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The Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons is the oldest, largest, and most widely known fraternal organization in the world. There are over 6 1/2 million members worldwide with over 1 1/2 million of those members here in the United States. Alabama alone has nearly 27,500 members in almost 400 lodges. Volumes have been written about it, yet to many, Freemasonry remains a secret.
In an effort to bring Freemasonry into the 21st Century, this is simply an attempt to relate a few facts that will be informative to all and to correct a few misconceptions. Also, on the page labeled "How to become a Mason", you will find out how to become a member, as well as the steps one must take to receive the degrees offered by the Fraternity.
Some historians trace Freemasonry to the Tenth Century, B.C., during the building of King Solomon's Temple. Records reveal that Freemasonry was introduced into England in 647 A.D. Freemasonry is directly descended from the associations of operative masons, the cathedral builders of the Middle Ages, who traveled through Europe employing the secrets and skills of their craft.
In the 17th Century, when cathedral building was on the decline, many guilds of stone masons, known as "Operative Masons" or "Free Masons", started to accept as members those who were not members of the Mason's Craft, calling them "Speculative Masons" or "Accepted Masons". It was from these groups that Freemasonry, as we know it today, had its beginning.
Freemasonry came to America with the early settlers. George Washington served as our first President and during this time, also served as Master of his Lodge. Many of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were active Masons as well. As you can see, Masons played a very important role in establishing and instituting many of the freedoms we still enjoy today.
With divulging this information, our purpose is not only to tell you about Freemasonry, our origin and our people, but to also clarify some misconceptions about membership.
We are NOT a "secret organization", ours is a well-known organization whose members wear emblems and meet in buildings with our emblems displayed. We publicize our meetings in the newspapers, T.V., radio stations, and the internet. There has been no attempt to conceal the purpose, aims, and principals of Freemasonry. It is an organization formed and existing on the broad basis of Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth.
We are NOT a religious organization, but it is religious in character. It does not pretend to take the place of religion nor serve as a substitute for the religious beliefs of its members. Freemasonry accepts men found to be worthy, regardless of religious convictions. The only requirement is a belief in the existence of a Supreme Being. Our teachings come to life from the pages of the Holy Bible.
Freemasonry is NOT an insurance or beneficial society, but ours is an organization of benevolent people. It is NOT organized for profit. Freemasonry is an organization that contributes over $450 million dollars a year, or $1 1/2 million dollars a day to assist people in need and to alleviate the suffering of mankind.
Last, we are anxious to clarify a misunderstanding concerning our method of membership selection. One of the reasons for our success is that we do NOT solicit membership as other organizations do. Each of our members has come of his own free will and accord. They have sought out one of our members and asked for a petition for membership. There is no violation of Masonic Policy when a Mason tells a non-Mason that membership is predicated on a request to join and NOT on an invitation.
Today, Freemasons around the world come from virtually every occupation and profession. Within the Fraternity, however, we all meet as equals. We come from diverse political ideologies, but we meet as friends. We come from virtually every religious belief, but we all believe in one God and in respect for each other. We are respectable citizens who are taught to conform to the moral laws of society and to abide by the laws of the government under which we live. We are men of charity and good works, and we remain unchallenged as "the worlds greatest philanthropy".
One of the most fascinating aspects of Freemasonry has always been: how so many men, from so many different walks of life, can meet together in peace, never have any political or religious debates, always conduct their affairs in harmony and friendship, and call each other "Brother".
Quite simply, Freemasonry is the world's oldest and largest fraternity. Our history and tradition date to antiquity. Our singular purpose is to make good men better. Our bonds of friendship, compassion, and brotherly love have survived even the most divisive political, military, and religious conflicts through the centuries. Freemasonry is neither a forum, nor a place for worship. Instead, it is a friend of all religions which are based on the belief in one God. It is a Brotherhood!
To clear a common misconception about Freemasonry, first one has to be advised that no man can simply walk into a Lodge, pay a fee, and become a Master Mason. It takes work, dedication, and commitment. How much time spent is up to each individual member, there is no requirement to spend an ex-amount of hours here, or an ex-amount of hours there, but the more time that is spent will be revealed by a faster progression through the Degrees.
With stating that, it should also be clarified that there are 3 Degrees one has to earn in order to be a Master Mason. There is some confusion about this, because many people hear of 32nd Degree Masons, and so on. While it is possible to earn higher Degrees in Appendant or Allied Masonic Bodies (such as the Scottish Rite or Shrine), the Blue Lodge (which is the basis for all of Masonry) only offers 3. Rising Sun #29 is a Blue Lodge, and therefore offers all 3 Degrees.
The First Degree, or Entered Apprentice Degree (EA for short) is the first step and basic initiation of a candidate. An ancient ceremony is performed, in which the candidate proclaims his faith in God, as well as learns to trust in himself and his Brothers, emphasizing the history and principles of Masonry. This is arguably the most beautiful experience in all 3 Degrees, and the lesson learned is of extreme importance. The lesson itself typically takes 6 to 15 weeks to learn and become proficient in depending on the time allocated to study, at which point the Brother can “turn it in” and move on to the next Degree.
