THE WORSHIPFUL MASTER
“the honour, reputation, and usefulness of the lodge will materially depend upon the skill and ability with which you manage its affairs...”
The Worshipful Master has a great deal of responsibility and authority, and is therefore responsible to the brethren and to Grand Lodge for the conduct and wellbeing of the lodge. As the principal officer you have the authority necessary to manage its affairs. The Worshipful Master must be fair and impartial in his judgment. If you find you have been in error, you should be quick to admit it and correct it. You must put the welfare of your lodge in particular, and the Craft in general, above self, remembering that you are a servant as well as a Master. You must uphold your authority, but not abuse it, and follow the masonic principles of parliamentary procedure in all business matters. (Robert’s Rules of Order is available as a guide.)
Be conscious of your own limitations, and receptive to good advice and counsel. Do not be slow in asking for help when you need it; this is no reflection on your ability, for none of us can solve all the problems that from time to time beset us. Each lodge has its corps of Past Masters, who, presumably have acquired a good deal of experience, and to whom you should be able to turn for counsel and assistance. Preside with dignity, decorum, harmony, and good fellowship, remembering that in all matters you must set the example.
As Worshipful Master you cannot fulfill the program of your lodge alone. Select good men to serve on your committees, and inspire them to do their work efficiently. Be on the lookout for any brother with outstanding talent, that extra something which marks him as a leader, and encourage him with greater opportunities and challenges. It is important that the lodge study the qualifications of its petitioners, and for this reason be careful in the appointment of your Committees of Investigation, especially the chairmen.
You are charged to preserve the warrant of your lodge and to deliver it to your successor in office. You and your Wardens hold all furniture, jewels, and other property of the lodge in trust for the members, and shall see that they are insured against loss of any kind. You may claim of your officers at any time, advice and assistance on any business relative to the lodge. You are ex officio a member of all committees.
Be aware of the importance of holding practices and rehearsals, and exemplify degrees in the absence of candidates. In this way those participating gain self confidence, and develop a feeling of sureness, which makes for a far better performance of the ritual, and lodge work in general. This in turn increases interest in the lodge, both on the part of members and visitors, for any meeting, whether masonic or otherwise, which is well conducted, makes a good impression. The informality of the practice session enables brethren to enter into discussion, where questions can be asked and explanations given.
The following directives and information are given to assist you as Worshipful Master in the performance of your duties.
REGARDING GRAND LODGE
01. As changes are approved to the Book of Constitutions at Grand Lodge almost very year it is essential to procure those amendments and ensure your copy of the Book of Constitutions has the most up-to-date information. See freemasonry.bcy.ca/lodgesecretary.
02. It is your duty to see that your lodge is represented at the annual communication of Grand Lodge by yourself and Wardens or proxies.
03. If unable to attend Grand Lodge, be sure duly qualified proxies are elected to represent your lodge (Refer to “Votes and Voting”).
04. If you have served previously as Worshipful Master of a lodge you are entitled to two votes at Grand lodge.
05. Your lodge shall have the right to give instruction to you, the Wardens, or proxies before the Communication of Grand Lodge (Refer to R61).
06. It is improper for you to communicate directly with the Grand Master on masonic business; communications must go through the Grand Secretary’s office.
07. You must produce, if required, the Warrant, Minutes, and books of your lodge to the Grand Master, Grand Lodge, or brethren authorized by the Grand Master.
08. No public masonic procession is permitted without a dispensation or previous ruling from the Grand Master (except funerals). Refer to R164 and the Book of Form and Ceremonies.
REGARDING BUSINESS OF YOUR LODGE:
09. Continually familiarize yourself with the Grand Lodge Book of Constitutions, your lodge by-laws, and Forms and Ceremonies, to avoid error.
10. See that all reports, returns, and remittances to Grand Lodge are made promptly by your secretary.
11. See that the books, records, and accounts of your lodge are kept properly and a “Financial Review” is conducted annually or in accordance with the by-laws of your lodge. Encourage the lodge to prepare and adopt a budget
12. The business of the lodge with the exception of degree work may be transacted in any degree at the discretion of the Worshipful Master.
13. The Regular Communication of your lodge shall be the only meeting in each month at which business may be done, with exceptions specified in the Constitutions, e.g., Funerals, Degrees, etc.
14. Before making any binding decision be sure that you know all the facts and that your decision is in the best interest of the lodge; from your decision there can be no appeal except to Grand Lodge.
15. It is your responsibility to see that every member who has been raised is properly instructed and examined in open lodge. (ensure that the sponsors and or the coaches are reminded of their responsibilities to the candidate.
