Tom Stirling and Richard Elkington have passed on this document – What Is A Masonic Apprenticeship – from Harwick Lodge in Scotland:
If we want our newly Raised candidates to take an active part in Lodge life, we need at least to give them an introduction to Masonry. Ritual alone, no matter how well done, is not going to make a knowledgeable Mason or an active Lodge member.
If we want a man who believes in Masonry, a man who is an active Lodge member, we have to take the time to show, to teach, to guide that new Mason to a clearer
understanding of the tenets of his profession as a Mason. In short, we cannot just
Raise a candidate and then drop him.
We have to start by making sure that we, ourselves, have a positive attitude.
Masonry has much to offer. It has been a source of wisdom and personal satisfaction
to millions of good men. Its principles and its benefits are as valuable and as timely
today as they ever have been. Still, this question confronts us: Why are not more
young men today interested in joining and participating in our Fraternity? I believe
the answer, in large part, is that we fail to present Masonry in ways that appeal to a
younger generation of men.
The men we want are activity oriented. We want the men who would rather to do
something than be something. Let us look at some of the community activities which
compete for young men¡¦s time. Service clubs are growing. They explain to men their
community projects and how they raise money to fund them. They are able to show a
committed group of people doing something to make a positive impact on their
communities. Public safety groups, such as fire companies and rescue squads, are
growing. They show young people the scope of their activity. They demonstrate their
equipment and their training programs, and they show a committed group of
member¡¦s intent on doing something to improve their skills. Social clubs, usually
centred around sports such as golf, tennis, hunting or fishing, have no trouble
maintaining membership. They are able to show interested people their facilities,
their schedule of events, and their activities. They are able to show a group of people
who are passionate about their sport and about doing something to improve their
The success of these organizations gives us a clue. It tells us what appeals to good
men today. They want to do something. They want to become more effective in what
they do. They want to be involved with others, to be part of an effort, and to share
Now, let us look at Masonry. What can Masonry offer? We can start with brotherly
love, relief and truth. The elements of brotherly love are our perfect points: the
obligation to go out of our way to serve a worthy Brother; the obligation to be ever
mindful of the Brother in our meditations; the obligation to keep a confidence; the
obligation to help a Brother and to protect his good name; and finally, the obligation
to warn a worthy Brother of an approaching danger. We offer this bond to a man
who is willing to reciprocate. Relief need not be material relief. It can be a helping
hand or an understanding ear, a favour or a word of encouragement. The underlying
commitment is a willingness to help another Mason or his family with the same level
of concern that a man might show to his own brother. We can offer this commitment
to a man who is willing to reciprocate.
Truth is a value and a measure of the values we are committed to. Each of the three
degrees of symbolic Masonry teaches by precept, allegory and symbol the virtues of
fidelity, temperance, fortitude, prudence and justice, all of which we hold to be true
today, true yesterday, and true tomorrow. We are willing to share the legends and the
allegories and symbols which illustrate them with men who are willing to commit
themselves to the virtues they represent.
Brotherly love, relief and truth require personal activity and commitment. We have
to do something to put them into practice. Masonry can provide men with an
opportunity to do something to improve themselves in pursuit of those truths.
Let us look at ourselves in practice. Is our emphasis on just being a member or on
thinking and acting as a Mason? Do we try to create new members, or do we try to
show a man how he can live Masonry? The answer, of course, varies from Lodge to
Lodge. A Lodge which wants to attract young men today needs to offer them an
opportunity to do something which will give them personal satisfaction. Sadly, many
of our Lodges offer a new Mason little or nothing to do unless he is interested in
taking part in ritual work. Our own legends teach us that ancient apprentices and
fellowcrafts learned to improve their skills under the guidance and tutelage of
Masters. That was true in operative Masonry. It can become true in speculative
We should not permit a candidate simply to “take” three degrees. We should
demonstrate to him that the tenets of his profession as a Freemason offer him a
way of thinking and a way of living.
Fine words you may say. Fine and high sounding words. But, just how would you go
about instructing a candidate on Masonry as a way of thinking and a way of living. I
suggest a twelve-point apprenticeship plan to get new members involved, to give
them something to do, twelve points which are closely related to the tenets of our
profession as Freemasons.
