So you might be interested in joining Freemasonry! Read on, and see if this is really 'for you'.
Joining Freemasonry is - quite deliberately - not done in haste. Before anyone is accepted, the Lodge will want to be sure that he - and his family - understand what is involved in joining the Craft, and that the candidate's character, background and motives are worthy. After a man has expressed interest in joining it is usual for at least one interview to be held at which he - and his wife - will meet with a few members of the Lodge. Before any man can be admitted to Freemasonry two members of the Lodge must vouch for his character before the rest of the Brethren; also that they have known him for a certain period of time. Patience is a virtue which is well rewarded!
Freemasonry makes few demands upon its new members except for certain traditional requirements. A candidate must believe in a Supreme Being (although which God he worships is not an issue, and Lodge meetings are not religious ceremonies; neither is the discussion of religion allowed in Masonry). He must be a 'free man' and at least 21 years of age (at every step in Masonry he will be asked to confirm that he is acting of his own free will and accord). He must be prepared to take a series of solemn oaths concerning his conduct in Lodge and in society. He will promise to keep certain traditional elements of the ceremonies confidential. The candidate also undertakes that he will not make use of his membership for his own personal gain or advancement, and that he will abide by the law of the land.
Most Lodges meet on one evening a month for between four and eight months of the year. Regular attendance is encouraged, and as a Mason begins to gain experience he will be invited to attend a Lodge of Instruction, usually held on a separate evening. Lodge fees vary, but usually consist of an annual subscription (about £80 a year), a voluntary charity donation (usually starting from £35 a year) and a dining fee (about £10 per meal) for the majority of members who attend both parts of the meeting. Please note that if you choose to join a Lodge outside Shropshire you may find a different set of charges - London diners, for example, should beware!
In return for all the above, the newly-made Mason will enjoy the fellowship of his Lodge, which is just a small part of a world-wide Brotherhood. He will meet with like-minded friends, maintain the centuries-old traditions of Freemasonry, help to raise money for charity (and in times of need may benefit from it likewise) and (as most Masons discover) learn a great deal about himself as well!
If you are still interested in joining, approach any Mason that you know, who will be glad to help. A personal contact such as this is ideal, but if you live in or near Shropshire and do not know of anyone in the Craft who lives or works nearby, contact the Provincial Grand Secretary, John Clayton, who will do his best to assist you. Hopefully before long you may be welcomed among the 1,500 or so Freemasons in the Province! For Further Information and a link to the United Grand Lodge of England site, click here.