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Become a Freemason

Is the Fraternity for you? The Masonic family has a place for anyone of good character who believes in a Supreme Being. That may sound quaint to modern ears, but not to us; we think we're more timeless than quaint.

Any man of lawful age and well-recommended by two Masonic brothers can petition to join a lodge.  If you do not know any Masons personally, who can sign your petition, you are always welcome to visit your local lodge and make the acquaintance of the brothers there.  After you have petitioned you will be interviewed and investigated by a committee of lodge brothers who are charged with complete secrecy in their task and who will ask you some serious questions about your financial situation, your character, and your background. 

This "investigation" sounds much more intimidating than it is.  Lodges have to consider new members carefully because all the brothers of the lodge need to be able to depend on the discretion and trustworthiness of their fellows.  That is part of being a Mason -- to be able to confide in one another without fear of gossip. Another reason for the investigation is that the brothers of a lodge exert a lot of time and effort to put on the three degrees of your initiation.  These ceremonies require a large cast and supporting crew, rehearsals and memorization  of lines.  So, your future brothers want to make sure you are going to stay with the lodge, attend, and be an active member after being initiated.  We make an investment in you and hope for a return in the form of your friendship and volunteer work in the running of the lodge and in its charitable activities.

Before you ever fill out your petition to join, however, you do well to search your soul.  Examine your motives in joining.  Has a friend or relative "talked you into it"?  If so, you need to consider carefully whether you are really committed and really taking this step of your own free will and accord.  Think about what it means to you to be a good man and to strive to make yourself better every day.  Consider whether you are willing to make your initiation ceremonies actually work for you by continuing your study of the symbolism and lessons of the Craft after you have become a Master Mason. 

No Mason should become a Master Mason or pursue further offices and degrees within Masonry if he is mainly motivated by puffing up his ego or thinks that it is a cool secret with which to tantalize his non-Mason friends.  Those are not honest motives and do an injustice to an ancient school of morality.  If, on the other hand, you feel that something deep is missing in your life;  if you crave the company of good men; if you are tired of competition and back-stabbing, or the need to pretend you are something you are not to fit into the culture at work.  If you have a family and want to learn to be a better father or husband, or if you just want to learn how to be a better friend, these are good reasons to take the step to join a lodge and be initiated into this ancient Craft.  If you are serious and understand what Freemasonry is and what it will ask of you, then you do not need to worry about being turned away.



Steps in the Process

Most of our events, aside from our degree ceremonies are open to potential candidates. A visit to the lodge or an offsite event then is a perfect way to start. Call the lodge at 612-927-5426 to ask about the next event, or contact the Secretary.

Once you make a decision to join the lodge, you'll fill out a form we call a Petition for Degrees. Then, ask two of the brothers whom you know to sign it - it's an honor for them - and turn it in with your degree fees.

The lodge will invite you to meet with several brothers, not all at once, who will serve as an informal interviewing panel. They may meet you for coffee, or step aside with you for a few minutes at one of our social events. This is part of the standard vetting, or investigation, we require of all candidates. On behalf of the lodge they want to get to know you, to understand your reasons for joining, and get a sense of your character. We will also run a police background check. Our goal is to be inclusive, but also to ensure that candidates for the degrees will succeed and find a happy fit in our lodge.  Masonic degrees are serious and solemn promises -- not just to keep the secrets of the Craft but to engage in the work of self-improvement through an ancient system.  Our team of investigators want to know that you are sincere in your commitment to be a brother, helping with your time, talent, and financial resources to continue our great work.  You will never be asked to give more money or time than you can spare, but there is not question that brothers are expected to pitch in and help as much as they are able.

Once the investigation committee makes its report to the lodge we will vote on your petition at our monthly business meeting. We will then call you with the results of the vote, and if in the affirmative, we will schedule a series of three months in which you will receive the First (Entered Apprentice), Second (Fellowcraft), and Third (Master Mason) degrees. Generally these follow the quarterly calendar, with Jan/Feb/Mar being the first cycle, and continuing four times each year. Degree conferral meetings are generally the first Monday of the month. You will be assigned a coach and mentor during this time to answer questions and help you with the memorization requried.

