We hope that all Prospectives who join our lodge will gradually pass through these Offices, which progress annually or biannually.
There is no obligation to take Office, but it would be unusual for a member to decline any position offered to him by the Master
These roles are traditionally undertaken by experienced members, many of whom may have been “Past Masters”.
The three Craft Degree ceremonies are memorized plays that give us insights into our progression through life towards death. There is a tendency towards invalid speculation in websites, so we would encourage you to access The PGL site at SussexMasons.org.uk and the UGLE site at www.ugle.org.uk. Our own website is being built during 2017. Please be cautious about any salacious or libelous statements and articles that you might see online: Freemasonry is only about Fraternalism, Charity and making good men better – there is no cabalism, there are no grand conspiracies, there is no immoral motive – come along and talk to use, and find out what freemasonry is truly about.
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Progressive Office refers to a series of appointments within the lodge, culminating in the office of Master. Ideally, a mason starts at the most junior office and "progresses" to the next in line each year, or every two years. The typically sequence is Steward, Inner Guard, Junior Deacon, Senior Deacon, Junior Warden, Senior Warden, Master. Progression to Worshipful Master is NOT always done by "moving through all the chairs", but every Master must have served for one year as a Warden. .
Every Lodge has Principal Officers (Master, Junior Warden, Senior Warden) and Assistant Officers (Tyler, Inner Guard, Junior deacon, Senior Deacon.
All Officers are defined in our Book of Constitutions.
Regular Officers (Master and his two Wardens, a Treasurer, a Secretary, two Deacons, an Inner Guard and a Tyler) – “Regular” in this sense means as defined in the Constitution and under the authority of the Warrant of the Lodge issued by UGLE.
Additional Officers (Almoner, Charity Steward, Chaplain, Director of Ceremonies, Lodge Mentor, Assistant Director of Ceremonies, Organist, Assistant Secretary and Stewards but no others).
No Brother can hold more than one Regular Office in the Lodge at one and the same time, but the Master may appoint a Brother who is holding a Regular Office to one Additional office also. Any member who is not in a Regular Office may hold more than one Assistant Office concurrently.
THE WORSHIPFUL MASTER
The senior officer of a Masonic Lodge is the Master, normally addressed and referred to as the "Worshipful Master" (in Scotland, and in Lodges under the Scottish Constitution, the "Right Worshipful Master"). The Worshipful Master sits in the East of the lodge room, chairs all of the business of his lodge, and is vested with considerable powers without further reference to the members. He also presides over ritual and ceremonies.
The office of Worshipful Master is the highest honor to which a lodge may appoint any of its members. The office is filled annually by election, often by secret ballot. The requirements as to who is eligible for election as Master vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but the majority of jurisdictions specify that a brother must have served as an installed Warden to qualify. In practice, most lodges will nominate and elect the previous year's Senior Warden in an uncontested election.
The Senior Warden (sometimes known as First Warden) is the second of the three principal officers of a lodge, and is the Master's principal deputy. Under some constitutions, if the Worshipful Master is absent then the Senior Warden presides at meetings as "acting Master", and may act for the Master in all matters of lodge business. Under other constitutions, only sitting Masters or Past Masters may preside as "acting Master", and so the Senior Warden cannot fulfill this role unless he is also a Past Master. In many lodges it is presumed that the Senior Warden will become the next Worshipful Master. In some jurisdictions, the position is an elected office, while in others it is appointed by the Master.
The third of the principal officers is the Junior Warden (or Second Warden). The Junior Warden is charged with the supervision of the Lodge while it is "at refreshment" (in recess for meals or other social purposes). In some jurisdictions the Junior Warden has a particular responsibility for ensuring that visiting Masons are in possession of the necessary credentials. In others, this is the job of the Tyler. In some jurisdictions the Junior Warden presides if both the Master and the Senior Warden are absent. In some jurisdictions, the position is an elected office, while in others it is appointed by the Master.
The Wardens are regular officers of the Lodge, meaning that the positions must be filled.
A Deacon is a junior officer in the lodge. In most jurisdictions, a lodge has two Deacons, styled Senior Deacon and Junior Deacon (though First Deacon and Second Deacon are sometimes encountered as an alternative.)
The principal duties of the Senior Deacon are to conduct candidates around the Lodge and speak for them during certain ceremonies, to attend the Worshipful Master as needed and to carry his orders to the Senior Warden.
The office and duties of Junior Deacon are similar in many respects to that of Senior Deacon, to attend the Senior Warden, and carry messages to the Junior Warden. In some jurisdictions he is also responsible for guarding the inside of the main door of the lodge and ensuring that the lodge is "tyled".
IMMEDIATE PAST MASTER
At the conclusion of his limited term of office, a Worshipful Master is termed a Past Master. The duties and privileges of Past Masters vary from lodge to lodge and jurisdiction to jurisdiction. For example, in some jurisdictions Past Masters become life members of the Grand Lodge, while in others they are not. In most jurisdictions, a Past Master retains the honorific "Worshipful".
DIRECTOR OF CEREMONIES
The title 'Director of Ceremonies' is used in the United Grand Lodge of England and its subordinate lodges, as well as in many other jurisdictions. However, other titles found in other jurisdictions include 'Lecturer' and 'Ritualist'.
