What is Freemasonry?

WHAT IS THE HISTORY OF FREEMASONRY?

Some people believe Freemasonry traces its roots to the building of King Solomon's temple. No one knows just how old it is because the actual origins have been lost in time. Probably, it arose from the guilds of stonemasons who built the castles and cathedrals of the Middle Ages. Possibly, they were influenced by the Knights Templar, a group of Christian warrior monks formed in 1118 to help protect pilgrims making trips to the Holy Land.

In 1717, Masonry created a formal organization in England when the first Grand Lodge was formed. Since then, Freemasonry has spread throughout the world and Grand Lodges have been opended in all the United States and provinces of Canada.

Masonry played a key role in the founding of the United States. Several founding fathers were strong Masons including: George Washington, Benjamin Franklin (Past Provincial Grand Master of Pennsylvannia), Nathan Hale, John Hancock, Patrick Henry, Paul Revere, Ethan Allen, and John Paul Jones, not to mention France's Marquis de Lafayette. These forefathers embedded Masonic symbols and customs in the trappings of our goverment; e.g., the inauguration of officers, the "all seeing eye" on the U.S. one dollar bill, the layout of the buildings in our capitol. Masonry is also a part of our vernacular; for example, "on the level", "the third degree", "past masters", are commonly found in our speech, even today.

WHAT IS FREEMASONRY?

An ancient fraternity dedicated to friendship, morality, and brotherly love.

It is NOT...

  • A Religion - although to become a Mason, a man must believe in a supreme being.
  • A Charity - even though Masons contribute considerably to worthwhile charities.
  • A Subversive Organization - a Mason must be a peaceful, law abiding citizen.
  • A Political Party or Action Group - although you will find prominent Masons leading our government.
  • A College Fraternity - although most college fraternities trace their roots back to Freemasonry.

Freemasonry neither interferes with religion or politics. Freemasonry strives to teach a man the duty he owes to his God, his neighbor, and himself.

WHAT DO MASONS DO?

Enjoy Brotherhood - through social functions and group activities.

Build their lives and character, just as a carpenter builds a house.

Quietly volunteer considerable time and money to charities:

  • The Masonic Home of Florida - St. Petersburg

  • The Grand Masters Charity - which contributes to such things as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)(Lou Gehrig's Disease), Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), Masonic Medical Research Labratory, etc.

  • Other Organizations - Girls Scouts, Boy Scouts, Red Cross, Salvation Army, community ministries, Meals on Wheels, College scholarships, and neighborhood youth sports teams. Masons also lend a helping hand to others who are less fortunate; e.g., victims of disasters, the handicapped, widows, orphans, and the elderly.
WHAT DO MASONS BELIEVE?

Although Freemasonry recognizes each man is different, there are certain traits all Masons have in common:

  • Masons believe in the existence of God. No atheist can become a Mason. Masons do not care what your individual faith is: Masons include Christians, Jews, Muslim, etc.

  • Masons believe in responsibility, honor, morality, and ethics.

  • Masons believe the world should be a better place because we passed through it.

  • Masons believe a person should strive to be a good citizen and that we have a moral duty to be true to the country which we live, and uphold and maintain the principles of good government.

  • Masons see brotherhood as a form of wisdom, a sort of bond that holds men together. A private friendship that tells us we owe it to each other to be just in our dealings.
WHO ARE MASONS?

All walks of life and professions:

Business leaders, Entertainers, Inventors, Designers, Founders, Kings, Military Leaders, Pioneers, Explorers, Political Leaders, Sports Figures, Writers, Patriots, Presidents, Judges, Justices, Your Neighbor!

You know them! They are your neighbors, your friends, the people you look up to.

Click here for a list of Famous Masons.

All religions, all races, all socioeconomic classes (blue collar and white collar).

Freemasonry is an international society, with Lodges and Brotherhood around the world

WHAT IS A MASONIC LODGE?

A Masonic Lodge (also known as "Temple" or "Blue Lodge") is the cornerstone of Masonic society. It is a place where local Masons gather to conduct meetings, perform fraternal ceremonies, and hold social functions. There are about 13,200 such lodges in the United States.

A Masonic Lodge is governed by a set of officers:

  • Worshipful Master (President)
  • Senior Warden (Senior Vice-President)
  • Junior Warden (Junior Vice-President)
  • Secretary
  • Treasurer
  • Deacons (Messengers)
  • Stewards (to serve refreshments)

Within District 24 (Polk County), Masonic Lodges are located in Bartow, Lakeland, Winter Haven, Haines City, Mulberry and Lake Alfred. Click HERE to access the Lodge Locator on the Grand Lodge of Florida's website, choose Lodge County and type Polk in the search field box.

Once you have become a Mason, you can visit other Lodges.

HOW IS FREEMASONRY ORGANIZED?

Masonic government is relatively "flat", meaning it has very few layers of bureaucracy. Within the State of Florida, we have:

Grand Lodge (state-wide) - governed by an elected Grand Master (one year term). Click HERE for the current Grand Master of Florida and his officers.

Zones (groups of Districts) - led by Committee Chairmen (one year term) appointed by the Grand Master. These chairmen provide guidance and oversee specific activities in the Districts; e.g., charities, education, publicity, etc.

Districts (groups of Lodges, typically by county) - led by Right Worshipful District Deputy Grand Masters (one year term) appointed by the Grand Master.

Lodge - governed by a Worshipful Master (elected by the Lodge membership for one year). The Master has full authority over the Lodge.

WHAT IS BEYOND THE BLUE LODGE?

There is no higher degree than Master Mason, but there is further light! A Master Mason has the option of joining these other fine Masonic Organizations:

The York Rite of Freemasonry

The Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry

Mystic Order of Veiled Prophets of the Enchanted Realm (Grotto)

Tall Cedars of Lebanon

Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine

Each offers a different venue and charity related to Freemasonry.

There are many other Masonic related affiliates:

Order of the Eastern Star (OES) - predominantly for women.

Order of Amaranth

White Shrine of Jerusalem

International Order of the Rainbow for Girls - youth group for girls between the ages of 11 and 20.

Grand Assembly of Florida - Florida State Rainbow website.

Job's Daughters - youth group open to girls ages 11-to 20 who have a Masonic Heritage (relative).

Order of DeMolay - youth group for young men ages 12 to 20.

This presentation provides an introduction to Freemasonry, the oldest fraternity in the world, and is intended for those persons interested in joining it or who have a general interest in the subject.

This presentation was developed by W∴ Tim Bryce, PM, Zone 6 Chairman of Publicity & Public Relations, a member of Sutherland Lodge No. 174 F.& A.M. (Palm Harbor, FL), and plural membership of East Gate Lodge No. 355 F.& A.M. (Palm Harbor, FL). Some of the material in the presentation was extracted from other presentations developed by W∴ Tony Rhoades, PM, PDI of Tampa Bay Lodge No. 252 F.& A.M. (Safety Harbor, FL), W∴ Ralph Vaughan, PM of Gulf Beach Lodge No. 291 F.& A.M. (Madeira, FL), and the Grand Lodge of Florida.

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