How Freemasonry is organized
The basic group unit in Freemasonry is the Masonic Lodge, which consists of a group of member Freemasons. In this way, Masonic Lodges are similar to “chapters” in other organizations or fraternities. Overseeing these Masonic Lodges, are Grand Lodges.
Freemasonry is a global brotherhood, with Masonic Lodges and Freemasons in most countries in the world. The basic unit groups of Freemasonry are the Masonic Lodges, sort of like local “chapters”. Each Masonic Lodge will consist of member Freemasons who live locally.
These Masonic Lodges in turn are overseen by a governing body known as a Grand Lodge which has authority over them. Although there is no Global leadership or Global Grand Lodge, each country or state has its own Grand Lodge.
The Grand Lodge is essentially responsible for how Freemasonry is run in the entire country or state it resides in.
The Masonic Lodge
When you join Freemasonry, you do so by joining a Masonic Lodge. This is like a local chapter and there are usually many Lodges that meet in the same location in the same city, so you’ve got a choice on which to join.
Each Lodge will typically consist of around 15-30 Freemasons, give or take. You can join multiple lodges too.
The Masonic Lodge usually meets once a month, usually on the same day and time, for example the First Wednesday of the Month at 7pm. The meetings take place in Lodge rooms within ornate buildings called Masonic Halls. There’s usually a Masonic Hall somewhere near you, have a look out.
Officers of the Lodge
Each Lodge is run smoothly by a group of Officers, who are members of that Lodge. The Officers serve different functions within the Lodge, and most offices are held for one year periods, but sometimes a lot longer.
The highest Officer in a Masonic Lodge is the Worshipful Master, and this role is changed annually, to give other Masons a chance at leadership. The Worshipful Master leads the lodge, and what he says goes.
Each Lodge will also have a Secretary to deal with communication and a Treasurer to deal with the finances of the Lodge – usually someone good with numbers. These two positions tend to be long term positions.
Every Lodge will be overseen by a Grand Lodge and the Grand Lodge will depend on the country or State the Lodge is in. For example, in England, all Masonic Lodges fall under the jurisdiction of the United Grand Lodge of England, which has power over and overseas all these Lodges.
A Grand Lodge from one country or state has no authority over Lodges that are part of another Grand Lodge’s Jurisdiction, for example the The Grand Lodge of New York has no say in the running of Lodges under the Jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Washington.
The Grand Lodge has its own Constitution and Regulations and is responsible for establishing and closing Masonic Lodges and has authority over all the Lodges it oversees.
That being said, Grand Lodges usually allow their Lodges a good degree of Freedom in managing things at a Lodge level.
The Grand Master
The Grand Lodge itself is led by an Officer known as the Grand Master. The Grand Master is the highest ranking Freemason Officer in the land. His term is usually much longer than a year, which provides stability within that region.
Provincial or District Grand Lodges
In most cases, a Grand Lodge will have subordinate “Provincial” or “District” Grand Lodges, sort of like mid-level management. These Provincial or District Grand Lodges will, on behalf of the Grand Lodge, oversee Lodges within a specific Province or District of the Grand Lodge’s Country/State. This is also used if a Grand Lodge has satellite Lodges in other countries that do not have a Grand Lodge.
Here’s an example, the United Grand Lodge of England is the highest governing body of Freemasons in England, there is no higher body. However, in order to make things more managable, the Grand Lodge of England has Provincial Lodges for each county in England, for example the Provincial Grand Lodge of Berkshire, which oversees Masonic Lodges in County Berkshire on behalf of The Grand Lodge.
Each Provincial or District Grand Lodge will in turn have an Officer called the Provincial or District Grand Master, who is the highest ranking Freemason Official in that Province – only second to the Grand Master.
As mentioned before, there is no single world governing body for Freemasonry. Instead each country or state’s Grand Lodge usually has representatives or ambassadors to other mutually recognized Grand Lodges in other countries.
Note, that some “Grand Lodges” belong to organizations that call themselves Freemasons, but are not recognized by the traditional, mainstream Grand Lodges. Most of the mainstream Grand Lodges have good ties and relations.
Freemasonry is an order and as the word suggests, is a highly ordered society. Freemasonry’s most basic, and most important, unit is the Masonic Lodge. This is where most of the Masonic activity takes place. Taking a grand view and oversight are the Grand Lodges, who ensure Freemasonry’s strategic aims are met.
How did you previously think Freemasonry was organized? Comment below!