Freemasonry is the oldest, largest and most widely recognized fraternal organization in the world. Founded in London, England in 1717, there are about 1.5 million members in the United States alone and about 83,000 Masons in Ohio.
No one knows just how old Freemasonry is because the actual origins have been lost in time. Some scholars believe Masonry arose from the guilds of stonemasons who built the majestic castles and cathedrals of the middle ages. While others speculate its heritage is derived from the "Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem", otherwise known as the Knights Templar. In 1717, Masonry created a formal organization when four Lodges in London joined in forming England's first Grand Lodge. By 1731, when Benjamin Franklin joined the Fraternity, there were already several Lodges in the Colonies.
Today, Masonic Lodges are found in almost every community throughout North America, and in large cities, there are usually several Lodges. A Mason can travel to almost any country in the world and find a Masonic Lodge where he will be welcomed as a "Brother."
WHAT WE DO
The Masonic experience encourages members to become better men, better husbands, better fathers, and better citizens. Masons are men of good character who strive to improve themselves and make the world a better place.
As a fraternal organization, Freemasonry unites men of good character who, though of different religious, ethnic, or social backgrounds, share a belief in the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of mankind.
Like most organizations, one will get out of Freemasonry what he is able to put into it. However, membership in Freemasonry is not meant in any way to interfere with an individual’s commitment to his faith, family, or occupation. Freemasonry is not and never can be a replacement for these important institutions, but rather it is a positive environment that reminds every Mason of his duty to God, his community, his family and himself.
Beyond its focus on individual development and growth, Masonry is deeply involved in helping people. The Freemasons of North America contribute over two million dollars a day to charitable causes.
This philanthropy represents an unparalleled example of the humanitarian commitment of this great and honorable Fraternity. Much of that assistance goes to people who are not Masons.
Some of these charities are vast projects. The Shrine Masons (Shriners) operate the largest network of hospitals for burned and orthopedically impaired children in the country, and there is never a fee for treatment. The Scottish Rite Masons maintain a nationwide network of over 150 Childhood Language Disorder Clinics, Centers, and Programs.
Many other Masonic organizations sponsor a variety of philanthropies, including scholarship programs for children, and perform public service activities in their communities.
Masons also enjoy the fellowship of each other and their families in social and recreational activities.
The experience of becoming a member of a Masonic Lodge is divided into three ceremonial stages that Masons call “degrees.” These three degrees are loosely based upon the journeyman system, which was used to educate Medieval craftsmen.
Symbolically the degrees represent the three stages of human development: youth, manhood, and age.
The first degree of Freemasonry is the Entered Apprentice degree. It is a candidate’s first experience with the ceremonies of the fraternity and like all Masonic ceremonies is a solemn and meaningful event. Though new to Freemasonry, an Entered Apprentice enjoys the title of “Brother.”
The Fellow Craft degree is the second ceremony and exposes a Brother to more of the symbolism and philosophy of the fraternity. For skilled craftsmen this degree would have marked one’s progress from an apprentice to a journeyman.
The Master Mason degree is the last of the Lodge ceremonies and with it a candidate becomes a full member, enjoying both the rights and responsibilities of membership.
During all three ceremonies, a candidate is treated with complete respect. At no time, is he ever made to feel uncomfortable or harassed in any way. Masonic ceremonies are a wonderful tradition shared by men such as George Washington, Harry S. Truman and thirteen other Presidents, eight Vice Presidents and forty-two Justices of the Supreme Court ,Wendy's founder Dave Thomas, and many other men of integrity.
These ceremonies are always conferred in such a way as to bring pride to the candidate and the members of the Lodge.