Freemasonry – Your Questions Answered.

Find out more about joining Purley Lodge in Croydon Surrey.

Below are some common questions we are asked by potential members.

We aim to be transparent and open about Freemasonry. If you have any other questions feel free to get in touch or come along to Croydon Masonic Halls to meet the lodge members.

What is Freemasonry?

Freemasonry teaches moral lessons and self-knowledge through participation in a progression of allegorical two-part plays, which are learnt by heart and performed within each Lodge.

Freemasonry offers its members an approach to life which seeks to reinforce thoughtfulness for others, kindness in the community, honesty in business, courtesy in society and fairness in all things.

Members are urged to regard the interests of the family as paramount but importantly Freemasonry also teaches and practices concern for people, care for the less fortunate and help for those in need.

Why do people join and remain members?

People become Freemasons for a variety of reasons, some as the result of family tradition, others upon the introduction of a friend or out of a curiosity to know what it is all about.

Those who become active members and who grow in Freemasonry do so principally because they enjoy it.

They enjoy the challenges and fellowship that Freemasonry offers. There is more to it, however, than just enjoyment.

Participation in the dramatic presentation of moral lessons and in the working of a Lodge provides a member with a unique opportunity to learn more about himself and encourages him to live in such a way that he will always be in search of becoming a better man, not better than someone else but better than he himself would otherwise be and therefore an exemplary member of society.

Each Freemason is required to learn and show humility through initiation. Then, by progression through a series of degrees he gains insight into increasingly complex moral and philosophical concepts, and accepts a variety of challenges and responsibilities which are both stimulating and rewarding.

The structure and working of the lodge and the sequence of ceremonial events, which are usually followed by social gatherings, offer members a framework for companionship, teamwork, character development and enjoyment of shared experiences.

What promises do Freemasons take?

New members make solemn promises concerning their conduct in the Lodge and society.

These promises are similar to those taken in court or upon entering the Armed Services or many other organizations.

Each member also promises to keep confidential the traditional methods of proving he is a Freemason which he would use when visiting a Lodge where he is not known.

The much publicized ‘traditional penalties’ for failure to observe these undertakings were removed from the promises in 1986.

They were always symbolic, not literal, and refer only to the pain any decent man should feel at the thought of violating his word.

Members also undertake to not make use of their membership for personal gain or advancement; failure to observe this principle or to otherwise fall below the standards expected of a Freemason can lead to expulsion.

Who can join?

Membership is open to men aged over 21 years of all faiths who are law-abiding, of good character and who acknowledge a belief in God.

Freemasonry is a multi-racial and multi-cultural organization.

It has attracted men of goodwill from all sectors of the community into membership.

There are also similar Masonic organizations for women.

Is Freemasonry a religion?

Freemasonry is not a religion.

It has no theology and does not teach any route to salvation.

A belief in God, however, is an essential requirement for membership and Freemasonry encourages its members to be active in their own religions as well as in society at large.

Although every Lodge meeting is opened and closed with a prayer and its ceremonies reflect the essential truths and moral teachings common to many of the world’s great religions, no discussion of religion is permitted in lodge meetings.

Is Freemasonry an open society?

Lodge meetings, like meetings of many other societies and professional associations, are private occasions open only to members.

Freemasons are encouraged to speak openly about their membership, while remembering that they undertake not to use it for their own or anyone else’s advancement.

As members are sometimes the subject of discrimination which may adversely affect their employment or other aspects of their lives, some Freemasons are understandably reticent about discussing their membership.

In common with many other national organizations, Grand Lodge neither maintains nor publishes a list of members and will not disclose names or member’s details without their permission.

In circumstances where a conflict of interest might arise or be perceived to exist or when Freemasonry becomes an issue, a Freemason must declare an interest.

The rules and aims of Freemasonry are available to the public. The Masonic Year Book, also available to the public, contains the names of all national office-holders and lists of all lodges with details of their meeting dates and places.