Let us first consider Brotherly Love. The candidate must get to know his new
Brothers. Here is what a presiding Master can do:
Make sure the candidate’s sponsor introduces him to everyone present the night he is
initiated. I have seen a candidate prepared for his degree sitting alone in a room
where a whole group of Masons were chatting with each other, none of whom had
been introduced to him or had taken the time to introduce themselves to him.
Request the candidate and his sponsor to be greeters at the door the night of his
second and third degrees. This is a good opportunity for him to speak to the
members he met earlier and to meet additional members who are attending that
Invite the candidate to help out on the first three suppers following his initiation.
Remember, he sought membership because he wanted to do something. Involving
him in the work of the Lodge will make him begin to feel a part of it.
Now, let us look at Relief. Each new Mason needs to learn first hand some of the
aspects of Masonic relief and caring.
Invite the new Mason to work on the first special ladies’ night following his initiation
and see that he personally meets several of them.
Include the new Mason on the team delivering flowers or baskets or whatever the
Lodge may do for widows and elder Brothers during the holiday season.
Invite him to accompany the Master on a visit to a hospitalized Brother or to a
Brother who is shut in.
Request him to attend the first two Masonic Memorial Services following his
initiation to witness the concern our Fraternity feels for the family of a departed
Our third tenet is Truth. The candidate should be told that he is expected to obtain a
basic familiarity with the legends and symbols which illustrate truths we value.
Make sure the candidate has the benefit of the four instructional sessions outlined in
our Instructor’s Manual. We seriously shortchange a man if we make him a member
of our Lodge but fail to give him a basic familiarity with the ritual which is at the
heart of our Fraternity.
See to it that the candidate visits another Lodge three times as he progresses through
his degrees, each time to witness the degree he has just taken. This will give him a
better understanding of the degree he has just taken. It will also show him that he is
part of a wider Fraternity, one that he can take with him wherever he goes. It goes
without saying that he ought to be accompanied by his sponsor or Brothers he knows
Invite the new Mason to take a no speaking chair within a month or two after he is
Raised either for a degree or simply for a stated meeting. He may never want to do it
again, but it is important for him to do it at least once and have the opportunity to
feel he is a part of that ritual.
Arrange for the candidate to give his third degree lesson either along or with other
recent candidates within the prescribed time. The rule, after all, is ours. We have
many, many new Masons who feel that they have failed to do something they should
do. They haven’t failed. We have failed when we tell them they are expected to do
something and then never follow up.
Brotherly love, relief and truth are the tenets of our profession as Freemasons.
There is another characteristic of Masons that is as old as the history of our country.
Every community in this country is a better place to live because of the public
spirited Masons, who, in hundreds of ways, keep their communities and this country
going. They contribute as volunteer firemen, rescue squad members, little league
coaches, church deacons and Sunday school teachers, as members of boards of
hospitals and libraries and in countless other ways. Masons are the bedrock of every
community in this country.
Tell each new Mason, if he has not already done so, that we would like to see him
identify one civic, community or church endeavour where he could carry into his
community some of the lessons he has learned in his Lodge. Twelve points. We
should tell a man who indicates an interest in Freemasonry what he would be
expected to do in becoming a member. We might give him a pamphlet describing
this apprenticeship plan so that he will understand in advance what it is, why we are
asking him to do it, and how it will benefit him. Such a commitment might
discourage a few do nothing types who simply want to be known as Masons. I am
convinced that men who want to do something are attracted to membership in
organizations which clearly state their principles, which ask them to make a
commitment, and which relate those principles to a specific plan of activity for them.
Any presiding Master can do a great service to Masonry, to his Lodge, and to his
candidates if he will just give them something to do.
We have the greatest Fraternity in the world, founded on the noblest of principles.
But let us never forget that it is not enough simply to make a man a member. Our
Fraternity will grow as an influence for good, our Lodges will prosper, and our
members will grow as good men and Masons only if we focus our thoughts and
efforts and the thoughts and efforts of our candidates on Masonry as a way of
thinking and a way of living in which brotherhood is the vehicle, the mission, and
WHAT IS A MASONIC APPRENTICESHIP?
Wayne T. Adams 1996
Studies for the New Freemason.
This article was scanned, prepared and type-set for this booklet by Bro. J. Stewart Donaldson, Secretary of Hawick Lodge No.111 for the education of the enquiring Freemason. Where any typo errors occur, I apologise, but I have kept the original spelling and grammar.