Whatever the title, this officer is responsible for the smooth flowing of ceremonial and ritual and may hold rehearsals. He may be responsible for prompting other officers who forget their lines. In some jurisdictions, he directs proceedings during the installation of a new Worshipful Master. He is also responsible for forming processions and introducing visitors, except in those jurisdictions which appoint a 'Marshal' for these latter purposes (see below).
The Grand Lodge of New York has developed the position of Lodge Ritual Director to facilitate this role and to ensure the smooth flowing of ceremonial and ritual and may hold rehearsals. He may be responsible for prompting other officers who forget their lines.
The role of the Treasurer is to keep the accounts, collect annual dues from the members, pay bills, and forward annual dues to the Grand Lodge.
The annual presentation of accounts is an important measure of the lodge's continuing viability, whilst the efficient collection of annual subscriptions is vitally important, as any lapse in payment (deliberate or unintentional) can lead to a member losing voting rights, being denied the opportunity to visit other lodges, and finally even being debarred or excluded from his own lodge.
It is common for the Treasurer to be an experienced Past Master, but this is not required.
The Secretary's official duties include issuing the summons (a formal notice of an impending meeting, with time, date and agenda), recording meeting minutes, completing statistical returns to the Grand Lodge, and advising the Worshipful Master on matters of procedure. Many individual lodge bylaws add to these duties by mandating, for example, that the Secretary serve on specific committees. Although any member may hold the office of Secretary, it is typically held by an experienced Past Master. It is not unusual for the office of Secretary to be held by the same member for long periods of time, even decades.
The 'Tyler' is sometimes known as the 'Outer Guard' of the lodge. His duty is to guard the door (from the outside), with a drawn sword, and ensure that only those who are duly qualified manage to gain entry into the lodge meeting. In some jurisdictions, he also prepares candidates for their admission. The Tyler is traditionally responsible for preparing the lodge room before the meeting, and for storing and maintaining the regalia after the meeting.
The office of 'Inner Guard' is mandatory in UK lodges, but rare in American lodges. This position is commonly assigned to a fairly junior member, as it provides a good opportunity for him to meet members and observe and learn ceremonies, and is at the beginning of the progressive offices leading to the Chair.
The task of guarding the door is shared with the 'Tyler' (see above). The Inner Guard is on the inside of the door.
In most Masonic jurisdictions, each lodge will have a 'Chaplain'. The principal duty of the Chaplain is to lead prayer before and after the lodge meeting, and to say grace while the lodge is at dinner. In many lodges this position is filled by a clergyman (an ordained minister, priest, rabbi, imam, etc.) who is a brother of the lodge. However, it is not required that the Chaplain be a clergyman, as prayers are non-denominational. In some lodges the tradition is for the immediate Past Master to act as Chaplain.
Stewards fulfill a number of junior assistant roles. Some of their common duties could include:
- Acting as understudy to the SD & JD, in their absence.
- Stewards have a traditional role of arranging the tables, ensuring that glasses are filled, and that guests are accommodated - often extended to a general supervision and planning of catering and refreshments.
Their Jewel is “Cornucopia” – the mythical “Horn of Plenty” within a pair of Compasses
The WM may appoint any number of Stewards, according to the size and requirements of his lodge, and in this respect the office is unique.
Newer members usually fill the office of Steward. The office may serve to dignify a useful member of the Lodge, or to establish precedence in the progression of officers.
The 'Almoner' is responsible for the well-being of lodge members and their families. He receives and considers requests for assistance (whether financial or practical or otherwise) and confirms his recommendations with the lodge. He must maintain contact with sick or aged members and manage a discreet presence in the lives of widows of former members, so that the lodge may readily assist them should they find themselves in any particular need.
Almoners must understand local and national Masonic charities and the scope of their charitable work, so as to offer advice to those who might qualify for such assistance.
The 'Organist' provides appropriate musical accompaniment during lodge meetings. This may be through a pipe organ or electronic organ, a wider range of instruments or recorded or digital music systems
This Jewel is Two Chisels in Saltire, emphasising the advantages of education as pointed out by the symbolic use of the Chisel as a Working Tool in the 1st Degree. The Lodge Mentor is also the Membership Officer.
His duties include:
encouraging members to present and introduce candidates for initiation and joining
developing learning styles and methods to suit the learning preferences of each member;
arranging monthly social events to which prospective members and their families, as well as member’s and their families are invited;
Running weekly training and development sessions for members who need additional tuition, especially Progression Officers, and arranging 1:1 sessions for members;
Recommending members to the WM and DC, competently to participate in ceremonies;
Encouraging senior members to undertake personal mentor duties with junior members; and
Advising the WM and Secretary of matters relating to the Constitution and By-laws
All Craft lodges are charged with ensuring appropriate charitable donations by members towards good causes. The CS is responsible for encouraging the members to give generously and regularly. In Lodge, the CS may raise discussions about appropriate recipients of the lodge's charitable donations. His funds must be kept separately from Lodge Admin funds, and reported regularly to the Committee, through the Treasurer and to the Lodge.