of working closely with the District Blood Coordinator to obtain the necessary technical assistance. One such appointment a few years ago led a Masonic District from a previous zero contribution to over six hundred units in one year!

Incentive awards are given to the repeat donor and to the individual Lodges which meet certain requirements. The latter receive the prestigious Seymour Jonas Levy award, named for the Grand Master who originated this program in 1975.


The Masonic Home of Virginia represents the chief charitable effort of the Grand Lodge of Virginia. It is located at 4101 Nine Mile Road in Henrico County, just outside Richmond, Virginia's east City Limit. It may be reached by taking the Nine Mile Road Exit east from Interstate 64, just before or after passing through the City, depending upon whether one is driving from the East or the West. The Grand Lodge building is located on the Home grounds.

The Home consists of a large modern complex of accommodations for adult Masons, their wives and widows, ranging from single and double rooms to clusters of apartments built to the individual's order (without cost to the Home). Generally, applicants must be at least sixty-five years of age, with the Mason or Masonic husband having been a member of the Craft for fifteen years and of a Virginia Lodge for at least five years. Provision is also available for Masonic orphans, but has not been necessary for a number of years.

Application may be made by surrendering a portion of one's assets or by paying an entrance fee and a pro rata share of the annual costs of maintenance. A third method now permits the purchase of a life interest in a newly built apartment plus payment of a monthly maintenance fee.

The Home has a capacity of 200 residents, and its population at present runs around 170. The cornerstone of a new nursing Care Center was laid on December 14, 1991. Every facility is available to the residents, and it has been called the outstanding Home of its type in Virginia. The best testimony to its quality is found in the happy faces of the residents and the new lease on life which they have found in its fellowship and security.

The Home is operated by a Board of Governors, consisting of Master Masons appointed by the Grand Master and representatives of the Grand Royal Arch Chapter, the Grand Commandery, and the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite. The day to day operation of the Home ivs confided to its professional Administrator, his Assistant who also serves as Development Director, and a well-rounded staff.

Health needs are served by an attending physician and registered and practical nurses who are on duty round the clock. Tasty meals are served under the supervision of a professional dietician and a licensed social worker assists in caring for the emotional needs of the residents.

All this care requires a budget in excess of $3,000,000 annually, which is supplied by the income from the Home's Endowment Fund, an assessment of $3.00 per member in Virginia, and various gifts throughout the year. The Endowment Fund, presently standing at about $26,000,000, results from the gifts, living and testamentary, of Masons throughout the State, and constitutes a living memorial to their devotion to the cause of our elderly Brethren, their wives, and widows.

Each year, the Grand Master conducts a campaign for funds for the Masonic Home, centered either around the Endowment Fund or for the construction of some needed amenity. This fund drive is constructed around our annual celebration of Founder's Day in October, and every Lodge is usually asked to have a Founder's Day program during that month. The Master will find that it is not difficult to find a knowledgeable Brother such as the local Masonic Home Ambassador or a member of the Board of Governors to come and present a program regarding the Home. Videotapes are also available from the Home for this purpose.

Generosity to the Home is an absolute necessity if we are to continue to care for our Brethren, their wives and widows in the manner that we should and which should make us proud to be Masons. Rising costs and diminishing income from our investments are leading inevitably to new demands on our pocketbooks. So too are such demands being made on the Home's funds.

In conducting a drive, it is no longer sufficient, if it ever was, to pass a hat once a year, or leave a basket on the altar, or to forward a small check to the Home annually. What is needed is appointment of a diligent and interested Brother to serve as the Home's representative at the Lodge level.

This individual can procure the necessary information and materials from the Home through the Masonic Home Ambassador for the District, see that the Brethren have pledge cards, keep them informed about the Home, and go all out in an effort to collect a substantial amount for the Home drive. The money is needed; it is put to good use; and if the Home is to continue to be the jewel in our Masonic crown, we must have the wherewithal to see that its star continues to shine brightly.