The meeting places and halls used by Freemasons are readily identifiable, are listed in telephone directories and in many areas are used by the local community for activities other than Freemasonry.

Freemason’s Hall (United Grand Lodge of England) in London is open to the public and ‘open days’ are held in many Provincial centres.

The rituals and ceremonies used by Freemasons to pass on the principles of Freemasonry to new members were first revealed publicly in 1723.

They include the traditional forms of recognition used by Freemasons essentially to prove their identity and qualifications when entering a Masonic meeting.

These include handshakes which have been much written about but are nothing more than modes of recognition. For medieval Freemasons, they were the equivalent of a ‘pin number’ restricting access only to qualified members according to merit and ability.

Many thousands of books have been written on the subject of Freemasonry and are readily available to the general public.

Freemasonry offers spokesmen and briefings for the media and provides talks to interested groups on request.

Freemasons are proud of their heritage and happy to share it.

Is Freemasonry involved in politics?

Freemasonry is definitely not a political organization, it has no political agenda, and discussion of politics, like religious topics is not permitted at Lodge meetings.

Freemasonry naturally tends to attract those with a concern for people and a sense of social responsibility and purpose.

There are members, therefore, who are involved in politics at local, National and International level.

Equally there are members who take an active interest in non-Masonic charitable organizations and other community groups.

Is Freemasonry involved in the community?

From its earliest days, Freemasonry has been involved in charitable activities, and since its inception it has provided support for many widows and orphans of Freemasons as well as for others within the community.

All monies raised for charity are drawn from amongst Freemasons, their families and friends, while grants and donations are made to Masonic and non-Masonic charities alike.

Over the past five years alone Freemasonry has raised more than £75m for a wide range of charitable purposes including those involved in medical research, community care, education and work with young people.

Freemasonry has an enviable record for providing regular and consistent financial support to individual charities over long periods while at the same time making thousands of grants to local charities, appeals and projects throughout England and Wales each year.

For the future, opportunities to obtain or provide matched funding are periodically examined with a view to enhancing the impact of the support Freemasonry can give to specific projects.

The personal generosity of Freemasons and the collective fundraising efforts of almost 8,000 lodges, however, will continue to determine the contribution Freemasonry makes within the community.

How much does it cost to join?

Contrary to any belief Freemasonry is not reserved for those well to do from affluent backgrounds.

Freemasonry is accessible by all men!

For example the annual subscription fee for Purley Lodge costs £132 per year*. This fee can be paid monthly by bank transfer.

For new members there are ‘one off’ fees which include a joining fee to the lodge (£30) and fees to United Grand Lodge of England. These are calculated prior to joining. The fee is adjusted depending on when you join.

In addition there is a cost of £26.00 for dining at each of the four meetings along with your donation to charity and some spends for refreshments.

*Correct as at September 2015

Does Freemasonry take up your time?

Freemasonry does require commitment.

This is one aspect you should speak to your family and loved ones about as you will be asked to commit to four meetings per year.

These are evenly spread throughout the Masonic season – Sept, Nov, Jan and March.

Purley Lodge also meets on most Thursday evenings during this time for Lodge of Instruction where you will have the opportunity to learn your Craft and get to know members of the Lodge.

An annual itinerary is emailed well in advance of each season to help you plan.

Note: There are occasions where you may not be able to attend due to a family function, work, illness, holiday or other personal commitments. Just send your apology!

Are there social functions to attend?

Freemasonry in Surrey has a comprehensive calendar full of fun and interesting events for you to attend. Likewise there are many family functions where wives and children are most welcome.

The Province of Surrey holds quiz nights, fetes, charity events, annual Cathedral service, and a Carol service near Christmas time.

Purley Lodge holds functions for members and their families to attend.

We have a Christmas lunch each year, A summer BBQ and Ladies Night at a chosen location.

We have a strong family ethos within the Lodge based on fun and friendship.