For those in the military who have a pending deployment, or if your work schedule does not easily accomodate evening degreework, the Grand Lodge of Minnesota, our statewide parent body also schedules an occasional One Day to Masonry class, held on a Saturday, which for some is an easier way to join. All three degrees are conferred to candidates on the same day in an impressive, day-long ceremony. Degree fees for the One Day Class today are $250. We will discuss all these options with you in person.



Dues

Your lodge will require you to pay dues annually. The rate is set by the members of the lodge. Dues are payable annually, and the fee is adjusted slightly every year. For example, the 2013 dues billing at Lake Harriet Lodge will be $106. Members will get a bill in November for the following year.

Other Masonic organizations (and there are many) require their own dues. Once you are a Master Mason, a host of opportunities will be available to you -- organizations that only Masons can join. These offer further degree work and further opportunities to volunteer your time and talents. But we always caution new brothers not to overextend themselves. The most important thing for every brother is to be able financially and with his time to support his 'mother lodge'. It is easy to get distracted by the Scottish Rite, York Rite, the Shrine, the Order of the Eastern Star, and the many research organizations Master Masons may join. So, keep those dues in mind. Membership in all those other organizations depends upon your maintaining your good standing with your home lodge, so that has to be your priority.

Degree fees beginning in 2010 are a one-time cost of $325 total, payable with your Petition, before you take the First Degree. New Masons get a break on current year dues, and will owe them for the beginning of the next full calendar year, triggered by hitting January 1.

We offer a Perpetual Life Membership for those so inclined and able to pay for it. This can be paid off all at once or in three installments and will save you money over a lifetime as a Mason. Information will be provided to you at your first orientation meeting before the First Degree.

There are, of course, incidental fees levied throughout the year. Bring $12 if you choose to join the brethren for dinner prior to meetings. Optional social events and charitable appeals come up throughout the year and you are free to decide which are affordable.

Dues and fees are NOT tax deductable. However, some charitable contributions are; see the lodge secretary for details.



What to Expect

Joining a lodge is about making friends. Most Masons are warm, social folks, who look forward to meeting you. We've all been through this process, so the intent is not to make anyone nervous.  Some have asked, is there any hazing involved? Clearly the answer is no. A Fraternity that prides itself on morality and virtue has no room for practices that harm anyone. Our ceremonies are designed to inspire, to build relationships based on trust and honor, and to be memorable for anyone participating in them.

Each lodge is a little different; some are sleepy, some are very social. Some have more of a focus on education, history and 'enlightenment'. Others make their mark with charitable functions. The nice thing about Lake Harriet Lodge is that it offers aspects of each lodge style to its members. We're big enough and busy enough to have many projects and events ongoing at all times. You'll find it easy to find a niche, and all the members will be genuinely welcoming.

Masonic degrees are solemn ceremonies, so you should expect an intense and dramatic experience. Most people today do not have any experience with initiation ceremonies.  The word "initiation" means "a new beginning."  Your initiation to Masonry comes in three degrees or steps and each one builds upon the one before.  You will be guided through the rituals by brothers who have your best interests at heart.  Prayer, listening to lessons and short lectures are all a part of the initiation, as well as taking solemn vows  of secrecy and service to your fellow human beings.  The secrecy that veils our initiations (like all such ceremonies throughout history and across cultures) is a way of protecting the sanctity of the experience.  If we talked about it casually or let outsiders watch, that would spoil the seriousness of the experience.  It is important to understand that Masonic secrecy is not because we have "something to hide" but is rather an integral part of the Craft itself -- a sign of its intensely inner quality of self-searching and self-improvement.

The night of your first degree dress in a suit, or a sportcoat with a nice shirt and pants.  We dress as gentlemen out of respect for the seriousness of the lodge and its work. The officers will be in tuxedos, while most of the brethren will be dressed just like you. Formalwear is a nod to our historical roots, and a matter of pride for the officers. For degree Mondays, dinner is at 6 PM but you can show up early as most of us do to visit and see old friends, or for the occasional committee meeting. The degree itself starts at 7PM, except for the Third Degree which is held on a Saturday and begins at 3 PM.

You'll have questions; we're happy to answer them as they come up.



Invitation to Visit the Lodge

With an online world, it's easy to continue reading about Freemasonry. But one of the big lessons we've all learned is the experiential nature of the Fraternity. At some point, a man has to set aside the book or turn off the computer and simply pay a visit to the local lodge. We welcome you to join us to take a look.

Call the lodge at 612-927-5426 to ask about the next event, or contact the Secretary.



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