As indicated above, each District has a Masonic Home Ambassador, appointed by the Grand Master, on the recommendation of the District Deputy Grand Master, to be in charge of all matters relating to the Home for the District. He is to assist in raising funds for the Home, to inform the Brethren concerning its operations, to assist in seeing that applications for admission are timely and properly completed, and, in general, to act as the Home's representative at the District level. He is certain to be immediately available to every Master on all matters involving the Home.

More recently, copies of the Home's internal publication, the MAHOVA News, have been circulated to the Lodges and should be posted on Lodge bulletin boards. These serve to keep the Craft informed concerning current happenings at the Homes as well as its plans for the future.


A. In General

The Grand Lodge of Virginia, founded in 1778, is the oldest independent Grand Lodge in the United States. Among all Grand Lodges in America, it ranks fourth, being preceded by Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and South Carolina. As such, it is the supreme Masonic authority in Virginia and must be acknowledged as such not only by its Lodges but by all other Masonic bodies in the State. [4] Thus, our Masonic laws bind all Master Masons in Virginia, regardless of the appendant body to which they belong.

The Grand Lodge is, of course, headed by the Grand Master of Masons in Virginia. He is ably assisted by the Grand Lodge officers and most particularly by the Grand Secretary and Grand Treasurer, who are normally reelected from year to year and provide continuity in our administrative affairs.

The Grand Secretary is in charge of the Grand Lodge office. Assisted by a competent and experienced staff, he stands ready to assist the Lodges and Brethren in any way possible. Grand Lodge publications are easily available by telephone and may be charged to the Lodge by its Secretary or Master.

Advice on Masonic matters may usually be obtained from the Grand Secretary by calling him. However, he can only point the Master in the right direction and his opinions are in no wise authoritative. Only the Grand Master may issue a binding ruling on Masonic matters. Nonetheless, the experience born of a number of years' continuous service is often valuable in searching for a solution to a particular quandary, and the Master should not hesitate to call the Grand Lodge office for assistance.

The Grand Lodge likewise maintains the official records of the Craft in Virginia. Here, determinations must be made as to the length of an individual's Masonic membership and his consequent eligibility for a 50, 60, or 70 year Veterans' award. It is the Grand Lodge record and not the Lodge record that governs in such cases. Research into these records frequently requires a good bit of time.

Thus, when it is desired to plan for presentation of a Veteran's emblem, the Lodge should submit its request sufficiently in advance to permit a timely check of the records as well as preparation of the beautiful certificate and card which accompanies the pin or plaque. In emergencies, however, one will always find the Grand Secretary helpful.

B. Communications with Lodges in Other Jurisdictions

All communications with other Grand jurisdictions must be done through the Grand Secretary's office. These usually involve the conduct of funeral services for an out-of-state Brother or obtaining a certificate of good standing for a sojourning brother who wishes to affiliate with the Lodge. In both cases, no action can be taken until the matter is cleared with the other Grand jurisdiction by our Grand Secretary.

In the case of funerals, these requests are handled by telephone and as expeditiously as possible. In these instances, the Grand Secretary may be contacted at home and will take action immediately to verify the deceased's status. In the case of petitions, the matter is not as urgent, and is usually processed by mail from the Lodge Secretary to the Grand Secretary.

C. Lodge Reports to Grand Lodge

The Lodge Secretary is required to submit monthly activity reports to the Grand Secretary in order that our records may be maintained on an up-to-date basis. These records also serve as the basis for the annual billing of Grand Lodge per capita taxes, and nothing is more frustrating than the practice of some Secretaries in waiting until December to file twelve monthly reports at once!

As the one who rules and governs his Lodge, the Master should see that such events do not occur and that all required reports are timely submitted. Only in this manner can mistakes be avoided, bills promptly and accurately submitted, and the records of the Lodge and Grand Lodge both kept properly up to date.

D. Help From Grand Lodge

Your Grand Lodge stands ready at all times to be of assistance to your Lodge and to your Brethren. Its publications, films, videotapes, and extensive library, are available for the asking. Do not hesitate to call upon it for assistance.