The Second Degree, or Fellow Craft Degree (FC for short) is a continuation of the First Degree. Another ceremony is performed, at which time the EA officially becomes a FC, and another lesson is put into motion. The purpose of this lesson is to give the Brother a “mid-level” skill set, much like any other trade, and make them proficient in Lodge protocol and Masonic principles. This lesson is probably the easiest to learn, and typically takes 3 to 6 weeks, again, depending on the time and effort allocated to study. Once the Brother is proficient in this lesson, they can “turn it in” and continue to the next Degree.
The Third Degree or Master Mason Degree (MM for short) is the last continuation of the First and Second Degrees. A final ceremony is performed, at which point the FC becomes a Master Mason. Much like becoming a Master Electrician, or Master Plumber, the Master Mason is proficient in his trade. Although there is another lesson to be learned with this Degree, Free and Accepted Masons of Alabama do not require it to be “turned in”, however, it is highly encouraged to do so within the first year of earning the Master Mason Degree.
Unlike some states, Alabama Freemasons are required to learn their lessons in a “mouth to ear” format. In other words, we do not write or record anything in our lessons, and the individual studying must learn from total memorization by simply listening to their mentor. This can cause frustration, because the truth is that some people have better memorization skills, and others simply have much more time to allocate, but do not let it scare you away.
This is an extremely effective way of earning your degrees, because it makes a person “that much more” proficient. It also creates an exceptional bond between the Brother who is studying and his mentor, and don’t worry, every Brother in Rising Sun #29 is more than willing to spend as much time needed to help. Again, it does take time, it does take dedication, and it does take commitment, but remember, anything worth having is worth working for.
Some Brothers take just a few weeks to work through all 3 Degrees, while others take years. A good example is George Washington. He spent 7 years as a Fellow Craft until finally becoming a Master Mason. Once he did earn that Degree, however, he dedicated the rest of his life to Masonry (and this country), which is evident through the “George Washington National Masonic Memorial”. The point is that each individual decides how fast they want to move forward, and when you are ready, you will progress to the next Degree.
After receiving all 3 of the Blue Lodge Degrees, becoming a Master Mason, you will be eligible to join Appendant or Allied Masonic Bodies, such as the Scottish Rite, York Rite, Shrine, and others. You can include your wife by joining The Order of the Eastern Star, and there are Appendant Bodies for children as well, such as the Rainbow Girls. Becoming a Master Mason will also make you eligible to receive all the benefits of the Blue Lodge, including access to Masonic information, the authorization to wear Masonic Jewelry/display Masonic Emblems, as well as being able to take part in Lodge activities such as voting or becoming a Lodge Officer, as well as many other benefits.
Remember, Freemasonry is kindness in the home, honesty in business, courtesy in society, fairness in work, pity and concern for the unfortunate, resistance toward evil, help for the weak, forgiveness for the penitent, love for one another, and above all, reverence and love for God.
To be eligible for membership, you must Believe in God, be a man, 21 years of age, with mental competency and good moral character (no felonies or moral convictions), have been a resident of the state for 6 months, zero (0) months for military service members and you must be recommended by two members of a Masonic Lodge.
Freemasonry is proud of its philosophy and practice of "making good men better". Only individuals believed to be of the finest character are favorably considered for membership. Every applicant must advocate his belief in the existence of a Supreme Being (atheists are not accepted into the fraternity).
We are anxious to let you know that if you want to be a part of this truly great organization, it is very simple!
Here is the process from start to finish at Rising Sun Lodge #29:
Download a "Petition for the Mysteries of Masonry" (below), (you will need Adobe Reader 7.0 or higher) and answer all the questions. If you do not understand some of the questions, we will be more than happy to assist, (any question unanswered is grounds for denial).
Return the petition to the Lodge, along with $165 cash, check, or money order ($15 of this will be used toward a background investigation and is non-refundable, and the rest will be used for your 3 Degrees and first year membership dues).
After the lodge receives your petition and $165, we will assign a 3 man "committee" of Master Masons to interview you. This is usually done at a location and time of your choice, however, there are times when we request an applicant to visit the Lodge on Monday night in order for us to interview him based on our own conflicting schedules.
Once the committee has interviewed you, the petition will be taken to a scheduled meeting to be voted on. The ballot must be unanimous!
The key to remember is to be patient. On average, it takes about 6 weeks from the time that we recieve a petition until the time we are ready to initiate any given applicant into the Entered Apprentice Degree. Sometimes longer, sometimes shorter depending on what other events are taking place in that time period. Naturally, we will call you once you have been voted on and accepted, and we encourage all applicants who are still in the waiting process to come and enjoy meals and socialize with us. When everything and everyone is ready, the next order of business will be for you to earn your First Degree through a traditional symbolic initiation, and that is the first step in becoming a Brother in the greatest fraternity in the world.
It has been said that if you are not yet a Mason, it is a journey of 1000 steps and you are 1 click away from taking that first step and persuing your journey.
Edward M.L. Ehlers joined the Freemasons on June 6, 1865 in Continental Lodge No. 287 in New York City, and was elected the Master of his lodge in 1870 and 1874-1876. He became more involved with the Grand Lodge of New York and was elected the Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of New York in 1882
A Rare 1906 Cylinder Recording "Brother Masons" by Frank Williams