The Provincial Grand Lodge of East Lancashire
The Provincial Grand Lodge of East Lancashire

Freemasonry – What is it?

There are probably as many explanations of Freemasonry as there are Freemasons and every member will be able to tell you exactly what Freemasonry means to them. For each of us our membership offers an approach which complements and enhances other aspects of our our lives. For some it may be seen as another hobby, for others it becomes a deeper ‘journey’ as they explore the history and philosophy of Freemasonry. Most Freemasons will tell you that they are proud to be members of something which they see as very special, where they have made new friends, learned to understand and practice charity, became more confident, developed into better family members and have found new meaning to life.

Freemasonry is the premier fraternity of choice for those who seek fellowship amongst men of goodwill and belief in a Supreme Being is central to our philosophy; Freemasonry accepts men of all religious backgrounds – Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Sikhs and so on, provided that they profess that belief.

As masons we are taught to live and moral and ethical life and to those who delve further there is always deeper, more spiritual knowledge to gain. We are pledged always to regulate our actions by the precepts of the old testament and whichever faith we follow. Tolerance, Integrity and Kindness are three words which neatly sum up our approach to daily living. Socially, we learn to be sympathetic towards others and focus on benevolence and charity, the finding-out and relief of misfortune.

Beyond this the social side of Freemasonry can be quite eclectic. We have Lodges of younger Masons, older Masons, Lodges who enjoy fine dining, others which enjoy pie and peas at their meetings and beer with friends. Traditional Ladies evenings are formal affairs while many Lodges organise social events with charity in mind – race nights, casino nights, sportsmen’s dinners. Some will have weekends away at coastal resorts or where the brethren and families / friends can socialise and enjoy local pastimes from paint balling to clay pigeon shooting or from golf to rock climbing. Wherever possible Masons will try to involve their wives, partners, families, friends and children. Many Halls organise Christmas parties for the children, Burns Suppers, theme nights and many offer a Sunday Carvery for the family!

For those who really enjoy and ‘get into’ their Freemasonry it can be quite challenging. Sometimes we have to work by learning ritual and assist with successful ceremonies and social occasions. Whatever the challenges may be most Freemasons will say they have ‘grown’ from the experience.

Masonic meetings can be very special and often produce a lift or a ‘high’ So much so that we look forward to our next meeting together. There is a lot of pleasure to be gained in the course of masonic experience. We are proud of it and say so. Indeed, and this may be the nub, Freemasonry at its best produces the conditions by which its members are raised from the mundane into personal triumphs. Yes, a lot of Freemasonry is very pleasant and cordial, but there are special moments to be thrilled by, called up through the chemistry and and art inherent in the masonic ethos and method.

At a deeper level, for those who eventually explore further, Freemasonry is unique, a deep-rooted mystery, defying exact description. It is concerned with the meaning of life, with truth, beauty, and the exercise of goodness. It is neither a philosophy nor a religion though it promotes wholeheartedly the objects of both. Through entering into masonic activity its members frequently find themselves becoming better people, more principled, understanding, and socially adept. Membership is expressed in fellowship and good works.

Freemasonry exists worldwide, often taking differing forms according to the cultural background of the region. While these appear similar, official recognition between national Grand Lodges depends largely upon key elements of their principles and practice. The United Grand Lodge of England requires belief in a central divinity, given expression in the phrase ‘the Great Architect of the Universe’. It otherwise makes no demands as to religion and maintains a firmly non-political stance. It expects members to endeavour to act morally at all times and to obey the laws of the land. While offering friendship and, when proper, kindly assistance to one another, members are not entitled to seek mutual favours. The benefit of members’ charitable activities are shared widely in the community, in accordance with the core value of universal benevolence felt in freemasons’ hearts.

Freemasonry includes a rich symbolism and the performance of ritual in its progressive proceedings, but the effects of this cannot be appreciated unless you go through it yourself. Freemasonry harmonises all the spiritual, moral, social, cultural and mystical elements of human nature, and good men, to their surprise, have found delight and fulfilment in it over many centuries. There is always more for those that seek, and peace for those who do not.

In summary – Freemasons are ordinary men in the community, of various religious backgrounds, who share a concern for human values, high moral standards, respect for the laws of society and the rights of others. Their practice of Freemasonry promotes self development, family, charitable and community service and socialisation with likeminded individuals and their families. Through its moral teachings and social nature Freemasonry acts as a great sheet anchor bringing stability and purpose to peoples’ lives. We share the fraternal privilege of meeting together as friends and brethren. Our culture and social activities also embrace our wives and partners, families, children and friends. Our charitable activities and ways of being touch the lives of individuals and groups in many parts of our local communities and work places and firmly place Freemasonry, like many other forces for good, as part of the fabric of the society in which we live.

University Scheme

Universities have had an association with Freemasons for hundreds of years. In 2005 UGLE launched the Scheme to help to forge links between well placed, enthusiastic Lodges and the many students and other young people who are seeking to become involved in Freemasonry but who may not know where to begin.

So around the country are many Lodges who actively seek recruits from local Universities and similar educational establishments, be they undergraduates, post graduates or university lecturers. In East Lancashire we have Old Mancunians Lodge which meets at the Masonic Hall on Bridge Street. It has attracted many young men, mainly from Manchester University but occasionally from MMU and Salford University. The Lodge also takes graduates from all over this country, and abroad, who have come to live/work in the Manchester area. At Bolton, in the Western Area, we have Goulburn Menturia lodge which is also a member of the University Scheme.

Across the Province we have a number of cities associated with Universities and we hope to engage more with these over the coming years with the development of further scheme Lodges. Young men are under-represented in Freemasonry and we want to expose as many as possible to its benefits. Of course students join, graduate and often move on, but the beauty of the scheme is that most Provinces also have receiver Lodges to look after graduates moving to that area.

The truth of the matter is that many Lodges in East Lancashire have graduates or undergraduates as members, depending on the members knowledge of Freemasonry and prior affiliation. So just because you are at University doesn’t mean you have to join a scheme Lodge, but they are set up to look after your particular needs and cater for such members very well. If you want to read more about the University Scheme take a look at their website here.

There are many men out there who are looking for some greater meaning to life. Freemasonry in open to all men, regardless of religious, political or social status, and while this scheme is focussed on a particular niche, as a Province we are keen to engage with men from all walks of life including ethnic and other minority groups. We have many Jewish, Moslem, Sikh, Buddhist and other members. Many did not understand that Freemasonry has been welcoming to their particular religion or way of life for hundreds of years, and have entered our Order and found it, as a philsophy for living, completely compatible with their beliefs and culture. if you want to find out more then make contact with us and we will do the rest. We often have open days, come and try events and functions open to the public which we will promote on this website to give you the opportunity to see what we have to offer.