16. You may withhold the reading of any communication, if in your opinion it is improper to be read. (See “Communications” under Rulings.)
17. If any member shall object to a visitor, you shall refuse the visitor admittance or ask him to withdraw.
18. A demit may be granted to an Entered Apprentice or Fellow Craft.
19. It is strongly recommended that a brother be interviewed by a committee before he is suspended for non-payment of dues.
20. You should stress the point that every brother is, literally speaking, a member of the Sick and Visiting Committee.
21. Do not hesitate to use your gavel with authority.
22. It is not correct procedure to hand over your collar to anyone who is to occupy the chair temporarily. Transferring the gavel in the prescribed manner, the emblem of authority, conveys all the necessary courtesies. (Passed at G.L. 1967 - Revision of Ancient Ritual).
23. Insist on proper masonic courtesy in your lodge and in the banquet room.
24. The brethren should be reminded prior to the degree that mirth has no place in the exemplification or conferral of degrees.
25. Physical qualifications for candidates can be found in Rulings under “Physical”. Consult the Grand Secretary for additional information.
26. Ensure that a sufficient number of white balls and black balls, or cubes, are in the ballot box.
27. You must see that the affairs of your lodge are conducted in strict conformity with the Book of Constitutions, Regulations and Edicts of Grand Lodge and the by-laws of your lodge.
28. The ritual work of your lodge must conform to the ritual it has adopted.
29. You should be able to do the following in a capable and impressive manner:
a. Confer the three degrees.
b. Properly conduct a ballot for candidates and affiliates.
c. Open and close your lodge in the three degrees in long form.
d. Receive visitors graciously and make them welcome.
e. Conduct your lodge business in conformity with your by-laws, e.g. motions, amendments, elections, etc.
30. It is your prerogative to:
a. Appoint committees and designate a chairman.
b. Rule on points of order.
c. Close your lodge at your will and pleasure.
d. Initiate and close debates.
e. Accord Grand Honours to distinguished brethren. Grand Lodge officers on official visits must be given Grand Honours.
f. Refuse admittance to a visitor or visitors.
g. Withhold the reading of any communication.
h. Call an Emergent Communication of your lodge.
i. Direct a ballot to be taken on any important question.
j. Appoint non-elected lodge officers.
31. The following subjects should not be discussed or debated in open lodge or at the banquet table:
a. Sectarianism, religion, or theological creeds.
b. Private business.
c. Partisan politics.
d. Racial questions.
e. Non-masonic subjects which divide men by class, feud or schism.
f. Any matters which slander your lodge or your officers, Grand Lodge or its officers, any brother, or the Craft in general.
32. The first item on the agenda after the reading of the summons of every meeting should be to welcome everyone, have visitors introduced, and invite those you wish to take seats in the east. It is an expected courtesy that you invite current Worshipful Masters, as well as past and present Grand Lodge officers. No one, other than the Grand Master, his representative, or the current DDGM are entitled by right of their office to a seat in the east. It is your prerogative to invite any brother to a seat in the east.
33. The reception of visitors with honours due their rank should never be omitted.
34. You should hold frequent rehearsals to ensure that officers are ready for any work which may present itself.
35. If no candidates are available during your year, the degrees should be exemplified by and for the benefit of the officers and members, because the ritual is the very heart of Freemasonry.
36. Successful meetings must be planned carefully in advance. There is no substitute for good planning.
37. A well rounded program for the year should include competent degree work, educational features, and good fellowship.
38. Examples of programs that have helped to improve Lodge Communications are: Past Master’s, Senior Member’s, Fathers and Sons, Non-officers, and Ethnic Nights; Anniversaries, Roll Calls, Fraternal Visitations, Guest Speakers and Visiting Degree teams.
39. Do not rely on memory. A notebook containing a page for each meeting with the order of business spaced to allow for notes has proven to be of valuable assistance.
40. Activate committees by encouraging them to perform their duties and have them report in open lodge.
41. The more your brethren are involved in lodge activities the healthier your Lodge will be.
42. You should open your lodge promptly at the stated time and transact the business in an expeditious manner.
43. Time spent with your secretary before the meeting will help to ensure a smoother presentation of the business.
44. Be very careful with the use of masonic titles, e.g. Most Worshipful Brother, Right Worshipful Brother, Very Worshipful Brother, Worshipful Brother, and Brother.
45. A regular informal newsletter has proved to be popular in many lodges, and W.M.’s comments in the regular notice are also an effective communication tool.