E. Your Duty in Grand Lodge

Grand Lodge is made up of a number of voting representatives, i.e., the Grand Master, Deputy Grand Master, Grand Lodge officers, Past Grand Masters, Past Deputy Grand Masters, Past Grand Wardens, District Deputy Grand Masters, Past Masters, and the representatives of each subordinate Lodge. [5] Each Lodge is to be represented by the Master and the two Wardens.

The Vote of the Lodge is a collective vote, "the majority of its representatives casting the vote. . ." [6] On registration, the Master or his authorized proxy is furnished with a red card which signifies the Lodge's vote. The Grand Master in calling for a vote usually calls for holding up these red card to be counted, although he may direct the taking of the ballot by other means. [7]

Voting is required to accept Committee reports, to pass resolutions, to adopt a budget, to elect officers, and for many other purposes. The Grand Master's authority to set aside the law ends when Grand Lodge convenes, and it is the vote of the delegates which governs, our session being legislative in nature.

In consequence, the Grand Lodge is required to issue its call annually in which a proposed budget for the coming year and all pending resolutions are set forth for the lodge's consideration prior to Grand Lodge. A copy of this call is furnished to every Lodge.

As you and the Wardens are the Lodge's voting representatives, it is well to familiarize yourself with the contents of the call and to note not only the Grand Lodge's proposed expenditures but changes which are proposed by individual members of the Grand Lodge in our laws. [8] Customarily, Lodges have the call gone over in and explained to them at a January or February communication prior to Grand Lodge. Thus, the Lodge's advice can be taken as to how its vote should be cast.

At the Grand Lodge, seating is at such a premium that Masters and Wardens are not usually placed together. Thus, a conference in advance will permit the majority to determine, in accordance with Section 1.15, how the Lodge's vote will be cast. It is equally important to see that a proxy is named and furnished with a certificate under the seal of the Lodge, in the event the Master or Wardens are unable to attend. Only then will your Lodge be able to vote. In like manner, it cannot have a say unless its per capita dues are timely paid.

F. Conclusion

One frequently hears the complaint in lodges that the Grand Lodge does this, and the Grand Lodge does that. But the Grand Lodge is made up of the voting delegates of our Lodges. Only their votes can adopt a budget, change our laws, or elect a Grand Lodge officer. While others have votes, it is YOUR overwhelming numbers that count. It is YOUR Grand Lodge, Worshipful, and it is your vote or the lack thereof that causes the Grand Lodge to change any of its practices.


As you come to the end of this Guide to your duties and functions as Master of your Lodge, so, too, one comes to the election of officers and ceremonies of installation which will mark both the beginning and the end of your term of office.

Both the election and the installation are conducted by the outgoing Master, although he may appoint some other knowledgeable Past Master to act in his behalf. In the case of the installation, he frequently does so, and customarily defers to the wishes of the incoming Master as to the identity of the individual whom he wishes to install the new officers.

The requirements to serve as Worshipful Master, absent a dispensation from the Grand Master, are service for one year as a Warden and possession of a current certificate of proficiency from the Grand Lecturer or his representative. Even Past Masters must possess such a certificate. In order to be eligible to be installed as a Warden, one must have received the Past Master's degree either from an occasional Lodge of Past Masters or as a part of the ceremonies in a Royal Arch Chapter. The Senior Deacon or other candidate for the station of Junior Warden or Senior Warden should insure that he has received the degree before Election Night, in order to avoid delay in his installation.

Other than the foregoing, there is little to watch in a Masonic election. The Senior Warden and Junior Warden are both automatically in nomination if they have filed the necessary certificates of proficiency with the Secretary. If the Junior Warden wishes to avoid this, he need only withhold his certificate until after the election.

At one time, the law required opposition for election as Junior Deacon in a Lodge and as Grand Junior Deacon in the Grand Line. It has, however, now been changed, and no opposition is required, though, of course, there may be, in the case of more than one nomination.

The Worshipful Master-elect has the first nomination, followed by nominations if any from the floor. Uncontested nominations are usually followed by election by acclamation. Contested elections are decided by secret written ballot. Teller should be immediately appointed to count such ballots, before the candidates are excluded from the Lodge room.

The election should be followed by announcement of the appointment of various Lodge officers and Committeemen.

