Report of the Board of General Purposes
Business conducted with non-Masons present - new guidance
The practice of admitting ladies and other non-Masons to a Lodge room after the Lodge has been closed or called off in order to receive a talk or presentation on Freemasonry, is becoming increasingly common. The Grand Secretary and the Board receive enquiries from time to time as to whether it is permissible to conduct part of a Lodge's work in front of non-Masons.
The Board has sought advice from the Grand Director of Ceremonies as
to what constitutes Masonic business that may only be transacted while a Lodge
is open, and what business may be carried out in the presence of non-Masons. The Board hopes that
the Grand Lodge will endorse the following statements:
1. In a private Lodge, no non-Mason may be present while the Lodge is open.
2. So far as Grand Lodge, or a Provincial or District Grand Lodge is concerned, precedents exist for the meeting being called on so that Masonic business (of a purely administrative nature) could be carried out, while non-Masons are present. The most notable instance was at Earls Court in 1992. The Board recommends
that such precedents should not be followed in future
by Provincial or District Grand Lodges.
3. No part of the ceremonies of Initiation, Passing, Raising and Installation may be conducted with non-Masons present.
Those ceremonies, to be valid, must take place in open
Lodge. This extends to those elements such as the Charge after Initiation, which some might argue is not strictly part of the ceremony.
The Board notes that the text of that Charge is already in the public domain, and in particular is sometimes recited at 'open days', but draws a distinction between such events and a 'live' ceremony, to which it is inappropriate to admit non-Masons.
4. The administrative business of a Lodge, besides being
of a private nature, to be validly transacted must be conducted in open Lodge (i.e., without non-Masons present).
5. Apart from those items of Masonic ritual and administrative business referred to above, there is no compelling need to adopt a mysterious or secretive attitude towards other Masonic activities that can take place while a Lodge
is called off or after it has been closed.
For example, the laying of Foundation Stones with Masonic ceremonial was once commonplace.
Banner dedications afford another example where an impressive show of Masonic ceremonial (as opposed to ritual) can be given without in any way compromising Masonic principles.
In such circumstances, an important test is whether the Lodge feels comfortable with such a display and, provided the local Masonic authority
has no objection either generally or in relation to
a particular activity, the Board considers that Lodges
should not be discouraged (or, conversely, pressed into) admitting their ladies and friends on such occasions. No Masonic signs whatever may be given on such occasions, as the Lodge
is not open.
6. The Board does not wish to discourage the admission
of non-Masons to investitures, which do not of themselves involve anything that an outsider may not see and are, in any event, conducted by or on behalf of a recognised Masonic authority. It does, however, note that some Brethren may be reluctant to attend on such occasions to be invested because they do not feel comfortable at the presence of non-Masons.
7. Whilst there is nothing especially esoteric in the
Masonic ceremonial which accompanies a Private Lodge's Centenary or Bi-Centenary celebrations and the associated presentation of a Warrant, the Board recommends that as an official ceremony, the essential elements of which have been laid down by central Masonic authority, it must be conducted while the Lodge is open and without non-Masons present.
Order of Service
The Grand Master's Order of Service to Masonry has been award to Jeremy Pemberton, a former President of the Board of General purposes, presented to him at Grand Lodge by the Pro Grand Master, the Marquess
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