Installation may be had in Lodge immediately after the appointed officers are announced, or it may be delayed to a later occasion. By dispensation, it is usually permissible to hold an open installation, to which officers' families and other guests may be invited, with some publicity in the media possible. All these matters are for the decision of the outgoing Master, but it is worthy of note that, in the interest of harmony, he usually defers to the arrangements desired by his successor in office.

The installation may be read or done from memory. In the event that it is to be an open ceremony, the dispensation usually requires at least one practice session and perhaps the approval of the District Instructor of Work. If it is desired to have some dignitary serve as the Installing Officer, he should be afforded ample notice and adequate provision should be made for his presence, just as if he were to be a guest speaker at the Lodge.

The arrangements and ceremonies for Installation are set forth in the Grand Lodge "Manual of Ceremonies", and should be carefully followed by the participants. The work when done by an experienced installation team of Installing Officer, Installing Chaplain, and Installing Marshal, is impressive and inspiring. The basic ceremonies are over two hundred years' old and are founded in the rituals of the Ancient Grand Lodge of England.

Particularly important are the charges delivered to the Worshipful Master on his Installation. They succinctly delineate his responsibilities to his Lodge, his Brethren, the Grand Lodge, and the Grand Master. They are worthy of your close attention as the new Worshipful Master and, on passing the gavel and hat to your successor in office, twelve months hence, ponder them again and measure your performance against their high standards.

Have you fulfilled the great Masonic promises you made? If you have done so, then, indeed, you are entitled to the proud title of Past Master.


  5. BUSINESS ON SECRETARY'S DESK (Check with Secretary in Advance)
  6. INTRODUCTIONS: (Appoint Committees in Advance; Master should probably recognize at seats unless official visit of GM or DDGM.)
    1. Visiting Brethren
    2. Past Masters and Past District Deputies
    3. Heads of Appendant Bodies
    4. Worshipful Masters
    5. Grand Lodge Committeemen, Representatives, DEOs, DIWS, Blood and Masonic Home Representatives.
    6. District Deputy Grand Masters of other Districts
    7. Grand Lodge Officers
    8. Deputy Grand Master
    9. Past Grand Masters
    10. Your District Deputy Grand Master (Introduced with other DDGMs if Grand Master present).
    11. If Grand Master present, see special instructions in Protocol >pamphlet.
    1. Old Business
    2. New Business
  8. PROGRAM (Introduce speaker, show film, etc.)
  12. CLOSE LODGE [The entire meeting should not take over 90 minutes, or, if much business is involved, etc., certainly not exceed a maximum of two hours. Remember, the capacity of the brain to absorb is limited by the capacity of the seat to endure.]


  1. Roberts, Allen E., The Search for Leadership (Highland Springs, Anchor Communications, 1987), pp. 64-65, quoted with the kind permission of the author.
  2. While these are steps normally taken by the Secretary of the Lodge, notification is ultimately the Master's responsibility, and he should insure the task is performed.
  3. Use of the Ritual's calling from labor to refreshment will be found to be particularly useful when non-Masons present programs. It can make the evening much shorter, as the Lodge calling back on and closing can be delayed until after refreshments and then conducted by the Master, Wardens, and Secretary, after others have departed.
  4. Edict of July 26, 1989, approved Grand Lodge Proceedings, 1990, pp. 70,118. See current Supplement, Methodical Digest, for text of Edict.
  5. See Section 1.15 of the Methodical Digest, which provides for collective votes for most of these classes, except the Past Grand Masters who each have a vote, and the Grand Master and Deputy Grand Master, who each have a vote. In the case of a tie, the Grand Master may cast an additional vote.
  6. See Section 1.15 above.
  7. A scaled vote may be called for by ten or more Lodges or ordered by the Grand Master. Section 1.14, Methodical Digest.
  8. A resolution to change a law may be proposed by any Past Master, Master, or Warden, or other member of Grand Lodge. It must be submitted in writing, show by interlineation, etc. how the law will be changed, lies over for one Masonic year, and is then considered by the delegates at the next Grand Lodge session. It may be referred to various Grand Lodge Committees for study, depending on its nature.